Photos by Worldwide Scott
Montenegro's stock as a vacation destination has risen meteorically in recent years, as word-of-mouth of this small country's sensational mix of sun-drenched old towns, sparkling pebble-strewn beaches and eerily beautiful mountains has gotten out, big time.
One of my favorite places in Montenegro is the town of Budva.
Budva boasts all of what makes the country of Montenegro magical (think medieval old town full of history, dramatic mountain backdrop, teal-tinged water), but the locale is also home to a kitschy beach boardwalk that really grew on me.
Here are five of my favorite reasons to love Budva.
The Old Town
It all starts and ends with Budva's Old Town, a collection of faded stone facades with soft orange roofs that dramatically swoosh into the Adriatic Sea. This is where the town began in the 4th Century B.C., but it wasn't until the Venetians came to town in the 15th Century A.D. that Budva took on its present form. They adorned Budva with gates, defensive walls, and lookouts to support their vast seafaring empire, and thus made Budva the beauty she is today.
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It's this Venetian influence that helps Budva's Old Town exude Old World charm, and makes it the perfect place for romantic strolls along the ramparts, boutique window shopping, al fresco dining or just watching its stone walls shine in the moonlight.
I can unequivocally say that Budva is home to my favorite statue of a ballet dancer in the world. Come to think of it, I don't recall seeing any other ones in my travels, but that doesn't take away from the enchantment of this one. Perched on a rocky precipice just outside the Old Town, this statue of a dancing girl staring out to sea is beautiful and haunting at the same time, and has become a symbol of Budva.
If you're used to the sugary-sand beaches of Florida or the Caribbean, you may be a bit skeptical when you first step onto the stones of Budva's pebble beaches. Once you take the plunge, though, I bet you're going to love it, as I've found the pebbles feel cooler on your feet than sand, and while they may tingle your toes when you're strolling into the surf, it's nothing a pair of "aqua socks" can't fix. Budva is swimming in beaches, from coves hidden around corners in the Old Town to massive sprawls in the more modern part of town. And they're all filled to the brim with rows of sun-chairs for rent.
St. Nicholas Island
The town of Budva itself has plenty of beaches, but they can definitely get a little crowded, especially during July and August. Lying just off the coast, dramatic St. Nicholas Island offers a set of stones that are slightly less trodden. Most of the jutting rocky island is covered in greenery, but several beaches have been carved out for our pleasure. The trip over only costs a few bucks, but it feels like an exclusive experience.
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The Carnival Kitsch
Budva swells with tourists in the summer, and a host of bars, clubs and street vendors pop-up to accommodate the throngs. Some of it's classy, but a lot of it falls on the cheesy side of things, like the guys regaling passers-by on the many benefits of applying a flimsy metal scratching device to one's head.
It all adds up to a retro carnival-like atmosphere, which still manages to be endearing. Even if it starts feeling too tacky, one glance at the stoic Old Town pulls you right back to holiday heaven.
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