Hvar is an island off the coast of Croatia with a population of about 11,000 people (2011). Imposing fortifications hover above the fluid blend of grey stone and orange cascading roofs. The remains of walls built by a long list of invaders descend towards the wide promenade edging the brilliant blue sea and the quaint fishing harbor. Marble streets reveal one of the largest squares in Dalmatia, Trg Sveti Stjepana, the prized Cathedral of St. Stjepan, and the Renaissance theatre.
Hvar Town may be the most stunning town on the island but Stari Grad, the oldest city in Croatia, Jelsa, as and smattering of small villages dotting the coast or nestled in the lush interior are well worth a visit.
The area of Starogradsko polje (Stari Grad Plain) is an distinctive example of agricultural development by the ancient Greek colonists who settled on the island in the 4th century BC. For this reason, this area is included in the World Heritage List.
During the season (May to September) it can be very busy, especially during August when large numbers of Italians visit. Hvar was relatively cheap, without an extensive tourist infrastructure, and it attracted a lot of young people. However, this is changing as large five-star hotels are being built and the standard of living in Croatia is rising.
- By either car ferry (approx. 2 hr), arriving near Stari Grad or fast ferry (a hydrofoil) (approx 1 hr) to Hvar City from Split, services operated by Jadrolinija. Buses operate to bring people to and from the ferry through the island (12 kn to Starigrad, 25 kn to Hvar City (April 2009)). As buses fill, late-coming passengers are often required to stand in the aisles during the entire bus journey.
- Jadrolinija also brings you from Hvar town to Vela Luka (Korčula) and to the island Lastovo, and from Sućuraj in the east of Hvar to Drvenik (mainland).
- Blueline operates fast ferries from Hvar town to Split. The car ferries run most regularly (approximately three per day and more during the high season (May to September) and call at Stari Grad. The fast ferries run less frequently but also operate to and from Hvar town. There are also ferries to other destinations, most notably Italy.
Buses meet the car ferries at Stari Grad and run to various destinations such as Hvar town. Don't take taxis from the ferry port, they're a rip-off.
You can easily rent a car for about 350 kn a day if you wish to explore other parts of the island. The rental agencies have firm policy of a minimum of one day rental (no hourly rentals). You can also rent a scooter or moped for about 250 kn a day. There are hourly rates for the mopeds and scooters. The roads on Hvar can be steep and windy and there are no guard rails, so be careful especially if riding a rented moped which is old and has already done tens of thousands miles.
There are only 2 petrol stations on the island: in the town of Hvar and near Jelsa. From Securaj to the nearest petrol station on the island is approx 50 km.
There is a convenient water taxi that will take you directly from Stari Grad harbour to the ferry for 15 kn.
Hvar (city) and surroundings
The Town Square in Hvar is among the most beautiful and the largest in Croatia. The square measures 4500 m², and the town has developed around this square, starting north of the square in the 13th century and then circling to the south of the square in the 15th century. There is also a fortress at the top of the hill with walls that encompass parts of the city. It's an easy walk, although uphill, to the fortress. It's worth the trek however because of the wonderful views you have of the harbor and surrounding areas. Don't forget to bring your cameras. There is a small eatery in the middle of the fortress where you can purchase drinks and snacks.
The Cathedral of St. Stephen dominates one end of the Town Square, and was built during the 16th and 17th centuries. The bell tower of this cathedral is four-stories high, with each level more elaborately decorated than the last. The cathedral was built over an existing cathedral that was destroyed by the Turks. Parts of this older cathedral can be seen inside the church, but most of the interior was rebuilt.
Unique ceramics decorated with spiral ornaments in red, yellow, brown, and white were found at a Neolithic archeological site, Grapčeva špilja, near Hvar Town. Since such ornaments and engraving methods have only been found on the island of Hvar, archeologists have named this kind of Neolithic art "hvarska kultura" (Hvar's Culture). The island of Hvar also has the tradition of making lace, but from the threads of agava leaves. Nuns from the Benedictine monastery in Hvar are masters of this unique craft.
