After our amazing two weeks in Kotor we moved on to Budva. It was so hard to leave Kotor, we felt at home there, but our travels must continue. Arriving in Budva was a lot different than Kotor. There is a mall, modern hotels and a lot more people. However, once you get through that there is a walled in city very similar to Kotor but with more of a party atmosphere than the very laid back Kotor.
The ancient walls actually connect to the beach and sit on the edge of the sea. It is a fantastic place to sit on the beach, drink a beer and take in the hills, the ancient walls, and bustle of the wide stone walkway.
During our week there it was the annual festival week. Every night was a different event with bands, parades, costumes, and ceremonies. We spent many nights sitting in the outdoor restaurants and taking in some great entertainment. There is a vibrancy in Budva that doesn’t exist in Kotor.
During the day we kept busy with all of the things there are to do in the area.
Walk around Old Town
The Old Town section of Budva is pretty small, just a few streets but they are full of great restaurants, cafes, shops and beautiful stone buildings. We loved walking through, taking pictures and people watching from a cafe or bar. Inside the walls everything is stone and every street leads you to the sea, pretty great!
Walk To Sveti Stefan (or go by car for the less walking inclined)
If you ask J. at certain points during the day we decided to do this walk it was a great idea and one of his least favorites I have had. It is a long walk, at least 2.5 hours ( 9 km or 5.6 miles), through some beautiful villages, run down areas and highways with no sidewalks. For me that means adventure, for J. in the heat, not so much. Yet either way the reward towards the end was worth it. (and we did take a taxi back to Budva, compromise…)
We used several different blogs for directions, I liked this one best. Definitely have your directions down before you go as many people along the way will be very discouraging if you ask for directions (more proof to J. that this was not my best idea).
We started the walk along the Piazza beach and then through some hotel areas, tunnels and then on to some beaches. We stopped here for some water, relaxing sea views and the beginning of gorgeous Budva views. The walk took us through Becici, Przno (which is so quaint and hidden away from the rest of the world) where there is a pretty ruin on the edge of a rock outcropping in the sea, then a beautiful walk through some woods, and hotel property. Finally reaching our favorite part of the walk, the King’s Residence in Milocer Bay. The elegant boutique hotel sits parallel to a gorgeous private bay where all you want to do is sit and spend the day under the grapevine arbor. So, we did, it was delicious and beautiful.
From the King’s Residence we walked up the hill overlooking the bay which was stunning. Then, the view of Sveti Stefan. This little private island is so picturesque it feels as if it were put there just for photo ops. Taking the walk we were granted a more private view of the island than you get from everywhere else. The island is one big resort so unless you are a guest or pay for a guided tour there is no entrance. We declined doing this and just enjoyed the view from our quiet spot under the trees. You can also pay 80-100 euro to have a seat on the private side of the beach for the day or you can sit on the other side for free which is public.
So J. really wanted to paraglide off the mountains surrounding Budva. We tried for days but the weather kept stopping us from going. Then, on our last day we got the call we were going to go that day! As we sat waiting at a cafe for ???? to pick us up we watched the clouds roll in, not a good sign for paragliding. I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or disappointed. To our surprise the jump was still on. An old Yugo station wagon picked us up and we climbed in with three guys, and two huge parachutes (J. is 6’3″ so him in the middle of all of this in the Yugo station wagon was pretty funny.
Then the adventure began, we would drive up one road, only to turn around (sometimes in the middle of a highway) to try another jumping point, then turn around and go back to the original one, all in search of a spot with good conditions. Finally we got on an all clear on our original spot and we headed up the mountain in the Yugo. If you haven’t already deduced this our driver was pretty intense, and English was not their best language. Pretty soon we hit heavy fog and our driver pulled off the road onto a narrow pathway. We were a bit nervous, but the worst was yet to come.
Soon we were almost at the top of the mountain on a road barely wider than the car, completely covered in clouds. Our driver put the car in reverse and started to back down the narrow road. No one could see anything except the tiny road we were on. I can honestly tell you I have never been so afraid in a car before. Yet the driver knew exactly what he was doing and we arrived safely.
