You must have heard about Budva, also called the ‘Miami of Montenegro’. This medieval city is more than 2,500 years old, making it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast. Budva is located in the central part of the Montenegrin coast, the area surrounding the city is called the Budva riviera, and it is the center of Montenegro tourism. The city might be small (around 60,000 inhabitants) but it is the most popular destination in all of Montenegro, and it is no wonder considering it is a center for sightseeing and cultural tourism, but also a place with vivid nightlife and plenty of beaches. The official language is Montenegrin. The climate on Montenegro’s coast is Mediterranean, with an average summer temperature of 27 °C, making it the most popular time to visit Budva. Here you have some practical information about what to expect on your Budva holiday.
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Getting to Budva
Being the most popular destination in Montenegro, it is well-connected with other cities in the region and the rest of Europe. No matter what kind of transportation you choose, you will be able to find an adequate solution. Below you can find the main airports, bus and train stations from which you can start your Budva experience.
Budva does not have its own airport, but there are three different airports nearby.
- Tivat Airport (TIV) is the closest, as it is located 20 km from Budva, and it is the busier of the two international airports in Montenegro. During the peak season it handles 80% of the total passengers in Montenegro.
- Podgorica Airport (TGD) is the other international airport in Montenegro, located 65 km northeast from Budva.
- Dubrovnik Airport (DBV) in Croatia is another option, as it is only 15 minutes car drive away from the Croatia-Montenegro border. It is located near Cilipi, 80 km from Budva, and it has many flights to different European destinations throughout the year.
Budva is very well-connected by bus with cities within Montenegro, such as Kotor, Bar and Podgorica and major cities in neighboring countries, such as Dubrovnik, Belgrade and Skopje. But, If you wish to travel from Germany, Switzerland or Austria to Montenegro, there aren’t many direct buses to choose from, in most cases you will have to take a bus to Dubrovnik and then continue from there.
- Budva Bus Station is the main bus station in Budva. It is located in the center of the town, between the Fire House and the Medical Centre. It is only 1.5 km from the Old Town.
Budva does not have its own train station, so traveling by train is not really an option. If you are adamant on using the train, the closest train station is in Sutomore, 30 km south of Budva. From where you should take the bus to Budva. The journey lasts about an hour and one-way ticket is around €3. The only scenario in which the train might be an option, is if you travel from Belgrade to Montenegro. Other countries like Croatia or Bosnia do not have train connection to Montenegro.
Budva is connected to the E80 which is one of the main roads in Montenegro. From Dubrovnik to Budva, there is a travel distance of around 95 km, but be prepared for the long waiting times on the border crossing between Croatia and Montenegro. If you travel around the Kotor bay the trip is about 30 km longer, unless you take the car ferry from Kamenari to Lepetane (the narrowest points in the bay). The ferry ride takes 5-10 minutes and it provides a great view of the Bay of Kotor. The ticket price for cars is around €5. From Podgorica there are two roads to Budva and, both have a travel time of around 1 hour and 15 minutes. From southern direction there is a road connection from Ulcinj and Bar. None of the above mentioned roads are multilane highways and the quality of the roads varies.
NOTE: Not all roads in Montenegro are in good condition, and the local drivers are notorious for their driving skills and overtaking. Drive carefully.
Ferry is a good option if you are traveling from southern Italy, as there is a ferry line between Bari in Italy and Bar in Montenegro. Bar is located approximately 40 km south of Budva, on the Adriatic coast. The journey is approximately 8 hours long, and the prices go from around €50. From Bar you can easily take a bus to Budva. The ride lasts around 1 hour and 20 minutes and one-way ticket costs around €5.
Getting around Budva
Budva isn’t a large town, the area of the town is only 4.2 square kilometers, so getting around is not a problem. There are several options you can choose from, but bear in mind that public transportation does not exist in the city and that vehicles are forbidden from entering the Old Town.
- Taxi: Taxis are abundant in Budva, but they are not cheap and the prices depend on the taxi company. Try to get in a taxi that has a rate card displayed and a meter visible on the dash, so you would not get ripped off.
- Car: If you get to Budva by your own car, use it only when you absolutely have to. Budva is a popular destination with narrow streets, so the traffic will get congested during the summer. Parking spaces are hard to find, and those closest to the Old Town are the most expensive. There are several car rental companies in the town, so if you haven’t arrived by car but wish to explore the surroundings on your own, you can always rent a car.
- Bicycle: There aren’t any cycling points around the town, and the narrow roads and lack of quality bicycle parking space will make it hard for you to navigate around the city on a bicycle.
- By foot: Walking is the best way to get around Budva, and the only way to explore the Old Town. Beaches are in near proximity, and it is no trouble reaching them by foot.
The history of Budva is long and complicated, so it is no wonder that there are many historical sights around that you should not miss. Here are some of the most important ones:
Budva Old Town is the place where you could spend most of your time and it still wouldn’t be enough. It lies on a peninsula in the center of the city. Old Town consists of narrow cobblestone streets, alleys and little charming squares.
Budva Citadel is located in the southern and the most prominent part of the Old Town. It was once the place of the 12th century church of Saint Maria de Castello. The Citadel itself dates to the 15th century, and today contains the Maritime Museum of Budva which has an impressive library and different catering facilities.
