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Nestled on the jaw-dropping coastline of the Bay of Kotor, Perast, a tiny town in Montenegro, is indeed a hidden Adriatic gem. Dotted with Venetian palaces and stone-cobbled lanes, the place whispers stories of its flamboyant past and brims with quaint charm. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a passionate explorer, Perast has something for everyone.
I’ve visited this place a couple of times now on my visits to Montenegro, and it’s truly a lovely place. If you’re staying in Kotor for more than a day, I’d highly recommend a trip here. You can spend an afternoon dining on the waterfront and lounging on the sun chairs at Pirate Bar. Bring your bathing suit to take a nice, refreshing dip in the bay.
This blog post outlines a comprehensive guide on how to get there, things to do, places to stay, and where to savour the best food.
How to Get to Perast
Perast is conveniently accessible. If you’re traveling by plane, Tivat Airport is the closest, just a 20 km ride away. From the airport, you can rent a car or catch a taxi for a 30-minute scenic drive.
Alternatively, you could get there from Kotor, which is just 12 km away. Regular bus services connect Kotor and Perast, taking about 30 minutes.
However, for true adventurers, a boat ride from Kotor Bay to Perast might be an inspirational idea, providing wonderful views of the lush mountains and tranquillity of the sea.
If you’re arriving by car, there are parking lots to the west of the town on the main road. There’s also some free parking in the center of town for Our Lady of The Rocks visitors who are taking boat trips.
A Brief History of Perast
Perast, located at the foot of St. Elijah Hill, is a small town that holds an extraordinary place in the historical scenario of Montenegro. The charm of Perast is not just in its scenic beauty, but also in its rich and fascinating past.
The town’s recorded history starts early, with the upheavals of the Illyrian Queen Teuta against the Romans, causing the Romans to fortify the little fishing village in the 3rd century. With the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the region was frequently invaded, leaving neat traces of Byzantine, Serbian, and Venetian influences in the process, visible even today in Perast’s architectural designs.
One of the most significant periods in the history of Perast was the rule of the Venetian Republic, which stretched from 1420 to 1797. It was then Perast flourished as a bustling seafaring town, safeguarding Venetian interests against Ottoman attacks, and becoming a prestigious hub for skilled sailors and shipbuilders.
The town’s two small islands – St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks – stand as epitomes of Perast’s glory in maritime affairs. Particularly noteworthy is the latter island, a result of the longstanding local tradition of throwing rocks into the water every year, making it a man-made wonder.
After the fall of the Venetian Republic, Perast had many rulers: the French, the Austrian, and the Yugoslav, who each left respective impacts on the town. However, the grandeur of the Venetian period never returned.
Today, the spirit of Perast’s impressive history is still palpable in its stone palaces, old sea captains’ homes, museums, and churches, which make it a marvelous site of cultural and historical exploration. Despite the ravages of time, the town has bravely maintained its noble and charming character, inviting visitors from around the globe to appreciate its unique blend of beauty, history, and tranquility.
Whether you choose to visit Perast on a day trip from Kotor, or you plan to stay here for a few days, Perast is a lovely place definitely worth putting on your Montenegro itinerary.
Things to do in Perast
Perast is a small town, so it can easily be explored in a morning or afternoon. But there’s still a few things to see:
Enjoy the Scenic Walks
Immerse yourself in the spirit of Montenegro through leisurely walks along the waterfront and the town’s narrow streets, filled with historical fragments at every corner.
The waterfront promenade stretches for 1.5km along the Bay of Kotor and makes for a beautiful stroll.
Explore the Palaces of Perast
Perast is most known for its stunningly elegant palaces. During the lucrative maritime days under the Venetian Republic, these splendid structures were built by wealthy sea captains and patricians, reflecting the town’s past glory and sophistication.
Numbering eighteen in total (of the original 20 that once stood), each palace presents a unique masterpiece of generations-old architectural prowess and a testament to the prosperity of Perast’s seafaring men who once ruled the Adriatic sea.
