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Perast, Montenegro: The Perfect Weekend Getaway Guide

Perast, Montenegro: The Perfect Weekend Getaway Guide

Perast in Montenegro is an exquisite little town occupying a wonderfully peaceful position along the Bay of Kotor. This historical area is jam-packed full of old Venetian palaces, splendid architecture and comes complete with a laidback charm that’s difficult to rival.

For lovers of history, culture and the outdoors, Perast, and neighbouring Kotor for that matter, have much to offer. Certainly, Dan and I had the absolute pleasure of spending a long weekend discovering the varied delights of the Bay of Kotor.

In this travel guide, we’ll detail all the best things to do in and around Perast to ensure a top-notch trip to Montenegro. But, first things first – where exactly is Perast in Montenegro?

Where Is Perast?

Perast sits on the northern shores of the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. It’s around a 20 minute drive northwest of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kotor Old Town. It’s also about a one hour drive from Tivat Airport.

The majority of visitors flocking to this outstanding coastal area of Montenegro will most likely head to Kotor. As the main port town of the bay, it’s a popular and rather bustling place to stay. It’s also not uncommon to see cruise ships docked. But, despite its beauty, we say Perast is a much better choice when it comes to staying on the Bay of Kotor.

Google map showing the location of Perast Montenegro

About Perast, Montenegro

Known as the jewel of the Bay of Kotor, Perast in Montenegro exudes a laidback sophistication that’s somewhat intoxicating. Early mornings breakfasting on the waterfront are serene and easygoing. Early evenings, as the daytrippers head back to Kotor, present a breathtaking tranquility in all its halcyon glory.

Of course, the general feel of Perast is greatly attested to its beautiful hillside dwellings, many of which are old Venetian Palaces. In fact, at least 20 were built in this relatively small area. The architecture, mostly of baroque style, is truly beautiful and makes Perast quintessentially picture postcard worthy. The bijoux town can easily be explored, on foot, in less than an hour.

A little off the coast of Perast is one of Kotors most popular attractions – Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Škrpjela). The islet is entirely artificial and was built after two sailors found an image of the Virgin Mary on a small rock there. A small yet ornately decorated chapel was built and each day, boatloads of visitors arrive to briefly explore this interesting site. Across from Our Lady of the Rocks is another islet called St George’s Island (Sveti Đorđe). This islet is private and cannot be visited. But, it still looks pretty to sail past by boat, or enjoy from one of Perast’s many waterfront restaurants.

Blue sky and sparkling water along the waterfront promenade in Montenegro
Church of Saint Nicholas against a blue sky and mountain backdrop
Church of Saint Nicholas in Perast, Montenegro

How Long to Spend in Perast?

For those who enjoy endless hours of sunbaking, reading and relaxing by the water, you could easily spend a week or two enjoying the tranquillity and quiet luxury that Perast in Montenegro has to offer. For those more like Dan and myself, who get restless quite quickly, a long weekend is perfect.

We spent four glorious nights in Perast, staying at the Heritage Grand Perast by Rixos courtesy of Jet2holidays. From here, we were able to take in the stunning surroundings of the Bay of Kotor. Below, we’ll overview the varied activities and excursions from our stay, which gave us the best opportunity to soak up this beautiful part of Montenegro.

Things to Do in Perast, Montenegro

Below are seven wonderful things to do in and around Perast in Montenegro. Usually, Dan and I go all out for the hiking trails. But, Perast and the Bay of Kotor were calling for some variety. We think the below activities and attractions offer the best exploration of the area, and we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

1. Explore Historical Perast

Part of Perast’s charm is its labyrinth of little streets and alleyways. Stairs seemingly climb endlessly, winding between stone houses and passing by long-forgotten palaces and charming churches. You’ll discover hidden viewpoints with wonderous vistas down over the mish-mash of terracotta roofs and sparkling emerald water beyond.

Undoubtedly though, the waterfront commands the most attention. There’s one main street that houses the majority of restaurants and fine hotels. The walk is quaint and it’ll take less than 30 minutes to walk from one end to the other.

As you wander, you can marvel at the Church of Saint Nicholas (St. Nikola Church). The church’s tall bell tower dominates this dense little gathering of stone buildings. For €1, you can even climb to the top. You’ll also pass by the Perast Museum, which is one of the countless palaces littering the town. Undoubtedly, the grandest former Venetian Palace is that of Smekja Palace. This waterfront estate, which includes the very pretty St Mark’s Chapel, is now a five-star hotel. Staying there is a dream.

