How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Hiking Kotor Fortress in Montenegro: Essential Guide (Plus Key Tips)

Last Updated on November 30, 2022

Share the love

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Hiking Kotor Fortress in Montenegro: Essential Guide (Plus Key Tips)

Last Updated on November 30, 2022

Share the love

Hiking up to St. John’s Fortress – a.k.a Kotor Fortress or the Castle of San Giovanni – is easily one of the best things to do in Kotor.

In fact, it’s the number one thing that drew me to Kotor (and put vastly-underrated Montenegro on the map for me) in the first place. So if scoping out the best views is also a priority for you while traveling, you cannot miss this famous Kotor hike.

And speaking of views, don’t forget to secure your stay at one of these breathtaking Bay of Kotor hotels while you’re at it!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.

In a rush? Pin this post for later!

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

What Is Kotor Fortress?

The Fortress of St. John (Kotor Fortress) is a castle-like structure that dates back to the Byzantine Empire and the year 532. It sits above the city walls and is part of the fortification system that once protected medieval Kotor along with citadels, forts, and towers.

Over time, ownership of the fortress has changed hands, from Venetian, to Russian, to French rule, amongst others.

The hike up to the fortress is massively popular due to the unbelievable views it offers over the Bay of Kotor.

How Many Steps Is Kotor Fortress?

Perched an impressive 1,200 meters over Boka Bay, there are 1,350 stone steps leading up to St. John’s Fortress. The Kotor Fortress steps are made of stone and the staircase is quite narrow in sections.

How Long Does it Take to Climb Kotor Fortress?

You should allocate around two hours for the round-trip climb up to Kotor Fortress and back down. This is a rough estimate, as it’ll largely depend on your individual fitness level and how often you pause to take a break, snap a photo, etc. Generally speaking, you’ll want to devote around an hour each way if you’re looking to go at a leisurely pace.

Alternatively, if you’re in optimal shape and not looking to stop along the way, you may be able to make the climb in as little as 30 minutes.

Ultimate Kotor Fortress Hiking Guide

Start by Selecting Your Hiking Route

I’ll be the first to admit that my husband and I were severely confused when we initially began the Kotor Fortress hike. While I was fully aware of the two separate hiking routes, I did not understand that there were two totally different starting points as well.

Since I only knew about one entrance point (the one we took), I wrongly assumed that we could choose our desired route from there.

Well, it wasn’t until we were about halfway up the climb (and I was feeling awfully suspicious about the lack of steps) that it dawned on me. We were on the “wrong” side of the mountain!

::Faceplant::

Fortunately, mistakes can often be opportunities in disguise (or whatever feel-good cliché you prefer). The point is that there’s no wrong way to do this hike in actuality. There are two different ways to do it and each offers its pros and cons.

It’s just that I fantasized about doing this hike for years and part of that fantasy was that I’d be ogling the gorgeous views over the Bay of Kotor on the ascent.

Instead, our initial view was that of switchbacks up the mountain.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

(That said, there are truly no bad views on this hike, I promise!) In any case, here’s what you need to know.

There are two totally separate routes to Kotor Fortress:

Route 1: The Walls of Kotor (the classic, more popular route)
Route 2: The Ladder of Cattero (the more challenging route)

What to Expect on the Walls of Kotor Route:

If you’ve just recently discovered the hike to St. John’s Fortress of Kotor, chances are, this is the route you’re familiar with.

The more popular of the two paths, the Walls of Kotor route is exactly as its name implies – it will take you up to the fortress via the Walls of Kotor. This is the side that has all of the stone steps.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

If you’d like to take this route, you’ll need to start the hike in Kotor Old Town. Here, you’ll find a staircase with this handy map posted on the wall:

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

This Kotor City Walls map shows the different routes and also includes the three individual entrance points into the town: North Gate (Sjeverna Vrata), South Gate (Južna Vrata), and the Sea Gate (Morska Vrata). You’ll find this map by Entrance Point B.

