How To Visit Our Lady of the Rocks Without Annoying the Locals

Our Lady of the Rocks

Image: Deposit photos

Our Lady of the Rocks is one of Montenegro’s most popular attractions. It’s a unique island church set just in front of Perast – a UNESCO Heritage protected town.

If you’re visiting the Bay of Kotor, this church and museum is a must-see.

We take all our friends and family here when they visit. We love to take any chance we can to get out in a boat anyway, and this is always an impressive stop.

Our Big Oops... Embarrassing Story Follows

I’ll never forget our first trip here. I went with two Swiss friends who were visiting at the end of July. Needless to say, it was very hot. We’d stopped for a swim and a drink at Pirate Beach which is at the north end of Perast. Then we got a ride out to Our Lady of The Rocks in a little motor boat with a young guy for €3 each. We arranged for him to come back for us in 45 minutes. That would give us enough time to see the island and take some pictures.

We stepped onto the island and were meandering around. At this stage I’d only been in Montenegro a couple of months. I had no idea what was here, I’d been told it was a museum.

All of a sudden we hear someone yelling and it becomes apparent he’s yelling at us.

‘Majica! Majica! Majica!’

Luckily I knew this word. He was yelling ‘T-shirt! T-shirt! T-shirt!’ at us as we stood there still wet from the beach in our shorts and bikini tops. Oops.

Had we known that this was a Catholic church, we might have realised that arriving in swimsuits was a faux pas. I did feel relieved later when I saw a bikini-clad Italian woman getting the same treatment. Entertainingly, she didn’t quickly cover up while mumbling apologies like we did. No, she yelled back at him in Italian so we stood there listening to this hilarious half Italian, half Montenegrin yelling match going on in front of the church.

Ahhh…. Southern Europe and its hot blood!

So here’s my first local’s tip: don’t arrive in your swimmers!

But I digress. Once we put on t-shirts and realised it was a church and museum, not just a museum, we paid our €1 and started our tour.

The view of St George Monastery from Our Lady of the RocksThe view of St George Monastery from Our Lady of the Rocks

You must take a tour through the church and museum, but for €1per person it’s a bargain. Your guide will tell you all about the history and the artifacts in the church. The tour through the church and museum takes about 30 minutes. It can be a tight fit when there are large groups, but it helps that you enter through one side and then exit through another door on the first floor. There are stairs, so it’s not suitable for people in wheelchairs. 

There’s a little store on the island with souvenirs and ice creams. Once you finish the tour you’ll definitely want to take some pictures and take in the views of the Bay and Perast. 

Local's Tip: Make sure you ask about going behind the alter. There’s a hole in the back you can put your hand through and touch the rock beneath. It’s said to be the original rock the painting of the Madonna was found on.


The History of Our Lady of the Rocks

Our Lady of the Rocks sits on a man-made island. On 22nd July 1452 two brothers were fishing in front of Perast and found a picture of the Madonna and child painted by Lovro Dobricevic stuck on a protruding rock. They took it home and seemingly overnight, one brother who had been ill for a long time, was healed. They took this as a sign and vowed to build a church on the spot. The town began the tradition of throwing a rock into the sea at this spot whenever they returned safely from a voyage. Old ships were filled with rocks and scuttled here to help build up the island.

Records show that by 1484 there was a church here. In May 1535 the town of Perast decided to expand the church and dedicate it to the Blessed Virgin. Documents from 1579 show the church was named Our Lady of the Rocks.

The church lost a lot of its treasure on 22nd June 1624 when pirates from Tunisia and Carthage attacked Perast, plundered the churches and took most of the population into slavery. The island and church were finally finished in 1630, almost 200 years after the picture was found.

In 1667 the church was hit again. A large earthquake destroyed the church, but it was rebuilt and that’s the building we see on the island now. 

Our Lady of the Rocks entranceThe church entrance of Our Lady of the Rocks

Notable Artifacts

When you enter the church, your eye is drawn to the huge, ornate altar. This was sculpted by Antonio Capellano from Genoa and erected in the church in 1796. The original painting that washed up on the rock is in the centre of the altar.  

