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.
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.
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.
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.
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.