One of the most beautiful towns on the Adriatic coast, Perast is my favourite place on the Bay of Kotor. Here are 13 wonderful things to do in Perast, Montenegro – plus essential tips to consider when planning to visit Perast.

With 17 Baroque palaces, 19 churches but scarcely more than 250 residents, Perast is a tiny town packed with history and legend.

It might be just a 20-minute drive away from popular Kotor, but Perast has a totally different vibe.

One of the best things to do in Perast, Montenegro is wander the waterfront and admire the boats in the harbour.
Perast’s little harbour, a tranquil contrast to Kotor.

The town straddles a narrow strip of coastline between St. Ilija hill and the Bay of Kotor, stretching 1.5km along the seafront. You can walk the length and breadth of town in a matter of minutes.

Because the promenade faces directly out to the Verige Strait, the narrowest part of the bay, beautiful views and sublime sunsets are guaranteed. Off shore, the twin islets of Sveti Đorđe (St George) and Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) emerge from the silvery bay like shipwrecks.

Perast’s history and unique local culture – combined with its breathtaking location, compact size and the fact that the harbour is too small for cruise liners – makes it one of the most charming destinations in Montenegro and certainly my pick of all the cities and towns on the Bay of Kotor.

Whether you choose to visit as a day trip or you decide to spend a few nights in town like I did, Perast is an essential stop on any Montenegro itinerary. In this guide, I share everything you need to know to plan a successful visit.


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Why is Perast worth visiting?

Perast is an exceptional destination in Montenegro for several reasons.

First and foremost, Perast is one of the best-preserved towns on the entire Adriatic coast. It forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor, but unlike Kotor and Budva, it isn’t walled: It opens directly onto the water. Venetian-era palaces, squares and churches are beautifully preserved as reminders of Perat’s golden age as a trading port and maritime training centre.

The history of Perat is fascinating. First settled by Illyrian tribes, Perast flourished under the Venetian Republic. The town was presided over by 12 clans (Kazada) of wealthy fishermen, traders and mariners who built their grand sandstone residences along the harbour. After holding back the Ottomans during a siege, the town was granted the right to guard the Venetian flag of St. Mark in 1654.

Perast and Venice traded freely, which led to the city’s rapid development. The first maritime school in the Balkans was founded in Perast and was attended by some of Europe’s most celebrated admirals.

St. Mark's Church and Smekja Palace in the historic core of Perast.
St. Mark’s Church and Smekja Palace in the historic core of Perast.

Secondly, Perast has its own culture and seafaring traditions. There are specialty foods to try (I’ll name a few later) and several vibrant festivals are staged here every year, including the International Klapa Festival (summer) that showcases folk singing, and Fašinada (July 22), a ritual where locals row boats out to Our Lady of the Rocks to deposit stones.

Speaking of, Perast’s islands are another thing that make it special. Sveti Đorđe (St. George) and Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) are both topped with chapels. The former is a monastery and off-limits to tourists, but the latter – the only artificial island in the Adriatic – can be visited by boat from Perast.

Finally, Perast is much quieter and more peaceful than other towns and cities on the Bay of Kotor. Day trippers come and go fairly quickly, and there are no cruise ship crowds. Overall I think Perast has a much more local, intimate feel compared with Kotor.

St. George island and Our Lady of the Rocks off the coast of Perast.
St. George island and Our Lady of the Rocks off the coast of Perast.

When is the best time to visit Perast?

Like everywhere on the Bay of Kotor, Perast has a defined high and low season. Summer (June-August) is the busiest time of year, when the marina is packed with day visitors and temperatures soar. Winter off-season is very quiet and some businesses close up.

The best time to visit Perast is during spring or autumn shoulder season, when the weather is pleasant, everything is open, but the summer crowds haven’t yet arrived. I visited Perast in April and although it was a little stormy some evenings, daytime temperatures were perfect.

The biggest advantage of visiting in June/July is getting to attend one of Perast’s summer festivals. If you’re planning your trip around the Klapa Festival or Fašinada, be sure to reserve your transport and accommodation well in advance.