Man walks along the waterfront in Perast Montenegro
Looking down over Perast Montenegro from one of the hillside viewpoints
Viewpoint in Perast

2. Take a Blue Cave Boat Tour

One attraction not to miss on any trip to the Bay of Kotor and Perast is the Blue Cave Boat Tour. The tour typically lasts about three hours and will first visit the famous Our Lady of the Rocks islet, just off the coast of Perast. Here, you’ll have around 20 minutes to enjoy the island, check out the chapel and enjoy the views back across the water to Perast.

Next, the boat tour ducks into one of the many submarine tunnels in the surrounding hillsides. The tunnels were built by the Yugoslav army during the Cold War to disguise the building of submarines. It’s a fascinating visit.

Lastly, the boat tour ends at the famous Blue Cave. Once here, you’ll have a chance to take a quick dip in the dazzling azure waters flowing within and around the orange-tinged rock face.

Walking on the man made islet of Our Lady of the Rocks in Montenegro
Our Lady of the Rocks islet
Sparkling blue water on the boat tour in Perast Montenegro
Blue Cave

How to Book a Blue Cave Boat Tour

Booking a tour is super straightforward. You’ll find many agencies offering the trip as you wander along the seafront of Perast. The price of a tour typically costs €30-40 per person.

Dan and I booked our tour in advance via GetYourGuide. The tour we booked actually departs and ends in Kotor. Despite staying in Perast, this tour worked for us as our plan was to then spend the afternoon in Kotor afterwards. But, our luck was in.

The particular tour operator (Montenegro Submarine and Speed Boat Tours) that we booked with on GetYourGuide is the company of choice for the hotel we were staying at – the Heritage Grand Perast by Rixos. This meant we were able to be picked up from the hotel’s private jetty, which saved us the 30 minute journey to Kotor!

The group size was small, with just nine guests which was perfect. We’d seen much larger group tours leaving from the Perast seafront, so this felt much more intimate and relaxed. Certainly, a Blue Cave Boat Tour is one of the best half-day trips you can do on the Bay of Kotor.

Book the Blue Cave Boat Tour Here

blue cave boat tour in perast montenegro
  • Stop at Our Lady of the Rocks islet and monastery
  • Visit the famous submarine tunnels
  • Swim at the Blue Cave
  • Highly rated tour with knowledgeable guide

3. Visit Kotor Old Town

No visit to Perast is complete without exploring the splendid old town of Kotor – one of the finest towns in Montenegro. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is truly remarkable. Indeed, staying in Perast instead of Kotor offers no hindrance in exploring the narrow streets and alleyways of this well-preserved medieval town. At just 30 minutes apart, travelling from Perast to Kotor is a very straightforward, not to mention, a scenic journey. You can read more about the journey and transport here.

Once within the historic walls of Kotor, you’ll find plenty of quaint bars and little squares to relax at as you sip a refreshing drink, enjoy the architecture and people-watch. And, once you’ve had your fill of that, there’s always the Kotor Fortress Walk to sink your teeth into.

4. Hike the Kotor Fortress Walls

The Kotor Fortress Walk is a steep and roughly stepped walk following the defensive wall of Kotor as it rises along the surrounding mountainside. It’s no easy climb, especially in midday heat, as we found ourselves.

The old stone steps zig-zag their way to the impressive ruins of the San Giovanni Fortress which sits at the top. The views looking back down over Kotor and the narrow inlet of emerald water back towards Perast are spectacular. Indeed, climbing the Kotor Fortress Walls offers some of the best views of the area.

Unfortunately for tourists, prices to enter and climb the Kotor Fortress have risen considerably. We’d read the admission price was €8 per person, which seemed plenty. However, currently, the price is now a whopping €15 per person. As such, many visitors will opt to take a ‘back route’ to enter the fortress for free. This involves hiking the Ladder of Kotor trail and taking a small offshoot track to join up with the outer fortress walls. From here, you’ll climb through one of the wall’s windows.

In the off-season, you’ll likely get away with this. But, we had read during peak season that a guard is often stationed at the window. This is to prevent free-loaders from entering this way. Despite paying full whack ourselves to hike the Kotor Fortress, we saw plenty of visitors climbing through the window for free, with no one to stop them. So, the decision is yours, I suppose.

