Kotor or Budva, Montenegro: Which is Better?

If you’re looking for a beautiful, historic place to travel in Europe that’s still relatively unknown and off the beaten path, then you might want to consider Montenegro.

This charming country is situated on the Adriatic Sea and is full of lovely architecture, thriving nightlife, friendly locals, and fascinating history.

people walking down narrow alleyway
Streets of Kotor, Montenegro

While most people think of Kotor when they think of Montenegro, travellers may want to cast their eyes further East – only 30 minutes’ drive East, to be exact, to Budva.

Both Budva and Kotor offer something special and unique, so it can be hard deciding which place to add to your travel plans.

In this guide, we’ll be comparing Kotor vs Budva, so you can make the decision about which town to visit. So, which will it be? Kotor or Budva? Let’s help you decide…

Which is better for attractions?

When it comes to attractions, both destinations have their merits. Budva is a great destination for travelers looking to experience a bit of everything, while Kotor has more history to explore. To decide which is better for attractions, let’s take a look at them both.

Budva’s Attractions

people walking down alleyways looking at shop windows.
Budva Old Town

From stunning beaches to historical sites, this quaint coastal town has a lot going for it. This is why when choosing a base in Montenegro to discover the country’s top attractions, Budva gets my vote.

The main attraction in Budva is Slovenska Beach, which is clean and well-maintained. The coastal landscape around the Old Town is also really beautiful, and it has the most unique cliff face I’ve ever seen, with sheer rocks looking as though they have been stacked on top of each other.

Along the coastal path, you’ll reach the statue of the Budva Dancing Girl, a bronze ballerina which represents an old myth in Montenegro about a sailor and a ballerina who fell in love, and every day she would wait by the shores for her long-lost love.

statue of ballerina on rock
Budva Ballerina

Aside from the beaches, Budva also has a walled Old Town. This is where you’ll find quaint cafes, boutique shops, and some top-class restaurants. The Old Town is where the majority of the attractions are, such as the Museum of the City of Budva and The Church of Sveti Ivan.

Budva is also a great base for taking day trips, since there is a bus network that takes you from the town centre to Bar or other towns on the coast. 

A day trip you must take in Budva is to Ceninje, a beautiful historic town that was the former capital of Montenegro. Here you will see the old embassies, which are all nestled in colourful historic buildings.

Kotor’s Attractions

tables and chairs on the kotor old square
Square in Kotor Old Town

Kotor has an epic landscape, and it’s this landscape that brings most travellers here. Nestled next to a bay, Kotor is a small town surrounded by mountains that looks like it has been picked out of the Fjords of Norway and dropped on the coast of Montenegro.

The walled Old Town is the biggest attraction in Kotor. It has medieval architecture, churches, museums, and taverns. Wandering around the cobbled narrow streets and sipping espressos from a cafe in the squares makes you feel like you’re in a fairy tale.

The fortification of the city walls is very much intact, and you can walk all the way to the top of the city bulwarks on Mt. Lovćen, which gives you an incredible view of the town below.

mountains and homes beside the bay
View of Kotor

Outside the old town, you can sit on Kotor Beach (a very small beach), or take a boat trip out to see the Blue Cave and the Lady of the Rocks, or just walk along next to the water and admire the views.

At night, Kotor comes alive with bars, hostels, and clubs in the Old Town playing loud music until the early hours of the morning. It’s become a hot spot for nightlife and appeals to backpackers.

Verdict: Budva has more attractions at its disposal, whereas Kotor’s attractions are arguably more beautiful. However, you could spend two days in Kotor and see it all, whereas in Budva you could stay a week. So, when it comes to Budva or Kotor for attractions, Budva wins.

map showing location of kotor and budva
Location of Kotor and Budva

Which is better for accommodation?

Finding a place to stay is never easy and fortunately, both Kotor or Budva have plenty of accommodation options. To help you decide which town has the best accommodation for you, here’s an overview of where to stay in each place…

Where to Stay in Budva

orange colored roofed buildings in old town budva on the water
Montenegro, Budva, old town

Budva has more accommodation options than Kotor, simply because it’s a larger town and it has more local visitors due to its beaches.

You’ll find luxury 5* hotels, vacation rentals, and guest houses. Backpackers will find fewer choices for hostels, but there are still budget guest houses and hotels that offer cheaper accommodations.

Unlike Kotor, Budva has more options outside its Old Town and it has more hotels, which means any type of traveller can find a good accommodation option in Budva.

I recommend you stay in the Town Centre, as this is near to public transport and the beach. If you want peace and quiet, the East side of Budva is where you’ll find tranquility and calmness, since all the nightlife happens in the Old Town and Town Centre.

For an all-around great place to stay, I recommend Hotel TQ Plaza, which has a great location near the beach, town centre, and Old Town but far enough away that the noise doesn’t become an issue. 

It has a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, and can even organise car rental – perfect for those thinking of taking day trips.

Where to Stay in Kotor

Panoramic view on Kotor, Montenegro on the sea with mountains
Panoramic view on Kotor, Montenegro.