How long to spend in Perast?

Perast is tiny – you can explore the entire town by foot in less than two hours. A boat trip to Our Lady of the Rocks takes a little over an hour, while visiting the churches and museum takes no time at all.

For this reason, many people choose to squeeze Perast in as a day trip from Kotor or Budva. However, I strongly recommend you spend at least one night here.

Because cruise ships can’t dock in Perast, tourism is basically limited to day visitors. In the late afternoon after most people have departed, Perast is tranquil and even more beautiful. This might be the only place on the Boka where you can wander the marina at dusk with barely another person in sight (especially during shoulder season).

Not to mention that the sunsets in Perast were the best I saw anywhere on the Bay of Kotor – for me, that’s reason enough to linger here for a night or two. As you’ll see, this town has some of the finest boutique hotels in Montenegro and a bunch of great restaurants and bars, too.

How to get to Perast

Driving to Perast

Perast is a 20-minute drive from Kotor or a 40-minute drive from Budva via the E80 Adriatic Highway. If you are driving up for the day, there are two car parks at either end of town that cost €5 for a full day. This lot has a better location right on the promenade. Note that both are quite small so it’s recommended to arrive early.

Parking Venera is a more official parking lot with an undercover garage, toilets and friendly staff. They also charge €5 per day. Alternatively, they have a deal where you can pay €10 for parking, your trip to Our Lady of the Rocks (normally €5 per person) and entrance to the museum (normally €8).

If you’re overnighting in Perast, be sure to choose an accommodation with onsite parking. See my recommendations in the next section.

For car hire in Montenegro, I recommend using My Rent A Car to rent from a local agent. Delivery is available virtually anywhere in the country and prices average €24 per day.

Search for a rental car on My Rent A Car.

Bus to Perast

If you don’t have a hire car, the Blue Line bus service is a handy way to travel around the Bay of Kotor. The Kotor-Risan bus runs from Kotor to Perast every hour Monday to Saturday and every two hours on Sundays. Unfortunately Blue Line does not have a functioning website to confirm times so you’ll need to check locally, either at your accommodation or at the tourist info centre in Kotor.

Travel time is around 30 minutes and the fare is €1 one-way (cash only).

In Kotor, you can pick the bus up from this stop near the old walls or this stop outside Kamelija Shopping Centre. In Perast, the bus terminates in the centre at St. Nicholas Square. The bus stop to return to Kotor is located at the eastern end of the marina, here (you may be able to pick up a bus at the western end or at the square).

Be warned that some travellers have had issues with the Blue Line bus running late or not stopping for them. An alternative (but more expensive) option is the Hop-on Hop-off Bus, which services Kotor, Perast, Risan and Bajova Kula Beach. It runs every 30 minutes and includes a walking tour of Kotor. Tickets cost €22 and are good for a full day, so you can spend as long as you like in Perast.

Purchase a bus pass here via GetYourGuide.

Taxi to Perast from Kotor

For a taxi one-way between Kotor and Perast, you should expect to pay around €10. In Kotor, taxis wait near the main bus stand.

Visiting Perast on a guided tour

If you prefer to travel with a guide, there are several day tour options available from Kotor, Budva, Tivat and even Dubrovnik. Some focus on water activities and the boat trip to Our Lady of the Rocks, but I recommend choosing an itinerary such as this one that gives you ample time to walk around Perast old town.

Browse day trip options on GetYourGuide.

Signs point to guesthouses and cafes in Perast, Montenegro.
Perast Old Town.

Where to stay in Perast

  • Apartments Jovanović Perast: Budget-friendly guesthouse run by a lovely local family, with private self-contained apartments and a little garden. The location atop the hill gives you magnificent views of the bay, especially at sunset. Free parking onsite. → Check prices and availability on Booking.com.
  • Palace Jelena Rooms: Elevated guesthouse inside an 18th century building on the waterfront. Rooms have sea views. → Check prices and availability on Booking.com.
  • Conte Hotel: Beautiful boutique accommodation right on the waterfront in Perast’s former Culture House. Rooms feature heritage stonework and exposed rafters, and there’s a dining terrace on the water plus a pool. → Check prices and availability on Booking.com.
  • Iberostar Heritage Grand Perast: Luxury hotel with tidy rooms and an infinity pool on the marina. → Check prices and availability on Booking.com.

