Travel guide to Budva Old Town in Montenegro

24 Jan 2021
Written By Jonathan Howe
Budva is one of the oldest urban centers on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. Although known as the metropolis of tourism and summer nightlife, the core of its uniqueness is the old town, so here is our travel guide to Budva Old Town in Montenegro!

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Equally beautiful from all angles, the old town lies on a peninsula at the end of Budva's main promenade. The connection between the fortification and the mainland spreads in the form of the main square. This stone plateau, whose primary purpose is to gather citizens, has the most beautiful possible edges: the harbor, the old town's walls, the park, and the sandy beach with a view of the open sea.

The main city guard of Budva

A small port on the north side of the fortress has occupied this position since the earliest days - primarily due to storms and protection from invaders. Opposite the port, on the south side of the fort, still stands as a guard on the fortress's rocky ridge - the citadel, castle of St. Mary. It used to be a shelter for locals, and today it houses a library and a restaurant. From the citadel walls, you can enjoy the view of the whole old town and the sea.

This most monumental building of the fortified city has existed since the ninth century. Unfortunately, much of it has not been preserved over time. As Budva's defense’s main object, it contained an arsenal and necessities that could successfully withstand a long siege of the enemy. The multi-layered walls of the fortress guaranteed the inaccessibility and protection of the citizens.
One of Budva's symbols, a relief with two fish, adorns the wall of the citadel. According to the forbidden love legend, the two young men jumped into the sea together and turned into fish. 

The Center for Conservation and Archeology of Montenegro has started a research project on the Old Town's early Christian basilica in front of the citadel. Just a few steps away from the excavations, centuries-old churches occupied the most beautiful site in Budva. The bell tower of St. Ivan's Cathedral dominates the city and, together with the ramparts, makes it unique. Especially at night. 

Budva - The Theatre City of Montenegro

On the plateau in front of the citadel, Budva's municipality organizes the festival "Budva Theatre City" every year on the outdoor city stage. This stone square is surrounded by old churches, palm trees, and the citadel has an open sea view. However, the festival turns the whole city into a theater, not just the main stage. In this way, it revives the Mediterranean spirit of the town and attracts a different type of tourist. You can find other small squares by walking through a network of narrow streets, a "courtyard of palm trees," for example.

Unique details of Budva, Montenegro

At the first steps when entering the old town, you will notice dark red markings on some houses' stone facades. After a strong earthquake that hit the Montenegrin coast in 1979, many experts worked to rebuild the old town. Markings from the reconstruction period on some buildings have been preserved. Budva's citizens renew their color regularly to remind this horrible event and enthusiasts' efforts to return the old town to its true glory. It is already clear to you that it is desirable to have your eyes wide open during walks.
The labyrinths of narrow streets will convince you for a moment that you can get lost here (although this is impossible). Like in all Mediterranean cities, houses here have a simple form and an unavoidable feature - wooden shutters. Although irresponsible individuals did not adhere to the urban rules, the property's owner must preserve the old facades' original shape and materialization in any external intervention. Thanks to such laws, a curious eye will notice the metal rings on the shutters' edges. A wooden plank runs through them, which fastens the shutters in strong winds in a wholly old-fashioned way.

The sea at your fingertips in Budva

One of the most significant advantages of this town is the accessibility of the sea whenever you want it. Several exits through the ramparts lead you directly to the beach, the harbor, or the square a minute away from the sea. If it is not visible, its sound and smell through the town always remind you where you are. Mediterranean plants, palms, and pines are the real adornment of Budva, the hills visible from the walls and the island of St. Nicholas. We hope that the current expansion of construction will not destroy the treasures that this town owns. Although many locals believe the nightmare has already begun.

Continuity of life

Often such charming cities ultimately succumb to tourist needs and lose their spirit. Like the old town of Kotor, Budva still lives a real life. An older man taking care of a lemon tree and a kiwi in the garden or whispering between neighbors are scenes you can regularly experience through the old town. Well-fed and pampered cats will often take your most beautiful places in cafes. While speaking about restaurants and bars, the wide offer will not let you down. It is up to you to choose the type of food and music you want to enjoy. Still, do not miss the perfect ambiance of the old Casper Jazz Club. This team makes top-quality cocktails, coffee, music sets, and a party to remember. Every June, they organize the Southern soul jazz/funk festival on Ulcinj beach. We warmly recommend this event as well as evenings in the beautiful Casper's garden in the old town of Budva.
Once you finish exploring the city from the inside, we advise you to walk to Mogren beach and watch the fortification from that side. The view of a small, stone settlement that faces the sea over ramparts, especially when the waves bounce off them, is something you will remember.

We hope that this Travel Guide to Budva Old Town will give you a taste of the best things to see and do in Budva, Montenegro!
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