20 Incredible Things to do on Hvar Island, Croatia’s Island Paradise (2023 Update)
Hvar island is so much more than its best-known town. Planning a trip to this Croatian gem soon?
Here are 18 of the best things to do on the island, including a guide to where to stay and how to get around.
We arrived on Hvar Island with high expectations and left with those expectations well and truly shattered in the best way possible.
Surprising, when you consider this is the island where Prince Harry solidified his party-boy reputation, and where celebrities from George Clooney, to Jay-Z and Beyonce regularly choose to holiday.
But it wasn’t necessarily the beauty of the island’s capital, Hvar town, that blew us away (although it IS insanely beautiful), and it certainly wasn’t the parties (more on that later).
Nope, it was the Island as a whole.
From the white-washed towns and historic cobbled streets of Stari Grad and Vrboska to the clear blue waters and almost-empty beaches and coves of the Islands’ south; the crystal-clear waters and deserted lagoons of the Pakleni islands, to the quaint, home-style restaurants serving delicious Dalmatian fare; and the photogenic rolling hills swathed in layers of fragrant lavender, olive trees, and vineyards, Hvar Island is so much more than just the glitz and glamour of its main town.
No matter how long you’re on the Island, we encourage you to escape the Hvar town bubble and explore the rest of the island - trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
To help you along your way, here are our favourite things to do on Hvar Island, including personal favourites and helpful tips so you can enjoy the best stay possible
WHERE TO STAY ON HVAR ISLAND
From cosy, family-run guesthouses to extravagant beachside resorts, and forested campsites to party hostels, there are plenty of accommodation options on Hvar to suit every style, traveller or budget.
We’ve written the following guides to help you find your perfect stay:
Where to stay on Hvar island: hotels, guesthouses and hostels for every budget
If you’re after a more luxurious splurge, Hvar town is literally teeming with mid to high-end hotels - think open, breezy rooms, and beautiful views, right in the heart of town.
Our top 3 picks are:
HERACLEA HOUSE | James Bond would be happy to call this home for a few days. A stunningly appointed 5* hotel right in the centre of town, with views to die for. A splurge here is worth it! Prices and availability here
VILLA VARDA LATICA | If there was one place we would splurge on during our travels to Hvar town without a second’s hesitation, it would undoubtedly be Villa Varda - Latica. After all, how many times can you say you lived like royalty in a 15th-century Gothic mini-palace? Book Villa Varda - Latica
GORDANA APARTMENTS | Gordana Apartments is your chance to live amongst the ritz and glamour of the Hvar Riva - without the price tag, you'll find at the luxury hotels that line it. Book Gordana Apartments
READ MORE | 15+ Stunning Hvar Airbnbs and Apartments
Given Hvar's popularity on the European backpacker trail, the town has a number of very well-appointed backpacker hostels. Hvar's hostels are perfect for those who are travelling solo or are on a tight budget.
We've selected our pick of the bunch below:
HVAR OUT | New renovated (this actually happened when we were in Hvar), this is hands down the best-located hostel in Hvar. Clean, bright and lovely rooms, and a great atmosphere. Check prices and availability here.
THE BEST THINGS TO DO ON HVAR ISLAND
#1 EXPLORE HVAR ISLAND’S BEST BEACHES
If there's one thing Croatia knows how to do well, it's beaches - and the island of Hvar is no exception!
Over the course of our six weeks spent on the island, we 'researched' Hvar's best beaches and got to know them pretty well. From popular coves where all the tourists come to play to the hidden gems we somehow stumbled upon.
Below are our top picks, from all over this sun-kissed island:
MALO ZARACE BEACH
It’s with some reluctance that we’re telling you about Malo Zaraće because it was our favourite beach on Hvar, and we can’t bear the thought of others finding our little slice of heaven. Located in a secluded bay, with cliffs on one side and unique rock formation on the other, Malo Zarace is a little slice of heaven.
We spent hours in the outrageously clear waters enjoying ourselves, and for the most part, had the beach to ourselves.
Zaraće is located around 30 minutes drive from Hvar Town, off the main road to Stari Grad.
One of the most picturesque and popular beaches on Hvar Island, Dubovica is about 8km east of Hvar Town.
