Boka Bay is rimmed with vertical limestone mountains, which form part of the greater Dinaric Alps mountain chain.
The sea and mountains collide in what can only be described as divine perfection.
While you can appreciate the unique beauty of Kotor Bay from the Old Town of Kotor and the Serpentine Road, Kotor’s hiking trails afford even more interesting perspectives.
Whether you’re visiting Kotor on a day trip from Dubrovnik, or on a longer Montenegro road trip, you can easily integrate a hike into your trip. Some hikes start directly in, or just outside the fortified city of Kotor, while others start further away and require a rental car to get to the trailhead.
Our Kotor hiking guide only highlights trails that are easy-to-follow, waymarked, and safe. Below, we’ve briefly summarized each trail and linked to their respective trail guides, where you’ll find detailed trails descriptions.
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Hiking in Kotor: 4 Best Day Hikes
- When to hike in Kotor: Spring and Fall. If you want to hike in summer, start as early as possible, to avoid the punishing heat.
- Kotor trail signage: There are trail signs, but trailheads aren’t well-marked. We used Maps.me to locate trailheads.
- Kotor trail waymarking: Trails are waymarked with the knafelc blaze (red circle with white interior dot) and the typical Austrian red-white-red waymark.
- Safety: Hiking in Montenegro is safe, if you stick to established, waymarked trails. Be cautious when following guidance on user-generated sites. There are snakes in the mountains around Kotor, including the nose-horned viper. We saw one snake (species unknown) on the side of the trail.
- Where to Stay in Kotor Old Town: Palazzo Sindik (apartment), Katareo Apartments (apartment), or Hotel Hippocampus (boutique luxury).
- Where to Stay in Kotor (Outside City Walls): Apartments Ana (budget), or Apartments Qualitas (budget)
- Where to Stay in Muo: Nikola Lux apartments (budget), House 44 SEAFRONT APARTMENTS (midrange), or Dekaderon Lux Apartments (midrange-luxury)
- Where to Stay in Dobrota: Apartman Castello (midrange), Solaris Lux Apartments (midrange), Corso Levante Luxury Suites (luxury), or Hotel Forza Terra.
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Kotor Hiking Map
How to use this map | Click on each icon, or trail to display more information.
1. Vrmac Ridge Trail
Vrmac is the long, barrel-shaped mountain that rises between Kotor and Tivat. It forms the backbone of the peninsula that divides the Bay of Kotor into a triangular-shaped “outer bay,” and a fjord-shaped “inner bay.”
The Vrmac ridge trail follows an old military road built by the Austro-Hungarians. It connects the Fort Vrmac ruin to Sveti Ilija (765 m), the highest point along the crest.
The hike begins at Fort Vrmac, which is a 17-minute drive from Kotor. If you’re traveling without a car, you can hike up to the fort from Kotor.
The Vrmac trail leads north, in the opposite direction of the Fort Vrmac ruin, into a pine forest.
You may encounter free-roaming cows and goats along this trail.
Soon after passing a broadcasting tower, views open up to the inner Kotor Bay and the Lovćen mountains. Later on, views open up on to the outer Kotor Bay and the Adriatic Sea.
The path ascends gently to Sveti Ilija, crowned with a concrete box-shaped building and an old advertising billboard.
The summit views are mesmerizing, especially leading up to sunset.
Follow the same wide track back to Fort Vrmac.
Fort Vrmac to Sveti Ilija Trail Details
Trailhead | Fort Vrmac (parking area)
Distance | 8.5 km out-and-back
Time Needed | 3 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 282 meters
Difficulty | Easy
Minimum Elevation | 469 meters
Maximum Elevation | 765 meters
Learn More: Vrmac Trail Guide
2. Ladder of Kotor
The Ladder of Kotor is a hiking trail that connects Kotor with Krstac Pass.
It’s a historic track, which was built in the 19th century by the Austrians, in order to connect Kotor with Njeguši and Cetinje, Montenegro’s former royal capital.
The Kotor Ladder hike begins on Tabačina Road, just outside of the fortified Old Town, near the River Gate (North Gate).
The trail rises steadily up the mountainside in 70 switchbacks, between the Scurda Canyon and the ramparts of Kotor.
Along the way, you’ll pass two stone buildings, which sell refreshments to hikers. From the higher building, you can detour to the Sveti Đorđe (St. George) chapel, located in the deserted village of Špiljari.
