There are 1,350 stone steps to the castle ruins in Kotor, Montentegro. They are worth it — the views are magnificent.
The San Giovani Castle is in ruins, but you’re not going up there to explore a castle. The views are stunning from every angle – even along the backside looking away from the bay up to an even higher cliff, and also into the valley south of Kotor.
The fortress on the cliff dates back to the sixth century and was influenced by various ruling empires throughout history. Towers, walls, gates, drawbridges, moats and more make up the fortress compound.
We went in the summer, and it was extremely hot, so we left as the sun came up so it was much cooler. I’m sure other times of the year will have more pleasant temperatures.
Here are a few more helpful tips so you have a good experience:
- The admission gate opens at 8:00 a.m. If you go before then, the gate is open, and you don’t have to pay admission. If you do pay admission, I believe it’s around $8 or $9.
- Wear comfortable shoes. The stones are worn smooth and some of them are broken. To the side of the stairs, the path is covered with rocks which can be difficult to walk on with flip flops if you have to move aside to accommodate other people.
- Go at a time when you can avoid the crush of cruise ship passengers. Better yet, go on a day there is no cruise ship at dock. To check the port schedule, go here. (If you are coming from a cruise ship, at least try to get up to the top before everyone else.)
- Bring water. If you go early, there are no options to buy water. Later in the day, however, enterprising locals sell bottles of water along the pathway.
- Pack out. Just like camping, whatever you bring up, please bring down. There are some garbage bags on the route, but someone has to carry it all down, and so you may as well help out and be part of the garbage solutions.
It took us an hour to get to the top, and an hour to get back down. But we stopped many times along the way. I’ve read some reviews wheres older people or out-of-shape people took two hours to reach to the top. You don’t need to be in perfect shape to do this – and there is reason to hurry if you are not trying to beat a throng of cruise ship passengers.
You won’t want to race up anyway. Views along the entire path are amazing — not just at the top. You can find a spot anywhere along the route to stop and enjoy the beauty of the place.
There’s also a small chapel about a third of the way up. On the way down, there was a makeshift mini-souvenir shop set up out front. You’ll also see cats and perhaps an occasional stray dog.
There is a back entrance – another way to get to the top. The back pathway allegedly passes a village of some sort and doesn’t have any steps. It’s said to be an old donkey trail. We plan to check that out at some point during our visit. When we do, I’ll write another quick post.