Budva Riviera, Montenegro
Budva Riviera is the most popular part of Montenegro. There is a very well-developed tourist base here, which offers accommodation of every possible standard and level of comfort. The offer includes hotels that offer standard rooms, higher standard rooms and apartments. There is a large shopping complex in the city centre, supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries, plenty of 24-hour entertainment venues, beach bars and cafes.
The most demanding tourists will find high-class hotels, nightclubs and casinos in the whole Budva Riviera region. At the seaport, there are yachts docked, whose class and style are breathtaking. There are also private beaches, exclusive clubs, drink bars and luxurious restaurants. Famous pop/rock stars often play at the local beach. There were concerts played by the Rolling Stones, Leny Kravitz or Goran Bregovic.
Budva is attractive all year round, although (no surprise) the highest number of tourists is in the summer months.
A brief history of the Budva city
Budva is considered one of the oldest cities in Montenegro, and traces of settlement in these areas date back 2500 years. Legend has it that King Kadmos founded the city, the mythical ruler of Thebes. Exiled in his old age from Thebes, he wandered to Elysium (present-day Budva), where he a city called Bouthoe was founded.
The Romans took power over the city in the 3rd century BC and changed its name to Butua. In the 15th century, the Venetians were ruling the city. During the following centuries, there were also Austrians, Russians and Montenegrins.
After the end of World War II, the dynamic city development started. Budva was already considered an attractive holiday destination at that time. Unfortunately, in 1979, the coastal region of Montenegro was hit by a tragic earthquake. At that time, the city and a large extent of the historic old town were destroyed. Its reconstruction was completed in 1984, and all funding came from the government of Yugoslavia.
The main attractions of the city, or what to see
Undoubtedly, the biggest attraction in the city is the historic old town and defensive walls. The old town (Stari grad) is located on a small headland and obscured by high city walls from the sea. The whole part is surrounded by towers, arrowslits, city gates and the citadel. Although the old town area is small, it is very charming. There is a simple street layout, with the main avenues forming a large triangle. Many small, narrow, winding alleys depart from the main streets, which connect into small squares or mini gardens.
It is easy to find gates that once were facing the four directions of the world. Unfortunately, over the years, some gates have been permanently closed.
The main city gate is Porta di Terra Ferma and is in the western part of the old town. That gate also marks the beginning of the main city artery, Njegoševa Street. There are four more gates on the north side, and all of them lead to the marina (Porta Pizana, Porta Pizana 1 and 2, and Porta Pizanella).
From the seaside (south-west side), only a small gate that leads directly to the Ričardova glava beach has been left open.
It is worth getting lost and entering every possible nook and cranny in the old town. There are many little shops, art galleries, cute cafes, gardens and restaurants. There are also numerous stalls, souvenir shops and local handicrafts. In the evenings, artists, musicians, painters and performers set up in every possible square. The atmosphere is pleasant, lively and joyful.
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The old town is also worth visiting in the early morning, right after sunrise, when there are no tourists yet, and residents spend a long time sleeping off the previous day. Early in the morning, the empty Old Town makes a huge impression. Only cats roam the streets lazily, basking in the first rays of the sun.
The most important monuments of the old town
The most important place in the old town is Trg od Crkava, home to the most valuable monuments.
- John the Baptist was founded in the 8th / 9th centuries. Since then, it has been reconstructed many times. It is considered one of the oldest Catholic religious buildings in this part of the Adriatic coast.
- Trinity, a Serbian Orthodox Church from the 19th century.
- The Church of Santa Maria in Punta is one of the oldest religious buildings in the city, built in the year 840. Once there was the first school in Budva.
- The orthodox Church of St. Sawa dates from the 12th century.
In the old town, it is also worth visiting the archaeological museum, visiting the citadel and climbing the defensive walls, which you can walk around almost the entire Old Town.
Citadel and city walls
The citadel was once called the Castle of St. Maria. Formerly, there was a small church dedicated to St. Maria. Currently, only ruins remain of the church. The most outstanding structure of the castle is the Austrian stone barracks, separating the citadel from the walled city.
There is a small art gallery in the citadel, with a rich collection of old books and maps. Also, a small exhibition with models of sailing ships can be found there. The entrance ticket is 3.5 Euro (about 4$). To visit the whole part, you need min. 30 minutes. From the citadel, there is a wonderful view of the bay and the island of Sveti Nikola.
