Budva is a beautiful tourist town on the coast of Montenegro. As you walk the coastal strip filled with restaurants and tour hawkers you won’t understand much of the passing conversation as this area is mostly popular with Russian and Italian travellers. When it comes to the rest of the world Montenegro hides in the shadow of Croatia it’s northern neighbour. It has all the scenery, history and food culture to match Croatia and without the travel industry buzz you might just find a place to yourself in this part of the world.
If a guided tour is your style then take up the offer of the hawkers and step aboard one of the many boats that hop from bay to bay. If like me you prefer to explore for yourself then just keep on walking south. Give yourself two hours plus your swimming and eating time and plan your start so you arrive in Sveti Stefan for the sunset. Warning! This is a beautiful walk so if you are prone to a holiday selfie you may need a couple more hours for that.
An almost continuous path leads you through seven bays towards the incredible Sveti Stefan island. Each town is unique in character providing you with a glimpse into Montenegro’s Yugoslav history, the seafood cuisine of the area, the sometimes kitsch but always hospitable bar scene and the amazing natural beauty of this landscape.
Montenegro’s tourism capital, filled with nightlife, beach bars, cruise operators and the main Marina. Eat lunch at a beach front seafood restaurant or try an amazing hamburger with tzatziki from the famous takeaway strip a couple of streets back. Take a walk around the old town on the point and soak up some historic beauty. Then keep walking south along the beach until you enter the pedestrian tunnel under the Duckley Apartments.
left to right Budva old town, Budva bay and Sveti Stefan by sunset.
After you exit the pedestrian tunnel from Budva try to follow the signs back to the beach or “plaza”. If you get lost ask a local, they are very friendly and most younger people know enough English to help you out. This bay takes in the towns of Becici and Rafailovici and is filled to the brim with cafes, bars and restaurants. There are beach umbrellas and sun lounges a plenty and also some public beach if you don’t mind pulling up a rock. If you want a swim and a beer then this is the stop for you, my advice is walk just around the point where there is a small beach and bar surrounded by huge boulders with striped layers stratified over time. On the day of our walk the beer in hand ratio was about 80 percent on this beach. Drink and swim at your own risk.
When you are done enter the next tunnel and continue on the journey, there is plenty more to see.
Rafailovici Bay view.
The beach bar around the point.
Rafailovici to Kamenovo tunnel.
There are still a couple of bars here but the bay widens and a little more of the fine pebble sand comes into view. Just take in the view and if you did go for the beer in the previous bay maybe a coffee is in order here. This is my choice to cool down on a warm day in the refreshing azure blue of the Adriatic Sea. Please note that during the summer on the weekends this beach can play host to dance music festivals and be filled with sexy party people.
At the end of the bay head up the steps and into the only tricky part of the trip. Don’t be put off and catch the local bus back trust me the final part of the walk is well worth the effort. Through a carpark across a road bridge and follow the road for a few hundred metres before descending the stairs when the next bay comes into sight.
Przno is the point on the walk where modern commercial tourism gives way to history and natural beauty. It is a town of two sides. On the water is an old village of stone with a tiny ruined cottage on the small island at the bay’s entrance. Behind the old town are modern hotels most prominently the Maestral Casino complex which is hugely popular with Italian high rollers on a day trip from Italy where gambling is illegal.
Stop to take in the view and if you have worked up an appetite try Il Brodetto restaurant’s squid ink tagliatelle, it is delicious. Then round the point and walk through the village towards the pine forest to the south.
Przno bay and the old cottage.
As you wander down the hill under the shade of the pines you will catch a glimpse of the sparkling sea. This may not not be the only shiny star you see as this is the start of the Sveti Stefan Resort complex. These next two bays were once the summer home for the Serbian (later Yugoslavian) royalty and now plays host to the worlds rich and famous. You wont be able to get on the beach without paying a megastar fee but you can walk the trail and take a look at this remarkable location.
The path in Milocer Bay.
The path from Przno to Queen’s beach.
The Kings residence in Milocer Bay.
Also part of the royal complex this beautiful bay is otherwise known as King’s Beach. See the Royal palace with its manicured gardens frame the crystal clear ocean and be mesmerised. Follow the path up on to the point along the dry stone wall and imagine yourself as royalty in the time of King Alexander.
Rounding the point you will catch a close up look at Sveti Stefan Island. Once a local village and refuge for women and children during war time it is now an exclusive resort. This transformation in use has served to make it a snapshot of past beauty cast in stone and terracotta. Take a cooling dip at the beach on the south side of the walkway that joins the island to the mainland and enjoy the breathtaking backdrop to your well earned swim.
After you have rinsed yourself off head up the hill to a local restaurant and enjoy the sunset. Stop to dine at the Familja Kentera with its delicious Italian inspired menu then walk up the hill for an after dinner cocktail at Hotel Adrovic where you can look back towards the Island and follow your trail back to the bright lights of Budva.
Sveti Stefan Island.
One day this trail of the seven bays will be filled with tourists like the Cinque Terra in Italy and lose its charm. Montenegro is full of travel delights and its holidaying neighbours have known it for a long time. Now just might be the time to see it before the secret gets out and the rest of the world comes to enjoy this travel wonder.
Words: Wade Ranson Images: Michelle Ranson and Wade Ranson
The sunset from the terrace of Hotel Adrovic, Sveti Stefan.