Embedded into the slopes of the steep Lovćen mountain, and overlooking the deep blue Adriatic, the fortified town of Kotor boasts a spectacular, imposing staging that few can match. Squeezing in through the tight Bay of Kotor is a daunting and impressive approach in itself, as you arrive via the waterway of Europe’s most southerly fjord. A pearl of Montenegro and the Adriatic, Kotor's warren-like streets drip with history and authenticity.
Under Venetian influence for four centuries, the city's UNESCO World Heritage Site old town invites you to wander amid atmospheric stone-clad streets, overlooked by a sea of terracotta roofs and the double towers of the cathedral. Protected by thick stone walls - and the mountains behind - Kotor draws comparisons with another fortified Adriatic wonder in Dubrovnik. Many favour Kotor for its compact layout, smaller crowds, and authenticity, however - having been spared from shelling during Yugoslavia's breakup. The tightknit streets here are patrolled by a slinking population of feline residents, who were adopted as the town’s mascots, after being left behind by transient trader ships. Learn of the city's extensive heritage on the waves, in the dedicated maritime museum that is contained within Grgurina Palace.
Pick your way through tight alleys of workshops and studios, walking below fresh laundry strung from windows, before settling into shiny, paved piazzas for an afternoon coffee or seafood meal. If you’re up for an aerobic challenge, tackle the 1,350 steps up the steep walls to St John's fortress. The views over the gorgeous bay make the arduous slog worth it, as you rise past the city's eye-catching 15th-century church bell tower.