Kotor has a lot of accommodation options that are spread around the Bay of Kotor, the Old Town, or just outside ​​Kotor Beach.

Many people choose to stay in the Old Town (and why wouldn’t you, it’s beautiful!) but I highly recommend you avoid this

The only downside to staying in the Old Town is the noise. The clubs and bars play music until the early hours and the church bells start ringing in the early hours. It doesn’t matter where you stay in the Old Town, as you’re going to be disturbed by this.

Only a few hotels in the Old Town offer soundproof rooms, and they are usually the luxury 5* hotels such as the Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro.

For light sleepers, finding accommodation in Kotor is going to be a challenge. There aren’t a lot of options outside the Old Town, and on top of this, there aren’t a lot of hotels in Kotor – most of the accommodation options are apartment vacation rentals. 

Vacation rentals are great for families and groups of travellers, but for solo travellers and couples, it can be difficult finding a place within your budget.

So while there is a lot of accommodation, Kotor doesn’t have a lot of good options.

For those looking for an affordable place to stay in Kotor, I recommend the Hotel Porto Inn. This is just outside the Old Town in a quiet area, but within walking distance. It has modern rooms and an affordable price. 

Verdict: Because of the number of options available, Budva is better for accommodation.

Which is better for nature?

Clock tower on the square in the old town of Kotor. Montenegro with mountain peaks in the background
Stunning natural mountains surrounding Kotor

When it comes to nature, both Budva and Kotor have their merits. 

Kotor has a lush, mountainous landscape next to a calm and gentle bay. It’s also protected by the mountains, which means the water is always calm like glass.

Budva has a lovely sandy beach which is always clean and well-maintained. The surrounding areas of Budva are strewn with idyllic nature, such as the untamed Sveti Nikola Island, which also has a lovely Half Moon Beach.

Aerial view of Sveti Nikola Island near Budva city at Adriatic Sea in Montenegro.
Sveti Nikola Island

Depending on what kind of nature you’re looking for, you may prefer Kotor or Budva. For beaches, definitely Budva, but for mountains, Kotor takes the top spot.

The verdict: It’s hard to say which is better for nature since they both offer something different. However, Kotor’s Fjord-like nature is unique to Kotor and cannot be found anywhere else, so for that reason, Kotor is better for nature.

Which is better for food?

If you’ve followed yTravel Blog for a while, you’ll know we love food! So we have to mention which is better for food; Kotor or Budva.

Since both towns sit by the water, you’ll find plenty of restaurants serving fresh seafood. 

Beach in Budva Old Town
Beach in Budva Old Town

Kotor’s old town has several restaurants that offer relaxed dining with al fresco seating. You can find pizzerias, old taverns, and sandwich shops. Outside the Old Town is a really great BBQ restaurant, BBQ Tanjga, which is probably the most affordable food option in Kotor (and also very delicious).

The owner is really nice and enjoys chatting with tourists, which is another reason to visit.

Budva has a few restaurants along the promenade by the beach and a few restaurants in the Old Town. The Old Town in Budva is smaller than Kotor, so there aren’t as many options for places to eat but don’t worry, there are still just enough options.

You can find pasta bars, tapas bars, and vegetarian restaurants. Most of the restaurants in the Old Town are a bit fancier than casual dining, but the restaurants on the promenade are more relaxed.

The verdict: both towns have great places to eat, so it’s impossible to choose. When it comes to food, Budva and Kotor are equal.

Which is better for families?

When deciding on whether Kotor or Budva is better for families, we must consider all the criteria mentioned above; attractions, food, and accommodation.

If you have fussy young kids who need constant entertainment, they will prefer Budva. It just has more to offer them, from water parks to beaches to paragliding.

stoned church in village
Church in Budva

On top of that, there are more accommodation options in Budva which makes finding a place to stay easier.

However, if your kids are a little bit older, they might appreciate the natural beauty of Kotor and find the history interesting.

The verdict: No two families are the same, so the answer will depend on your family. But for families with young kids, you’ll probably enjoy Budva more.

The Final Verdict: Kotor or Budva?

Mogren beach in Budva in a beautiful summer day,
Mogren beach in Budva in a beautiful summer day,

As you can see, there is no definitive answer to this question. The verdict rather depends on the traveller.

For families, Budva has more attractions for the kids to enjoy, and a greater number of accommodation options. So for families, we definitely recommend Budva.

However, Kotor has a backpacker scene and some incredible nature. If you’re a solo traveller or a couple, you may prefer staying in Kotor over Budva as you’ll have more opportunities to meet other travellers. 

Whichever town you decide, make sure you stay outside the Old Town if you want a peaceful night’s sleep! And remember, Kotor and Budva are only a 30-minute car journey from each other, so you can always visit the other on a day trip.

We hope this guide helped you plan your trip to Montenegro and gave you some insight into this stunning country!

Top attractions and tours in Kotor and Budva

While staying in Kotor or Budva, consider these top selling tours and attractions.

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