Vrmac is the long limestone mountain that divides Kotor Bay (aka Boka Bay) in Montenegro. It’s the backbone of the peninsula that rises between Tivat and Kotor.
High above the glistening waters of Kotor Bay, the Vrmac Ridge Trail connects Fort Vrmac with Sveti Ilija (765 m), the highest peak along the ridge.
This is an easy, straightforward trail that follows an old military road. The trail delivers panoramic views of the Dinaric Alps, Boka Bay, and the many villages that cling to its shore.
For the best light, hike the Vrmac trail in the late afternoon, or early evening: essentially the hours leading up to sunset.
We recommend ending the hike at the Old Town of Kotor viewpoint, which is a short detour from Fort Vrmac.
Hiking the Vrmac Ridge Trail to Sveti Ilija, Kotor Bay
- Trailhead: Fort Vrmac Car Park | Google Maps
- 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
- 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 Dobrota: Apartman Castello (midrange), Solaris Lux Apartments (midrange), Corso Levante Luxury Suites (luxury), or Hotel Forza Terra.
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Vrmac Hiking Trail Map
Where Does the Vrmac Ridge Trail Start
The hike starts at Fort Vrmac, which is a former fortification of the Austro-Hungarian Empire dating back to 1860.
The Fort is only accessible by car, or by foot. As far as I know, there is no transit leading to the trailhead.
To get to Fort Vrmac, drive to Fort Trojica (P22) and then follow the road northwest to Fort Vrmac. This road is narrow. You may need to pull over from time to time to let oncoming traffic pass.
Use Google Maps to navigate to the Fort Vrmac car park: Google Maps. Free parking is readily available at the fort.
If you’re traveling without a car, you can hike to Fort Vrmac from Kotor.
It takes 1:45 hours to hike the 4.4 km switchback trail to the fort. The total elevation gain is 505 meters.
In Google Maps, the trailhead is called “Trailhead for Vrmac Fort.”
This path is clearly delineated on the Maps.me app.
It climbs up through a residential area to the P22 road and then zigzags continuously all the way up to Fort Vrmac.
Sveti Ilija Trail Description
Fort Vrmac Trailhead
When you park at the fort, you may see free-roaming farm animals like pigs and goats. There’s a farm next to the fort. There’s also a chained-up dog (likely for security) that barks when it hears approaching footsteps.
We visited twice and we noticed that the farmer attends to his animals at the end of the day and brings along two other dogs. These dogs were totally disinterested in us and seemed friendly, though we didn’t test it.
A lot of people like to tour the fort ruin. We had no interest, because it’s creepy, decrepit, and looks haunted. Let us know if you see anything interesting.
Anyway, the Vrmac trail leads in the opposite direction of the fort. So, you don’t have to walk by the farm, or the fortress ruin, to start the hike.
There are two trails which lead north in the direction of Sveti Ilij. You can hike along either one.
The upper trail leads directly from the parking area. The lower trail leads from the bend-in-the-road below the parking area. The main difference between the trails is that the lower trail is level the whole time. These trails merge in 1.1 km.
Fort Vrmac to Sveti Ilija (1:30 hours)
The upper trail leads through a thick forest. It’s a wide path carpeted in pine needles. The forest canopy is beautiful.
After about 10 minutes, the trail ascends ever so slightly. We passed a few wandering cows along the path.
The trail soon slopes down and merges with the lower track.
Maintaining the same direction, the trail leads to a broadcasting tower.
Soon, views open up to the right. The western side of Kotor Bay is flanked by a vertiginous wall of limestone mountains. At the base of the mountains, a string of villages cling to the seashore.
As you amble along the Vrmac crest, views open up on the left side as well.
You can see the other part of the bay, sometimes called “Tivat Bay,” and the Adriatic Sea.
The wide track favors the “left side” of the Vrmac crest and ascends continuously, albeit gently.
When you reach a maneuvering area, the well-graded military road curves to the right and ascends in serpentines to Sveti Ilija.
The Sveti Ilija summit is marked with a concrete box-shaped building and a disused advertising billboard.
Below the summit, there’s a ruin with a concrete surface, which serves as a great viewpoint overlooking the Bay of Kotor.
Sveti Ilija to Fort Vrmac (1:30 hours)
Enjoy the summit and then return to Fort Vrmac following the same trail.
We opted for the “lower” forest trail on the way back to the fort. There are a few abandoned buildings along the trail, near the car park.
Fort Vramac to Kotor Old Town Viewpoint (20 minutes out-and-back)
Before driving off, we recommend detouring 10-minutes to a viewpoint, which overlooks the Old Town of Kotor.
To find the viewpoint, follow the trail that starts at the car park and leads southeast in the direction of Kotor.
The wide forest trail descends to a signed junction. Take the right path, maintaining the same direction. When the trail ends, turn left to the viewpoint.
Karst outcrops create a natural safety barrier.
The viewpoint overlooks the triangle-shaped old town (“Stari Grad”), contained by fortress walls.
Sunset is magical here.
Where to Stay near Vrmac
Read our guide to Where to Stay in Kotor to find out the best places to stay in Kotor Bay: top 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.
Many accommodations in Dobrota are within walking distance of Kotor’s Old Town. For example: Apartman Castello (midrange apartments) and Solaris Lux Apartments (modern apartments).
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.
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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
In our Montenegro Hiking Guide, we summarized the best hiking destinations, including Komovi Mountains, Kotor Bay, Durmitor National Park, and Prokletije National Park.
Our favorite hikes in Kotor are Pestingrad Peak, Kotor Fortress, Ladder of Kotor, and Vrmac Ridge.
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
Outdoor Photography Gear
- Camera Body: Sony Alpha a6400
- Mid-range Zoom Lens: Tamron 17-70mm 2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
- Wide angle Zoom Lens: Sony – E 10-18mm F4 OSS Wide-angle Zoom Lens
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip