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Perast, Montenegro is an idyllic seaside village filled with fanciful tales, ancient architecture, stunning scenery and two incredibly quaint offshore islands. With only a handful of things to do in Perast, it is a perfect half day trip from Kotor.
Perast is pretty as a postcard. A cluster of uniform stone buildings sit stacked on the foothill of Mount St. Elijah. Seaview cafes spill out onto piers. Small fishing boats float on crystal clear water. A soaring bell tower stands out against the backdrop of snowcapped mountains, but it seems slightly too tall for the small village that is home to only about 250 residents.
Occupied since the Neolithic age, Perast grew into a humble fishing village in Medieval times. However, it was during the Venetian period that the community flourished. Opulent palaces and Catholic churches were built in the grandiose Baroque style – a feature that remains today and attracts many tourists.
Visitors can easily cover all of the sights in Perast in just a couple of hours – but the charming lanes and beautiful landscapes beg for more time. To cover all of the top things to do in Perast – and allow time to take in the atmosphere, we suggest allowing at least four hours in the village. Our top recommendations for what to do in Perast are to ramble through the picturesque lanes, hop aboard a boat to visit the islands and savor the scene from a waterfront cafe.
Two islands sit just off the Perast shoreline: St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks.
St. George (Ostrvo Sveti Dorde) is a natural island featuring tall evergreens and a lone monastery, the St. George Benedictine Monastery, which dates to the 12th century. A small cemetery on the island is the burial site of some of the region’s more notable families. The island, however, is prohibited to visitors.
Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Skrpjela)
The Our Lady of the Rocks Island is a man-made islet, boasting a Catholic church and an intriguing legend. Visiting the island is one of the top Perast things to do.
According to the tale, in 1452, two fishermen discovered a barely exposed icon of the Virgin Mary in the water on a reef. The epic finding encouraged believers to visit the reef and drop stones into the water where the icon had appeared. Over the centuries, the popularity of the ritual grew to the point where entire ships were loaded with rocks and sunk into the sea on the very spot of the discovery. All of the stones, rocks and sunken ships created an island.
In 1632, the Our Lady of the Rocks Church was built on the island. It is centered on the reef in the exact location where the icon appeared. Attached to the church is a small museum – and there is also a gift shop on the island.
Fun Fact: The July 22 Fasinada Festival celebrates the legend of how the island came to be. A procession of barges and boats sail out to the island where people can drop their rocks and stones into the sea.
During our off-season visit the church was closed, but the ride out to the island was worth it for the views alone.
How To Get To Our Lady of the Rocks
Visitors are transported to the small island by boat; rides typically cost about €5 (but you can negotiate with locals for a private ride, too). Proper attire is required (shorts and t-shirts are fine, but not bathing suits) and must be worn before stepping foot on the island.
Perast Churches, Palaces and Museums
For a town of its size, there is an astounding number of palaces and churches in Perast. Visitors can find more then 10 churches within the 1-kilometer-long Old Town. The most prominent church in Perast is St. Nicholas (Sveti Nikola). The church has origins that date to the 1500s, but it was in 1691 that the 55-meter-tall bell tower was built. Visitors are permitted to climb the church bell tower for a small fee.
Pro Tip: Kotor is also known for an abundance of churches! Find out more in our blog post: The 10 Best Churches in Kotor.
Of the many palaces in Perast, Montenego that were built during Venetian rule, there are 16 that still stand today. The most well-preserved Perast palace is the Bujovic Palace, which was the posh residence of Captain Visko Bujovic – complete with stone Venetian lions. Now the palace serves as the city museum, Perast Maritime Museum (Muzej Grada Perasta).
Perast, Montenegro Beach
On the north end of the village (past the Maritime Museum) is a small Perast, Montenegro beach where visitors can swim and relax near the water. Sun loungers are available – and can be rented for the day. The beach offers an excellent view of the offshore islands and the beachfront Pirate Bar is a favorite choice for food and drinks.
Where is Perast, Montenegro?
Perast is one of the many small historic towns that dot the coast along the Bay of Kotor in southwestern Montenegro. That said, Perast has a notable location directly across from the Verige Straight.
The Bay of Kotor, or Boka Bay, is the largest bay along the Adriatic Sea and Europe’s southernmost fjord. The dramatic mountains plunge into the deep, tranquil waters of the bay.
From the Adriatic Sea, a channel opens into an expansive Bay of Kotor; on the north side of the bay is a narrow passage – only 340 meters across – called the Verige Straight that leads into an equally large body of water and directly to Perast.
The city of Kotor is hidden in the furthest southern alcove of the inner bay, providing the town with natural protection from weather and invaders (for a time in history, it was a much coveted position). A coastline road winds around the bay, covering the 106 km of shoreline.
How To Get from Kotor to Perast
For visitors coming from Kotor, getting to Perast, Montenegro is fairly simple. The two cities are just 12 km apart – and the journey by bus or car takes about 30 minutes.
For our day trip from Kotor to Perast, we utilized the convenient local public bus. The Kotor to Perast Bus ticket cost €1 and we made the trip in about 25 minutes. The Blue Line buses depart from the main Kotor bus station at least every hour, but they come more frequently in the summertime. We hopped on a bus from the front of the fresh market (where there was no official stop, but locals assured us we could flag down a bus). To find an official Kotor bus timetable, we recommend going to the bus station.
In Perast, we were dropped off on the main square along the waterfront. Not all buses take the lower road though; if they don’t, then the driver will stop at the top of the town. To come back, we picked up the bus in the same place we were dropped off. Although, we were told buses will not always come through town; especially in high season.
Travel to Perast, Montenegro by Car or Taxi
Self-driving to Perast from Kotor is straightforward – simply take the shoreline road north. It is not advisable to drive into Perast, as there is only one road and parking spots are limited. Instead, there are two parking lots where visitors can park – one on the south end of town and one on the north end. The north parking lot is preferable, as it is usually less crowded and closer to the main promenade. Parking costs €5.
A taxi between Perast and Kotor will cost about $25 – and takes just about as long as the bus.
Kotor Open Tour: Hop On Hop Off Bus
The Hop On Hop Off Bus is another easy way to get to Perast from Kotor. Visitors can book their 1-day unlimited ride ticket in advance online.
Kotor to Perast Boat
Kotor visitors also have the option to take a boat to see the top sights in Perast – like this affordable boat cruise that includes visiting Lady of the Rocks Island, a submarine base and the Montenegro Blue Cave. Reserve your seat!
Off Season in Perast
Outside of the summer season, what to see in Perast amounts to little more than the town itself. Most of the Perast sights are closed, as are many restaurants. That said, we found it to be quite peaceful – and lingered in Perast until the late afternoon. There were no other tourists around and even the locals seemed rather quiet, almost as if we had the entire place to ourselves.
After taking our boat ride to the island, we slowly strolled along the shore from one end of town to the other, watching fisherman tend to their boats. We settled in at a seaside table at the only open cafe on the shore. While locals sipped their coffee, we braved the potent homemade grappa. We admired our natural surroundings, feeling as if we had been let in on a secret that few others knew.
Perast, Montenegro Map of Sights
Use this link to Google Maps for an online version of our Perast Map.
More Kotor Tips
Visitors spending time in Kotor can use our guides to help plan their trip. We feature top activities in our blog post, The Best Things To Do in Kotor.
Looking for more day trips from Kotor? Check out our guide to nearby Budva, Montenegro!
We Want To Know: Have you been to Perast, Montenegro? What are your favorite things to do in Perast? Tell us in the comments!
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