This sleepy little town, located an only short drive away from probably the most popular destination in Montenegro, is one of the easiest day trips from Kotor and a great way to spend a few hours. Not to mention all the great things to do in Perast that make it a must-visit place you can’t miss during your trip to Montenegro.
I loved Perast so much I visited it twice and I wouldn’t really mind returning there again.
Here is all you need to know about visiting Perast!
Where is Perast
Perast, a small town with less than 300 inhabitants, is located in the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. The nearest town is Kotor, less than 15 km away by road. If you continue north you can reach Herceg Novi, another well known seaside destination in Montenegro (30 km away).
The nearest airport is Tivat, 22 km away from Perast.
A short history of Perast, Montenegro
Perast is one of the oldest settlements in the area, inhabited already in the Neolithic times. The name comes from one of the Illyrian tribes – Pirusti.
In the 14th century, Perast was just a sleepy fisherman village, in the shadow of the more important Kotor. However already then the place was strictly connected with the sea and in the local harbor, there were always boats.
Between 1420 and 1797 Perast was part of the Venetian Republic but its biggest development happened in the 17th and 18th centuries. That’s when most of the buildings we can admire still today were built, including beautiful baroque palaces of noble families and 18 churches.
In the 17th century, the famous naval school was founded here, students came here from as far as Russia. The peak of the prosperity for Perast came in the 18th century when there were four shipyards in the town, it had a fleet of around 100 ships and there were some 1600 inhabitants in the town.
At the end of the 18th century, Perast became part of the Habsburg Empire. After World War I the region was included in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes that eventually changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Since 2007 Perast is part of independent Montenegro.
How to get to Perast
Getting to Perast is actually rather easy although it can be unpredictable in the summer months when the narrow road around the Bay of Kotor is packed with cars.
From Kotor, the easiest option is to take the Blue Line bus. They are scheduled to run every hour (although with the traffic you never know) and the journey from Kotor to Perast takes around 30 minutes. The ticket costs €1 and can be bought from the driver.
In Kotor, you can find the bus stop outside the old town walls or near the Kamelija shopping center. For the best views of Kotor Bay try to get a seat on the left side of the bus.
You can also take the long-distance bus from the bus station (the one heading to Herceg Novi) but it will stop in the road above Perast, not directly in the town. If you want to visit Perast as a day trip from Herceg Novi you can also take the long-distance bus.
If you travel by car there is parking at the edge of Perast, when the road that goes through the town meets the main one in the direction of Herceg Novi. In the summertime, only local cars can enter the town.
Perast is also included in organized day trips from Kotor or Dubrovnik. Click here for more details.
Things to do in Perast
Perast might be small but the town is packed with attractions and things to do.
Unfortunately, in April 1979 the town was badly destroyed by the earthquake and some of its grand buildings still haven’t been rebuilt. In the same year, Perast was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, together with Kotor, Risan, and surroundings.
Most of the monuments in Perast date back to the Venetian Republic period. There are 16 churches and 17 baroque palaces that you can admire. Some of them are hidden in the backstreets so don’t limit yourself to the main road only, wander around the whole town to enjoy it to the fullest.
The tower of Saint Nicholas Church is one of the most distinctive sights in the town and the highest belltower on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. For €1 you can climb it to enjoy some spectacular views of Perast and beyond.
Another good viewpoint is the local museum, located in the Bujovic Palace from 1649. The museum itself is an interesting place to visit, with the exhibition presenting artifacts from Perast and the area. The ticket costs €2,50.
Other beautiful palaces worth seeing are Zmajevic Palace (1664), Smekija Palace (1764), or Viskovic Palace.
But the best thing to do in Perast is to just wander around, enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and admire breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor.
In the summertime, along the waterside, you can find a few restaurants where you can stop for a meal or a quick cup of coffee.
How to get to the Our Lady of the Rocks church
While Perast itself is this charming little town the main reason why all the tourists visit Perast (me included) is the Our Lady of the Rocks church located on the artificial island right in front of the town.
There is also another island, Saint George (this one is natural thought) with the 12th-century Benedictine monastery and the cemetery but still, everyone goes to Our Lady of the Rocks.
According to the legend, on July 22nd, 1452 two local sailors found the icon of Madonna and Child on the rock near Perast. They took the icon and put it in the church in Perast but the icon has miraculously returned to the rock, three times.
Eventually, the local community has decided to build the artificial islet in that very place by throwing rocks and sinking captured ships. More than a hundred sailing ships filled with rocks were used to create the islet.
The first church on the islet was built already in the 15th century but it was too small and in 1630 the church we can admire now was finished. In the first half of the 18th century, the bell tower was added.
The interior is richly decorated and the church is filled with the silver votive tablets with ships from the Bay of Kotor, devoted to the Virgin Mary.
You can also visit a small naval museum attached to the church, with paintings, weapons, artifacts and a beautiful view from the window on the second floor.
Getting to Our Lady of the Rocks church is actually very easy. In the Perast marina (close to the City Museum) you will find boats and local sailors ready to take you to the islet. The standard price is €5 for the return boat trip.
Outside the main touristic season, you might need to ask local fishermen to take you to the islet, the price still should bee around €5.
Keep in mind that Our Lady of the Rocks islet is a sacred place so visit it with respect (i.e. no in bikini or bathing suit).
Final thoughts on visiting Perast
I honestly believe that Perast is a must-visit place in Montenegro and you can’t miss it when you travel to Kotor. When planning your trip have the morning or afternoon (or better the whole day) to spare so you can visit Perast too. The town is so charming, picturesque, beautiful, laid-back and quiet that it makes a perfect getaway from Kotor and its crowds in the summertime.
I’ve been twice to Perast and both times it was offseason (December and March). The town was sleepy, with hardly any people around – it felt like the time has stopped there. But I know from my friend who has been a frequent visitor in Perast in the summer a few years ago that even in the peak season the town is still the quiet oasis.
I’m planning another trip to Montenegro and I know I will visit Perast again. I enjoyed it so much that I simply can’t imagine visiting Kotor and not going to Perast, even if only for an hour or two. This place is pure perfection.
When planning your trip to the Balkans you might also enjoy those articles I wrote:
- Kotor Old Town and beyond – why you should spend at least 2 days there
- Great Montenegro Tour – the best Kotor day trip
- Belgrade to Bar by train – one of the most beautiful railway journeys
- Your ultimate Balkan travel guide
- Balkan highlights – your ultimate list of what to see in the Balkans
- Solo female travel in the Balkans
- 23 Amazing Things to Do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
- 23 Great Day Trips from Dubrovnik, Croatia
- and more!
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