Take an easy day trip to Perast, Montenegro, from Kotor. Don’t miss this UNESCO recognized village and stunning Our Lady of the Rocks! Includes map.

You have to take a day trip to Perast—and our Lady of the Rocks

Something I’ve learned from my travels—when several locals give you the same recommendation, go do that thing. I’d seen Perast, Montenegro, singled out in the Bay of Kotorska UNESCO World Heritage site, from the water on a speedboat tour the week prior and had even wandered around Our Lady of the Rocks, but my host’s mom, Maria, who I have missed every day since I left, the waiter at my favorite café, and a bunch of other local residents told me that I absolutely had to take a day trip to Perast.

And they were absolutely right. You have to take a day trip to Perast.

Day Trip to Perast

Perast is a showstopper

Chances are, your guidebook of Montenegro has a photo of Perast on the cover. This picturesque town (there’s fewer than 300 year-round residents) steals the show on a coast filled with scene thieves, and it is easy to see why UNESCO has recognized it for its architecture.

Situated right near the Strait of Verige (which means chain—named for the strategy of destroying pirate ships by using chains in the strait), the narrowest part of the Bay of Kotor (locally Boka Bay),  Perast looks like a tiny Venice, nestled against the mountains.

A little Venice, by design

Perast’s resemblance to Venice makes sense, as the ancient fishing village came to wealth and power as a trading port when Venice controlled the bay from the early fifteenth century until the end of the eighteenth. The tower of the seventeenth-century Saint Nicholas’s church, which was never finished (the region became Orthodox), dominates the skyline, but it is just one of sixteen churches in this tiny town. That’s practically enough for every family. It was a status symbol to have one’s own church.

Perast is such an easy trip

If you’re brave enough to ride a bike on the road (look out for the drivers! They are super aggressive), it’s an easy bike ride. I most certainly did not feel brave enough to bike it, but I took on a different challenge—the bus system.

Waiting for the bus

One thing to know in general about local Blue bus travel around these parts is that the Blue Line bus is not reliable. That being said, it is cheap (€1.50) and reasonably comfortable, should one actually show up.

As I needed to procure cash before I left, I didn’t wait at the stop around the corner from where I stayed, but instead joined other anxious travelers at the bus stop in front of the the Kamelija shopping center, right near the Voli supermarket (popular bus stop, see the map below).

Taking a taxi to Perast

Alas, the bus never showed up, but all was well, as I’d gotten to chatting with some people traveling from the UK, and we agreed to split a taxi (€15 total). Two of them were getting married in Perast this weekend and were headed into town to check out their wedding venue. After getting out of the cab at the beginning of the pedestrian zone (you can’t drive directly into town, but I saw golf carts taking people who needed assistance), we walked down toward town.

Solo travel can be the dream

The couple and their friend walked ahead, and I chatted with the mother of the bride. She couldn’t quite believe that I was a) single, b) child-free, and c) traveling solo as a middle-aged woman. She loved it, and I think it had never occurred to her that she had a different choice in her life. Given that this is just my life and I’ve certainly spent time defending it from people who think that I’ve missed out, I don’t always remember that for some, this way of life is a dream.

My companions reached their turning point to go see their church, and I wished everyone well and went off exploring on my own.

Perast boasts a beautiful promenade

I instantly saw why everyone made such a fuss about Perast. What a postcard.

The main promenade is lovely and sunny, lined with restaurants, hotels, souvenir stalls, and old women selling embroidered linens. Make sure to snap your photos, because these are the ones that will make your friends so jealous. Even on a cool day in late September, there were a lot of tourists. If you’re there during peak season, you might want to head there early in the day to avoid throngs.

The magic lies in the back streets

I think the real magic of the place, though, comes when you wander the street behind the main promenade and climb up a staircase that catches your eye. There, you get a sense of what life might have felt like.

Occasionally a satellite dish or a server taking a smoke break reminds you that you’re in the 21st century, but it is quiet back there, and peaceful, if you’re lucky enough to be there at an off-peak time. The only thing that really came close to that feeling for me was wandering around Trogir, Croatia, another favorite day trip from my Balkans trip.