13 wonderful things to do in Perast

1. Wander the waterfront

The waterfront in Perast, Montenegro.
Perast waterfront.

Perast’s seafront promenade runs for 1.5km along the bay and is a ready-made walking route for exploring the heart of the preserved old town. Pretty palaces, crumbling churches and gleaming piazzas open up off the main street, while vertiginous pathways and staircases run up the hillside to take you higher and higher for stunning bay views.

I recommend walking from west to east, starting in the Penčići district near the beach, passing the marina, and continuing all the way down to Luka district.

Simply strolling the seafront is an extremely pleasant way to spend a few hours in Perast (especially if you’re willing to get lost down the beautiful side streets). But there are lots of points of historical interest to stop off at along the way.

The next sections of my Perast guide cover the highlights, including Perast’s palaces, churches and best viewpoints.


2. Count Perast’s palaces

An ivy covered palace in Perast.
One of Perast’s palaces.

There are 18 preserved palaces in Perast (of an original 20 that once stood). Built during the time of the Venetian Republic by the city’s merchant and navy clans or fraternities called Kazada, each one is a beautiful example of Baroque or Renaissance architecture.

Look out for their most notable architectural features: Decorative stonework and mascarons (carved faces) above the doorways, coat-of-arms insignia, loopholes, and round or oblong portal windows.

In the absence of a city wall, Perast defended itself with towers erected alongside the biggest homes. Some are still standing today.

A few of the palaces are skirted with sparkling stone palazzos while others are tucked back up narrow streets. Many have been transformed into hotels or museums while others are privately owned. Each one bears the name of the noble family for whom it was built.

Here are Perast’s most beautiful palaces, from west to east. Remember the exact locations for all palaces are all pinned on my Perast Map below!

Bujović Palace: Dated 1694, this is now the Perast Museum. Designed by Venetian architect Giovanni Battista Fonte, the building was gifted to captain Vicko Bujović as a sign of gratitude from the authorities after his heroism in the war against the Ottomans, which ended in 1699. The grand design features Renaissance-style arcades on street level and five balconies. On the exterior walls, you can see inscriptions in Latin and the Bujović family coat of arms.

Lučić-Kolović-Matikola Palace: Dated 1779, this more humble stone palace is on the waterfront directly opposite the marina. Built for the Studeni fraternity and named after the owner, Nikola Kolović-Matikola, it is now home to the Palace Jelena Rooms hotel and restaurant. Note the beautiful coat of arms on the front that features a wolf rising towards the sun.

Zmajević Palace: Dated 1664, this palace is located up the hill behind Lučić-Kolović-Matikola. It was built by the Archbishop of Bar on Montenegro’s southern coast and later belonged to the noble Zmajević family. The palace is privately owned and cannot be visited. Restoration works were suspended after the interior frescoes were damaged, leaving it in a state of limbo. On my visit, it was covered with a tarpaulin.

Smekja Palace: Dated 1764, this very grand, gleaming white palace is the largest and most impressive in Perast. Three storeys tall, it dominates the waterfront and is the first thing you see when entering the town from the western side. The building now houses the Iberostar Heritage Hotel. St. Apostle Mark Church can be accessed from the plaza.

Smekja Palace and St. Mark's Church in Perast, viewed from the water.
Smekja Palace and St. Mark’s Church.

Palača Brajković-Martinović: Dated 1623, this squared-off stone palace is characterised by its cute shuttered windows. Now the Heritage Hotel Leon Coronato, inside it contains the only salon that has been completely restored with original Napoleon III-style decorations and furniture. The palace garden contains exotic flora brought back to Perast by sailors ‘as a memorial to the connection with the distant world’.