Regardless of which way you enter, you’re going to want to get yourself to this staircase if you’re looking to do the hike via the Walls of Kotor. You can find the start of the Walls of Kotor route here. This will take you to a restaurant in the plaza at the base of the stairs near Point B.

Once you reach the top of the steps, you’ll walk along a path for a bit until you reach a turn-style with a ticket booth. This is where you’ll need to pay the 8EUR/per person entrance fee.

The Walls of Kotor route is open from 8AM to 8PM daily.

Pros of the Walls of Kotor:

  • Breathtaking views over the Bay of Kotor as you climb
  • Stairs make it easier to ascend the mountain
  • Numerous photo opportunities along the way
  • Several spots to stop and get water/snacks

Cons of the Walls of Kotor:

  • Can get crowded during the summer months
  • Entrance fee of 8EUR/pp required
What to Expect on the Ladder of Cattero Route:

As you can probably guess by now, the hubby and I climbed to Kotor Fortress by way of the Ladder of Cattero.

FUN FACT: This was originally the sole route connecting Kotor to the surrounding inland mountain villages.

This is considered to be the more challenging route due to its 70+ steep switchbacks (and its notable lack of steps)!

While this switchback-heavy route may seem overwhelming, I can honestly say I didn’t find the hike to be particularly difficult, especially as compared to the one we did in the Cinque Terre in Italy.

However, as we’ve now done both of the routes, I can definitely confirm that this is the more challenging of the two. This is largely because you’ll be hiking up loose gravel and you won’t have any steps to relieve some of the impact.

Once you arrive at the highest point of this route, you’ll discover a literal ladder that leads into a small passageway. The wooden ladder is quite tiny (and the hole you’ll need to climb through isn’t much bigger). Honestly, they look quite comical in person.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Frankly, when I first saw the passageway I didn’t know if I’d make it through, but it’s larger than it seems once you climb the ladder. After you make your way through the opening, you’ll immediately be greeted with striking views of the Bay of Kotor.

And that can only mean one thing – you’ve successfully made it to the other side, congratulations! (I definitely felt victorious after we crossed this threshold.)

If you’re not much for climbing ladders/crawling on your knees, then I’d recommend skipping the ladder route altogether and doing the Walls of Kotor path both ways instead.

On the other hand, if you wish to take the ladder route, you’ll connect to the starting point at the beginning of the Skurda River, located just a few minutes outside of Old Town Kotor.

You can find the start of the Ladder of Cattero route here. Keep to the right of the fenced-in area.

Pros of the Ladder of Cattero:

  • Free entrance* (if you arrive before 8AM)
  • Less crowded than the Walls of Kotor
  • Beautiful mountain scenery

*While you may get lucky with a free entrance after 8AM, your best bet is to arrive early so you can slip by the fenced area free of charge.

Cons of the Ladder of Cattero:

  • Bay views are severely limited
  • Ladder section can be challenging/intimidating
  • Less opportunities to grab a drink as you climb (we only located one rest stop)

Fortunately, the beauty of this hike is that you can absolutely do both routes by going up one and then back down the other! That’s what we did and I highly recommend it. This will give you the best of both worlds and the full perspective of the spectacular landscape.

Cost to Hike Kotor Fortress

The cost of the hike will depend on which route you ultimately decide to take.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

If you take the Walls of Kotor route, expect to pay 8EUR per person at the entrance. There’s a ticket booth here with a turn-style. Once you’ve purchased your ticket(s), you’ll be granted access via the turn-style.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to save some cash, you can take the Ladder of Cattero route instead. Provided you arrive by (or just before) 8AM, you can access this route free of charge. Simply follow the directions above and stay to the right of the gate. You’ll notice a pathway snaking up the mountain where this route begins.

I’m not sure whether you’ll be charged at the ladder route if you arrive after 8AM, but my husband and I arrived just before then and entered for free. There’s a possibility someone will be there to collect money after that time, but I think it’s likely dependent on the season.

In any case, if you have any experience with the ladder route later in the day, please do let me know in the comments!

