Emma Higgins brings us her guide to one of the Balkans’ summer hotspots. The attractive coast of Montenegro has always been a popular spot with local tourists for spending their holidays washed up on the beach, and Budva is no exception. While plenty of backpackers make it there in the summer months to relax, this number is far outweighed by Balkan visitors, as Budva seems to be the particular hotspot for their own holidays.
If you’re looking for adventure in Montenegro, Budva probably isn’t the place for you. If you’re seeking a spot to relax on the beach and be lazy for a few days, then there isn’t a better place in this part of the world. Eating, drinking and sun-soaking are the foremost attractions of this coastal town.
The main sight of Budva comes in the form of a stroll around its picturesque Old Town. You will come across plenty of little bars and restaurants tucked away inside the walls, most of which come alive at night and can be found by following the booming beats that they each project. A favourite of mine was Casper DJ Bar, which is tucked away under the trees, providing a nice spot in the shade to grab a beer during the day, or a venue to catch some live jazz in the evenings.
If it’s views you want, pay a couple of euros to walk around the Old Town’s walls. On one side you will see the long stretch of coastline, packed with Baltic residents collapsed on the sand, desperately trying to drench themselves in sunlight. On the other side you will see the lush green hills, and straight ahead of you the Adriatic Sea.
Walk to the far end of the Old Town, away from the harbour, and you’ll find a little archway, leading to a smaller beach away from the more tourist-filled spots up the coastline. This is a nice alternative to the other beaches; when the sun is high they can become claustrophobic and hard to enjoy with other sun-seekers breathing down your neck and kicking sand all over you. I recommend any of the beaches at around 5 o’clock, when the sun is still out and most people have already had their fix for the day.
There are a couple of bars situated right on the beach, handy for grabbing a beer, digging your toes into the sand, and watching the paragliders sail amidst the setting sun. Surrounded by hills, you feel like you’re in a little cove of relaxation, no big city with bustle, and enveloped by the holiday atmosphere.
Just up from the beaches, towards the Old Town, is a bar called Hacienda. Decked out with swinging couches, hammocks, and rich fabrics hanging everywhere, this place is the perfect spot to chill out after dark. They play Cuban and salsa music, sometimes live, and serve up shishas for those willing to partake. The music keeps the vibe going while you sink into the seating, making this one of the funkiest hangouts in Budva.
As for eating, the harbour is lined with seafood restaurants, serving up some of the freshest meals the ocean has to offer. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to eateries here, but if you have a little money to break the bank I would recommend Hotel Astoria, which sits just outside the Old Town walls. With some of the richest food and the finest wine I’ve ever tasted, its romantic setting will serve you well if you’re a travelling couple. The Astoria also has hotels and restaurants in Kotor and Podgorica.
Accommodation in a hostel will cost you no more than 10 euros a night in Budva, definitely making it one of the cheaper places to stay in the Balkans. I stayed in Montenegro Freedom Hostel, which was small and had a great vibe; the owners were incredibly welcoming and even offered you shots of rakija (local Balkan liquor) at 11am! They also made guests numerous cups of tea, so they’re not completely crazy! Another which has come highly recommended is Hippo Hostel, an establishment notorious for plenty of guests and the ability to keep them – no one seems to want to leave this place voluntarily. Due to Budva being so small, all the good hostel are located close enough to the beach to walk.
If you’re looking for a relaxed beachside holiday in a cheap location that’s a little different, then Budva is for you. With plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you entertained in the sun, is a great place to unwind and forget about life. If you’re looking for more action and bustling streets then Budva might be too lazy a place for you to get stuck into. But the beautiful hills surrounding the town are undeniably impressive and make for a perfect setting to guzzle some beers, soak up some rays, and chow down on seafood. Emma Higgins