Kotor Castle Hike: Fun Climb Up to the Historic Castle of San Giovanni

Our lady Church Kotor

Once you’re done exploring Kotor’s famous old town it’s time to get a view from above! Hiking in Kotor to the Castle of San Giovanni is one of the most popular things to do in Montenegro, and for good reason. If you can make it up the hundreds of stairs and hairpin turns high above the Kotor walls, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Kotor Bay. Montenegro’s mountain range will serve as the backdrop as you explore the timeless history in and around the Kotor Castle.

Travel Inspiration

Hiking in Kotor to the Castle Of San Giovanni

Starting Location: Old Town Kotor (Follow the small “Entrance to the Fortress” signs)
Cost: 8 Euros
Hours: 8am – 8pm
Active Level: High
Time: 1.5-3 Hours
Packing List: Sneakers, Water, and Sunblock

Kotor Old Town

Laundry Hanging in Old Town

Starting the Castle Of San Giovanni Hike

If you want the best views of Kotor Bay from the Castle of San Giovanni get moving as soon as you can in the morning. The gates open around 8am, and soon after that, the hot sun starts to shine over the mountain peak.

The longer you wait the more crowded it also gets especially when there are multiple cruise ships in town. We were told you can skip the fee and enter before they start collecting money at 8am, but we didn’t arrive till around 8:30 so we can’t verify that.

Hiking Kotor

Long Steep Kotor Castle Climb

The climb itself should take just over an hour to reach the Castle of San Giovanni. However, when they designed hiking Kotor to its amazing castles and churches they didn’t make it easy. In total, the hike has 1355 stairs and over 70 switchbacks! So while it’s not a long hike it is incredibly exhausting.

Fortunately, you’ll be passing numerous viewpoints and historical sites on the way up to the Kotor Castle. Don’t hesitate to stop for a breather at one of the many picturesque spots along the way.

As you can see from the photo below there are two very different “paths” you can use on the hike up the Kotor Walls. One side is stairs, while the other is a semi-flat rocky cluster that can be utilized for passing other hikers.

Hiking Kotor

Bay of Kotor View

Fun Facts About the Castle Of San Giovanni 

1. The climb to the castle is 1200 meters (almost 4,000 feet!) high above Kotor Bay.

2. The historic fortifications date back to the year 532 in 6th century Byzantine Empire.

3. Roman Emperor Justinian the Great built the Kotor walls and fortress to protect the ancient city.

4. The castle has seen many battles and modifications over time. It’s been under French, Russian, and Venetian rule just to name a few.

5. The incredible structures along with Kotor Bay were named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

6. San Giovanni Castle goes by several other titles which can make it confusing. St. John’s Fortress and Kotor Castle are alternate names you might hear.

View From the Kotor Castle

Once you reach the Castle Of San Giovanni (also known as Kotor Castle) you’ll truly feel like the king of the world. The orange roofs of old town perfectly blend with the blue fjord below, and limestone rocks in the background.

Even as you explore the almost 1,500 year old ruins, it will be impossible to take your eyes off the stunning scenery surrounding the fortress. We’ve done a lot of hiking around the world, and I’d put this view of Kotor Bay up against some of the best!

European Ruins

Europe Ruins

Castle Of San Giovanni View

Have any questions about hiking Kotor, the Castle Of San Giovanni, or want to share your own experiences? Please comment below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

Where To Stay In Kotor Montenegro

Ultra Luxury – Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro – Looking for some luxury inside the walls of old town? Check into this renovated 18th century masterpiece right in the middle of all the action. Hotel Cattaro also features one of the most popular clubs in the Bay of Kotor with the nightclub Maximus.

Fun Vacation – Old Town Clock Tower Apartment – This fun apartment is located just steps away from the famous old town clocktower and within range of all the other historic architecture of this UNESCO world heritage site!

Hostel Life – Old Town Youth Hostel – Set right in the heart of Kotor old town, this hostel is the perfect place to go if you’re looking to make some new friends on your trip. We regularly walked by Old Town Youth Hostel and would hear people chatting, having fun, and even singing into the night from the common area.

For more places to stay within the Kotor Walls of Montenegro you can explore the latest prices here!

Pin For Later 

Bay of Kotor

Montenegro Travel Planning 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars for renting vehicles. A quick travel tip is to ask for a discounted weekly rate rather than booking 2-3 days.

 Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner. That’s how we flew from Norway to Poland for under $20 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld can be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around the world. From food tours to skip the line entry passes! 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Travel Planning Guide

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  1. Yo
    July 14, 2022 / 3:14 pm

    Où est donc l’entrée des escaliers? Nous montés au petit village tout en haut de l’autre accès mais n’avons pas vu l’entrée pour le château proprement dit!!!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      July 14, 2022 / 3:48 pm

      Sorry, do you mean where to start the hike? If you follow a map to Church of our Lady Remedy it will put you at the entrance and you’ll be on your way up to the castle. Hope that helps!

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