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Europe: Montenegro

Montenegro Part II: Beaches and a bit more in Budva

by Matt Thomas

I took a local bus the half hour journey from the Bay of Kotor to Budva on the country’s Adriatic Coast. Kotor is set in a beautiful, almost secluded bay and is noticeable for its peaceful setting. Although it has the laid back vibe of a beach resort, Budva is a little different.

Budva seemed to me, an unashamed beach resort, geared towards relaxing on the many sun drenched beaches during the day, and partying at one of the town’s numerous night spots in the evening. Posters advertising the city’s nightlife are ubiquitous and major mainstream DJs feature regularly on their schedules throughout the summer. If western Europe has Ibiza, perhaps south-eastern Europe has Budva.

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Dance music (usually with a female vocal) seemed to be everywhere – including my hotel which seemed a little out of place at a quiet breakfast buffet but I appreciated the consistency nonetheless.

With regard to the beaches, take your pick. My personal favourite was Mogren Beach situated a short walk around the northern end of the bay. It gets you away (a little) from the numerous seafront bars and restaurants, and although you lose the sun a little earlier behind the cliff it felt marginally quieter. The sunbeds were also mini sofas – well worth the 15 euros I thought.

budva photo, montenegro photo, travel writing matt thomas, travel and talk

All this is not to say that there is nothing for the more discerning visitor. Like Kotor there is an Old Town, again like Kotor, partially destroyed during the 1979 earthquake but restored with a little more shine and perhaps modern finesse.

The pick of the sights I would say is the Citadel which gives excellent views across the bay from a variety of vantage points. It also boasts (accompanied by the usual dance music soundtrack, again in no way out of place) a fascinating library of history books.

budva photo, montenegro photo, travel writing matt thomas, travel and talk

There are a couple of churches worth checking out. Firstly there is the Serbian Orthodox Holy Trinity Church which I actually found a little stern. The Church of John the Baptist which is just in front of it felt a more welcoming, and has a unusually bright and modern looking painting depicting John the Baptist behind the altar.

There is a Modern Art Gallery towards the southern end of the Old Town. It’s free to enter and just on one level. The items on display when I visited were interesting black and white photographic works all by one artist that seemed themed around world cities, music and travel.

One result of the 1979 earthquake was the excavation that followed and the discovery of Greek and Roman artefacts, stones, utensils and tools that are on display at the pleasantly air conditioned Budva Museum; which I would say merits a short visit.

Finally, located on the quiet northern slopes of town, the Podmaine Monastery is well enough sign posted but takes a little finding. It is a day by day working monastery so you may well catch a monk or monk in training going about their duties such as daily prayers. General exploring and questions are welcome. There is a particularly interesting fresco on the left hand side of the church as you go in that seems to depict “the fate of the damned”.

budva photo, montenegro photo, travel writing matt thomas, travel and talk

To sum up briefly, I found Montenegro an excellent all round country to visit. As the guide book says it really fits a lot into a small country. Whether you are looking for culture, hiking, beaches or nightlife Montenegro offers it all at what represents very good value for money.

Stay at

I’m going to recommend my hotel here – Hotel Grbalj. Handily located near the bus station but still comfortably walking distance to the Old Town and beaches it ticked all the boxes. Although quite why I wasn’t allowed to have breakfast on the outside terrace remains something of a mystery.

Eat at

This is an easy one. The Adriatic Restaurant offers a huge selection of fish and meat dishes, pizzas, burgers and much else besides. The place was always busy but the waiters were friendly and service very good.

Drink at

The Old Town pub looks out onto a quiet (but not too quiet) square in the Old Town, offers local beer at 3 euros a pint, sport on TV and a soft rock / synth pop soundtrack.

budva photo, montenegro photo, travel writing matt thomas, travel and talk

Travel Tip: There is not a direct bus between Kotor or Budva and Tivat Airport. However, if coming from Budva (and probably Kotor), it’s worth asking the driver at the start of the journey as he may stop nearby – likely you won’t be the only one who’ll be grateful.