It takes about 2 hours to ascend to the Top of the Kotor Ladder viewpoint. This is where most people smartly turn-around and hike back down.
Trail 759 continues for another 40 minutes to Krstac Pass. When you reach the P1 road, turn right in the direction of Žanjev Do. Walk along the road and through the road tunnel and then descend along trail 753 in the direction of Kotor.
When you return to the trail 759/753 junction, follow the familiar switchback-trail down to Kotor.
Kotor Ladder Trail Details
Trailhead | Tabačina Road, the street parallel to the Scurda River
Distance | 14.1 km lollipop-circuit
Time Needed | 6 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 1009 meters
Difficulty | Moderate
Minimum Elevation | 7 meters
Maximum Elevation | 950 meters
Entrance Fee | FREE
Learn More: Ladder of Kotor hiking guide
3. Pestingrad Peak
Pestingrad is considered the “Hausberg” (home mountain) of Kotor. In fact, you can see the rounded summit of Pestingrad from the Old Town, the Ladder of Kotor, and many other places.
Technically, you can hike to Pestingrad from Kotor, by initially following the Ladder of Kotor to Krstac Pass, and then continuing on to the summit of Pestingrad. While feasible, this is a very long out-and-back hike (20 km out-and-back, 8 hours).
We started the hike at Krstac Pass. We parked at the roadside parking area facing the playground of Etno Selo Sveti Georgije (Sveti Đorđe).
Across from the parking area, there’s a gravel side road, which leads to a few rustic holiday homes. Follow this road towards the cone-shaped Mrajankik mountain (1336 m).
At the first signed junction, turn left in the direction of Derinksi Vrh (1 hour) and Pestingrad (1:30 hours). At the next junction, turn right to Pestingrad.
The undulating path skirts Derinski Vrh, leading through forest. When we hiked to Pestingrad, the trail was a bit overgrown, but still easy-to-follow, because of the plethora of waymarks.
When the trail emerges from the forest, descend the exposed (but secured) western flank of Derinski Vrh to the slender saddle between the two peaks.
Hike up the saddle and climb up to the rocky summit of Pestingrad, marked with Montenegro’s proud red and gold flag.
You can see the fortified Old Town of Kotor, the whole Bay of Kotor, and the Adriatic Sea.
Follow the same trail back to the starting point.
Krstac to Pestingrad Trail Details
Trailhead | Etno Selo Sveti Georgije / Krstac
Distance | 5.7 km out-and-back
Time Needed | 2:30 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 243 meters
Difficulty | Difficult
Minimum Elevation | 927 meters
Maximum Elevation | 1027 meters
Learn More: How to Hike to Pestingrad Peak
4. Kotor Fortress and City Walls Hike
The Kotor Fortress stands on the San Giovanni Hill (St. John Hill) at 260 meters above sea level, overlooking the Old Town of Kotor and the Bay of Kotor.
The Kotor Fortress (aka St. John’s Fort, San Giovanni Fortress) is part of a medieval fortification system that encircles the Old Town as well as the surrounding hillside. These fortifications consist of gates, bastions, towers, and defensive walls (ramparts).
It takes about 45 minutes to hike up the 1350 steps to St. John’s Fort.
There are two gated entry points within the Old Town of Kotor. The easiest one to find is close to the River Gate (North Gate).
After paying the 8 EUR entrance fee, simply follow the stone pathway up to the Church of our Lady of Remedy and further up to the hilltop fort.
This is one of the most popular things to do in Kotor, because it starts directly in the Old Town and it offers the best bird’s-eye views of the Old Town.
The fort is in ruins and serves as a viewpoint, more so than a place of interest (at least in my opinion).
But, while hiking up to the fort, you can better see the thick defensive walls, which safeguarded the city for centuries.
Kotor Fortress Trail Details
Trailhead | River Gate/North Gate, Old Town of Kotor
Distance | 2.5 km out-and-back
Time Needed | 1:30 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 254 meters
Difficulty | Moderate
Minimum Elevation | 6 meters
Maximum Elevation | 260 meters
Learn More: Kotor Fortress Hike
Where to Stay in Kotor
Read our guide to Where to Stay in Kotor to find out the best places to stay in Kotor Bay: best areas and accommodations.
