What do you know about Montenegro? Honestly, I knew very little when I picked it as a holiday destination a few years back. My decision to visit was solely based on my love for Croatia. I wanted more of the medieval beauty that had me smitten in Dubrovnik, Hvar and Korcula, and I thought we could find more of the same a little further south. I’ve now visited Budva twice, and it works both as a home base for exploring the nearby Bay of Kotor or as a two-night stop on a roadtrip down the Adriatic Coast. My travel guide to Budva will help with an itinerary for either type of trip. It includes the best beaches, Old Town sights, day trips, hotels, restaurants and more. This post contains affiliate links.
I love beach days alongside medieval city walls. Quintessential summer in Europe.
Length of stay in Budva really depends on how you are moving through Montenegro. If Budva is a mere stop on a roadtrip down the coast, you’ll only need a couple of days to explore Old Town and visit the nearby beaches. If Budva serves as your home base for exploring the surrounding region (Sveti Stefan, Bar, Kotor and the Lustica Peninsula), then I suggest staying six full days.
Sunbathing along medieval walls is quintessential European summer.
Mortiz Eis has a location in Old Town Budva, and it’s delicious.
Exploring every corner of Old Town Budva.
Located just south of Sveti Stefan, Galija Beach is one of my favorite little escapes in this part of Montenegro. The quiet cove is completely idyllic, and a lovely place to spend a summer day. There’s a small beach bar, as well as white umbrellas and loungers scattered across the beach and surrounding red rocks.
If the crowds of Slovenska Beach are overwhelming, head a few miles west to Jaz Beach. You’ll find rows of umbrellas and sunbeds here too, but it doesn’t feel as cluttered thanks to the beach’s expansive size. For complete seclusion, there are quiet coves tucked away in rocks at the east end of Jaz Beach. Perfect for sunbathing.
Follow the pedestrian pathway west from Old Town, and it leads to beautiful Mogren Beach, which is actually two beaches connected by a small tunnel built into the surrounding limestone cliffs.
OLD TOWN BUDVA
Old Town feels a world away from the beach bars and dance clubs that sit just outside the fortified walls. The medieval town dates back more than 2,000 years, and walking through the labyrinth of alleys, squares and corridors is like a step back in time. This is one of the more popular tourist attractions, so visit early in the morning to have Old Town to yourself for a couple of hours.
OLD TOWN BEACH
The beach is small, but the medieval walls of Budva serve up a pretty spectacular backdrop for an afternoon of sunbathing. It sits just west of Old Town.
Sveti Stefan might be the most iconic sight in Montenegro.
Yup, Montenegro has a Blue Grotto. Group tours and private boats can be booked from Zanjice Beach, or as part of larger tour packages from Kotor. If you can splurge, opt for a private boat so you can visit without other tourists in the sea cave. Similar to the blue grottoes in Croatia and Greece, it’s a stunning place to swim when the water glows.
The fortified town of Kotor belongs in a fairytale with its winding stone alleys that create an utter labyrinth of orderly chaos. Old Town is a must-visit tourist attraction – top sights include Kotor Fortress, St. Luke’s Church, St. Tryphon’s Cathedral and the South Gate.
Perast sits a mere 10 miles north of Kotor, but feels like another world entirely. The sleepy waterfront village resembles a postcard with cobbled streets, palazzos, churches and clocktowers that face the Bay of Kotor. You’ll find a small parking lot just outside of Perast where views of St. George Island will tempt you to visit. Ferries shuttle tourists out to the island, or if you arrive early in the morning, hire a local for the five-minute boat ride and have the place to yourself. The tiny islet is home to the 12th-century Saint George Benedictine monastery.
For an off-the-beaten-path escape, follow the coast out to the charming village of Rose on the Lustica Peninsula. It takes all of 10 minutes to walk the pleasant waterfront lined with swim ladders that plunge into sparkling turquoise waters. The harbor is home to stone villas, blooming flowers and a mere handful of restaurants. Rose is only worth visiting in the summer months when you can lay out a towel for an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing.
Hop in the car for a day trip down to see the remains of ancient Stari Bar. With no traffic, it’s about an hour drive to reach the settlement that sits in ruins, just a couple miles inland from Bar. Explore the remains of the fortified town that is quite literally a set of crumbling ruins.
