Since you can basically max out the Kotor old town and historical context in a day, we were able to use our second day to relax as well as hiking Kotor. Even though we only had 2 nights and not 3 in Kotor, this was an opportunity to take it easy that we relished.
After an above average hotel breakfast (but nothing beat the breakfast we had in Ljubljana), we set out for hiking Kotor by finding the path up the mountain from an alleyway in the old town. We found it towards the west side after a bit of searching, and unfortunately were met by a pay gate. Brendan remembered reading something about there being a secondary entrance that was free outside the city, so we set out to find it. On our walk, we ran in to these cuties rambunctiously playing. The old name for Kotor, Cattaro, was certainly fitting.
The free entrance to get up to the fortress and hiking Kotor was actually from a path behind the parking lot we used on the northwest side of the city. You can see the paid access path inside the city walls with the squiggly line.
Here’s a view on the way to the trail, just after we exited the old town and headed towards the river.
Rather than going straight up a very high staircase, this free hiking Kotor trail was windy and gradually climbing, making for a much more leisurely experience. There were great views along the climb.
Hiking Kotor this way may also cause you to run in to some animals!
As we got closer to the top, the path started to turn in more towards the fort (we were constantly wondering if we were on the path to actually summit the mountain rather than get to the fort – turns out the answer is “yes”).
Then we finally found a window in to the fort, which put on on the main hiking Kotor stair climb from the old town.
Continuing the remaining height of the fort via stairs, we summited quickly.
And were rewarded with this view.
Along the way, we also enjoyed some beautiful wild flowers, including red poppies.
Wrapping around the fort and making it to the highest most point, even more breathtaking views were awaiting us.
After taking it in for 20 minutes or so, we took the normal staircase down. I would definitely recommend the trail up if you’re hiking Kotor, and the staircase down – you’ll avoid the crowds on the longest portion, not have a straight up climb, and get the benefit of getting down the fastest. There were several cruise ships continuously moving in and out of Kotor and one of the tours was the climb up to the fort – so be prepared to deal with hoards of slow people on the stair route. Virtually no one was on the free trail outside the city.
Half way down we paused to take in the rocky limestone cliffs.
And a closer-in view of the picturesque old town with red roofs. And you can see the cruise ship I was talking about in the harbor. It felt about the same size as the town from up there!
Back on the ground, we exited through the pay gate in reverse no problem. Definitely keep this #travelhack in mind if you’re hiking Kotor and on a budget.