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Montenegrin resorts: where to spend holidays and buy property

Anton Watman / shutterstock

In October 2019, the Montenegrin government launched a citizenship-by-investment programme for foreign nationals. To obtain a Montenegrin passport, a person needs to invest at least €250,000 in a government-approved property and donate €100,000 to a public fund.

The Montenegrin coast includes four regions: Boka Kotorska Bay, Budva, and the rivieras of Bar and Ulcinj. The coastline is less than 300-km long, but the country has dozens of seaside resorts, each with its own unique features, character and history.

The Boka Kotorska Bay

The Boka Kotorska Bay is known as the Norwegian fjords of the South. The whole bay is a protected UNESCO site. As a result, construction moratoriums have been introduced in the area. 

The Boka Kotorska Bay leaves nobody indifferent. The combination of its medieval European atmosphere, ancient stone buildings, breathtaking views and relaxed rhythm of life brings tourists back again and again. 

In recent years, Montenegro has added tourist attractions that have allowed it to annually increase the flow of visitors to this beautiful country.

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Herceg Novi, Igalo, Risan, Perast, Kotor and Tivat are a few resorts in the Bay of Kotor. They are characterised by high living standards and service quality. According to Dobrica Ilić, Montenegro Living Director, this part of the coast is the most suitable for permanent residence: "This comes from a whole combination of factors, such as the prices of accommodation and services, occupancy during the tourist season, surrounding nature, length of the season, historical landmarks and cleanliness of the beaches".

According to Dilyara Marić, Administration and Sales Department Manager at Foresight Montenegro, the largest supply of seaview houses and apartments is in the bay where the local landscape cascades down steep mountain slopes towards crystalline waters. According to her, property prices range from €2,000/m² to €4,000/m² on this coast. Property buyers from Europe, the US and Canada usually prefer the Bay of Boka Kotorska.

Herceg Novi: convenient beaches and stunning historical architecture

Herceg Novi
Anton Watman / shutterstock

Herceg Novi is not only the largest town in the Bay of Kotor, but also, according to Dilyara Marić, the best for beach holidays. It has the greatest number of serviced beaches with deckchairs, parasols and seafront bars. Two of them, Club Hotel Riviera and Dobreč, have been distinguished with the Blue Flag award, given for ecological cleanliness. Among the beaches, there are pebble and concrete platform ones. The seafront is about 4-km long.

The infrastructure is well-developed, and the town has a lot of shops, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, concert venues and hotels. Herceg Novi is known as the Montenegrin Dubrovnik for its architecture, which is close to that of the Croatian city with its abundance of ancient churches, monasteries and fortresses. You have to be in good shape to see all the sights because the town is located on a steep hill and you will have to climb a lot of steps. In fact, Herceg Novi is known as the “town of stairs”.

Igalo: therapeutic mud and springs

Anton Watman / shutterstock

Adjoining Herceg Novi is Igalo, a mud and radon spa resort, famous for the Simo Milošević health centre. The community is surrounded by mountains with thick forests, which gives this location a special microclimate with optimum humidity and high content of essential oils in the air.

Among Igalo's beaches, there are concrete, sandy and pebble ones. "Igalo has a wide sandy beach with a gentle entry into the water, perfect for families with young children", says Dilyara Marić.

The disadvantage of Igalo is that this resort does not have top-tier hotels, and the infrastructure is worn out. However, the town has been developing rapidly and built up extensively over the recent years.

Risan: a gently sloping beach and newly-built residential complexes

Olga Ilinich / shutterstock

Risan is the most ancient settlement in the Bay of Kotor: the first mention of the town dates back to 300 B.C., when it was the capital of the state of Illyria. Today Risan has a port, a three-star hotel and the Vaso Ćuković tertiary centre for orthopaedics and neurosurgery.

"Risan is perfect for family holidays with young children. The town is quiet and peaceful, and it has all the necessary infrastructure: shops, cafes, a market and a gently sloping small-pebbled beach. The town remains unfairly underrated and not very popular with tourists and buyers for now, though several newly-built complexes and stand-alone apartment buildings (both economy and premium) have appeared there over recent years", says Dilyara Marić.

According to her, another advantage of this town is its location: it is situated about halfway between Herceg Novi and Kotor, the two largest towns in the Bay.

