Arriving in the Bay of Kotor was like landing in a picture perfect adventure wonderland. Surrounded by jutting mountains precariously peering over cobalt glassy water, peppered with medieval churches and fortresses and cobblestone trails I didn’t know whether to grab a mountain bike, my running shoes, kayak or climbing equipment (there is a stunning Via Ferrata right above Kotor)!
Top of the Old Kotor Fort Trail
This trail has many names. Googlemaps calls it the Top of the Old Kotor Fort Trail, some call it the Ladder of Kotor and I have seen it even called the Serpentine. Whatever you call it, this is a fabulous medieval trail which at first offers stunning views of the city of Kotor, but as you climb higher and higher it rewards you with fantastic views of the Bay of Kotor.
Climbing switchback after switchback I passed fragrant pomegranate, fig and olive trees, multitudes of rainbow colored wildflowers, long haired goats with huge horns, singing birds, butterflies and bees! After 72 switchbacks I reached the top of the Old Fortress walls and was rewarded with a jaw dropping view of serene and oh so magical Kotor Bay!
Although my Google Fi plan decided to stop working during this trip into Montenegro (and I was running alone), I couldnt help but continue up the trail as it changed to a beautiful verdant forest.
There are so many trail options at the top of the Old Kotor Fort Trail. Some of the trails lead into Lovcen National Park, which is definitely worth a visit. Prior to attempting these trails, please keep in mind to bring water – the steepness and heat combined can be taxing.
Sveti Ivan Fortress
Starting at the Skudra River (the same start as for the Old Kotor Fort Trail/Ladder of Kotor) you climb up the trail built by Austrians who also built many of Montenegro’s roads. The road connected Kotor and Montenegro’s royal capital, Cetinje, and was used by families bringing their produce to sell at the market in Kotor.
About 15 – 20 minutes up the trail you will see a house with signs for drinks, cheeses, etc., at this point the trail continues up (and to the left) for the Ladder of Kotor and to the right (or straight ahead) for the Sveti Ivan Fortress. About 3 minutes down the trail towards the Fortress, it opens onto an abandoned church and a beautiful field of flowers and ruins of the fortress. From there the trail is well marked showing you a way to an opening in the Fortress to climb through to get to the steps of the Fortress (saving you 8 Euro each – and yes it is a legal trail).
Poor Rob was suffering from the blooming landscape, so we tried to cool off at the top of the Fortress and learn a bit more about it. The fortress itself is only one part of the intricate fortification system that dates back to medieval times, starting in the 15th century when the then independent nation succumbed to Venetian rule. The stone walls lace the mountainside along with remnants of towers and other defense strongholds that once provided protection for the city and its residents. The Fortress is in quite a state of disrepair, but lovely to climb through. The breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor and the city itself are well worth the sweat.
The way down was quite simple as we just followed the steps into the Old Town of Kotor.
The trails of Kotor Bay are not to be missed! We will definitely be back with mountain bikes.
Have you done any of the Bay of Kotor trails? Let us know which you liked best.