With its historic Old Town and stunning bay views, Kotor attracts travellers from all over the world.
As winter descends, this UNESCO World Heritage site becomes even more enchanting with the arrival of the Kotor Christmas Market.
In this article, I’ll detail essential information such as 2023 dates, opening times, and notable features of this festive gathering.
The backdrop of majestic mountains and the serene Bay of Kotor imbue the city with a natural, tranquil beauty.
The historic architecture adorned with lights contributes to a warm and inviting atmosphere, making the holiday period in Kotor uniquely charming.
Kotor Christmas Market 2023
Christmas in Kotor spans across December, enveloping the historic city in festive cheer without the overpowering hustle and bustle.
Celebrations include the traditional event ‘From Christmas to Christmas’ from December 24th to 8th January, highlighting children’s New Year celebrations and a grand New Year’s Eve spectacle and concert.
Beyond Kotor, nearby Tivat adds to the season’s joy with its own events, including Udica Fest, promoting local seafood and offering traditional and modern dishes at the waterfront, adding a special coastal touch to the holiday experience.
Dates and Location
Kotor Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 1st December 2023 to 7th January 2024.
Location: Square of the Arms.
Opening times: 11am to 8pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: No announced switch on date.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, some options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Historic old town, views over the incredible Bay of Kotor.
Recommended tour: Guided walking tour of Kotor.
Specialities: Traditional Montenegrin pastries, local seafood.
Where to stay: Boutique Hotel Hippocampus is a popular hotel, located 4 minutes from the Square of the Arms.
Hotels near Kotor Christmas Market
The best area to stay in Kotor to be near the Christmas market is within the walls of the Old Town. This historic part of the city is close to the market and provides easy access to Kotor’s main attractions and vibrant local life.
I recommend Boutique Hotel Hippocampus as it’s a popular hotel in an excellent location near the Christmas market, making it a practical choice for your stay.
Location of Kotor Christmas Market
Recommended Walking and Food Tours
A city tour of Kotor splendidly reveals the city’s rich tapestry of history and culture. With its monumental old town and breathtaking views over the Bay of Kotor, it remains a city that visitors and locals alike ardently admire, even in winter.
I suggest this guided walking tour of Kotor as it unveils the city’s landmarks with a local guide, making it an excellent choice, particularly for first-time visitors.
In 90 minutes, you’ll traverse through more than 2,500 years of dynamic history and marvel at the stunning architecture that adorns the squares of this UNESCO-listed fortified city.
Alternatively, this walking tour with food and wine tasting is worth your time. It’s not just about exploring; it’s also about relishing the local flavours.
Gain insights into Kotor’s compelling history, and afterwards, unwind and engage in conversations with your guide in a local eatery, where you can try local smoked ham, cheese and traditional Montenegrin wine.
Christmas in Kotor
Christmas Specialties in Kotor
Pršut i sir (Smoked ham and cheese): You will encounter pršut i sir, the famed smoked ham and cheese of the region. It’s a classic Montenegrin snack, simple yet rich in flavour, typically accompanied by local wine.
Burek: A traditional Balkan pastry filled with cheese, meat, or spinach, this flaky treat is popular year-round but also finds a place in the Christmas market.
Njeguški steak: Another local delicacy, Njeguški steik, a pork or veal steak stuffed with Njeguški ham and cheese, showcases the flavours of Kotor. It’s a hearty dish, reflecting the warm and robust character of the region.
Baklava: Relish the sweetness of baklava, a popular pastry made from layers of filo, filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. Originating from the Ottoman Empire, it’s a beloved treat in many Balkan countries, including Montenegro.
Grilled squid: For seafood lovers, grilani lignje is a must-try. Grilled to perfection, these squid bring the freshness of the Adriatic Sea to the bustling market stalls of Kotor.
Crno vino (Black wine): Sip on crno vino, the local red wine, as you meander through the market. This wine perfectly complements the savoury and sweet snacks available, balancing the palate with its robust flavour.
Rakija (Fruit brandy): Warm yourself in the chill of winter with a shot of rakija. This traditional fruit brandy in Montenegro offers a burst of warmth and local flavour as you explore the diverse offerings of the Kotor Christmas Market.
