This is one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic

Retreat to Budva in Montenegro…

Your brain is still woozy from absorbing the red-gold autumn flamboyance of the Lovcen National Park and the raw wilderness of the rocky Dinara Alps, as you drive down towards Budva. Thank the rocky limestone mountain screen that paints Montenegro’s highway. Its a breather from the final spectacle that awaits. Ready or not, here it comes. Right after the final bend.

There it is sprawled at the foot of the slope…the 35 km long strip of Adriatic coast, the Budva Riviera! The view from the height makes your mouth curve into an ‘O’, eyes wider, neck taller, spine more erect as the cityscape expands and the coast stretches. The tourist capital of Montenegro, sparkling with nightlife and buzzing with jet setters is at your feet. Miles away, and you can still sense the pulsating energy…despite the haze of grey clouds.

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The luxe resort town of Sveti Stefan on its exclusive islet floats a couple of kilometers away. Gape away, it deserves all the attention. A fortified fishing village with a history going back to the 15th century, has morphed into a luxe retreat for the rich and famous, Sveti Stefan has had loyal celebrity vacationers in the league of Marilyn Monroe, Bobby Fischer, Sophia Loren, Kirk Douglas and Claudia Schiffer. Protected and preserved by Aman Resorts as Montenegro’s most luxurious boutique hotel, boasting of 50 island cottages, 3 beaches, 3 pools, a spa and several restaurants. Who wouldn’t mind a free pass? But its bad manners to keep a medieval Adriatic town waiting.

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The ancient coastal town of Budva jutting out of its small peninsula, bears tell-tale resemblance to Kotor, but look again…its own character shines through effortlessly. Budva hides a rich historical past reaching back to the 4th century BC when its first royal citizens, the Greek king of Thebes – Cadmus and his queen, Harmonia, expelled from their kingdom, headed in an oxen cart to find and establish a new home here. No prizes for guessing what Budva means. (“Bous” is Greek for ox). And that makes it one of the oldest urban settlements in the Adriatic. 2,500 years and it continues to be discovered by hundreds, every single day!

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Those irresistible Adriatic genes again…defensive, sea-facing stone walls, complete with towers, city gates and a citadel, circling a tightly knit pedestrian town. Entering from the main Land Gate, as you step onto the marble and granite maze of the main thoroughfare, Njegoševa Street, let yourself be transported back in time. The Old Town or Alstadt draws you into folds with its irregular cobbled stones, tiny hidden squares, Mediterranean-style stone houses and vibrant terracotta roofs.

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Each narrow lane pulls you magnetically to its white shuttered windows, arched doorways, rustic wood signboards. The familiar, unmistakable Roman influence is everywhere. Romantic open-air terraces with palm fronds, cafes with ivy-covered walls and shady subtropical gardens whisper enticingly. Melt into the curious languor. Disappear into a secluded alley, trail your fingers over the sturdy walls, press your toes against the hardness granite floors. Close your eyes and listen to the silence. Imagine yesterday, centuries ago. Find the original 5th-century entrance that led to the ancient town and step through. You’re Harmonia for one magical moment, frozen in time.

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Emerge into a hub of activity at the main plaza. Trace out the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Venetian and Austro-Hungarian from different eras, incongruously juxtaposed, but still harmonious like a melody. Or a fusion salad of grain, vegetables and fruits…each individual element distinct, yet blending into an unusually delicious medley. Austere Austrian stone barracks. 7th-century Catholic Church of St. John with colourful frescoes. 19th-century Church of Holy Trinity with its trio of bells. 9th-century Santa Maria in Punta Church built by Benedictine monks. Leftovers of Roman archeological ruins. And Illyrians, Greek, Roman and Byzantine treasures from 5th and 6th centuries BC, including terracotta dishes, stone wine jars, urns, glass vessels, jewellery, coins, cutlery and medical instruments in the Budva Town Museum.

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Finally, head to Citadel, to drink in the panorama of the sea meeting the mountains over the bay. If only you could run a virtual time lapse video in your mind. Defensive walls, which protected the town from unwanted enemies once, have transformed into a peaceful venue for the city’s many dramatic performances productions. Bows and arrows poised in the loopholes that penetrate the stone ramparts then…cameras rest here now. The Adriatic, which once connected Budva to the outside world and served as a trade route for the town’s prosperity, today brings hundreds of cruise ships filled with curious day-trippers. Budva was a lure for merchants and conquerers then and is a magnet for tourists now. Cadmus struck gold! And it still shines.

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Retreat to the historic town of Budva in Montenegro


40 thoughts on “This is one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic

  1. I skipped Budva and went straight to Kotor when I was in Montenegro. I had no idea it was one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic, and now I really want to go back. All the tourism there had put me off, but I do love learning about history. I’m guessing the citadel is similar to the Fortress of Kotor. I’ll just have to make sure I visit when it’s not so hot, as it was when I was in Montenegro last time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Punita,

    your post just reminded me that I need to visit Budva again. It was in my childhood the last time I went there. After all Budva is not too far from my hometown. 😉

    Hugs from Croatia, Milijana

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks. 🙏🏻 My hometown is a small town an hour and half drive from Dubrovnik called Metkovic. It is on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a delta valley next to the Adriatic Sea. 😄

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t been to Montenegro and would love to visit. I love old towns and this one looks particularly charming. Wandering around those alleyways and into buildings that are thousands of years old is something I miss.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, looks gorgeous! I love old towns and learning the history of them. I’ll definitely have to pay a visit when I eventually make it to Eastern Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love such old towns, especially those paved alleys! Taken innumerable pics yet not satiated. Keen to visit Budva for this old feel and charm. It fascinate me to wander around those alleyways and into buildings.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a beautiful area to visit! Montenegro has been on my wishlist for a long time but your post makes me think I need to rank it higher in the list and tour the other towns in the region too. Budva looks like it has a stunning spot, and I love places with lots of history, especially stretching that far back! The narrow lanes of beige stone buildings look charming, my kind of place to pootle around.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think that Montenegro is still underrated in many places, I had never really considered it as a destination until I started reading more about it and now I really want to go! Budva looks like a lovely place to explore the narrow streets and stroll by the water.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We never knew Budva is one of the odest towns on Adriatic. It looks amazing. I will love walking through those alleys and clicking endless pictures. Its old feel charm and history has attracted us a lot. Great pictures and write up as always.

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  9. My sister in law just came back from Montenegro and I was so jealous as it looks truly beautiful. I hadn’t heard of Budva but it’s firmly on my list. I love small little streets and alleys to explore, and being on the water is magical! Old town vibes are 100% my thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We stayed at Sveti Stefan for a few days and really enjoyed relaxing on the pink beach there when we visited Montenegro. This was a few years ago, so even in August there was hardly anyone else there. It was a nice reprieve from the overcrowded beaches packed with people in Italy, where we lived at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a perfectly lovely fairytale destination! I love the soft colors in your photographs, it makes Budva seem even more romantic. Montenegro is high up on my list and I love this extra inspiration 🙂

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  12. What a gorgeous old town!! It really captures the imagination, and I love how vivid your writing and photos are. It looks like a dream place to spend time!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I must admit that I don’t know a lot about Montenegro nor have I been there. Your photos and post show such a charming place and I love the old style architecture

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve only recently started thinking of visiting Montenegro after its increasing popularity on social media. Definitely haven’t heard of Budva but for sure adding it to my list. I mean just look at the views! Even the grey clouds can’t even mask the beauty of this town!

    Liked by 1 person

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