Across the bay from Dubrovnik lies Cavtat, the southern-most seaside town in Croatia. Once a little fishing village, Cavtat's incarnation as a tourist destination dates back to the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its proximity to Dubrovnik makes it an ideal place to head for on a day trip from the city. Alternatively, if you're planning to stay a few days in the area, you could make Cavtat your base and make the trip across to Dubrovnik for some sightseeing whilst enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere of Cavtat and its beaches for most of your holiday.
Our visit here was limited to an evening stroll down by the water, a delicious meal in a waterside restaurant and a quick flip back into town in the morning to take a couple of photos. We hadn't intended to stay there at all but a last minute change of plans had taken us south into Montenegro for a day rather than heading north from Dubrovnik as we had intended, with the result that we needed somewhere to spend the night. Maybe next time we're down this way we'll come back and stay for a little longer. Then we could check out those churches (the parish church of Sv Nicholas and the Franciscan monastery church of Our Lady of the Snows), have as swim at one of the numeropus little beaches around the peninsula, walk up to the hilltop cemetery to see the white marble Racic Mausoleum and browse through the shops and galleries that no seaside town here seems to be without. Lunch back at that restaurant ( was it the Konoba Ivan?, I think so) would be good too.
If a day trip is what you want, water taxis make the trip out from Dubrovnik's old harbour ; the journey takes about 40 minutes. The bus takes the same. Going by sea and back by bus or taxi would be the way to do it. The road around the coast is lovely and, being high, affords you classic views of Dubrovnik as you approach the city.
When you've had enough of the crowds and commercial delights of Dubrovnik, and especially if you have your own transport, you only have to drive an hour or so to find yourself not only in another country (Montenegro - Black Mountain) but in another world. The Gulf of Kotor lying just south of Dubrovnik, is the southernmost fjord in Europe. Not only is it blissfully quiet, it is stunningly beautiful, with steep mountains dropping into its still, blue waters. The closed nature of the landscape creates its own micro-climate with a higher than usual rainfall for this part of Europe and the result is lusher, almost subtropical vegetation with lots of palm trees and exotic species such as magnolias and camellias as well as the usual Mediterranean citrus, pomegranates, figs, grapevines, etc. Pretty small towns and villages lie along the shoreline - we stopped at Perast where a local offered to take us out to the two churches we could see in the middle of the bay, each on their own small island. Regretfully, we refused, and drove on to Kotor, stopping along the way for a picnic by the waterside, not another soul around.
The Gulf is actually four bays and to drive right around would take quite some time. We opted to drive around the north of the bay to Kotor and then continue on past Kotor to Leperane where we took the car ferry back to the northern shore for the road back to Croatia.
We had no trouble taking our hire car into Montenegro. The border crossing took just a few minutes, coming and going, on both sides. As we crossed into Montenegro we were greeted by a local tourist officer who presented us with an excellent English-language guidebook and waved on our way with a smile.
If driving yourself isn't an option, there are day tours available from Dubrovnik. The tours are very long all-day affairs but are the only way to get to Kotor for the day without a car of your own as distance and timetabling preclude doing the journey there and back in a day via public transport.
Click on main photo for a full panorama
We'd been told the town of Kotor, a scenic 1 1/2 hour drive from Dubrovnik, was well worth a visit, and when we were told we could take our hire car into Montenegro without any extra paperwork or insurance, our mind was made up. A mediaeval walled city to rival Dubrovnik, albeit on a smaller scale, was promised and Kotor delivered. Set on the far end of the Gulf of Kotor, the walls of the city seem to be vertical as they climb for 4.5 km up and down the mountain behind the city. Entering the city through the main gate (meeting some of the city's seniour citizens on the way) by the harbour, we found we had the narrow streets and elegant squares virtually to ourselves on a hot Sunday in June.
The town is charming with street after street lined with old stone buildings. With its palaces, churches and those astounding walls it's hard to realize the town was severely damaged by a massive earthquake in 1979. UNESCO funded much of the restoration since when the city has been declared a World Heritage site.