They began pulling the parachutes out and setting them up as J. and I watched the clouds settle in. We walked to the edge of the cliff and could see nothing below, in front or above us. In the end I think this may have been a blessing.
The men called us over, strapped us to them and the parachute and then said all the words they would say. “I say run, you run. I say sit, you sit.” There we stood strapped to the men and the parachutes and my legs began to shake uncontrollably. My mind could not process that I was going to be jumping off of a mountain where I could see nothing around me. J. jumped first and then my heart started beating rapidly. He was gone in a second and through the clouds nothing was visible.
Then, “Run!” and somehow my body did it. Then, “Sit” and somehow I did it. I was shaking uncontrollably but I was flying. Then in a few moments we fell below the clouds and the land was below, the ocean stretching out beyond the mountains. It was beautiful. My heart began to slow down, I slowly relaxed and glided through the air.
It was an amazing experience by true professionals! The feeling of gliding and the views of the trees, then the city, then the sea below was fantastic! You should definitely do this and go with the company we used, they were incredible!
Walk Along The Beach
There are several beach areas in Budva. One is the small little area next to the ancient walls which is really just for having a drink, and watching the waves.
On the other side of the mountain is Mogren Beach. Here you can walk along the base of the mountain with the waves crashing towards the rocks underneath the walkway. At a few points you must make your way through cut outs in the mountain and follow the path to Mogren Beach. It is a pebble beach so be prepared for that. We made our way around the beach and onto the rocks to take in some pretty great views of the Old Town and the sea beyond.
The third beach is Pizana Beach. This is the newer part of Budva. Lined with restaurants and a large pedestrian walkway it is where more of the action is. This was not our favorite part of Budva. The area was a bit run down and not as clean feeling as the other beaches. There are souvenir and inexpensive clothing shops all along the walkway on the other side of the restaurants. It was definitely not as well manicured or clean as every other place we have been in Montenegro.
This was a highlight of our trip to Montenegro. The trip can be made from Kotor as well as Budva. We travelled with our amazing tour guide and friend, Anja. Founded in the 17th century this beautiful monastery is built into the side of the large rock of Ostroska Greda. The facade we saw was given to the monastery in the 1920’s after a fire destroyed most of the older building. The gorgeous white monastery now nestles in contrast to the surrounding beige and brown mountain.
Another narrow and curvy road takes you past two other churches, both quite beautiful in themselves. Many locals stop at the first church to give thanks before heading up to Ostrog. The journey can also be done by foot, a pilgrimage which many people from all faiths and locations do yearly. While over 100,000 people per year visit the monastery it felt peaceful and serene while we were there.
As we made our way up the staircase in front of the monastery I was really overcome with the view, and the simplistic beauty. There was nothing pretentious here, just a deep devotion to faith. The first building we entered was the cave-church. A very small area where the body of Vasilijie, the founding Metropolitan Bishop, is laid to rest. Inside there are beautiful frescoes on the walls. We waited our turn to walk in to the tiny room where a priest sat with the remains of Vasilijie. Here a man requested the priest do a blessing for all of us. In this church your religion, or non-religion is of no concern, they welcome and bless everyone. Since this is what I believe we should be doing every day it was a very cool thing to see a church doing.
From the cave church we made our way to the Upper church where people fill out sheets of paper requesting prayers for loved ones. Then it was up the stairs to the balconies overlooking the valley. In the stairways and the balconies are gorgeous mosaic murals with vibrant golds, blues, and reds telling the stories of unity or of the bible. Each space in the monastery felt so special whether it was outside amidst the mountain breezes, inside the monastery, or in the cave church.
There is a very large store there where everything has been blessed by the monks. They make herbal remedies, liquors, honey, jewelry and more.
Porto Montenegro Village
In the middle of the ancient towns of Kotor and Budva the area of Porto Montenegro was built from the rubble of an historic naval base. Peter Monk, along with Lord Jacob Rothschild saw a need for a luxury yacht marina in the area so they revitalized this area of Tivat into just that. This thriving, high-end area is as luxurious as they come. Full of high-end shops, luxury places to stay, good restaurants, a marina, and gorgeous views of the sea Porto Montenegro Village is quite a surprise, seated amongst ancient towns and National Parks!