Hiking to Breathtaking Views in Kotor, Montenegro

posted in: Europe, Montenegro, Nature, Photography | 24

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.

Hiking Kotor in Montenegro
From the cruise ship, we could see the zigzag of the medieval walls etched into the mountainside

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 Montenegro
Fort remnants

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.

Hiking Kotor Montenegro
Hike entrance


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.

Hiking Kotor Montenegro
View from the Church of Our Lady of Health

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.

Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro
View right above the Church of our Lady of Health

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.

Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro
So enchanting

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.

Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro
Stunning view from the top
Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro
Looks like a good defense strategy to me
Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro
Only the framework is left behind
Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro
The remains of the Castle of San Giovanni
Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro
Invaders would have a hard time sneaking up on anyone

Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro

We made it!

Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro
Gorgeous views all around from the top
The descent down is challenging in a different way than the climb up. As time passed, more people were beginning their trek up the trail. The steps are narrow and in some sections when passing others we had to stop and allow them to pass or we’d have to continue on a rocky path which is unstable and difficult to manage.
My legs were a bit shaky once we reached the bottom since we propelled down pretty fast.
The entire hike took about 2.5 hours leaving us with plenty of time to explore the surrounding area.
All in all it was my favorite thing we did that day in Kotor and would do it again no questions asked. I take that back, maybe I would ask if we were getting a well-deserved glass of wine at the end!
Read below for additional hiking information and tips! Click here to read more about our day exploring the rest of the Bay of Kotor!
Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro
Narrow stairs next to rocky path

 Hiking Information and Tips

  • Wear sturdy shoes. No flip-flops or sandals.
  • Bring plenty of water.
  • No bathrooms so go before you head up the mountain.
  • Start early as it gets busier and hotter later in the day.
  • Look for mountain goats, they are hard to spot but once you know what to look for you will spot them.
  • Plan for 2-3 hours depending on how many stops you take and how crowded it is.
  • 3 euros per person, bring exact change if you can. Entrance is open 8am and 8pm, May to September. Free any other time.


Tell us: Have you ever been to Kotor? Did you conquer the hike?

Like it? Pin it!

Hiking Views Kotor Montenegro

Follow Angela:

Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

24 Responses

  1. Sarah

    Wow, these pictures are amazing! I really have to get myself to Montenegro soon!

  2. Inma

    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!

    • Dang Travelers

      Thank you. There’s never enough time is there? I feel that almost everywhere we go! The views were magnificent 🙂

  3. Skye Class

    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

    • Dang Travelers

      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.

  4. mark

    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

  5. Carine Hitchcock

    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.

    • Dang Travelers

      That hike sounds intriguing! Can’t wait to get back and see what else the country has to offer!

      • Carine Hitchcock

        Here is a photo from high up (alt. c. 500m), where you can see the zigzag path from the old town 🙂

  6. 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.

    • Dang Travelers

      History plays such a big part in travel and exploring our wonderful world. We loved seeing and exploring this cool medieval town.

  7. Sarah

    These are gorgeous photos! Pinned the photo of the stairs walking up. I love the old stone look.

  8. Christina Wagar

    Amazing photos! We are hoping to visit next year. Will be keeping this post handy for tips.

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