A Slow Traveller’s Guide to Perast, Montenegro
Considering a visit to the beautiful village of Perast Montenegro during your time on the Adriatic? Here’s your slow guide to spending a few hours, a day, or even longer in Montenegro’s hidden gem.
Perast is a small coastal town nestled along the stunning Bay of Kotor and while most travelers head straight to Kotor, a stop in Perast is a must. Perast Montenegro is a hidden gem that should be on every traveler’s radar.
The picturesque town is even more beautiful than Kotor (I think) and there are only really a handful of sights, attractions, and things to do. The beauty of Perast lies in the fact that there isn’t all that much to do. Simply strolling around, enjoying the town’s charm, and having a leisurely lunch on the waterfront is enough to really enjoy it.
Having said that, there’s still enough in Perast to keep you busy for a day. While most rush through for an hour on a day tour from Kotor, I’d highly recommend slowing down and spending at least 24 hours in Perast to really enjoy it. Once the day trippers leave and the sun begins to dip below the mountain peaks, the town comes alive with a different vibe.
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Is Perast Worth Visiting?
In short, yes, Perast is 100% worth visiting. The honest truth is that I personally found Perast to be the most beautiful town in the Bay of Kotor. That’s right, it’s even more beautiful than Kotor.
Whether it’s the fact that it gets some of the best sunsets in the Bay of Kotor or whether its because the entire town hugs the water so close, or maybe it’s the heritage stonework, there’s something about Perast, Montenegro that’s truly magical.
If you’re heading to a few destinations in Montenegro, doing a Montenegro Coastal itinerary or just heading to Kotor for a couple of days, a short (or long) visit to Perast is a must.
When is the best time to visit Perast?
Perast Montenegro is best visited in the shoulder season months of April, May, and then September and October. During this time you can enjoy far fewer crowds than in the summer, as well as warm and comfortable temperatures.
There’ll also be some good deals on hotels and flights to snatch up too.
Summer is the busiest time in Perast where you’ll see a lot of day trippers come through the small village. If you do visit in summer, make sure to stay the night in Perast where you can enjoy long evenings and early mornings waterside, without the crowds.
While visiting in winter is also feasible many businesses shut down for the low season.
We visited in early October and had the perfect balance of weather and no crowds.
How to Get to Perast Montenegro
There are a few different ways to get to Perast. Perast is located on the northern side of the Bay of Kotor just 25 minutes from Kotor. If you’re coming into Montenegro from Dubrovnik, Croatia or from the resort town of Herceg Novi you’ll most probably pass through Perast before reaching Kotor.
Getting to Perast by Car
The easiest way to get to Perast is to rent a car and drive. If you’re doing a road trip itinerary through Montenegro or the Balkans then you’ll already have rented a car for your trip. Follow the only major road in the area, the Bay of Kotor coastal road all the way to Perast.
If you haven’t already rented a car for your trip there are many deals and local outfitters available on Discover Cars, one of my favorite car rental platforms for the Balkans. Find the perfect rental car with Discover Cars here.
If however you’re in Kotor without a rental car for your trip, there’s probably little point renting a car in Kotor just to get to Perast. In this case, it would be more cost-effective to take a bus or taxi.
Parking isn’t an issue in Perast, there are two main parking lots right by the water. One at the western entrance to the village and one at the eastern entrance ( labeled parking 1 and 2 on Google Maps). Parking costs a standard €5, no matter how long you’ll stay.
We actually managed to score free parking here by arriving much later in the afternoon.
Getting to Perast on a Tour
Most people visit Perast on a boat tour from Kotor Old Town or on a larger Montenegro tour. It’s a very popular way to see the highlights of Perast, Our Lady of the Rocks, and also a few other stops in the Bay of Kotor. If you’re a couple or solo traveller this might be a better option for you.
You’ll find my tour recommendations below. I’d go for a private tour as this will give you the most flexibility with where to go and what you do as well as having the advantage of a knowledgeable guide with you.
Private Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks Tour (4 hours approx)
Personally, however, I’d avoid taking a tour to Perast. The tours don’t spend enough time there to really enjoy everything thoroughly and they go at the wrong time. Given the beautiful sunsets Perast experiences, the best time to be there is in the afternoon and it’s difficult to time this well on a tour.
Getting to Perast by Bus
Taking a local bus from Kotor to Perast is possible and quite easy to do. Blue Line Buses operate routes between Kotor and Risan and will stop in Perast. Take the bus from this bus stop in Kotor.
Buses are cash only (€1).
To get back to Kotor, head to the Blue Line bus stop located right next to Parking 1, on Google Maps to catch the bus back. If you’re heading back late make sure to check on your way out what time the last bus comes through Perast.
Getting to Perast by Taxi
If you prefer a little more flexibility, you can also take a taxi from Kotor to Perast. Taxis are located at the main bus station in Kotor. You might want to agree on a return time with your driver in case taxis from Perast to Kotor aren’t readily available, especially after sunset.
