Budva has a spectacular location on the Adriatic Sea, with beautiful beaches and a lovely Old Town. It makes for an easy and fun day trip if you are based in Kotor. Read on to discover the best things to do in Budva, Montenegro!
Budva is one of the oldest settlements along the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea: it is about 2,500 years old! Like other towns in the area, Budva was under the rule of the Venetians for the greater part of 400 years until the fall of Venice at the end of the 18th century.
Budva then came under the rule of the Habsburgs and eventually became part of Yugoslavia after World War I. Budva is today a part of the independent European nation of Montenegro.
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN BUDVA, MONTENEGRO
The Budva Riviera is an extremely popular summer destination, with a lively night scene. Sadly, it has been the victim of too much development, with a very built-up waterfront and hillsides overflowing with modern buildings. But Budva’s Old Town is very pretty and worth visiting!
So if you are based in Kotor for a few days, and want to see some of the stunning Adriatic coast of Montenegro, a day trip to Budva is worth considering. Here are the best things to do in Budva in one day.
#1 Wander the streets of Old Town Budva
Old Town Budva looks a little manicured, because much of it has been rebuilt after an earthquake devastated the town in 1979. Only 8 out of 400+ buildings survived undamaged. But regardless, the Old Town is very pretty and strolling it is definitely one of the best things to do in Budva.
Located on a peninsula that juts out into the water, Old Town Budva is more than 2,500 years old: it is, in fact, one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Coast. With walls built during the rule of the Venetians, and a labyrinth of narrow streets, alleys, and squares, Old Town Budva is very picturesque.
Browse the little shops that line the streets. Admire the light stone walls, topped by the bright orange roofs. Linger with a drink at a cafe in one of the pretty squares.
#2 Take in the views from the Citadela
The Citadela is within Old Town Budva, and one of the must-visit sights in Budva. There is a small entrance fee but totally worth it for the fabulous water views and views of the rooftops of the old town.
Also known as the Fortress of St. Mary, the Citadel was originally built in the 9th century. The current version dates back to the 15th century. The Citadel helped protect Budva from attacks from the sea, and was designed to withstand long sieges.
The structure is beautiful, with a vine-covered walkway, terraces looking out to the sea, and a small archaeological museum and library. If you climb up the steps to the upper terrace, you get great views of the rooftops of the town.
We had a drink and a pastry at the cafe in the Citadel, so we could sit for a bit and enjoy the views.
#3 Admire the churches of Old Town Budva
The Holy Trinity Orthodox Church is located by the Citadel. It is a small but beautiful church, with a striking red and white striped facade, pretty mosaics over the doors, and paintings on the ceiling and walls inside.
The Catholic St. Ivan Church is nearby, with its tall graceful bell tower. The current church was built on an earlier 7th century structure. The bell tower was added in the 19th century.
Inside, the church features a mural wall instead of the usual classical altar, and a number of icons, among them the Madonna of Budva. Photos are not permitted inside.
The Santa Maria in Punta Church is located close to the water. Concerts are held just outside this church, and inside, there is an art gallery with a large Roman mosaic. It was closed when we visited, so we couldn’t see the mosaic.
#4 Enjoy some beach time
If you visit when it is warm, plan on some beach time in Budva. Late May to mid-June and late September to mid-October are ideal, because the water is warm enough for swimming but the beaches are less crowded than during the peak summer months.
The Budva Riviera is known for its beautiful beaches. Mogren Beach is just a stone’s throw from the Old Town and is arguably the best beach in all of Montenegro. It is actually two beaches separated by a natural cave.
Slovenska Plaza is the largest beach in Budva. It is about a mile long, and you can rent loungers. It tends to get crowded on nice weather days, so I would recommend one of the other beaches.
Jaz Beach is a little further out. About a mile long, the beach is a mix of sand and pebbles. Here, too, you can rent parasols and sun beds. You can also rent a boat or a kayak here.
#5 Take a boat ride to Sveti Nikola Island
Sveti Nikola island, also called Hawaii Island, lies just off the coast of Budva in the Adriatic Sea. You can see it from the Old Town. Just one mile long, the little island makes for a fun boat trip from Budva. The water taxi to the island costs a modest amount.
On the island, you can walk one of the many beaches (you need water shoes if you want to go into the water) and admire the views of the water and Old Town Budva. Parasols and sun beds for lounging are available for rent. The beaches are rated clean and less crowded than the beaches of mainland Budva.
