A Sunny Day in Little-Dubrovnik: Day Trip to Cavtat

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Cavtat, Croatia

Fancying a short-ish (and cheap) boat trip, we decided to go to the coastal town of Cavtat south of Dubrovnik.  It’s a popular tourist destination itself, with lots of hotels and eateries.  In early April, when we visited, it was very quiet and pleasant – not bustle-y and much more relaxing than Dubrovnik had already become with its hoards of tourist groups.  The coastline is just lovely and we sat on a beach for much longer than we intended, just enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

The boat journey to the town is also fun as you get to see the lovely coast and the fantastic views of Dubrovnik as you go in and out of the harbour.  Plus a potter around Dubrovnik’s harbour is always interesting….

Journey to Cavtat

Sister-Chickpea and I joined an intrepid French family on a bouncy boat on a rainy morning to visit Cavtat.  Luckily we hadn’t been puttering along for too long before the weather decided to be kind to us, which was much appreciated because it gets chilly when you’re out at sea when it’s raining.

On the journey, you go past some derelict, sad, strangely morbid looking buildings.  These are hotels, destroyed by the Serbs during the Homeland War.  They were part of the resort of Kupari, which had been a popular and buzzing spot for holidaying Yugoslavian families with connections.  There seems to be a bit of a fashion for visiting these abandoned hotels, so if you want to see what’s there, there are plenty of pictures on the internet.  If you’d like to read more about the resort’s history and the plans for its future, have a peek at this article: www.thedubrovniktimes.com


It’s generally stated that the original settlement of Epidaurus (modern Cavtat) was founded in the 4th century BC by the Greeks – but in his book “Dubrovnik: A History”, Robin Harris says this was not the case.  Anyway, the town did accommodate the Romans, and grew to be quite a settlement.  With the collapse of the Roman Empire and the invasion of Avar and Slav tribes, the town also collapsed, with many residents fleeing to the city of Ragusium (which became Dubrovnik).

A new city subsequently grew up on the site of Epidaurus, and in 1426 it became part of the Ragusan Republic, remaining under their influence until the Republic’s collapse in 1806.  It was a flourishing maritime community where ships were built for Dubrovnik and sea-captains went to retire in their lush villas.

The town has some pretty buildings which wouldn’t be out of place in Dubrovnik.  There is a general air of low key elegance.

Our Lady of the Snow Church

The Monastery of Our Lady of the Snow doesn’t appear to be open to the public (I think it may be a B&B), but its church is, and it is a cute little building with some interesting art work.  The altar is apparently from late 15th century, by Božidar Vlatković, but honestly it was so dark in there, I didn’t actually notice it.  Feel bad.  But I did definitely notice the fabulous polyptych by Vicko Lovrin (1509/10) – as well as the 1909 painting of Mary holding up the baby Jesus to see the town of Cavtat by sunset is also rather lovely – and even more charming when you find out it is by the local boy, Vlaho Bukovac.

St. Michael, the work of well-known artist Vicko Lovrin (also known as Vicko Dobričević) from 1509/10, is rather adorable.

Stroll Around the Rat Peninsula

There is also a path following the coastline around the beautifully named Rat peninsula.   If you go to the Our Lady of the Snow Church, you just follow the path away from the harbour, going up towards trees.  The views of the sea are lovely and the walkway has a dainty, early 20th century feel; you could imagine ladies in white lace dresses and big hats strolling along in the cooling shade of the trees.

We found this little pebble beach as we completed our walk around the peninsula, and though the water was extremely cold, it was nice to just sit and watch the waves.  And if you like looking for shells, this was the place to look.  We even found a decomposed sea-urchin – which sounds gross, but was actually quite cool.

Journey Back to Dubrovnik

Because we spent way too long at the pebble beach, we had to rush to catch our boat home.  It’s a shame, because I’d hoped that we’d get to the Vlaho Bukovac House Museum.  Still, sometimes looking for shells seems more important than anything else…

So In Summary

We had a really relaxing and calm day in Cavtat, helped no doubt by the fact that it was not remotely busy.  The peninsula provides a wonderful walk, though it’s hard to really describe why.  Certainly if you are short of time in the region, Cavtat isn’t a must-visit, but it is if you want to see a little of what the rest of the region, outside the Dubrovnik bubble, is like.  I just wished the boat home had been later…

Further Information

The town of Cavtat has its own, multilingual website, which is useful for planning day trips or longer stays: www.visit.cavtat-konavle.com

How To Get There

Cavtat can actually be reached from Dubrovnik by bus or boat.  The boat option is definitely the best for those who don’t fancy a journey along mountain roads, and if you’ve arrived at Dubrovnik via bus, you’ll have already decided whether you’ll be okay with it or not.  I don’t like mountain roads of any kind (it’s Papa-Chickpea’s fault) and so a bumpy boat journey was preferable.  Actually, a boat is always a nice way to see places, and is particularly appropriate for a place with a rich maritime history.  Plus that view as you go back towards Dubrovnik is just great.

Anyway, there is information online about the boat trips, but I found that confusing.  I found it easier to just go to the harbour and find the boats with times and prices that suited.





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