Visković Palace: Dated 1500 and rebuilt in 1718, this palace also has a beautifully preserved garden with a loggia. The defensive tower is its most notable feature: Inscribed with the Latin phrase ‘Parvum Propugnaculum Pro Praesidio Perasti’ (Little Fort for the Protection of Perast), it was used to defend the town from Ottoman invasion. Apparently the original cannon is still sitting on the top floor. The palace was owned by Colonel Conte Fran Visković, whose initials are engraved on the front door. In 1979, the palace was severely damaged in an earthquake and it remains in a state of disrepair today.

Balović Palace (old & new): Dated 1694, the old Balović Palace was built behind Visković by the Zubacima clan. In the 18th century, a second palace was built further down the waterfront as a summer house for Montenegrin poet-philosopher, Njegoš. Look for the freshwater spring out front.

Two palaces with a central stone courtyard in Perast.
Perast palaces.

Mazarović Palace: Dated to the mid-18th century, this palace was affiliated with the Smilo clan. It sits up off the waterfront, behind Balović. The design is late-Baroque, with a huge belvedere for water views. The interior layout has been preserved, as have the plaster decorations on some of the walls. Sadly it is not currently accessible to the public.

Mrša Palace: Further up the hill behind Mazarović, this palace has not been dated. It’s a gorgeous building that once belonged to the Mrsha family and now serves as GuestHouse Mrshe Palace. The old ruins in the garden are quite eerie; it’s still not known what purpose the buildings served.

Šestokrilović Palace: Dated 1691, this residence belonged to one of the oldest fraternities and is therefore considered one of the most important palaces in Perast. Its Romanesque design features arcades and an external staircase, and you can see at least two inscriptions of the Šestokrilović family’s peculiar coat of arms, a bird’s wing holding an upright sword. It is privately owned and in the process of being restored.

Bronza Palace: Dated to the 18th century, this is the final palace on the western end of Perast. After the Bronza family line ended, the palace was used as a customs house by the Austro-Hungarians and is now a parish office. Its prominent features include a defensive tower, elliptical windows, a dove-and-linden-tree coat of arms, and a marble bas-relief dated to 1506. The interior has been preserved, including the original Korčula stone thresholds.

If that’s not enough for you, other lesser-documented palaces in Perast include: Vukasović-Kolović Palace, Pavlovicini Palace, Martinovic Palace, Krilovic Palace, Čorko Palace and Chismae-Štukanović Palace.


3. Visit St. Nicholas Church & other smaller churches in Perast

Interspersed with the palaces along the waterfront and dotted deep in the hills above the docks, you’ll notice lots of stone belfries belonging to both Catholic and Orthodox churches. Some were patronised by wealthy families and associated with the palaces, which helps to explain why there are so many churches for a town of Perast’s size.

St. Nicholas Church (Crkva sv. Nikole u Perastu) is the most prominent. Rebuilt in 1616, the Catholic church is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the protector of travellers on the waters – a very auspicious figure here on the Adriatic.

This church was the centre of life during the Venetian Republic. When it all came crashing down at Napoleon’s hand, Perast residents gave their flag of St. Mark full burial rights inside the church. There are many other interesting relics kept inside the treasury, including family records for some of the clans.

The church’s 55-metre-tall Baroque bell tower is crafted from Korčula stone, a special dry stone quarried and cut by skilled masons on Croatia’s Korcula island. The church and museum are currently closed for restorations, but during the summer months you can climb the tower for a fee of €2.

St. Mark's Church in Perast.
St. Mark’s Church.

Other churches in Perast worth visiting include:

  • Our Lady of the Rosary (for beautiful views)
  • Catholic Church of Saint Apostle Mark (on the waterfront)
  • St. John The Baptist Church (with its distinctive bells)

4. Meet Perast’s leading men

In the main square outside St. Nicholas Church and in front of the post office you’ll find a set of weathered and sea-stained busts belonging to Perast’s noblemen. Match the names on the sculptures with the palace titles to put a face to the palace, as it were.

If you happen to be visiting Perast on the 1st of May, a special ritual takes place in this same square. An oak tree is positioned in front of the church and decorated with colourful ribbons and offerings of wine and cake – an old Perast tradition that signals the start of spring.


