DH and I have wanted to visit Montenegro ever since we saw the James Bond film, Casino Royale, that supposedly featured it. Ironically, it was actually filmed in the Czech Republic, but Montenegro has stuck in our minds, and when we settled on the Balkans as our holiday destination this year, there was no question about our ultimate destination.
We knew we wanted to visit Kotor bay, but a lot of it is dominated by modern hotels and huge holiday housing estates. We wanted to go somewhere quieter, unspoiled and charming.
Perast, a Montenegran town dating back to a time when the Venetians were a force to be reckoned with, seemed to fit the bill. We rented a 3 bedroom villa for a week and based the rest of our holiday on that.
Perast is not a big town; you can walk from one end to the other in 20-30 minutes, even with kids in tow, and only 350 people actually live there permanently. The numbers swell during peak tourist season although it was still relatively peaceful when we were there.
Perast’s Venetian origins are obvious every time you look at its19 churches and 16 palaces, and although things look a bit faded hundreds of years later, it’s not hard to see how grand the place must have been once.
Perast has a main street that runs beside the sea. This deviates from the coastal road, which runs behind the town, and is supposedly car-free during the day. In reality cars do drift along this pedestrian-heavy strip quite frequently, but they normally go slowly and carefully, except for the little tourist buses that bomb through, stopping for no one every 30 minutes or so.
There is parking at each end of the town which is policed 24/7 by segway mounted young men who swoop back and forth collecting fees and keeping an eye on your vehicle.
We loved staying in Perast. We’d get up and have some breakfast, throwing the front door open to say hello to the little family of stray cats that lived in the area.
There was a lovely table on the patio but unfortunately the resident wasps guarding the ripe grapes overhead did not make ideal meal time companions for our insect adverse children.
We found Perast to be an ideal place to stay as a family. There was a small minimart 5 minutes walk from the villa and we managed to get cereal, milk, bread, yoghurt etc for breakfast from there.
Lunches, we grabbed from the sandwich/pancake stand in the town square, or from the pizza restaurant, and we ate out every evening. Perast has many restaurants but not
all of them were suitable for our rowdy lot.
There is plenty to do in and around the town. Mostly the kids just wanted to swim but we did drag them out of the sea now and again.
There are no sandy beaches in Perast so all the swimming is done from terraces.
The kids loved these and spent hours trying to catch fish from them, jumping off and bobbing around in the waves created by the wake of passing boats.
When we could be bothered, we hauled the kids out and made them put some clothes on.
Clothes appear to be optional in Perast by the way; plenty of people wander around in just togs but a lot of these are quite alarming shades of brown. Sun protection seems to be quite literally a foreign concept for some people!
While dressed, we took a day trip Albania, visited the nearby town of Kotor for the day and took a boat
trip out to one of the tiny islands in the Bay.
Albania took up an entire day and Kotor was well worth visiting; we could have gone back there for a second look. DH spent most of his time there climbing up to the fortress 1350 steps above the old town in the midday sun, while the rest of us wandered around the narrow, cobbled streets getting lost.
The island was easily accessible by taxi boat which the kids loved because they got to sit up front.
On the little man-made island, there is a beautifully decorated church and tiny museum full of religious relics and objects related to the seafaring history of the area. There were no written labels in English, but we found a couple of young women inside willing to explain things to us.
DH and the kids also climbed the bell tower of St Nicholas’ church for view over the town. I stayed at ground level and took photos of them peering triumphantly down at me from a great height.
We all had a fabulously relaxing week in Perast and would recommended it as a base for a laid back family stay in the Bay of Kotor.