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Budva is THE premier beach destination of Montenegro — and a hotspot of the Balkans. There are a ton of things to do in Budva — a town with beaches, high-rise apartments and hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, and a small old town that feels like a miniature Dubrovnik.
While most visitors to Montenegro spend the bulk of their time in the beautiful town of Kotor, a lot of people are disappointed that there aren’t any decent beaches around the Bay of Kotor.
The solution? Head 30 minutes south to Budva! Montenegro’s glorious beaches extend southward along the Budva Riviera, including famous beach towns like Sveti Stefan and Petrovac.
I’ve been visiting Montenegro for more than a decade, and some of my best memories have come from Budva — especially the year I attended Sea Dance Festival, with incredible performances and dancing until dawn on Jaz Beach.
If you’re planning to explore Montenegro in depth, you can’t skip Budva and the Riviera! In addition to offering Montenegro’s best beaches, Budva is a great destination for history, culture, dining, and nightlife. It feels a little bit like Miami on the Adriatic.
Here are the best things to do in Budva, Montenegro — a town that I’m excited to share with you..
This post was published in January 2024 and co-written by Adventurous Kate and Dale Peterson.
The Best Things to Do in Budva, Montenegro
Wander the Old Town
Budva’s old town is like a smaller, condensed version of Dubrovnik, Croatia. It’s a historic walled city that juts out into the sea, filled with picture-perfect stone buildings with orange tiled roofs.
You can stroll along the Budva city walls and admire the views of both the town and the surrounding Adriatic Sea. The entrance fee for walking the city walls is only 3 EUR ($3.25 USD), a bargain in comparison to Dubrovnik’s 35 EUR fee (which has probably increased in the moments I’ve been writing this…).
Just outside the walls of the old town, you’ll find the Budva Dancing Girl statue, a beautiful sculpture with one of the best views of the old town behind it. This is worth a stop for photos at the very least.
If you’d prefer to explore Budva’s old town on a tour, you can book a walking tour with a knowledgeable tour guide who will show you the highlights of Budva.
Explore the Citadel Fortress
Citadel Fortress is a must-visit in Budva’s Old Town. This ancient fortress dates back over a millennia, and its strategic location perched on the Adriatic Sea made it an important fortification throughout Budva’s history.
Today, you can visit the Citadel Fortress in Budva for 3.50 EUR ($3.85 USD.) You can explore all the nooks and crannies of the fortress and take in great views of the Adriatic Sea and the Old Town from various lookout points.
Admission to the Citadel Fortress also includes entry to the Museum of the City of Budva.
Relax on the beach
Beaches are what Budva does best — and Budva is THE place in Montenegro to experience great Adriatic beaches. There are quite a few beaches in and around Budva.
You shouldn’t expect sandy beaches here. In Montenegro (and the eastern side of the Adriatic), beaches here are almost always pebbled beaches, with wonderfully clear water. Water shoes are a huge help.
My personal favorite beach in Budva is Jaz Beach — it’s a 15-minute drive from the old town of Budva, but it’s worth visiting to get away from the crowds. This beach is a little quieter than some of the more popular beaches in Budva, though they still have restaurants and facilities. It’s also quite large, so there’s plenty of room to stake out a spot and relax.
Mogren Beach is another lovely beach close to Budva’s old town. It’s on the smaller side, but it’s very picturesque.
And if you want the big beaches with all the facilities, you can enjoy Slovenska Plaža, right in the middle of Budva, or Bečići plaža, just south of the main drag. Just know that these beaches (and pretty much all of Montenegro’s beaches) can get very busy in the peak summer months.
Visit the Museum of the City of Budva
If you want to learn more about Budva’s history, don’t miss popping into this museum inside the Citadel Fortress. As previously mentioned, admission is only 3.50 EUR ($4 USD) for the whole compound.
The museum contains several interesting exhibitions about Budva, including archaeological artifacts and small-scale model ships. You can easily spend an hour browsing the exhibits and gaining a deeper understanding of Budva’s history.
This museum is also the perfect place to cool off on a hot and sunny day. You’ll be wanting to visit those places if you visit Montenegro in the summer!