The entrance to the city walls costs 2 Euro (about 2,5$). It is a route worth the walk, but the road is quite demanding due to the countless number of high stairs along the way.
This path is a dead end. At the end of the route, you have to turn around and leave at the same place where you started your walk. However, it is worth visiting the city walls year-round. Even in the high season, this place is not so crowded. You may like a very nice view of the city, beach, port and bay – including Dukley Marina.
The entrance to the walls is near the main entrance to the citadel (on its left side). In the past, it was possible to enter the walls in several places in the old town, now only one of them is open.
Sveti Stefan Island
Sveti Stefan is a picturesque islet that has been the most recognized attraction of Montenegro for several years. Formerly there was a fishing village here, but over time it has turned into an exclusive enclave of peace, with prohibitive prices. Over the last several years, stars such as Sophia Loren, Sylvester Stallone, Kirk Douglas and Claudia Shiffer have rested here.
The rash is only 12 km2 in size, and it connects to the mainland by a narrow, sandy causeway. Its name comes from an old church located on the island (Crkva Sv. Stefan).
The first buildings on the island were built in the 15th century. In the 16th century, the island was fortified, and the original defensive walls remain until today. In the 1950s, the Yugoslav authorities decided to drastically change the function of the islet and make it begin to bring high profits from tourism. The remaining inhabitants on the island were displaced, and their houses were transformed into a high-class resorts.
In just five years, the island has undergone a complete metamorphosis, becoming one of the most luxurious resorts in this part of the Adriatic Sea. At the end of the 1990s, the resort survived in its original shape. Its walls hosted not only the most famous world-class stars but also state authorities and foreign delegations. Numerous conferences and political meetings took place at the resort.
Unfortunately, political changes in the region, economic uncertainty and the lack of financial resources meant that the resort began to fall into disrepair and oblivion over time. In 2007, based on a tender, the city authorities leased it for 30 years to the hotel consortium Aman Resorts. Over the next two years, the resort underwent a thorough reconstruction.
Sveti Stefan and Villa Milocer
Currently, there is a luxurious 5-star resort on the island. It consists of stone houses crammed into a small area and a network of small, narrow cobbled streets.
The island is only available to guests of the resort, and it is not possible to come here only for sightseeing. However, there are two small restaurants in Sveti Stefan available for non-resort guests. Although, in both cases, prior reservation is necessary. More information is available on the resort’s website: Aman.com/Sveti_Stefan.
In 2010, Aman Sveti Stefan received the Hotel of the Year award announced in the Gallivanter’s Guide plebiscite. Andrea Bocelli performed here at a concert in the same year. In 2014, the famous Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic married on the island.
An integral part of Aman Sveti Stefan’s offer is also the luxurious Villa Milocer. This palace was once the summer residence of the Serbian royal Karadordevisiov dynasty. The villa is situated 1 km north of the island of Sveti Stefan, on the mainland. There is a park with many exotic plants at the rear of the villa. The villa also owns a private, small sandy beach. The beach is also available for non-resort guests, but the entrance ticket costs “only” 120 Euro (about 135$).
You can read more about Villa Milocer on the resort’s website: Aman.com/Villa Milocer
The island of Sveti Nikola
The island of Sveti Nikola is called the Hawaii of Montenegro because of the blue colour of the surrounding waters and their high transparency. It is the perfect retreat for those looking to escape Budva’s noisy and usually crowded beaches. The island’s name comes from a small church (Crkva Sv. Nikole) from the 16th century, located on an island surrounded by an old cemetery.
The islet is uninhabited. It is 2 km long and 1 km from the old town of Budva. From the side of the open sea, its shores are steep and inaccessible. On the land side, the shores are gentle and sandy.
Part of the chute has a commercial function. There are three beaches with a total length of 800 meters, a fish restaurant and a bar. A small marina allows you to reach the island by sea transport. Boats depart from Slovenska Beach at regular intervals throughout the day. A return ticket cost 3 Euro (about 4$).
Part of the island is wild and undeveloped. It is overgrown with dense spruce and pine forest, inhabited by many bird species and small forest animals. There are numerous caves and crevices in this part of the island, some only accessible from the sea.
