Cavtat was not in my plans.
See, I had an excursion booked for Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Or, so I thought.
The day before the “trip,” I searched for the confirmation document on my travel folder. It was not there.
“Let me check the confirmation e-mail,” I thought.
There was no e-mail.
I came to the realization that I never booked the excursion. I researched how to do the trip independently, but a public bus would take 4 hours to reach the destination (one way). There was no way we were going to make it there.
Because of that, I had to find something to do in or near Dubrovnik. Cavtat kept popping over and over in articles and forums. In addition, a bus ride to the town cost about $3. Well, Cavtat it was!
I am so glad we were able to visit. The pace was so different from Dubrovnik and the scenery is truly majestic.
Keep reading to discover more about this charming coastal town located 10 miles (21 miles) south of Dubrovnik.
Not many would guess this but Cavtat has Greek origins. The city was founded in the 6th century BC under the name of Epidaurus. Centuries later the Slavs destroyed and sacked the city. Residents fled and took refuge in present-day Dubrovnik (which was an island during those times). Cavtat rose from the ashes during the Middle Ages. As a play of destiny, the area that was populated with its inhabitants became a huge maritime power and became known as the Republic of Ragusa. Cavtat ended under the control of the Republic.
To understand Cavtat, and this article, you must be aware of the peculiar geography of the city center. Cavtat consists of two peninsulas: Rat and Sustjepan. They are shaped like a crab’s claw. There are two bays too. The one inside the “crab’s claw” is known as Luka Bay and the other one is called Tiha Bay (shaped like a whale’s tail). Cavtat’s Old Town is located on the Rat Peninsula.
Why Visit Cavtat?
If you can visit Dubrovnik, Croatia’s most famous and beautiful city, why would you consider Cavtat?
With time, Dubrovnik has become touristy, crowded and very, very expensive. When places reach that point, a lot of visitors start to look for alternatives.
Those in search of peace and tranquility may prefer a less bustling place like Cavtat. Also, the town is a nice option for those looking to do an inexpensive half or day trip from Dubrovnik.
Tours in Dubrovnik range from 50 to 100 Euros. You can spend a day in Cavtat for half (or even a third) of that.
Things to Do in Cavtat
As a holiday resort, Cavtat caters for those who want to have a relaxing couple of days by hitting the beach or sitting on a lounge with a cold drink.
Even though the vibe seems to be “take it as slow as possible,” the city offers plenty to do in terms of cultural, recreational and natural attractions.
I will give you the options. It is up to you to decide what you want to do.
Arrive by Boat
From April to November, there are boat services from Dubrovnik (Old Port) to Cavtat. Departures are every hour. Be ready to pay about 50 kunas.
This is a great opportunity to start your day with a scenic “cruise.” The stretch of coast between Dubrovnik and Cavtat (as much of Southern Dalmatia) is dotted with islands, coves, and picturesque towns. You will not regret seeing all that beauty from the water.
St. Nicholas Church
This small church is well positioned on one side of Luka Bay. Its rounded-top bell tower gives the city’s skyline a characteristic Adriatic flavor. The interior contains works of art of prominent painters such as Vlaho Bukovac.
Nowadays, this Renaissance mansion houses a collection of artifacts, costumes, old weapons and more. (not to be confused with Dubrovnik’s Rector’s Palace). In addition, it conserves the library of Baltazar Bogisic, a 19th-century lawyer, and native son. It is estimated he collected 20,000 books during his lifetime.
Walk the Seaside Promenade
Cavtat has a very pleasant seaside promenade lined with palm trees along Luka Bay. It is ideal for walking or contemplating the scenery from one of its multiple benches. If you prefer, you can sit down at one of the restaurants, cafes or ice cream shops and enjoy the moment from there.
One of the things I like is that open-air terraces are furnished with comfy chairs and small couches. It feels like you are sitting in your own living room.
Franciscan Monastery and Church
This Gothic-Renaissance complex is located on the far side of the promenade. It has paintings of Vlaho Bukovac too.
Mausoleum of the Račić Family
Interestingly enough, a cemetery is located on the highest part of the Rat Peninsula. Among tombs, a white octagonal mausoleum rises. This is the final resting place of Captain Ivo Račić and his family. Ivo and his children died within months under different circumstances. Ivo’s wife died a year after her kids and wanted the family to be buried together.
The mausoleum was completed by renowned sculptor Ivan Meštrović (you will hear a lot about him in Zagreb, Split and even Lovcen National Park in Montenegro).
Photo by Erud
The House of Vlaho Bukovak
Vlaho Bukovak is considered one of the founders of modern Croatian painting. His childhood home is open to the public and features 200 paintings, sketches, drawings and other documents relevant to the artist’s life.
Walk the Rat Peninsula Trail
At one end of the promenade, you can keep on walking and follow a trail that will take you along the Rat Peninsula. This is an easy, flat trail suitable for all the family (even strollers) and pets. At a normal pace, the entire walk will take about 30 minutes to complete. The walk is shaded.