Perast: ancient houses and poor beaches

canadastock / shutterstock

Perast is one of the most colourful, cosy and picture-perfect towns in the bay. This is an Italian-style museum town where many buildings have been preserved since the 17th century. "There are only ancient houses of historical value, protected by law, in the town. The buyers of such properties renovate them according to the standards of the Department for Monument Protection, although no restrictions are put on interior works. Most offers are exclusive villas and apartments in ancient buildings. Property is expensive", says Dilyara Marić.

As observed by this expert, Perast's infrastructure is limited to a few good cafes and restaurants on the seafront, small hotels and a couple of grocery stores. In summer, automobile traffic is prohibited in the town and an open minibus with an electric engine runs up and down the seafront. Perast has 16 churches and about the same number of ancient estates. Most original residents of the town, whose population is under 400, come from twelve noble families.

The town is better suited to sightseeing than seaside holidays. It has two beaches consisting of narrow concrete platforms. Some travellers complain about the standing water, algae and its muddy lake-like appearance.

Kotor: beautiful landscapes and an open-air museum

cge2010 / shutterstock

Kotor is a museum town, the older part of which is protected by UNESCO. This is the administrative, cultural, religious, academic and economic centre of the Bay of Kotor.

"The town is built at the foot of a mountain near the sea; two narrow streets and a small square make up the best part of it. This is where the good and enormous buildings are located. The houses are very dark, for on one side they are shadowed by the mountain, and on the other one by a high fortification wall. The other houses are scattered along the slope and sit on top of each other. To move between the houses, one must climb up and down the bad stairs carved in the mountain", wrote the military author V.B. Bronevsky in his "Memoirs of a naval officer".

Kotor is a tourist town. The port of Kotor welcomes cruise liners bringing an influx of tourists. The town is famous for the longest fortification wall in Europe. There are a lot of historical and architectural monuments as well as breath-taking landscapes where the mountains meet the water's edge. The Old Town has a lot of fish and meat restaurants located in ancient buildings. The Cattaro hotel also has a casino and a nightclub called Maximus. Motor vehicles are banned in the Old Town.

Kotor does not have any well-maintained beaches, and the sea is not as clean there as at other resorts. "There are few beaches in the immediate vicinity of the Old Town, they are primarily small stone quays or pebble slopes to the water. The situation is the same in Dobrota, a suburb of Kotor. There are some good beaches in Prčanj, Stoliv, Ljuta and Orahovac", says Dilyara Marić.

According to her, Kotor is slightly more humid than other towns on the coast due to the high mountains that encircle it.

Tivat and the Luštica peninsula: an international airport and a well-developed construction industry

Olga Gavrilova / shutterstock

Tivat is a large town with an international airport and a well-developed construction market. "Tivat has changed significantly over the past few years thanks to the construction of one of the most upscale European marinas for super and megayachts, as well as the Porto Montenegro residential complex. The complex has a luxury beach club managed by the Spanish Puro Beach chain as well as a lot of boutiques, restaurants, cafes and a sports club. A five-star hotel managed by the Regent hotel chain has also been built" Dilyara Marić says.

As for beach holidays, according to the expert, concrete slabs and narrow strips of pebble prevail in Tivat. There are three Blue Flag beaches on the outskirts: Almara Beach, Kalardovo and Plavi Horizonti. There are no cold currents or high waves, which makes Tivat suitable for holidays with children.

Unlike other towns in the Bay of Kotor that are situated on cliffed coasts, Tivat is located on a low plateau spanning several kilometers, which explains why there are fewer seaview homes. Five-storey apartment blocks and detached houses are most common in this town. Due to the construction of Porto Montenegro, property prices in Tivat have increased. There is a lot of new development, including in the suburbs of Tivat — Krašići and Donja Lastva. 

Just a 20-minute drive from Tivat is the Luštica peninsula. During recent years, this area has been attracting a huge number of investors from all over the world. A grass root city development programme has been launched on the peninsula. The project investor is Lustica Development, founded by the Egyptian Orascom company, 10% of which is owned by the Government of Montenegro. The project involves the construction of 8 hotels, 1,600 apartments and 750 villas. The resort will house shops, a school, a conference hall, two marinas as well as the first 18-hole golf course in Montenegro.

The Budva Riviera

The Budva Riviera has always attracted the highest number of tourists to the coast of Montenegro. The Budva Riviera resorts include Budva, Bečići, Rafailovići, Pržno, Miločer, Sveti Stefan and Petrovac. According to Dilyara Marić, this part of the coast is famous for its wide pebble beaches equipped with deckchairs and sunshades, as well as its four- and five-star hotels and high-class restaurants.

