We will have a private guide for a day in Montenegro, departing from Kotor and driving to Njegusi, Cetinje and Budva. I'm thinking, though, that Budva isn't our style as it seems to be mostly a beach/tourist destination. Has anyone visited both Budva and Perast? Is Perast or any other small town nearby more interesting that beachy Budva? (I know about Our Lady of the Rocks, but don't know if there will be enough time left to see Perast and the church.)
I suggest Perast or St.Stephen Island. You are right about Budva, it is a very commercialized area.
Budva is flashy in places but if you are going to all of those locations in just one day you won't be there very long so it shouldn't matter much. Besides, inside the walls of the old Venetian town is very nice with the castle, churches, and some good restaurants.
Having said that, Perast is gorgeous and much smaller and more quiet, presuming you don't arrive right when a cruise ship group arrives.
I liked Herceg-Novi. Perast is quite small and I was not enthralled with it, preferring Budva.
Our day tour should last 8-9 hours so I'm hoping for one stop as an alternative to Budva. Since we're only staying in Kotor 2 nights, I am planning one in the city and one on a tour outside of town. I timed our visit so that only the Crystal Esprit will be in Kotor on our day there, with about 90 passengers. One ship is in Kotor the next day, so that's our day out of town; I'm hoping not too many of those visitors will make it out of Kotor. We'd rather stay at Sveti Stefan rather than just see it from a distance, so that one is out. Herceg Novi also sounds interesting, but with only a short time, Perast definitely seems a better choice for our preferences: pretty, quiet, more of a chance to get a brief taste of "normal" life. I just now spent a few minutes looking at Tivat and Porto Montenegro, and they don't look like our speed either. So, you have confirmed my choice of Perast. I guess I was just looking for some reassurance. Thanks!
You might want to reconsider Kotor
We're currently in Kotor and have visited Perast a couple of times for lunch. However, what should be a 20 minute drive is doubled due to the sheer volume of Traffic in and around Kotor Old Town. Perast is a lovely setting, very small and compact. Parking in the summer is very busy but so far we've gotten a spavce, there are guides who will show you where a free spot is and the cost is €5 for a day (even if you only stay for an hour).
Perast can get very busy, I'm not sure what you're looking for in terms of a more authentic experience as it's pretty much locals providing services for tourists, that's as authentic as it gets, a seafront town catering for the tourist trade.
Our best meals so far have been in Perast, many seafront restaurants to choose from with fish and seafood particularly good.
Wasn't impressed with Tivat and evess less so with Porto Montenegro, a soulless place full of bling, my advice would be to not bother.
Perast is for travelers. It has it's own bite of history and some of epic stories about Perast's sailors and fleet.
On the other hand, Budva is more for tourists, with noisy nights and hot days on the beach bars.