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Sveti Stefan: "It's just as if I have returned to town from the most beautiful fairy tale of my childhood" - Sofia Loren
Sveti Stefan is the jewel in the Budva Riviera’s (already adorned) crown. It's got everything:
It’s one of the must-see sights on the Riviera. But for most a quick snap of the island from the road has to suffice.
The island belongs to Aman Resorts and is closed off to the public. This means it's inaccessible to all but those who can afford the hefty price tag.
There is however one way you can get on to the island for a lot less than the €800 per night price in the resort. Keep reading and I'll tell you how you can see the island for yourself.
The little islet's history dates back to the 15th Century when the Ottoman Turks were out to conquer the Adriatic Sea.
During one of their campaigns they anchored at Jaz Beach near Budva and were on their way to invade Kotor. When the locals heard about this they gathered up their weapons and took a shortcut to Kotor to help their neighbours. And they won!
After giving the Turks a good hiding, they not only chased them back to Jaz but attacked their ships and kept the spoils. With that gold they decided to build a fortress town on a little islet with one house for each of the 12 local tribes. And a church, naturally. The church was dedicated to St Stephan who became the town’s protector. Later the town became a centre for trade and administration.
By 1954 however, there were just 20 people still living on the island. So in the 50’s the islet was renovated and opened in 1960 as a hotel. It quickly became a favourite hangout of 60’s film stars and royalty like Sophia Loren, Doris Day and Princess Margaret. There was then another period of decline while Yugoslavia broke up until 2007 when it was leased to Aman Resorts.
Image: Deposit photos
Today the islet has been renovated and is an exclusive hotel again. Aman Resorts Sveti Stefan has 58 rooms and apartments. It’s a beautiful but exclusive resort and the hotel is priced from around €800 per night.
Although you can’t really visit the island, I recommend having a walk through Milocer park. The whole area used be the summer residence of the Karadjordjevic family and it’s beautiful. The road winds through Milocer park which is filled with olive groves and exotic trees. It takes you past Villa Milocer and King’s Beach, which are also part of the Aman resort.
Start from the path in front of Olive Restaraurant and follow it through the park.
The beach north of the island is also part of Aman Resort and costs €80 per person to hire a lounger.
The south beach is free for the public so if you're staying elsewhere you can use this beach for free. You can hire loungers here starting from €15 for two loungers and an sun umbrella.
Sveti Stefan is a great place to spend the day if you've got kids. Aside from the beach, there's a very good playground where they'll find lots of playmates next to Olive restaurant. There are also public toilets next to the playground - handy for little ones who are well known for waiting until the last minute!
With the beach, playground, forest walk and restaurants, you've got everything you need in a small area to have a fun day out with your family.
You can’t strictly access the island unless you’re a hotel guest. But you can get onto the island with a restaurant reservation. This is a great way to visit for a fraction of the price of a room.
You have to make a reservation at The Taverna or Nobu and will be met and escorted to The Piazza, the heart of the island where the bars and restaurants are.
As you'd expect, the prices here are higher than elsewhere on the coast, but if you really want to see the island up close, this is the way to do it.
Image credit: Arno Hoyer
These three are the highlights of the Montenegrin coast and you'll take in some of Montenegro's most lovely scenery.
The tour includes private guided tours of all three places.
This is a great tour to get a flavor of old world Mediterranean Montenegro.
Start point: Kotor
Start time: Flexible
Duration: 4 1/2 hours
Price: From €46 per person
In Budva and Sveti Stefan you'll see some of the most stunning coastline and Budva's old town. Then you head to Cetinje, the old royal capital before stopping in Njegusi to try Montenegrin smoked ham and cheeses.
Start point: Kotor
Start time: Flexible
Duration: 5-6 hours
Price: €330 (maximum 4 people per tour)
Dining here doesn't need to be expensive, despite the address. There are restaurants at every price point.
Adrovic Restaurant at Hotel Adrovic is a great place to eat here. They have a terrace with stunning views over the sea and island. The Budva Riviera has amazing sunsets and this is the perfect place to watch from. Take your darling here for dinner if you want to impress!
Find their menu here.
Address: Jadranski Put bb, Sv. Stefan.
Phone: +382 (0)33 468 507
Greek Mediterranean cuisine right next to the island. Prices here are a little higher than elsewhere. Find their menu here.
Address: Sv. Stefan bb.
Phone: +382 069 187 988
Hours: 9am – midnight every day.
Well priced local cuisine in a homey atmosphere. The menu is priced from €5 - €25. This is a great place to enjoy the famous view view without the price tag.
Address: Slobode 24, Sv. Stefan.
Phone: + 382 69 231 922
Hours: 8am – midnight every day.
As I mentioned earlier, you can visit the island with a restaurant reservation at The Taverna. The restaurant serves breakfast and Mediterranean lunches and dinners. Prices here are higher than elsewhere, but not over the top. A lunch for two costs around €60. A great option if you really want to see the island. Bookings are required.
Address: Aman Resort Sv. Stefan.
Phone: +382 33 420 000
Traditional Montenegrin cuisine like calamari, octopus and Balkan sausages at reasonable prices. Along with Femelja Kentera, this is one of the best value places to eat here.
Address: Slobode 32, Sv. Stefan.
Phone: +382 33 468 477
You can get to Sveti Stefan on foot, though it’s around 10km / 6 miles from Budva.
There’s a seaside promenade from Budva to Kamenovo Beach. From Zoff’s Fish Restaurant you have to go up and then turn right at Kusta’s Grill onto the main road. Walk for about 300m and then take the stairs before the viaduct back down to Przno Beach. Keep to the left of Maestral Hotel and go through the arched gate. After Queen’s Beach you can continue on through Milocer park or head back down to the promenade.
From Budva it’s a straight drive south on the main road. The trip takes about 15 minutes. Sveti Stefan is signposted from the main road and there’s parking in front of the island for €2 an hour. If you spend €20 at Olive, parking is free.
For the best picture of the island, you’re best to stay on the main road and take it from above. There’s a look out point where you can stop and take a picture of the island. There are usually people selling souvenirs here.
Click here to find and book a transfer to Sveti Stefan from Podgorica, Tivat or Dubrovnik.
You can catch a bus from Budva bus station to Sveti Stefan for €2 each way.
Although the Aman resort is exclusive at around €800 a night, you can find all kinds of accommodation around Sveti Stefan without the hefty price tag.
There are great quality hotels with a view of the islet. There are also cheaper accommodations available with the same gorgeous view.
Read More: Best Sveti Stefan Accommodation
So although this seaside hamlet is known as an exclusive resort, you see that you can stay and eat here for reasonable prices.
Been to Sveti Stefan? Got a tip to share? Share your insider tips in the comments below.
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