Hiking Kotor was one of our favorite memories on our Mediterranean cruise. We found ourselves in the incredible city of Kotor, gazing out at an unforgettable sight hoping it would be forever deposited into our memory bank.
The hike up to the Castle of St. John’s, also known as Sveti Ivan’s Fortress, is a bit of a challenge but provides the best views of Kotor and its surrounding bay. The hike is easily a must-do when visiting the city, but only for the physically fit. The terrain is rocky and steep with about 1,400 steps leading you to the crown of the 820-foot-high peak.
The fortress itself is only one part of the intricate fortification system that dates back to medieval times, starting in the 15th century when the then-independent nation succumbed to Venetian rule. The stone walls lace the mountainside along with remnants of towers and other defense strongholds that once provided protection for the city and its residents.
Hiking Kotor – Climb Along the Walls
We jumped off the cruise ship as early as we could to get an early start to avoid the blistering heat and bustling crowds. We walked directly to the back of Old Town, trying not to get sidetracked by the captivating walled city. The entrance is just a few steps away from town and occupied homes along the base of the mountain.
Halfway up, the first remanence of significance we encountered is the Church of Our Lady of Health, built in the mid-15th century by survivors of the plague.
The church symbolized hope and gratitude for the lives spared during the dark times of illness. The area provides a spot to rest and take in the sweeping views of the bay.
Some of our group turned around at this point, happy to have made it that far. You may be tempted to quit here. Don’t! I suggest pushing yourself to go further. The stunning landscape from the top is well worth the sweat and labor.
As we continued zigzagging along on the switchbacks, climbing higher and higher, the huffing and puffing became louder and louder.
It isn’t as bad as I had imagined it, but it was definitely a workout! Once we reached the fort, we could see the final section of the path that leads to the castle. So close yet so far.
“In spring or autumn, the most beautiful seasons throughout Montenegro, the city (Kotor) is held spellbound while the sun slips minute by minute down the jagged face of rock, bathing granite and marble in a honeyed glow.”
We arrived at the hollowed out shell of the fortress and were greeted with breathtaking panoramic views. The now battered stone walls took over 1,000 years to build and in that moment I was so appreciative to have experienced the beauty they bestowed upon us.
We were in awe of the spectacular landscape laid out before us.
We made it!
Hiking Information and Tips
Tell us: Have you ever been to Kotor? Did you conquer the hike?
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Congratulations I just nominated you for the Liebster Award!
Hi Alexis! Thank you very much but we were just nominated by another blogger recently. We really appreciate it though! http://www.dangtravelers.com/liebster-award-nomination/
Wow, these pictures are amazing! I really have to get myself to Montenegro soon!
Thanks Sarah. Kotor was mesmerizing!
Now I can see everything I missed on my Montenegro little trip last Spring.
Need to come back and uncover those hiking trails. The views are stunning!
Thank you. There’s never enough time is there? I feel that almost everywhere we go! The views were magnificent 🙂
Great post on one of the most beautiful towns in southern Europe! I loved the hike, and my hostel was right on the water. Woke up to see a schooner docked outside my window. A good tip is also to try to avoid the cruise ships. Not really any way to know when they arrive, but they flood the small town when they do. My own story is at skyetravels.com/kotor
Sounds like a great location for a hostel. We were the pesky tourists from a cruise ship (we don’t typically cruise but had a family trip planned to the Med) and I found us annoying too! LOL We would always try to be the first off the boat to try to miss the influx of people.
What a fantastic place! That hike looks intense though.
It got us huffing and puffing but the views were so worth it!
It looks amazing we will be heading to kotor next January in the off season. Hoping the weather wont be too cold. Should be quiet without too many cruise ships at that time of year
The off season will be perfect. Sounds like a wonderful trip. Check out our other post on Kotor if you get a chance: http://www.dangtravelers.com/exploring-montenegro-bay-of-kotor-day/
For the more experienced hikers there’s another absolutely stunning hike on the “goat trail” which starts on the left side of the fortress wall (follow the river stream) and goes up following the wall from the outside, goes behind the fortress at the top and continues for another couple hours all the way up to “Krtac” near Njegusi village (alt. c. 850m). The path is an amazing Austro Hungarian route rather well maintained. Anyway, for hike lovers, Montenegro is a real paradise with hundreds of trails, both on the coast and in the mountains.
That hike sounds intriguing! Can’t wait to get back and see what else the country has to offer!
Here is a photo from high up (alt. c. 500m), where you can see the zigzag path from the old town 🙂
Wow, that is AWESOME! Thanks for sharing
Jackie | The Globetrotting Teacher
Absolutely gorgeous! The walled city and the sweeping views are breathtaking. This is why I love history so much. The people who built those walls over the 1000 years could never have imagined how their work would inspire others who visit in person and via the internet.
History plays such a big part in travel and exploring our wonderful world. We loved seeing and exploring this cool medieval town.
These are gorgeous photos! Pinned the photo of the stairs walking up. I love the old stone look.
Appreciate it. The climb was tough but amazing!
Amazing photos! We are hoping to visit next year. Will be keeping this post handy for tips.
Thanks. Don’t forget to check Groupon! It was a good deal.
Indeed the view is breathtaking not just from the top but also during the journey….
Yes, indeed! The entire walk is mesmerizing with views that keep getting better and better!