Near the Citadel you can find plenty of churches, such as the Church of St Maria in Punta, which is one of the oldest pre-Romanesque buildings in Montenegro. The church is currently used for art exhibitions and concerts of classical music.
Next to the Church of Saint Maria in Punta is the Holy Trinity Church. This orthodox church was finished in 1804 and in front of it you can see the tomb of a famous writer and politician Stjepan Mitrov Ljubisa. The beautiful iconostasis of this church date to the 19th century.
The Saint Sava Church supposedly built in 14th century is also located near the CItadel. This small single nave church was once home to the various icons, frescoes and sculptures, while today the church is not operating.
North of the Citadel is the Saint John Church that was built in the 8th century and rebuilt in the 17th. Here you can see many preserved monuments, archives and a library, but the most important one is the icon ‘Madonna in Punta’. Make sure not to miss the glass mural made by the well-known Croatian painter, Ivo Dulcic.
Roman Villa remains from the 2nd century are located in the very center of the Old Town. The remains are known for their beautiful floor mosaics from the most prosperous period of Roman history.
The Dancer from Budva is considered the main symbol of the city. It is located on the seaside right outside the Old Town walls. Among the locals there are many legends about the statue, but all agree that rubbing the statue gives good luck.
Mogren Fortress is located 1 km west from the Old Town, just after the Mogren beach. The fortress was built in the 19th century and was involved in two world wars. Today, it offers a great panoramic view of the entire western coast of Budva Riviera. Admission is free.
Another sight worth seeing is Lake Skadar, the largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula and the most visited of the 5 national parks in Montenegro. Virpazar village (entrance to the national Park) is located approximately 40 kilometers from Budva, so it would be a great place for a one-day trip.
San Stefan is a small island connected to the mainland, located approximately 6 kilometers southeast of Budva. This fortified island village with its 15th century villas is known as ‘the most photographed site in Montenegro. Today, the island is a part of a luxurious resort, and only guests of the hotel or one of the restaurants in the resort can enter San Stefan.
Montenegrin culture has many different influences, and the people of Montenegro are proud of their history and arts, so make sure to visit some of their museums and festivals.
The Museum of the Town of Budva is located in the very center of the Old Town. The museum has a permanent exhibition of archaeological and ethnographic collections. The archaeological collection includes many objects from the Greek, Roman and Byzantine times, and some of the items date back to the 5th century BC. The ethnographic includes over 1,200 items dated between the 18th and 20th century.
The Maritime Museum of Budva is located inside the Budva Citadel. It is a room containing ship models, maps and a vast amount of books.
Modern Gallery of Budva is also located in the Old Town. This gallery contains works of art not only by Montenegrin artists but also from all of Yugoslavia and some other European countries. The exhibited paintings, drawings, aquarells, engravers and sculptures mainly have been gifted to the county of Montenegro. The most valuable exhibition is the collection called Modern Expressionists.
Festivals in Budva
Spring masked ball is a masquerade party taking place in April. The event takes place on the streets of Old Town and on the main stage outside the walls.
The fair of Montenegrin souvenirs takes place each April. Visitors can enjoy and purchase different souvenirs with Montenegrin motifs in hotel Tara located in Becici, only 2 km from Budva. This is a great way to learn more about the Montenegrin culture and take a piece of this lovely country home with you.
The May Carnival Evenings mark the beginning of summer and the high season in Budva. The Carnival that colours the streets of Old Town lasts for 7 days. The Old Town is filled with music, performers and events designed to appeal to different age groups and tastes. Last 3 days are reserved for the International Carnival and Spring Night Under the Masks, so if you find yourself in Budva during the Carnival make sure not to miss the Great Carnival Parade.
The annual Sea Dance Festival takes place in the summer, and attracts visitors from all over the World. It was voted as the best European medium-sized festival, and during the years it hosted some of the stars like The Prodigy, Rudimental, Skrillex, Hurts and Lost Frequencies.
The Budva Theatre City Festival also takes place during summer. This best known cultural manifestation in Budva is a tradition that lasts for over 20 years. For a few days the whole city becomes an open stage with poetry readings, theater performances and exhibitions.
Food in Budva
Why not try some of the local dishes while you are in Budva? Montenegrin cuisine comes in many different flavors, as it was influenced by Italian, Hungarian, Turkish and Central European cuisine. Here are some suggestions on what to eat and where to eat when visiting this Montenegrin Miami.
What to eat in Budva
Priganice are the Montenegrin version of doughnuts, ideal for breakfast. They’re small balls of fried dough usually served with honey or jam.
Burek is a filo pastry filled with cheese, meat, spinach or potatoes. This traditional breakfast is popular throughout the Balkans.
Riblja corba is a fish soup, more of a stew actually, very simple but nourishing meal. Montenegro has a long fishing tradition, and apparently riblja corba was created as a way for the fishermen to use up the small fish that they could not sell. There are many different variations to choose from.
Shopska salad, also called Bulgarian salad, is a Bulgarian cold salad popular throughout the Balkans and Central Europe. It consists of fresh tomato, cucumber, capsicum, onions and white cheese.