Man hikes up the stone steps on the Kotor Fortress walk with views of Kotor Bay and the old town below
Views across Kotor Bay and surrounding mountains from the top of Kotor Fortress with Montengro flag blowing in the wind

Add On Kotor Old City Walls

Dan and I entered the Kotor Fortress Walls through the north gate, found here on Google Maps. We then exited via the south gate, found here. By doing so, we then joined up with the lower level Kotor Walls Walk, which sweeps around the outer edges of the city and is completely free to walk. From the height of the walls, you’ll encounter great viewpoints of Kotor Old Town as you explore the outer perimeter. It’s well worth finishing the Kotor Fortress hike this way for completeness, as well as to escape the busy crowds below.

Hiker walks the old city walls in Kotor Montenegro
Walking along the old city walls in Kotor, Montenegro

5. Climb The Ladder of Kotor

As well as the Kotor Fortress Walk, there’s also the Ladder of Kotor hike. They are different, with the Ladder of Kotor hike not entering within the fortress walls. It is also a free trail to hike.

We took the bus from Perast to Kotor (more on that below) and started the hike at around 9am. In all honesty, we recommend starting much earlier than this, especially if you’re in for a 30°C day like we were.

The Ladder of Kotor hike begins here, at the end of the road running parallel to the Scurda River on the northern side of the fortress walls. You’ll pass an old hydroelectric powerplant, before beginning the arduous switchback trail up the mountainside. The terrain is somewhat uneven but easy enough to walk on. We were glad to have our trekking poles, especially with the four litres of water each on our backs owing to the 30°C heat we were contending with.

The views become ever more extensive the higher you climb, and it’s not long before the trail is towering over the Kotor Fortress just in front. Certainly, if you enjoy the views from the fortress walk, you’ll be blown away by these. The end of the switchbacks signals a natural end to the Ladder of Kotor Walk, marked as here on Google Maps. It’s a relatively quiet trail which is understandable given the effort required to reach the top. Still, the views are outstanding and are well worth the time.

But, for Dan and I, this was not to be the end of the day’s hike. Oh no, we had our sights set on an even bigger fish. Step forward Pestingrad Peak.

Man hikes up the switchback trail of the Ladder of Kotor above the orange roof houses of Montenegro

6. Enjoy the Views From Pestingrad Peak

Pestingrad Peak is a rocky outpost overlooking the Bay of Kotor, with a rather teeny Kotor Old Town nestled at its base. The mountain stands at 1,009m above sea level and is hands down the best view of Kotor, Perast and basically the entirety of the Bay of Kotor.

The hike to reach this mindblowing viewpoint is most commonly done as a short out and back, by driving to the trailhead high up the mountain outside of Kotor. Or, you could take a taxi. But, like us, you might not want to rent a car for a short weekend break. So, it’s good to know your own two legs can get you there just as well. It just requires some effort.

The good news is the Ladder of Kotor and Pestingrad hike can be easily combined. Yes, it’s a big day out with a distance of around 21km. The hike took us 7.5 hours, including stops and having lunch at the top of the peak. Which, I might add, we had all to ourselves!

The combined Ladder of Kotor and Pestingrad hike is hard. Make no mistake, this hike should not be attempted by anyone with less than a reasonable level of fitness and some experience hiking. Having said that, the trail is very well marked with the typical white and red waymarkers present throughout the trail.

Pestingrad Trail

Once you’ve made it to the top of the Ladder of Kotor, as described above, the trail continues to climb, away from Kotor, through a shaded forest, which is very welcome on a hot day. You’ll follow the trail, which steepens a fair bit, until you reach the P1 mountain road at the top. Head north along this road, past the zip line kiosk and on towards Sveti Georgiji. Here, you’ll take the minor road on the left, and follow it until you see the official sign pointing your way to Pestingrad.

The trail is overgrown and undulates as it heads back out towards the Bay of Kotor. The final section requires a rather steep descent with rope, before climbing back up to finally reach Pestingrad Peak and the most outstanding views you’ll see on your trip to Perast and Kotor in Montenegro.

We followed the Wikiloc GPS trail here.

Woman stands on the top of Pestingrad Peak overlooking the bay and surrounding mountains
Views from Pestingrad Peak
Hiker stands at the top of Pestingrad Peak looking over the Bay of Kotor towards a small Perast Montengro

Bonus Hike: Vrmac Ridge

If you’ve time for another hike in Kotor in Montenegro or want an alternative to Pestingrad, then hiking the Vrmac Ridge is a great option and rounds off hiking the main trails around the bay. Dan and I simply ran out of time but were disappointed not to hike Vrmac. You can check out the trail here.

7. Kayak the Bay of Kotor

After a day hiking in the mountains and exploring Kotor Old Town, the emerald water of the bay will certainly be calling again. Only this time, you can opt for the freedom to explore at your own leisure, by hiring a kayak.

