The small town Kotor is tucked between the base of Lovcen Mountain and Bokor Kotorska (Kotor Bay), and is located around 23km from the larger and more well-known town of Budva. This beautifully historic settlement is inundated with tourists every day during peak summer months due to the calm harbour, winding brick alleyways and busy cruise ship terminal.
I strongly recommend to do this hike at sunrise or sunset – not only to avoid the crowds and the insufferable midday heat, but the ticket vendor who charges entry to climb the hike does not start until around 6am.
Sunrise is absolutely spectacular from the peak, with the whole sky turning pink and reflecting onto the completely still, glass-like water below. Sunset is just as incredible, with the fortress facing the west. If you give yourself plenty of time to climb to the top, you can enjoy the sun slowly dipping behind the mountains on the far side of the inset. However scrambling down in the darkness can be tough so make sure to bring a torch!
Location: Kotor, Montenegro
Entrance fee: Yes – around €4
Trip duration:1 hour to top
Before you go
Pack: Water, a few euros for the entry fee and your cameraCheck: Weather – this path is closed in the event of bad weather.
Wear: Enclosed shoes with good grip
Getting to the starting point
The picture below shows the two key starting points for this hike in yellow triangles – A or B.
To get to point A, make your way to the northern end of the Old Town and head towards the street named ‘Put do Svetog Ivana’ or search for ‘Apartment Delightful’ – it is probably best to use Google Maps as you can easily lose your way in the small windy streets.
Once you arrive at this street, you’ll see the entrance, marked by a Baroque arch made of bricks over the alleyway, inscribed with the year 1760 marking the year of its construction and the Latin inscription: “Regia munitae rupis via” (The main road to the fortress on the hill).
You will start to climb steep steps which curve slightly around a bend to the right, before coming across the ticket vendor (or not, depending on what time you go!).
Getting onto the trail
This trail is almost impossible to get lost on – not only is it just a series of zig zags upwards, the man-made retaining walls and stone steps make it very clear which is the correct direction.
There is a secret part of the trail where you can wander away from the set path and head into the hills to a small restaurant. You can find out more information on this hidden gem here.
The path zig zags upwards quite steeply back and forth, with a terrain of both man-made stone steps and loose gravel rock. Another reason to head up early – the path gets quite busy and the lose rock can be a little unstable, particularly when you’re busy moving out of people’s way.
There is plenty of little religious shines and even a small church along the hike – take a rest and enjoy these old historic buildings.
Reaching the destination
The peak of this hike is the Castle Of San Giovanni. From here, there is the most spectacular view down into the red-roofed Old Town and across to the high mountain peaks surrounding the bay.
If you arrive just before sunrise, you can sit and enjoy the incredible sight of the first rays of the day slowly peaking over the mountain behind you and filling the bay below.
You can either descend via the same path, or if you follow the path when it veers to the left just after the fortress, you can follow a similar zig-zag path down another part of the mountain.
This will take you to the far southern end of the Old Town (finishing at point B).