Croatia,  Destinations,  Europe

Why You Should Stay in Cavtat, Croatia

Updated 03/22

There are many reasons why you stay in Cavtat instead of its more famous neighbour Dubrovnik.

In a nutshell, Cavtat is cheaper and quieter than Dubrovnik. But it is also a charming, leafy small town that retains a local feel. 

Cavtat is a place in which to slow down, relax and savour all that Croatia has to offer. It is also an ideal base to explore this part of Croatia (including Dubrovnik) and further afield into Montenegro.

We discovered Cavtat by chance.  We had planned to stay in Dubrovnik but were travelling in high season and had left it too late to book accommodation within our budget. Cavtat was a default option but it was a fortunate one.

Our family loved Cavtat as soon as we saw it and, after spending one crowded, expensive day in Dubrovnik, we were happy to return to the tranquillity and slower pace of Cavtat.

 

Cavtat information

 

Cavtat is a historic, coastal town in the southern Konvale region, 20 kilometres from Dubrovnik and just 5 kilometres from Dubrovnik airport.

The town has a long history being founded by Greeks arriving from Vis in the 6th century B.C. It later fell under Roman rule under Emperor Augustus.

The town consists of two peninsulas (Rat Peninsula and Sustjepan Peninsula) which form the attractive horseshoe shaped Luka Bay.  Cavtat’s Old Town is on the Rat Peninsula on the eastern edge of Luka Bay.

It is an attractive town with winding cobbled lanes lined with pale stone houses with terracotta roofs. There are trees everywhere and pink and purple Bougainvillea on most houses. Throw in the sparkling Adriatic and you have a picture perfect location.

Cavtat is only a few miles from Dubrovnik Airport but its close proximity did not bother us. There is some aircraft noise during the day but it is sporadic and is not consistent or frequent. 

 

white and black rowing and motorboats on a blue sea, with green trees and a church spire in the background, visit Cavtat Croatia
Cavtat harbour looking towards the church of Our Lady Of The Snow

 

 

Things to do in Cavtat

 

 

The Marina and promenade

 

The principal marina (where all the super yachts moor up) is in Luka Bay. You will also find the palm tree lined, car-free promenade here.

The promenade is edged by shops and cafes and is a popular spot for a stroll, to people watch or to ogle the super yachts. In the summer months, the marina hosts music and cultural events. It is worth a wander at any time of the day and is illuminated at night.

At one end of the promenade is the colourful Farmers market.  The daily market sells fresh fruit and vegetables and ‘made on the spot’ ice creams and pancakes. It is ideal for picking up a picnic.

Behind the market is a public water polo court. Try to catch a match if you can. We spent a fun afternoon watching local youth teams play a tournament supported by enthusiastic, vocal locals. 

 

a clear blue water polo pitch with stone buildings, white yachts and trees in the background

Cavtat Churches

 

At one end of the marina promenade is the small Byzantine style Church of Our Lady of the Snow

This tiny, atmospheric Franciscan church is free to enter and is open daily. Visitors are welcome to attend Sunday services but mass times vary according to the current temperatures. 

At the opposite end of the promenade is the beautiful 15th century Church of St Nicholas whose lone bell tolls throughout the day.

Pop inside to view paintings by locally born, 19th century artist Vlaho Bukovac. The church is welcoming to visitors but if you wish to attend Sunday service you need to arrive early to get a seat.

 

Museums in Cavtat

 

The three storey Vlaho Bukovac Museum near the waterfront displays artwork of this renowned Croatian painter. It is a delightful, peaceful museum to wander round. 

Entrance to the museum is 30 Kuna and is included in a sightseeing Dubrovnik Card.

The Rectors Palace stands in the middle of Luka Bay. The pink, Renaissance era museum houses the private collection of Cavtat born Balthazar Bogisic a lawyer who lived here in the 19th century.

There are 35,000 pieces in the eclectic collection ranging from costumes to weapons. It includes a valuable collection of numismatics (coins and currency) and a library with over 20,000 books. Entrance is 25 Kuna.

 

Cavtat Old Town

 

The Old Town is made for wandering. Turn right off the promenade onto any upwardly sloping lane and it will lead you into the old town. It is a maze of cobbled lanes, ornate wooden doors and huge Magnolias trees.

A short path from here leads to Cavtat’s hilltop cemetery. The main attraction here is the elaborate Racic Mausoleum which was built in 1921 by renowned sculptor Ivan Meštrović. Entrance to the mausoleum is 20 Kuna.