On the Perast waterfront, you’ll find a few vendors hiring kayaks. Dan and I hired from our hotel for convenience. The price was €35 for 2 people to kayak for an hour.

Paddling out onto the water is gratifying, to say the least. The cool breeze away from shore is refreshing and the views of pretty Perast are excellent from a new angle. There’s a fair bit of coming and going on the Perast waterfront, so bear this in mind as you navigate the speed boats and tour boats passing by. We were told it was best to keep west and headed towards Risan for a view of another town on the bay. We then cut back towards Our Lady of the Rocks, the islet of Saint George and then back to our hotel, Heritage Grand Perast by Rixos.

Kayaking on the often still and safe waters of the Bay of Kotor is a relaxing way to explore a little more of this gem. The towering mountains envelop the Kotor area and you get a real sense as to why this area is becoming more and more popular. It’s absolutely stunning.

We love hiking, of course, but I think our morning kayak was one of our favourite experiences on the trip.

Woman kayaks towards Our Lady of the Rocks in Montenegro
Couple enjoy kayaking on the Bay of Kotor surrounded by mountains

Perast, Montenegro: Recap

So, that’s our roundup of the seven best attractions and activities on the Bay of Kotor, which can easily be done from Perast on a long weekend break. We loved the variety of hiking and water attractions, combined with exploring the historical towns and the ease with which to get around.

So, let’s take a look at how to get to Perast in Montenegro, and how to travel between Perast and Kotor.

How to Get to Perast, Montenegro

The closest airport to Perast in Montenegro is Tivat. From Tivat Airport you can travel to numerous destinations along the Montenegrin coast, including Kotor and Perast.

As we’re currently UK-based, it was very straightforward to book a flight to Tivat. Dan and I took advantage of one of the many flights from Manchester Airport that Jet2 offer. We flew on their Indulgent Escapes packages – one of their luxury holidays.

Included in your Indulgent Escapes package holiday with Jet2holidays is a £3 drinks voucher per person, which you’ll receive for both the outbound and inbound flights. You’ll also pick up a £10 voucher per person at your departure airport. You’re free to spend this on many duty-free items on your flights. The voucher also grants you fast-track security through your UK based airport. Which, as you can imagine, is wonderful.

The indulgence doesn’t stop there though. Once you arrive at Tivat Airport, you’ll be ushered towards your private transfer to and from your hotel, which for us was in Perast, meaning our weekend break could start pretty much as soon as we landed. No waiting for a bus or paying for an expensive taxi.

Whether you choose an Indulgent Escape package holiday, or simply opt for just a flight only, you’ll find plenty of Jet2 flight deals to Montenegro on their website.

Tivat Airport to Perast

The journey time between Tivat Airport and Perast is around one hour. Traffic is congested and rather slow going as you pass through Kotor. But, once on the other side, it’s a scenic and straightforward drive along the main road to Perast.

Once you arrive at Perast, one of the hotel golf buggies will meet you on the top road before you descend into Perast, and take you the remainder of the journey. Alternatively, it’s an easy walk into Perast, even with a bit of luggage in tow.

If making your own way to Perast, you can take a bus from the airport, here on Google Maps, into Kotor. Then once in Kotor, change to the Blue Line bus to Perast. Given the buses run once an hour, you might have a bit of long journey ahead of you. But, it’s certainly cheap.

Hiker descends Pestingrad Peak surrounded by green forest and the sea beyond
Descending Pestingrad Peak

Perast to Kotor Bus

A few of our ‘best things to do in Perast’ options take place in Kotor, which is very close and easy to get to. By far, the cheapest way to get between Perast and Kotor is by using the public bus. You’ll see plenty of different buses and coaches heading between the two towns, but you want to take the Blue Line Bus between Kotor and Risan. Perast is located between Kotor and Risan.

The bus costs a very wallet-friendly €1.50 per person and runs once an hour. From Perast, the bus leaves at half past the hour, starting at 7:30am. There are two bus stops you can use, one at either end of Perast on the E80 road which runs above the town.

Returning from Kotor to Perast is a little more ambiguous. There are no obvious timetables and we struggled to find any information online. As such, Dan and I waited for 40 minutes and 55 minutes respectively on the two occasions we used the bus from Kotor to return to Perast. Without knowing for definite, the buses arrived around half past the hour, in case that’s helpful to you. From our experience, if you arrive for the bus at around a quarter past the hour, you shouldn’t have too long to wait. But again, the buses can be unpredictable.

