A fortified village built to defend against the Turks in the 15th century, Sveti Stefan has been on my list of must see places for quite some time. Its stone buildings, red roof tops and island setting make it a postcard perfect location on the Montenegrin coast not far from Dubrovnik.
But before heading down the coast to Sveti Stefan we stopped in Budva. For the most part Budva is a modern city and marina (with great nearby beaches) but there is a small old town with stone houses and little alleyways worth exploring for a couple of hours. Most of the old town was destroyed in the 1979 earthquake but it was restored to its original condition in the 80s. Budva was a Venetian town for almost 400 years and is most famous for its Venetian city walls as well as the 7th century church.
The next stop before the jewel in Montenegro’s crown was Kamenovo, a small hilltop village where we spent the night at Apartment Radevic. This was the nicest accommodation of our entire Balkan trip even though it’s located at the top of a very, very steep road. From the apartment we were able to walk down to Kamenovo Beach, one of the smaller beaches on the Budva Riviera but nonetheless still very popular. It’s described as being a sandy beach but it’s actually a pebble beach. The small pebbles are easy too walk on and the water is crystal clear. If you’re lucky you’ll get to see a beautiful sunset over Budva.
After swimming and relaxing at Kamenovo Beach we headed to Sveti Stefan. For some reason I though it was going to be a short walk but it turns out it’s about 4 km. In hindsight we should have gotten a taxi which would only have cost 2-3 euro but I didn’t realise the road was going to be so narrow and poorly lit. The road doesn’t cater to pedestrians at all so I wouldn’t recommend walking to Sveti Stefan, especially not at night. When we finally arrived I was disappointed to discover access to the island is only available to hotel guests. With all the beautiful photos of Sveti Stefan I had seen, I’d never read about its history so was completely unaware it has been a hotel only island for more than 50 years.
After the breakup of Yugoslavia, Sveti Stefan fell into decline but a few years ago it was taken over by Aman Resorts who renovated the island properties as well as the nearby Villa Miločer which is the mainland part of the resort. You can stay in the exclusive 5 star resort starting from €700 per night for a village room or from €1500 for a suite and there is a minimum 2 night stay. One can dream…
I thought about going back to Sveti Stefan the following day to hang out at the beautiful beach but €50 for a beach bed and umbrella is way out of my budget! Maybe next year
The next day we hit the road for Albania and not far along the highway from Kamenovo there is a great vantage point where you can pull over and capture the beauty of Sveti Stefan.