Montenegro amazes me. Just as Thailand is known to be the land of smiles in Asia, the Balkans ought to take the trophy for Europe and the region. Never have I seen so many happy smiley friendly people all concentrated in a region before. Must be the lolling hills, the adriatic, the drinkable water or Ćevapčići or something.
I arrived in Budva on the bus from Bar in the morning to a massive crowd of day trippers boarding buses leaving Budva with their day bags to Herceg Novi, Jaz, Petrovac, Sveti Stefan, Kotor, Tivat, Cetinje, Niksic and Podgorica. Given the size of sprawling overdeveloped Budva, it is not unexpected to see this many tourists. Budva is known to be one of the pearls of the Adriatic and draws a considerable crowd of visitors from Russia, Germany and other Eastern European states.
From the Bus Station, it is a 15-20 minute walk to the Old Town of Budva. Not wanting to walk with my 20 kg backpack in 36 Degree Celsius temperature, I took a metered taxi, paying €4 to a car park just a stone’s throw away from the walls of the Old Town.
I liked Budva. The Old Town was great. It was a lot smaller than Kotor or Dubrovnik and Split with narrower alleyways, smaller shopfronts and loads of locals still living there. I loved wandering around seeing fresh laundry being hung and the locals peering out of their windowstills with their pets just watching life below go by. If you caught their eye and smiled at them, they’d be more than happy to give you a little wave as you traipse deeper into the Old Town. There were not a lot of shops in old town (compared to Kotor, Dubrovnik or Spilt) other than a mini-mart, a few bars, a few bakeries and some souvenir shops. The Old Town of Budva can be covered in an hour or two unless you are intending to visit every attraction (this includes churches, the library, the walk around the walls) there.
1. Bring Euros €€!
Montenegro has no currency of their own. They used to adopt and use the Deutsche Mark however, since the EU came into place, they have naturally replaced the currency with the Euro. If you found yourself in Budva without Euros, there are ATMS around the old town however, it can be quite a challenge trying to find them. Most of them can be found easily out of the Old Town but if you do need one in the Old Town, there are 2 machines (I think) around the corner from the Old Montenegro Hostel, somewhere in the middle of Old Town.
2. Go on a Day Trip!
If you are planning to spend more than 3 days in Budva, expect to get bored. The Old Town of Budva together with the attractions can be covered within a full day. Most people use Budva as a base and then journey out for day trips to other beaches, cities and attractions. There are so many possibilities for the wandering day trippers.
Beaches aside which I will cover below, most day trippers head out to Cetinje, Kotor, Tivat or Podgorica. All these cities have much to see and do. If you are tight on time, you may want to consider an organised tour with one of the hostels who will take you to places such as Kotor, Cetinje, Lovcen and around Skadar Lake. I did two such tours and had such a fun time!
3. Go on a Boat Trip!
I highly recommend going on a boat tour! I went on a short 3 hour one and had so much fun! You can choose to go anywhere along the Budva Riviera or do the typical route offered by most boatmen waiting along the marina outside the North Wall. Typical boat tours cover the following route – Sveti Nikola, Sveti Stefan, Przno Beach, Milocer Beach, Rafailovici Beach and Becici Beach. Request to go for a swim around the beautiful cave around the North side of Sveti Stefan. In the sun, the waters around the cave are not only calm, it is so clear, you can practically see the bottom swimming around there. Also, it is not too cold and is great for a short swim into and around the cave!
Expect to pay around €35 – €50 for 2 and a half to 3 hours and onwards for a boat tour. The price quoted is usually not for each person but rather for the full boat. If you are traveling with friends or you happen to meet a bunch of like-minded people, it is a good idea to boat-pool! This ends with you splitting the cost of the tour and making some new buds which is great! Walk around the Marina, have a look and pick the dingys you’ll be on and chat with the boatmen who will be your guide. Find someone friendly and I’m sure you’ll have as amazing a time as I did!
4. Spend time at the Beach!
There are 17 beaches along the Budva Riviera and it is mental to journey all the way there and not dig your feet into the sand or pebbles of at least one. The 17 ranges from the very exclusive and expensive ones (such as Miločer, Queen’s Beach and Aman Sveti Stefan) for celebrities, the rich and royalty) to the overcrowded free ones for plebeians like me.
The most popular beaches along the riviera include Jaz beach, Mogren I and Mogren II, Slovenska beach and Bečići. From the Old Town in Budva, the closest beaches include the crowded pebble beach of Slovenska running alongside Budva’s main promenade and Mogren I and II. Unlike Slovenska which is located North of the Old Town, a short walk past the Marina, the Mogren beaches are on the South side past the famous Dancing Girl Sculpture and the coastal path under the mountains. After a short 5 minute walk, you should reach Mogren I. If you would like to carry on further to Mogren II, keep walking through Mogren I until you reach a small cave-like tunnel. Mogren II is on the other side. Mogren is less crowded compared to Slovenska but don’t take my word for it because in summer, every beach around Budva (save for the exclusive and expensive ones where it would cost at least €50 for a deck chair) is crowded.
Jaz is well known pebble beach in Budva, popular for sunbathing and camping. It is a natural heritage site with gentle waters that attract swimmers and families with children. It has also gained prominence for being host to numerous concerts and festivals over the years but it isn’t within walking distance of Budva. If you are thinking of heading there, be prepared to hike / drive / take a short taxi ride or a bus there.
5. Go out and enjoy the Nightlife!
Budva is known to be a sleepy beach town by day and party central by night. By night fall, the town comes alive and as you walk along the old town, you start smelling cologne and perfume, happy inebriated people dressed to the nines (by beach town standards). The bars within the city start to fill up really fast and at various spots within and out of the city walls, you’d find bars swarming with party people all ready to have an amazing night out.
Budva is known to host many famous international DJs in the summer and whether or not they be on a beach party or festival (Spring Break Montenegro Festival – in June / Sea Dance Festival – in July), or at some club, you can be sure of an amazing time. If you do not happen to be in Budva at either one of these festivals, fret not! There are clubs aplenty and many in Budva tell me that THE place to be for an amazing time is at Top Hill in Budva. Top Hill is located atop one of the hills around Budva and is just a short Taxi ride away (around €5). Note that if you are intending to head to Top Hill for a night out, bring identification, your ticket and more money! Its €10 for entry (buy your tickets online or at Hotel Splendid in Budva), extra for taxi and drinks!
For more of my Journey from Belgrade to Budva, click HERE!