The little town of Perast on the Bay of Kotor makes for an easy (and lovely!) day trip from Kotor. Situated directly across from the Verige Strait, the narrowest part of the bay, Perast is just a 30-minute drive (or boat ride) from Kotor. Read on to discover the best things to do in Perast, Montenegro!
Perast is most famous for a little island that lies in the Bay just across from the town. The Church of Our Lady of the Rocks on the island is one of the most visited sights in Montenegro. But there’s more to see and do in Perast!
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN PERAST, MONTENEGRO
Perast was a fishing village until it came to prominence during the Venetians’ struggles with the Turks. Under the Venetians, Perast became prosperous, and lots of palaces and churches were built.
Today’s Perast retains much of that 18th century charm, with palm trees and palaces, bougainvillea spilling over fences, and the beautiful bay just across the street. Perast is part of the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor UNESCO World Heritage site.
Located at the foot of the Sveti Elijah Hill, Perast is a breathtaking combination of natural beauty, history, culture, and charm. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours, soaking in the beauty of the Boka Kotorska. And if you enjoy photography, you will love Perast, because it looks so pretty from every angle!
Here are some things to do in Perast on your day trip from Kotor.
#1 Enjoy a boat tour to the island
The most popular thing to do in Perast is the boat trip to the little island in the middle of the bay. While the destination is of import, the trip to the island (and back) is also fabulous.
As you leave the pier at Perast, be prepared with your smartphone or camera, because the views of Perast from the water will take your breath away. We didn’t even have good weather on the day we visited, and I was blown away by how beautiful the little town looks.
There are actually two islands in the Bay of Kotor, although you can disembark at only one of them. Both little islands are extremely picturesque, so get ready to take more photos!
The Island of Saint George is the island where you cannot go ashore. It is a natural island and houses an old monastery. The second island holds the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks.
Water taxis depart every few minutes from the pier at Perast for the island. We paid 5 Euros per person for the round trip. Our boatman told us we could have an hour on the island, which was plenty for us.
#2 Visit the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks
Gospa od Škrpjela is an artificial island in the Bay of Kotor. It was put in place stone by stone by the fishermen in the area, after an icon of the Madonna and Child was found on a rock on the water. The tradition of adding more rocks to the islet continues to this day, at a ceremony held each year in July.
On the islet, you’ll find the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks. Walk around the church to admire it from every angle. Then step inside, where you’ll find beautiful frescoes, many of them painted by a local artist.
In the sacristy of the church, you’ll see a tapestry embroidered by a lady from Perast. She created it painstakingly, over 25 long years. What’s unique about the tapestry, other than the time it took to complete, is that it contains some of the lady’s own hair, woven along with the gold and silver threads. The altar is gorgeous as well.
There’s a little museum adjacent to the church: a small room that holds a number of votives and other religious objects. Entry to the church is free but there is a small fee for the museum.
#3 Walk the waterfront promenade at Perast
Walking the waterfront promenade is a must-do in Perast! It takes just a few minutes to stroll, but the views are amazing.
You’ll see boats bobbing on the water at the pier, and the city’s Venetian Campanile rising up from the buildings at the bottom of the hill. From the end of the promenade on the side farthest from the Campanile, you get perfect postcard photos of Perast.
If the day is nice, you can relax for a bit with a drink at an outside table. Many of the restaurants along the street have outdoor seating right on the water. Pick a spot from where you can get a clear view of the bay and the two little islands, and enjoy!
#4 Stroll through the town of Perast
Perast just has the one main street, that runs along the water. A narrow alley runs in parallel behind the buildings, and even narrower alleys with steps connect the hilltop to the water.
You can do a quick walk through the alleys, where you’ll find stone-walled houses and lots of cats! The alleys of Kotor are more interesting and in better shape, although we were told Perast is being restored.
If your time is limited, spend it admiring the architecture along the front of the main street, and visiting one or two of the beautiful Baroque palaces that line the street.
There are 17 Baroque palaces in this tiny town! They were all built in the 18th century, during the time of the Venetians’ rule. Some are now in ruins, but they still look picturesque!
Don’t miss the Bujovic Palace, with its lovely architectural detail. It is located on the eastern side of the town. The Museum of Perast is housed in the palace, so you can tour the inside as well.
#5 Visit a church, or two!
Perast is also home to numerous churches. Sixteen, in fact, which is a lot for a town as small as Perast! The number of palaces and churches in the town speak to its prosperity and importance in the 18th century.
St. Nicholas’ Church is actually incomplete, but it has an impressive interior. Climb to the top of the 180-foot bell tower for panoramic views over the town and the bay!
St. Mark’s Church is right next to the Smekja Palace. It is not a functioning church any more, but the facade is pretty, with the Venetian winged lion above the door and two statues of St. Mark on either side at the top.