From what I’ve read, both routes are free in winter, as tourists are few and far between. 

Where to Park Your Car Before Hiking

Chances are, you’ll probably be traveling with a car while exploring Kotor (and if not, I highly recommend you do so).

However, cars aren’t permitted within the old town walls, so you’ll need to find a place to leave your car outside the town before entering.

I recommend parking in the main lot, provided spaces are available then. It’s located right next to the start of the Ladder of Cattero route.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

You can find the parking lot here. You’ll need to pay to park.

That said, spots tend to fill up quickly in this popular lot, so arrive early (around 8AM) for the best chance of securing a spot. (If you arrive even as late as 9AM in peak season, you’ll likely be sitting in a long line of cars waiting to enter the lot.)

If this lot is already full, there are some alternative lot options outside of Old Town Kotor. You may also get lucky and find a free parking spot along Njegoševa Street.

When to Start the Hike

Same as I advise with the Dubrovnik Walls walk, my number one piece of advice for hiking in Kotor is to arrive early, particularly for the climb up to Kotor Fortress! Starting the day bright and early at 8AM is the only way I would attempt this hike, to be honest.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Here’s what can happen if you don’t arrive early:

  • You run the risk of tourist mobs, which can make for an unpleasant hiking experience
  • As noon approaches, the sun will be higher in the sky, meaning it will feel much hotter on this unshaded climb
  • Harsher light will also make it more challenging to take nice photos

Speaking from experience, the climb up early in the morning sans crowds was a true pleasure compared to the descent back down elbowing our way through.

Granted, we took longer than average on this hike since we were shooting tons of content and waiting for people to clear out of our shots. But by the time we started to make our descent around 11:30AM, the hike had filled up significantly and it definitely impacted our enjoyment of the experience.

Best Viewpoints Along the Kotor Castle Hike

You didn’t think I was going to write about hiking Kotor without sharing the best viewpoints, did you?

One of my favorite parts of hiking is stopping to enjoy – and let’s be honest, photograph – the incredible views along the way.

Other than the amazeballs panoramic view from the top, my favorite spot to photograph is definitely by the Church of Our Lady of Remedy.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

If you’re doing the Walls of Kotor route on the way up, you’ll come across this beautiful spot on your right as you climb.

Alternatively, if you’re taking the ladder route up like we did (but the Walls of Kotor route back down), this will eventually be on your left-hand side as you make the descent.

In addition (and perhaps this is overly obvious), but it’s absolutely worth summiting this hike for the view at the very top.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

You’ll also spot the Montenegro flag when you reach the final ledge. (Although I don’t have a shot of it, trust me when I say it’s awesome!)

Alternatively, if you want to focus on the Ladder of Cattero route, you’ll come across this beautiful stone church a little bit before you arrive at the final ladder section.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Consider a Walking Tour of Kotor Fortress

While many opt to go it alone, you may prefer to enjoy the experience of a guided walking tour for this Kotor hike.

An organized tour can offer a number of benefits:

  • You’ll learn about the history of Kotor’s Boka Bay and incredible fortifications from a knowledgeable guide
  • You’ll uncover ancient ruins with a more discerning eye
  • You can enjoy some homemade treats along the way, depending on your tour of choice!