The walls and the ceiling of the church are filled with art by local artist Tripo Kokolja (1661 – 1713), a well-known local baroque painter from Perast. Between these, there are hundreds of silver plates which were donated by local families. A family would have a silver or gold plate made to protect their sailors at sea. 

Our Lady of the Rocks altarThe altar in Our Lady of the Rocks
Our Lady of the Rocks ceilingThe ceiling frescoes in Our Lady of the Rocks
Stone artefacts in the museumStone artefacts in the museum

You’ll also see silver body parts. A sick or injured person would donate one of these in the hope their prayers would be answered and they’d be cured.

The museum is small but it’s filled with all kinds of artifacts. There are prehistoric stone arrowheads, old weapons, tools and works of art from the locals of Perast. The tours can go through the place quite quickly, but you can do another round in your own time.


Local Legends

Needlepoint of hair

Of special note here is the tapestry done by Jacinta Kunic-Mijovic. Jacinta waited 25 years for her husband to return from sea.

While waiting, she sewed this intricate tapestry until she couldn’t see anymore. It’s got threads of gold and silver through it, but not just those. She used her own hair for the angels’ hair. You see the hair starts out brown and gradually turns grey.

This is one of the museum's most treasured pieces.

Lost Love

There’s another local story of a soldier from the army who was stationed on the island. He was in love with a local girl from Perast. One day, during a skirmish, he shot at the enemy and then realised he had accidentally shot his love. He couldn’t live with himself and killed himself. The two are buried on St George’s island, the monastery island next to Our Lady of the Rocks. St George is a natural island and has an Orthodox monastery, but unlike Our Lady of the Rocks, it’s not open to the public.

St George Island and monasterySt George Island and monastery

Local's Tip: If you get one of the boats from Perast, make sure they give you a good 45 minutes on the island. The tour will take up 30 minutes and this will leave you another 15 minutes to look around.


Events On Our Lady of the Rocks

Fasinada

FasinadaThe boat procession during Fasinada

Every year on 22nd July, a procession of boats from Perast head out to the island at sunset. They throw rocks into the sea around the island to commemorate the foundation of the island. The celebrations start at 6.30pm, but arrive early to get a spot. The best place to be is at one of the waterside restaurants like Conte where you can get a good view of the proceedings. 

Weddings

As a functioning Catholic church, weddings can also be held on the island.


How To Visit

Self-drive

If you’re in Perast or have your own rental car, you can park in Perast and get a boat over to the island. There are boats and you’ll be offered rides to the island as you walk along the promenade. Boat rides cost €3 - €5 per person return.

Usually you'll be taken over to the island and the driver will come back for you in 30-45 minutes. 

Kotor Boat Tour - Group Tour

Montenegro toursKotor boat tour

This boat tour starts in Kotor and takes you to Kotor Bay's most popular attractions - Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks

You have a 30 minute stop at each before cruising back to Kotor.

This is the cheapest of these tours because there are lots of people in the boat. But it's great value for a 2+ hour boat tour.

Tour Details

Start point: Kotor City Park (200m from the old town/port)
Start time: 12pm or 2pm
Duration: 2 1/2 hours
Price: From €15 per person

Read More: Kotor Boat Tour


2 Hour Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks Speedboat Tour - Small Group Tour

This is the best value tour you'll find. There are 6 departures daily and you'll get private service at a large group tour price.

This small group speedboat tour has a maximum of 15 people on each tour and you can buy single tickets if you're travelling alone. 

The tour cruises along the coast from Kotor to Our Lady of the Rocks, where you have a 30 minute stop to tour the island.  

Then you head over to Perast, where you have another 30 minute stop to see the UNESCO Heritage town, before cruising back to Kotor City Park, by the old town. 

The tour includes free cold drinks and you can book now and pay on the day. 

