Montenegro’s most popular summer playground, the Budva Riviera, is all about the glittering sea, glistening bodies and summer fun. But Budva is also an ancient settlement, with history and culture that dates back some 2,500 years, and it’s one of Montenegro’s must-see places. Whatever your holiday style, there’s plenty to do in Montenegro’s famous seaside resort.
Soak up the sun, sea, and sand
The Budva Riviera is famous for its glorious beaches,with miles of fine pebble and sand beaches. Slovenska Plaza and Bečići are the most popular with tourists. Then there’s Mogren Beach, found by following a seaside path from the old town. Jaz Beach is a lively cove and home to one of Montenegro’s most popular music festivals, Sea Dance Festival. Further up the coast there are dozens of little beaches, like local favourite Drobnji Pijesak, to while away the summer days in the sun.
Montenegrin beaches always have sunbeds and umbrellas for just a few euros, and handy bars where the local bartender will mix you delicious cocktails. With everything you need seaside, it’s only too easy to spend every day soaking up the sun on Budva’s beaches.
On Topliš Hill, just above the town, Aquapark Budva is fun for all ages. There’s a playground with slides, buckets and plenty of dripping water for little ones. There are also wave pools, waterspouts, a lazy river and swim-up bar, all spread over three levels. But the real fun is on the water slides. There are seven different slides, and visitors fly down them at up to 80 kilometres per hour.
Budva’s old town is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Sea. At around 2,500 years old it’s a beautiful and historical site. A wander through the town reveals ancient churches and palaces, all crafted from local grey stone. In front of Budva Citadel and Hotel Avala, the remains of the original settlement that were uncovered in an earthquake are on display. The Citadel itself and the museum in the old town are excellent places to learn about the history of Budva. Don’t miss the square in front of Santa Maria del Punta church, with its gorgeous view of the ancient church overlooking Ričardova Glava Beach.
Budva old town is a hive of activity day and night. There are some excellent restaurants, like Stari Grad, which serves traditional Montenegrin cuisine. The place to stay here is Hotel Astoria, which has a rooftop restaurant overlooking Ričardova Glava Beach in front of the town.
In the height of summer, skip the more crowded beaches in Budva and take a boat over to Sveti Nikola Island. Also known as Hawaii Island, the outcrop is inhabited only by deer, and is just off Budva’s shore. The island has a long stretch of beach, and a restaurant and facilities. It’s an idyllic escape for a beach day in Budva.
Sveti Stefan is one of Montenegro’s most famous sites. The islet, which is connected to the mainland by a narrow land bridge, is covered with 15th century stone buildings and looks like it came straight out of a fairy-tale. The island is now a five star Aman Resort, but anyone can visit the island with a restaurant reservation. On either side of the island are two pink pebble beaches with picture-perfect views of the island and little boats bobbing around it. Next to Sveti Stefan, Miločer Forest surrounds the former summer residence of Queen Marija Karađorđeva, and is a lovely location for a walk.
No list of things to do in Budva would be complete without a romantic sunset dinner. The sunsets over Budva’s coast are legendary, and there’s nothing better than sharing a candlelit dinner with that special someone. For a quiet dinner, avoid the busy old town and head over to Pržno’s Langust restaurant, Olive in Sveti Stefan or Dukley Lounge on Zavala Cape.
The Budva Riviera has a seaside promenade that connects the town all the way to Sveti Stefan. Wander along Slovenska Plaža to Zavala Cape, and then along Bečići Beach to the seaside hamlets of Rafailovici, Pržno and Sveti Stefan. There are dozens of swimming spots, romantic seaside restaurants and beautiful sunset views.
The Brajiči hills above Budva are ideal for paragliding. Paragliders can be seen taking off and spiralling down towards the coast all year round. Book a tandem flight and get a bird’s-eye view of the coast that has been loved and admired for thousands of years.
After a hard day on the beach, it’s time to brush of the sand and get ready for a night on the town. The old town’s bars come alive after dark, with dancing and drinking until 1am. When the curfew hits, everyone heads to Top Hill, a world-class club that features global DJs and artists every night through summer. Top Hill accommodates up to 5,000 people at a time and has a vodka bar, wine bar, Jacuzzi bar and VIP area.
Go off track
Beyond the tourist highlights there are some real gems in Budva. Head up to Krapina Village to ride the zipline and take a dip under the waterfall, or visit Podmaine or Rustovo Monasteries to experience Montenegrin spirituality. Away from the seaside, Merkur Restaurant serves some of the best Montenegrin food in Budva. Try traditional roast ispod sač, octopus or the ever popular Balkan grill. There’s also a little garden with rabbits, tortoises and ducks and a playground, which makes this a family-friendly favourite.