This is one of those trips where it’s not about particular points of interest, but more about wandering, if that makes sense.

You can climb the bell tower

For what I hear is a good view of the bay, you can climb the bell tower of St Nicholas’s church for  €1, cash only). I didn’t do it, saving my energy for climbing more of the back stairs of Perast, but other people staying at my guest house recommended it.

Take a ferry to Our Lady of the Rocks

If you miss Our Lady of the Rocks, you’ve missed the Bay of Kotor. Luckily, you won’t miss catching a glace of it even if you drive into Kotor, as its easily visible from the road. However, you really need to see it up close, as it’s truly something.

You get more time than with the speedboat tour

While the speedboat tours take you to the island, the stop is usually only a few minutes. Taking the ferry from Perast  ( €5, cash only, the ferries run every few minutes throughout the day during the season—it’s a five-minute ride, if that) allows you more time, which means that you can go to the museum on the island. I highly recommend spending more time out there, especially if you luck out and it isn’t crowded.

From Our Lady of the Rocks, you also get a lovely view of St. George’s Island, a lonely island with a beautiful twelfth-century Benedictine monastery, where visitors are not allowed.

Our Lady of the Rocks history

Our Lady of the Rocks  (Gospa Od Skrpjela) is an artificial island, the only one in the Adriatic, created after fishermen saw an icon of the Madonna and child in a rock at the location in 1452. The island was built from rocks taken out to the location, as well as old ships sunk in the location. A tiny, beautiful, little orthodox chapel was built on the island, which you can tour as part of the museum ( €2 ,cash only).

The Madonna and Child embroidered from human hair

“You have to see the Madonna and Child” at Our Lady of the Rocks!” my host’s wife told me when I shared that I wrote ghost stories. “It’s woven with hair!”

Indeed, the embroidered portrait of the Madonna and Child, crafted by a woman waiting for her husband to return from sea, is a sight to behold. She used her own hair, along with the silver thread. As she grew older, the color of her hair changed. He never returned.

Take the return ferry and have some pomegranate wine

Enjoy the stunning view of Perast as you take the ferry back from Our Lady of the Rocks. Given how close I was to where I was staying, I didn’t eat in Perast, but you have plenty of options along the water. Do make sure to have the pomegranate wine, a local specialty! I somehow forgot to snap a photo of it.

Wander back to the bus station

I did a last wander through Perast, exploring this and that, and then I walked up to the bus stop. For however unlucky I was in the morning, the bus gods smiled upon me, and one turned up about five minutes after I arrived at the stop.

The bus actually showed up!

I rode back the fifteen minutes or so to Dobrota, and thanked Maria heartily for her recommendation. I now give it to you, you absolutely have to take a day trip to Perast, Montenegro.

Image shows the village of Perast, Montenegro from the Bay of Kotor. In the background, there are mountains, with evidence of forest fire

Take a day trip to Perast, Montenegro, from Kotor!

Perast is such an easy day trip from Kotor that you just can’t miss it. You do not need to do any advanced planning for this trip. Just check the weather and go when the mood strikes.

That being said, here’s a few considerations:

  • This is a hugely popular day trip destination. Expect crowds, even in shoulder season.
  • Local bus travel on the Blue Line bus requires that you have some patience and good humor. The bus does not always show up, or, if it does show up, it’s rarely on time. Consider it part of the experience.
  • The sun is strong. Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.
  • You will need cash, in small denominations, for this day trip. Restaurants usually accept credit cards, but the ferry to Our Lady of the Rocks, the museum on the island, and the bell tower (if you want to climb it) only accept cash. ATMS often spit out huge bills—I followed a friend’s suggestion and got change at a bank.
  • To get to Our Lady of the Rocks, I recommend going to the dock and the official looking stand. You can get other boat rides there, and lots of people will offer, but you can get scammed.
  • As with other touristy areas in Montenegro, you can get by with English, but it’s always polite to have a few phrases.


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