A little way outside of the town of Kotor, but still situated on the Bay itself, Perast has all the charm and quaintness of a little French town worthy of a song or two in Beauty and the Beast. Except it’s not in France, and no bakers were offended in the process of my visit.
Bit of Disney humour for you there.
Prior to rocking up in Kotor, I had very little clue as to what there is to actually do there. And to be honest, other than cats and hiking (both of which are very, very high on my list of least favourite things on this planet) there’s really not a lot.
Kotor has a kind of relaxed and sleepy but oddly not boring vibe, similar to what I experienced in Ambergris Caye, Belize.
There was one single convenience store in the whole of the old town which had more to offer than bread rolls and “the worst sandwiches in town“. That was actually a sign on display in the front window of a shop near to my hostel! They didn’t have any non-animal related sandwiches so I had a bread roll which is basically just a sandwich without a filling right? Anyway, it really wasn’t so bad. I may need to contact Trading Standards and get them done for false advertising!
So, having managed to successfully squeeze in my fair share of resentful hiking, hissing at cats and eating bread rolls in my first half a day in Kotor while still having time to take a three-hour nap, I figured I should broaden my Montenegrin horizons a bit.
Enter Perast, stage left!
According to the Internet Perast is a 20 minute journey from Kotor.
According to the Internet the bus picks you up from right outside of the city walls.
According to the Internet the bus runs from Kotor to Perast every 30 minutes in Summer, 1 hour in Winter.
Well, I’ll let you in on a little known secret here. The Internet is a big, fat liar!
Perast is actually more like a 30 minute bus journey, but it’s one of the most picturesque rides I’ve ever taken! The bus sort of travels around the perimeter of the Bay, and there’s only a few minutes during the whole journey that you can’t see the water. You get to take in all the little clusters of orange roofs dotted around the bay, and take a step a little deeper into real, everyday life.
The bus doesn’t pick you up from right outside the city walls. It used to, but apparently these days there’s some rule in place that prevents buses from stopping unnecessarily, so if the stop isn’t officially on their route then they can’t let you on. Sorry, you’ll have to walk. A lot of the drivers do still stop outside the city walls because they’re crafty little rule benders, but there’s no guarantee. So you’d be better off just walking to the bus station which is only 5 minutes from the Old Town anyway.
And finally, the bus runs from Kotor to Perast not every 30 minutes or 1 hour, but whenever the heck it feels like! I checked the bus times online (don’t ask me for the website as I’ve wiped that memory from my brain) and made sure I was there at least 20 minutes before. Walked up to the counter and asked the lady for a ticket to Perast, and she told me to buy it on the bus (which was apparently running late and would be here within 15 minutes) and her friend working the barrier will tell me which one it is.
One hour, fifteen minutes later and I almost kissed the driver as I handed over my €1.50 and he promised he’d tell me when to get off.
True to his word he did tell me when to get off.
“Perast,” the driver’s friend (not sure if employed or just along for the ride) grunted and pointed off to the left. Then the bus driver held up one hand and said “Bus come back, 5!”
By this point it was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and I thought it kind of strange that he thought I’d be able to spend 3 whole hours in a town smaller than a village. It turns out by 5 he meant half past. As in, point five. The buses back were half past the hour.
I’d seen the odd picture of Perast in my hostel and on Google, so thought I knew what to look out for. Some nice little cobbled streets, a few fishing boats, some little islands floating in the bay and a tall tower with an orange roof.
What I did not expect was to walk off of the bus into the middle of what seemed to be a country lane with none of the above in sight.
When you get off the bus, Perast is sort of below you. You have to go down. There is a road that runs through the front of the town, along the bay, but it’s a one way road so the bus can’t go there. So for all intents and purposes, when you get off the bus from Kotor, just go down. Whichever way you can, just go down. Find a path, find a dirt road, find some steps. Just go down.
So, what exactly is there to do in Perast?
Would you believe me if I said there’s even less to do in Perast than there is in Kotor, but it’s just as pretty if not more so?
It’s a teeny tiny town, and to be honest I don’t think it can even be called a town! In my mind it’s way more of a village. But then, I’m not familiar with what makes a town a town so can I really be the judge?!
There’s a museum, a small splattering of restaurants and cafes, a handful of hotels and guesthouses, a church or two and a small store that sells pizza flavour crisps. There are two islands – St George Island and Our Lady of the Rock – which you can take a boat out to visit. The best part? There are no cats (Perast 1 – 0 Kotor).
When I visited, all of the above were either closed or not available. Except for the shop that sells pizza flavoured crisps and the lack of cats.
The odd timing of my visit right in between lunch and dinner meant the restaurants and cafes were shut (if they were even open to begin with!), I don’t think the church even has a door and the museum looked like it hadn’t been so much as looked at in about two decades.
There were boats docked at the bay but nobody there to pay to take you, or to rent from. So the islands were inaccessible.
It was like a ghost town, but less creepy.
Due to bus timings I ended up spending almost 2 hours there just walking up and down the same few streets (until it rained, then I took shelter in the bus stop!) and in the whole 2 hours I only saw 3 other people, not including the lady in the shop selling pizza-flavoured crisps.
It was a surreal feeling – like I had the whole town to myself, but at the same time it felt like I really, really shouldn’t be there. Like I was an intruder, trespassing on somebody else’s land.
Perast really is a beautiful little town though, well worth a trip from Kotor! And I can’t help but imagine it would really come alive in the summer months.