Mountains at your back, sea at your feet: Budva, pearl of the Adriatic


There’s a saying I always use about the cities I visit: “If I said I love every city I visit, I’d be doing the cities I really call home an injustice.” Budva is one of these cities.

Budva is a small town in Montenegro, a small country influenced by the Venetians and which got its name from the combination of their words – Monte (Mountain) and Negro (Earth). Budva, about an hour from the capital Podgorica, offers different experiences to its visitors with its old and new towns. Since Budva has been under the patronage of Venetians throughout history, you may encounter Italian influences and medieval architecture. The old town, called Stari Grad, is also on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

Budva has recently become one of the popular Balkan cities in terms of summer tourism. This small town, which has a long coast to the Adriatic Sea, is very rich in bathing areas and beaches. There are many places where you can swim in Budva, including the center.

The island of Sveti Nikola in Budva, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

Although the dark mountains, from which the nation takes its name, tower all around the city, the sun rising between these dark mountains transforms the clear waters of the Adriatic into a sparkling turquoise aquarium.

You can sail to the cool waters of the Adriatic with boat trips or spend your time on wonderful beaches. I think I will write about these boat trips and about Kotor – another pearl of the Adriatic – in my next travel article.

The old town, Stari Grad, in Budva, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The old town, Stari Grad, in Budva, Montenegro. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

Svet Nikola

When you come to the center of Budva, a view of the island welcomes you in the middle of the sea. Sveti Nikola Island is the name of this island, which you can reach by water taxis from the marina. They also call it Hawaii Island.

This island, opposite the castle, can be seen from almost any point in Budva. It allows you to wake up every morning with a great view of the island, especially if you are staying in a high rise hotel. Every summer I go to Budva, I stay in the same hotel and wake up every morning with the view of Sveti Nikola in the middle of the deep blue waters of the Adriatic.

If you want to get away from the hotel crowds in central Budva, you can stay in apartment-style apartments built into the hills. Altezza is one of them. When you raise your head while swimming in the infinity pool, the desolate view of Sveti Nikola takes you to different lands as you watch the deep blue of the Adriatic and the deep blue of the sky at the foot of the dark mountains that rise extend as far as the eye can see.

You can reach the island of Sveti Nikola in 10-15 minutes by water taxi from the marina. When you set foot on the island, you see that; There is no trace of downtown noise.

A beach on the island of Sveti Nikola in Budva, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

A beach on the island of Sveti Nikola in Budva, Montenegro. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

Quiet activity awaits you. This activity feels calm, especially when swimming in the sea. How can you tell? Well, when you swim, you swim with a thousand and one kinds of fish. There are many different plant and animal species on the island, which is also the natural habitat of deer and rabbits.

The sea is covered with pebbles, both inside and out, so you should definitely bring your sea shoes with you. The beach, where there are mostly pebbles, does not allow you to feel the blur created by the sand and you have the impression of swimming in a natural aquarium.

The underwater creatures and fish of the Adriatic accompany you while you swim. When we were there – no doubt far from the hustle and bustle of the summer season – only the fish were there to be our guests and welcome us.

Jaz Beach

Jaz Beach, located about 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) from the center of Budva, is one of the three largest beaches on the coast of Montenegro. This beach is the favorite of sea lovers, especially its turquoise color.

Sveti Stefan

There is actually a lot to say about Sveti Stefan. It’s not just a beach. It’s actually an island. A certain part of the coast of the island is open to the public. The island itself and much of the sea coast are generally closed to everyone.

A path to Mogren Beach from the Old Town, Stari Grad, in Budva, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

A path to Mogren Beach from the Old Town, Stari Grad, in Budva, Montenegro. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The island of Sveti Stefan, especially on the way to Budva, has a beauty where you can stop by the road and take wonderful photos. It offers a dazzling view from the hill. This small island, where fishermen lived until the 1960s, became one of the elite holiday destinations of the 60s and 80s with the regime of Josip Broz Tito – the former president of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia .

Sveti Stefan Island was frequented by celebrities such as Sofia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Orson Welles, Kirk Douglas and Liz Taylor at that time. Although it lost some of its popularity in the 1990s after the partition of Yugoslavia, the Montenegrin government leased the island for 30 years, allowing it to be turned into a hotel and regain its former vitality.

If you are not a guest of the hotel, you are not allowed to enter the island.

There are two ways to visit the island.

A bicycle in the old town, Stari Grad, in Budva, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

A bicycle in the old town, Stari Grad, in Budva, Montenegro. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The first is to see the island from the sea with a boat tour like I did. The boat stops near the island and you have the chance to swim in these turquoise waters.

Another is that you can go to the island by land and enter the beach, but you have to pay a certain amount to enter the beach.

I preferred the boat trip on the Adriatic, which lasts about six hours, and also goes to Petrovav and Kotor, so I saw the island and in addition I had the opportunity to see and visit many towns and villages on the Adriatic coast.

Even better, I had the pleasure of swimming in many bays of the Adriatic.

Lucice Beach from Petrovac

You can get to Petrovac, a resort town, by boat or by road. Located in Petrovac, 20 kilometers from Budva city center, Lucice beach is a small beach but surrounded by green hills; it is a beautiful beach.

Slovenska Beach

Numerous facilities are lined up side by side along Slovenska beach, located almost in the center of the city of Budva. It is ideal for those who want to swim in the sea without using a vehicle or boat.

Mogren Beach

The ballerina statue in Budva, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The ballerina statue in Budva, Montenegro. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

You can reach Mogren beach, one of Budva’s blue flag beaches, from Stari Grad, the old city center.

The beach, which consists of pebble sand, is where you have to pay a fee to enter. On the way to Mogren beach, which is reached by a pleasant path, you can see the statue of the ballerina in the middle of the sea, which has become the symbol of Budva.

There are many legends about the statue which adorns the magnificent view of the old town behind it. The statue belongs to the famous Belgrade artist Gradimir Aleksic. The tales are, unfortunately, somewhat tragic.

When I first went there, I heard that the statue belonged to a dancer, that she fell into the sea and drowned, and that this statue was erected in her memory. The second time I went there, I heard that the statue was a dancer waiting for her sailor lover. Rumor has it that the girl’s sailor lover sailed to distant seas. The girl waits for days and months on the rocks, but no one comes back. This story inspired the sculptor and this work was born.

On the way to the island of Sveti Nikola by boat in Budva, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

The island of Sveti Stefan in Budva, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

I don’t know if the girl was a dancer or if such dramatic legends actually happened, but the old city walls in the background and the sight of the ballerina in the foreground; together are enough to enchant me. Like every corner of Budva that stole my heart.

Budva attracts people not only with its beaches but also with its narrow streets, stone houses and historic churches from the Middle Ages. It’s a city that gives me a big breath, even if it’s small enough to fit in my heart. For some reason, being in Budva makes me feel good day and night. Leaving me here in the narrow streets of Budva on days when I don’t swim and getting lost in these streets is somehow not getting lost but finding yourself.

With its seafront walls, stone houses and narrow streets, the old town is the pearl of the Adriatic and at the same time a gateway to the Adriatic.


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