Some of these palaces are:
- Bujović Palace: This is the most iconic and beautiful among Perast’s palaces. It houses the local museum that tells the story of the city through exhibits showcasing its historical development. The palace itself, built in the 17th century, is a remarkable example of Baroque architecture, meticulously preserved to retain its original grandeur.
- Zmajević Palace: Commissioned by the influential Zmajević family, this 17th-century structure consists of three segments and a beautiful garden. The palace is a magnificent splendor of Baroque architecture that renders a spirit of Venetian elegance.
- Balović Palace: This palace, reflecting Renaissance architecture, contributes greatly to the mesmerizing panorama of the bay. It’s one of the oldest in town, dating back to the 16th century.
- Smekija Palace: Located close to the sea. Its famous red façade, adorned with coats of arms and inscriptions, used to attract the attention of all the sailors passing by.
Exploring these architectural gems should ideally be done on foot, as the town is car-free, assisting in maintaining its tranquillity. A walk along the stone-paved streets of Perast takes you on a journey that intertwines an elegant blend of baroque mansions and charming residential homes.
Though entry to some palaces may be limited due to private ownership or ongoing conservation efforts, the exteriors themselves are worth admiration—proudly standing as beautiful remnants of a bygone era that continue to narrate glorious tales of power, artistry, and maritime prosperity.
Remember, the beauty of exploring Perast’s palaces lies in its unhurried pace, giving you ample time to appreciate their architectural details—all while the enchanting Bay of Kotor forms a serene backdrop to this open-air museum of culture and history.
Visit the Perast Museum (Muzej Grada Perasta)
Residing within the strikingly beautiful Bujovic Palace, one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Perast, the Bujovic Museum is a must-visit for anyone intrigued by the historical narrative of this enchanting town.
The exhibits include a diverse array of maritime and historical artifacts, relics from the town’s past, and memorabilia from its sailing heritage. From ancient documents, maps, and ship models, to period costumes, arms and ammunition, the collection spans a broad spectrum of times and themes.
Particularly noteworthy is the museum’s display of traditional sailing tools and instruments, along with explanations of naval technologies developed by local sailors and shipbuilders. A walk through the museum will give you an insightful understanding of the once thriving maritime community that placed Perast at the forefront of naval ventures in the Adriatic sea.
The Bujovic Museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm, granting plenty of time to tour its enlightening interiors.
With an admission fee of just 3 euros, it offers an affordable excursion into the town’s prestigious past, catering to both casual visitors and keen history enthusiasts. It’s time “well-spent”, journeying into the heart of Perast’s cultural legacy and leaving with a deeper appreciation of its fascination and spirit.
Take a Boat to Our Lady of the Rocks
At the heart of the glimmering waters of the Bay of Kotor are two enchanting islands, one of which is the remarkable Our Lady of the Rocks. This artificial island holds a prominent place in the folklore and traditions of Perast.
Our Lady of the Rocks is a testament to human ingenuity and dedication. According to local legend, the island was created over centuries by seamen who laid a rock in the bay after returning from each successful voyage. This developed into an annual tradition known as the Fasinada, held every July 22, when locals row out to the islet at sunset and throw rocks into the sea, expanding the surface of the island.
The highlight of the island is the resplendent Roman Catholic Church, also named Our Lady of the Rocks. Originally built in 1452, the church had experienced multiple renovations, enriching its architecture that amalgamates Venetian and Byzantine styles. In the church, you can explore an array of stunning maritime-themed frescoes and religious artefacts, like the revered Our Lady of the Rocks icon, believed to perform miracles.
Adjacent to the church is a small museum, exhibiting artifacts from Perast’s maritime past and unique pieces donated by local sailors over the centuries. The church and the museum together narrate fascinating tales of the town’s history, art, and maritime traditions.
A visit to Our Lady of the Rocks is not just a traditional boat ride; it is a journey into history, filled with enthralling stories and soul-stirring sceneries. As you sail across the bay, amidst the ethereal vista of azure sea and towering mountains, you’ll be amazed at the serenity of this beautiful place.
Explore St. Nikola Church
Any trip to Perast is incomplete without climbing up the 55-meter bell tower of St. Nikola Church, offering a 360-degree view of the bay and the surrounding mountain range.
