Budva city guide

Budva in Montenegro is the perfect Adriatic Coast destination. Especially, when you get nauseous thinking of another bite of Italian pasta. Or when you still get PTSD from the sound of Greeks smashing their plates. Budva is half an hour bus ride away from Kotor, where all the cruise ships dock. It’s nearby, but the crowds are entirely different. You won’t see many English-speaking tourists in Budva; most visitors are Serbian and Russian. It’s not just a plain resort either; the city is over 2500 years old. That makes it one of the oldest on the Adriatic coast. You couldn’t tell, though. Budva isn’t famous for its ancient architecture, or cultural heritage. People mostly come for the beaches and the nightlife. If that’s not something you’re into then this might be the wrong holiday destination for you. Budva’s Old Town is tiny: you can explore it in half a day. You’ll find the usual stuff here: tacky tourist shops next to designer boutiques selling €450 polo shirts. Restaurants, cafes, bars with somewhat classier ambiance; at least compared to the promenade. There are three churches. Two of them are usually closed outside of the tourist season. St. Ivan’s Church is accessible all year round. It was built in the 7th century and served as a cathedral for over a thousand years. Very simple and modest, which is admirable nowadays.

Saint Ivan Church in Budva, Illuminated at evening

It is impossible not to notice the high tower in Budva, which is visible from any part of the city: the bell tower of the Church of St. Ivan, the largest and most famous church in the ancient spa town

The Citadel stands on top of Budva’s historic district. It was built during the Austrian occupation to house the troops and monitor the coast. A private company named Imobilia, which renovates the fortress, now owns the place. They also claim ownership of numerous exhibitions within it. Those include an impressive library of texts and hand-drawn maps. They also rent valuable space to some of the best restaurants in Budva. Having a glass of wine with some seafood on one of those terraces is an unforgettable experience. One of them faces the sea, while the other presents a view of the city. From there, you can walk straight down towards the beaches. This is the part that earned Budva the nickname of “Montenegrin Miami”. Strips of sand are plentiful, crowded, and loud. They’re not very sandy either; it’s mostly those uncomfortable tiny rocks. Slovenska Plaza is the largest one here; it stretches over 1.6 kilometres of central Budva. Mogren is the name of the beach directly west from the Old Town. Head a bit further past it and you’ll reach a smaller, but less crowded Mogren 2. There’s also the Jaz Bay with a zone dedicated to the naturist community.

Ballerina statue in Budva

The ballerina statue in Budva is a popular place for taking selfies against the background of the Adriatic Sea and the fortress of the Old Town

You’ll come across the Statue of the Dancing Girl. Some say it’s been built in honour of a young woman who drowned nearby. You might as well say it’s a statue in honour of all the go-go dancers around the promenade. The nightlife and parties are a huge part of Budva’s appeal. Every beach has a bar and many function as clubs when the sun sets. The promenade feels like one giant fair. The food and drinks are relatively cheap, at least outside of the clubs and bars where a small beer costs €8. The seafood is exceptional. When it comes to attractions, there’s the usual sea resort stuff. You’ll see bungee jumping platforms, trampolines…an aqua park. As for the shopping, I’ve been told to watch out for overpriced counterfeits. Good advice in case you’ve never been to any seaside resort in the world.

Most people come for the clubs, though. They’re not only the best in Montenegro, but some have been called the best in the world. Top Hill, Trocadero, and Perla are just three off the top of my head. Those are frequented by some of the best Balkan DJs. Keep an eye out for scams and pickpockets. Waiters sometimes bring you a bill, take your cash, and disappear. Another waiter comes along to collect the money again and accuses you of trying to dodge the payment. You can always get out of the city and explore if the rowdy party crowds prove too much to handle. Budva is surrounded by stunning nature. You can rent a boat and explore the lakes. Hike in pine forests, trek hills, and mountains. Montenegro is not a large country. The most interesting sites can be seen in form of a day trip from Budva.

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