What’s the best way to get epic views of Kotor? Head up the mountain, up a bit more and just keep climbing! More precisely, climb the Ladder of Kotor.
Without a doubt, this is the best hike you can do in and close to Kotor, without going to Lovcen National Park. Not only do you get absolutely incredible views, but it also feels relatively off the tourist-track (or as far off as possible for Kotor).
Pack a picnic, head up the hill and soak in the breath-taking views of Kotor and beyond!
What is the Ladder of Kotor?
The Ladder of Kotor is a steep trail that leads from the Kotor Old Town to the top of the mountain. It’s referred to as a ladder because it enables you to climb from town and eventually it meets a road (The Serpentine of Kotor). Legend has it that the trail was originally built to enable military access to the town from the road above.
How to find and follow the trail to hike the Ladder of Kotor?
The official trail starts just next to the old town, the start is helpfully marked on Google Maps as “The Start of the Ladder of Kotor“! If you can’t find that, then navigate to the Old Hydroelectric Power Plant at the end of the Scurda River.
There is another option, you can also combine a visit to San Giovanni Fort with the Ladder of Kotor trail. For the San Giovanni trail, head into the old town and follow the signs. The main reason that we did not do this route is that you have to pay 8 Euros for the pleasure of accessing the fort, whereas the Ladder Trail to the top is totally free.
To follow the trail, look for red and white markings or red arrows. It’s pretty difficult to get lost.
How difficult is it to walk the Ladder of Kotor?
The trail is 4 miles up, and 4 miles back down.
Under foot, it’s mainly gravel or small stones and whilst it is a climb each pathway is not super steep. The trail is most renowned for the vast number of “switch backs“, which whilst a little repetitive these switch backs do mean that the trail isn’t as hard as it would be if it whizzed straight up the mountain!
Even if you’re not super fit, or an experienced hiker, I would still recommend attempting it. Whilst it is strenuous to get to the top, you don’t have to go all the way. Even from 1km up the trail, you can still enjoy the wonderful views, so why not give it a go?
How long does it take to hike the ladder of Kotor?
It takes between two and four hours to hike the Ladder of Kotor for most people.
We are pretty confident hikers, and it took us less than 90 minutes each way. The recommended time for most hikers is 3 hours each way, so there’s absolutely no rush!
How high is the ladder of Kotor?
At the top, the elevation of the Ladder of Kotor is 940m. That’s quite a few switchbacks to reach the top, but it’s well worth it for the views, we promise!
Does the Ladder of Kotor get busy?
The Ladder of Kotor really does not get busy. Although it is a popular tourist hike now, it has not become so popular to describe it as busy. We found that most people walk at their own pace anyway and if they are blocking you, then you can feel free to take over! Just don’t go too fast or you might find yourself out of breath within a few minutes.
What time of day to walk the Ladder of Kotor?
If you want the walk to yourself, then you could come early in the morning. The mornings are cooler so this is a great time to walk the Ladder of Kotor, especially in the summer. The evening is also very pleasant and you can catch the sunset. Just be sure to get down before dark.
What time of year to walk the Ladder of Kotor?
Kotor is mainly a summer destination, so most tourists to Kotor walk the Ladder of Kotor in summer. But, you could walk in spring or autumn too. In the summer, just be careful to avoid midday sun, as there is no shade on the walk.
Is there anywhere to get refreshments on the ladder of Kotor?
There are two places to get refreshments on the trail. One is a house, the other is marked as “The Cheese Shop” on Google Maps. The Cheese Shop is famous for their homemade cheese. When we visited, they also had homemade cherry liqueur. Most remarkably, they have beer on draft.
Apparently, the shop owners have to get their goods delivered by Mule! It’s run by a delightful couple who seem to be living the good life! Please stop in and grab a drink if you’re heading up the trail. Perhaps a coffee on the way up and a beer on the way down! The view from the terrace (shown below) is special. Bonus, they also have toilets.
What to Pack and Wear to climb the Ladder of Kotor?
Even though you can buy refreshments, we would recommend that you still pack lots of water and small snacks. We saw people walking up with no water, which just seems dangerous. Always pack for every eventuality!
In terms of clothing, much depends on how hot it is. Hiking gear would always be best but failing that then shorts and a t shirt will do just fine.
For footwear, definitely a sturdy pair of trainers or walking sandals as a minimum. Please do not attempt this in flimsy flip flops. But you don’t need walking boots!
Is the ladder of Kotor suitable for children or pets?
The trail could be suitable for dogs, but we would suggest keeping them on a lead or close by. There are lots of steep drops as well as cats and some goats in residence, so be aware of this if your dog likes to give chase!
For children, the trail may be tricky depending on their hiking experience. Babes in arms in a sturdy carrier would be fine as long as you watch your step. Smaller children may find this walk tough and there are quite frequent trip hazards.
Speaking of, have you ever wondered why there are so many cats in Kotor?
I wondered this when I visited Kotor! Historically, the cats are thought to have boarded sailing boats and disembarked with sailors when they arrived to Kotor. Today, cats remain in high numbers in Kotor in part because it’s a tourist city and they have access to plenty of food. But also, locals consider cats to be good luck and they are very fond of them, so they would never banish the cats. Hurrah.
Where to next in Montenegro?
We’ve got a number of guides about Kotor and Budva that you can read here:
- 10 Best Things to Do in Kotor for a day
- Which is better, Budva or Kotor?
- Cheap and quick food to eat in Kotor
- What to see in Budva: Montenegro
- 7 Easy Pointers for Visiting Montenegro
- Balkans Travel: Albania, Montenegro, Croatia
John and Emma’s hiking gear. These are items we love to use when we go hiking, find them here on Amazon.
Osprey 40L, Multi, O/S
HOKA ONE ONE Mens Speedgoat 4 Textile Synthetic Trainers
HOKA ONE ONE Women’s Clifton 8
CWVLC Unisex Cushioned Compression Athletic Ankle Socks Multipack
Dr. Scholl’s Blister Cushions, Seal & Heal Bandage, 8 Cushions
Montem Ultra Strong Trekking, Walking, and Hiking Poles – One Pair (2 Poles)
Most of our planning is done using other blogs, but you can’t beat a guide book at the bottom of your case. Find them here on Amazon.
Find yours on here and get the travelling started!
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