The Island of Hvar, Croatia – A Travel Guide

Hvar - Photo by Colton Jones
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This is a guest post from Ana Cerovski.

The island of Hvar has a reputation as a jet-setting party spot in Dalmatia, but it is so much more than that: Hvar is the island of sun, sea, beaches, wines, and olive oil. This Adriatic pearl is the sunniest island on the Croatian coast, and it will surely take your breath away with its stunning sights, cultural and natural monuments, turquoise sea, the sound of the wind and the waves, amazing culinary heritage, and top-quality wines.

Hvar: Where Heritage And Tradition Thrive

Welcome to the island of Hvar – where heritage and tradition are intertwined into the blend of ancient folklore and modern entertainment, while surrounded by the simple and breathtaking beauty of nature and the Adriatic.

Hvar belongs to the group of Central Dalmatian islands. On its north side is located the island of Brač, while on its south side are Šćedro, Vis, the Paklinski Islands, Korčula, and the peninsula of Pelješac. Hvar is the longest Croatian island (68 km). It has a 254 km coastline and 2,726 hours of sunshine a year, making it one of the best (and sunniest) summer destinations. What more could you ask for?

Town with red roofed houses and a tall tower and a backdrop of mountains
Hvar (Photo by Marcus Löfvenberg on Unsplash)

Explore, Enjoy, And Relax

The island is suitable for all types of visitor. It has towns and villages for daytime exploration. And there are places perfect for long night hours of talking, dancing, and drinking, as well as smaller, as well as more isolated spots ideal for relaxing, lounging, and – fjaka (the Dalmatian state of mind).

Hvar Town

Located in the southwestern part of the island, Hvar Town is probably the most-visited town. It is rich in historical and cultural heritage, with beautiful ancient architecture, elegant buildings, and a striking fortress, while its seaside promenade leads to many pebbly beaches and coves.

To enjoy Hvar’s historical beauty, visit the Fortress Fortica, St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace, Benedictine Monastery, as well as the Franciscan Monastery. And if you really want to enjoy those ancient vibes, just get lost in the narrow and stone-paved streets.

Narrow street in Hvar lined with old houses
Hvar (Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash)

The nightlife of Hvar Town attracts people from all over the world. It has a unique and vivid atmosphere with many festivities, clubs, bars, taverns, and more. You will be guaranteed an amazing time while waiting to welcome the sunrise.

Stari Grad

Stari Grad is the oldest town in Croatia and the historical heart of the island. It was built in 384 BCE and it is located on the north western part of the island, deep in a bay that offered protection and safety. This ancient city has simply breathtaking historical and cultural sights, and thanks to their picturesque beauty, they will surely be hard to forget.

Blue sea with boats and shoreline with old houses
Stari Grad (Photo by Geio Tischler on Unsplash)

During the summer, Stari Grad has many cultural events and festivities, but unlike Hvar Town it focuses on providing fun with a touch of relaxation and peace. Stari Grad is surrounded by a dense pine forest with fertile vineyards and green olive groves which emphasise the ancient architecture, providing a beautiful story of old times and traditions.

Jelsa

Jelsa is located in the middle of the island, and is surrounded by hills. Here you will find the highest peaks on Hvar: St Nicholas to the west and Hum on the east.

Jelsa is a relaxing town, perfect for strolls by the sea and through the pine forests. The picturesque villages scattered on the nearby hills and valleys are perfect for discovering the Mediterranean vegetation, rural architecture, and narrow streets.

Vrboska

Vrboska is the smallest town on Hvar, but it has a great geographical location and untouched dense pine forest. It also has breathtaking cultural sights combining Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic styles, and beautiful ancient architecture which can be seen while wandering through the narrow winding streets.

The town has a small island located in the centre of the bay and connected by small bridges, and it is often referred to as Small Venice. Vrboska is a charming town perfect for relaxing, or visiting the Fishing Museum with its beautiful collection of traditional fishing equipment. The town is also known for many other cultural and historical monuments, sights, and churches, while its beautiful pebble and sandy beaches are ideal for lounging and enjoying the crystal-clear sea.

Group of old houses in Vrboska
Vrboska (Photo by Håkon Grimstad on Unsplash)

Other Towns On Hvar

Besides the towns I’ve mentioned, there are many more places and villages which deserve your attention. These have a unique beauty and tradition, and they are perfect for a one-afternoon trip.

Brusje is a village known for the production of wine, olive oil, rosemary oil and honey, and it is a beautiful place for all those who want to meet the original rural atmosphere of the island’s life. Velo Grablje is a small village that is almost completely deserted, but it has well-preserved archaeological and cultural-historical monuments from prehistory to the new century.