Spectacular as the the walls of Kotor are, for me the abiding memory of the little town is the heady perfume which filled the air as we towards drove down the long avenue leading through the modern part of town. Huge magnolias line the road and when I got out of the car to go into the bank the perfume was everywhere. It was wonderful!
You'd need to come in summer for this olfactory experience. The old walled city is there for visitors at any time of year
A 300km round trip from Dubrovnik will take you into Bosnia-Herzegovina for a chance to visit the city that perhaps symbolizes all the heartache of the wars that followed the breakup of the old Yugoslavia. Who can forget the way the world watched as the famous old bridge at Mostar held out for so long - and ultimately fell.
The bridge has been reconstructed and Mostar is slowly rebuilding itself. There's much more evidence here of the war in terms of damaged buildings and overgrown bomb sites (warnings too, to stay away from uncleared sites) than in Croatia but the town's setting above the Neretva River is beautiful. Mellow old stone buildings and green trees line the high river banks. The approaches to the bridge on both sides take you through the twisting narrow streets of the old town. The small shops of souvenirs on both sides of the bridge have a distinct feel of the souk about them - though now the small shops are mostly just more of the same tourist stuff. A short walk along from the Kujundziluk will bring you to the Koskin-Mehmed Pasha mosque, now, like so much of this area, restored looking as it has done for centuries.
The road to Mostar will take you past Pocitelj, where the old stone houses, domes and the tall minaret of its mosque are overlooked by the ruined Sahat-kula fortress. It is a picture book scene - which makes it all the more poignant when you learn that this village saw one of the last acts of brutal ethnic cleansing and destruction of the war here. The last few years have seen the restoration of the village's Hadzi Alija mosque which has stood here since 1562, the medressa of similar age and one of its beautiful old Ottoman houses - all of which are open to visitors.
Public transport isn't an option for this trip. You'll need to drive yourself (hire cars can be taken into Bosnia without extra formalities) or take a tour. You can book a day tour with Atlas Tours in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik is near the border with Montenegro, which makes for an interesting day trip. You can cross into Montenegro and do a drive around the Boka Kotorska (Bay of Kotor) which offers stunning natural scenery as it is a fjord surrounded by mountains. On the shore of the Boka Kotorska is the historic town of Kotor, which is a smaller version (about 1/4 the size) of Dubrovnik with about 2% as many tourists.
If you do go to Montenegro, remember to bring your passport. Americans and EU citizens only need a passport (no Visa) to enter Montenegro.
We definitely recommend Mljet!!
It´s magical!!! National park, sea lakes with crystal clear waters surrounded by pinewoods and a incredibly good asphalt road where it is so easy to cycle.
- stay at least one night in the island; you can try private rooms
- rent a bike to explore the National Park
- take the path to Soline. After the asphalt ends, continue in the footpath for 2 minutes or a little more. There is a beautiful rocky beach where the lake connects to the open sea which is just gorgeous
- watch out for the urchins: use footwear. IT IS WORTH IT, the sea is just too gorgeous to be true
- have a nice, relatively cheap spaghetti with lobster sauce in Soline
- watch the sky at night and...
HAVE FUN!!! We found it very romantic...
My second Atlas tour was a very long, but very interesting day travelling to and through Montenegro. Leaving at 7 am, the bus ventured south, along gorgeous coastline, through passport control, heading inland at the Bay of Kotor. We stopped several times to take photos and then had some time to wander around and visit the old walled city of Kotor.
Getting back on the bus we headed up, up, up, dozens of hair raising switchbacks into the mountains of Montenegro (ergo: Black mountain). From above the views were superb and we had to stop several times for goats, cows and sheep! This is where the skills of the Atlas driver was most evident and several times he earned the applause of the guests.
Inland we stopped for lunch, fresh dalmatian ham and home made cheese sandwiches along with a local wine ($3.00!) at a small village restaurant. Then we proceeded to the capital where we enjoyed a tour of the original home of Nicolas I.