The beach is in a magical, secluded bay with a large pebble beach, surrounded by pine trees and olive groves. Under the blue skies, the stunning Adriatic sea shimmers, inviting you in for a swim almost immediately. Which we obviously obliged, and it was perfect.
If you're hungry, there's a Konoba serving up some fresh seafood. If you’re after a drink to cool you down, check out Dubovica beach bar. There's also shade under the pine trees, which makes for a welcome relief from the hot Croatian summer sun.
As if lifted straight out of a nostalgic 70’s Bond film, Pokonji Dol is the epitome of a Mediterranean dream. Just a short 25-minute walk from town, it’s also probably the best and most accessible beach to Hvar town.
Here, the water is an insane shade of turquoise, framed by green-clad hills and the odd orange beach umbrella. While the beach is still pebbly, we did find it more comfortable to lay on than others we found in the area. Pokonji Dol is also flanked by two delightfully authentic restaurants serving the days best catch, and ice-cold beers perfect for a sundowner.
Sunbeds are available for hire, ranging from HRK 70 - 100 for the day.
READ MORE | Our guide to Hvar’s best beaches
#2 EXPLORE THE PAKLENI ISLANDS ARCHIPELAGO
Setting off early, we somehow navigated the narrow Hvar strait (we had no prior boating experience!), before arriving at an unbelievably clear, turquoise bay for our first swim.
It set the tone for the day; we'd find ourselves at a beautiful, quiet bay, drop our anchor and jump straight off the bow into the clear blue waters before relaxing in the beautiful Mediterranean sun. It really was a perfect day, and definitely one of the best things to do on Hvar Island.
Some of our favourite bays and beaches include:
The two large bays after Vinogradisce Bay (unfortunately they don't have a name)
Boats come with a cooler box, so we recommend stocking up on food, water (bring your own!) and beers for the day ahead. You'll need to ask for this and snorkelling gear.
The pasara boat is small enough that you won't need a boat licence to operate it. You will get a lesson from your vendor, which we recommend you listen to as it takes a while to get used to the steering and engine.
It's also important to note that while the boat is insured, the propeller and anchor are not so you'll liable for any damage (which is surprisingly easy on the rocks). Keep an eye out for large ferries and boats operating in the area - it's the main route from Split to Hvar and Korcula!
Alternatively, if you’d prefer someone else do the sailing, this sailing adventure through the archipelago is the perfect option.
Soak up the sun relaxing on the deck as you glide through the turquoise waters of the Adriatic, stopping for plenty of swimming, snorkelling, or even paddleboarding and kayaking.
For all beach bums and adventure lovers, this is one of the Hvar tours that should be a top priority next time you're visiting Croatia.
Where | Pakleni (or Paklinski) Islands, Hvar
Cost | HRK 400 for a 5hp Pasara boat
Read | the best day trip from Hvar - Pakleni Islands guide
BOOK | Set sail on this Pakleni Islands half day yacht trip
#3 LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE EXPLORING HVAR IN A VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE
If you're a fan of the Herbie the Love Bug, the VW Beetle with a mind of his own who always seems to be getting into mischief (aka basically Mark in car form!), then you’ll love exploring Hvar in your very own VW Bug.
We hired a classic VW from Rapidus Hvar and slowly made our way around the island, exploring as much of Hvar as possible. We drove through lavender fields to the small village of Brusje, explored the Venetian streets of Stari Grad, ate delicious gelato in Jelsa, slowly made our way through the Pitve tunnel, and swam in the gloriously clear waters at Ivan Dolac.
And we finished our day watching the sunset from the Napoleonic fort, overlooking Hvar and Pakleni Islands. Bloody magic!
If you're thinking of living the Hvar dream too, be warned; the VW beetle is a handful to drive.
The cars are manual, have no power steering, and reach a top speed of around 60km/h, and they're especially hard to drive through the narrow villages and tunnels.
What | Rapidus Car Hire, Hvar town
Cost | HRK 500 per day including insurance, fuel
Book | Check availability on the Rapidus website here
Tips | You will need a manual license to drive one of these cars
Bring a towel for the leather seats/steering wheel - they get super hot in the sun
Fill with fuel before returning
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#4 TAKE IN THE INCREDIBLE VIEWS OF HVAR TOWN FROM ŠPANJOLA FORTRESS (HVAR FORT)
Hands down the most picturesque view of Hvar is from high above the town at the Španjola Fortress (Hvar fort, or Fortica). Overlooking the red roofs and white-washed walls of the old town, with the glistening turquoise waters of the Pakleni Islands in the distance, this view will forever be etched in our memory.
