2 Days in Budva
To most Americans I know, Montenegro is not high on their bucketlist, or even a known destination. It’s a small country that’s part of The Balkins, just east from Italy’s boot heel across the Adriatic Sea. We decided to go here after some friends moved to Kosovo and we wanted to meet up with them for a road trip. I didn’t know much about this particular region of the world, and like most (my age or above), could only recall the war torn headlines of the 1990’s. Nonetheless, we packed our bags and headed into the unknown, and were pleasantly surprised.
Airbnb with a View
We arrived at Tivat airport and drove less than 30min to check into our Airbnb. It was incredibly hot and humid outside, and we stopped into the nice air conditioned 3 bedroom, 2 bath modern apartment. Just outside the back sliding doors was a large patio with sweeping views of the Adriatic Sea and all of Budva. It was stunning, and incredibly affordable. Everywhere in The Balkins is cheap by American standards.
We wandered down to the bottom of the hill to grab groceries, a long walk down, down, down stairs… and then back up, up, up. We took some time to relax on the patio with Macedonian wine, then headed into Old Town.
Old Town Budva is a fortress of cobblestone streets with shops and restaurants. It was built around the 4th century. I would equate the experience in general as a less busy and undiscovered Croatia. We decided on Bahche Turkish Restaurant for dinner, a delightful garden setting surrounded in stone and ivy. The food was fresh, vegetables a plenty, and the chicken pot I split with a friend came with a delightful display of fire! The service was also on point.
Several bottles of wine later, we walked the streets taking in the old world vibes, excited to be exploring a new and interesting place. The air had cooled down and the calm ocean lapped along the shoreline. We went to Casper for a night cap, an outdoor bar with a trendy vibe. They had a large selection of wine, cocktails, and craft beer.
Boat Tour & Snorkeling
We woke up, made breakfast at the airbnb, and went to meet our boat captain for a 3-hour tour… a 3-hour tour (Gillian’s Island reference, anyone?). I was a bit disappointed when our captain showed up in a fishing boat. I’m more of a fish than a fisher. Luckily out on this calm sea, a fishing boat works out well. It has a lot of shelter from the sun, and doesn’t sway too much because the turquoise water is so still. Our captain took us to view the coastline, which is full of swirling rock formations. We also jumped in to snorkel through an underground sea cave (the highlight for me). Next we glided toward more gorgeous cliffs and fortresses, all the while trying a variety of Balkin wines. This is my idea of heaven on earth, growing up a coastal Californian, I’ve always been happiest in the water.
We grabbed post boat ride apps and wine at Perla Restaurant near the Harbor.
Before dinner, we walked along the cliffside beach path to the north of Old Town. It connects the the two main beaches, Old Town beach and Mogren Beach. We never got the chance to enjoy the beach, but our local host said Mogren was the best. It’s surrounded by cliffs, and there are rocks to jump off of. Both beaches have umbrellas set up to rent. As we strolled the path, the sun was setting as we passed the ballet dancer statue silhouetted against the sea.
Hotel Astoria Rooftop Restaurant
A shower and a siesta later, we went back to Old Town to have dinner at Hotel Astoria on top of the Fortress. At 7pm, we were the early birds and had most of the place to ourselves. The food was good here, but overpriced for Budva (still underpriced by U.S. standards). You’re paying for the views. Burrata cheese seems to be everywhere which is fine by me. Always a fan.
Post dinner we walked to the highest point in the city, the Citadel Fortress, where you can get a 360 degree view of the peninsula. You have to pay a few Euro to go inside, but there are several rooms and plateaus to explore and a restaurant.
After touring the fortress we went inside the cave bar on the ground floor to have a cocktail and smoke some hookah.
All in all, Budva was incredible and I wish I had more time here to chill on the beaches, or get some more water time in. 2 days was too short, go for at least four days to get the full experience!