Spend a Day at Aquapark Budva
If you’re visiting Budva with kids, one of the best things to do is spend a day at Aquapark, a water park 10 minutes outside town. This isn’t just your typical water park. It’s situated on the top of a large hill, offering unbeatable views of Budva and the Adriatic Sea.
The park features water slides of various heights and speeds, some of which are kid-friendly and some that are better reserved for thrill-seekers only. There’s also a large swimming pool, a kids’ splash zone, sunbeds, a restaurant, and a snack bar.
Aquapark Budva is open daily from May 1 through September 30, and admission is 29 EUR ($32) for adults, 20 EUR ($22) for children under 140 cm (4’6”) in height, and free for children under three.
Go kayaking or paddleboarding
The Adriatic Sea is one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world, and there’s no better way to experience it than by getting out on the water. Kayaking and paddleboarding are two water activities you can try in Budva.
This kayaking or SUP experience includes the rental of a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, life jackets, and training on how to use your kayak or paddle board.
You can explore the area around Budva by kayak or paddle board, including Sveti Nikola, a small island just a few hundred meters off the shore.
One of the more adventurous activities you can try in Budva is paragliding. Whether it’s your first time paragliding or you’ve done it before, there are few places more beautiful than the Budva Riviera to have this experience.
You can book a tandem paragliding excursion with an experienced guide who will show you the beauty of the coastline from above. During this activity, you’ll start by taking a scenic 15-minute drive from Budva to the takeoff point.
From there, you’ll glide above the Budva Riviera and take in the scenery with a bird’s eye view. Paragliding is by far one of the most unique experiences to try in Budva.
Visit Sveti Nikola
Sveti Nikola, sometimes nicknamed “Hawaii” by Montenegrins, is an uninhabited island off the coast of Budva. It spans 89 acres, so it’s pretty small — but it’s actually the largest island in Montenegro!
You can reach Sveti Nikola by boat from Budva. You’ll be able to buy tickets in Slovenska Plaza. A round-trip ticket is 5 EUR ($5.50 USD), and the journey takes 15 minutes each way. Getting to the island by kayak or paddle board is also possible.
On the island, there’s a small beach where you can relax and enjoy the sun or take a dip in the crystal-clear turquoise waters. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can swim over to the Sveti Nikola cave, a popular spot inaccessible by land.
There are a few seasonal restaurants on the island, but they’re a lot more expensive than the mainland, so this is a great spot to bring a picnic lunch.
Take a boat tour of the Bay of Kotor
Budva has excellent beaches, but you can’t miss the breathtaking scenery of Kotor Bay. While Budva faces the Adriatic Sea, the Bay of Kotor (also known as Boka Bay) winds inland from the coast. It’s an area of spectacular natural beauty with a backdrop of mountains surrounding the water.
This all-day cruise starts in Budva and hits the highlights of the Bay of Kotor. You’ll begin with a boat ride from Budva, with an option to stop for swimming in the Blue Cave or at Zanjice Beach. Then you’ll continue to Herceg Novi, where you’ll have a short walking tour of the historic town before enjoying free time to swim or explore.
Next, you’ll enjoy more scenic cruising in the bay, stopping at Our Lady of the Rocks, a tiny island home to a blue-domed church.
You’ll finish in Kotor, where you’ll explore the Old Town via another walking tour before taking a bus back to Budva at the end of the day.
Visit Podmaine Monastery
For a more offbeat activity in Budva, pay a visit to Podmaine Monastery. This historic Serbian Orthodox monastery dates back to the 15th century and features original frescoes. The monastery also offers a great view of Budva from above.
I love visiting Orthodox monasteries and churches in the Balkans — they have such bright, vibrant colors. If you’ve never visited one in your travels, this is a good one to start with.
Reaching the monastery on foot is about a 35-minute walk from Budva’s old town or the main beach. It’s important to note that it’s a fairly steep uphill walk — not the easiest on super-hot summer days. You can also drive or take a quick taxi ride to the top.
