Budva Stories and Tips

Budva: Montenegro's Holiday Destination

Stari Grad Photo, Budva, Montenegro

Budva: the magical town of beautiful bikini-clad ladies that the border guard had warned me about, the Cancun of the Adriatic. Although, I think I'll take Budva over Cancun everyday.

I didn't have the heart to tell the border guard, simply because he seemed so excited, but I was more interested in walls of Budva's old city than the bust sizes of its ladies. Although the whole thing does show the two faces of Budva. To many foreign travelers, it's a mini Dubrovnik. They come for its quaint old city, cafes, shops, and maybe a dip in the sea. But for the hordes that come down from Belgrade, Budva is all about hedonism. They come for the clubs, for the booze, and for the hard-bodies. It's Serbia and Montenegro's summer destination.

Let's start with what I found to be Budva's finest asset, the stari grad (old city). Sure it isn't as large as Dubrovnik, or even Kotor farther north, but it is equally as charming. While Dubrovnik was nearly destroyed by the Serbian army, Budva was almost leveled by an earthquake in 1979. The Yugoslav government, though, didn't just let the city sink into the sea, and undertook an aggressive restoration campaign. Today, you can sort of see how the town seems a bit too "new" but unlike in Dubrovnik they were still able to use most of the same stones, thus preserving much of the original feel. It is now the signs in English and the odd Irish pub that remind you that Budva's old city is more-or-less an outdoor museum.

The highlight of the old city is certainly the fortress, which you can enter for a small fee in order to get some excellent views. For the best views, however, you need to hop up onto the walls. For now, a tour of the walls is free, unlike in Dubrovnik, but I wouldn't expect that to last.

Budva is also very much a city of churches, with plenty to see. The best way to go about it is to just wander the old streets (in one afternoon you'll be able to walk down all of them) and check things out. There are plenty of nice shops and cafes.

Back outside of town, a large boardwalk extends along the shore of the bay. On the seaside you'll find Budva's public beaches, where the aforementioned bunnies are, and on the other side you will find a plethora of restaurants, bars, food stalls, and t-shirt stands selling shirts with slogans such as "where the hell is Montenegro." At night this is the place to be as families and couples crowd the area for evening strolls. Outdoor clubs attract the singles who come to see and be seen and Budva parties deep into the night. While I was there, a famous Serbian pop star was holding a concert in Budva's main square. TV crews were everywhere, as were the requisite screaming teenie-boppers. In Budva, you can never really know what to expect.

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