Snaking its way up the mountain beside and then above Kotor’s famous fortress, this collection of over 70 switchbacks takes 3 – 4 hours and has an elevation gain of about 3,000 feet.
Bring plenty of water, good hiking shoes, and a jacket (the temps at the top are much cooler than the temps at the bottom, especially if the clouds roll in and envelop you).
How to Hike the Ladder of Kotor
The quiet route starts near an abandoned factory just outside the walls. To get there, navigate to Apartments Ana on the map and walk toward the white metal gate at the end of the road. Just to the right of that gate, a path curves around the building and stretches up toward the mountains.
Follow the switchbacks until you reach a stone house (with a sign advertising snacks and drinks) along the path. From here, the path splits. You can continue following the switchbacks to hike the full Ladder of Kotor route (the route I’m talking about here) or follow the straighter path that leads up along the left side of the stone house to go to an abandoned village and the famed Kotor Fortress.
Continue on past a second stone house (this one has a massive muscle dog tied up on the switchback above it, so leash your dog if you’re hiking with one), past the ominous (and not quite true) graffiti that warns of wolves and danger, and continually on and upward.
Eventually, you’ll come to a switchback with a particularly large rocky area (pictured above). This is the last of the sweeping views of the bay before you head into cool pine forest and until you emerge at the ridge road (the end of this hike).
If you like sunshine and want to soak up some more views before making your way into the forest, this is the place to stop.
Then it’s into the forest you go.
Once in the forest, you’ll come to a place where the path diverges. To reach the road, follow the sign for Zanjev do. The trail gets much steeper from now on, but you’re nearly there. Just another 30 minutes or so before you emerge at the edge of the ridge road and (conveniently) alongside a restaurant with multiple patios and sweeping views.
When you reach the top, you’ll pop out on a narrow, quiet road. On our hiking day, the clouds were just rolling in to cover the road and obscure the views as we arrived.
From here, you can keep hiking into the national park, follow the road to your left to a high altitude zip line, or go right to the restaurant and its patios.
When you’ve had your fill, you can head down the same path or call a cab from the restaurant (there’s a 30-minute wait and the cost will be 20 – 25 euros).
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All photos taken with my Sony a6000.