Hvar Island is the perfect destination for any vacation because it has something for everyone! It has natural beauty, crystal clear beaches, pastoral landscapes, historic landmarks, and ritzy nightlife. Hvar checks every box and has it all!
Hvar island has two towns (Hvar and Stari Grad) and two municipalities (Jelsa and Sućuraj). Hvar is the largest town on the island and the center of the island's tourism. Below, we'll take you through all the things to do and places to see on a fantastic trip to Hvar Island.
Best Time To Visit Hvar, Croatia
The peak season for Hvar Town, the island's capital, is between mid-June and August. If you visit Hvar Island during this time, even if you don't intend to spend much time in Hvar Town itself, you'll have intense crowds to deal with - as many as 20,000 visitors each day!
Visit during the shoulder seasons for a calmer atmosphere (and cheaper food, drink, and lodging prices!). When you come between April and early June, or September and October, you'll still enjoy sunny skies and warm waters, but the mood will be much less hectic.
Stari Grad is a picturesque Mediterranean coastal town - in fact, the oldest town on the island. It has cobbled streets, historic churches, beautiful flowers and trees, and a slower pace. Head to Middle Street for a neighborhood of cafes, delis, and handmade souvenir shops.
For both spectacular views and historic interest, be sure to head to the Spanjola Fortica. It was built in the 13th century atop an old Byzantine citadel dating back to the 6th century, where it served as a fortress during invasions when Hvar Town was razed to the ground. Now, you can enjoy a small museum and then take in the fantastic view of the entirety of Hvar Island from the highest peak.
Stephen's Square + Cathedral
In the center of Hvar Town, you'll find St. Stephen's Square, named for the bordering cathedral. The Square showcases beautiful Venetian and Renaissance architecture and really livens up at night! Exploring the cathedral is fascinating because you can see how each part was built (in the Baroque style) and rebuilt after invasions.
A 16th-century Franciscan monastery sits atop one of the hills of Hvar Island and is well worth visiting. The garden has a cypress tree that has been growing for over 300 years, and a museum is housed in the monastery itself. It houses some incredible works of art - such as The Last Supper by Matteo Ingoli.
Tvrdava Napoleon Fortress
Schedule a day so that you end with a visit to the second fortress on the island - Tvrdava Napoleon fortress. While the original Napeolonic fortress has been destroyed, it has been rebuilt, and the current fortress offers a calm respite with incredible views at the end of the day. To reach the fortress, you'll have a brisk 4-kilometer hike.
Nicknamed "Little Venice," this small village is a great option for a day trip out of Hvar Town. However, referring to it as a smaller Venice might be a stretch, as there's only one canal in it! Still, it's a unique, excellent location, with many restaurants and charming shops.
Things To Do
Explore The Pakleni Islands
Right off the southern coast lie the nearby Pakleni Islands. Exploring this archipelago is a great way to spend a day! You can hire a small boat and explore the islands yourself at your own pace, stopping to swim wherever and whenever you'd like. Be sure to bring your own food and drinks with you, and ask for snorkeling gear from the boat rental company.
Bike Through The Stari Grad Plain
The Stari Grad plains are one of the oldest cultivated plains in the world, granting it status as a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can cycle through these plains yourself, taking in impressive views of spacious lavender fields, olive groves, and vineyards. There are old 4th-century BC ruins along the route.
Enjoy The Beaches
Hvar Island has some absolutely beautiful beaches!
Mola Zarace Beach - This hidden gem is found in a secluded bay surrounded by cliffs and pine forests. The water is amazingly clear, and you might have the place to yourself!
Dubovica Beach - Only 8 kilometers from Hvar Town, Dubovica Beach is the most popular beach on the island. But that hasn't dampened its beauty at all! It's a pebbled beach surrounded by olive groves and pine trees. There's food and drink nearby.
Pokonji Dol Beach - A quick 30-minute walk from Hvar Town will bring you to this turquoise beach. It's also a pebbled beach, but you can rent sunbeds for the day nearby.
Visit Lavender Farms
In Brusje, a small town on Ivar Island, you'll see a sight almost out of a storybook. An ancient village of rustic cottages surrounded by mile after mile of lavender fields! Plan your visit for late spring to see the rolling fields of purple that the island is famous for. This is also when the yearly Lavender Festival occurs in nearby Velo Grablje! While you are here, visit the Izletiste family farm for authentic Dalmatian food.