A final stop at a coastal, resort town with another old walled city and an opportunity to enjoy a much needed gelato before heading back along the coast north, returning to Dubrovnik at 7 pm.
Atlas Travel Agency has some very good day trips to areas around Dubrovnik. I took the tour to Montenegro, but tours to Mostar, Medjugorje, the outlying islands, and more are available. Tours can be booked at the office, which is located outside the Pile Gate at Sv. Durda 1, or online.
My day trip to Elafiti Islands was the best that I could get to explore more of the water around Dubrovnik.
Situated in the north-west of Dubrovnik, the 3 most popular islands are :
Kolocep, the first of the 3 islands is just about 20 minutes by boat from Dubrovnik. There are 14 islands on the Elafiti group of islands but only these 3 are inhabited.
All the islands have lovely beautiful beaches, private coves & picturesque cliffs to attract people coming to this part of Croatia/Dubrovnik.
One of my Atlas tours was a wine tasting tour of the PeljesacPeninsula. About an hour north of Dubrovnik, along the coast, the Peljesac Peninsula has dozens of small family vineyards, miles and miles of vine covered, rocky hillsides, steep coastal views, and lovely quiet bays.
We stopped at three family wineries were we were given tours and generous tasting opportunities. Naturally we were also given the opportunity to purchase wines (quiet inexpensive and not bad... even to this Northern California wine enthusiast!). We enjoyed a delicious lunch of soup, cheeses, bread and wine at one of the wineries.
Our tour was repeated in English, French and German and the entire group enthusiastically sang the chorus of "In Vino Veritas" on the bus, over, and over, and over, and over, and over.....
But a fun day was had by all.
If Dubrovnik is the pearl of the Adriatic, Montenegro is the diamond in the rough. I don’t usually advocate coach tours, but hop on the bus for about $50 at the tour office near the main gate, and take a guided tour of a fairly obscure and less traveled European County. The only problem, if it is a problem, is that you may want to stay.
The tour will show you several old yet fascinating cities including the old capital, kotor and budva, lunch in a traditional mountain village, and a natural wonder - Kotor Fjord.
Cavtat is a small town about a half hour from Dubrovnik by bus. It has a nice harbour and a path that goes along the water with some great views. Take bus #10 from the main bus station in Dubrovnik. If it is raining, you will be in for a long and scary bus ride up on the narrow mountain roads.
The old town of Cavtat, in the very centre of the South Adriatic, is situated at the south slopes of the peninsula of Rat, in the immediate vicinity of Dubrovnik. Known as Epidaurum in ancient times, it is today the tourist and cultural centre of Konavle, the southernmost region of Croatia. The town of beautiful beaches and luxury hotels together with a traditional way of life and preserved customs waits for you.
I booked two fascinating day trips through the Atlas Agency. Atlas has representatives all over Croatia, and had a desk with a full time sales rep. in the lobby of my hotel. The rep. was more than helpful in assisting me to choose the tours that would be most interesting to me. A van picked me up in the lobby of my hotel and took me to meet the bus with the rest of the guests. At the end of the day they deposited me back at my hotel.
The drivers, guides and bus drivers were fantastic; friendly, knowledgable, and helpful. The busses were clean, modern and air conditioned (important when the temps were in the high 90s) Some of the routes covered white knuckle roads and the drivers were experts. My tours were about $50 USD each and were all day events.
The Konavle valley is located about 20 km from Dubrovnik old town not far from he border of Montenegro. Is a rather fertile valley in between the mountains. On this safari you go really off-road with your Nissan Terrano. You go up a mountain to go near the triangle : Croatia,Montenegro, Bosnia. You have some wonderful views here !!! Do not expect to see any wild animals on this safari. It is more the adventure that counts. After a while you have to cross a river, take a rest and watch the trout jumping out of the water. Nature rules !!!
A thing you really should do on this trip is go eating in a old olive-mill. Food is prepared here on the traditional way, on hot coals. Delicious !!! You can drink a local grappa made from herbs in that region and eat fresh figues .
I forgot where it was but if you ask the agency they will surely know it !!