Tour Details

Start point: Kotor City Park (200m from the old town/port)
Start time: 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm daily
Duration: 2 hours
Price: Adults €20 each, children <12  €10 each

Read More: Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks Speedboat Tour


Our Lady of the Rocks Express Speedboat Tour - Group Tour

This express speedboat tour to Our Lady of the Rocks is perfect if you're on a tight schedule.

Because you'll spend less time getting there, you'll have more time to explore the island and church. You'll also have a short stop in historic Perast, a UNESCO Heritage listed town on the way back to Kotor

Tour Details

Start point: Kotor
Start time: 9:15am and 11:15am daily
Duration: 1 1/2 hours
Price: From €40 per person

Read More: Our Lady of the Rocks Express Speedboat Tour


1 Hour Our Lady of the Rocks Speedboat Tour - Private Tour

If you want to take a private boat tour or don't have much time to see the sights, this tour is just an hour and is really well priced.

The tour departs from Kotor and takes you on a scenic ride through the Bay of Kotor to Our Lady of the Rocks in front of Perast.

You have a stop at Our Lady of the Rocks to take a tour through the church and museum (€1 per person), before returning to Kotor. 

Tour Details

Start point: Kotor City Park (200m from the old town/port)
Start time: Flexible
Duration: 1 hour
Price: €60 up to 9 people


1 1/2 Hour Our Lady of the Rocks and Perast Speedboat Tour - Private Tour

The fastest way to see both Our Lady of the Rocks and Perast town.

This private speedboat tour starts in Kotor and takes you through the scenic Bay of Kotor to Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks.

The hour and a half tour gives you 30 minutes to see Perast town and 20 minutes to take a tour of Our Lady of the Rocks. 

Tour Details

Start point: Kotor City Park (200m from the old town/port)
Start time: Flexible
Duration: 1 1/2 hours
Price: €90 up to 9 people


3 Hour Our Lady of the Rocks and the Blue Cave Speedboat Tour - Small Group Tour

This is the most popular tour on Montenegro Pulse and it's a great way to pack the most into your boat tour. 

First stop is Our Lady of the Rocks, before you head through the Verige Straits and along the Herceg Novi Rivera.

Then it's out of the bay, past Mamula Island, the WWII prison island, and along Lustica Peninsula to the Blue Cave, where you have a 30 minute stop to swim in the cave.

On the way back to Kotor, you'll stop in the caves the army used to use to hide submarines. 

The tour includes free cold drinks and you can book now and pay on the day. 

Tour Details

Start point: Kotor City Park (200m from the old town/port)
Start time: 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm daily
Duration: 3 hours
Price:  Adults €30 each, children <12  €15 each

Read More: 3 Hour Our Lady of the Rocks and Blue Cave Speedboat Tour


3 Hour Our Lady of the Rocks and the Blue Cave Speedboat Tour - Private Tour

This 3 hour tour starts in Kotor and takes you through the whole of the Bay of Kotor and out to Lustica Peninsula.

You cruise through the bay to Our Lady of the Rocks, where you have a 20 minute stop to see the church and museum.

You continue cruising along the Herceg Novi Riviera and past Mamula island, the fortified WWII prison island. 

You then cruise along wild and beautiful Lustica Peninsula to the Blue Cave, where you have a 30 minute swim stop to swim in the cave before cruising back through the bay to Kotor. 

Click any of the pictures to enlarge

Tour Details

Start point: Kotor City Park (200m from the old town/port)
Start time: Flexible
Duration: 3 hours
Price: 

  • Quicksilver 605:  €200.
  • Cap Camarat 65: €210
  • Bayliner Element XL:  €220.
  • Don Amon VIP: €300.

Kotor, Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks By Speedboat - Private Tour With Licenced Guide

Kotor ExcursionsSt George Island from Our Lady of the Rocks

This Kotor excursion starts with a scenic boat ride to Our Lady of the Rocks. After a tour of the church and museum, your guide will take you through the streets of UNESCO Heritage protected Perast.

Then you take another boat ride back to Kotor where you have a private walking tour of the old town including St Tryphon’s Cathedral and the Maritime Museum. 