The current fortress was constructed in the 13th century, on the site of a former Byzantine citadel dating to the 6th century. In 1571, the Fortress acted as shelter from the local citizens after the Turkish attacked and burned down the town to the ground.
Fortunately, the Fortress is now a far safer place to be, and now houses a small museum showing a collection of historical artefacts found on the seabed around Hvar.
The Fortica is easy to get to - just follow the signs from St Stephen's Square, up the (many) stairs, and past the town walls. From here, it's a gentle, winding walk through the pine forests before arriving at the fortress entrance. At 40 kuna, the entrance fee is pretty expensive, especially for those on a backpacker’s budget.
On the way back, don't forget to drop into Konoba Menego for a delicious Dalmatian dinner (see #13 below!).
Where | Spanjola Fortress, Hvar
Opening hours | Sun-Sat 08:00 am - 21:00 pm (April - October)
Cost | HRK 40 (children half price)
#5 WALK THE OLD STREETS OF STARI GRAD
It's not like we didn't like Hvar town; far from it. It's just that Stari Grad, with its quiet laneways, relaxed vibe, friendly people and far cheaper prices(!) was just ‘more us’.
Stari Grad is the epitome of a rustic Mediterranean coastal town. Its ancient white-stone streets and laneways are perfect for lazy strolls, and around each corner, another historic church, bougainvillaea-covered staircase, or historic archway can be found.
The epicentre of the action is Srinjo kola (Middle St.), once a hub of craftsmen and merchants, now filled with quaint cafes, delis and traditional souvenir stores.
One place we absolutely recommend stopping by is Za Pod Zub, a hip gourmet store run by a lovely young French couple. They offer premium products sourced from Hvar and all of Croatia, including olives (we bought a tub and it was heaven), cheese, chocolate, and some of the best wine on Hvar.
Where | Srinjo kola, Stari Grad
Eat | Antika restaurant (the best food we ate on Hvar!)
See | Za Pod Zub
#6 EAT AT STARI GRAD’S BEST RESTAURANTS, ANTIKA
A morning spent walking the cobbled streets of Stari Grad had left us both hangry and in need of food, stat.
As if it was meant to be, we rounded a corner and stumbled upon an authentic-looking Konoba, called Antika. Encouraged to enter by the jovial chefs (not that we generally need too much encouragement to enter a rustic-looking restaurant!), we took a table upstairs in the green outdoor garden and ordered away.
We discovered it was one of the most traditional restaurants of Stari Grad.
When the food arrived, we knew we’d made a brilliant decision. The fresh food was delicious (seafood pasta for Mim, and risotto for Mark), and some of the best we’d tasted on the island.
On top of that, the environment was so homely and enjoyable we ended up sitting for two hours, enjoying a beer before heading on our merry way.
Where | Antika restaurant, Stari Grad
Cost | Entree: HRK 50 - 70 Mains: HRK 90 - 100
#7 SAMPLE HVAR’S BEST WINES
Due to its abundance of natural fields and perfect climate (more than 2718 sunny hours per year), Hvar is known to have some of the finest red wine in Europe. So, if you're like Mim and love a good vino or two, Hvar is your place.
Hvar has a proud wine-making history dating back to the ancient Greeks who planted the island’s first vines in 384 BC, so there are plenty of wineries to sample the island’s wine varieties.
Most wineries are spread across the UNESCO-listed Stari Grad plain, Jelsa, or those clinging to the steep slopes around Sveta Nedilja.
Popular wineries we recommend you visit include:
The best way to get a taste of authentic Croatia is by embarking on a wine tour. This Hvar wine tasting tour is ideal for travellers who want to gain some in-depth vinicultural knowledge and learn about olive oil production to boot.
You'll visit ancient wine cellars, and taste a variety of wines paired with traditional specialities accompanied by a tasting of local olive oil.
Alternatively, if you also want to sample a traditional Dalmatian meal, we recommend we recommend this wine tour instead. It follows the same itinerary as the first one but ends with a dinner in one of the charming villages.
