Beautiful beaches? Check. Renaissance mansions? Check. Ancient Illyrian necropolises? Double check!
Cavtat, a town located on Croatia’s Adriatic Coast, has an extraordinary mix of artwork, architecture, and artifacts from multiple diverse periods in history. It is a great place to embrace your inner archeologist and go exploring. Let’s take a look at where you should start.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Cavtat, Croatia?
Cavtat typically enjoys summers that are warm and dry — perfect for spending time at the beach. Unlike most other Mediterranean countries, you don’t have to wait for the shoulder seasons to visit. It is recommended to come between June and August, so that you can enjoy the sea breeze in the dry, hot summer near the coast.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Cavtat, Croatia
Eat, Eat, and Eat Some More
Craving Croatian cuisine? Cavtat is the perfect place to sample the country’s delicious dishes cooked according to traditions that have been passed down for centuries. One of the biggest highlights here is the meat, such as prsut, a dry-cured, smoked ham, and lamb grilled over an open fire. You can also enjoy fresh fish served with local, homemade sauces after being grilled over an open flame as well, and locally produced cheese that is so good that it’s known all over the world. You should also make it a point to sample some of the olive oil, which is made right here in Cavtat.
Visit Vlaho Bukovac’s House
Who is Vlaho Bukovac, you ask? He is the most famous painter to come out of Cavtat, Croatia, best known for his highly realistic nude painting titled “A Flower.” He was an important artist in the Symbolism movement, and often embraced the abstract in his work. In Cavtat, you can visit the home in which he was born, which has now been turned into a museum full of his paintings and the frescoes he painted directly onto the walls of the house itself.
Go to the Beach
Cavtat is home to some particularly lovely beaches and some of the top sights in Croatia, any of which would make an ideal place to spend a hot summer day. Thanks to the shady woods that surround them, the most popular are Rat and Žal. Obod is also a great choice, as is Sustjepan, which, as nice as it is, tends to be a bit crowded. Alternatively, there is Pasjača, which is more secluded and peaceful.
Some of the Best Attractions in Cavtat, Croatia
Račić Family Mausoleum
Constructed in 1921, the Račić family mausoleum is located in the cemetery of St. Rok and was built according to the last wishes of Marija Račić, a member of a renowned shipping family from the area. It is built entirely of white stone and bronze —not a single sliver of wood was used — and has a unique, domed shape. The entrance is marked by two caryatids, load-bearing sculptures shaped like women used in place of a column, and its floor is decorated with stories from the bible. It also houses a bell that is inscribed with the hauntingly beautiful words: “Learn the mystery of love, and you will resolve the mystery of death and believe that life is eternal.”
The Sokol (or Falcon) Fortress is the grandest fortress left over from the Dubrovnik Republic — both in size and in importance. Its location in the mountains was also the place where Illyrian and Roman fortifications once stood, which is evidenced by the Roman bricks in the walls and the ceramic artifacts left behind. It is perfectly camouflaged to blend in with the trees and nature around it, and it is designed especially to sit, strong and sturdy, among the rocky cliffs. Here, you can get a terrific view of the surrounding area that you won’t soon forget.
The Church of Saint Nicholas
Built in the 15th century with a Baroque-style interior, the Church of Saint Nicholas is filled with extraordinary paintings and other artwork from multiple famous artists such as Sicilian painter Carmelo Reggi, Baroque master Benedetto Genarri of the Bologna school, and of course, Cavtat’s own Vlaho Bukovac. There is also a “painting vault,” where you can see even more priceless pieces of art, many of which depict St. Nicholas in the style popularized in the 15th century.
Other Sights Worth a Visit in Cavtat, Croatia
One other sight you must see before leaving Cavtat is Cavtat Old Town. This city has been standing since antiquity — even longer than its better-known neighbor Dubrovnik. It contains an eclectic mix of architecture from various eras, but no style is more evident than the Medieval one, the era in which this town has its roots.
If you are a history or art lover, Cavtat should be at the top of you wish list. And if you get tired of being surrounded by so much art and so many ancient artifacts, you can always go lay out on the beach next to the beautiful blue water!