The Dramatic Bay of Kotor: Perast and More [Montenegro]

A good starting point in any backpacking trips is heading for the southern part of Montenegro in the Bay of Kotor. It consists of four smaller gulfs – gulf of Herceg Novi, gulf of Tivat, gulf of Risan, and gulf of Kotor and each of them create a magical land just good for exploring. In the end the gulf of Herceg Novi empties into the Adriatic Sea. Many call the Bay of Kotor a fjord due to its looks but, in fact, it’s a submerged river canyon.

From a social standpoint the region, although it’s a multiethnic one, is divided into 3 municipalities: Kotor (which has a Montenegrin majority and Croatian minority) , Herceg Novi (which has a Serbian majority) and Tivat (which has a Serbian majority and a Croatian minority).

While you are in Kotor do not hesitate to hike the St John Castle or the fortifications of the city early in the morning. Not only it’s a good cardio exercise but also you will be able to enjoy the crips morning sunlight while being alone (or nearly alone).

The hike is relatively easy with 1350 steps in a steep angle but there are sufficient rest stops for you to stare at the beautiful landscape. Almost halfway up  you will see the most well known church of Kotor – Our Lady of Health. This church was built in response to a number of plagues in the mid-15th century. If you go up a couple of stairs and look behind you you will see the most iconic view of the area: the church in the foreground and the bay and the mountains in the background.

Once you reach the flag you will see the most unbelievable views of Montenegro.

When you are heading back just be careful to the steps – they can really get slippery.

From the fortress you can go straight to the bus station and head directly to the village of Perast. If you go there by bus the stop will be somewhere outside the city and, honestly, you will not be sure that you are where you wanted to be. Just walk 15 minutes to your right and you will just see the tiniest prettiest city.

Just like Kotor, Perast looks like part of Venice which floated down to the Adriatic coast and established itself onto the bay. Although, at a first glance it might seem like a simple fishing settlement, this tiny town hides 16 churches and 17 formerly grand palaces. While some are in ruins hidden under bougainvillea, ivy and wild fig, others are under renovation. The city is alive!

Right at its heart is St Nicholas’ Church set on a small square lined, surrounded by cafes and people jumping in and out of boats.

Two of the most famous landmarks of the Bay of Kotor are just outside Perast: the two peculiarly picturesque islands with equally peculiar histories are just a boat ride away. The island of St. George is an intense, rocky, bold natural island while Our Lady of the Rock is a slender, filled with light “floating”  man made island.

When I left Kotor for Dubrovnik, the bus took us on a ferry ride in Tivat offering a different perspective over the bay and Perast.

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