Dobrica Ilić believes that this is precisely where the expensive resorts are concentrated: "By costliness of accommodation, food and excursion services the Budva Riviera ranks first". 

The best investment offers in Montenegro are located precisely on the Budva Riviera. The area has the longest holiday season – a full six months. This coastal area features all types of property: apartments, villas, land plots and so on.

Budva: Blue flags and nightlife

Olena Z / shutterstock

Budva is the tourist capital of the country, and one of the most popular resorts. In fact, it’s often referred to as the Miami of Montenegro. Budva is located just a 20-minute drive away from Tivat International Airport. There are a lot of restaurants, cafes, a nightclub, a casino, tennis courts and luxury hotels. Budva is perfect for young people but may be too noisy for those on holidays with small children.

Budva has five Blue Flag beaches: Blue Beach, Escallera Beach, Queen of Montenegro, S&I Beach Life and Sveti Toma. Among the most popular sandy beaches are Slovenska Plaža, Ričardova Glava and Mogren. During the high season, the beaches are busy and overloaded with deckchairs and sunshades, often with loud music playing in the background. Budva is the least windy resort and its swimming season lasts until late October.

The old part of the town was rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1979. Apartment buildings and large hotels prevail in this district, but outside the Old Town many high-rises also obstruct the sea view.

Budva is the tourist mecca of Montenegro. This town never rests, even at night. The seafront is always full of strolling couples, families with children, rejoicing youth and live music from the cafes and restaurants. 

An unhurried promenade will lead you to the square before the Old Town, where it is easy to get lost in the narrow streets and feel like you’re on the set of a historical film. However, modern shopping centres, clubs and luxury hotels are just around the corner.

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"The price range in Budva is wide. In older buildings, especially on the lower floors and in the case of small properties, the prices may be quite low, starting from €70,000. At the same time, there is a great supply of luxury real estate priced at €3,000/m² and higher. The medium price range of €2,000–2,500/m² is also widely represented", Dilyara Marić says.

Bečići: the famous beach and many hotels

Arsenie Krasnevsky / shutterstock

Bečići is a small high-end resort community, 4 km away from Budva. This is a splendid alternative to the bustling town of Budva. This is the very place where you can find an oasis of calm in the immediate vicinity of all infrastructure. Bečići and Budva are connected by a well-equipped seafront. Budva is just a 25-minute walk away at a leisurely pace.

Bečići is famous for the 1,950-metre beach that won the 1935 Grand Prix in Paris as the Most Beautiful Beach of Europe.

The locality has a lot of modern hotel complexes, restaurants, cafes and bars. Almost the entire coast is occupied with hotels which, according to new legislation, are located in the first line, and, therefore, detached houses and apartment buildings should be located at a minimum of 400m from the sea. The most famous hotels are Iberostar Bellevue, Mediteran and Queen of Montenegro. However, the five-star Splendid hotel has remained a favourite for many years already. Many celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton, Madonna and the Rolling Stones have stayed there.

Bečići is being actively built up. There is a very wide choice of new-builds including apartment hotels that can easily compete with the first line ones. 

Property prices are slightly lower there, but the main infrastructure is highly accessible. 

There are many residential buildings and complexes, attractive for the investors both as holiday properties and a source of rental income. 

Property prices in Bečići start from €1,500/m².

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Rafailovići: throng and high-density development

DVAD / shutterstock

The Rafailovići village is located within walking distance of Bečići. This is an upscale Budva Riviera resort, much favoured by tourists.

The village is distinguished with narrow small-pebbled beaches, Kamenovo being the most famous of them, and a seafront of the same kind. During the high season, it is bustling and sometimes difficult to find a quiet spot to relax. In summer, the sea is not always very warm due to the local maritime currents.

The resort is not very green. While it does not have any good hotels, there are enough cafes, fish restaurants and small shops, as well as sports centres and tennis courts. The prices for goods and services are about 10–15% lower than in Budva.

Many houses and apartments are available for rent in Rafailovići. Accommodation must be booked months ahead, as supply is limited in July and usually completely booked in August. 

Rafailovići has been very densely developed: there is virtually no vacant land left for new construction. However, unlike Bečići, whose entire coast is built up with hotels, in Rafailovići, houses and apartments available for purchase and rent have been built.

Pržno: bohemians and cold currents

Vadym Lavra / shutterstock

Pržno, located in a cosy bay 7 km away from Budva, is one of the upscale resort communities in Montenegro. After World War II, the Montenegrin painters Vuko Radović and Milo Milunović came here looking for inspiration. Today, the location is still popular with artists and writers.