Hvar Island is known for its Plavac Mali variety of grapes, which produces a wine similar to Zinfandel. Going on a wine tour of the best wineries on the island of Hvar is a must! The first grape vines on the island were planted by the ancient Greeks themselves, as early as 384 BC! The local vineyards are beautiful, well-kept, and amazing to tour.
Eat Good Food
This beautiful island has many traditional restaurants offering authentic Mediterranean cuisine! You can find delicious food in the main town or head to Stari Grad, where the eateries will be more rustic and "mom-and-pop." The seafood is particularly fantastic.
Enjoy The Nightlife
Big-name celebrities (think Prince Harry, Beyonce, etc.) love to take getaway trips to Hvar Town. It's also a popular destination for European backpackers. Mix the two together, and you get a city with busy nightlife! Head to Carpe Diem or Falko Bar for a good time.
Head to Jelsa For a day
Head to the quieter and more peaceful small town of Jelsa. Here, you can soak in the island's natural beauty without having other tourists around.
Take A Day Trip To Pakleni Islands
If you want to experience a near-deserted stretch of beach, dive into crystal clear water, and explore lagoons, then you must hop on a water taxi and head to Pakleni Islands for a day. Be sure to bring snacks, water, sunscreen, and towels.
Stroll through Stari Grad
Some will say Star Grad is the most charming and romantic place on Hvar Island. There is something about the white-washed towns with historic cobbled streets, and it is also quieter, more laid back, and with fewer tourists, making it a great spot to escape to.
Where To Stay In Hvar
There are a wide range of accommodation options in Hvar, Croatia! In Hvar Town, you will find high-end hotels with beautiful views, spacious rooms, and all of the perks.
However, since Hvar is popular with young backpackers, many hostels are available. Clean and well-kept, these hostels have a great communal vibe.
If you are looking for a less busy area to stay in Hvar, check out some of the other towns on Hvar Island. Stari Grad (literally, "Old Town") is a historical medieval town with fantastic views, cobbled streets, and many landmarks within walking distance. Zastrazicse is located inland and is the rural heart of Hvar Island. Zavala, Vrboska, and Jesla are lovely coastal towns. Milna is right next to Hvar Town but much less busy, making it a great place to be your launching point for each day's adventures.
Where Is Hvar Island Located?
Hvar is a Croatian island located in the Adriatic sea, right off the Dalmatian coast. The Pakleni islands trail off of the western coast, and the islands of Brac, Korcula, and Vis aren't far away. Across the Adriatic sea, lies Ancona, Italy.
How To Get To Hvar, Croatia
Most travel to Hvar Island comes from the Croatian city of Split. Many European airlines fly into Split directly, so it's just a matter of flying into the European city of your choice and connecting to a flight to Split. From Split, you'll take a ferry into Stari Grad. If you'd like to head to Hvar Town, any local bus or taxi will take you there.
Transportation Within Hvar Island
Hvar has a great public transportation service, so any location on your itinerary will be easily accessible. There are also car rental, bus, and scooter rental services available.
Boat taxis and ferries are available to transport you from and to Hvar Island. You can find these services at the Hvar town's port.
The nightlife in the main Square can get rather rowdy. If you'd like to enjoy a good night without too much embarrassment, there are many bars located throughout Hvar Town. Head away from St. Stephen's Square and check out one of those!
Most of the beaches are pebbled, so sunbathing can be somewhat uncomfortable if you're not prepared. Bring a beach chair or sunbed if you intend to spend some hours laying out.
Renting a Boat Fully Insured
When renting a boat to explore the Paklinski islands, keep in mind that the boat is insured - but the propeller and anchor are not. You'll be liable for any damages, and the water around these islands is shallow. It's not uncommon for the propeller or anchor to get damaged on rocks if you're not attentive.
Check Out St. Stephen's Cathedral, But Don't Eat there
When you visit St. Stephen's Cathedral, you'll notice that the surrounding Square is filled with restaurants. While their food is good, take our word for it - there is better, more authentic food elsewhere, and for a much more affordable price. It's best to head to the Square for the history and Dalmatian Renaissance architecture, but not for food.