Budva Beach Escapes in Historic Montenegro

  • Samantha Libby
  • 1 June 2011

While most summer holidaymakers descend in mass on Europe’s top beaches, some look for something a little less crowded. They might consider a Budva beach retreat in Montenegro, a new ‘it’ spot with a classic summer vibe, music festivals, impromptu theatre, beach parties and much more.

Even better, Budva is one of those rare gems that offer true cultural immersion away from the tourist trail, but with the services of a major destination. Beyond all the trimmings of the perfect beach vacation, what makes Budva so much more than an average escape can be found in its centuries-old architecture, exceptional natural scenery and exciting entertainment.

Old town view, Budva, Montenegro

The little alleys and squares of the Stari Grad, or Old Town, of Budva, Montenegro brim with boutiques, konobas (traditional Mediterranean restaurants) and cafes. Photo courtesy of Montenegro Adventures

Arts and Entertainment

Budva’s Old Town (or Stari Grad) is one of the best of its kind in Europe, meticulously restored after a cataclysmic earthquake in 1979. It plays a central role in the city’s contemporary summertime festivities. Theatre artists can be found everywhere in the twisting maze of its streets, performing under old arches, in ancient churches, outside famous monuments or simply in a space between two buildings. In summer, the Old Town literally comes alive with art, music and performance.

For example, well known in Budva is the annual Budva Music Festival, or Pjesma Mediterana, one of the best-known open-air performances in the Balkans. Founded in 1992, this festival has become a premier event in the region, showcasing some of its best talent.

Beach Budva, Montenegro

The hotspot of Budva, Montenegro, the beachfront of the main city is filled with young adults in the summertime, giving the promenade a carefree vibe. Photo courtesy of Montenegro Adventures

Budva’s Beaches

A beach holiday isn’t much without perfect beaches from which to choose. Situated on one shoulder of the Mediterranean, Budva doesn’t disappoint. There are 17 beaches to consider; each one boasts beautiful turquoise waters, fine-pebbled sand and plenty of sunshine.

The most famous Budva beach is probably Mogren, an exclusive strand accessible only through the Avala Hotel. Just 500 metres from the Old Town, it’s a sheltered 350-metre cove of two beaches connected by an underground tunnel. Large flanking cliffs prevent exposure to the wind and have protected the beach from overdevelopment or crowding.

Another option is the natural-heritage Jaz Beach, frequented by nature lovers keen on visiting unusually crystal-clear waters and large accommodating camping grounds. Although Jaz beach is nudist friendly, sunbathing in the buff is less than the norm; for full exposure, there’s a smaller more discreet Jaz beach. High surrounding hills are perfect for day hikes to break up too much lounging.

Sveti Stefan, Budva, Montenegro

Until 50 years ago a little fishing village, Sveti Stefan, near Budva, Montengro, was transformed into a luxurious hotel in the 1970s and just reopened as one of the Aman Resorts hotels. Photo courtesy of Montenegro Adventures

Exotic Islands

Luxury island life is also on offer in Budva. Once a pretty fishing village, Sveti Stefan is now a small presque-isle paradise, a hideaway for the rich and famous; it is, however, also accessible to day-trippers for a one-euro bus fare and six-euro entrance fee. Sveti Stefan has been graced by the likes of Claudia Schiffer, Ingemar Stenmark, Kirk Douglas, Sophia Loren, Sylvester Stallone and Willy Brant to name a few.

For a different kind of getaway, Sveti Nikola is a playground for true adventurers. The island is littered with tiny coves and exotic Mediterranean plants, as well as long stretches of pristine beach that have barely succumbed to the pressure of a human footprint. Here one can play Robinson Crusoe all day long and swim back to Budva, even at night, when the tide is low.

Budva also offers a number of diving opportunities.

Marina, Budva, Montenegro

By night, the promenade and marina of Budva, Montenegro, are transformed into a buzzing town filled with outdoor cafes and laid-back cafes featuring live music. Photo courtesy of Montenegro Adventures

Exciting Nightlife

Nightlife in Budva is unparalleled in the Balkans, making it a huge draw for the younger crowds. Walking down the waterside promenade at night is a journey through different types of tunes all tangling in the space shared by the many outdoor bars and cafes. From bass-heavy hip-hop and pop music to more mellow folk melodies and even a bit of trance music, there’s a little something for everyone.

Thinking of going to Montenegro this summer? Contact Montenegro Adventures, the whl.travel local connection in Budva, as well as in Podgorica and the Bay of Kotor, for tours, accommodation and a load of the kinds of hints you could only get from a local.

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Samantha Libby

Samantha Libby is a freelance journalist based in Hanoi, Vietnam, where she works for a contemporary art gallery. She is also an artist and the author of numerous short stories, plays and, most recently, a novel. She loves the crazy, the random and the weird, as well as places and people that some would deem 'uncivilized'. She received her BFA in Dramatic Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, in New York City. She likes cake, too.
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adventure travel, architecture & landmarks, beaches, cities, Eastern Europe, Europe, festivals & events, fine arts, food & drink, islands, Montenegro, outdoors,

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