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#8 PEOPLE WATCH IN ST. STEPHENS SQUARE, AND EXPLORE HVAR CATHEDRAL
St Stephen’s Square is definitely one of the prettiest squares we’ve seen in Europe.
Surrounded by Venetian and Renaissance architecture, including the Cathedral of St. Stephen, the cathedral bell tower, the Arsenal, Hvarska pjaca, this really is the centre of public and social life in Hvar. It’s also the largest old square in all of Dalmatia.
Our favourite daily pastime was to chill in the square and watch the world go by, generally while eating a delicious börek or ice cream (drool). We watched little old ladies gossip and locals friends stop to chat. Giggled as tourists stumbled on the slippery stone paths (only because that had been us a few weeks prior), and sand along as a local busker performed a brilliant rendition of ‘Hallelujah’.
We saw important cultural and religious ceremonies take place, such as the procession of Corpus Christi and St Prošper day when the square came alive with locals selling their wares. It was a lovely spot to watch daily life unfold in front of us.
The baroque Hvar cathedral, built in the 16th and 17th centuries during the Dalmatian Renaissance, provides a picturesque backdrop to the square. If you've got time, head inside and check out some of the stone reliefs, and the 15th-century choir stalls.
As with many beautiful old squares in Europe, St Stephen’s is also home to many restaurants, shops, and bars that sell overpriced food and drinks to unsuspecting tourists.
Don’t even bother with them - far better, and cheaper food can be found by wandering a few streets up into the old town.
If you’re keen to learn more about Hvar Town’s history, or if you’ve only got a short time in town, just on this popular Hvar walking tour.
Within a 2-hour journey, you’ll stumble upon charming streets full of numerous attractions worth visiting such as one of the first municipal theatres in Europe, Hvar's amazing cathedral, and a majestic Town loggia with a 15th-century clock.
Where | Hvarska pjaca, Hvar
BOOK | Take in Hvar’s sights on foot with this guided walking tour
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#9 EXPLORE HVAR’S STUNNING ‘LITTLE VENICE’, VRBOSKA
Its nickname 'little Venice' might be somewhat of a stretch given there's only one canal through the entire village, but that doesn't detract from the fact that the charming town of Vrboska really is worth a visit.
Indeed, our relaxing afternoon in Vrboska - strolling through the pretty laneways and canal and discovering some of its major landmarks, eating traditional Dalmatian food, and enjoying the MUCH slower pace of life - was one of our favourite things to do on Hvar.
Some sights we recommend visiting include:
Vrboska canal | postcard-pretty, full of beautiful canal-side houses and stone arch bridges
The fortress church of Saint Mary | imposing church/fortress that offered refuge to locals during times of war
Wine tasting | sample some of Hvar's best drops here, with many cellar doors located throughout the town and canal
Vrboska harbour | take an afternoon stroll around the harbour to get a truly beautiful view of the whole town
If you're keen to escape the crowds and chaos of Hvar town, we absolutely recommend Vrboska.
Where | Vrboska
Eat | Trica Gardelin
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#10 UNDERSTAND HVAR’S RICH HISTORY AT THE FRANCISCAN MONASTERY
The view of the stunning Franciscan monastery sitting on the prettiest little cove is Hvar's most iconic scene; and one that’s just as beautiful in real life.
A short walk from Hvar's Riva, the Franciscan monastery houses a rich display of museum exhibits including a collection of Greek, Roman and Venetian coins, rare amphora, and an ancient edition of Ptolemy's Atlas dated from 1524. There's also an impressive 16th-century painting of The Last Supper by Venetian painter Matteo Ingoli.
It's a place worthy of an hour’s wandering, in between swims, ice creams, and sundowners of course!
Opening hours | Mon - Sat, 9:00am - 15:00pm & 15:00 - 19:00pm (May - Oct)
Cost | Museum entry: HRK 30
#11 TAKE A HVAR BLUE AND GREEN CAVE DAY TOUR
Nothing can quite prepare you for the intense beauty of the Blue Cave, located on the nearby Island of Bisevo, and a trip to Hvar Island wouldn’t be complete without a Blue Cave day trip.
