A guide to climbing Kotor’s city walls, Montenegro. Everything you need to know about scaling the medieval old town’s walls.
Set right on the Bay of Kotor, surrounded by breathtaking limestone cliffs, lies the medieval city of Kotor. From a top of the old city walls, the 360º views over the picturesque old town and bay are stunning.
The city walls were originally built in the 9th century. Made out of dark grey stone, their purpose was to offer the city protection from invaders. Varying rulers extended the walls over the years and they now completely surround the old town. During the day, the walls blend into their surroundings so well, it’s difficult to see them. However, at night they light up and can be seen from the other side of the bay.
We visited Kotor in September 2018. After road tripping ‘Around the Bay of Kotor‘ and along the coast of Montenegro, we decided to climb the city walls. So we set out early on our last morning and were at the gate by 7.30am. There was no one at the turnstyle entrance to buy a ticket from, so we entered for free.
It wasn’t overly difficult to climb the 1355 stairs to the top. No, we didn’t count the stairs, Google told us how many there were. Haha! There was a combination of stairs and paths made of rough stone. It was easier to take the stairs to the side of the path, then walk on the path itself.
Almost halfway up, we reached the Church of Our Lady of Remedy. The 15th century church was apparently built to cure people of the plague. Located about 100m uphill, the steep incline made the church’s location feel much higher than that. From that point, we had some nice views over Kotor and the bay.
After a short rest, we continued climbing a further 155mt to the Fortress of Sveti Ivan (St John), located the top of the walls. Originally built in the 5th century, the fortress provided an even higher vantage point for guards watching over the city. With panoramic views that stretched for miles, it would have been difficult for invaders to creep up on the city without being seen. Although the fortress was crumbling and was in ruins, we could only imagine how amazing it would have been in its heyday.
From on atop, the views of the Bay of Kotor and beyond were stunning and it was definitely worth the effort of climbing Kotor’s city walls for this unique experience. It took us around 1.5 hrs in total to climb the walls and return to the old town. That included time at the top for photos etc. By the time we got to the bottom, a man was at the gate collecting money from people who entered!
- Admission: €8 p/p between 8am-8pm during the high season (May-September) as of 2018. Although we are not 100% sure, we have read that entrance in the winter months is free
- The walls are open 24/7. If you visit outside of the above times, entrance is free. We didn’t pay to enter
- The main entrance is by Kotors North Gate
- It can get really hot in the summer months. So it’s worth starting the hike early in the morning in order to avoid the heat of the day. You will also avoid the hoards of tourists visiting from the cruise ships docked in the bay. The surrounding limestone cliffs offer shade in the morning, until the sun rises above them.
- In contrast, it can get cold outside of the summer months, so take a jacket
- Take plenty of water
- Wear sturdy shoes as the path/stairs are uneven and can get a bit slippery.
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Planning a trip to Montenegro? Check out our FREE guide: 7 Things to do Around the Bay of Kotor