What to Bring With You While Hiking in Kotor

At two-ish hours long round trip, this isn’t one of those Kotor hikes that’s excessively long. That said, you’re definitely going to want to come prepared.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Here are some must-haves for the Kotor Fortress hike:
  • Sneakers/hiking shoes – This one is probably a no-brainer, but you definitely want to wear sensible footwear for this hike. There’s a lot of loose gravel, uneven steps, and unpredictable terrain, so this is definitely not the place to wear flip-flops/heels.
  • Hat with UV protection – While any hat will make a difference at keeping that pesky sun to a minimum, I personally love a cute sunhat with UV protection. You’ll stay protected and enjoy plenty of personal shade with this one.
  • Water bottle – I’m actually on the hunt for a new water bottle these days, and this stainless steel one with a fun marble design has definitely caught my eye! It will keep your water cold for 36 hours, so you’ll be enjoying a refreshing drink long after your hike is over.
  • Breakfast bars – While the hike isn’t long enough to warrant bringing a lot of food, if you’re starting it as early as I recommend, there won’t be much time for breakfast. Instead, I like to fuel up with a keto-friendly bar before I hike. (Of course we then treated ourselves to a full, sit-down breakfast once we completed the climb!)
  • Sunscreen – This one may be obvious, but it’s also such an easy item to forget. And trust me, you definitely won’t want to forget the sunscreen on this hike! There is little-to-no shade along this climb and the sun can be quite unforgiving.
  • Hiking backpack – If I’m traveling without camera gear, my North Face backpack is my go-to. Not only does it have a zillion nifty little compartments and ventilated straps for breathability, but I also dig the corded design in the front. It’s perfect for keeping the hike hands-free and for stashing any of your wearable items if/when you want to remove them.
  • Camera backpack – For all my fellow content creators out there who can never seem to decide which camera lenses to bring when you’re hiking; now you don’t have to! The WANDRD backpack is a must for me when it comes to photography. I honestly couldn’t imagine hauling our weighty camera gear up a mountain any other way. (Who am I kidding? My husband is always the one doing the hauling – but I really gained a newfound respect for him on my first solo trip!)

Speaking of content creation, you can also check out all of my travel-blogging camera gear that we use to shoot.

I hope by now I’ve convinced you to add the Kotor Fortress hike to your Montenegro itinerary. Even if hiking typically isn’t your thing, the unrivaled views over the Bay of Kotor are well-worth the effort!

Have I convinced you to try hiking in Kotor yet? If so, which route would you like to try? Let me know in the comments below!

Looking for fun activities beyond hiking? Check out my other Montenegro guides:

Did you find this post useful? Pin it to your boards!

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro
How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro
How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Hiking up to St. John’s Fortress – a.k.a Kotor Fortress or the Castle of San Giovanni – is easily one of the best things to do in Kotor.

In fact, it’s the number one thing that drew me to Kotor (and put vastly-underrated Montenegro on the map for me) in the first place. So if scoping out the best views is also a priority for you while traveling, you cannot miss this famous Kotor hike.

And speaking of views, don’t forget to secure your stay at one of these breathtaking Bay of Kotor hotels while you’re at it!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.

In a rush? Pin this post for later!

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

What Is Kotor Fortress?

The Fortress of St. John (Kotor Fortress) is a castle-like structure that dates back to the Byzantine Empire and the year 532. It sits above the city walls and is part of the fortification system that once protected medieval Kotor along with citadels, forts, and towers.

Over time, ownership of the fortress has changed hands, from Venetian, to Russian, to French rule, amongst others.

The hike up to the fortress is massively popular due to the unbelievable views it offers over the Bay of Kotor.

How Many Steps Is Kotor Fortress?

Perched an impressive 1,200 meters over Boka Bay, there are 1,350 stone steps leading up to St. John’s Fortress. The Kotor Fortress steps are made of stone and the staircase is quite narrow in sections.

How Long Does it Take to Climb Kotor Fortress?

You should allocate around two hours for the round-trip climb up to Kotor Fortress and back down. This is a rough estimate, as it’ll largely depend on your individual fitness level and how often you pause to take a break, snap a photo, etc. Generally speaking, you’ll want to devote around an hour each way if you’re looking to go at a leisurely pace.

Alternatively, if you’re in optimal shape and not looking to stop along the way, you may be able to make the climb in as little as 30 minutes.

Ultimate Kotor Fortress Hiking Guide

Start by Selecting Your Hiking Route

I’ll be the first to admit that my husband and I were severely confused when we initially began the Kotor Fortress hike. While I was fully aware of the two separate hiking routes, I did not understand that there were two totally different starting points as well.

Since I only knew about one entrance point (the one we took), I wrongly assumed that we could choose our desired route from there.