First, a speedboat will take you to the Green Cave well-known for its gorgeous emerald colour. Next, lay your eyes on the most alluring natural scenery in Croatia - the memorable Blue Cave on the island of Bisevo. Don't forget to take your camera and capture the light effects created by the sun reflecting into the cave's silvery-blue colour.
From here, you'll reach Stiniva cove which hides a pebble beach surrounded by intact nature and magnificent rocks. Swim, sunbathe or have a cocktail before heading to your final stop - the Pakleni Islands. The archipelago’s most popular bays are lovely spots for an authentic seafood lunch with a view.
It’s the number #1 attraction on the Island, and this is our recommended tour.
For those who want to include a visit to the enigmatic island of Vis (and the movie set of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again), this tour makes the better option.
#12 PARTY - OR DON’T - ON HVAR ISLAND
We absolutely love a good night out, so it was with excitement that we decided to try a few of Hvar's infamous 'parties'.
You can imagine our surprise when, after a few nights experiencing the main clubs, we came to the conclusion that the parties on the island were, well, shit. It wasn't that the music was bad, or the club’s ordinary, it was more that the vibe was distinctly average, and partygoers acted like utter twats.
We personally witnessed drunk tourists launching glass beer bottles straight over other partygoers’ heads and into the sea at Hula Hula Bar, many 'lads' yelling at the top of their voices and staggering through the streets at 8 am on their way home from Carpe Diem, and generally poor behaviour across the board, with no respect given to the local community who live here.
After spending six weeks on the island, we got to know some local residents quite well and asked them what they thought of this party scene.
The response was always the same: they couldn't believe what their island had become, especially in the summer months. Some recounted stories of drunk tourists having sex at 8 am in St. Stephens Square (the most sacred and important square to residents on the island), that some drunks vandalised the town centre, and how the thumping bass has ruined any sort of tranquillity.
It seems that travellers and backpackers visit Hvar and seem to lose all sense and respect for those who will call the island home long after they’ve shaken off their hangovers and gone home.
As fellow travellers, we think that's pretty shit. There are so many amazing things to see and do on Hvar that it seems a waste to come and spend the entire time drunk, looking for a party.
If you're going to come and party on Hvar, by all means, get tipsy, have fun, and party till all hours; but just take a moment and respect the locals, the culture, and the environment at the same time.
Oh, and for what it's worth, Hula Hula is completely overpriced and distinctly average, so spend your hard-earned at Carpe Diem or Falko Bar instead.
Where | Carpe Diem
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#13 SUNSET DRINKS AT FALKO BAR
Our love for Falko bar was such that we spent our final night on the island here, sipping beers while watching one final, golden Hvar sunset.
Falko bar is set amongst lush Mediterranean pine with hammocks tied between trees and sun lounges spread across the rocky shore.
The bar serves very reasonably priced cocktails and beers (for Hvar, anyway!), as well as vegetarian-friendly food. Its chilled vibe and tunes make it the perfect place to eat, drink, swim and enjoy a little sun therapy.
Thanks to its distance from town and laid-back nature, Falko Bar is the perfect antidote for the rowdy nature of some of Hvar's more famous clubs. Set in the far east of Hvar town, Falko bar is 2kms from St. Stephens Square.
Where | Falko Beach Bar, Hvar
Cost | Free entry, Beers HRK 18, Aperol Spritz - HRK 46
#14 ENJOY THE SUMMER SUNSETS
In Dalmatia, there's an important cultural tradition called fjaka
Essentially, it’s about the mindful presence and quieting all sensory input to just ‘be’ for a while. Like a siesta (but without sleep), fjaka tends to occur between 1 pm - 5 pm, when the sun's heat is at its most searing.
Everyone creates their own version of fjaka; a quiet coffee on the balcony, going for an afternoon swim, or making olive oil. The aim is a mindful, present experience.
During our six weeks on the island, our own fjaka happened as the skies coloured themselves golden and calm descended on the town. We'd dive into the glassy waters of the Mediterranean, floating on our backs in the golden rays, or sit on the rocks and watch the sun dip over the horizon.
We'd hike to our favourite viewpoint, or simply sit, book in hand, and read.
You see, the sunsets on Hvar are some of the most beautiful in the world, and the perfect time to enjoy your own version on fjaka.
