Montenegro is a breath-taking destination that offers a blend of mesmerising beaches, majestic mountains, rich history, and diverse culture. Once the hidden gem of the Balkans, it’s increasingly becoming a popular holiday destination for people from all over the world.

Kotor and Budva are two of its most stunning destinations. Both cities are located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and offer visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. While they are only 35km apart, where you base yourself will have a large influence on your stay in Montenegro.

Budva vs. Kotor

Budva and Kotor offer unique experiences and attractions. Budva is known for its beautiful beaches and lively nightlife, while Kotor is famous for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and well-preserved Old Town. Yet, despite the differences, figuring out which city is best base yourself in can be a challenge.

In this post I’m going to share my opinion and recommendations on both Kotor and Budva, to help you find a location that captures your heart and complements your travel preferences.


view of budva

Budva is a coastal city known for its sandy beaches (a rare site in the Adriatic) and 2,000 year old historic Old Town. There’s more high rise buildings and urban sprawl than Kotor, but that works in your favour when looking for lower cost accommodation.

It’s ideal for those who prefer a more vibrant holiday experience. It’s popular for its lively nightlife, bustling promenade, and Jaz Beach, which attracts thousands of visitors every summer. Its picturesque Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to numerous historic buildings and churches, which contrasts with a modern marina and luxury hotels, ensuring that all visitors will find something that suits their tastes.

In addition to bars and beaches, Budva also has more options when it comes to sports. Despite travelling with a motorcycle, I carry with me my tennis and padel rackets, so am always up for a match. Budva has both clay and hard tennis courts and a padel courts.


  • Beautiful beaches and clear waters for swimming and sunbathing
  • Rich history and culture, with a well-preserved Old Town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Numerous historic buildings and churches to explore, including the Church of Saint John
  • Island of Sveti Stefan is a unique and picturesque destination
  • More nightlife options compared to Kotor, with numerous bars and clubs


  • Can be crowded with tourists during peak season
  • Beaches can be crowded and noisy
  • Limited opportunities for outdoor activities compared to Kotor
  • Can be expensive for budget travelers.


Kotor from above

In my opinion, Kotor and the surrounding area, is one of the most picturesque destinations not only in Montenegro but in Europe.  Situated along the stunning Bay of Kotor. The Old Town is an enchanting maze of cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and hidden gems, with 4km of castle walls to rival Dubrovnik.

The surrounding mountains make for a dramatic backdrop and offer great hiking opportunities with incredible views over the bay. While the bay itself offers sunbathing and swimming without the crowds found elsewhere.

With walls of mountains rising up to 1,000m to the east and west, I was concerned that Kotor might be a little dark and deprived of direct sunlight, but that wasn’t case, and the shores of the bay were flooded with sunlight during my stay. Though that might very well be different should you visit at the tail end of the season.

While Kotor itself is relatively small and compact, it spreads north along the shores of the bay and merges into Dobrota and beyond. This means that there are numerous accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences in Kotor, from luxurious hotels to cosy guesthouses. Though those further along the bay will likely need to rent bicycles or scooters reach the old town.

Kotor is the most visited town in Montenegro, and already early in the season it’s busy with cruise ship arrivals (fortunately they only get a couple of hours onshore), and tourists looking for something other than a beach in the sun. Despite its popularity, the atmosphere is little more subdued than Budva, in a good way. There’s nightlife there if you want it, but it’s a lot more relaxed. Think Ibiza town vs San Antonio, but less extreme on both accounts.


  • Stunning natural beauty with a picturesque bay and surrounding mountains
  • Rich history and culture, with a well-preserved Old Town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Impressive medieval walls and fortifications
  • Numerous historic buildings and churches to explore, including the Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas and the Church of Our Lady of Health
  • Opportunities for hiking and outdoor activities


  • Can be crowded with tourists during peak season
  • Old Town can be difficult to navigate due to narrow streets and steep hills
  • Limited nightlife options compared to larger cities
  • Can be expensive for budget travelers

When is the best time to visit Montenegro?

In this part of Balkans, winter is long, and spring comes late. As such the best time to visit Kotor and Budva is during the summer months from June to September when the weather is warm and sunny, and the beaches are at their best.

Unfortunately, this is also the peak tourist season, and when prices are at their highest. For those looking to avoid the crowds, the shoulder season from May to June and September to October may be a better option. The weather is still pleasant during this time, but can be variable.

At the beginning of May there was still a lot of rain during my stay. This cleared up by the 3rd week of May, and averages highs were in the low to mid 20c range, with sunny days and partial clouds. There was still the occasional downpour that came up out of nowhere, and then just as quickly disappeared.

This time also coincides with Montenegro’s Independence Day 21st May (which spans 2-3 days). And while a many regular businesses are closed, bars and restaurants are open, and crucially local crowds and traffic are at their lowest, so you can enjoy exploring, or driving around without the hassle of negotiating hoards of people.