Old Town of Kotor (Inside City Walls)
There’s something so romantic about staying within the walled city of Kotor, a tangle of narrow streets lined with historic buildings, which house humming restaurants and bars.
The entire UNESCO-protected Old Town is a pedestrian zone, so naturally, accommodations do not offer on-site parking. If you’re traveling without a car, definitely consider staying in the Old Town.
If you’re traveling with a car, I wouldn’t write it off altogether. Just ask your accommodation for clear parking instructions in advance of your stay.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to carry your luggage to your accommodation, as accommodations rarely offer a bellhop service.
If you’re sensitive to noise and loud music, don’t stay in the Old Town on Friday, or Saturday nights. There’s a midnight curfew on music, but it’s not strictly enforced.
Budget | Old Town Youth Hostel is a social hostel for the young party types with raving reviews.
Apartment | Palazzo Sindik is a lovely one-bedroom apartment in the old town of Kotor.
Apartment | Katareo Apartments offers newly renovated and spotless apartments with kitchenettes. Try to book the apartment with the terrace, if it’s available.
Luxury | Hotel Hippocampus is a stylish boutique hotel set in a 17th century building with a roof terrace and restaurant. A slow, mouthwatering breakfast is served on the rooftop, featuring local cold cuts and cheeses, freshly baked Montenegrin pastries, eggs-to-order, coffee, and orange juice. All rooms are air-conditioned.
Luxury | Boutique Hotel Astoria is a luxury hotel, housed in the UNESCO-protected 13th-century Buca Palace. The hotel’s restaurant spills outside onto the square. Rooms are spacious and feature funky, love-it-or-hate-it decor.
Luxury | Hotel Vardar is a 4-star hotel with classic rooms situated on the main square in the Old Town of Kotor, a stone’s throw from the Sea Gate. Guests have access to a gym, sauna, and steam bath.
Kotor (Outside City Walls)
Budget | Apartments Ana is located just steps away from the River Gate (North Gate) of the Old Town at the Kotor Ladder trailhead. This is a great value apartment with private parking.
Budget | Apartments Qualitas offers snug apartments at the marina, very close to the South Gate.
Dobrota is the sprawling settlement to the north of Kotor, which stretches for several kilometers from the Old Town to Ljuta.
It’s hard to know where Kotor ends and Dobrota begins, as one bleeds into the other.
However, many others are 3-4 kms away (10 minute drive), including some of the finest seafront hotels in Kotor Bay.
Far from the bustling port and city, these accommodations provide private sea access, minimal traffic, and a more peaceful environment.
Stand-out seafront accommodations: Hotel Forza Terra (5-star boutique hotel) and Hotel Forza Mare (boutique hotel), Villa Maestral (apartments), Corso Levante Luxury Suites (luxury suites), and Three Dots (private villa).
Muo is the seaside settlement to the northwest of Kotor’s Old Town, along the base of Vrmac. From Muo, it’s about a 15-25 minute walk to the Old Town.
Budget | Nikola Lux apartments are two modern and clean apartments with sea-view balconies and private parking. The price is unbeatable. 2 nights minimum stay.
More accommodations in Muo: House 44 SEAFRONT APARTMENTS (midrange apartments), Residence Portofino (midrange apartment), or Dekaderon Lux Apartments (midrange-luxury apartments), and Villa Mima (4-bedroom villa)
Montenegro Trip Planning Essentials
Use our Montenegro Travel Guide to plan an unforgettable trip.
When to Visit Montenegro
We recommend traveling to Montenegro during shoulder seasons: spring and early fall.
For coastal exploration, May, September and October are ideal months. For hiking in the mountains, it’s best to visit in summer, or early fall, when trails are mostly snow-free.
We always rent a car when visiting Montenegro, so that we can reach trailheads and visit destinations that are not accessible by transit.
Follow our 2 Week Montenegro Road Trip Itinerary for route planning.
Use the intuitive Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
Places to Visit in Montenegro
Take a look at Top Places to Visit in Montenegro for a summary of the most beautiful coastal and mountainous destinations across this Balkan country, including Kotor, Lake Skadar, Durmitor National Park, and Ulcinj.
Hiking in Montenegro
Montenegro Packing List
- Day Pack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- Hiking Socks: Smartwool women’s Performance Hike Full Cushion Crew / Smartwool Men’s Performance Hike Full Cushion Crew
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Reusable Water Bottle: Ion Leakproof 32 oz Water Bottle