Marketed as Montenegro’s answer to the crowded beaches and islands of Croatia, the Budva Riviera has become better known in recent years. With the Old Town charms of other towns along the Adriatic Coast, and a fortunate position close to the second largest river canyon system in the world, this coastal resort city is an excellent place to enjoy the sun after exploring the culture of interior regions in the Balkans.
While you may have beaches on your mind, start your time in Montenegro’s finest coastal resort area by touring the Old Town of Budva. The ancient settlement was founded on an island joined to the mainland by a sand bar more than 2,500 years ago, but it was during the times of the Venetian Empire that fortifications were built to protect the residents that dwelled within its confines.
Starting in the 14th century, a system of ramparts, walls and gates were erected to protect against external threats, and with a bit of luck over the past 600 years, much of it has survived to the present day.
Apart from examining the Old Town’s defenses, a number of interesting churches (the Church of St. John has the Madonna in Punta, which is a notable icon worth seeing if you are into religious relics), cosy alleys and the usual assortments of shops, restaurants and bars can be found within.
If you are seeking a truly noteworthy religious point of interest in the area though, making a trip outside town to the Podmaine Monastery should be added to your travel itinerary. Built in the 15th century as a Serbian Orthodox Monastery, this sight is best known for its frescoes, one of which has attracted a fair bit of controversy over the years.
After an earthquake in 1979, the older frescoes in one of the smaller churches on site was remade to depict the heads of the rival Montenegrin Orthodox Church and Yugoslav dictator Tito as heretics that were being led to hell by agents of Satan. Political commentary aside, the present day grounds of the monastery are a peaceful place, making it a great place to spend part of an afternoon when exploring Budva.
While the reinforced walls around the Old Town of Budva served as enough of a deterrent to military forces from the medieval and Renaissance periods, the latter half of the 19th century brought about the need for new defenses that could cope the modernization of warfare.
The Kosmac Fortress, built high above the city of Budva, served as a defensive point to protect the region against any potential incursions by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as the border between this regional power and Montenegro was not far from the city.
While the structure is in a state of disrepair, fans of grit and military history will love it, while others should visit solely for the photo opportunities of Budva below, and the Adriatic beyond it.
Spanning across the world’s largest canyon outside of the Grand Canyon in the USA, the Tara Bridge is a popular destination for those seeking out some of the most dramatic natural scenery in the Budva Riviera. While shutter bugs will be happy enough to take multiple photos of this place from various angles, those seeking something a bit more active will find plenty to do here, as there are opportunities to white water rafting in the Tara River below, or soar along a zipline with hundreds of metres of dead air beneath them.
There are many beaches in Budva area that serve as the main draw for many visiting the region, but if you don’t want to be paralyzed by choice, then settling on Ploce Beach will prove to be a wise decision. It is a lively place, with many pool bars for those looking to party the day away, while there is plenty of incentive for those that wish to go swimming to do so, as the crystal clear waters and smooth stones will surely make it a memorable experience.
If the crowds at the beach are interfering with your need for serenity, you can pursue it by taking a boat trip over to the Island of St. Nicholas. While you can soak up the rays on one of three beaches (one of which is clothing-optional), you can also go for a hike up its lofty backside, where many birds and small mammals can be sighted.