Planning on visiting Budva, Montenegro? Here’s what to expect:
Budva is Montenegro’s biggest holiday destination. It’s not the largest city in the area–that would be Bar, home to Montenegro’s major port, and the last stop on the Bar-Belgrade train line (which I wrote about here)–but its much bigger than Ulcinj, Kotor, or Tivat, with lots of accommodation options and hubs for transport, and thus makes a great base for exploring Montenegro’s stunning Mediterranean coast. If you’re using Budva as a base, I would recommend three nights or two full days here–we only spent two nights and I felt like there were more excursions I would have liked to do.
Montenegro isn’t very comprehensively covered by major guidebooks. I recommend exploring the Wikitravel entry for Budva as a good place to start your research.
Lots of visitors arrive in Budva via Tivat Airport. We came in via bus from Ulcinj. As I said in my previous post, you’ll find plenty of cabs greeting you at the bus station, and homeowners offering holiday rooms for rent.
Budva is known as a party spot, with tons of beachfront bars and clubs, so there is plenty of accommodation (cheap hotels, hostels) catering to young people. There are also a few trendy resorts like the gorgeous Avala Resort and Villas right on the water. But I thought the best part of visiting Budva was staying in a family-friendly holiday apartment at Kiwi Apartments, which I found by exploring Booking.com. We paid €94 for two nights in a really nice 1 bedroom flat with a full kitchen, a big bathroom, a separate living space, and a balcony. After a week and a half of staying in hotels, it was amazing to be able to cook for ourselves and relax at home. We even had the chance to wash (+ iron!) our clothes for free. Our host was very friendly and helpful. There are tons of grocery stores scattered around the center of Budva, so we self-catered with eggs, butter, milk, bread, veggies for salad, Balkan-style pickled vegetables, chicken, chocolate, bottled water and sodas, beer and wine, and Turkish coffee–all for about €50.
Budva has a Miami-like feel to it–it’s a real city, with regular city hustle-and-bustle, and there are plenty of cultural treasures–but the main attraction is the beach and boating scene. The beach (called Greco Beach) itself is thin and brown, and absolutely chock full of sunbathers on rented lounges. This is absolutely the place to be if you’re going to Budva to drink, dance, and meet other suntanned people.
Most of the really stunning beaches are outside of Budva proper. Just southwest of the beach is Dukley Marina--worth a stroll for seeing some Below Deck Med-style yachts. Clustered around the Marina are booths selling all manner of day cruises, including trips to Our Lady of the Rocks, a church built on a man-made island in the sea. We didn’t have enough time to do this, and I regret it.
Budva’s Old Town is worth exploring–though if you have a limited appetite for Old Towns and you are already planning to explore Kotor (much bigger, and with more sites of note), you can probably skip Budva’s.
In general, I’d recommend visiting Budva to use as a base for further exploration, or as a place to stay for longer. One person I met while traveling in the Balkans was going to Budva for 12 days! It’s kind of one of those places — like South Florida, or the Hamptons, or Punta del Este — where if you rush through, you won’t really get it. It’s more about being there, enjoying the people you are there with, than crossing flashy items off your bucket list.
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