St. Anton of Padua Church is not on the waterfront, but you can spy its tall bell tower from the water. This is another bell tower you can climb for magnificent views over the Bay of Kotor.
#6 Have lunch at Armonia
We had lunch at Armonia, a lovely restaurant on the main street. The enormous jasmine on the patio wafting its heady scent onto the road had me sold even before we entered. It was rainy the day we visited and so we sat inside.
And when we were seated, I looked around and was captivated by the decor! Some of the chair backs feature beautiful fresco-like scenes, and the colors inside are bright and pretty.
Our food was delicious as well, which made it a five-star experience overall. They offer a meat-free menu, and I had some cutlets with vegetables and cheese. My husband had the lamb, and we split a chocolate dessert. All yum!
We also shared a slice of cake later at Bocalibre, a more casual eatery that is also highly rated. It features pizza and sandwiches, and most of the tables were full even way past lunch.
#7 Get great views of the bay from the road
The main road that goes around the Bay of Kotor passes above the town of Perast, not through it. There are a couple of turnouts or wide spots where you can park and get out of your car for the most amazing views of the Bay of Kotor.
We didn’t do this on the day we visited Perast but stopped on another day when the weather was good. And we got some spectacular photos of the water and the rooftops of Perast.
In season, you’ll also see lots of pretty wildflowers by the road. The viewpoints are definitely worth quick stops when you are driving past!
Getting to Perast from Kotor
Perast is just about 7.5 miles from Kotor, so getting from one to the other is a breeze, whether you have a car or you travel by public transport.
In normal traffic you can drive to Perast from Kotor in just 15 minutes. But it generally takes more like 25 minutes during the day. As a plus, the drive along the bay is super scenic.
There is parking on either side of the town.
By bus OR TAXI
You can take the local Blue Line bus between Kotor and Perast, although we didn’t find the schedule very reliable. The journey takes about 30 minutes. In Perast, the bus stops right in front of St. Nicholas’ Church.
The regular buses from Kotor also pass by Perast, but the bus stop is on the main road above the town.
We took a taxi from Kotor to Perast, and it cost 20 Euros.
In season, a ferry operates between Kotor and Perast. We visited in mid-May, and took the ferry back to Kotor from Perast. The ride is beautiful, and takes about 40 minutes.
By Guided Tour
Perast is one of the most popular tours from Kotor. Consider this half-day private tour that combines Perast with a walking tour of Kotor. In Perast, you get some time in the town, plus the boat tour to Our Lady of the Rocks. Or this 4-hour private tour that also combines Perast and Kotor.
How long to spend in Perast
About 4 to 5 hours should be plenty for a leisurely visit to Perast, including the boat trip to the island. Including a relaxed lunch, we spent about 5 hours in Perast, and we found that plenty of time to walk around the town, visit a couple of churches/palaces, and do the boat tour, with an hour on the island.
Combining a visit to Perast with another Montenegro activity
If you are on a very brief visit to Montenegro, in one day, you can combine Perast and Old Town Kotor, with enough time to enjoy each town.
If you are in Montenegro for a few days, with your base in Kotor, you can do a one day trip that covers Herceg Novi, Risan for a brief look at the Roman mosaics, and Perast. This is what we did.
You could also spend half your day in Perast and the other half in Old Town Budva. Any of these options will make for a very nice day in Montenegro!
Staying in Perast
You could actually base yourself in Perast instead of in Kotor while you explore the Montenegrin coast and the Bay of Kotor. Perast is not a cruise ship port like Kotor, and tends to be much quieter. Especially if you have a car, or you are doing private day tours, Perast is just as convenient a base as Kotor.
For an opulent stay in a boutique hotel, check out Hotel Per Astra. With just 11 individually-designed suites, an onsite restaurant, and parking, Hotel Per Astra is the perfect place for a romantic break! Check prices and availability.
The Iberostar Heritage Grand Perast is another luxury option on the waterfront. Opt for a room in the palace part of the hotel, with a water view. Have breakfast on the terrace overlooking the bay. Pure bliss! Check prices and availability.
So there you have it: my suggestions for the best things to do on a visit to Perast, Montenegro. Have you visited? I’d love to hear your thoughts: comment below to respond.
If you haven’t yet visited, I do hope you will add pretty Perast to your itinerary for Montenegro! And if you are fleshing out your list of things to do in Kotor, consider a day trip to Lovcen National Park and Lake Skadar National Park, or a day trip to Durmitor National Park to get a glimpse of Montenegro’s wildly beautiful interior. And plan a visit to Budva, to stroll through the old town and check out some beautiful beaches on the Adriatic!
If you are planning a visit to this beautiful country, I am excited for you: there are so many awesome things to do in Montenegro.
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