Tour Details

Start point: Kotor
Start time: Flexible
Duration: 4 1/2 hours
Price: From €55 per person

Read More: Private Tour of Kotor, Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks by Speedboat


Kotor, Perast And Our Lady Of The Rocks By Land - Private Tour With Licenced Guide

Kotor ExcursionsThe beautiful town of Perast

This excursion includes a walking tour of Kotor including St Tryphon's Cathedral and the Maritime Museum.

Then you take a private transfer and have private guided tours of the small Baroque town of Perast and the island of Our Lady of the Rocks.

It's an excellent way to see the best of the Bay of Kotor.

Tour Details

Start point: Kotor
Start time: Flexible
Duration: 4 1/2 hours
Price: From €49 per person

Read More: Private Tour of Kotor, Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks by Land


Sunset Drinks at Our Lady of the Rocks - Private Tour

Take a sunset speedboat tour to Our Lady of the Rocks and have drinks with a traditional ham and cheese plate, while you watch the sun go down. 

On this tour you cruise to the island and have 20 minutes to look around. Then you board the boat again for a drink and photos stop before returning back to your start point.

You can extend the tour if you'd like to visit Perast or have dinner in a local restaurant.

Tour Details

Start point: Porto Montenegro, Tivat. Elsewhere in the Bay of Kotor on request.
Recommended start times:

  • April - 7pm 
  • May - 7.30pm
  • June - 7.50pm
  • July - 7.50pm
  • August 7.15pm
  • September 6.20pm
  • October 5.30pm

Duration: 

  • 1 hour standard tour
  • 2 hour extended tour with Perast visit
  • 3 hour dinner tour

Price: 

  • 1 hour tour - €65 per person (minimum 2)
  • 2 hour tour - €65 per person + €35 for the extra hour
  • 3 hour tour - €65 per person + €70 for the extra 2 hours
  • Discounts for groups of 4 or more are available - please enquire via the booking form.

What's included: Bottle of local wine or prosecco per two people, traditional ham and cheese plate, fuel, skipper. Towels and ponchos are available on request.

Optional Extras:

  • Tour guide - 1 hour - €45, 2 hours - €60, 3 or 4 hours - €80
  • Extra waiting time - €35 per hour
  • Wine, champagne and catering - use the enquiry form to ask for the price list
  • Dinner at Catovica Mlini - €24 for transfer and €35 per hour of waiting
  • Kotor Old Town - €104 for transfer and €35 per hour waiting
  • Our Lady of the Rocks church and museum tour - €1 per person

What you should know:

  • The church and museum closes at 7pm, if you want to take a tour through these you should start this tour early. We may be able to arrange a visit after closing time by advance arrangement for an additional fee.

Rent a Speedboat

Montenegro boat rentalRent your own boat in Montenegro

You can rent your own skippered or unskippered (bareback) speedboat on a daily or weekly basis.

We have the largest selection of boats to rent Montenegro.

Read More: Rent a Speedboat


Accommodation

Hotel ConteHotel Conte has beautiful rooms and an excellent restaurant overlooking Perast and the islands

If you’d like to stay in this area of the bay, Perast is a really popular place to stay. It’s got gorgeous hotels like Hotel Conte, wonderful restaurants and an authentic Mediterranean fishing village feel that you’ll be hard pressed to beat anywhere in Europe.

Part of this is because the town’s stone architecture has been protected so there are no modern buildings. All buildings in the town are from local stone. The town is car-free from May to September every year, but this doesn’t inconvenience visitors. There are parking lots at either side of the town that cost just €2 per day and there’s a buggy to take you and your luggage to your hotel or apartment.

Click here to see accommodation options in Perast

An excellent hotel in Perast is Hotel Per Astra. Click here for pricing and availability.

Hotel Per AstraHotel Per Astra

I hope you’ll make the trip out  to Our Lady of the Rocks on your visit to Montenegro. It’s one of the Bay of Kotor’s treasures and it’s in a stunningly beautiful spot. 

Oh, and don't forget your t-shirt...

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