For us, Budva was a last-minute decision.
Once plans for Herceg Novi and Kotor were solidified, it seemed that Budva would’ve been a missed opportunity if we didn’t at least spend 24 hours there. The initial hesitation stemmed from exactly what makes Budva what it is today: bourgeoning popularity.
The beauty of last-minute decisions lies in the inevitable essence of low expectations. Budva was the first city which introduced us to a surprising Montenegrin culture, one that was clearly famished for mainstream tourism, on the cusp of sought-after demands. Yet, Budva was where I saw children nudging at peacocks and rabbits in a nearby park. A world of innocence seemed to exist in pure wholesomeness, flights away from complicated social issues back home. Two minutes later, I snapped a photo of a reticent vegetable stand shouting loudly not with people’s bustles, but rather, vibrant hues of fresh produce that it vended. The ivory architecture away from the riviera evinced glimpses of local living, clothes drying on rusted balconies. Approaching the waterfront, tourists flocked up and down the marina, along the shimmery coast, to and from Mogren Beach. Then, for some more back and forth.
Budva is the ideal introduction to the land of Black Mountains, staunched in grandeur. Over the alchemy of the Adriatic. When you find yourself wondering where to start in Montenegro, here’s a list of the best things to do in its very own magnetic riviera town.
The Old Town of Budva is the city’s signature stamp of Montenegro as one of the oldest urban developments in the Adriatic region from more than 2,500 years ago. Built by the Venetians, the maze inside the walls of Old Town is filled with charming restaurants, cool bars and numerous shops where you can pick up a few souvenirs.
The present-day pedestrian-only Old Town’s layout was originally designed to be orthogonal, despite numerous alleys stray from the angular grid creating an erratic pattern with several small plazas randomly placed in tiny passageways.
Mogren Beach is the most popular beach in Budva since it’s, in fact, two beaches linked by a tunnel. To reach the scenic beach, you’ll need to walk through Old Town then along the curvy Budva coast for 10 minutes, where you’ll pass by The Ballerina statue for a lovely photo then reach Mogren. The water quality at the beach is ideal, and don’t even mention the view of crystalline water against the striking diagram of the Budva Riviera.
Rent a boat
There are different ways of renting a boat in Budva, but along the coast between Old Town and Mogren Beach, you’ll pass by a post where travelers can rent boats for kayaking. To rent a boat for a day, most of the companies are stationed closer to the northern part of the riviera, where the main marina boulevard is located. Depending on the season, rental prices can go upwards from $450/day.
Along the coastal passageway between Old Town Budva and Mogren Beach is The Ballerina statue where you’ll definitely stop and snap a few photos since the bronze signature is against the gorgeous backdrop of Budva’s iconic pier. The sculpture of a young girl can also be referred to as “The Gymnast statue from Budva.” Created by sculptor Gradimir Aleksić, the story was based on a lost love between a ballerina and a sailor as she waited for his return by the shore. When her groom never returned, the young bride died of a broken heart.
Holy Trinity Church
7RGQ+X48, Budva 85310, Montenegro
The gorgeous Holy Trinity Church can be stumbled upon in Old Town, a beautiful standout with stripes of white and stoney rows. Austria permitted the construction of the church after the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797. Completed in 1804 with the support of Bishop of Montenegro, the church was the product of local Orthodox Christians who were also engineers, masons and stone cutters. The Byzantine-style architecture also features a bell loft with three bells above the main entrance, a rosette above the western door, iconostasis inside were painted in 1833 by Greek artists Naoum Zetiri from Milos. In front of the church, there’s a tombstone of Stefan Mitrov Ljubisa – a politician and author who was born in Budva.
Plaža Ričardova Glava
Though Plaža Ričardova Glava couldn’t possibly be labeled as a hidden gem beach since it’s located right in Old Town where foot traffic is heavy, this is an accessible option for beachgoers that don’t want to walk too far. Expect large pebbles and numerous sunbathers since the beach is public. Though if you’re visiting Budva during low season, this is a lovely beach without too much fuss.
16 Njegoševa, Budva, Montenegro
A beautiful gem in the middle of Old Town, Restoran Rivijera features a massive menu which highlights every kind of food imaginable – cooked and prepared the Montenegrin way. Meats, seafood, grilled, baked, pastas, risottos, vegetarian…and so much more. For a city growing to be quite touristic, this restaurant has maintained high quality in freshness and taste.
Casper Bar & Coffee Roastery
7RHQ+79Q, Budva, Montenegro
Casper Bar & Coffee Roastery is a popular spot in Old Town, and you won’t miss it with its populous though inviting terrace and cool crowd. In addition to coffee, you can also try the craft beers, tasty cocktails, fresh smoothies, cold-pressed juices…and more. For a trendy spot to relax your feet as you’re surrounded by old fortress walls, this place is it!
Topliški put, Budva, Montenegro
As one of the best night clubs in Budva, Top Hill has sustained its trendy reputation by welcoming partygoers with an evolving list of international DJs. Located at the top of the Toplish hill, the open-air night club has captivated massive crowds with its incredible view 600 meters above the Adriatic Sea. During summer months, Top Hill can accommodate 5,000 guests ready to dance all night.
Rakija & Wine Bar
16 Njegoševa, Budva, Montenegro
A tiny bar, easy to miss due to its size but also hard to ignore thanks to its popularity. Rakija & Wine Bar is highlighted by its progressive collection of organic wines, and rakija (Montenegro’s national drink.) Stop by, sit for at least an hour so you can chat with experts and professionals working at the bar. They really know their stuff!