Since this is an active Orthodox monastery, be sure to wear modest clothing — shoulders and knees should be covered when entering the church. Some women cover their hair, but this is not a requirement.
Party at Top Hill
Budva is known for being a fun nightlife destination, and there’s no better place to party than at Top Hill. While many of Budva’s bars and clubs are located down by the beach, Top Hill is situated on a hill high above the coast.
This open-air nightclub is one of Budva’s most remarkable spots to dance the night away. During the summer months, the club has an ever-changing lineup of electronic music artists.
Omnia is another one of the best nightclubs in Budva, while Torch Beach Club is a popular spot for day parties on the beach. For more nightlife in Budva, go bar-hopping in the old town before making your way to one of the clubs.
Visit Sveti Stefan
Sveti Stefan is a great little town to visit near Budva, home to one of the most iconic images of Montenegro. It’s located just 15 minutes away, along the scenic Budva Riviera.
The most famous part of Sveti Stefan is the tiny island connected to the mainland by a narrow bridge. Unfortunately, the entire island is a privately owned resort (and is currently being renovated as this is being published), so you can’t actually visit it, but it makes for a great photo op.
Several restaurants in Sveti Stefan are perched high up on the road looking down on the island, perfect for enjoying a drink or a snack with a view. (When I was rejected from visiting the island in 2011, lunch here made me feel a lot better!)
There are public beaches in Sveti Stefan near the island, though I recommend avoiding the massively overpriced beaches on either side of the island.
Getting to Sveti Stefan from Budva is a 15-minute drive or a 20-minute bus ride. Buses depart from Budva every 20 minutes or so, and the bus fare is 2 EUR ($2.20 USD.)
Petrovac is a small, laid-back beach town along the Budva Riviera. It’s a bit quieter than Budva, but it’s still a vibrant destination with lots of charm.
If you want to check out other beaches along the Riviera, Petrovac has some of the best. Petrovac Beach is the most popular beach in town, but nearby Lučice Beach is quieter and has stunning clear water and sandy shores.
One nice thing to do is hike from Petrovac to the nearby town of Reževići. The trail begins behind the Danica Hotel and ends on a quiet, scenic beach. And if you’re up for a day of indulgence, check out Annina Wellness at the Hotel Ami Budva Petrovac, one of the best spas on the Budva Riviera.
Petrovac is just a 25-minute drive from Budva or a 30-minute bus ride. Bus tickets cost 3 EUR ($3.25 USD.)
Kotor is one of my favorite places in the world — and one of the best day trips you can take from Budva. Breathtaking mountains surround this historic town nestled on the still, glassy Bay of Kotor. It’s THE must-visit destination in Montenegro, in my opinion.
You can easily spend an entire day exploring Kotor. If you arrive first thing in the morning, hike up to San Giovanni Fortress for the best views of the Bay of Kotor and the Old Town. While the views are spectacular, they are at their best in morning — midday is too hot and in the afternoon the view is full of shadows.
Then reward yourself with lunch in Kotor’s old town, followed by a leisurely wander through the ancient stone streets. You can also walk Kotor’s city walls or pop into the quirky Kotor Cats Museum (you’ll spot lots of free-roaming cats in Kotor, fed and cared for by the locals).
Kotor is just a short 30-minute drive from Budva. You can also take the bus, a 45-minute journey, for between 3 and 4 EUR ($3.25-$4.35 USD.)
How much time to spend in Budva, Montenegro
How much time should you spend in Budva, Montenegro? If you’re short on time, you can do most of the top things to do in Budva in a single day. It also makes a good day trip from Kotor, especially when combined with nearby Sveti Stefan.
You can arrive in Budva in the morning, explore the old town, and enjoy some beach time before heading over to Sveti Stefan to admire the view. (If you see my Sveti Stefan photo above, it looks spectacular at sunset.)
But if you’re here for a beach trip, you’ll probably appreciate having several days to splash out and enjoy the sun and sea in Budva. Spending three nights in Budva will give you the perfect amount of time to relax at the beach and enjoy the town’s dining and nightlife — plus a day trip or two!
