If you’re visiting Kotor, Montenegro, don’t think twice about hiking the Ladder of Kotor. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the hike and how you can catch the most incredible views of the bay below.
The Ladder Of Kotor: Hiking To The Top Of Boka Bay
I had no idea what was in store for us when we decided to spend one month in Kotor, Montenegro, but I did know one thing: the hiking trails in Kotor were supposed to be absolutely breathtaking.
Upon arrival, we did some research to learn more about these epic hikes. One of the hikes that stood out to me the most was the Ladder of Kotor.
With little knowledge about this hike, we set out to find this elusive trail. What we found at the end of this trek is something I will never forget.
Stats On The Ladder Of Kotor
Difficulty – Intermediate/Strenuous
Elevation – 940m
Time on trail – 5-6 hours total
Distance – 4 miles one-way, 8 miles roundtrip
Although this hike can be strenuous at times, anyone who is in good physical condition can complete it. While it is 4 miles of upward climbing, if you have endurance, you’ll make it to the top.
If you’re not in the best shape of your life, don’t worry! I still suggest attempting this hike, even if it’s just part of it. You’ll start to catch awesome views within 15 minutes of walking. Go as far as you can and turn back when you feel ready.
The Ladder of Kotor Trailhead And Trail Map
For us, the trickiest part of hiking the Ladder of Kotor was finding the trailhead. Without any signs, it was difficult to pinpoint the exact location.
But, with help from a friendly local, we were easily able to find it. Here is a detailed description of where to find the Ladder of Kotor trailhead.
On the main road in Kotor (also known as E80), find the Voli supermarket. Once you find Voli, turn down this road heading toward the mountains.
Follow this road all the way back; there will be a river bed on your right. For photo reference, check out the picture below.
At the end, you’ll see a fence surrounding a business called Vodovod. On the righthand side of this building, you’ll see a trail. Follow this trail across the bridge at the end of the river bed. This is the beginning of the Ladder of Kotor.
Soon, you’ll start to head up the mountain using switchbacks.
If you’re able to use the GPS on your phone, save yourself time and use these coordinates to find the trailhead for the Ladder of Kotor: 42°25’37.8″N 18°46’24.1″E.
Hiking The Trail
The trail is very straightforward, so even hikers that are topographically disoriented will have trouble getting lost. Simply follow the endless switchbacks and look for the red and white trail markers, like the one in the picture below.
You’ll start to see panoramic views of the city, mountains, and the winding bay within minutes of being on trail. But with each turn, you’ll get an even better view.
Along the way, you’ll come across several houses that have set up tables and chairs for hikers. Pay a few Euro and enjoy a cold drink before continuing on with your journey up the Ladder.
Toward the top, prepare to look over the adjacent mountains and see the Adriatic Sea snuggling the coast of Montenegro. Seeing the point where Kotor Bay meets the ocean is incredible.
Before beginning the trek up the mountain, be prepared for a long and uphill climb. There were several points during our hike that we thought we had reached the top. To our surprise, the mountain continued upward as we passed another bend or reached another saddle.
You’ll know you’ve reached the end of the hike when you make it to P1, the main road that sits on top of the mountain on Krstac Pass. Nearby, you’ll find a restaurant where you can sit down and enjoy some food or drinks.
At the restaurant, decide if you want to trek back down the trail or take a taxi back to town. The taxi will cost approximately €25 and you can ask the restaurant staff to call one for you.
What To Bring On Your Hike
With limited resources on trail, it’s best to come prepared for this hike. Here are a few things we suggest to bring:
I recommend bringing a hydration backpack with you during this hike (or any hike for that matter).
Hydration backpacks are awesome because you’ll be able to drink water without stopping to pull out a water bottle each time. There is also plenty of room in these bags for snacks and extra warm clothes if necessary.
We use the Vibrelli Hydration Backpack and have for years.
Pack more water than you think you’ll need. With very limited shade on this hike, it gets hot FAST. Replenish your body with enough water to keep you hydrated.
A rain jacket is especially necessary if you plan on visiting Montenegro in November. The weather can change at any moment and it’s always better to come prepared. We wear North Face Rain Jackets when we hike, but any quality raincoat will do.
It’s always a good idea to bring food on a hike to refuel your body. Sandwiches and chocolate bars are excellent trail snacks. Pick up food supplies at the Voli market down the street from the Ladder of Kotor trailhead.
The Ladder At Sunset
Originally, we didn’t plan on attempting the Ladder of Kotor at sunset. But since we were visiting Montenegro in November and the fair-weather window was limited, we didn’t have much choice. The rain stopped and the clouds parted for the first time in 10 days. It was now or never.
And boy are we glad we conquered this mountain for sunset.
We started the hike at about 2:45pm. Since the sun sets at 4:30pm each night in November, we had 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach the top with daylight still in view.
