Dubrovnik’s Perfect Escapes: Cavtat

Lauren Simmonds

While Dubrovnik has more than enough on offer, sometimes more than enough can be too much and the need for some peace and quiet becomes overwhelming. Meet Croatia’s southernmost town…

Just fifteen kilometres (nine miles) south of the City of Dubrovnik sits the southernmost township in Croatia, just one hours drive (in summer traffic) from the Montenegrin border. Twinned only with the town of Bochnia, Poland, Cavtat is small, traditional and has a population of only 2,143 (2011 census). It is commonly referred to as one of the most beautiful towns in the country, donned with Dubrovnik’s typical red roofs and old stone houses, but with an added something that Dubrovnik itself often lacks… peace and quiet. 

Being the centre of the Konavle municipality and being flanked by both the sparkling Adriatic sea and the mountainous, green Konavle countryside, Cavtat truly possesses the perfect blend of being the best of both worlds.

The very same Greek colonists who founded and wrote extensively about the Elaphiti islands founded Cavtat in the 6th century BC, it was then known as ”Epidaurus” and was inhabited by the Illyrians who later referred to it by the name Zaptal. By the times of Roman rule in 228 BC, the town was renamed to ”Epidaurum”. Following a lot of overthrow and comings and goings of various rulers and peoples, the town changed its name once again, this time to Cavtat as we know it today, the name deriving from the Latin word for old city, ”Civitas Vetas”. It eventually came under the rule of the Republic of Ragusa (modern day Dubrovnik).

Cavtat has a connection with vary many famous Croatian names from the past, including the politician Frano Supilo, law historian and ethnologist Baltazar Bogisic, celebrated artist Vlaho Bukovac and opera singer Tino Pattiera. The town’s hauntingly beautiful old cemetery also contains a mausoleum which was decorated by the beloved sculptor and architect Ivan Mestrovic.

Today, Cavtat is popular with tourists from all over, mainly from other European countries. It contains just enough of everything, a few bars, restaurants and shops, but has never lost its links with a traditional Croatia. A beautiful harbour fills an encave, with a modest, palm tree lined waterfront adorned with small cafes and restaurants overlooking the sea and boats. Cavtat often boasts beautiful (and eye-poppingly expensive) private vessels, Roman Abramovich’s monster yacht was anchored in Zupa bay, close to Cavtat for the vast majority of 2016’s summer season.

Swimming in Cavtat is more than ample, and if I may say so myself, it beats Dubrovnik by far. A pebble beach much larger than most naturally occurring ones in the area can be found along a walkway called Setaliste Zal, it is fringed with two beach bars and a restaurant serving food throughout the day and into the evening. The town is bordered by a long walkway, at the side of which lie very many natural outcrops, rockpools and small, rocky beaches adequately shaded by the abundant growth of mediterranean pine trees leaning over the top of the crystal clear water.

Cavtat boasts many hotels for its small size, including but not limited to Hotel Cavtat, Remisens Hotel Albatros, Hotel Croatia and Hotel Supetar. The growing trend of private renting that can be seen in Dubrovnik has also spread south to Cavtat, with very many residents renting out rooms, apartments and houses throughout the summer months. Restaurants and eateries are abdundant but not excessive or over the top, with fresh, local produce and something to cater to every taste and budget. Regular service from boats ensure that Cavtat is successfully connected to its neighbouring areas, particularly to the smaller, nearby town of Mlini, as well as to the City of Dubrovnik and the island of Lokrum. Cavtat is naturally at its busiest during summer, with the Epidaurus Festival of Music being held annually.

As mentioned previously, Cavtat is surrounded by the beautiful Konavle countryside and is close to the small settlements of Obod, Zvekovica and Cilipi. The entire Konavle area is untouched, rich with greenery and has the perfect climate when it comes to the growing of grapes, with very many litres of excellent wine being produced and sold in the area every year. Konavle itself boasts some treasures, including Sokol Grad fort, an ancient construction built at the base of the mountains which rise imposingly above the Dunave and the popular restaurant Konavoski Dvori, nestled away in the trees and next to the river Ljuta.

If you’re visiting Dubrovnik and are growing tired of the crowds, why not hop on a boat (or bus!) to Cavtat and re-charge your batteries?



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