Budva is the poster child of Montenegrin tourism. Easily the country’s most visited destination, it attracts hordes of holidaymakers intent on exploring its atmospheric Stari Grad (Old Town), sunning themselves on the bonny beaches of the Budva Riviera and partying until dawn, with scores of buzzy bars and clanging clubs, it’s not nicknamed “the Montenegrin Miami” for nothing.
Budva is a Montenegrin town on the Adriatic Sea, former bishopric and present Latin Catholic titular see. It has around 14,000 inhabitants, and it is the centre of Budva Municipality. The coastal area around Budva, called the Budva riviera, is the center of Montenegrin tourism, known for its well-preserved medieval walled city, sandy beaches and diverse nightlife. Budva is 2,500 years old, which makes it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast.
In the height of the season, Budva’s sands are blanketed with package holidaymakers from Russia and Ukraine, while the nouveau riche park their multimillion-dollar yachts in the town’s guarded marina. That said, Budva has a hectic, happy charm all its own, and is a must-stay stop on any Montenegrin itinerary.
Explore the Old Town
The Old Town of Budva is situated on a rocky peninsula, on the southern end of Budva field. Archaeological evidence suggests that Illyrian settlement was formed on the site of the Old Town before Greek colonization of the Adriatic. While the site was permanently settled since Roman era, most of existing city walls and buildings were erected during the Venetian rule.
The entire town is encircled with defensive stone walls. The fortifications of Budva are typical of the Medieval walled cities of the Adriatic, complete with towers, embrasures, fortified city gates and a citadel. Originally, there were gates on all of the four sides of the walled city. However, sea-facing gates were closed up over the years. The main city gate is Porta di Terra Ferma, the grand entry to the city from the west. It is also the beginning of the city’s main thoroughfare, Njegoševa Street. There are also four more gates on the north wall, facing Budva marina (Porta Pizana, Porta Pizana 1 and 2, and Porta Pizanella), and one small gate facing the southwestern beach of Ričardova glava.
The Old Town suffered extensive damage in 1979 earthquake, repair and reconstruction took eight years (until 1987), but traces of the damage are now hardly noticeable. Today, it is a prime visitor attraction of Budva, packed with tourists during the summer months. Its narrow cobbled streets are lined with restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops.
Visit a church or cathedral
There are several churches in Budva that you can enter for free including the Church of Saint John, the Church of the Holy Trinity and Church of Saint Sava. In front of the Church of the Holy Trinity, you can also find the tomb of a famous writer and politician Stjepan Mitrov Ljubiša.The Catholic Church of St.John is the largest and oldest one of all dating back to the 7th century, with the Belfry added to the northern side of it in the 19th century. Inside this church you will find the Madonna of Bulva, a symbolic icon that is believed by the locals to protect the town.
Visit Budva Citadel
A medieval fortress located on southern part of old town housing a small museum and a gallery, as well as providing great views of the area. If you want to hike up and along the citadel and fortress of Budva, it’s possible to access it with the entrance fee of 2 EUR (about 2.26 USD). Known as the early settlement of the Greeks during the 5th century BC, the fortress nowadays houses several art exhibitions and an open-air theater. The citadel offers great views of Budva, but you can also just hike along some parts of the surrounding walls for free.
Have a trip to Sveti Stefan
Sveti Stefan is a small islet and 5-star hotel resort on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro, approximately 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) southeast of Budva. A fortified island village connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway, its photogenic jumble of 15th-century stone villas overlook an impeccable pink-sand beach and tempting turquoise waters.
The resort, known commercially as Aman Sveti Stefan, includes part of the mainland, where the Villa Miločer, part of the resort is located. An Adriatic playground for the rich and famous from the 1960s to the 1980s, the hotel is now a 5-star franchise hotel of the international group of Aman Resorts, completed in 2009 and operating under a 30-year lease.
The Aman Sveti Stefan resort has 58 guest rooms, cottages and suites, including 8 suites that are part of the Villa Miločer. The Villa Miločer, which was built between 1934 and 1936 was the summer residence of Queen Marija Karadordevic (1900–1961). Out of the eight suites of Villa Miločer two are Queen Marija Suites forming an annex structure. Each of the two suites cover 125 square metres (1,350 sq ft) with a bedroom, bathroom, living room and dining room. These are grand suites which are larger, with Juliet balconies, and are decorated in cream and brown shades, with leather upholstery, silks and woolen rugs. All other rooms are also elegantly decorated in a double storied layout providing views of the ocean from the first floor room, the living room and bedroom have fireplaces.