Well, it wasn’t until we were about halfway up the climb (and I was feeling awfully suspicious about the lack of steps) that it dawned on me. We were on the “wrong” side of the mountain!

::Faceplant::

Fortunately, mistakes can often be opportunities in disguise (or whatever feel-good cliché you prefer). The point is that there’s no wrong way to do this hike in actuality. There are two different ways to do it and each offers its pros and cons.

It’s just that I fantasized about doing this hike for years and part of that fantasy was that I’d be ogling the gorgeous views over the Bay of Kotor on the ascent.

Instead, our initial view was that of switchbacks up the mountain.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

(That said, there are truly no bad views on this hike, I promise!) In any case, here’s what you need to know.

There are two totally separate routes to Kotor Fortress:

Route 1: The Walls of Kotor (the classic, more popular route)
Route 2: The Ladder of Cattero (the more challenging route)

What to Expect on the Walls of Kotor Route:

If you’ve just recently discovered the hike to St. John’s Fortress of Kotor, chances are, this is the route you’re familiar with.

The more popular of the two paths, the Walls of Kotor route is exactly as its name implies – it will take you up to the fortress via the Walls of Kotor. This is the side that has all of the stone steps.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

If you’d like to take this route, you’ll need to start the hike in Kotor Old Town. Here, you’ll find a staircase with this handy map posted on the wall:

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

This Kotor City Walls map shows the different routes and also includes the three individual entrance points into the town: North Gate (Sjeverna Vrata), South Gate (Južna Vrata), and the Sea Gate (Morska Vrata). You’ll find this map by Entrance Point B.

Regardless of which way you enter, you’re going to want to get yourself to this staircase if you’re looking to do the hike via the Walls of Kotor. You can find the start of the Walls of Kotor route here. This will take you to a restaurant in the plaza at the base of the stairs near Point B.

Once you reach the top of the steps, you’ll walk along a path for a bit until you reach a turn-style with a ticket booth. This is where you’ll need to pay the 8EUR/per person entrance fee.

The Walls of Kotor route is open from 8AM to 8PM daily.

Pros of the Walls of Kotor:

  • Breathtaking views over the Bay of Kotor as you climb
  • Stairs make it easier to ascend the mountain
  • Numerous photo opportunities along the way
  • Several spots to stop and get water/snacks

Cons of the Walls of Kotor:

  • Can get crowded during the summer months
  • Entrance fee of 8EUR/pp required
What to Expect on the Ladder of Cattero Route:

As you can probably guess by now, the hubby and I climbed to Kotor Fortress by way of the Ladder of Cattero.

FUN FACT: This was originally the sole route connecting Kotor to the surrounding inland mountain villages.

This is considered to be the more challenging route due to its 70+ steep switchbacks (and its notable lack of steps)!

While this switchback-heavy route may seem overwhelming, I can honestly say I didn’t find the hike to be particularly difficult, especially as compared to the one we did in the Cinque Terre in Italy.

However, as we’ve now done both of the routes, I can definitely confirm that this is the more challenging of the two. This is largely because you’ll be hiking up loose gravel and you won’t have any steps to relieve some of the impact.

Once you arrive at the highest point of this route, you’ll discover a literal ladder that leads into a small passageway. The wooden ladder is quite tiny (and the hole you’ll need to climb through isn’t much bigger). Honestly, they look quite comical in person.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Frankly, when I first saw the passageway I didn’t know if I’d make it through, but it’s larger than it seems once you climb the ladder. After you make your way through the opening, you’ll immediately be greeted with striking views of the Bay of Kotor.

And that can only mean one thing – you’ve successfully made it to the other side, congratulations! (I definitely felt victorious after we crossed this threshold.)

If you’re not much for climbing ladders/crawling on your knees, then I’d recommend skipping the ladder route altogether and doing the Walls of Kotor path both ways instead.

On the other hand, if you wish to take the ladder route, you’ll connect to the starting point at the beginning of the Skurda River, located just a few minutes outside of Old Town Kotor.