Some of our suggestions are below - but it’s important to find your own version of mindful content too!:
enjoy a sundowner from your own balcony, beach, or rock
walk old town streets and watch the white-stone turn orange
hang on the edge of Hvar Fortica and watch the town turn golden
go for a swim
tuck into an ice cream on the Hvar Riva
#15 EAT THE BEST OF DALMATIAN CUISINE AT KONOBA MENEGO
There's a saying here that the fish need to swim three times; first in the ocean, then in oil, and finally in wine in the stomach.
It says a lot about the Mediterranean’s love of fish, oil and wine, and the best place on Hvar to experience all of this deliciousness together is Konoba Menego.
Nestled in the old town on the way to the medieval Fortica and adorned with Croatian antiques and family photos, this rustic tavern has forged quite a reputation for itself, providing locals and tourists alike with a limited, traditional menu from locally sourced produce.
Our starter was a veggie plate drizzled with local olive oil, vinegar, honey and garlic. For mains, Mark had a local polenta chicken dish, while Mim satiated her seafood cravings with a marinated seafood platter.
The meal was washed down with a local house wine which came from a local vineyard just 5kms away.
The food was exceptional and the hospitality as authentic as we'd found on the island.
If you’re looking for a more robust foodie experience, this elevated gourmet experience is one of the best things to do on Hvar. Not only will you have a chance to feast on fresh Mediterranean fruits and herbs but also taste homemade honey, and olive oil the island is famous for, try wine at visit traditional wine cellars, and sample locally made chocolate that is to die for!
Where | Konoba Menego, Hvar old town
Opening hours | Mon - Fri: 12 pm - 14:30pm, 18:00 - 23:00pm, Sat & Sun: 18:00 pm - 23:00 pm
Cost | Mains start at HRK 110, Entree starts at HRK 50, Carafe of wine is HRK 27
Note | As we're now vegetarians, we're unsure of vegetarian options
BOOK | This guided tour of Hvar’s food scene
#16 EAT ALL THE CAKES AND PASTRIES AT NONICA’S
Down one of Hvar's picturesque, white-washed alleyways lies Nonica; a town institution serving up traditional treats baked from generations' old recipes that have been handed down and perfected over the centuries.
Being sweet tooths at heart (with an ice cream a day habit on Hvar!), we knew we'd found our sugary paradise when we stumbled upon Nonica, and opted for the traditional Hvar Cake, a sweet and spicy dough mix cooked in olive oil, as well as a dense chocolate brownie.
Both were as expected... tasty AF, and perfectly washed down with a coffee and cold chocolate.
Nonica is not only a great place to sample some local treats, but also to sit back and watch the world go by on the ancient stone streets of Hvar.
Opening hours | Mon -Sat: 8:00am - 14:00pm, 17:00 - 23:00pm
Sun: 17:00pm - 23:00pm
Cost | Hvar cake - HRK 14, Coffee - HRK 10
#17 TAKE A CYCLE TOUR THROUGH THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE-LISTED STARI GRAD PLAIN
Hvar Island is home to one of the oldest cultivated plains in the world, the Stari Grad plains; so old in fact that UNESCO declared it a world heritage site in 2008.
One of the few large flat areas on Hvar, agricultural plots were laid out by Ionian Greeks from Paros in the 4th century BC, when they colonised the area. Since then, not much has changed and those same plots are still being cultivated today.
The best way to explore the plains is via bicycle, which allows you to stop and check out the ancient ruins along the way. Bikes can be rented in Stari Grad.
This Cycle Hvar Day Tour is the best way to explore the plains, their hidden stories and rich history.
Set out through a hilly interior surrounded by lavender fields toward Vrbovska, also known as Little Venice in Croatia. This sleepy fishing village will sweep you away with its medieval streets and numerous bridges.
Be sure to capture a perfect Insta-worthy photo before heading to Jelsa where you'll experience a slower pace of beach life with a fine cup of coffee in your hand. Finally, carry on to the heartland through many vineyards and olive groves to finish your 27-kilometre-long route.
What | Stari Grad plain
Cost | Free entry into the plain
Bike rental ranges from HRK 75 - 100 per day
BOOK | See Hvar on two wheels on this Cycle Hvar Day Trip
#18 EAT LAVENDER ICE CREAM
On an island famed for its lavender, it's no surprise to see lavender products just about everywhere on Hvar.
