The town changed its name to Epidaurum when it came under Roman rule in 228 BC. During the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey (49 BC), it lined up in favor of the former and was later besieged by Octavian, but was saved by the arrival of the consul. Later it became a Roman colonia and was occupied during the Gothic Wars by a fleet sent by the emperor Justinian (535-54 AD). The city was sacked and destroyed by the Avars and Slavs in the 7th century. Refugees from Epidaurum fled to the nearby island, Laus (Ragusa) which over time evolved into the city of Dubrovnik
From that moment Cavtat was always under the control of its powerful neighbour.
The modern Croatian name for the city reveals the ancient origin and the link with Dubrovnik: Cavtat is derived from Civitas Vetus, the name by which the Ragusans called their old city. Today Cavtat is a popular tourist destination, with many hotels and private homes that rent rooms and apartments. The seafront is filled with shops and restaurants. A ferry boat connects the town to neighboring Mlini and Dubrovnik.
N.B. Cavtat is pronounced TSAV-tat.
Cavtat is about 10 - 15 minutes taxi ride from Dubrovnik Airport. The more intrepid can walk along a marked footpath from the airport to Cavtat; it will take about an hour. Leave the airport and cross over the E60 main road into the village of Mecini where you will pick up signs of the footpath to Cavtat or Cilipi. There is a regular bus service between Dubrovnik and Cavtat, No.10, which operates at least hourly between the two towns (25 kn single journey). There are also hourly boat services between Cavtat and Dubrovnik old town; it is the most convenient, if not the quickest way to arrive and depart from Dubrovnik (about 50 minutes: 80 kn round trip).
Cavtat is a very easy town to get around on foot. The old town is built on Rat Peninsula rising above harbour areas on both sides, Luka to the south-west and Uvala Tiha, to the north-east. The main harbour and restaurant and bar area is on the South West side of the peninsula; here you will find post office, pharmacy and supermarket. There is also an interesting walk along the spine of the peninsula along a narrow alley (Prijeko) through the old town ending up at the Racic Family mausoleum. from here amongst the family vaults there are wonderful views across the bay to Dubrovnik. There is also a path (Setaliste Rat) following the coastline around the Rat peninsula, serving bathing areas, boat hire locations and bars. To the South West of the main harbour is another peninsula (Sustjepan) also with a coastal path encircling the grounds of Hotel Croatia. To the North East of the old town it is possible to walk along the coast road (Tiha) past more bars and restaurants, a very attractive walk along the water's edge, then on past the Hotels Albatros and Epidaurus ending at a bathing area called Prahivac.
There is a footpath from Cavtat to Mocici and Cilipi which is a lovely walk parallel with the coast, it takes about 2 hours in one direction. Cilipi is a very attractive village with a minimart and several bars. There is an interesting folk museum and folk dances are performed in front of the church every Sunday morning at 11.00 am.
Apart from the Racic family mausoleum and cemetery on the hill, you can visit St. Nicholas' church (between the restaurants and the shops), the Franciscan Monastery and our Lady of the Snows (walk past all the restaurants, until the path narrows).
The walks around both peninsulas are fine, with the western (Sustjepan) walk a little rougher, but more picturesque (there are new benches placed every 100 metros along the path). Walking around the peninsula takes 30-45 minutes. There are no facilities and no places to bathe, except at the beginning, near the town and at the end, at the Hotel Croatia.
The walk around the Rat peninsula is tarmaced and comfortable to walk, with only gentle slopes from time to time. There are one or two bathing areas, a good restaurant (the Rokotin) and a small, bohemian cliffside bar (near the private house at the tip of the peninsula). There is also a Roman 'villa' (signed from the path), but it is disappointing.
THe bathing area near the Iberostar Albatros hotel is rather good and not particularly crowded. There is a bar and restaurant (Domižana ), both worth visiting. One can also catch boats to Dubrovnik and Locrum island here.
There is a lot to do in Cavtat. Firstly there is a wide range of waterfront eating and drinking spots, where you can enjoy a coffee or beer for as long as you want, watching the world go by, the yachts coming and going. The Obala Dr A Starcevica is the main area with restricted traffic access.
Eating and drinks is a lot less expensive than in Dubrovnik. In 2013, 0.5l of draught beer costs 20 kn, a coffee about 8-10 kn; you can enjoy a waterfront meal for two with 0.5l carafe of wine typically from 160 - 450 kn. The food is of high quality, beautifully presented and generous of portion.
In addition to lovely coastal and country walks, there are lots of water sport opportunities including motorboat and kayak hire. There are fishing trips, boat trips to the local islands, as well as a regular service to Dubrovnik 80 kn return. There are about 15 swimming and sunbathing terraces in the Cavtat area. There are numerous excursions available, including day trips to Kotor in Montenegro and Mostar in Bosnia. Also many trips to islands and historic towns North of Dubrovnik such as Ston and Korcula.
The folk dancing is worth seeing in Cilipi on Sunday mornings at 11.00, you also get at a free welcome drink of strong wine or local brandy. www.cilipifolklor.hr
Overall, just slow down and relax, making the most of the cafe society vibe and the polite and courteous Croats.
English is widely understood and spoken in Cavtat, German, Italian and French to a lesser degree. Menus are usually in four or five languages.
Allow plenty of time to get to the airport, as the road is sometimes surprisingly busy.