You can find the start of the Ladder of Cattero route here. Keep to the right of the fenced-in area.

Pros of the Ladder of Cattero:

  • Free entrance* (if you arrive before 8AM)
  • Less crowded than the Walls of Kotor
  • Beautiful mountain scenery

*While you may get lucky with a free entrance after 8AM, your best bet is to arrive early so you can slip by the fenced area free of charge.

Cons of the Ladder of Cattero:

  • Bay views are severely limited
  • Ladder section can be challenging/intimidating
  • Less opportunities to grab a drink as you climb (we only located one rest stop)

Fortunately, the beauty of this hike is that you can absolutely do both routes by going up one and then back down the other! That’s what we did and I highly recommend it. This will give you the best of both worlds and the full perspective of the spectacular landscape.

Cost to Hike Kotor Fortress

The cost of the hike will depend on which route you ultimately decide to take.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

If you take the Walls of Kotor route, expect to pay 8EUR per person at the entrance. There’s a ticket booth here with a turn-style. Once you’ve purchased your ticket(s), you’ll be granted access via the turn-style.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to save some cash, you can take the Ladder of Cattero route instead. Provided you arrive by (or just before) 8AM, you can access this route free of charge. Simply follow the directions above and stay to the right of the gate. You’ll notice a pathway snaking up the mountain where this route begins.

I’m not sure whether you’ll be charged at the ladder route if you arrive after 8AM, but my husband and I arrived just before then and entered for free. There’s a possibility someone will be there to collect money after that time, but I think it’s likely dependent on the season.

In any case, if you have any experience with the ladder route later in the day, please do let me know in the comments!

From what I’ve read, both routes are free in winter, as tourists are few and far between. 

Where to Park Your Car Before Hiking

Chances are, you’ll probably be traveling with a car while exploring Kotor (and if not, I highly recommend you do so).

However, cars aren’t permitted within the old town walls, so you’ll need to find a place to leave your car outside the town before entering.

I recommend parking in the main lot, provided spaces are available then. It’s located right next to the start of the Ladder of Cattero route.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

You can find the parking lot here. You’ll need to pay to park.

That said, spots tend to fill up quickly in this popular lot, so arrive early (around 8AM) for the best chance of securing a spot. (If you arrive even as late as 9AM in peak season, you’ll likely be sitting in a long line of cars waiting to enter the lot.)

If this lot is already full, there are some alternative lot options outside of Old Town Kotor. You may also get lucky and find a free parking spot along Njegoševa Street.

When to Start the Hike

Same as I advise with the Dubrovnik Walls walk, my number one piece of advice for hiking in Kotor is to arrive early, particularly for the climb up to Kotor Fortress! Starting the day bright and early at 8AM is the only way I would attempt this hike, to be honest.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Here’s what can happen if you don’t arrive early:

  • You run the risk of tourist mobs, which can make for an unpleasant hiking experience
  • As noon approaches, the sun will be higher in the sky, meaning it will feel much hotter on this unshaded climb
  • Harsher light will also make it more challenging to take nice photos

Speaking from experience, the climb up early in the morning sans crowds was a true pleasure compared to the descent back down elbowing our way through.

Granted, we took longer than average on this hike since we were shooting tons of content and waiting for people to clear out of our shots. But by the time we started to make our descent around 11:30AM, the hike had filled up significantly and it definitely impacted our enjoyment of the experience.

Best Viewpoints Along the Kotor Castle Hike

You didn’t think I was going to write about hiking Kotor without sharing the best viewpoints, did you?

One of my favorite parts of hiking is stopping to enjoy – and let’s be honest, photograph – the incredible views along the way.

Other than the amazeballs panoramic view from the top, my favorite spot to photograph is definitely by the Church of Our Lady of Remedy.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

If you’re doing the Walls of Kotor route on the way up, you’ll come across this beautiful spot on your right as you climb.

Alternatively, if you’re taking the ladder route up like we did (but the Walls of Kotor route back down), this will eventually be on your left-hand side as you make the descent.