One product that really caught our eye was lavender ice cream.
Being the ice cream enthusiasts that we are (our life motto is “an ice cream a day keeps the doctor away"), we felt compelled to try this local delicacy.
With the floral and herbaceous aroma, light purple colouring, and creamy texture, lavender ice cream was a revelation.
Pretty much everywhere on the island sells lavender ice cream, but we found the best in Stari Grad and Jelsa, where the flavours tasted a little more 'authentic' than the mass-produced options (read: soapy-flavoured!) in Hvar town.
But take it from us, you can't leave Hvar island without trying this local treat.
#19 VISIT THE LAVENDER FARMS IN BRUSJE
Founded in the 16th century as a shepherd settlement the charming town of Brusje is home to islands popular lavender fields.
A short drive from Hvar town, this ancient village lays somewhat in a state of decay, dotted with rustic stone homes and narrow laneways.
The surrounding fields are where Hvar's lavender production occurs and this is the best place to see the rolling fields of purple that the island is so famed for. The best time to see Hvar under a purple blanket is late June, which also coincides with the islands' Lavender Festival that occurs in neighbouring Velo Grablje.
If you do head out this way, you MUST eat at Izletiste family farm, which serves traditional Dalmatian cuisine, fresh juices and offers some of the best views of Hvar. They also sell lavender-infused honey, which is a perfect gift for that special someone at home.
Where | Brusje
Eat | Izletiste family farm
#20 TAKE THE BEST VIEWS OF HVAR TOWN AT TVRDAVA NAPOLEON FORTRESS
There’s no better place to watch the sunset than from a little hidden gem we discovered during our time on the island; Tvrdava Napoleon fortress. Located west of Hvar's Fortica, Tvrdava Napoleon fortress is on the former site of, you guessed it, a Napoleon-era fortress.
We made the 4km hike up to this point at least once a week. From the top, it feels like you're so high in the air that the sun’s arc stretches from one side of the endless horizon to the other, providing epic views over Hvar town and outlying Pakleni islands, Vis, as well as the island of Brac to the north.
From this elevation, you can watch the old town slowly turn from day to night, as the day boats full of tourists begin to drift back to their harbours on the mainland and a quiet calm begins to filter through the ancient streets again.
It's the perfect place to come, picnic in hand, and enjoy a pure travel moment. It's not hard to understand why this is one of our favourite things to do on Hvar.
Where | Napoleon Fortress, Hvar
A MAP OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO ON HVAR ISLAND, CROATIA
We’ve created a detailed map of the best places to visit in Hvar Island, as well as where to eat, which you can download for your visit.
To save our map, click the star on the right of the map title while will download the map to: your places - maps in your Google account.
HVAR TRIP PLANNING ESSENTIALS
WHERE IS HVAR ISLAND, CROATIA?
The island of Hvar is located in the Adriatic sea, off Croatia's famous Dalmatian coast. It's surrounded by a number of islands including Brac, Korcula and Vis, and is around an hour’s boat ride from Split. The island is the longest and sunniest in Croatia and has around 11,000 inhabitants.
On the opposite side of the Adriatic lies Italy, and important ports such as Ancona.
WHEN TO VISIT HVAR, CROATIA?
We're slightly biased, given we spent six weeks on Hvar from late April through to mid-June, however, we believe visiting the island during the shoulder seasons (April - early June, Sept-Oct) is the best time to visit.
Not only are the days long and the sea warm, but the crowds are smaller and more manageable, making the island extremely pleasant. What's more, the prices of food and drinks are cheaper during the shoulder period.
Visiting during the peak summer months of mid-June to August means you'll have to contend with upwards of 20,000 daily visitors to the island, which in our opinion is unsustainable to is to the detriment of the tranquil nature of Hvar.
HOW TO GET TO HVAR ISLAND
All travel to Hvar generally involves arriving in the coastal city of Split. Most European budget airlines fly directly to Split, especially during the summer season from April - October.
HOW TO GET FROM SPLIT TO HVAR
Tickets can be purchased online for both Jadrolinija and Krilo. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased in Split at the tourism centre on Split Riva, opposite Diocletian’s Palace, or at the ticket booths further down the harbour.