There are several variants of Mediterranean Risotto that you can try in Montenegro, such as seafood risotto, black risotto, calamari risotto and gamberi risotto. The most popular variant is the black risotto, and its distinctive black color comes from cuttlefish ink.
Prsut is dry-cured ham, served uncooked, similar to Italian Prosciutto. The most famous prsut in Montenegro is Njeguski prsut, with its special aroma. This delicacy is usually served with some herbs, cheese and olives.
Cevapi is a type of grilled dish made of minced meat. This kebab-like dish can be made with different types of meat, from chicken, lamb, pork to beef. It is usually served with chopped onions, kajmak (creamy dairy product), ajvar (pepper-based condiment popular throughout the Balkans) or sour cream.
Where to eat in Budva
There are plenty of restaurants and taverns to choose from on both sides of the Old Town walls. Here are some of the top picks:
Konoba Stari Grad is one of the oldest restaurants in the Old Town. It is known for tasty Mediterranean dishes, great dishes made with fresh daily caught fish, good wine, but also daily live music!
Jadran Kod Krsta is a family restaurant with a long tradition. It is located on the promenade, close to the Old Town. The restaurant is known for its fresh and deliciously prepared seafood.
Konoba Bocun is a small traditional family restaurant located north of the Old Town. Its rustic interior and nice atmosphere attract many guests, both locals and tourists. Here you can try different local and Mediterranean meals.
Kuzina is a good place to get some international dishes, but here you can also try some traditional Montenegrin dishes, such as riblja corba.
If you are looking for some vegan options, you can always head to Smsom bistro, located in the Old Town. Here they serve vegetarian, vegan and Middle Eastern dishes, and also various wines. Verde salad and sandwich bar is a great option for a quick and cheap snack, they also serve vegan friendly options.
Budva is considered the party capital of Montenegro, and in the past few years the city established itself as a summer destination popular among students and young people in general. Most of the popular places are located in the Old Town or on the promenade. From wild beach parties with live DJs and exciting night clubs, to cozy pubs with amazing beer – you will find whatever you are looking for!
Top Hill is a club located on top of the hill overlooking the city. The club has a large dance floor, a swimming pool, a jacuzzi bar and a VIP area. Here you can expect a mix between popular electronic and Balkan music trends.
Open air club Trocadero is located on the Slovenska promenade. Here you can enjoy amazing cocktails, Balkan techno music and great atmosphere.
Club Paris is an outdoor disco where you can mostly hear electronic music. The club has a large dance floor with a replica of the Eiffel Tower in the middle.
Emporio club is located along the walls of the Old Town. The club is known for serving great cocktails and excellent music.
If clubbing isn’t really for you, why not enjoy the night in some casual bar or a pub? The Old Fisherman’s Pub is located on the promenade, close to the Old Town walls. Here you can enjoy the atmosphere on one of the lovely terraces, eat some tasty comfort food and wash it all down with great local beer.
You’ve had enough of the open air bars and now you need some tranquility? Then head to the Casper bar. This cozy bar located in the Old Town offers a wide range of quality craft beers and occasional live music performances.
If you want a British experience in Budva, visit the Prince Pub. This pub hidden near the Fortress in the Old Town will satisfy your craving for a pint of Guinness and comfort food.
Were you even on a vacation if you didn’t treat yourself to some of the local goodies? Buy some souvenirs and clothing items, but bear in mind that Budva isn’t a big city, so don’t expect many large shopping malls.
TQ Plaza, the only shopping mall in Budva, is located just a few minutes from the promenade. Here you can find different stores selling well-known clothing and cosmetics brands, but also a few coffee shops should you grow tired of window shopping.
Mediteranska street is the liveliest street in Budva, and here you can find many different shops and stores, including ones that sell items imported from Italy, Serbia and Turkey.
For some unique souvenirs visit the Magic Yard Gallery, located in the Old Town. Here you can see and even buy art made by numerous local artists.
Don’t miss the local flea market! It is located inside the town walls, here you can find that one unique piece of history, such as old army items, antiques and more.
Old Town is dotted with little souvenir shops, so we are certain you will find that one perfect reminder of your trip to Budva!
Good things to know when travelling to Budva
Montenegro country code: +382
Exchange money – The official currency in Montenegro is euro (€), even though Montenegro is still not a member of the European Union. Money can be exchanged in banks and exchange offices. Beware of bad exchange rates and large commission fees.
ATMs – There are plenty of ATMs around the town (excluding the Old Town). When you withdraw Euro from ATM, your bank will calculate the exchange rate, often better than the one offered by money changers.
Smoking – Smoking is a dying trend in most of the world, but not in the Balkans. Here smoking is allowed almost everywhere, so you can smoke in bars, restaurants and cafes.
Tap water – Tap water in Montenegro is drinkable, and most public squares have fountains where you can fill up your water bottle.
Tipping – Tipping is not common in Montenegro, although locals have the habit of rounding up the check.
Police: 382 122
Ambulance: 382 124
Primary Health Care Centre: 382 (0)33 427-200, Popa Jola Zeca