Due to natural processes, the island is connected to the mainland by a sandy spit, located half a meter below the water’s surface. Although it is possible to reach the island during a low tide, the sandy spit is not fully exposed.
Beaches in Budva, Budva Riviera
There are several beaches in Budva and its immediate vicinity. Most of them are covered with gravel or small pebbles and sand. In addition to the city beaches, several private beaches are occupied by hotels or restaurants and are intended only for their guests. Also, some private beaches can be used by non-hotel tourists, but admission tickets are quite expensive.
Slovenska Beach is the largest public beach in Budva. For a distance of 1.5 km, it stretches along the picturesque town promenade. It starts at the port by the walls of the Old Town and runs to the hotel complex Astra Montenegro.
Slovenska Beach is divided into two parts. The part located on the side of the Old Town is covered with sand and small pebbles., but from Becici’s side is covered with gravel. The entrance to the water is flat, and a few meters from the shore, the water is quite shallow. There are often large, slippery stones at the bottom. At a considerable distance from the shore, the depth changes quickly and can reach up to 30 meters.
Due to its location in the very centre of the city and surrounded by many hotels and restaurants – Slovenska Beach is extremely popular. Not only tourists but also city residents like to use it. Along the beach, there are many restaurants, snack bars and cafes. The beach is also eagerly visited after the season or after sunset. It is a crowded, noisy and fun place all day long.
Slovenska Beach prices and rental equipment
On the beach, in many places, you can rent sun loungers with umbrellas for Euro 10-15 per day (11-17$), but it is not a necessary condition to lie down on it. Most of the beach areas are public, so you can also sit on your towel and bring your umbrella – at no extra charge. There are also paid showers and toilets (from 0.5 to 1 Euro) at the beach, as well as changing cabins.
There are also water equipment rentals: pontoons, kayaks, and water scooters. You can go water skiing, catamaran or parasailing. You can also rent a small boat with a skipper in the port and go anywhere along the coast. There are also playgrounds for children in several places, including a bouncy castle, a slide and a paddling pool.
Jaz Beach lies approx. 2.5 km west of Budva.
This sandy beach is one of the longest ones in the Budva riviera. It is well known not only for beautiful open sea views but also as a venue for extraordinary musical events. In 2007 and 2008, world-class stars performed here: incl. Rolling Stones, Lenny Kravitz, Goran Bregovic or Madonna.
Jaz Beach divides into two parts. On the bigger part (approx. 850 m in length) all events and musical meetings take place. The smaller part of the beach (450 m long) is an unofficial nudist beach. Although there is a NO NUDIST sign, this part is where nudists rest most often.
The entire beach is pebble, and there is a campsite from the town side, with space for 2,000 people.
The Budva area near Jaz Beach is considered as one of the city’s greatest development potential. Although there are many places still undeveloped, in some areas, already new investments have begun. On the horizon, you can see many construction cranes that only stop working during the peak of the summer season. That is obvious that, in a short time, this place will look completely different.
Ploce Beach lies near the centre of Budva.
The beach area is 10,000 m2, with no sand but is composed of stones and concrete.
Both the restaurant and a cafe on the beach have a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea. For lovers of good parties, there is also a cocktail bar with various DJs performances every day. The beach also has four swimming pools for children and adults, and there is free parking for guests next to the beach. It is also possible to rent a boat or water skis. There is a playroom with professional staff and swimming lessons for the children.
In the summer months, there is a direct bus to the beach that departs from the centre of Budva.
It is a small, cliff-sheltered beach in the Budva area. It lies in a small bay, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and tourists consider it to be a safe place to swim. There is a sandy dune and a water playground for children.
The children’s playground is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., from June 15 to September 19. All inflatable attractions are available for children over six years old who can swim.
The admission ticket is 10 Euro (about 11$) per person/hour. The price also includes a life vest for children, obligatory to wear on the playground.
There is a small cafe, toilets and a sun lounger rental on the spot. There are also lockers with a key, where you can hide valuables. You can also top up your phone there.
A narrow coastal path leads there from the Avala Hotel. Access to the beach is approx five minutes walking distance.
Becici is a small town situated on the Budva Riviera, only 2 km from Budva. It can be reached from Budva on foot, by walking path along the beach or by the road train. Formerly Budva and Becici were separated from each other, by a narrow peninsula of Zavala.
