Hiking the Ladder of Kotor in Montenegro

When we were in Montenegro and mum said we were going to hike the Ladder of Kotor I admit that I wasn’t exactly thrilled. It was January and bitterly cold, especially for a poor Aussie like me used to warm weather.

And seriously, look how tall those mountains are! In Australia we don’t even have mountains like that, we only have little hills!

Mountains in Kotor

Anyway, the Ladder of Kotor is a trail that runs from the town of Kotor to the top of the mountains above it. It was used as a military trail and as a way to get goods over the mountains.

Ladder of Kotor Difficulty

Ladder of Kotor, Montenegro

The ladder of Kotor starts at sea level and climbs to 553 metres above sea level.

You will probably see quite a lot of different elevations. This is because There’s no official turnaround point. The one marked on Google Maps is at 553 meters but if you go all the way to the restaurant on the P1 road you’ll get to 900 metres.

Despite being only between 4-6 kilometres, (again, depending on how far you go) the trail is pretty hard. The path is quite rocky and, although there are over 70 switchbacks to minimise the steepness, it is relentlessly uphill.

Only hike it if you have a fair level of fitness.

Time to Hike the Ladder of Kotor

We took about two and a half hours to climb up and back down again. But, we did sprint all the way down.

You probably shouldn’t sprint down it as dad nearly ran off a cliff. Not a little cliff, he would have died. It was hilarious!

Also, we’d planned to have some lunch at the top, but it was freezing – after a five-minute break we were shivering so we headed back down again.

If you’re going to be boring and just walk it, give yourself about 4 hours. You’re going to want to spend a lot of time looking at the views and taking photos!

History of the Ladder of Kotor

For centuries, the Ladder of Kotor was the only path from the Royal capital of Cetinje to the coast.

There’s a story that King Nikola wanted his own Billiard table at his palace in Cetinje. But, it would have to be collected at the harbour of Kotor.

It would have been a nightmare trying to get a billiard table up the Ladder of Kotor! The path is so narrow and steep, but, they had to please the king!

If you’re interested in reading more about Montenegro’s history I’d recommend reading this.

When we came back down this donkey was just tied up next to the street! We were so excited to see it!

Getting to the Trail Head of the Ladder of Kotor

The start of the Ladder of Kotor is actually pretty hard to find. It’s hidden away on a back street of Kotor.

If you have GPS on your phone or car the coordinates of the trailhead are: 42°25’37.8″N 18°46’24.1″E

I’ve also put a map in a bit further down.

Here’s where the start of the Ladder of Kotor is. It doesn’t look like much!

This sign is just a little up from the start so you’ll know you’re going the right way!

Then the spray painting on the rocks warning you of wolves is fifteen minutes up the trail. Don’t be worried, I’m pretty sure it’s a joke! We didn’t see any wolves…

Is The Ladder of Kotor Free to Hike?

Yes, it was when we did it.

Map of the Ladder of Kotor

We parked next to Pekara AS which is a bakery with awesome bureks. I’d do the whole hike again just for them, they were some of the best food we ate in Europe!

Ladder of Kotor Map

Ladder of Kotor Sign Post

It’s also a bit hard to know when to stop hiking. Going all of the way up to the road and the restaurant is an option. If you did that you could get a taxi back down.

We turned around at this signpost. I think most people turn around before it. Just turn around whenever you feel like. It doesn’t really matter.

Ladder of Kotor Gabrielle George

But, remember, the higher you climb the better the views!


Goats up the Ladder of Kotor

We passed through a whole flock of goats! They were very tame and of course, Holli and Asha just had to pat them before we continued.

On the way down we heard an old lady yodelling and rounding her goats up to bring them back down the mountain! It was awesome to listen to.

Cow, Ladder of Kotor

Dad met this cow. Poor dad, he misses his old milking cow so much. He gave this one a scratch but skedaddled when it started tossing its head!

We Got in Trouble

Ladder of Kotor Cafe

When we walked past this cafe we were ahead of mum and dad. A man came out to see if we wanted to stop for a drink. We’d all taken our jackets off and were carrying them. He was horrified to see the boys in just t-shirts and although he didn’t speak any English mimed frantically to get them to put their Jackets back on. Yes, it was a cold day but we’d been running uphill and were pretty hot.

In Croatia, an old lady told dad off because Forrest had taken his jacket off because he was running around with a ball. Dad told her we were Australians and she was like “Ah, Australians” and didn’t mind that he was underdressed anymore!

It’s a bit weird because in Australia you would NEVER say anything about how someone else was looking after their kids.

We ended up having a great day with all the history, and especially running back down as fast as we could! And the hot Bureks at the end were a great finishing touch to the day.


  • TongTong

    Hey Gabrielle,
    Your trip seems so interesting! What has been your favourite place to hike? I’m also really obsessed with the idea of going on a long trail with family, though I’ve never really put this thought into action yet. Do you think you would become a full-time traveller or hiker when you grow up or would you pursue a different job? It is great how you can exercise, spend time with family and experience nature at the same time.
    -TongTong (visit my blog-that isn’t as good as yours-at

    • Gabrielle

      Hi TongTong,

      You’ve asked some pretty hard questions!
      My favourite place to hike? If we’re talking short trails, the ladder of Kotor is probably my favourite one. The views are spectacular, it’s just amazing. I’ve only been on one hike that was longer than a couple of hours and that was the first 685 km of the Te Araroa in New Zealand. That was also awesome but a whole lot harder.

      Would I become a full-time traveller or hiker when I grow up or would I pursue a different job? This one’s really hard. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with my life yet. I doubt I’ll be a full-time hiker, although I want to finish the Te Araroa and maybe do a thru-hike in another country too. I think whatever I end up doing will involve some travelling. I can’t see myself staying in one place for the rest of my life.
      Gabrielle recently posted…Hiking the Ladder of Kotor in MontenegroMy Profile

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