The village has maintained the appearance of a fishing community, but it has all the amenities of modern infrastructure: cafes, restaurants and a hotel complex managed by Blue Horizon. According to Dilyara Marić, the first line is occupied by hotels, but thanks to the undulating topography many apartments further from the water also have sea views.

The small-pebbled beach is protected from the wind and waves by rocks. However, during summer the water sometimes gets too cold for swimming.

Miločer: temples and royal gardens

Dmitriy Fesenko / shutterstock

Miločer is a village located 6 km away from Budva. This is not a cheap holiday destination. Miločer is home to the park of the Karadjordjevic royal dynasty summer residence, the small-pebbled Kraljičina Plaža and the sandy Kraljeva Plaža, that are among the most beautiful beaches on the Adriatic coast, surrounded by cypresses and other trees. However, tourists are not admitted there. Other Miločer landmarks include a botanical garden, Praskvica Monastery and examples of medieval architecture.

Naturally shielded by rocks and thick vegetation, it has developed a warm and mild climate without strong winds.

Sveti Stefan: hotel infrastructure and a pay-to-enter beach

Sveti Stefan
emperorcosar / shutterstock

Sveti Stefan is a unique town located on a rocky islet of the Budva Riviera which is connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. The resort is famous for its pristine beaches and sea, as well as its welcoming atmosphere and privacy on an island protected from general tourists. 

The resort is owned by the Aman hotel chain, and its infrastructure is only available to guests. Many buildings on the island part of Sveti Stefan have preserved their ancient facades, yet are richly decorated and modernly furnished inside. This is one of the most expensive holiday destinations in Montenegro.

The Aman hotel chain owns a fee-paying beach available at €100 per person. The coast to the north and south of Sveti Stefan is open to the public and can be busy and bustling in August. The beaches are covered with a mix of sand and rose-pink gravel.

The streets are at different levels like amphitheatre rows, aligned in a way that almost all the houses face the sea. Hollywood celebrities visit the resort regularly. One of the world's most famous tennis players — Novak Djokovic — celebrated his wedding there.

Petrovac: olive groves and reddish sand

Olena Z / shutterstock

Petrovac is a resort town, 17 km away from Budva, surrounded by olive groves and fir trees. The Government of Montenegro takes great care of its olive groves. Construction has recently been banned where they are located.

There are restaurants and cafes along the coast as well as a market, shops, hotels, pharmacies and a hospital. There is even a nightclub inside an ancient fortress. The local casino featured in Casino Royale, one of the James Bond movies. The Brothers Bloom US criminal comedy was also in part filmed in Petrovac. Prices for goods here are lower compared to other locations in the region. This is one of the quietest towns of the Budva Riviera, which makes it good for family holidays.

Petrovac has two beaches. The municipal one spans about 800m and is covered with sand of a red hue. The second beach, a pebble one, is just 200m long. The sea is deep there, and children are not recommended to swim further than 3–5m from shore. In July and August, the beaches are overcrowded. Due to the structure of the seabed, the average water temperature is 3 °C lower than in Budva.

Petrovac is densely built up, for which reason not all the houses on the coast face the sea. There is very little land left for development. The real estate market predominantly features existing residential property. It is difficult to find offers below €70,000 in Petrovac.

The Bar Riviera

Some of the cheapest Montenegrin resorts — Bar, Sutomore, Dobra Voda, Čanj and Utjeha — are located on the Bar Riviera with its sandy, pebble and stone beaches. One of the main landmarks is Lake Skadar, the largest one in the Balkans, which is recognised as a Montenegrin national park.

The Bar Riviera offers a wide choice of houses from the most budget-friendly options to expensive villas. 

Bar: the largest port, pine trees and strong winds

May_Lana / shutterstock

"Bar is one of the largest towns on the coast. It is the destination for the train lines serving Belgrade – Bar and Podgorica – Bar, which is why the resort is popular among Serbian and Montenegrin tourists", Dilyara Marić says.

This is the largest port of Montenegro. There is a marina for over 1,000 yachts. This is where the ferries to Albania and Italy depart from.

According to Dilyara Marić, Bar has pebble beaches with gentle entries into the water, perfect for holidays with children. There are a lot of pine trees, a favourable microclimate, and the sun shines about 200 days a year on average. This resort is home to the world's oldest olive tree (more than 2,000 years old!) and the strongest winds in Montenegro. Bar has a lot of Italian clothing and shoe shops.