Every room, cottage and suite on the island is said to be different, but retain the ambiance of the historic village with preserving the original walls and using traditional doors and windows. The bathrooms of the suites contain free-standing bathtubs and parquet and antico stone floors. The Cliff Pool overlooks the Adriatic and another swimming pool and terrace is being built on the south side of the island.
The main dining of the resort on the island of Sveti Stefan is The Piazza, an open-air square in the heart of the island’s village which includes the Taverna, Enoteca, Pasticceria, and an Antipasti Bar and a Cigar Room. The Taverna serves straightforward Continental and American breakfasts and fresh and pastoral Mediterranean dishes for lunch and dinner. The Enoteca, is located on a terrace facing the sea with cellar-like interiors and sells al fresco tapas and drinks. The Pasticceria (bakery) serves traditional pastries for breakfast and lunch. The Antipasti Bar generally comes into use in early evenings and the cigar room, with rich wood and leather furnishings, serves selection of fine Cuban cigars and rare spirits.
The Budva coast is 21 km long with 17 beaches. It is among the most beautiful coasts in the world and its beauty will not leave you indifferent. Also, wide range of accommodation, from very affordable to exclusive and luxury. The Budva Riviera has some of the most attractive beaches of south Adriatic, and the most pleasant climate in Montenegro. Mogren beach is arguably the best known and most attractive of the Budva city beaches, nested beneath the cliffs of the Spas hill, between cape Mogren and the Avala hotel. The beach is separated from the city by the slopes of Spas hill that plunge to the sea, and is only accessible by a 250m long narrow path along the cliffs.
2 km away from Budva is the beach Jaz, next to the walls of the Old town we have the beach called Ričardova glava (Richard’s head). Beside the Budva Riva we have the beach Pizana, along the shore in Budva we have 1.6 km (1.0 mi) long Slovenska plaža (Slovenska beach), and in the middle part of Budva Riviera we have Bečići beach.
6 kilometers away from Budva there is the beach Kamenovo, 300 meters away we have the beach Przno, then two beaches beside the well known King’s residence of Karadjordjevic Milocer. Some 9 kilometers away from Budva there are two beaches on Sveti Stefan (St. Stefan), nudist beach Crvena glavica (Little red head), and 10 kilometers on the way from Budva to Petrovac is the beach Drobni pijesak (crushed sand). On the other end of the municipality of Budva is Petrovac, in which we have a city beach, 500 kilometers from Petrovac we have Lucice, and 2 kilometers away is beach Buljarica.
On the greatest part of the beach there are modernly arranged (in Italian and Spanish style) beach bars, however majority of the beaches of Budva Riviera are outside of the city itself. The great number of beaches has blue flags, which is a guarantee of their high quality and great comfort. On all the mentioned beaches there are lifeguards who are observing the swimmers and are taking care of them.
For others, who like more peaceful places, the drives and swimming on the Island Sveti Nikola (St. Nikola), popularly called Hawaii are offered, as well as the boat or barge driving along the Montenegrin coast. If you are a lover of intimate places, along the Budva Riviera there are numerous hidden coves, and maybe some still undiscovered places for swimming and resting, as well as the beaches that are maybe just waiting for you. The number of beaches, on which mostly young people go, is also big. On those beaches you feel as if you are on the most exotic world places. Techno, rave, hip – hop parties that are meant to last during the night often are prolonged, so they last even during the day. For a good atmosphere on the beaches DJ’s are in charge. The loud music is characteristic for cafés and mini – bars, but also for the opened terraces along the Budva promenade, and he promenade towards the Old town and Becici.
Dancing Girl Statue (Outside the Old Town on your way to Mogren beach). A statue of a topless girl doing the dancer’s pose (yoga). Some people say that this is the statue of a young girl who drowned at this location but others say that this is just an ordinary statue. Anyway this is spot where people come to take pictures with the panorama of the Old Town in background.
Budva is well known regionally as the capital of nightlife of the eastern Adriatic. The first discotheques in Budva started to emerge during the 1980s, as hotel-attached dance clubs. However, the clubbing scene mushroomed in 1990s, with numerous open-air clubs opening along the Budva sea promenade. This trend continued into the 2000s, with Old Town and its promenade hosting a large number of bars, pubs and restaurants, and two big clubs, Top Hill and Trocadero, dominating the clubbing scene.
During the summer months Budva is the unequivocal nightlife capital not only of Montenegro, but pretty much the entire region between Belgrade and Athens. During this time it’s no exaggeration to say that the party never really ends, as the vast majority of the people in town are here on holiday and drinking at a restaurant during lunch or at the beach during the day is just short of being mandatory.
