Budva is one of the jewels in Montenegro’s stunning crown. Its warm climate, beautiful beaches and remarkable Old Town attract many tourists from Eastern Europe every year. Yet, it remains relatively unknown to all other travellers. I was lucky to spend a few days in Budva and here are my top 6 things to do in and around this beautiful part of the Adriatic coast.
1. Explore the beautiful Old Town
Budva’s history dates back to 2500 years ago. Its fortified Old Town is very compact and walkable, with plenty of cafes and restaurants to relax in and people watch. Walk to Citadela, the old citadel (€2.50) and explore its walls and ramparts overlooking the azure Adriatic, before peeking into the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church of Saint John opposite. You can walk along the city walls too, however the entrance near the Citadela is sometimes locked. Make sure to grab a delicious smoothie from The Juice Bar or tasty pancakes from the small hole-in-the-wall bakery further down the same street towards the citadel.
2. Hit the beach
If all the exploring starts feeling like hard work, slip away to Ricardova Glava beach, right next to the town walls. Grab a cocktail from the beach bar before jumping into the warm sea from the pier. Alternatively, stroll along the cliff-side boardwalk and head to Mogren Beach which has more space and nicer sand! The water is crystal-clear and the views are stunning. If you are feeling adventurous, continue on scrambling over rocks to reach a cliff at the far end, where you can engage in a spot of cliff jumping!
3. Visit Sveti Stefan
The small island of Sveti Stefan is one of the most photographed spots in Montenegro and it’s not hard to see why. A cluster of houses dating back to the 15th century with terracotta rooftops looks like something out of a fairytale and they are only connected to the rest of the namesake town by a narrow strip of land. Unfortunately, the whole thing is now a luxury resort and is off-limits to the general public. For best photos, climb the steps until you are above the town (next to a busy highway) and stop at a platform for stunning views.
Sveti Stefan is about 30 minutes away by local bus (around €2 one-way), which leaves from Mediteranska Street in the centre of Budva.
4. Climb up to a remote Praskvica Monastery
For somewhere a little less touristy, climb up to Praskvica Monastery not far from Sveti Stefan. Sitting in the hills overlooking the sea, it was founded in 1413, although the church was rebuilt in 1847 with only a small original alcove remaining in the far corner. You can just about make out the faded frescoes on the walls and ceiling. You should dress appropriately before you enter but the monks provide shawls for you to cover up if needed. While there is an adjacent shop, there were no other tourists when we visited.
The monastery can be tricky to find. We ended up taking a dangerous walk along the highway (with no pedestrian paths) but there is a safer option, via a path from the town of Przno.
5. Take a day trip
Budva itself is a popular day trip destination but it also serves as a great base for exploring the region. Within an hour you could find yourself in Kotor, the gateway to the beautiful Bay of Kotor. Explore the walled Old Town and climb up to the impressive fortress. Dubrovnik, over the Croatian border, is about 2.5 hours away and while you won’t fit everything into just one day, there is plenty to do. Options include sunbathing, sailing nearby islands or even sea kayaking. For a very long day trip, you could head into one of Europe’s least explored countries – Albania. It’s an early start and a late finish but you will be able to see the capital, Tirana, as well as have a few stops throughout the day.
Public buses leave to all the above destinations daily. Check out this website for timetables and tickets. If you wanted to do Albania as a day trip, I would recommend a tour.
6. Party at the Sea Dance music festival
Every year, thousands of revellers flock to Jaz Beach, a few kilometres out of Budva, for Sea Dance, a dance music festival that attracts some of the top names from around the world. This year’s headliners included Skrillex and Lost Frequencies. This was the main reason we headed to Montenegro on this trip and we loved dancing the night away on the beach to some great music with friends old and new. There is plenty of variety with techno, trance and even latin and reggae stages as well plenty of food and drink options scattered around the grounds. During the day, you can frolic in the warm waters while listening to some chilled out tunes.
Tickets are cheap compared to other festivals (from €49 for 3 days). If you needed another reason to go, you can get a combi ticket giving you entry to EXIT Festival in Noviy Sad, Serbia which will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2017 and promises some big acts.
What: Budva is a seaside town in Montenegro on the Adriatic coast. It’s very developed and has many beaches, a marina and plenty of nightlife as well as the beautiful Old Town.
Where: The nearest airport to Budva is in Tivat. Various airlines, including EasyJet have flights from the UK (from £57). Alternatively Dubrovnik is only a 2-3 hours drive away with transfers easily arranged with travel agencies and hotels.
Getting There: This website is great for booking tickets for travel in Montenegro. From Dubrovnik, take a public bus or visit on a day tour.