Hikes and walks
Take a water taxi to the nearby Pakleni archipelago, where secluded strands of white sand, hiking trails and pine groves await. Or hike for 2 hours along the Hvar's southern cliffs from Dubovica to the winery of Zlatan Otok for a late lunch, a swim and a boat ride return to Hvar Town.
Scenery and nature
One visitor describes Hvar as "beautiful, crystal-clear blue sea, big green hills, clean air and lots of old stone." At sundown a stroll up old lanes from the square in Hvar Town leads up to another lane which, high above the others is extremely attractive and shouldn’t be missed.
Religion and religious sites
The Bishop's Treasury, adjacent to the cathedral, contains silver vessels, embroidered Mass robes, numerous Madonnas, icons dating from the 13th century, and an elaborately carved sarcophagus.
1 Humac, Humac, Jelsa (about 1 km off the main street (D116) across the island, ca. 10 km east of Jelsa). Humac is an old, now mostly uninhabited hamlet with a history dating back centuries. It is home to simple houses made of stone, some with foundations dating back to early Stone Age. In between and around the houses are typical fields (amongst others of lavender and wine), some of which are still worked on, some of which seem deserted. It is a prime example of local building and farming history. During the last few centuries, people moved to live elsewhere while the village has still been used for agriculture and keeping cattle.
Parts of the village are being restored and there seems to be a small museum with ethnographic objects.
Located at 350 m above sea level, the village also offers some magnificent views over the fields and the sea.
- the many stone homes and ruins
- church of St. John and St. Paul
- 2 [dead link] Grapčeva cave, Humac, Jelsa (drive to Humac and take the designated food path to the cave entrance). entrance only allowed with a guided tour, available only on certain days. a typical Dalmatian cave with stalactites and stalagmites, where archeological findings, especially engraved and colored ceramics, have been made and prove neolithic settlement of the island
Rent a boat (5 horsepower) for about 350 kn a day and explore the Pakleni Islands on your own. You can rent boats right in the main square in Hvar town. The islands are very close and make for an amazing adventure. Take a picnic or a bottle of wine. The boat can be anchored anywhere around the islands or tied to the rocks.
Rent a scooter for 250 kn a day and go around the island. There is lots to see and many interesting stopping points.
There are also frequent water taxi that go the Pakleni Islands that run every half hour or so.
Climb up to the Španjola Fortress. Enjoy the magnificent view of Hvar town and the Pakleni Islands, and pick up Italian radio on your mobile phone or main local Megamix Radio Hvar radio station.
Go dancing at Carpe Diem. This is not to be missed. The DJs are usually on the international circuit and the energy is high.
- Adventure park Hvar Jelsa, Jelsa Hvar (Near Hotel Fontana Jelsa), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers paintball, splatmaster, cageball, beach volleyball, badminton, human table football, archery, bocce, giant boxing.
Hvar is known for its lavender, you can see it blooming in the summer over large areas. Don't forget to purchase bunches of lavender or lavender oils in beautifully painted glass bottles the lingering fragrances will remind you of the lovely time you spent on the island of Hvar.
- [dead link] Made in Hvar, Pjaca (at the main square), ☏ . 09:00 - 00:00. Contemporary art and craft gallery presenting local art as well as artist in residence concept. Moderate prices and high aesthetic standards, unique and interested. Open all year.
The local grilled squid with olive oil is wonderful, as is the cucumber salad.
- [dead link] Guesthouse Novak, Jurja Novaka 9.
- [dead link] Restoran Antonio, Burak 3, Zdrilca (island of Zdrilca, rent a boat in Hvar town to get here), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Great seafood and a good view over the bay. 100 kn.
- The Golden Shell (With the port behind you and the main square in front of you, head left past the church and the restaurant is a small doorway down an alley on the right.). Just off the main square near the main arrival port of Hvar is the Golden Shell, a small restaurant recommended as the best by the locals. The eating area is outdoors under a lovely vine roof, and if you are lucky you may be offered a measure of the home brewed fig brandy. Be careful, it's extremely strong but the locals recommend one a day to keep you healthy. The delicious national dish of Croatia is available, rabbit in fig sauce, and the rabbit and potato with peanut sauce is also highly recommended.