Once the sun goes down, the nightlife action more or less falls into three categories: traditional bars and pubs, open-air bars and everything else. The old town establishments, most of which soldier on throughout the year, are bit more low key than elsewhere, while the seasonal open-air bars and clubs near the marina and along the waterfront are where things get can get really crazy. Then of course there are the traditional clubs as Trocadero nearer the city center, and last but definitely not least the absurdly large Top Hill that is truly in a class of its own.
There is almost no tourist place in Europe that has such a concentration of discotheques, open and closed, night and beach clubs, bars, open bars and cafes spread from the Old Town to the surrounding hills and along the city promenade along the famous Slovenian beach.
For Budva nightlife events updates check here.
Today Budva is most famous by the cultural manifestation City theatre, which is a synonym for Budva during the summer. City Theater exists for over 20 years. Budva City Theater usually starts in July and it ends in the middle of August. Beside the theater it encircles also the musical and fine art creative work. This international festival brings to Budva every year, distinguished creators of all three areas of culture. Budva’s cultural summer at the end of June every year, is marked by a musical manifestation of international character “The song of the Mediterranean”.
Tourists who can never get enough of culture, besides the great number of various fine art exhibitions, concerts of classical music and numerous other programs, a manifestation Budvanska noć (“Budva’s night”) held in July or a manifestation Petrovačka noć (“Night of Petrovac”) held in August are offered. And at the end of the summer in October there is also a fishing fiesta “Dan Siruna”. Also there are a great number of entertaining musical contents, which are organized in the majority of Budva’s hotels, motels or restaurants.
Sea Dance Festival
Sea Dance Festival is an award winning music festival which is held at Jaz beach in Budva, Montenegro since July 2014. The festival has been part of the EXIT Adventure, an extension of EXIT Festival.
Just after its first edition, Sea Dance festival was officially proclaimed as the ‘Best Medium Sized European festival’ at the European Festivals Awards, held in Groningen in January 2015. Following the recognition at the European Festival Awards, Sea Dance festival teamed up with London based media company AEI and its global brands UKF and TheSoundYouNeed for the second edition of the festival.
Getting to Budva
Tivat Airport is 20km away. The following airlines operate to/from Tivat Airport. Podgorica Airport is 65km away, and has flights throughout the year to Belgrade, Budapest, Zurich, Frankfurt, Ljubljana, Paris, Rome, Vienna and London- Gatwick.
Buses run between Podgorica and Budva year round and cost €6, and a taxi from the Podgorica airport to Podgorica station costs €15. Taxis from Podgorica station to Budva cost €40 to €100. (Book online or fix a price beforehand, do not just accept the meter!)
Dubrovnik Airport (DBV) in Dubrovnik, Croatia is 80km away from Budva, and maintains flights to many European destinations throughout the year, providing a good alternative to the Montenegrin airports. A taxi to Budva will cost €90.
Budva is very well connected by bus with cities within Montenegro and major cities in neighboring countries. Check the online bus schedule. Buses are usually on schedule though the schedules vary from season to season, with more buses running during the summer.
The bus station is a 20 minute walk from the old town.
Buses from Skopje operate 3 times a week, take around 12 hours, leave at 8pm, stopping at Podgorica and cost around 17€. Check schedule at Skopje Bus station.
Buses to Sarajevo run daily at 8:10 (Balkan Express minibus) and the journey takes about 7 hours, stopping at Podgorica and other cities. €16.5 one-way. To Belgrade, there are around 4-5 buses a day and the trip takes 12 hours (27€).
Buses to Herceg Novi (and vice-versa) run daily approximately every 30 minutes. The journey takes 1.5 hours and costs around €6 one-way.
Buses to Dubrovnik continuing to Split run 3 times a week. There are daily buses during the summer in the morning which can get full quickly so arrive early to get a ticket. The journey takes around 3 hours. There is a spectacular view from the bus during this route.
In the summer, Olimpia Express runs reasonably-priced shuttle buses from just outside old town to Jaz beach (every 2-3 hours), Petrovac (every 2 hours for €2 one-way), and Sveti Stefan (every 30 minutes or less for €1.50 one-way):
Budva can be reached by car using the coast road, which is in good condition. Travelling from Dubrovnik, this can take less than 2 hours depending on traffic. A short €5 ferry journey saves the drive around the bay of Kotor.
If you came to Budva with your own car, use it inside the city only when you have to. Traffic is terribly congested during the summer, and parking spaces around the old town are almost impossible to find, and very expensive when you do.
Taxis are abundant in Budva, but are not cheap – a ride anywhere within Budva will cost you around €5 and prices vary depending on which taxi company you happen to get. Try to choose a taxi that has a rate card displayed and a meter visible on the dash and then watch to ensure the meter is set appropriately when starting, to avoid getting ripped off.