Top Things to Do in Perast Montenegro
Go for a Stroll on the Promenade
Taking a walk along the Perast promenade is one of the best things to do in Perast Montenegro. The promenade is one of the most scenic places in town, where you’ll be able to take in the gorgeous waterside palaces, the surrounding mountains, and the calm waters of the Bay of Kotor.
From the promenade, you can also see the famous Our Lady of the Rocks Church and the two islands in the middle of the Bay. I’d recommend taking a walk on the promenade at golden hour or sunset time for stunning views of the bay shrouded in a golden-pink glow.
If you’re in Perast on a day tour from Kotor and only have a short time to explore, make sure to include a walk along the promenade into your time here.
Explore the Historic Town
There’s nothing better to do in Perast than to just stroll around the historic town and take in its charming streets and buzzing atmosphere. The town is really small and it doesn’t take long to take it all in. In fact, you can pretty much see everything in 2 hours.
The town’s beauty lies in its heritage stonework cottages, its historic palaces, and the slow vibe of the place. The promenade, Perast’s narrow little streets, and the restaurant-lined waterfront are incredibly pretty and you’ll want to spend hours just admiring them.
Visit St. Nicholas Church
St. Nicholas’ Church ( St. Nikola Church) is Perast’s main church and it sits on the town’s main square. The church’s bell town rises up over the entire town and can be seen from many spots around the Bay of Kotor.
St. Nicholas’ Church, is a Catholic Church dedicated to the popular saint. The church has a lovely Renaissance facade and inside the simple but pretty church, you’ll find a number of sculptures and also paintings by local Baroque artist Tripo Kokolja. The church was never finished but inside the treasury, you’ll find some interesting relics that tell the story of the families that lived in Perast and the town’s history.
As well as popping in to have a look at the inside of the church, if you’re visiting in the summer months you can also climb the bell tower for a small fee. You’ll get some of the most beautiful birds-eye views of Perast and the surrounding bay. Unfortunately, it was closed when we visited.
Visit the Palaces
One of the highlights of Perast is all the amazing palaces you’ll find in the small town. The architecture in Perast combines Baroque and traditional architectural elements and this is most evident in the grand palaces.
There are 19 palaces in Perast which all belonged to noble families from the 17th and 18th Centuries. They tell us about how prosperous Perast was in those days under Venetian rule. While it’s possible to visit many of the palaces today, most of them have been turned into luxury hotels, rentals, or museums.
Here are the main Perast palaces to look out for:
Smekja Palace – The largest and oldest palace in Perast and composed of two parts. It’s built entirely with stone from Korčula island and is one of the only 3-tiered palaces in town. Today the palace houses the Iberostar Heritage Hotel, one of the best places to stay in Perast.
Bujovic Palace – A Palace that today is the Perast Museum, meaning you can visit and walk around freely. The palace was gifted to Vicko Bujović thanks to his leadership at war against the Ottomans.
Lučić-Kolović-Matikola Palace – Today it’s the Palace Jelena Rooms Hotel, but in its heyday, this palace belonged to the Studeni fraternity. It’s made of local, Adriatic stone and bears the family’s coat of arms on its front.
Martinović Palace- Located just by the Smekja Palace and St Mark’s Church, this beautiful palace was definitely one of the largest and most opulent in its day. Today it’s occupied by the luxury Hotel Leon Coronato. Make sure to stay here if you want to view the beautiful completely restored salon inside.
Visit the Other Churches
For such a small village, Perast does have an amazing number of both Catholic and Orthodox Churches. They were all built, as personal, family chapels by the wealthy families that also had palaces here.
While walking around it’s definitely worth having a look into a few of these little churches as some of them tend to be quite lavish on the inside.
One church that’s very easy to find is the Church of Saint Apostle Mark which sits right on the waterfront. This is a great example of a wealthy family chapel that sits right next to the Smekja Palace.
Some other examples of small churches to seek out while you explore are St. John the Baptist Church and the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God. How many churches can you find in total during your time in Perast?
Boat Trip to Our Lady of the Rocks Perast Montenegro
Right opposite Perast, you’ll notice two small islands sitting in the Bay. One of the islands has a beautiful church on it, Our Lady of the Rocks. This unique and picturesque island holds a special place in Montenegro’s history and culture.
Legend has it that the island was created by local fishermen who, over centuries, placed rocks in the water upon returning from their successful voyages at sea. Today, a beautiful church stands proudly on the island, adorned with magnificent frescoes and a mesmerizing collection of votive silver plates. It’s well worth the boat trip to see it well as this is also the only man-made island in the Adriatic.
You’ll also be treated to a different vantage point and stunning panoramic views of the Bay of Kotor.
You can hop on a boat to Our Lady of the Rocks from Perast or arrange a tour from Kotor that’ll take you to a few other famous sights too. This Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks tour by boat from Kotor is a winner if you want to visit from Kotor.
From Perast, you’ll need to head to the town’s marina. Boats ferry passengers to the island to see the church. The trip costs around €5 return. You’ll be able to tour the church, its chapel, and the small museum before heading back to Perast.
