Located in the Adriatic Sea, the Island of Hvar is one of the most popular summer destinations in Croatia. It’s impressive to note that the tourism industry in Hvar started blooming more than one hundred and fifty years ago. Even today, people are seduced by this island’s charming fishing villages and the spectacular architecture throughout the island. Tourists keep coming back year after year. It is not just the history of the island and its incredible five UNESCO sites, but also its cultural heritage, which is celebrated throughout the seasons with various festivals. These festivals tend to revolve around the rich agricultural history including almond, lavender, olive, and wine production which make Hvar a place like no other. Read on for the ultimate guide to the Island of Hvar!
History of the Island of Hvar
The Island of Hvar may have gained popularity among tourists in the last couple hundred years, but its history dates all the way back to pre-historic times. Incredible ceramic pieces have been unearthed across the island, which prove human habitation during the Neolithic period.
Later on, the ancient Greeks chose this island, the longest of the Croatian Islands, as their new home. Approximately 2,400 years ago, they were also the first to build an entire city on the island, which boasted fortified walls and became the settlement for more than one thousand inhabitants.
Between the 15th and 18th century, the island of Hvar was under the rule of the Republic of Venice. But it was during the Austro-Hungarian empire when the island began to find prosperity through the growth of its successful fishing fleets, which sailed across the Mediterranean. It is this unique combination of several cultures and traditions which make the island of Hvar so vibrantly colorful and one-of-a-kind!
From strolling down the ancient stone walls to exploring the unique Roman Villas, there is so much to do in Hvar. Wait no more; start planning your own ultimate trip to the Island of Hvar!
What to Do:
Explore Hvar Town
As the largest city on the island, the city of Hvar has plenty to offer, and it is the best spot to begin your holiday adventure. Historic paradise, restaurant heaven, hiker’s wonderland, and party district are all accurate descriptions for this vibrant town.
The history buffs can head all the way up to the top of the hill to reach the 15th century Fortica Fortress (Spanjola). Pay a visit at dusk for a sunset view of the most breathtaking scenery across the island.
For those who love to fully immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the destination, steep steps through stone alleys decorated with colorful flowers and trees are an excellent choice to experience. Or, rent a scooter or buggy from Rapidus; e mail them for reservations, or show up near the bus station to rent on a first-come-first-served basis. You can also take sightseeing tours to get to the top of the fortress to see the view.
Numerous party cruises also leave the Port of Hvar and sail around this Dalmatian Island all night, offering the nightlife seekers the ultimate party tour. There truly is something for everyone here.
Situated on the northern side of the island, Stari Grad is another must-visit destination on the Island of Hvar. Among Europe’s oldest cities, Stari Grad will welcome you with its rustic, authentic, historic charm. If you find Hvar to be too touristy and crowded, Stari Grad is the perfect remedy with its laid-back, relaxed atmosphere. It is restorative and peaceful to just stroll down its picturesque, narrow streets, lined with quaint cafes and restaurants. As the calm of this serene place washes over you, you will feel like you have found a peaceful hidden gem. Stari Grad means “old town”, and there is an artist community here.
Protected by UNESCO, the family-owned Hora Farm is another must-visit when in Stari Grad, especially for wine lovers. You will be definitely treating yourself to the most unique wine tasting experience you have ever had!
Just a 30-minute drive away from the city of Hvar, visitors should definitely pay a visit to the quiet and peaceful town of Jelsa. While the 17th century Baroque chapel is the most iconic sight in the town, it’s the wide range of festivals running year-round, which make Jelsa one of the best destinations in Croatia. The Nights of Antun Dobronić is among the most well-known of these events, and takes place in August. This festival offers visitors to Jelsa the chance to take a closer look at the culture and folklore of the area. Another must-attend event that highlights local produce is the Jelsa Wine Festival, which takes place on the last weekend of August each year.
Where to Stay
Amazing accommodation options are truly endless – from a wide variety of apartment rentals or hotels inside the town center of Hvar, to beautiful villas on top of the hills, to cottages by the sea. The hard pick is picking one! Apartments range from about 120-400 Euro a night, but there are some options that are less.
The historic Palace Elizabeth has been freshly renovated and is the most luxurious boutique hotel on the island. Equally remarkable is the 4-star Blue Bay Residence, which not only has direct beach access, but also greets you with a spectacular view of the endless blue Adriatic Sea each morning.
Where to Eat
Lungo Mare Hvar, e mail them for reservations because they are often booked.
Restaurant & Apartment MURVICA, e mail them for reservations
In order to travel to Hvar, you will take a ferry from Split, or, if you’re not bringing a vehicle, catamarans are the faster option. If you are bringing your car, then you need to take the ferry. If you’re bringing a dog, use Krilo for the catamaran because you can sit with your dog with no issue. The company Jadrolinija doesn’t allow dogs on catamarans, only on their ferry which takes much longer.
Parking on the island is both easy and cheap, which makes taking your car totally worth it. Not having to rely on public transportation is also great, as you will have the flexibility to plan your own travel itinerary across the island of Hvar.
Make sure to bring a swim coverup. It is illegal and there is actually a high fine for walking around Hvar town in just your bathing suit. You will need to be covered on both top and bottom to keep from getting a 600 Euro fine. This also applies to men.
Bring good shoes for walking. There is a lot of walking to sightsee around the towns, especially in Hvar town. Everything is uphill or up steps.
Bring lots of cash, as most restaurants, bars and stores only take cash, or at the very least, offer a discount if you use cash. If they do accept credit cards, they are likely going to apply an extra “tax” or fee for using card. Also, get your cash ahead of time, as the ATMs charge so much extra for taking money out on the islands.
You’ll need about 300-600 Kuna for 2 people to have a nice meal (like fish with all the fixin’s). Of course, you can find basic meals to eat for about 70-90 Kuna a meal if you’re on a budget. Hotels and apartments are all at least 120 Euro a night. The prices are going up fast, so this might be totally different by summer of 2022.
Taxis are always 100 Kuna in the center of Hvar town. If you’re going to Jelsa, it’s about 400 Kuna to take a taxi. This is why I recommend taking your car if you have one. Hvar town is the most expensive place on the island, so plan accordingly. If you’re from the West, pricing is pretty comparable to what you will spend in a mid-sized city.
Bring your dog, as this is a dog friendly island. Apartments and hotels are dog friendly, and the restaurants will love your dog. If you have a very large dog, you may run into a couple challenges, but I noticed shepherds, labs, and other big dogs everywhere. My little guy, Onawa, was allowed everywhere.
I hope you get to come and see all this amazing island has to offer, as it is just a stunning place and a culturally rich experience. Be sure to subscribe for more Croatian travel guides, tips, and adventures.