St. Nicholas Church is one of the most important religious buildings in Perast and is located on a small hill above the town. It was built in 1616 and is still used for religious services today. The church has a beautiful interior with frescoes by famous Montenegrin painter Marko Gregorovic.
Relax on Peskovita Plaža Beach
Perast has one small pebbly beach, Peskovita Plaža Beach. Tucked away along the picturesque shoreline, this beach provides the perfect location to unwind and soak in the idyllic atmosphere of the bay.
Since the beach is tiny (with room for about 10-12 people), it’s often packed full in the summer months. If there’s enough space, lay your towel down and go for a swim in the calm waters of the bay. If not, I’d suggest you go grab a drink at Pirate Bar, which has a bathing platform and sun chairs.
Have a Drink at Pirate Bar
Known for its nautical-themed décor, Pirate Bar captures the free-spirited essence of seafaring pirates. Enjoy a diverse selection of drinks, including local beers and cocktails, while you relish breathtaking sea views from their comfortable terrace.
With a lively atmosphere, and a picturesque backdrop, the Pirate Bar is an ideal spot to unwind after a day of exploring Perast’s historical treasures. The bar is usually packed on a summers day and you can jump into the water for a swim here, so make sure you bring your bathing suit.
Savouring Perast’s Delight – The Peraška Torta
No visit to Perast is complete without sampling one of its most cherished gastronomic wonders – the Peraška Torta. This unique delicacy that bears the name of the town, is a quintessential part of the Perast dining experience, and offers an intriguing glimpse into the region’s culinary heritage.
Peraška Torta, or the Perast Cake, is a traditional sweet treat, usually reserved for special occasions and celebrations. The recipe has been passed down through generations, each local family adding a touch of their secret ingredient while respecting the original method of preparation.
The Torta is an exquisite layered cake, featuring alternating layers of a light, delicate sponge and a rich, sweet filling. The sponge, airy and fragrant with a hint of lemon zest, is balanced by the filling made from almonds, chocolate, and rum, the nutty and sweet flavors offering a delightful contrast to each other. The final touch is a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar, adding a subtle sweetness and an appealing snowy aesthetic.
What makes the Peraška Torta truly special is not just its marvelous taste, but the time and devotion required in its preparation. It’s quite an elaborate process that involves baking the layers individually, preparing the filling, and assembling them meticulously. This reflects the Montenegrin tradition of infusing love and care into their food, creating not just a dessert, but a memory of shared joy and happiness.
You’d find this iconic cake at most local restaurants and bakeries in Perast. Although variations exist depending on the establishment, the essence of the Peraška Torta remains the same – a sweet embodiment of Perast’s culture, meant to be relished bite by bite.
Dine in One of the Waterfront Restaurants
Perast has plenty of waterfront restaurants where you can dine Al Fresco, enjoy a nice lunch and soak in the views. Here are a few of the best restaurants in Perast to eat at:
Conte Restaurant: Situated next to the sea, Conte offers an unforgettable dining experience with its combination of mouth-watering Montenegrin and Mediterranean cuisine along with a picturesque view of the bay. The welcoming atmosphere and professional service make it an ideal choice for a delightful meal.
Konoba Otok Bronza: Set on a waterfront terrace, this cozy family-run tavern specializes in scrumptious local dishes crafted from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. With its warm ambiance and authentic Montenegrin hospitality, Konoba Otok Bronza guarantees a memorable mealtime.
Konoba Skolji: Known for its stunning views of Our Lady of the Rocks island, Konoba Skolji serves a variety of seafood dishes and traditional Montenegrin fare. This quaint eatery, nestled on the shore, is perfect for a tranquil dining experience surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
Pirate Bar: This fascinating bar, with its nautical-themed décor, not only serves a choice selection of creative cocktails and refreshments, but also offers a light menu of savory snacks to satiate your hunger. Pirate Bar is an ideal spot to unwind while enjoying the enchanting views along the Perast shoreline.