5. Take a boat to Our Lady of the Rocks

Our Lady of the Rocks island in Perast.
Our Lady of the Rocks.

While it’s one thing to admire Perast’s islands from afar, chartering a small boat to step ashore is also a must.

Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Škrpjela) is the only artificial island in the Adriatic, home to the only church in Europe erected on a manmade island. Its history goes back to 1452 when a pair of Venetian sailors saw a the face of the Virgin Mary imprinted a rock emerging from the sea. Known as Škrpjel, the rock became revered, and the island was slowly built up around it using old shipwrecks weighed down with stones. Pretty cool!

Boats to the island depart from Perast’s marina. The trip takes under 10 minutes and tickets cost €5 return. While on the island, you can tour the small chapel and museum. Built in 1630, the chapel is covered from floor to ceiling with vivid seafoam-green Venetian frescoes, wood carvings, and silver ornaments. It’s quite stunning.

Venetian frescoes decorate the church on Our Lady of the Rocks island in Perast.
Venetian frescoes inside the church.

Don’t miss the adjoining museum. The collection here is completely unique, consisting of objects stolen by the sea then reclaimed: Lamps, crockery and religious artefacts salvaged from shipwrecks. Entrance costs €1.50 and includes a guide.

Treasures salvaged from shipwrecks at the Our Lady of the Rocks museum.
Treasures salvaged from shipwrecks at the Our Lady of the Rocks museum.

Every year on July 22 – the day the image of the Madonna first appeared to the sailors – Perast celebrates the Fašinada. As the sun sets, locals paddle out to Our Lady of the Rocks and add more stones to the artificial island created by their ancestors.

The second island off Perast, called St. George, is home to an active monastery and is not open to tourists. Boats pass by on the way to Gospa od Škrpjela.


6. Get a picture-perfect view of the marina from the Perast Museum balcony

View of Perast and Smekja Palace from the Perast Museum.
The best views of Perast, with Smekja Palace front and centre.

Perast’s city museum (Muzej grada Perasta) is housed inside the Bujović Palace at the top of the promenade.

It documents the town’s maritime history through photographs, model ships and other objects. I personally favoured the collection at the museum on Our Lady of the Rocks – but it’s still worth a walk-through to admire the inside of the palace building. Signage is in English.

The museum’s upper balcony commands a perfect panorama of the waterfront and a clear view of Smekja Palace. It’s justification enough for the €8 admission fee.

The museum is open from 7am-3pm, Monday to Friday.


7. Walk up to the Old Catholic Monastery for a panoramic view of the bay

A beautiful view of Perast from the Adriatic highway.
Views from the highway above Perast.

If you didn’t drive into Perast, you might have missed the gorgeous view of the town from the highway. The Old Catholic Monastery is a great alternative vantage point and can be accessed by foot from the centre without having to walk onto the busy Adriatic Highway.

Built in 1679 by the Mazarović family, this was originally a Franciscan monastery with its own in-house pharmacy. The view down to the bay is stunning, with the St. John the Evangelist bell tower in the foreground and both islands clearly visible.


8. Climb up to St. Cross Fortress

Close to the monastery on the opposite side of the highway, the ruins of St. Cross Fortress (Tvrđava sv. Križa u Perastu or Fortress of St. Križa) sit in a patch of trees on St. Ilija hill.

This was the only ‘formal’ fortification in Perast and along with eight more defensive towers, was designed by the Venetians to safeguard the city from the encroaching Ottomans during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Today the fortress is nothing but ruins. The area is overgrown and littered with trash, but the views of the water are spectacular, especially at sunset.


9. Eat a slice of Peraška torta

Peraska torta, a traditional cake in the town of Perast, Montenegro.
No trip to Perast is complete without a slice ahem SLAB of Peraska torta!

As well as its unique festivals, Perast has a couple of specialty foods that speak to the town’s heritage. The most delicious is Peraška torta, a moist and moreish cake made with ground almonds and flavoured with lemon and vanilla.

