Sveti Stefan in Montenegro

Sveti Stefan is a beautiful sight on the Adriatic Coast of Montenegro, 5 kilometres south of Budva. Unlike Budva, with its seal colonies of tourists, some of Sveti Stefan’s beaches are quiet. The main reason for this is that people have to pay 75 Euros to use some of them for the day. For this price, people receive a welcome drink and the use of a beach umbrella. In the interests of balance, I should report the public beach, 30 yards away, is free and was fairly crowded, but people have to take their own drinks.

Sveti Stefan is picturesque from afar and has to be admired from afar, because the island was nationalised in the 1950s and is now a luxurious resort, which only residents may enter. The more expensive rooms, costing at least 1,500 Euros per night, seem to be booked up 7 months ahead although the humbler cottages, designed as authentic Montenegrin fishermen’s dwellings, aren’t quite as popular and only cost 800 Euros a night.

The resort is connected to the mainland by a causeway, whose entrance is rigorously patrolled by a concierge. He stops any non-residents from entering the causeway. I couldn’t help noticing the public beach does stretch alongside the causeway to the island. There are a couple of sets of steps up to the causeway where a gate, presumably locked, prevents entry. The gate is only about four feet high, so it could be jumped over if you were feeling athletic. I am just mentioning this in case you’re interested…

Sveti Stefan’s dwellings date from the 15th Century, although they do look like 21st Century two-storey houses on an exclusive estate with their terracotta roof tiles and perfectly symmetrical windows. Some are ivy-clad, which breaks the monotony somewhat. The church in the centre is still in use, apparently.

What became of the original residents of Sveti Stefan? Well, they were generously relocated by the government from their homes, with views over the Adriatic Sea and the curvy coastline, to another village on a hill overlooking the island. This village was also called Sveti Stefan (“St Stephen”), so I presume the government felt this made the evictions OK. Same people, same village name, different location, different view, no choice in the matter.

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