Within minutes after arriving in Montenegro, as we rode from the small Tivat airport to our Airbnb in Kotor, our airport transfer driver pointed to the long cables extending up a nearby mountain, and told us in his limited English – Beautiful View. I knew very little about Montenegro or the Bay of Kotor at that point, and wasn’t entirely sure about our upcoming itinerary. But I was fairly certain we would not be riding that Kotor Cable Car. First of all, while I love great views, I don’t love heights – and the cars looked pretty far off the ground. And second of all, I was concerned about safety. I thought it might be an old communist-era tourist attraction. Anyone remember that car back in the 80s called the Yugo? Then you’ll understand my concern.
But hasty judgements are never the best kind. We ultimately did spend an afternoon enjoying the great views from the Kotor Cable Car and from Lovćen National Park at the top. And it ended up a favorite highlight from our time visiting Kotor. Let me tell you all about Riding the Kotor Cable Car.
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First, Some Views From Below
While the mountaintop views are the main reason for riding the Kotor Cable Car, I first want to show you a few views from below – to help with perspective later on in the post.
Kotor is an ancient medieval town, situated at the very end of the Bay of Kotor, a fjord-like bay extending off the Adriatic Sea and surrounded by the tall black mountains that give Montenegro its name.
This small town is fortified by walls built by the ruling Venetians back in the 15th century. These walls surround the city and extend up the mountain behind. Climbing these walls offer some pretty great views down to the red-roofed town below.
And the Bay of Kotor is spectacular, too. In fact, it is now one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever visited. Tall black mountains, crystal blue water, small villages dotting its shoreline. Dining in spots with views like this….
We spent nine relaxing days in Kotor, exploring the Bay and its surroundings. And while it is very crowded with cruise ship visitors, quiet spots are easy to find, and we would definitely go back in a heartbeat.
A Tip From Nikolai
We would usually visit the Kotor Old Town in the evening when it was a little more quiet.
During our forays into Old Town, I had several conversations with a shopkeeper named Nikolai, who was always standing across the narrow street from his shop. He was a life-long Old Town resident and it was interesting to talk with him about what Kotor was like during the Yugoslavia years, and about how tourism has radically altered it over the last decade.
He mentioned the Kotor Cable Car as an example. And I was surprised to learn that it had only opened four weeks prior to our arrival.
So….it was a new and modern Cable Car after all.
Plus, he told me it had been rigorously tested for a full month prior to opening.
I suddenly started to think I might put aside my fear of heights and check it out. I sometimes will try to suppress my height phobia in exchange for a good travel experience, as I did when taking an Air Tour In Kauai or Visiting the Space Needle in Seattle or riding the world’s largest tram car at Snowbird Utah.
On the Ridgeline Above
As our time in Kotor passed, I could easily see the Kotor Cable Car running along the mountain ridges behind town as we walked back and forth from our Airbnb, constantly daring me to ride.
I also noticed how it most definitely stopped running when it was even just a little stormy or if there were significant winds.
Seemed like a pretty responsible company was running it.
And so, on our last day in Kotor, I decided to give it a shot.
Getting to the Kotor Cable Car
Even though I could see the Kotor Cable Car easily from where we were staying, it does take a little effort to get to the base station. It’s not located in Kotor. It’s on the opposite end of the tunnel that connects Kotor to Tivat – on the other side of the mountain.
And there isn’t a good public transportation option yet for getting from Kotor to the cable car’s lower station. While there are public buses in the area, none go to the station. And there are no Ride Share companies operating around the Bay.
So I used Red Taxi – Kotor’s highest rated taxi service on Tripadvisor. I simply used WhatsApp to ask Red Taxi for a pick up. A taxi arrived within a few minutes, and took us straight to the Kotor Cable Car. Our driver used a meter and it only cost $6.50 Euro from where we were staying – even less than the $8 Euro they estimated via our text exchange. And it took less than 10 minutes.
If you would like to learn more about transportation options around Kotor, and my recommendation for getting from Kotor to Dubrovnik, then I have an entire post dedicated to that subject.
The Kotor Cable Car Lower Station
Our Red Taxi dropped us off right in front of the Lower Station. I noticed there was also a lot of parking available if you are driving yourself around the area. The Station sits directly in between Kotor and Tivat – so it’s quickly reached from either town. And Budva is only about 25 minutes away.