Pizzeria Armonia: A perfect stop for a casual meal, Pizzeria Armonia serves mouthwatering wood-fired pizzas with a wide range of toppings, as well as other Italian dishes. Set within a charming courtyard, this pizzeria offers a relaxed atmosphere for a laid-back dining experience.
Cafe Admiral: Boasting a stunning waterfront location, Cafe Admiral serves a selection of salads, sandwiches, and traditional Montenegrin dishes. Visit the café for a leisurely breakfast or light lunch, complemented by the mesmerizing views of the bay and gentle lapping waves.
Dine at Stari Milni
Not technically located in Perast, but just a short 5 minute drive or boat ride away, is Stari Milni. This is my favorite restaurant in the whole of Montenegro!
Perched on the waterfront, Stari Mlini is a captivating restaurant nestled in a restored old mill. It offers an incredible dining experience with a focus on fresh seafood and traditional Montenegrin cuisine prepared with a modern twist. The ambiance, echoing timeless rustic charm coupled with stunning views of the bay, complements the culinary journey.
The setting is very romantic, and despite its luxurious appeal, Stari Mlini maintains a warm, welcoming atmosphere, making it a perfect place for a memorable meal.
Where to Stay
Best Accommodations and Hotels in Perast
Hotel Per Astra: A luxuriant 5-star boutique hotel, nestled atop a hill, offering mesmerizing views of the Bay of Kotor. The spacious rooms and suites come with modern amenities, guaranteeing an opulent stake in the heart of the Montenegrin landscape.
Hotel Conte: Situated right on the waterfront, this 4-star heritage hotel blends history, comfort, and elegance. The beautifully furnished rooms boast an authentic Montenegrin charm and provide guests easy access to local attractions.
Villa Perast Boutique Hotel: Here, you will discover a perfect mix of classic Venetian architecture and contemporary design. This gem offers a stylish stay in the ancient walls of an 18th-century palace, with its well-appointed rooms overlooking the bay.
Apartments Admiral: Located in a beautifully restored stone building, these comfortable apartments offer a living room, kitchenette, and separate bedroom. The apartments’ cozy atmosphere and stunning views make for an unforgettable stay in Perast.
B&B Montenegro-Adria: This family-run bed & breakfast combines a traditional Montenegrin atmosphere with modern amenities, offering spacious rooms with picturesque views of the bay. Enjoy the warm hospitality and an appetizing breakfast each morning in this quaint establishment.
Whether you’re looking for luxurious indulgence or homely comfort, Perast offers a wide range of accommodation options to cater to every traveler’s needs. Embrace the charm of this enchanting little town while you enjoy a comfortable stay in its picturesque locales.
How Long Should You Spend in Perast?
The town of Perast can easily be explored in a morning or an afternoon since it’s only small and you won’t find tons of attraction here. But since the place is so incredibly relaxing, I’d plan to spend a day here eating lunch, wandering around and laying in the sun at Pirate Bar. If you plan to visit Our Lady of The Rocks on a boat trip you’ll definitely want to reserve a whole day for Perast.
You could also spend the night here so you can enjoy the amazing sunsets, have a nice dinner and relax. Cruise ships can’t dock in Perast, so you won’t find it overrun with cruise passengers, only day-trippers. Therefore Perast makes for a nice alternative to staying in Kotor!
A Final Word
In a world that’s constantly rushing, there’s an undeniable allure in Perast’s unhurried rhythm. A visit here is not merely about the historical monuments, the disarmingly beautiful sights, or the mouthwatering food, but about losing (and finding) yourself in its timeless appeal.
Book Your Trip
Book your flights: Find cheap flights using Google Flights, Skyscanner or Kayak. To get travel deals sent straight to your inbox, sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights or Jack’s Flight Club. Use the Hopper app for their AI powered price change predictions.
Booking your accommodation: I use Booking.com to book all my hotels. Their Genius loyalty program allows you to earn reward credits no bookings and 10%-20% off hotel prices. You can also try Google Hotels and TripAdvisor to search prices across a variety of sites. Agoda is the best site for booking hotels in Asia.
Travel on a budget: Staying in hostels is a great way to meet people and is best if you’re on a budget. You can find plenty of awesome hostels with Hostelworld.