The limpid waters of the Adriatic Sea are always at the forefront of my mind when researching a European beach holiday. Italy and Croatia have the largest Adriatic coasts but recently I decided to visit Montenegro for a change.
The largest beach resort on Montenegro’s Adriatic coast is Budva with the area surrounding this beach town nicknamed the Budva Riviera. This municipality tends to attract the majority of holidaymakers so if you’re keen to discover more about this region then let my travel guide take you there on screen.
BUDVA RIVIERA RESORTS
Budva town: Take your pick from bustling Budva, beach Budva or bars ‘n’ booze Budva. My twenty-something self would have loved it so if you’re looking for a quiet relaxing holiday then Budva town is not the place.
On a positive note, Budva town is a transport hub with buses to the rest of the Balkan countries and boats doing excellent day trips up and down the Montenegrin coast. So if you don’t want the hassle of renting a car then Budva town is a good base. It also has a pretty Old Town area.
Jaz Beach area: North of Budva, on the road to Tivat and Kotor, lies the area around Jaz beach. Whilst it’s a beautiful beach accommodation is sparse and a car is the best way to travel to and from Budva town. I found the roads north of Budva town less challenging than the mountainous terrain south of Budva town.
Bečići/Rafailovići: To be honest, I thought Bečići & Rafailovići were part of Budva given their proximity to the town (approximately 3km) and in their appearance as well.
Sveti Stefan: The Montenegrin screensaver, Sveti Stefan is possibly the most photographed place in the country and consists of a centuries-old fortified town built on an island linked to the mainland by a strip of land with stunning beaches on either side. It’s a peaceful 5-star resort cut off from the chaos of the Budva Riviera. It’s the only part of Montenegro I saw which shouted honeymoon, if you don’t mind your post-nuptial sunbathing on Sveti Stefan beach photographed by everyone passing by on the E80 road above.
Rijeka Reževići: Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Rijeka Reževići is a cliff-side village south of Sveti Stefan. There aren’t a great deal of facilities here but if you want peace and quiet it’s an excellent option.
Petrovac: The “Kremlin’s Adriatic port”, Petrovac is hugely popular with Russian tourists but attracts visitors from all over Eastern Europe as well. If you want the facilities of Budva town without the bustle then Petrovac comes recommended. Petrovac, also known as Petrovac na Moru, caters more for families but would be an ideal base for solo travellers and couples before Eastern Europe’s schools break up in mid-June.
Petrovac has its own pebble beach and has the added advantage of being located near sandy Lučice beach, the best beach in Montenegro. Buljarica beach is located a couple of kilometres from Petrovac but its water is not as limpid or as calm as Lučice’s.
Getting to the Budva Riviera: I travelled to Montenegro on the Belgrade to Bar train and took a taxi up the coast to my base in Petrovac.
Departing Montenegro, I travelled from Budva town to Dubrovnik by bus and was delayed three hours at the Croatian border, the entry point into the EU from the southern Balkans. Tickets on this route must be booked in advance in high season and I recommend the GetByBus website for this.
Until someone seizes on the opportunity to set up a kiosk in the no-man’s land between the two borders I would advise to bring six hours-worth of food and drink. The delay is not as lengthy on the reverse journey of entering Montenegro from Dubrovnik.
The nearest airport to the Budva Riviera is Tivat which predominantly serves Eastern European and Russian routes. Although Dubrovnik Airport over the border in Croatia has more international connections to Western Europe, factor in the lengthy border crossing.
Getting around the Budva Riviera: Much as I love using a car to discover off-the-beaten-track places, my favourite activity in Montenegro was the coastal boat trip. Montenegro’s coast is spectacularly scenic and given the amount of traffic on its challenging roads, a boat trip is the best way to discover the country. The marinas of Budva town and Petrovac are the best places to catch trips.
Mountains form the backdrop to all of the towns on the Budva Riviera so opportunities abound for hillwalkers.
In case you haven’t guessed already, driving in Montenegro is challenging given its mountainous terrain. The bus service along the Budva Riviera is reliable and reasonably priced.
Venetian and Ottoman Empire rule is evident in the architecture of Montenegro. For most of the 20th Century Montenegro was part of the socialist federation known as Yugoslavia and remained in that union with Serbia and Kosovo after the other four Yugoslav countries of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia gained independence. In 2006, Montenegro voted for independence from its union with Serbia and Kosovo.