Once upon a moonshine it is necessary to be a tourist and certainly in a very small country like Montenegro (which is tiny) it’s hard to escape places of mass interest.
Lonely Planet dubbed Budva
the poster child of Montenegrin tourism. Easily the country’s most-visited destination, it attracts hordes of holidaymakers intent on exploring its atmospheric Stari Grad (Old Town)
Somewhat intrigued by this mystical old town, we set off to explore it for a few hours. Here is what we found!
Budva is a sprawling metropolis on a riviera coast line and everything gordy that comes with mass-tourism; high rise hotels, cheap tourist apartment blocks, a casino and it’s saving grace about 21km of beach and coastline. Budva is loud and busy but tucked away from the main road is the Stari Grad (Old Town).
Of course as we enter the summer months it is now horrendously busy and crammed full of people from all nationalities trying to score photos and coffees. It’s not a good representation of current Montenegro but it does give us a glimpse of Montenegro’s rich, cultural heritage – which by the way includes pirates!
The Old Town
Budva Old Town, which dates to roughly the 5th century, lies in a small peninsula and comprises of a walled city with narrow, paved streets, archways, tunnels, buildings, a ridiculous number of churches and squares.
Today it is all a mis-match of shops, cafés, restaurants, museums and galleries but for an hour or two it was fun to explore and find somewhere to eat.
The old town has been restored considerably and is pretty in a quaint way.
Finding somewhere to eat
The old town is actually REALLY SMALL and we were able to cover most of the streets inside an hour. In the 20th century Budva started serious expansion – this is evident from the hotch-potch of newly designed and built buildings sprinkled along the main road. Located just outside the walls is the newly built marina. Here you can pick up a man and a boat and head over to the blue cave or over to some of the islands. They charge roughly €20 an hour. You can also go and gawp at the huge boats that cost more than we’ll EVER earn in our life times!!
The beach near the walls
There is a small beach (to each side of the old town) just outside the walls; one beach is shingle and looks natural whilst the other looks to be imported sand and is full of tourist sun beds etc.
We chose to go and sit on the shingle beach (with a few of the locals) and we were able to walk around the base of the walls whilst getting our feet wet.
Walking further away from Budva marina is another beach area and a jetty. The kids spent a while looking for fish and crabs. The sea is so clear that it’s easy to spot shoals of tiny fish.
What we liked about this area of Budva was its calmness. There were lots of small beachy areas, mostly shingle areas, where you can just enter the water and swim and snorkel. Certainly older Montenegrins can be seen every day taking their constitutional swim. It’s not surprise they all look so healthy.
Walking in the opposite direction and back towards the old town, we headed to find the famous statue of the ballet dancer. Nearly every photo I’ve seen of Budva has contained this bronze statue so we went to find it. Walk past the old town and veer to the right and ye shall find!
There’s a pathway leading round the side of the rocks and it leads to a beach that is hidden from view. Although it’s busy, there are lots of areas for everyone: rock jumpers (not photographed here), paddlers, snorkellers, SUP boarders… everyone can find a place here.
The water is crystal clear and although still a little cool at the moment, once you get in it is really nice! The clarity of the water is unbelievable.
Top TIPS for Budva
- Don’t forget your swimmers (like we did).
- Consider downloading an offline map to help you get around.
- Some cafes only accept cash.