Cavtat (pronounced “sahvtaht”) is a sleepy fishing town loved by tourists for its beaches and its beautiful horseshoe-shaped harbor, as well as its several sights worth investigating. (The town’s proximity to Dubrovnik—just 19km/12 miles to the southeast— makes it an acceptable alternative place to stay when Dubrovnik is full.) Cavtat was originally founded by Greeks from Vis as a settlement called Epidaurum. In the 1st century b.c., the Romans under the Emperor Augustus took over, and eventually the town became known as Cavtat. Archaeological finds from those times include underwater ruins in the bay, foundation remains, tombs, and vestiges of a Roman road above the present town. The ancient town was destroyed at the beginning of the 7th century during the invasions of the Avars and the Slavs; it was then that the founders of Dubrovnik fled to the north and established their new city. Cavtat shared Dubrovnik’s destiny in the years that followed.
Cavtat is an easy half-hour day trip from Dubrovnik, reachable by bus, water taxi, or organized excursion. Alternatively, with several decent hotels and a low-key atmosphere, Cavtat makes a good alternative base to Dubrovnik. It is near the airport, so you do get some noise from the planes, but nothing excessive.