The seaside resort town of Budva is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Montenegro. Although only small in population, the town attracts more than half a million people annually, with many drawn to the area for the azure blue seas, charming old town and dramatic mountain scenery.
In July and August it becomes the Balkan equivalent of Ibiza, drawing tens of thousands of people from across the region, and further afield, to its beaches and nightclubs. During the rest of the year, it’s a very laidback town with a stunning fortified Old Town, picturesque coastline and many boutique hotels.
The town has seen an influx of money in recent years, with much regeneration work taking place and new independent businesses cropping up regularly.
With gorgeous beaches surrounded by an imposing mountain landscape, bags of history and a buzzing nightlife scene, it’s a wonderful and affordable alternative to the South of France or Croatia.
Join us as we explore the best things to do in Budva….
Best Things to Do in Budva
#1. Explore the Old Town
Budva’s Old Town dates back more than 2,500 years and is one of the oldest developed areas around the whole of the Adriatic. It’s made up of a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways, surrounded by the complete, fortified, Old Town walls.
There are beautiful examples of Venetian era architecture throughout the densely packed area, with gorgeous churches, public squares and many historic structures.
Fortunately, the area has retained its original charm, with some old buildings having been lovingly restored. Dotted throughout the Old Town you will find many tasty restaurants, small bars and cafes, alongside a smattering of art and craft stores.
The Old Town sits right next to the modern-day marina, with many exists leading to the waterfront and nearby coastline.
It’s a beautiful area to wander around and get lost among, and is an absolute must when visiting Budva.
#2. Head to a hidden cove
As we’ve already touched upon, right next to Budva’s Old Town you can reach the stunning Adriatic Sea. If you exit the Old Town down the south-west passageway you will walk straight out onto the sand and stumble upon a number of lovely beach bars – a great spot to watch the world go by.
But there is somewhere all together more special if you venture just a little further along the coast.
If you follow a seaside walkway around the headland you will be rewarded with a breath-taking stretch of coastline called Mogren Beach.
This area is only accessible by foot, with steep cliffs shrouding it to the rear and the sea lapping up against the sands on the other side.
It’s a lovely spot, which although popular in the summer months, can be a secluded and empty paradise at other times of year.
It’s an idyllic beach to relax upon, with crystal blue sea, golden sand and steep cliffs behind – and only a 10 minute walk back to the Old Town.
#3. Visit Sveti-Stefan
Just under 10 kilometres walk south from Budva’s Old Town, along the dramatic Montenegrin coast, you will find the exclusive island of Sveti-Stefan.
The village, which is now attached to the mainland via a spit of land, was once the summer residence of Queen Marija Karađorđević, from the Yugoslav Royal family.
The stunning location is now an exclusive 5* star hotel, but its beaches, which connect the mainland to the picturesque inhabited rock, are free for anyone to use.
There are few prettier locations on the whole of the Adriatic and the island has been featured in numerous movies as a result. With enormous mountains falling down to the sea on the mainland and surrounded by crystal blue waters, it’s a truly magical location.
Our top tip is to enjoy a long way from Budva, along the coastline to Sveti-Stefan – not only can you soak up some stunning scenery, but can work up an appetite and dine at one of the area’s delicious local seafood restaurants.
We love it here and highly recommend a visit.
We’ve just mentioned one beautiful walk to get to grips with around Budva, but the walk to Sveti-Stefan is far from the only jaw-dropping route in this part of the world.
Budva is completely surrounded by mountains on its land side and by no means small ones – the mountains menacingly rise out of the town’s rear and seem to go on forever to the clouds.
If you look north or south down the coastline, the same image appears – huge mountain tops and dense forests.
As a result, the region is a hub for hikers and cyclists. Getting up into the local trails, which run straight out the back of the town, is a lovely way to burn off the gluttonous delights of Montenegrin cuisine – and fortunately there are trials for many different abilities.
One thing we can assure you is that you’ll be treated to breath-taking views if you make the stomp up the mountain side.
#5. Visit the town’s ballerina statue
Just outside the Old Town, along the coastline northwards in the direct of Mogren beach, you will find a gem of a statue sitting on a rocky outcrop in the sea. It’s one of the most photographed sites in the whole of Budva and it’s easy to see why.