Bar is a town to be lived in. Most residents live there all the year round. The town is being actively built up. Bar is mostly made up of modern houses with almost no ancient buildings or narrow streets.

"Property prices in Bar are traditionally lower than in other regions, but the houses often require renovation and are located in densely populated communities. Issues with documents are also frequent. The ground is flat there, which is why not all the local real estate faces the sea", Dilyara Marić says. However, seaview properties can be found 3 km from the coastline.

Bar is the preferred town by those wishing to settle down in Montenegro. Local residential real estate is slightly cheaper than on the Budva Riviera or in the Bay of Boka Kotorska. 

It is easier to find a job and not feel lonely during winter there, given the town is alive and fully functioning all the year round.

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Sutomore: tourists, pine trees and curative sands

Farion_O / shutterstoc

Sutomore (translated from Montenegrin as "land and sea") is a resort located between Petrovac and Bar. The 2-km stretch of beach is protected from the winds by cypresses and pines. The sands contain healthy minerals that help to ease rheumatic pains. This is why during the Middle Ages, Sutomore was the favourite holiday destination of rich Venetians whose health had suffered at home from the damp canals.  

The resort is densely built up, and the local beach barely has room for all the holidaymakers. It can be cramped, especially on summer weekends, when in addition to foreign tourists, the residents of Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, come to Sutomore. The resort is also popular with Serbian nationals.

Sutomore has over 50 restaurants and cafes, several hotels, many shops, nightclubs and private villas. This town is considered a budget holiday destination, just like the entire Bar Riviera. Accommodation rental rates are significantly lower there compared to Budva.

The Ulcinj Riviera

The Ulcinj Riviera includes the resorts of Ulcinj and Ada Bojana. As observed by Dobrica Ilić, this is the favourite holiday destination of inland Montenegrins and Serbian nationals. "The Ulcinj Riviera is popular with water sports (surfing and kiting) aficionados, thanks to the winds and the wide sandy Velika Plaža. This region is not popular among foreign property buyers and the agencies are predominantly oriented towards the internal market", Dilyara Marić says. In this region, there are almost no residential complexes.

Ulcinj: the largest beach and the best ecological situation

Shemyakina Tatiana / shutterstock

Ulcinj is the southernmost town, located next to the Albanian border. There are no factories or plants within 100 km of the town, which makes the local ecological situation perfect.

The sun shines about 220 days a year on average in Ulcinj. This is a record for the Montenegrin coast. The sun shines about seven hours a day. The swimming season is April to November, and in summer the water temperature often exceeds 26 °C.

The most extensive (13 km) beach in Montenegro is located near Ulcinj, in Velika Plaža. The sands have high levels of salts and iodine, which heightens background radiation and has a beneficial effect on rheumatism. The sea water near the coast contains minerals that help treat chronic upper respiratory tract diseases. Near Ulcinj there are five Blue Flag beaches: Copacabana, Evropa Beach, MCMBeach, Miami and Safari.

Among Ulcinj's disadvantages are the long and expensive airport transfer (the nearest airport is 70 km away) and the inconvenient streets paved with slippery blocks, often with no sidewalk.

Ada Bojana: curative sands, naturists and a long season

Ada Bojana
Valery Bocman / shutterstock

The Ada Bojana island ("ada" means "island" in Turkish) is one of the most famous European naturist resorts. The 3-km small shell and coral sand beach has sand with over 30 different biologically active minerals, which are beneficial for the treatment of infertility and musculoskeletal disorders. There are many fish restaurants near the beach. According to local legend, this triangle island formed above a vessel that sunk in the delta of the Bojana River.

Just like in Ulcinj, the swimming season lasts from April to November. The water and air temperatures range between 26°C and 30°C in summer. Despite the heat, a fresh breeze blows from the Adriatic Sea. Ada Bojana is a popular destination for kitesurfing and windsurfing.

Most houses and apartments on the island are available for rent. This resort has lower-quality hotels than the other towns of Montenegro.

Tranio recommends choosing Montenegrin resorts for holidays and property purchases based on your preferences, lifestyle and budget:

  • The best beaches: Bar, Bečići, Budva, Ulcinj, Herceg Novi
  • Well-developed holiday and entertainment infrastructure: Bečići, Budva, Kotor, Herceg Novi
  • Most expensive resorts: Budva, Miločer, Pržno, Sveti Stefan
  • Cheapest resorts: Ada Bojana, Sutomore, Ulcinj.
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