If you visit when it’s not warm enough for the beach, but boats are running, then you can still opt to visit the island from up close. Sadly, they were not yet running when we visited, so we had to be content with viewing the pretty island from the Citadela.
#6 Gawk at the beauty of Sveti Stefan
Sveti Stefan is a small, very picturesque islet just south of Budva. With its pinkish sandy beaches and pretty orange roofs, it makes for beautiful photos from the viewpoint off the road in mainland Budva.
The Venetians built fortifications on the island in the 15th century, to protect the town’s inhabitants from the Turks. The village had a few hundred residents during the 1800s, but the population dwindled in the 20th century. The Yugoslav government relocated the remaining residents and converted the island into a luxury resort.
In 2007, the government of Montengro leased the island to Aman Resorts, and today the islet is home to the swanky Aman Sveti Stefan.
#7 Take a photo of the Dancing Girl Statue
If you walk from Old Town Budva to Mogren Beach, you’ll come to the Dancing Ballerina statue about halfway through your walk. The statue, perched on a cliff at the water’s edge, makes for a striking photo. The walk is beautiful as well!
Somewhat reminiscent of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, the ballerina is bombarded with tourists posing for photos with her during the busy season. Be careful if you want to get close: she is surrounded by slippery sharp rocks.
Getting to Budva from Kotor
Budva is about 14 miles from Kotor,and it is very easy to travel between the two towns, whether you drive yourself or use public transport.
In normal traffic, you should be able to drive from Kotor to Budva in about 30 minutes. As you approach Budva, you will come to a couple of viewpoints from where you get beautiful views of the Budva Riviera and the Old Town.
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If you wish to use public transport to get to Budva from Kotor, take the bus! The journey takes about 45 minutes each way, and there are multiple departures in both directions everyday.
By guided tour
This highly rated private tour combines a visit to Budva with a visit to Perast and a walking tour of Old Town Kotor. In Budva, you will have a chance to wander the Old Town and learn about its history.
Where to have lunch in Budva
We ate at the Konoba Portun, located on a small side street in Old Town Budva. The focus is on seafood, but their pastas are delicious as well. Portions are generous. My husband had the sea bass filet, and I had a vegetarian pasta dish. We both thought the food was fresh and flavorful.
How long to spend in Budva
You can do all the activities listed in this article on a day trip: it is the perfect one day in Budva itinerary, combining the charms of the Old Town with Budva’s beautiful beaches.
But many visitors choose Budva for their base in Montenegro, or visit for a longer vacation. We chose Kotor because we loved the romantic atmosphere and architecture of Old Town Kotor, but Budva, or Petrovac, are definitely options if you love the water and visit when it is warm.
Combining a visit to Budva with another Montenegro activity
If your time in Montenegro is limited, you could spend one half of your day in Perast and the other half in Old Town Budva, to experience the highlights of both lovely places in one day.
You could also combine a visit to Old Town Budva with a visit to Petrovac, further down the coast, or Bar, even further south. Petrovac has a gorgeous sandy beach and Kastio, a Venetian fortress that offers fabulous views of the water. Bar also has lovely beaches, the ruins of its Old Town, and old olive groves.
While there are buses connecting all of these towns, a car will make it much easier to cover more than one destination in one day.
Staying in Budva
The Dukley Hotel & Resort is located on the water, about a 30-minute walk from the Old Town. But the hotel offers complimentary speedboat shuttles every hour, so getting to the Old Town is easy and quick. The property is modern, with lush gardens and a rooftop infinity pool. Units feature large master bedrooms with contemporary decor, and gorgeous bathrooms.
Book a stay here
So there you have it: my suggestions for the best things to do in Budva, Montenegro, on a day trip from Kotor. Have you visited Budva? I would love to read your thoughts about the Montenegrin Riviera town. Comment below to respond!
If you haven’t yet visited, I hope you will consider adding the Old Town and Budva’s beautiful beaches to your itinerary for Montenegro. And if you are planning a trip to this spectacularly beautiful south European country, check out all my other posts on Montenegro!
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MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR MONTENEGRO TRIP
Kotor: 15 Fun Things to Do in Kotor
Lovcen National Park: A Day Trip to Lovcen National Park and Lake Skadar
Durmitor National Park: A Day Trip to Durmitor National Park from Kotor
Perast: Visiting Perast on a Day Trip from Kotor
Montenegro: 25 Exciting Things to Do in Montenegro
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