How To Hike The Stunning Ladder of Kotor Hike in 4 Easy Hours

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Are you visiting Kotor Montenegro? One of my favourite things to do in Kotor is hike and I highly recommend you give it a whirl too. For the absolute best views of the bay of Kotor Montenegro and Kotor Old Town, make sure to be a step above the rest doing the Kotor fortress hike to San Giovanni (also known as St. John’s castle). Instead, take the alternative route up the Ladder of Kotor for the ultimate Kotor hike!

Photo of Alice looking out to the bay from the second viewpoint at the Ladder of Kotor
Prepare yourself for the EPIC views on the hike up Ladder of Kotor!
View from the top of the Ladder of Kotor hike which shows the bay, Princess Cruises Sky Princess Cruise ship and the old town of Montenegro
Stunning view from the Ladder of Kotor hike from the top of the trail
Make it to the top of the Ladder of Kotor hike in Montenegro and you'll be rewarded with this view
Stunning view from the Ladder of Kotor hike

How to hike the Ladder of Kotor in 4 easy hours

This easy hiking project can easily be done in 4 hours if you go as far as Krstac Pass and back. This time includes photo stops, a coffee break and cute candid animal moments. Kotor is famous for its cats of Kotor after all, so make sure to spend some time with them alongside the mountain goats and dogs.

This is a perfect Montenegro hiking activity to do if you have one day in Kotor – most likely if you’re visiting Kotor port on a cruise. This is exactly what I did as I voyaged around the Mediterranean Sea on the brand new Sky Princess Cruise Ship

Photo of the Sky Princess Cruise Ship docked at the bay
See you later, Sky Princess! We are going on an adventure!

Worried you won’t make the 4 hours? No sweat. There are plenty of opportunities to cut this route shorter if you’re feeling tired or are running out of time. I’ll let you know at which points you can make the route shorter throughout this article.

My sponsored Sky Princess experience was made possible thanks to Princess Cruises. Opinions, as always, remain my own = open, honest and straight to the point.

Ladder of Kotor Quick Answers

Short on time? Here’s what you need to know straight up.

Where is Kotor Montenegró?

Kotor monténégro (spelt Котор in Montenegrin Cyrillic) is a city on the coast nestled in a secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor. 

Where to start Ladder of Kotor

It’s marked on the map below! Do not head where everyone is going for the castle climbing. Instead head for Apartments Ana which is next to the where the trail starts.

What to do in Kotor

Hike! But if your plans change at the last minute or you have more time, check out these other Kotor tourist attractions

What is the Ladder of Kotor?

The Ladder of Kotor, also known as the Ladder of Cattaro, is a path that stretches 6.4km (4 miles) one way and 12.8km (8 miles) as a round trip.

It reaches 940 meters at the very top if you hike up to Krstac Pass. Historically, this path was created to connect Kotor with Njegusi Village and Cetinje.

Photo of Alice hiking on the Ladder of Kotor
Get ready for one of the most epic hikes in Montenegro!

Is the Ladder of Kotor hike better than hiking to St John Fortress?

Taking this hike rather than directly to Kotor Castle will give you more expansive and ‘wow’ views. I got some great shots on my camera and I loved meeting all of the different animal residents along the way but…

Watch out! Security is blocking the castle walls

Since September 2019, security guards are now guarding the rear access to the castle walls where hikers taking the Ladder of Kotor used to get in to get back into town. I suspect it’s because coming this way meant you did not have to buy an entry ticket in town, and officials have had enough of that.

Me and my friend Sandy learnt the hard way at the end of our hike, that we were not going to get through this way to head back down into Kotor Old Town. We tried flirting. We tried bribery. The security guard wasn’t having any of it hehe. 

But, depending on what time of day you arrive, and if luck is on your side, there may not be a security guard here at all. My followers on the Teacake Travels Instagram have had different experiences depending on what time of the day and year they’ve been hiking here.

It really isn’t a problem if you can’t get through. You can easily take a track back to the first cafe which is easily accessible from this point – it just means that you unfortunately won’t be able to return via the castle walls. It took 20 minutes for me and my mate Sandy to get down this way. 

Check out these other activities in Kotor Montenegro

Here are some of the top activities and tours to get up to here!