The 360 degree view from the cemetery is worth the leg burning steps to reach it.

 

white motorboats and yachts on a blue sea against a backdrop of terracotta houses, green trees and blue sky, Cavtat Croatia

Beaches in Cavtat

 

As in most other coastal destinations in Croatia, Cavtat lacks sandy beaches. But there are a few pebbly beaches in Cavtat to choose from.

There is a small beach on the left side of Luka Bay near the Spinnaker restaurant. 

This Cavtat beach has a zoned swimming area and a gentle incline into the sea so it is ideal for children. As a result, it is very popular with families and space is at a premium in summer months. Stand up paddle boards and kayaks can be hired nearby.

There is also a small strip of beach in the middle of Luka Bay in front of the Rectors Palace.

The water is shallow to enter and is unbelievably clear and there are lovely views across the bay. This is where the locals come for a post work, sunset swim which creates a fun, buzzing atmosphere. We loved this spot.

You can also swim and snorkel off the rocky shores of the wooded peninsulas. Before entering the water, carefully gauge the water depth and be aware of submerged rocks and currents. If in doubt, ask a local.

I recommend wear beach shoes on the beaches and for swimming as there is a lot of sea urchins in the water. This is a positive sign as sea urchins love clean water!

 

Local walks

 

There are two easy walks in Cavtat around the two peninsulas that enclose the town.

Each peninsula takes around one hour to walk.  Both are excellent walks on a hot day as the dense pine trees provide shade and there is a cool breeze off the Adriatic.

On the right of Luka Bay (as you look out to sea) is the Rat Peninsula. Its paved paths are wide and accessible with pushchairs and wheelchairs. This is a popular trail with locals and tourists and there is a bar half way round the peninsula (with a handy toilet). 

On the left Luka Bay is the Sustjepan Peninsula with a path winding through an aromatic pine forest.  It is a narrow, rocky path with inclines up and down so it is unsuitable for wheelchair users or pushchairs.

When we walked this path we did not meet any  tourists – which may explain why the nudist beach is located near here. The scenic, tranquil walk ends on the hilltop near Hotel Cavtat. 

There are also some long distance walks which start or end in Cavtat. The best known path is Ronald Brown Way, named after an American politician who died in a plane crash here. 

The linear route leads to the neighbouring village of Ćilipi via Stražišće peak. This is a difficult, challenging and exposed trail which takes around 5 hours to complete. 

There are no facilities on the route so pack plenty of water and snacks. Hiking experience and appropriate footwear is a must. You can avoid a return hike by catching the bus back to Cavtat (or vice versa). Cavtat tourist office are happy to help with route advice and bus timetables.

 

 

white motorboats and large yachts in a blue sea harbour against a backdrop of green trees and terracotta roof houses
The Racic Mausoleum can be seen on the top of the hill.

 

Day Trips From Cavtat

 

Cavtat is an ideal location for day trips around the neighbouring coastline and into Montenegro. You will easily fill your days.

 

Dubrovnik

 

Dubrovnik is one of the most visited locations in Croatia and it is an easy day trip from Cavtat.

Before choosing which day to visit Dubrovnik, check the online cruise ship timetable for the city. The arrival of Goliath sized cruise ships dramatically increases Dubrovnik’s visitor numbers. Choose a quieter day and you will enjoy Dubrovnik more.

If you are visiting in peak season, visit as early in the day as you can. the city will be quieter and cooler.

Read my recommendations for a day trip to Dubrovnik here.

 

Getting from Cavtat to Dubrovnik

If you have a hire car, it is an easy 20 kilometre drive to Dubrovnik along a main highway. However, once in Dubrovnik you may struggle to find parking and you will get caught in busy city traffic.

The cheapest way to get from Cavtat to Dubrovnik is by public bus.

The No. 10 bus travels runs on a frequent timetable from Cavtat bus station direct to Dubrovnik.  It drops you near to the cable car station for Mt. Syd. The scenic journey takes around 30 minutes, depending on traffic. 

However, the best way to get to Dubrovnik is by boat.

It is not only quick and easy but arriving by sea is the best way to visit Dubrovnik. The boats dock right outside Ploce Gate and the city walls; the size and scale of which can only be appreciated from the sea.  Access to the Old Town couldn’t be easier.