In addition (and perhaps this is overly obvious), but it’s absolutely worth summiting this hike for the view at the very top.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

You’ll also spot the Montenegro flag when you reach the final ledge. (Although I don’t have a shot of it, trust me when I say it’s awesome!)

Alternatively, if you want to focus on the Ladder of Cattero route, you’ll come across this beautiful stone church a little bit before you arrive at the final ladder section.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Consider a Walking Tour of Kotor Fortress

While many opt to go it alone, you may prefer to enjoy the experience of a guided walking tour for this Kotor hike.

An organized tour can offer a number of benefits:

  • You’ll learn about the history of Kotor’s Boka Bay and incredible fortifications from a knowledgeable guide
  • You’ll uncover ancient ruins with a more discerning eye
  • You can enjoy some homemade treats along the way, depending on your tour of choice!

What to Bring With You While Hiking in Kotor

At two-ish hours long round trip, this isn’t one of those Kotor hikes that’s excessively long. That said, you’re definitely going to want to come prepared.

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro

Here are some must-haves for the Kotor Fortress hike:
  • Sneakers/hiking shoes – This one is probably a no-brainer, but you definitely want to wear sensible footwear for this hike. There’s a lot of loose gravel, uneven steps, and unpredictable terrain, so this is definitely not the place to wear flip-flops/heels.
  • Hat with UV protection – While any hat will make a difference at keeping that pesky sun to a minimum, I personally love a cute sunhat with UV protection. You’ll stay protected and enjoy plenty of personal shade with this one.
  • Water bottle – I’m actually on the hunt for a new water bottle these days, and this stainless steel one with a fun marble design has definitely caught my eye! It will keep your water cold for 36 hours, so you’ll be enjoying a refreshing drink long after your hike is over.
  • Breakfast bars – While the hike isn’t long enough to warrant bringing a lot of food, if you’re starting it as early as I recommend, there won’t be much time for breakfast. Instead, I like to fuel up with a keto-friendly bar before I hike. (Of course we then treated ourselves to a full, sit-down breakfast once we completed the climb!)
  • Sunscreen – This one may be obvious, but it’s also such an easy item to forget. And trust me, you definitely won’t want to forget the sunscreen on this hike! There is little-to-no shade along this climb and the sun can be quite unforgiving.
  • Hiking backpack – If I’m traveling without camera gear, my North Face backpack is my go-to. Not only does it have a zillion nifty little compartments and ventilated straps for breathability, but I also dig the corded design in the front. It’s perfect for keeping the hike hands-free and for stashing any of your wearable items if/when you want to remove them.
  • Camera backpack – For all my fellow content creators out there who can never seem to decide which camera lenses to bring when you’re hiking; now you don’t have to! The WANDRD backpack is a must for me when it comes to photography. I honestly couldn’t imagine hauling our weighty camera gear up a mountain any other way. (Who am I kidding? My husband is always the one doing the hauling – but I really gained a newfound respect for him on my first solo trip!)

Speaking of content creation, you can also check out all of my travel-blogging camera gear that we use to shoot.

I hope by now I’ve convinced you to add the Kotor Fortress hike to your Montenegro itinerary. Even if hiking typically isn’t your thing, the unrivaled views over the Bay of Kotor are well-worth the effort!

Have I convinced you to try hiking in Kotor yet? If so, which route would you like to try? Let me know in the comments below!

Looking for fun activities beyond hiking? Check out my other Montenegro guides:

Did you find this post useful? Pin it to your boards!

How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro
How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro
How would you like to enjoy the most spectacular view over Kotor, Montenegro? The Kotor Fortress hike is one of the best things to do in this historic and fortified city. Fortunately, this guide has everything you need to know for an easy-breezy hiking experience you’ll never forget. From where to park, to exactly what to expect on each hiking route, to the best Kotor photo spots along the way, you’ll find it all here! #kotorhike #kotorhiking #kotorbaymontenegro