Budva was the first coastal town I visited after I arrived in Montenegro and even though I was battling a stomach bug, it was a pleasant welcome to the Montenegrin coast. Budva is definitely a touristy beach town but it offers more than sleazy beach lounges and overpriced crappy fish restaurants.
– What to do in Budva –
The top sights of Budva are not necessarily within the Budva city perimeters but with Montenegro being super tiny, most of the countries highlights are within an hours drive. Budva can be a good pick for a base camp to explore the bigger region if you don’t want to wander off too far from the tourist trail. From Budva visit the stunning Kotor Bay, the awesome viewpoint at the Horseshoe Bend of the Skadar lake and the interesting old capital Cetinje. In that order of importance if you’re pressed for time.
Getting right to it: if you are actually pressed for time you’re better off skipping Budva altogether and staying in Kotor, as this is the single most interesting place to stay along the Montenegrin coast.
Stari Grad (old Town)
Stari Grad is the fortified historical centre of Budva and all buildings are prettily preserved or restored. Old town is tiny. You can walk around in it and see pretty much every street in under 20 minutes. There are plenty of restaurants dotted around this little area but they are all severely overpriced and the quality of food is of doubtful standards. Best is to just wander around, with an ice cream in your hand. Check out the city walls and tiny church and skip the ethnographic museum as this is not all that interesting.
Leave old town through the Eastern gate and walk along the Marina to the Solvenska plaza which is a long strip of sand/pebble beach ending in the East with a few beach bars. If you came to Budva to party, this is a good place to start a cocktail fuelled evening.
There are a couple of beaches in and around Budva where the seas are clear and the (pebble) beaches clean but which are just a bit too developed. Beach beds with coloured parasols are neatly ordered along the coastline and drive-in cocktail bars cater those in need. These beaches are not secluded nor unique or particular impressive. Just good places to have a dip and to soak up the sunny rays that flood Budva from early March to late October.
Greco beach/Slovenska beach
Slovenska beach is the long stretch of sand/pebbles stretching for miles from the Eastern gate of Stari Grad. The first bit is called Greco beach which is the family beach. Further to the East you’ll find some beach bars and younger people hanging out.
Jazz beach is generally regarded as the best beach of Budva. It is wider and cleaner than the city beaches and it is lined with many beach bars which I assume are packed during the summer but if you visit late September you’ll find little action going on here. During my stay I decided to stay in a hotel within walking distance from Jazz beach as the main reason for my visit to the town was to relax for 2 days in the middle of a busy culture/nature Balkan trip. I unfortunately found out I am even less of a beach person than I expected and regretted my choice.
The Jazz beach shuttle
There are hourly busses pendeling between Jazz beach and old town (it is about 4km’s on a busy – unworkable – road. The problem is that the schedule assumes you’re staying in old town, meaning many busses depart from old town in the morning and back to old town in the evening but little busses go from Jazz to old town in the morning and from old town to Jazz in the evening. This meant I had to take a taxi to town, which costs around €5.00.
Sveti Stefan & Sveti Nikola
Sveti Stefan tops many lists of most extraordinary places along the Adriatic coast. A little fortified island town with rocky outcrops and tiny secluded beaches. You can reach it from the mainland by crossing a narrow sand strip. Unfortunately if you are not loaded with cash you will not be able to enjoy it. The whole island is a private resort. You can enjoy the facilities as a non-guest if you have dinner at the restaurant. But yes, that’s also super expensive.
Better accessible for the common traveller is Sveti Nikola, which is referred to as Hawaii locally. No clue why. You can take a boat from the Slovenski Plaza for about €3.00. The island has a beautiful beach along a rocky coast strip and a few more pristine beaches with azure blue waters. This is winning. Can’t skip Sveti Nikola if you visit Budva. Part of the island is private property which, if you can afford it, is the place I will definitely stay if I ever return to Budva.
– Eating and sleeping recommendations –
Eating & Drinking
If you are looking for good quality seafood the best places are located along the Slovenski Plaza, but it comes with a price-tag. If you walk a bit further on you’ll see a market at your left hand with a handful of dirty old fastfood kiosks. Obviously this is not the place to eat but if you cross the market, cross the street go right and left again you’ll arrive at local spot with a big terrace with fish nets providing shade to the seats. Friendly prices, big meals and local customers.
We found out that Booking.com will consistently give you the best rates on hotels. To make finding the perfect spot a little easier we made a selection for Budva. Click the link below to find the best places to stay in Budva.
Booking rating: 8.7 | Privates from EUR 50
I stayed at the M-Club Mali Hotel located about a 10 minute walk from Jazz beach and had a great stay. For Budva this sustainably run hotel offers excellent value for money. Miko has wildly ambitious plans for the development but for now its just a clean place with a nice shady terrace where you can have your freshly cooked breakfast under a canopy of grapevines. If you want to stay close to Jazz beach, this is the right pick.
– Practical information –
The best time to visit Budva is in spring, when the days start to get longer and the weather is warm and sunny. From June to August temperatures soar up to 40 degrees Celsius making a visit less than pleasant. September and early October are ideal times as well but the chance of rainy days increases dramatically towards the end of October.
Budva is not cheap compared to other places in Montenegro and outright expensive compared to other places in the Balkans. It’s also hard to find budget meals because as soon as you venture further away from the city centre the choice of establishments becomes very limited.
|Daily Budget||50 EUR (55 USD)|
|Bakery lunch||EUR 4 ( 5.50 USD)|
|Meal in a restaurant||EUR 20 (25 USD)|
|Dorm||EUR 20 ( 22 USD)|
|Double in a 3-star hotel||EUR 60 (70 USD)|
In & Out
Montenegro has two airports, Tivat Airport and Podgorica Airport. Tivat Airport is located about 25 kilometers from Budva and regular busses take you to the Budva bus station in about 40-45 minutes for €2.00. Shuttles run for €4.00 and are slightly faster. The quickest route is by taxi which takes you to your final destination in 25 min for about €15-20. Take into account that from the bus terminal it’s about a 15-20 minute walk to old town.
As there is no train station in Budva your only other option is by taking the road. The best way getting in and out of Budva is by bus. There are connections to Albania, Podgorica, other Balkan capitals and also to the historical seaside towns of Kotor (35 minutes, €3.00) and Tivat (the city as well as the airport). As the timetables regularly change and busses don’t necessarily run on time its best to book your tickets online or directly at the station. Schedules and tickets can be found here. On average busses run to Kotor on an hourly base.