Boats depart from Cavtat marina and it is a scenic, 45 minute trip across the Adriatic. It is also much cooler than sitting on a bus!

Boat timetables start early and run late as many visitors travel from Dubrovnik to Cavtat for dinner so need to return afterwards.

 

Cavtat to Dubrovnik
Travelling from Cavtat to Dubrovnik by boat.

 

I recommend shopping around at the different boat kiosks in Cavtat marina before buying your ticket. Prices vary and, as travelling to Dubrovnik by boat is three times the cost of the bus, it worth getting the best price you can. 

Due to the high competition for clients, we were offered discounts without even asking for them. We secured free places for two of our three children and were offered a further discount if we booked a day in advance. 

 

Kotor, Montenegro

 

Cavtat is just 22 kilometres from the Montenegran border. The beautiful Bay of Kotor, Kotor Old Town and Perast are 2 – 3 hours drive from Cavtat (depending on how quick your border crossing is).

It is a long day trip but it will be worth it.

The Bay of Kotor is stunning. The deep clear water is fantastic to swim in and a boat trip along the bay offers incredible vistas.

Kotor Old Town is a maze of winding lanes and fantastic architecture. Climbing the old town steps will give you an unforgettable view of the bay. We loved our week in laidback Kotor and would highly recommend visiting.

Read all about our trip to Kotor and Montenegro here. 

 

Getting from Cavtat to Kotor, Montenegro

If you are self driving, the route is well signposted and easy to navigate. Road conditions are good but expect steep, winding roads and some sheer drops. Pack a sick bag for sensitive travellers! 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct bus from Cavtat to Kotor.

To travel to Kotor by bus you first have to travel to Dubrovnik which is in the opposite direction. You must change buses in Dubrovnik and then double back on yourself (passing Cavtat) to get to the Montenegro border. The bus is a cheap way to visit Kotor but it will take a long time and a lot of hassle.

If you are travelling as a group or as a family, it may be more cost effective to travel from Cavtat to Kotor by private taxi. It will also be quicker.

As a family of five chose a private transfer to Kotor. We were travelling onwards from Kotor so we also had our luggage with us. Our border crossing was quick so the journey to Kotor took around 2 ½ hours.

It was easy, comfortable and quick and our driver was happy to stop along the way when requested so we could enjoy the views (and settle our stomachs). 

For this one way trip, it was cheaper to arrange for a driver to come FROM Montenegro to take us back than it was to arrange a one way drop off from Cavtat.

 

Cilipi

On Sundays, the villagers of neighbouring Cilipi perform an outdoor traditional music and dance show. The show happens after mass in front of the village church. 

It is a ticket only event and packages that include transport are sold in Cavtat tourist office.

 

Activity trips

Alternative day trips include private and group snorkeling trips, fishing trips and transfers to surrounding islands and coastal towns.

All of these trips are advertised in Cavtat marina. Again, shop around as prices vary.

 

 

Getting to and from Cavtat

 

Cavtat is 6 kilometres from the international Ćilipi airport which is also known as Dubrovnik airport. 

The easiest way to get from Cavtat to Dubrovnik airport is by taxi. Taxis are quick and cheap. You can also catch a public bus but if you have luggage, get a taxi.

Cavtat bus station has frequent links to/from Dubrovnik and other towns in the region.

Regular boat trips arrive into Cavtat marina from around the Konvale coastline. Connect in Dubrovnik to pick up car ferries and foot passenger catamarans to other destinations in Croatia.

For example, Korcula Island is two hours from Dubrovnik by catamaran, Hvar is three hours and Split is around 6 hours away.

Check the detailed and easy to use Jadrolinija website for details of catamaran times and prices. We used the foot passenger catamarans throughout Croatia and found them affordable, clean and reliable. They can get busy in peak season so book ahead if you can and be prepared to stand. 

 

Cavtat Accommodation

 

Cavtat old town and town centre remains unspoilt by modern buildings or large hotels as space is limited. Accommodation options are around the old town will be self catering flats, villas or Airbnb’s.

Larger hotels and apartment complexes are on the edge of town or on the hill sloping down to the sea. Accommodation will be more spacious and cheaper the further away you are from the old town and sea.

 

Budget accommodation in Cavtat

We stayed at the friendly Appartments Senjo on edge of town.

Our compact, immaculate one bed appartment comfortably fitted our family of five. It has a small but well equipped kitchenette that saved us a lot of money on eating out.

