One Day in Perast
The Bay of Kotor is a special place. Surrounded by huge, imposing mountains and stretching as far as the eyes can see, its beauty and massiveness can sometimes be overwhelming and make you feel like you’re spending your days in an alternate reality. A dimension of asphyxiating beauty, where nature has you trapped inside its domains and times goes by more slowly.
If you’re heading to Montenegro to see this natural gem then our guess is that you’re planning to stay in Kotor, the most popular of the bay’s coastal towns. However, and although we salute your choice of making Kotor your base, that doesn’t mean you should simply stick to it. As beautiful and scenic as the city is, there is also a nearby location deserving of your attention. Perast, a small-yet-lovely city with a rich naval history, and the home of the islet that is perhaps the country’s biggest symbol. In fact, we even dare to say that no visit to the Bay of Kotor is complete without spending at least one day in Perast!
BUS FROM KOTOR TO PERAST
Getting from Kotor to Perast is extremely easy and barely requires any effort! A bus from Blue Lines (it’s written on the vehicle) runs at least once an hour during the day and connects both towns, with each trip taking about 20 minutes and the single cost of 1€ per ticket.
To find the bus, you can check one of the two existing stops near Kotor’s Old Town. One of them is located right in front of the Sea Gate, the Old Town’s main entrance, while the other can be found next to the Kamelija Shopping Centre, a mini-mall right next to the city walls.
Don’t be discouraged by the lack of schedules or any other information at the bus stops. Just look up to the sky and hope for the best – it will pass!
HOW TO SPEND ONE DAY IN PERAST
Being such a small place, the good thing about Perast is that you won’t need to rush through things just to make sure you get to see everything. You can take things calmly, appreciate the perfect mix between natural and man-made beauty around you and simply relax.
VISIT THE OUR LADY ON THE ROCKS CHURCH
Ultimately, this is what makes Perast a must-visit destination in the Bay of Kotor! While walking through the city, it’s impossible not to notice the two small islands located just off the coast, especially the one with the baby blue appointments. While the Island of Saint George is smaller and cannot be visited, the artificial Island of Our Lady of the Rocks is open to visitors, and that is exactly the place where you want to head.
According to legend, local sailors found a depiction of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus in a sea rock, so every time they returned home safe after spending time in the sea they would throw a stone in the exact place where the depiction was originally found. After many and many years of fulfilling this tradition, the island emerged gloriously from the sea and locals decided to build a church dedicated to the event, which they saw as protecting the fishermen. On the back of this free-to-visit church there is now a museum whose admission costs 1€ and where you can see different paintings, tapestries and other art pieces related to the city of Perast.
Getting to the island is also very easy, as you’ll be approached by local companies or individuals offering to take you by boat. Although there’s a bit of wiggle room to negotiate the price, most of them will charge you 5€ for a return-trip so that is the most you will pay.
WALK THE WATERFRONT
Did you know Perast only really has one road? In fact, one of the most astounding things about Perast is how such a small city manages to assemble about 30 different churches and palaces, a sign of its glorious past linked to Venetian sea trade.
Turns out walking that single road is all you need to fall for Perast. The magnificent bay, the two islets and the colossal mountains/hills on your right. The beautiful architecture, the pedestrians and the ancient palaces on your left. Regardless of the side you choose to look at, few places in the Balkans are more pleasing than Perast’s waterfront.
Among the can’t miss sights in the area, you should pay a visit to St. Nicholas’ Church, Palace Zmajevic, Palace Bujovic (which houses the Perast Museum) and St. Mark’s Church.
HAVE A LUNCH WITH A VIEW
Although it is sometimes easy to forget about basic needs when you’re exploring a new place, having a meal in one of the multiple restaurants available by the bay is a must when in Perast. Despite the rather exclusive location, food prices are actually pretty affordable and considerably lower than in any restaurant you’ll find inside the Old Town of Kotor.
Besides, you can’t beat the view!
EXPLORE THE BACKSTREETS OF PERAST
As the city lies at the foot of a hill, exploring the backstreets of Perast is a fun, even if tiring, activity. A plethora of crooked steps, narrow alleys and tortuous streets leading nowhere. You never know where you’re heading to, but that is precisely the point! To get lost in an unknown, far-away place and get surprised by whatever picturesque detail you may come across.
We recommend climbing the Fortress of St. Cross, a former defensive system from where you can get some of the best views in Perast. A miniature version of its Kotor counterpart (OMG that climb), the first challenge is to find the entrance to these ruins. Good luck with that!
SWIM IN THE BAY OF KOTOR
In a region where water plays such a pivotal role in local history, economy and everyday life, one cannot leave Perast without trying to swim in the Bay of Kotor.
Although you can take a dive from virtually anywhere in the waterfront, there are special designated areas for swimmers where the bay has been cleaned of rocks and other potentially hurtful elements. Access is obviously free, so just bring the proper gear (no skinny dipping here fellows) and try the waters. We had read on several blogs and websites that the temperature was quite cold, but compared to what we’re used to in Porto it was a true thermal bath!
We hope to have convinced to spend at least one day in Perast! If you’re visiting beautiful Kotor, just hop on the bus and pay this lovely town a well-deserved visit. What do you think of Perast? Are there any other small cities worth visiting along the Bay of Kotor? Let us know on the comments below!