We reached the top right as the sun was setting and it was the most magical sight we had seen in our lives. The sky turned a brilliant orange, pink, and purple and reflected so perfectly off the Bay of Kotor. Choosing to hike the Ladder of Kotor at sunset turned out to be the best thing we could’ve done.
If you get the chance to hike this trail for sunset, I highly recommend it. Since the trail is so straightforward, it’s difficult to get lost or end up off-trail.
However, you should take caution when descending. The path is well-maintained, but the loose rock can always be dangerous. Watch your footing and take the descent very slowly.
Be sure to pack a flashlight or headlamp for when the sun finally sets and the path becomes harder to see. If we didn’t have our flashlights, it would’ve taken us hours to reach the bottom.
The Ladder Of Kotor From The Top Down
Understandably, this hike might be daunting for some people. Don’t worry, there is still a way to enjoy this beautiful hike without exerting too much energy.
Some hikers choose to hire a taxi to bring them to the top of Krstac Pass. From there, you can hike down the path to Kotor. This saves you from having to climb 940 meters to the top.
Keep in mind, hiking down the mountain isn’t always easy either. Downhill hikes always take a toll on my knees. If you have weak knees, take this into account before attempting.
Take A Guided Tour
Still weary of this long hike? There is a possibility to take a guided tour. Viator is a company that offers guided tours of the Ladder of Kotor. They drive you to the top of Krstac Pass where you will descend as a group to the city of Kotor. No uphill hiking required.
Although some people choose this option, I highly recommend doing the hike without a guide. The guided tour costs upwards of $90 USD, whereas if you do this hike without a guide, it’s free!
The Ladder Of Kotor To Pestingrad Peak Hike
Want to turn this already epic hike into an iconic adventure? Trek to the very top of Kotor by summiting the tallest mountain in the area. Pestingrad Peak sits at 1009m above sea level and the trail to the top can be accessed by taking the Ladder of Kotor up to Krstac Pass. How convenient!
Take a look at the images below. Pestingrad Peak can be found just north of the end of the Ladder of Kotor trail. The trail is approximately 13 miles in length (including the Ladder of Kotor section), so start your hike early to give yourself enough time to summit.
From the top of the Ladder, continue on P1 (the main road) until you pass a small homestay called Holiday Home Nikolic. You’ll find the trail to continue up to Pestingrad Peak near this homestay. From this location, it’s approximately 2km up to the top of the peak.
The Ladder Of Kotor And San Giovanni Fortress
Many online guides about this hike aren’t up-to-date with current information. You’ll notice that many bloggers recommend hiking up the Ladder of Kotor trail and coming down through the San Giovanni Fortress (also known as the City Walls).
While you USED to be able to do this, you cannot do it anymore. Hiking the Ladder of Kotor is a completely separate hike from hiking the City Walls.
In order to access the San Giovanni Fortress, you must enter through the Old Town and pay €8 per person.
The city of Kotor has cracked down on people entering the City Walls via the Ladder of Kotor. Since you aren’t paying the entrance fee, they no longer allow hikers to cross over.
So forget what others have told you about climbing through a small window to reach the City Walls. There will be a security guard waiting for you on the other side who will turn you around immediately.
More Hikes In Kotor
Kotor and the entirety of Boka Bay are filled with incredible hikes. Since arriving in Montenegro, we’ve made it our mission to find all of the best hikes in the area. Here are a few more hiking options for your Kotor vacation:
Vrmac Ridge is a unique hike in Kotor Bay because there are so many access points and trailheads. We found our trailhead just steps from our doorstep.
At the top of Vrmac Ridge, you’ll be able to see both Kotor and Tivat; a breathtaking view.
The City Walls
The most popular hike in Kotor is the San Giovanni Fortress, also known as the City Walls. You’ll need to pay €8 to enter the City Walls, but it’s definitely worth the price for the incredible views of Kotor, the bay, and the Church of Our Lady of Remedy.
Keep in mind that this is a very popular activity for tourists in Kotor. Don’t expect to be the only hiker on the City Walls. In order to avoid crowds, try going early in the morning or just before sunset.
To check out our favorite hike in Montenegro, rent a car and drive up to Durmitor National Park, a 2.5-hour drive from Kotor. Here you’ll find the tallest mountain in Montenegro. Read more about this hike in our recent blog post: Bobotov Kuk: How to Hike to the Top of Montenegro.
Where To Stay In Kotor Bay
To get the most out of your trip to Kotor, I recommend staying directly in the Old Town. The Old Town is a walled city within Kotor and it’s something out of a fairytale. The history of this area goes back centuries and is the center for all activities in Kotor city.
The Old Town is steps away from the Ladder of Kotor trailhead.
The Wrap-Up: The Ladder Of Kotor
If you’re planning a trip to Kotor, Montenegro, a hike up the Ladder of Kotor should be at the top of your itinerary. Catch the most scenic views of the city of Kotor, Boka Bay, and the surrounding mountains at the top of this incredible hike.
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