Recently, a short pedestrian tunnel has been built under the motorway and partly in the rock. Today the tunnel allows the passage from Slovenska Beach to Becici. It takes about 15-20 minutes to go through the tunnel. Although this is not an extraordinary tourist attraction, the tunnel has been taken over by artists, so there are some interesting murals and street art inside.
The beach in Becici is considered the most beautiful in the whole riviera. It is a sandy beach (with fine gravel) and is approx. 2 km long. The descent to the sea is gentle and safe. Families with young children love to spend their time here.
Budva Riviera and other interesting facts
There is a small sculpture between Mogren Beach and the Old Town that attracts crowds of tourists all year round. It shows a girl frozen in dance. The monument was made of bronze and is considered a city symbol. The “Budva Ballerina”, also known as “the statue of the Budva gymnast”, is a must-see place. A narrow coastal path leads there from the Avala Hotel. The monument is right at the beginning of the road.
Vista Vidikovac Restaurant
For those who are hungry for amazing views and would like to dine with a breathtaking view, I recommend visiting the restaurant Vista Vidikovac.
This 5-star restaurant is on a hill overlooking the bay and the Old Town of Budva. In terms of menu, guests can enjoy a wide selection of dishes, both Mediterranean and Montenegrin, as well as international cuisine. You can come there for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There is a bar and a large selection of wines. In the evenings, often there is live music. In high season, it is worth booking in advance. From the Old Town, it is approx. 20-25 minutes walking distance. There is also a large car park on the spot.
I can honestly recommend this place. The restaurant not only offers an amazing view overlooking the city, but also tasty cuisine. It is a place where you can have a good time.
Budva – the city of the theatre
Every year in Budva there is a summer theatre festival. The festival “Grad Teatar Budva” is held from 01.07 to 20.08. The Theater City Festival is one of the most prestigious cultural events in the country and the region, held under the patronage of the Budva Municipality. Since its inception in 1987, this festival has rebuilt the Mediterranean spirit of the Old Town. The main stage is in the old town, in the main square, near the entrance to the citadel. Also, there are plenty of little scenes around the city full of artists, poets, musicians and performers. You can meet performers in the city, in the port, on the beach or in parks. The festival attracts crowds of tourists, and yearly it is visited by about 15 thousand people.
More about the festival is on the Grad Teatar Budva website.
Budva Riviera transport
The main M2 road runs through the city, connecting the entire coast. This road is part of the European E65 route connecting Montenegro with Serbia and Croatia.
The closest airport is the one in Tivat, located 20 km north of the city. The second airport in the country, in Podgorica, is 65 km away from Budva, and the journey takes about 1.5 hours.
Local buses operate in Budva and its surroundings, serving short routes.
The Mediteran Express line runs along the Budva Riviera, and buses from Budva arrive at the Sveti Stefan Island or continue to Petrovac.
The journey to Sveti Stefan takes 40 minutes, and the ticket cost is 1.5 Euro (1,7$) In the mornings (between 6:00 and 8:00) bus leaves Budva every half hour. Between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., buses leave every 10 minutes. Every 15 minutes from 22:00 to 00:00, then every half hour again after midnight. The last bus from Budva leaves at 1:30 a.m. and from Sveti Stefan at 2:00 a.m.
Buses to Petrovac take part of the route the same way as the bus to Sveti Stefan, but the Sveti Stefan stop is only on the main road and not downtown. The whole way to Petrovac takes 1 hour, and the ticket cost is 3 Euro (about 3,4$). Buses from Budva leave every hour between 8:10 a.m. and 11:10 p.m., and from Petrovac, they run between 9:10 a.m. and 10:10 a.m.
The buses of these lines do not depart from bus stations, but the stops in the city centre. Travel tickets can be bought directly from cashiers selling tickets “on the spot” at the bus stop or from the driver. All timetables are displayed at the bus stops.
You can also get to Budva from the sea. The Dukley Marina lies in the heart of Budva city. It is one of the most beautiful sea destinations in the Adriatic Sea, and the marina is at the backdrop of the historic Old Town. It is an attraction itself, interesting to visit during the day and night.
The Dukley Marina is an international port of entry, with seasonal border controls. It is open from May 1st to October 1st (daily from 8:00 to 22:00).
More information is on the website Budva Dukleymarina.
Montenegro, my other posts
I encourage you as well to read my other posts about Montenegro