We caught the bus from here and here as shown on Google Maps. Both bus stops say BUS in yellow paint on the road. There are usually locals catching this service, so if in doubt, you can always ask someone for guidance.

Perast to Kotor Taxi

Hotels in Perast in Montenegro are generally more than happy to arrange a taxi to take you to Kotor if you don’t fancy the bus. The staff at Heritage Grand Perast by Rixos, where we stayed, quoted around €20 each way. This didn’t seem too extreme, although the lure of €1.50 on a public bus is hard to overlook if you can get your timings right.

Alternatively, you can always look into a water taxi from Perast, so you can arrive in Kotor like James Bond. Or, in peak season, there’s the usual tourist Hop On Hop Off buses. But, given the Hop On Hop Off buses cost around €25 per person, we say just use the Blue Line Bus instead.

Looking down over Kotor old town from the start of the fortress walk in Montenegro
Views of Kotor from the Fortress Walls Walk

Where to Stay in Perast, Montenegro

Perast may be small, but there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from. Dan and I had the absolute pleasure of staying for four nights at the Heritage Grand Perast by Rixos on one of Jet2holidays luxury package holidays to Montenegro, so that’s where we’ll kick things off.

Walking through the historical courtyard entrance of the Heritage Grand Perast Hotel
Piazza and St Mark’s Church at Heritage Grand Perast
Sun loungers on the Bay of Kotor waterfront in Perast Montenegro
The private bathing area at Heritage Grand Perast

This old Venetian Palace, the largest and grandest in Perast, has been charmingly transformed into a fabulous five-star hotel. Originally known as Smekja Palace, this luxury hotel epitomises the historical, cultural and serene lure of Perast in Montenegro.

Our favourite elements include the peaceful breakfast on the waterfront terrace, early evening drinks in the piazza, usually including light entertainment in front of the picturesque St. Marks Church, and relaxing by the private pool on the banks of the Bay of Kotor. The staff here are nothing short of incredible and our stay will go down as one of the best we’ve ever had.

Other Accommodation Options in Perast

Travel Essentials

Below are a few travel essentials we recommend for your trip to Perast and Kotor in Montenegro.

Anker Portable Power Bank
Anker Portable Power Bank

Keep your phone, laptop and other accessories charged while you’re on the go with the Anker Portable Power Bank. We wouldn’t travel without this high-quality portable charger.

Sea to Summit DryLite Towel
Sea to Summit DryLite Towel

The Sea to Summit DryLite Towel is the best quick-dry microfibre towel. This compact, lightweight and super-absorbent towel is perfect for travel.

EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter
EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter

Having an EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter is one of the best accessories to travel with, especially if you’re travelling to multiple continents during your trip.

Noise Cancelling Headphones
Noise Cancelling Headphones

If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly yet high-quality noise-cancelling headphones for travel, then look no further than the Anker Soundcore Space Q45.

Wise Multi-Currency Card
Wise Multi-Currency Card

We use the Wise Multi-Currency Card to pay online and when we travel abroad. It’s really easy to use and a lot cheaper than using bank cards. To order a free card, click the button below.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite travel gear, camera gear and hiking gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Bonus Tips For Visiting Perast in Montenegro

  • Try Perast Cake: a lovely moist almond cake that’s surely worth a try. However, we found prices for the Perast cake to be double that of any other dessert.
  • Visit Perast Beach: on the east side of town is Perast ‘beach’. It’s a small and shaded spot which is great for relaxing and taking a swim.
  • Sip on Montenegrin Wine: yes, Montenegro makes wine, and it’s pretty good too. Call in at Red & White Wine Bar or Organic Shop Mendula for some free tasting.
  • Explore Perast Museum: check out the maritime artifacts and discover more about the Venetian glory days inside the old Bujovic Palace on the waterfront. This is one of the most impressive buildings in Perast, Montenegro.
  • ATMs: the majority of places in Perast accept credit cards. But, if you need cash, you’ll find at least four or five ATMs along the waterfront.
  • Other towns on the Bay of Kotor: other popular towns to visit around the Bay of Kotor include Herceg Novi, Risan and Tivat.
Woman walks down onto the Heritage Grand Perast hotel jetty in Montenegro
Jetty at Heritage Grand Perast

For more outdoor adventures in Europe, check out our guides on Sicily, Mallorca and Malta.

This post was written in collaboration with Jet2holidays. As always, the trip itinerary and any opinions are our own.

Beck Piggott

With an art and design based background, Beck uses photography and writing to help inspire readers to climb mountains, hike coastal trails and chase waterfalls around the globe.

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