Rožata: Delight your taste buds with Rožata, a local dessert similar to flan. Its comforting sweetness is a holiday favourite made with simple, fresh ingredients.
Crnogorsko Pivo (beer): Quench your thirst with Crnogorsko Pivo, the local beer. Experience the light and refreshing taste that makes it a favourite among the locals.
Krofne: Treat yourself to krofne, soft and airy doughnuts filled with jam or chocolate. It’s a sweet ending to your culinary exploration in Kotor.
Christmas Cookies and Cakes: International Christmas sweets, such as gingerbread cookies and fruitcakes, can also be found at the market, adding a festive touch.
Christmas Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Handmade Crafts: You can find a diverse array of ručni rad or handmade crafts at the Kotor Christmas Market. Many of these crafts, including intricate jewellery and embroidered goods, reflect Montenegro’s traditional artistry and cultural heritage, making them unique and meaningful gifts.
Olive Oil: Montenegro is known for its excellent olive oil; the oil you can buy at the Christmas market is no exception. It’s produced locally, ensuring fresh, high-quality oil that is perfect for cooking or as a gourmet gift.
Montenegrin Wine: Consider purchasing bottles of local Montenegrin wine as a gift or souvenir from the market. The country’s diverse terroirs contribute to a wide variety of fine wines that express Montenegro’s rich geographical and climatic character.
Med (Honey): Montenegro’s natural landscapes contribute to the production of high-quality honey, known locally as med. The honey from this region often comes from bees that have pollinated wildflowers, giving the honey a distinct and robust flavour.
Souvenirs: Souvenirs specific to Kotor and Montenegro, such as small replicas of historical sites or traditional Montenegrin attire, can be found in abundance. These items serve as a pleasant reminder of your time exploring the Christmas market and the historic city of Kotor.
Lokum (Turkish Delight): Sample and purchase lokum, a popular sweet treat in the region. These small, fragrant jelly cubes, usually flavoured with rosewater, lemon, or mint, are a traditional sweet in many Balkan countries and make a delightful gift.
You can also explore the Visit Kotor official website for a well-organised selection of things to do in the city and the latest events, giving you access to up-to-date information for an enjoyable stay in Kotor.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few tips on how you can travel more responsibly in Kotor at Christmas:
Eco-Friendly Hotels: In Kotor, many hotels have committed to reducing their environmental impact by adopting renewable energy. By staying in one of these establishments, you’re supporting the use of clean energy and contributing to the sustainability of the region.
Reducing Food Waste: When eating at the Christmas markets, consider ordering portions that you can finish and share dishes if possible. The local culture in Kotor emphasises freshness and quality, so opting for smaller, well-prepared meals reflects both responsible consumption and an appreciation for the culinary traditions.
Ethical Consumption: The bustling market atmosphere in Kotor might tempt you to buy more than you need. Focus on purchasing products that you truly need or can use, and consider the sustainability of the items. Supporting local artisans who make handcrafted gifts promotes ethical consumption and contributes to the local economy.
Sustainable Diets: Many vendors in Kotor offer locally sourced, organic options, reflecting the rich agricultural traditions of the area. By choosing these options, you’ll enjoy fresh, delicious food while also supporting local farmers and reducing the environmental impact of your meals.
Sustainable Transport: Try to avoid flying to Kotor (the airport is in Tivat). The city is very walkable and known for its scenic walkways up to and around the castle. This is an environmentally friendly way to enjoy Kotor’s beauty.
The Kotor Christmas Market 2023 dates are 1st December 2023 to 7th January 2024.
The Christmas Market is in Kotor’s main square, the Square of the Arms.
The Christmas market opening times are from around 11am to 8pm.
Winter in Kotor tends to be mild, but it can be rainy. It’s advisable to bring warm clothing and an umbrella to stay comfortable while exploring the city.
Yes, Kotor’s Old Town is adorned with festive decorations during the Christmas season, enhancing the historic charm with twinkling lights and festive ornaments. The decorations create a magical atmosphere, especially in the evenings.
If you would like to leave a review of Kotor Xmas Market, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Kotor, Montenegro. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.