It might feel a bit touristy seeing posters of Sveti Niola plastered all over Budva, and honestly the crowds, garbage and party atmosphere don’t make this the most appealing day trip destination. Nonetheless, the island is popular with tourists, known locally as the Hawaii of Montenegro. Tour companies, water taxis and ferries shuttle visitors to and from the island throughout the day. Travel time by boat is approximately 30 minutes from Budva.
Once a 15th-century fishing village, this fortified islet is perhaps the most iconic sight in all of Montenegro. Sveti Stefan was converted into a luxury hotel more than a decade ago, and only resort guests and paid tour groups have access to the island. Visitors can still soak in the spectacular views from the surrounding beaches. Sveti Stefan Beach is a public beach that sits to the left of the tombolo, while the Aman Sveti Stefan beach sits to the right for hotel guests, as well as non-guests willing to pay a beach club fee.
Also located on the Lustica Peninsula, Zanjice Beach can be paired with Rose as a full day trip from Budva. The calm water of this sheltered cove makes it a particularly inviting destination, so arrive early to claim one of the beach’s coveted parking spots.
Kotor makes for a lovely day trip from Budva.
If you’re ever going to splurge on a hotel, this is the place to do it. Aman Sveti Stefan is more than just a hotel stay, it’s an experience. Once a fishing village, the 15th-century island has been completely restored, and is private to guests of the five star property. The property transformed the old medieval buildings around the island into 50 impeccable hotel rooms, suites and cottages. Guests have access to private beaches on the mainland, two small pools on the island, the exclusive Aman Spa and on-site restaurants.
Avala Resort & Villas sits just outside of the Old Town walls with spectacular views over the Adriatic, possibly the best location in Budva. Rooms are minimalist and modern, and there’s a pool that faces the sea. The resort also lays claim to half of Old Town Beach with umbrellas and loungers for hotel guests.
It sits a couple miles up the road from Old Town Budva, but the Dukley Hotel & Resort feels a world away from the bustle of the city. Surrounded by pine forests on the Zavala Peninsula, the sprawling hotel is home to 50 apartment style residences that overlook the private Moet & Chandon Beach.
Fresh seafood always when in Montenegro.
A popular family-run establishment that sits on the hillside overlooking the Adriatic. The dishes here are delicious, and taste even better if you can nab a table on the terrace with views of the Sveti Stefan islet. Drago Restaurant offers a variety of meat and seafood dishes, but their specialty is the fresh seafood.
Another restaurant perched on the hill with a terrace that looks out over Sveti Stefan. The menu is filled with a tasty selection of pasta and seafood offerings.
For charming ambiance and delicious seafood, grab dinner at Konoba Dmeinaza. It’s located just outside of Budva’s Old Town with an unassuming entrance that is easy to miss. The pleasant terrace sits sheltered by green vines and leaves, a lovely setting in the evenings.
Just north of Sveti Stefan is a swath of red sand beach known as Przno, and it’s home to a handful of delightful restaurants. Konoa More is particularly charming, set on the water surrounded by stunning medieval views and a sparkling cove.
A popular restaurant located on an alleyway within the walls of Old Town. They serve a variety of meats and seafood – all very standard, but the ambiance in Old Town at night is wonderful.
Beach club access at Sveti Stefan.
A car isn’t necessary when exploring Budva. The tiny walled city is a pedestrian zone with no vehicle access, and the waterfront promenade is best explored on foot. For day trips around the Bay of Kotor, a car is a must with driving distances ranging from 20 minutes to 90 minutes to reach Sveti Stefan, Kotor, the Lustica Peninsula, Perast and some of the surrounding beaches.
On a mission uncover all the sweetest corners of Budva.
Podgorica is Montenegro’s capital city, but for a coastal road trip, it’s easier to fly in and out of Dubrovnik. It’s a 20-minute drive from the airport to reach the Croatia – Montenegro border, and then another two hours onward to Budva. Crossing into Montenegro is straightforward and painless, but leave plenty of time on the return (especially if you are catching a flight). The wait can be hit and miss – I’ve experienced both a five minute and a two hour delays at the border.
Most major car brands have rental kiosks at the Dubrovnik Airport, but let them know you plan to cross the border into Montenegro (you might need to pay a small fee for a green card).