According to the legend, the recipe was devised in the 17th century when a new maritime commander arrived in Perast. The cake was served as a special treat at his inauguration ceremony, and unsurprisingly, it was an instant hit. Today you can try it at Armonia cafe on the waterfront.

For another local specialty, head up the coast to Hipnos Restaurant in Risan, where they serve Koroman sweet bread, a hardy sailor’s staple native to the Boka and sometimes used to prepare fruit cakes. More on Risan in a moment!


10. Kick back on Perast’s tiny white-sand beach

Perast has but one tiny beach. Sandy Beach (Peskovita plaža Perast) as its known sits at the western end of town near the museum. There’s barely enough space for a dozen towels, yet the white sands and crystal-clear waters ensure it’s always packed full.

Thanks to the curve of the coast, beachgoers are completely enveloped in high mountains. The views from the sand are nothing short of spectacular.


11. Grab a drink at the Pirate Bar

If the beach is full, try for a lounger or cafe table at Pirate Bar, Perast’s own beach bar with live music, cocktails and Balkan-style bar snacks. There are even ladders to access the sea so you can swim whilst sipping on your cappuccino or Nikšićko.

Pirate Bar is open from 8am until late throughout the summer season.


12. Eat dinner on the waterfront

Gentle Perast harbour is made for waterfront dining. A dozen or so restaurants have floating dining platforms on the water, with uninterrupted views out to the bay and karst mountains. As well as Balkan fare, Italian food (pizza and pasta) is very popular.

Great restaurants in Perast include:

  • Armonia: Italian pasta, bruschetta and light meals as well as Peraška torta.
  • Fish Restaurant Djardin: Black risotto and fresh seafood.
  • Restaurant Conte: Up-market dining at the Conte Hotel.
  • Konoba Skolji: Well-priced local fish, grilled meat and salads served on a cool covered patio (a great option for lunch in summer).
  • Bocalibre: Pizza and beer on the waterfront.
  • Konoba Otok Bronza: Traditional food and local wine served under the grapevines. The building dates back to the 12th century.

13. Watch the sunset from the marina, one of the best things to do in Perast at night

The sun sets on the Bay of Kotor over a small island in Perast, Montenegro.
Sunset in Perast. Magnifique!

Facing almost perfectly west and with a clear view down the channel out to the bay, Perast has some of the best sunsets on the Boka. Twilight on the harbourfront is a real treat, when the twin islands transform into dramatic silhouettes, the mountaintops are set ablaze and the sea sparkles.

From the hillside, you can watch the waning sun paint the surrounding mountains with vibrant streaks of violet and magenta light.

A pink and purple sunset on the mountains over the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro.
Sunset on the mountains over the Bay of Kotor. This photo was taken from our guesthouse in Perast, Apartments Jovanović.

No matter where you stand, sunset in Perast is unforgettable and makes spending the night here a must.


BONUS: Take a side trip to see the Risan mosaics

Black and white Roman mosaics in Risan, Montenegro.
Roman mosaics in Risan, a short side trip from Perast.

Just 4km up the coast, the larger town of Risan is a convenient side trip from Perast. Formerly known as Rhizon, this is the oldest settlement on the Bay of Kotor with a history that goes back to the 4th century BC.

As was their want, the Romans built lavish villas here with intricate floor mosaics. The five surviving mosaics displayed at the small open-air museum aren’t quite as impressive as those in Bitola, North Macedonia, but they’re still very beautiful.

Entrance to the mosaics costs €6, while a combination ticket for the mosaics and the Perast Museum costs €9. You can add on three more museums/churches in Kotor and pay just €12.

The mosaics are open from 8am-4pm weekdays and from 10am-4pm on weekends. Hours are extended in summer.

Don’t forget to stop off at Hipnos in Risan for lunch and some Koroman sweet bread!


Perast map

Find all the Perast attractions and restaurants mentioned here on my Perast Map.

Click here to open and save the map on Google Maps.


Is Perast on your travel wish list? Do you have any questions about Perast or additional tips for travellers? Drop me a message in the comments below.


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