It was cheaper than staying in the centre of Cavtat but we did have to an uphill walk at the of the day. These apartments are compact with narrow balconies so are a better option for families with older children.

The owners were friendly and the balcony views were fantastic. 

 

Mid range

Affordable family accommodation doesn’t get much better than Apartment Dora.

This gorgeous two bedroom apartment is just 1 minute walk from the beach and is spacious with air conditioning and free WiFi. The beautiful gardens at this family run property are an added bonus. There is no parking on site so it is ideal for families visiting Cavtat without a car. 

If you can handle a walk up a steep hill, staying at the highly rated Residence Delta will reward your efforts. The spacious, tastefully furnished apartments have stunning sea views, terraces and a shared communal pool. 

Apartments Bugenvila are 1 km from Cavtat promenade. The spacious two bedroom apartments have air conditioning (a big plus in the hot summer months), free WiFi and valuable parking. They also offer an airport shuttle. The sea views from here are fabulous. 

Hotel Supetar Cavtat is a 3 star hotel in a traditional three storey townhouse located on Cavtat’s promenade. It couldn’t be any more central!

Their family room is actually two interconnecting rooms, both of which overlook the garden. There are two sunbathing terraces, an on site restaurant, free WiFi and the beach is just 450 yards away.

 

Luxury hotels in Cavtat

The most famous hotel in the area is Hotel Cavtat, 200 metres from town centre and just 1 minute from the nearest beach.

Hotel Cavtat deserves its reputation. Their rooms are tastefully furnished, have air conditioning, free WiFi, satellite tv and furnished sea view balconies.  The views from the rooftop terrace swimming pool are stunning.

Boat trips to and from Dubrovnik stop at the hotel’s private marina to pick up and drop off passengers.

The five star Hotel Croatia,Cavtat is the ultimate splurge.

This is a luxurious hotel whose stunning hill top views are hard to beat. It boasts two private beaches, two swimming pools and a wellness centre. Breakfast is included in your stay and there is an on site restaurant. The hotel is in a secluded spot and is surrounded by greenery.

 

Cavtat Restaurants

 

There are several restaurants along the Marina and promenade. Most have sea views and some have dining terraces overlooking the water. Expect to pay more the close you are to the sea.

Cavtat restaurants are popular with locals and tourists alike and many people come from Dubrovnik because of the sunset views. Book ahead to guarantee your spot.

La Boheme is a highly rated seafood restaurant on the waterfront opposite the marina. Their lunch and dinner food is fantastic with generous portions. Service is friendly and efficient.

Book in advance as this place is deservedly popular. Try the Tiramisu with almond liqueur – it’s to die for.

For traditional Croatian meat and fish dishes, check out Konoba Kolona. There is something on the menu for everyone and it is good value for money.

If you are craving pizza, visit Pizzeria Kabalero on the waterfront. Their pizzas are delicious and are a good size at a fair price. This family run place is open for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner.

 

 

Tips for holidays to Cavtat

 

  • Visit the helpful tourist office at the bus station for maps, timetables and information about the local area.
  • We only found one public toilet in Cavtat. At the time of our visit, it was in the bus station and cost a whopping 7 Kuna per person (nearly £1)!
  • Buying food at the Farmers Market is much cheaper than buying lunch in local restaurants.
  • Look for early bird offers and child discounts in Cavtat restaurants. You will pay more if the restaurant is on the waterfront.
  • There is a well stocked supermarket near the bus station. It also sells quick lunches such as pizza slices or ready made sandwiches.
  • A MUST DO in Cavtat is a visit to Kuca Slaloleda ‘The House Of Ice Cream’ opposite the farmers market. It sells ice cream is all colours and flavours and is some of the best ice cream we have ever tasted. Servings are generous which spend thrift me loves!
  • Accommodation will be cheaper the further away from the harbour you are.  If you do not have mobility problems, it is an easy 10 minute walk down the hill into town. Save the bus for the ride uphill.
  • As well as beach shoes, I would recommend packing some form of beach shade, especially for kids. Beaches in Cavtat are exposed and we did not see any umbrella hire when we visited.
  • Make sure you watch a Cavtat sunset; they are breath taking.

 

We feel very lucky to have discovered Cavtat by chance. It was a fantastic start to our backpacking trip around Croatia. We would love to return one day and hope that it will always hold onto its small town, welcoming feel.

 

 

 

 

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