However, you can take your time and explore the different coves, beaches, and bars. The walls of Dubrovnik are visible from the peninsula. My favorite part was to see the steep, forested mountains meeting the sea.
Walk the Sustjepan Peninsula Trail
There is trail covering the perimeter of the other peninsula in town. This trail is a bit rougher and it has some steps and inclines. However, it is still easy to walk and affords great views Bobara, Mrkan and other islets.
The walk ends at one side of the Hotel Croatia. It is a bit tricky to find the way back to town. You will need to cut through the Hotel Croatia (if you do not want to go back through the long route).
As any good holiday resort, Cavtat has several beaches.
However, visitors are not restricted to bathe in designated areas. While walking around the peninsulas, you are going to notice that claiming a spot over a random rock is fair game. Watch the wave motion if you chose this option.
Here is a list of the most popular beaches in the area in case you prefer to go that route.
- Kljucice Beach – Northern side of the Rat Peninsula
- Public Beach at Tiha Bay (in front of Hotel Cavtat)
- Zal Beach – Eastern Side of Tiha Bay
- Obod Beach – Eastern Side of Tiha Bay
- Sustjepan Beach – Sustjepan Peninsula facing Luka Bay
- Hotel Croatia Beach – Southern side of Sustjepan Peninsula
Another option is to visit the beaches of towns such as Mlini, Srebreno and Plat. The boats connecting Cavtat to Dubrovnik stops at these towns.
Relax at a Beach Club
As previously stated, beaches are rocky in this area. Beach clubs and bars have comfy chairs where you can lay down between dips in the ocean. Plus, food and drinks are one call away.
Here is a list of some of the most popular spots.
- Beach Bar Little Star
- Beach Bar Banac
- Spinaker Restaurant & Lounge Bar
- Beach Bar Cool
Notice most of these establishments operate on a seasonal schedule. I visited Cavtat in late May and only some of these were open.
Visit the Islands
Supetar, Bobora and Mrkran belong to a group called the Cavtat Islands.
The island of Supetar has a restaurant, shaded terrace, basketball court, football field, and restrooms. A ship stops on the island as part of the regular boat between Dubrovnik and Cavtat. This is a good option for those who want to escape the congested beaches of the mainland.
Other trips can be arranged via a boat rental.
Kayaking and Paddleboarding
Kayaks, paddle boards, and other gear can be rented near the tip of the Rat Peninsula (next to the Beach Bar Little Star).
Ronald Brown Pathway
Active types would love this hike to the summit of Stražišće peak. The hike is considered hard and it can take up to 5 hours to complete. Use proper footwear as the path is rocky.
Instructions to reach the trail from Cavtat’s bus station can be found in here. The trail can also be accessed from the Obod area (from the main road D8). Get more details at the Tourist Information Center.
Cavtat Restaurants: What to Eat
Restaurants in Cavtat serve dishes found throughout the Dalmatian region: seafood, pasta, pizza, stews, etc.
Here are some of my recommendations:
- Konoba Dvori
- Dalmacija Restaurant
- Ivan Restaurant
- Restaurant Leut
- Pizzeria Cavalero
- Konoba Toranj
Notice the food prices in Cavtat are as expensive as in Dubrovnik (I didn’t notice any difference). Simple dishes oscillate between $10 to $15. Seafood plates (combination of several things) cost $35 to $40. Expect to pay $3 or $4 for a soft drink.
Day Trips from Cavtat
Most people will visit Cavtat from Dubrovnik but, if you are staying in Cavtat, Dubrovnik will be the most logical option for a day trip.
Cavtat is the seat of Konavle, a 125 square mile area known for its villages, rivers, vineyards, olive groves, and orchards. Cycling trips, ATV rides and wine tasting experiences can be arranged. If you have your own car, you can visit the Ethnographic Museum of Konavle, Sokol Grad, and rustic restaurants.
Adriana Tour Agency arranges excursions and boat trips. Agencies based in Dubrovnik can arrange tours for people staying Cavtat.
Dubrovnik to Cavtat by Bus
Bus #10 leaves from Dubrovnik’s Main Bus Station every half an hour. As an alternative, catch the bus at the bus stop in front of the cable car. The ride takes 30 minutes. Have your camera ready since there would be plenty of amazing views.
Cavtat bus station is located next to the Old Town.
Dubrovnik to Cavtat by Car
Reaching Cavtat by car is super easy. Take road D8 south and follow instructions to the town (you will have to turn right at one point when getting close to the airport).
The main parking lot is located on the west side of Tiha Bay.
Airport to Cavtat
The Dubrovnik Airport is located 3 km from Cavtat. The best way to reach the town is by taxi.
Best Time to Visit Cavtat
Cavtat can be visited all year round but in the months of June, July and August are prime season in terms of services. I visited at the end of May and most businesses were open (but still too cold to swim).
Hope my guide on the best things to do in Cavtat inspire you to visit this beautiful town on the Croatian coast!
Have you visited Cavtat? What are your recommendations?
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