Note: if the direct ferry from Split to Hvar is booked out, you can also take the ferry to Stari Grad, and catch a local bus or taxi to Hvar town.
The return journey departs from Hvar Riva, and tickets can be purchased from the adjoining ticket office.
COST | HRK 40 - 110 one way, per person, (season/ferry dependent), 47 Kuna one way, per person to Stari Grad
DEPARTURE TIMES (SPLIT TO HVAR) | 0740, 0830, 0900, 0945, 1000, 1030, 1100, 1130, 1300, 1500, 1530, 1600, 1630, 1700, 2000 (based on summer season, times subject to change)
DEPARTURE TIMES (HVAR TO SPLIT) | 0635, 0750, 1015, 1030, 1050, 1130, 1245, 1300, 1435, 1445, 1730, 1800, 1945, 2130 (based on summer season, times subject to change)
DEPARTURE TIMES (SPLIT TO STARI GRAD) | 0500, 0830, 1100, 1430, 1700, 2030 (based on the summer season, times subject to change)
BOOK | Book your tickets for the Krilo service here
HOW TO GET AROUND HVAR ISLAND
Despite being an island, the majority of Hvar's main attractions are easily accessible thanks to a decent public transport service. Car and scooter hire is also possible, for fairly reasonable prices.
CAR HIRE ON HVAR
Car hire is a great way to explore the island's main things to do. We used Suncity car hire, where a small car costs 330 KN per day (€35), which included but no driving on Dubovica-Sveta Nedilja dirt road. The car must be returned with fuel.
Alternatively, hire a VW beetle for the day for around 500 KN (€50), which also includes insurance and must be returned with fuel.
Cost | Between 300 - 800 KN depending on vehicle size
SCOOTER HIRE ON HVAR
A far cheaper (dare we say it, backpacker-friendly) way to get around Hvar island is via scooter. Scooters are great for shorter trips, to some of the small beaches just outside of Hvar town, or through to Stari Grad, however, we wouldn't recommend riding one to explore the whole island.
At 50cc, you won't need a drivers licence to drive one, however, we recommend previous experience riding a scooter/motorbike. And please, always wear your helmet!
Rent | Suncity
Cost | HRK 200 for 24 hours
PUBLIC TRANSPORT ON HVAR
Public transport on Hvar island is a simple and cost-effective way to get around, however, you'll need to plan your travels around the bus timetable, which we've listed below.
The most popular route, from Hvar to Stari Grad is pretty frequent, with up to five services a day.
Who | Vozni Red buses
Cost | Around 25 - 50 Kuna per trip
TRAVEL INSURANCE | STAY SAFE ON HVAR
We firmly believe that if you can't afford travel insurance, you really can't afford to travel. As the current pandemic has taught many; things can go wrong anywhere in the world and insurance is often the only way of mitigating any issues with minimal expense or stress for you.
For all travellers | HeyMondo - COVID-19 coverage, comprehensive travel + medical insurance, an app with 24-hour medical support, and no out of pocket fees. *Get 5% off your policy by booking through our link here.
For digital nomads | SafetyWing - COVID-19 coverage, comprehensive travel & medical, and policies can be purchased while already abroad.
Car Insurance | Insurance4CarHire - a great annual car insurance policy
*In normal times, we recommend using World Nomads travel insurance, but unfortunately they're not currently covering COVID-19 related claims.
READ | Our ultimate guide to travel insurance
PLANNING TO VISIT HVAR SOON?
We have a heap of essential reading before you travel to the paradise island of Hvar:
HVAR GUIDE | Everything to know before visiting Hvar Island
DUBROVNIK | 10 Essential things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t leave home without travel insurance (seriously, don’t!). Click here to get the best deals with World Nomads, our trusted travel insurance provider
PHOTOGRAPHY | Love our photography? Wondering what gear we use to get all of our photos around the world? Click here to view our detailed photography gear guide, as well as our top travel photography tips!
ECO-FRIENDLY PACKING ESSENTIALS | Don’t leave home without our favourite eco-friendly travel essentials
Have you been to Hvar yourself? Help your fellow travellers our by sharing your favourite things to do in Hvar Island, Croatia in the comments below!
HEADING TO CROATIA? YOU’LL LOVE THESE GUIDES
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