A Day in Montenegro Part 2: Sveti Stefan and Budva

Sunday, October 15, 2017

After our morning tour at the old town of Kotor and climbing the walls leading to St. John Castle, our next destination was Budva. Contrary to Kotor as a cultural and sightseeing location, Budva is well-known to be Montenegro’s center of vibrant nightlife, jam-packed beaches, and luxury living. It has become the new “it” destination in Europe.

Budva marina

Before going straight to Budva old town, we stopped by a viewing point that overlooks Sveti Stefan, a high-end, 5-star island hotel resort in the Adriatic coast. Since the 1960s, Sveti Stefan has been the playground of the rich and famous, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Naomi Campbell, and Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. It was also the wedding venue of 2014 tennis champion Novak Djokovic. Sveti Stefan was formerly owned by Radenović family for forty years, but now it’s being managed by Aman Resorts – the same luxury hotel group that runs Amanpulo island resort in Palawan, Philippines.

view of Sveti Stefan
Sveti Stefan: Adriatic Suite view. Image from Aman.com.
The island where Sveti Stefan stands is currently connected to the main land by an isthmus (narrow land with seas on both sides). Now if you have €10 to spare (about Php 600) you can get a closer glimpse of that isthmus and the island. However, only paying customers can enter Sveti Stefan itself. The “cheapest” accommodation I found in Aman resort’s website is €849 (Php 50,940) per night which is the Village Room, and the most expensive is the Sveti Stefan Suite with a whopping price of €3632 (Php 217,920).  Surely the €10 island tour is enough and make sure you go there during summer.

Jadran Kod Krsta

So normal people like us can only look from afar. MOVING ON, we drove towards the old town of Budva. As compared to Kotor, Budva was more lively and had “more” people (still very few as compared to Dubrovnik). Our tour guide said that during summer, Budva is bustling with tourists coming from Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and other nearby European countries. Along the way we saw real estate developments and modern buildings which, in my opinion, concealed the Medieval history of the city.

Before going inside the old town, our tour guide led us to a restaurant where we could have our lunch (finally!). The restaurant is Jadran Kod Krsta National Restaurant, which I think is very popular because it’s quite a big venue. They had indoor and outdoor tables. We chose one that was situated by the harbor, despite the chilly weather of 12 °C.

Jadran Kod Krsta: Mussels Buzara and Chicken Kebab with Fries on the side
Jadran Kod Krsta: Mussels Buzara and Suza Water

Apart from the peaceful and marvelous view, the food was AMAZING. If you find yourself going here, order Mussels Buzara – it’s highly recommended! The freshness of the mussels reminded me of the mussels in Brugge. If I remember it correctly, the huge bowl cost about €10 and the serving size was good enough for 2 to 3 persons. My husband liked it so much that I had to learn how to recreate this dish (which I did). He said if we were only in the Philippines, he’d drink the wine-based soup straight from the bowl (Lol). Aside from mussels, we also ordered Chicken Kebab with fries on the side and a bottle of water since we were very thirsty from our hike in Kotor. We also got a free serving of sliced bread and vegetable salad.

Dukley Gardens Luxury Apartments from afar
Dukley Gardens: Dreammontenegro.com
Dukley Gardens Luxury Apartments. Image from Dreammontenegro.com.
From our table, we could see Dukley Gardens Luxury Apartments, a residential complex by the Adriatic coast with a price of €700,000 to €3,800,000 (Php 42,000,000 to Php 228,000,000) per unit (I die). Hollywood celebrity Steven Seagal owns an apartment there.

After lunch, we walked along the marina to take some photos and to admire the toys of European millionaires (i.e. their boats and yachts). The marina was kept clean, water still clear, and there weren’t any stench so it was a pleasant stroll.

Budva marina
Budva marina
Budva marina

Budva marina
Budva marina

Meeting our tour guide for a again, he told us a bit about the old town of Budva and gave us 30 minutes to roam around before heading back to Dubrovnik. The old town of Budva is called Stari Grad which sits atop a rocky peninsula. The marbled streets looked lighter as compared to the old town of Kotor, probably because it had been reconstructed during 1987 due to the massive Montenegro earthquake in 1979.
St. Ivan / St. John Church in old town Budva
St. Ivan or St. John Church in old town Budva. Ivan is the Slavic term for John.
old town Budva
Restaurant pub at old town Budva

Stari Grad is dubbed as “little Dubrovnik”. Because it’s so small (and if you came from Dubrovnik first before Budva), the old town didn’t look impressive anymore. We hardly walked around. I just bought some hand-made ref magnets (which are pretty unique and modern) in one of the shops. I also felt like I was walking in an outdoor shopping mall, for Stari Grad was packed with shops, restaurants, pubs and bars more than a historical residential space. The place becomes vibrant at night when people come here to drink and unwind.

On board a Roro: Kotor Bay Ferry
On board a Roro: Kotor Bay Ferry
View from Kotor Bay Ferry

To save time going back to Dubrovnik, we took the Kotor Bay ferry (ro-ro) where we crossed the bay, saving us 40-45 minutes of driving time. During off-peak season, the ferry waited about 15 minutes for more vehicles to come before it crossed the other side. The entire trip took only 5 minutes and everyone got out of their cars, took photos, and enjoyed the views while smoking.

I wish we had more time in Montenegro because there’s still SO MUCH to see. There’s Mount Lovcen, Perast, and Durmitor National Park which I hope I can all see someday.

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