How to get to the start of the Ladder of Kotor trail

If you are coming into Kotor on a cruise, which in my case was with Princess Cruises, then you will be dropped off at Kotor Port. From here, the start of the trail is going to be on the left side of the Old Town straight ahead if you’re looking at Kotor mountain. Check out the exact starting point on the map!

As Kotor is so small, you can afford to happily get lost in the tiny side streets as you make your way to the start. Or, save your aimless wanderings for when you get back down. Just a heads up: there are plenty of shopping opportunities here so you may get a little sidetracked and lose track of time!

Photo of the Main Square in Kotor
Start in the old town of Kotor

Me and my mate Sandy took a route through town that naturally led us to crossing a bridge across the Scurda river before taking a sharp right to get to the start of the trail.

Don’t be put off by the underwhelming start

You may wonder if you’re even in the right place when you start this hike. There is overgrowth, some random buildings and a dusty path with not much else on it. No signs. Do not be put off. If you’re where you are, where I’ve marked on the map, you’re good to go. And you should see that the shape of a ladder is forming in the trail already, with it going back and forth in a zig-zag shape!

Look out for goats

Yes, they absolutely stink but my word, the facial expressions goats can pull will never fail to amuse me. Me and Sandy did not encounter any goats on our way up here, but on the way back down we were spoilt.

There were goats munching on the vegetation left, right and centre that it almost turned into a temporary goat traffic jam! If goats are not your cup of tea; please do not worry. They are too busy munching on the greens to worry about munching on you. Just bring a hanky or a clothes peg for your nose to hang back from that unmistakable goat aroma!

Photo of goat walking on the edge of the path with the town in the background
These goats have special hooves that help them effortlessly travel around the epic Ladder of Kotor
Photo of goat eating from a bush with the city and Sky Princess cruise ship in the background
Hungry goats all over the place! Hey, can you spot the Sky Princess?

Take a pit stop at the first cafe Franovići

This cafe next to the castle walls was too early on the Ladder of Kotor path to stop at for me and Sandy. We consider ourselves as fit hikers and probably too excited about everything – so we were happy to go on. However, this is your adventure and you must do what’s best for you. There’s plenty of drinks to be had and some snacks too. The owner was serving customers when we passed and appeared to be very lovely (and was speaking English) so this might influence you to stop here instead of the second cafe.

Photo of the first cafe right next to the old castle walls in the background
Have a seat at this charming cafe with views of the old castle walls

Watch out for wolves?!

Yes there’s cats. There’s dogs. But wolves?! Me and Sandy didn’t know how seriously to take it. So we didn’t take it seriously at all. Perfect spot for a photoshoot! Let me know in the comments if you find a wolf pack on your way up. That’s if you live to tell the tale…

Photo of Alice in front of a rock face with graffiti warning about wolves in the area
There are wolves?! Not that we saw but I wonder if this is true…

Say hello to the Cats of Kotor

On your way up you will no doubt come across some furry friends nonetheless. Kotor has come to be known as a location with hundreds of stray cats and they are very much a part of the community as much as the locals are. They’re a symbol of good luck and with plenty of mountains and water around, they’re said to be excellent at keeping the rats and snakes at bay! 

Photo of white cat with orange ears and tail and the old castle walls in the background
Let’s be real, cats rule the Ladder of Kotor!
Photo of a kitten found at the second cafe on the Ladder of Kotor
This kitten was found at the second cafe. I hope it gets along with Brutus!

If you’re a cat lady like me, you’ll be excited to know that there are plenty of shops in town selling kitty handicrafts and memorabilia. If you want to hang with your feline friends in town just as much as in the mountains too, I recommend heading for the main square where they’re known to congregate.

And I so wish I had had more time here, because wait for it…there’s a cat museum! For just €1 you can enter the Kotor Cats Museum once you get back down from your hike. Puuuurfect!

Reach the second cafe Perovici

As you work your way up the ladder path, you will soon reach the second cafe on your hike called Perovici! They don’t speak English here but of course they’re lovely (and there’s cats!) so do stop by if you wish.

Photo of a white and brown dog named Brutus standing and holding a stick in his mouth
Stop by the second cafe to play fetch with the sweet Brutus!