The Station itself is a large two story building that also houses a cafe, a bakery, and a gelateria.
We bought our tickets directly from the Station’s ticket window. You can also purchase them online from the Kotor Cable Car website. The current cost for an adult is 23 Euros.
Hours of operation change depending on the time of year, so be sure to check their website before you go.
Riding the Kotor Cable Car
Since the Kotor Cable Car is a relatively new attraction and since we were visiting a little later in the tourist season, it wasn’t very busy. No lines and a quick boarding process.
The tram cars slowly work their way around the boarding platform, and it’s very easy to enter.
The car itself has 10 seats, and huge windows all the way around. Gratefully (for me anyway), the floor isn’t see-through.
Despite the exaggerated expression below in my traditional height-phobic photo, I was actually fairly relaxed. There is even “elevator music” piping in from speakers – for extra calming help.
And once we got up past the first peak, and the amazing views really start to reveal themselves, it’s easy to forget about the distance to the ground, and just enjoy the scenery.
On one side – the Bay of Kotor….
And behind – the Adriatic Sea….
The cars move fairly quickly, but there is a lot of distance to cover. The length of the ride is almost 2.5 miles. The website states that the ride takes 11 minutes, but I timed our ride at just under 15 minutes.
It was somewhat windy on the day of our ride. But I didn’t notice the wind effecting the cable cars until we neared the top. And even then, it really wasn’t very noticeable.
On Top Of The Black Mountain
After riding the Kotor Cable Car to its Upper Station, we found ourselves on top of Mount Lovćen and within Montenegro’s Lovćen National Park. This is a 24 square mile mountaintop National Park of great national significance. Mount Lovćen is the actual black mountain for which the country is named, it is starkly beautiful, the views are spectacular, and the Montenegrin Royal Family historically originated in a mountain village not far from here.
Naturally, after ascending to these great heights, the first thing we did was find the edge and take photos. After spending the 8 previous days exploring the Bay of Kotor in person (and on Google Maps), we loved being able to actually witness this spectacular waterway from high above.
We also noticed a few hiking trails branching off from the Upper Station.
These are relatively short, but can be steep & rocky in places…
But offer slightly varying perspectives from the top of Mount Lovćen.
Taking It All In At Forza Kuk
Forza Kuk is a restaurant at the Upper Station. Not many restaurants have better views! It wasn’t mealtime for us, but after riding the Kotor Cable Car, visitors can also just hang out here and enjoy a drink.
And so we did.
We were able to grab a prime table with this view….
And I ordered the restaurant’s namesake cocktail – The Forza Kuk. After I ordered it, our waiter called it A Perfect Mess. Red Wine, Fruit Brandy, Lemon Juice, Honey, and Blackberry.
So I drank a Perfect Mess while taking in a Perfect View…..
I did check out the food menu while we sat there, and as you would expect with such a prime location, the prices are much higher than you’d find down below. But far less than a restaurant with a view like this in the US.
Heading Back Down
We spent about 90 minutes on top of Mount Lovćen. I thought we might find a few more hiking trails than we did, but it appears that the immediate area around the Upper Station is still a work in progress.
An Alpine Coaster was under construction during our visit, but was due to open shortly after. I thought it looked like it would be pretty fun.
And the website indicates that eventually an amphitheater will be built to accommodate performances.
The ride itself though, and the views from the top, are well worth the ticket price.
When it was time for us to leave, we simply hopped on the next car, and enjoyed the scenery as we descended down the mountain.
I’m really glad that we decided to spend an afternoon riding the Kotor Cable Car. The experience far exceeded my expectations. The ride itself is a lot of fun. The views while ascending up and down are amazing. And that ultimate view from the top of Mount Lovćen is a 100% must-see when visiting this part of Montenegro.
Plus….height-phobics, like myself, really need not be concerned.
You should definitely include the Kotor Cable Car on own your list of things to do in Kotor.
If you are wondering about other popular activities to consider when visiting Kotor, then check these out on Viator:
And finally, if you would like to read about some other times my expectations were exceeded when traveling, then check out these posts: