Nestled into the Gulf of Kotor, on the coast of Montenegro, lies the fortified city of Kotor. You only have to stay in a backpackers here, and chat to the other guests, to see how easily people fall in love with this city. People that had intended to stay a few days ended up lingering for weeks enjoying the compact, and cat filled, old town and the chilled coastal village vibe.
On the top of everyone’s list should be the hardcore climb up the, alleged, 1350 steps to the fortress of St Ivan. Dating back to the 9th century the fact that the fortifications remain in any capacity is incredible, but what really gets people going are the spectacular views looking over the striking blue water of the Gulf cupped in the palms of rugged peaks. I had a real ‘pinch-me-so-I-know-it’s-real’ moment up here as I watched the orange glow of sunrise sharpen the edges of the mountains against the crisp morning sky.
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As far as great views go, the one from the St John fortress in Kotor, Montenegro has to be one of the best 🇲🇪 The walk can be hot, but there's plenty of places to stop and take in your beautiful surroundings and at the top, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views over the Bay of Kotor. Definitely don't forget to take your camera - you'll want to remember all these incredible views! 📸😍 📷: @toni_navega</div>
The Old Town
The old town in the shadow of the fortress, is packed with atmosphere. The venetian influence gives the cafe filled piazzas an Italian feel and it’s easy to become disoriented in the maze of narrow, cobbled, streets. St Tryphon’s Cathedral, in honour of the cities patron saint, dominates one of the piazzas but apart from this there are relatively few sights to tick off, making it a perfect place for a lazy stroll.
May as well change your Facebook relationship status to ‘it’s complicated’ right now. The cats lurking in every nook and cranny of the old town is almost enough to make you declare celibacy, move here permanently, and become an actual cat lady...almost. The cats are thought to have been originally introduced to keep rats at bay when Kotor was a busy trading port. The cats never left and they have become a symbol of the city. Although they live on the street they aren’t ‘stray’. Locals, and tourists, feed them and they are super friendly. One kept me company all the way to the top of the fortress!
The reason for Kotors laid back vibe is the influence of the coast and that Mediterranean spirit (although it’s actually on the Adriatic coast). Jetties jut out into a harbour dotted with yachts. Waterfront cafes, bars and restaurants spill out along the palm lined promenade. From outside the city walls you can see the zig zag of the fortress as it climbs the steep terrain. At night time it is particularly spectacular when, lit up, the walls look like a string of fairy lights over the city.