How to get to Budva, Montenegro
How do you get to Budva? If you have your own car, you can simply drive there. Budva is about 30 minutes from both Kotor and Tivat. There are plenty of parking lots around Budva, and some hotels offer free parking.
I recommend renting a car from Discover Cars, and you can check their rates here.
The closest airport to Budva is in Tivat, Montenegro, just a 30-minute drive away. Another option is flying into Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, which is one hour and 10 minutes from Budva.
If you’re arriving by public transportation, several bus and shuttle companies stop in Budva from Kotor and Tivat. The fare is between 3 and 4 EUR ($3.25 and $4.35 USD), and it takes 30 to 45 minutes, depending on where you’re coming from.
While no ride-sharing apps exist in Montenegro, you can book a taxi from Kotor or Tivat to Budva. Prices start around 25 EUR ($27.30 USD), but this is not a fixed price, and you may be quoted a higher fare during the peak summer season. Unfortunately, I have paid many inflated fares during my summer visits.
Where to stay in Budva, Montenegro
Where should you stay in Budva? There are two things to consider when choosing accommodation in Budva are proximity to the beach and proximity to the old town.
Many hotels in Budva are within walking distance of both, so if visiting Budva’s old town interests you, you may want to stay closer to the historic center. If you’re less interested in the old town, there are plenty of hotels further down the beach.
If you want to experience Budva’s nightlife, the Slovenska Plaža area is the best place to stay. This is the big, main beach in town.
Here are the top-rated places to stay in Budva:
- Top-Rated Luxury Hotel in Budva: If you’re looking to splurge in Budva, Boutique Hotel Vissi d’Arte is the best place to stay. This opera-inspired hotel is fabulous at every angle, and it’s just steps away from the beach and Budva’s Old Town.
- Top-Rated Mid-Range Hotel in Budva: For a solid mid-range option, Katamare Hotel is a great choice. This hotel has a nice pool and incredible views. It’s also very close to the beach.
- Top-Rated Budget Hotel in Budva: For travelers on a budget, Villa Skyprime is a good place to stay. It’s a bit of a walk from the beach, but it’s clean and comfortable.
- Find deals on places to stay in Budva here.
Best Time to Visit Budva, Montenegro
The best time to visit Budva may not be what you’re expecting. Budva is very much a beach destination, with the busiest and beachiest months being July and August. This is a fun time to visit, but you’ll have to contend with larger crowds and higher prices.
However, if you want summer weather with less crowds (and less traffic!) and lower prices, I recommend aiming for early June, late September, or even early October. Budva and the southern Balkans have a long summer season compared to other European destinations. You can still enjoy warm weather without things being as busy.
Keep in mind that if you want to swim, the water is warmer in early fall than in late spring.
You might want to keep an eye on the festival schedule for Budva as well. I attended Sea Dance Festival one July, which brought so many great bands to the beach, but it looks like the festival is now hopping between Budva and other locations on the Adriatic.
Budva is very quiet in the off-season, but this is still a city where people live year-round, so it’s not as dead as smaller towns along the Montenegrin coast. If you visit in the winter, you’ll still be able to find places to eat and shop, though many of the beachside restaurants will be closed.
Is Budva Worth It?
Is visiting Budva worth it? Yes, I think Budva is absolutely worth visiting. It’s a really fun town with quite a lot to see and do.
BUT. Is Budva where you should base yourself for your vacation in Montenegro? It depends on how you feel about large, busy beach towns with a big nightlife scene. If that’s your thing, go for it!
But if you prefer a smaller town, you might prefer somewhere like Petrovac or even Sveti Stefan. And I honestly think that the Bay of Kotor is a much more unique travel experience than Budva. If you could be happy doing one day trip to the beach but would rather spend more of your time on the bay, I think you might prefer staying in Kotor or Perast. I’ve stayed in both, and they are lovely.
I hope this Budva guide has helped you plan your trip to Montenegro! Have a fantastic time.
More on Montenegro:
More Pretty Towns on the Adriatic Coast:
More on the Balkans:
Have you been to Budva, Montenegro? What would you suggest? Share away!