The backdrop to the pretty piece of art is not only the inviting Adriatic Sea, but also a large part of the Old Town and the mountains behind.
The statue, which was designed by Gradimir Aleksic, was inspired by a folklore tale of a ballerina who stood on the shore each day in hope that her beloved sailor would return to port, only for him to never return and be claimed by the sea.
The ballerina is a seen as a major landmark in the city now and reminds people of the city’s maritime heritage and the dangers of the water.
It’s also a lovely piece of public art and a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to relax and watch the sunset.
#6. Hit the beach
With a coastline as beautiful as Montenegro, it’s no surprise that the beaches are one of the main draws for tourists to Budva.
There are miles upon miles of stunning sandy beaches throughout the area – from secluded coves to busy town centre beaches filled with beach clubs and busy restaurants on the sands.
Whatever style of beach takes your fancy, Budva has you covered.
It can get very hot here in the summer, so spending an afternoon by the cooling waters of the Adriatic is a major attraction here.
Sit back and relax and watch the sun drop into the ocean.
It’s when the sun sets in summer when Budva really comes alive. In July and August in particular the town is thriving with young people from across the Balkans, and further afield, who come to soak up the town’s party scene.
The area has garnered an international reputation for its clubbing scene, drawing many famous electronic music DJs to its nightclubs.
One of the most popular venues, which only operates in the summer months, is called Top Hill – an openair nightclub, which sits high up on a hill looking down over Budva.
Holding around 5,000 people, it’s one of the premiere music venues on the Balkan coast and a major coup for the town.
But don’t worry if you’re visiting the town outside the busy summer season, there are many other venues around Budva which stay open throughout the year and still thrive all the way into winter.
#8. Head to a Montenegrin island
Sitting out in the bay in front of Budva is Montenegro’s largest island, called Sveti Nikola Island. It’s an imposing rocky outcrop, surrounded by crystal blue waters, which you can visit and explore.
Along with a number of restaurants and popular beaches, you can also find lots of wildlife on the island, including deer, along with many types of bird and plant life.
The secluded island is a relaxing escape from the busy streets of Budva during the hot summer months, with ample space to find places to dip and cool off.
You can reach the island by taxi boat, which leave from Budva’s marina throughout the year.
#9. Visit Budva’s hippest coffee shop
Budva isn’t awash with speciality coffee shops, but there is one spot that can’t be missed during your visit. Casper Coffee Roasters is one of the coolest cafes along the whole of the Montenegrin coast, with a large and relaxing courtyard in the middle of Budva’s Old Town.
Not only can you drink excellent, locally roasted coffee, but it also doubles up as a bar, with tasty cocktails, craft beer and natural wine.
It’s as cool during the evening, as it is during the day, with DJs performing chilled house music, along with funk, soul and disco, in the open air court yard at night.
Our top tip is to go for Casper’s espresso martini in the evening – delicious.
#10. Drink beers in Old Town’s windy streets
Although there are many large bars throughout Budva, particularly in the modern part of the town, it’s the cute Old Town pubs which really draw us in.
The charming streets of the Old Town are packed with tiny little holes in the walls, which sell beautiful local beers and wines.
Our favourite is Old Town Pub Budva, which has the air of an old fisherman’s pub – only tiny inside, with wooden clad features, a warm welcome and cosy during winter.
Not only that, but they sell some lovely local craft beers.
In the busy summer months drinkers spill out into the streets, creating a lovely atmosphere in the heart of the historic Old Town.
Despite its small size, Budva is a heavy weight destination in the Adriatic. It boasts many qualities, which are the envy of many other towns and cities around the Mediterranean.
With stunning beaches, a dramatic mountain landscape, pumping nightlife, a historic heart and tasty restaurants, it’s no wonder that hundreds of thousands of people visit every year.
During its summer peak it’s one of the busiest destinations in the Balkans, with something happening on every corner, while during the colder months it’s a laidback and historic coastal town, which is just as wonderful to explore.
With natural beauty on its doorstep and a price point far cheaper than many other coastal countries in Europe, we recommend it as a must visit destination (before too many people catch on year round).
So what you waiting for? Visit beautiful Budva.