They also have a super friendly dog, on who first impressions, looks like he’s gonna cause mayhem. But with everything in life, don’t judge a book by its cover. This dog is a big softie and will encourage you to throw back and forth his favourite stick to him! We unofficially have named him Brutus.

Wanna get off this trail and cut your hike short?

This is the point where you can follow the trail to the right to Sveti Đorđe church. You can explore the ruins and try and get through the guarded exit of the fort. But as noted above in this article – this is now not always possible!

Photo of the second cafe on the trail of the Ladder of Kotor
Stop by the cafe for a rest, drink, and play with the cafe pets!
Photo of our friend Sandy peaking into the back exit of the Kotor Fortress
No sneaking into the Fortress, Sandy!

Keep going to reach your first super viewpoint

The views are simply brilliant all of the way up, but if you need motivation to keep going, then you’ll come upon an old base. This is a picture perfect location for the instagrammers and meditators, to look out upon and soak up how far you’ve come on the Ladder of Kotor already. 

Make the most of it. And if you’ve come via cruise ship, you’ll no doubt be able to spot yours out on the water. We could see the Sky Princess the whole way up. 

Photo of the first viewpoint of the bay from the Ladder of Kotor
The magnificent landscape from the first viewpoint on the Ladder of Kotor!

Appreciate the Ladder of Kotor from your second viewpoint

You’re doing great. Keep going adventurer! When you get to the top of here, you will start to appreciate just how back and forth you’ve been going on this ladder. The zig zag path opens up beneath you and your mouth will be saying ‘Wow!’


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Osprey Women’s Kyte Backpack

Packing Cubes

Hiking shoes

Trekking poles

Waterproof jacket

Vigilant Personal Alarm

24/7 WiFi Portable Device

Sony a6000 Mirrorless Camera

GoPro Hero7 Black Camera

Solar charger



Dry Bag

Water 2 Go Filter Bottle (15% off with code TEACAKE15)

Menstrual Cup

Hit the highest point at the Ladder of Kotor’s highest point

If you’ve made it to the second viewpoint then you’re just another 5 minutes away from your third viewpoint which is Krstac Pass woohoo! Congratulations if you make it to this point. This is the top of the Old Kotor Fort Trail and a well-deserved spot to reach. From here you’ll be standing on the border between Kotor and Catinje. You can now see what is below you to the left just as much as to the right. What a view eh?!

Photo from the third viewpoint to the right where you can see the back and forth of the path on the Ladder of Kotor
You earned this incredible viewpoint!

Where to go from here

From here, me and Sandy turned back to make it to our cruise ship in time.

You can carry on if you wish to the end of the trail where it meets the P1 road next to Restaurant Nevjesta Jadrana. But please allow more time for this! You will most likely not make it here and back to your ship in 4 hours if you go this far.

Photo of Alice resting at the ruins of St. John Church on the Ladder of Kotor
Catch your breath and explore the Saint John Church

Especially because I’m sure you’ll want to spend some time exploring Saint John church, the ruins and try and make it into Saint Giovanni Castle.

Visit Sveti Đorđe church and Saint Giovanni Castle

Turn back on the trail and make your way back to Perovici cafe! From here you can take the path to the left to go and visit the church and hopefully get into the castle and fort the back way.

As noted at the start of this article, there is now a guard at the back of the fort who is not letting hikers in this way. However, depending on the time of day you visit, and whether there is even a guard there, there’s a chance you’ll still get in. Plan your time to prepare for the unexpected and hike back down the way you originally came up!

Don’t forget to check out these other activities in Kotor Montenegro

Here are some of the top activities and tours to get up to here!

Are you reading to take on the Ladder of Kotor hike?

Whether you are staying for a while or stopping in for a quick visit, the Ladder of Kotor hike is an incredible way to spend the day! Have you done the hike? Were you able to get past the guarded fortress? Let us know in the comments which viewpoint was your favourite.

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The Ultimate Cruise Packing List (+ Princess Cruises Dress Code)

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Kotor Montenegro was a docking city on our amazing cruise aboard the Sky Princess. Let me know if you’re going to try to hike the Ladder of Kotor on your short docking stop!

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How to hike the ladder of Kotor hike in Montenegro

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