Have Lunch or Dinner by the Water
Perast is one of the best places to have a slow, romantic meal by the water. There’s no better place for it. Surrounded by the calm waters of Kotor Bay and the high peaks of the amphitheater of mountains around you, Perast really is a gorgeous spot to enjoy a meal.
There are quite a few waterfront restaurants to choose from, from more fine dining options attached to hotels to local taverns and cafes. I’d highly recommend coming here for lunch or having a sunset meal as the light here in the early evening is just gorgeous.
Seafood and pasta are the specialty here but there are also many other vegetable-heavy dishes to choose from. For my favourite places to eat see the full list towards the end of the post.
Climb Up to St. Cross Fortress
While most of Perast is located between the main highway and the sea, there are a few noteworthy sights on the other side of the highway. The main one is St. Cross Fortress.
This Fortress was the main fortification in town along with a few more defensive towers scattered around town. It was built by the Venetians in the 16th and 17th Centuries to keep the city safe from Ottoman invasion.
Today there’s not much here but ruins but you’ll still be able to see the thick defense walls even though they are a little overgrown. While you might not be tempted to visit for the ruins alone, it’s the views from here that are the real highlight. You’ll be able to see the stunning expanse of the Bay as well as Our Lady of the Rocks and the town’s rooftops.
Visit the Perast Montenegro Museum
Housed in the former Bujovic Palace, the museum contains a number of interesting pieces and artifacts from the town’s history. Perast experienced its golden age under the Venetian republic from the 15th-18th Centuries and in the museum you’ll be able to learn more about its colorful history.
In the museum, you’ll be able to see its maritime, ethnographic, and historical art collections which include a number of items such as coats of arms, portraits, paintings, porcelain, and jewelry.
While you might not have time for the museum when visiting Perast on a tour, if you do have an hour to spare you might want to have a quick look.
Relax by the Water and Enjoy the Sunset
Once you’ve seen all the sights, the best thing to do in Perast Montenegro is just to relax by the water and enjoy the afternoon. It’s really difficult to describe the ambiance and charm of Perast at sunset by the water.
Make the most of it but grabbing a drink or coffee in one of the many cafes or restaurants or going for a walk. You can also just find a seat at a dock and read a book while enjoying a drink or two. There’s no better way to enjoy a slow afternoon in Perast.
Relax on Perast Beach
Just like Kotor, Perast does have a small sandy beach to relax on for a few hours. The beach is tiny but it is stunning so if you’re dead set on relaxing for the day make sure to get there sooner rather than later.
On the beach, you’ll find a small sandy strip to lay down a towel, a few loungers and gorgeous, azure waters cornered off for swimming. It’s a lovely spot to spend a few hours but it does get very busy, especially in summer.
Where to Stay in Perast
There are a number of lovely guesthouses and luxury hotels in Perast, given its small size. While most visitors stay in Kotor, Perast does actually have some really worthwhile hotels to stay in. Staying in one of the heritage hotels will also give you the opportunity to say in a noble family’s palace and a chance to look around.
I’d highly recommend staying, at least for one night to make the most of the brilliant Perast accommodation.
Heritage Grand Perast – If your budget allows, this is the best hotel in town. 5-star luxury in an 18th Century Heritage Palace. With stunning interiors, an outdoor pool right by the water, and top-quality service, there’s no doubt this is the place to stay.
Rooms are light, bright, and airy with stunning views over the Bay of Kotor. Waking up here is a dream. Check rates and availability here.
Heritage Hotel Leon Coronato – Another stunning, luxury option right by the water, this heritage hotel provides guests with bright, modern rooms, in a stunning location right on the water. I love the design and natural tones of the rooms and how they’ve really kept the grandeur of the historic place. Check rates and availability here.
Hotel Conte Perast – With one of the best restaurants in town, the Conte Hotel is also a fabulous choice when spending the night in Perast. With a variety of differently designed rooms scattered around town, opt for a more heritage room or a modern, design-focused room. Don’t miss the amazing views and service here. Check rates and availability here.
Palace Jelena Rooms– Stay here for a chance to experience one of Perast’s most famous palaces without breaking the bank. Rooms here have exposed heritage stone, traditional furnishings, and breathtaking views from the balconies. Check rates and availability here.
Where to Eat and Drink in Perast Montenegro
There are a few great restaurants to eat at in Perast from fine dining options by the water’s edge to local konobas serving seafood and typical Montenegrin cuisine. Here are some of the best eating and drinking options we found while exploring Perast.
Konoba Otok Bronza – A lovely local tavern-style restaurant with tables right on the water. Located towards the east part of town. Great seafood and pasta dishes.
Conte Restaurant – A lovely, more upscale dining experience at the restaurant belonging to the Conte Hotel. Take a seat on the water, have a glass of crisp Montenegrin white wine, and a divine lunch al fresco.
Armonia– Lovely little cafe on the water’s edge serving traditional dishes, light bites, salads, coffee, and dessert. A great place for a mid-afternoon pit stop.
Have I convinced you to visit stunning Perast Montenegro? Let me know your questions and comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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