Malo Grablje is located close to Milna, and its stone houses and quiet streets are beautifully nestled in the heart of untouched nature. Milna is one of the oldest resorts on Hvar and it has two pebble beaches and two wooded bays. While Sveta Nedjelja has Cliffbase, a perfect rock-climbing spot for all those adventurous tourists!

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Beaches And Islands

The island of Hvar hides beautiful pebble and sandy beaches, so every visitor can find that perfect spot, whether they are families, fun lovers or those looking for relaxation.

Zaraće is a pebble beach on the southern part of the island, and is surrounded by large rocks perfect for jumping to the sea. Pokonji dol is a pebble beach perfect for families with kids, while Dubovica is a beach situated in a small, picturesque bay and it has a restaurant with a beautiful selection of fish and meat specialties.

Mekićevica is a small beach surrounded by rocks and pine forest, located near Hvar Town. The beach is isolated from the main roads, so it is perfect for enjoying the sounds of nature. Pišćena is a pebble beach with dense pine forest, and you can reach it with organised excursions from the port of Hvar. The beach is quite isolated and ideal for a relaxed afternoon. For sandy beaches, visit Grebišće and Mlaska.

While on Hvar, make sure to visit the Paklinski Islands. This fairy tale oasis of marine hedonism has 21 attractive islands, islets, and cliffs, offering many hidden spots and beaches. It is ideal for a little getaway in nature, as well as being incredibly photogenic. Simply breathtaking!

Food And Wine On Hvar

Hvar may be a beautiful and seductive mix of history, culture, hedonism and nature, but let’s also talk about the island’s food. Its flavours and aromas will be hard to forget once they touch your palate and taste buds. A centuries-old gastronomic tradition guarantees the quality of the culinary adventure that awaits you on the island of Hvar.

Fish And Seafood

The island has a Mediterranean diet which means excellent fish and seafood dishes. Fresh fish such as sea bass, sardines, mackerel, octopus, squid, lobsters, and more can be found on the menus of most restaurants and taverns. The fish is cooked, marinated, or grilled, prepared with various side dishes, using traditional recipes or in modern and innovative ways with interesting and imaginative twists. Mussels, oysters, and other shellfish may appear in buzara, soup, or risotto.

Blue plate with risotto on a wooden table with a blue napkin
Risotto (Photo by Ana Cerovski)

Meat Dishes

Apart from fish and seafood, Dalmatian prosciutto in combination with goat’s cheese, olives, and other local products is a true delicacy. When it comes to meat specialities, lamb is a must-try, must-indulge, while classic grilled meat will certainly thrill everyone’s palate and taste buds.

Some of the most traditional dishes of the island of Hvar are grabljanska pašticada, gregada, and humačka panada. If you’re up for a gastronomic adventure, I would recommend trying roasted dormouse. This meat delicacy is prepared on the islands of Hvar and Brač and even though it may seem a bit weird, it is incredibly tasty. Dormice are cleaned and roasted and served on their own or placed between two slices of bread. The meat is crispy and well-done, while its flavours are reminiscent of sweet pork shoulder.

Desserts

The desserts of the island are mostly made of dried figs, raisins, almonds, and honey. Some of the most traditional ones are paprenjaci, smokvenjaci, and rafioli. These desserts are simple, yet amazingly rich in flavours, with a beautiful combination of ingredients and their aromas.

Wines Of Hvar

The island of Hvar has a long history of wine growing so no wonder it has many wineries that offer tasting and enjoyment of their local varieties. Some of the wines that can be found on the island are Plavac mali, a popular red wine, perfect for seafood dishes; Prošek, a dessert wine; Pošip, an amazing white wine made from a local Dalmatian variety; and Bogdanuša, an indigenous and quite unique white wine. Many more wines await you here, and their perfect aromas will contribute to the flavours of your gastronomic adventures.

Sea and beach with people sunbathing and town and mountains in the distance
Island of Hvar (Photo by Colton Jones on Unsplash)

Conclusion

Hvar is an amazing island, combining relaxation and lounging with wandering and exploring, while lively touches create a mixture of fun, gatherings, and adventure. The sunniest Croatian island is an amazing summer destination suitable for all visitors – find your place of wonder and enjoy its uniqueness, beautiful architecture, sounds of nature, or sounds of summer music. Just make sure to enjoy and indulge with all your senses!

Ana writes for restaurants and wineries at KitchenToast. She loves to photograph and travel, especially to Korčula, which is her second home and a constant source of inspiration for new articles, recipes, and flavours.

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