- [dead link] Tonci, Sveti Klement, Vlaka, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Beautiful little restaurant in a garden of fig and mandarin trees. They make their own wine from the vineyards next to the restaurants, the fish they catch in the nearby water. If you order a desert of fresh figs, they will pluck them from the trees around you. 100 kn.
Jelsa and surroundings
1 Konoba Humac, Humac, Jelsa, ☏ . closed on Sundays. In between of traditional houses and fields, this restaurant takes you out into a scenic and romantic atmosphere (there is no connection to running water and the electricity grid). You will have a straightforward menu of traditionally prepared dishes, many of them made in an old style oven. Good meat and also some vegetarian options. Some dishes need to be booked in advance. Certainly worth a visit, although somewhat off the main paths. Only reachable via phone (no messages or emails).
- Carpe Diem, At the end of the riva (at the end of the riva on the right side). It's all big cushions, sofas, hammocks and mood lighting. Drinks leave something to be desired. It's a real shame, because it's the perfect spot to drink cocktails, but they make them with flavoured syrups instead of fresh fruit, and they all taste like bubble-gum.
- Prsuta Tri (on the narrow street just behind the main square), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Good vine bar, has cheese, olive, and prosciutto.
- Teraca, Placa (on the long terrace above the main square). Friendly small bar with an amazing view over the square and harbour. 25 kn beers, drinks for 18 kn.
At every ferry arrival, a bunch of people offering private accommodation will show up.
- Apartmani Grgičević (firstname.lastname@example.org), Vitarnja, Jelsa, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Welcoming house in Jelsa, 30m from the sea, low prices. 5 apartments (2+1, 4+2, 4+3 persons), ground or first floor. Nice mediterranean garden, balcony or terrace for guests, WiFi, grill, pets welcome. from €12.
- Anna, Buzolic Tonci & Anna Glavica bb, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-out: 10:00. Friendly and clean apartment just up the steps from the main square. 200 kn per person.
- Apartments and Pension, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Two air-con double room apartments, one air-con studio-apartment, and two rooms. €35 (studio apartment).
- Apartments Bibić, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Ten minutes walk from center of town and 20 meters from the sea.
- Apartments Komazin, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Nice seaview apartments for 2, 3, 4 and 5 persons.
- Aparthotel Pharia, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Guesthouse Huljic, Jelsa bb, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Great location in very centre of Jelsa on Hvar island. Nice clean rooms with private bathrooms.
- Kuca Sofia, ☏ . Dates back more than 400 years and is traditionally constructed from local stone. It is a spacious two floor apartment in quiet surroundings, located in the historic centre of Hvar Town.
- Apartment Modric (Stone house Modric), Donja banda b.b. (Sucuraj), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Accommodation for 4-5 persons in old stone completely renovated house, 20m from sea. The available apartment takes the first floor and the attic; 70m2 large. €60-90/day per apartment.
- [dead link] Apartments Curin, Antica Ćurin, Sv. Katarina bb, Hvar Town directions=, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 14:00. Very clean and nice apartments with bathrooms and balconies. The top floor balcony has an amazing view over Hvar and the Pakleni Islands. €30.
- Aprtments Hackl, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Nice quiet place.
- 1 Luka's Lodge (call Luka for a pickup), ☏ . Check-out: 11:00. Nice location away from the noise, but within easy walking distance of beaches, restaurants, main promenade. 120 kn per night.
- [dead link] Vila Julie (Villa Julie Vip Apartment), Bukainka bb, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Nice villa with stunning view, swimming pool and air conditioning.
- 2 Villa Pepi (Bodlovic), Ivana Vucetica 16 (South along coast line), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Apartments for 2 to 4 persons, direct sea view, 20 m from sea. 20-35 e.
- [formerly dead link] Apartments Blaskovic (in the vicinity of the beach), ☏ . Nice view. Has a seawater pool and fitness room.
The beautiful, unspoilt and popular naturist islands of Jerolim and Stipanska are accessible by taxi-boat from Hvar town square. As of August 2010, the main beaches of the island are used predominantly by clothed bathers (the majority of island visitors), while the small rocky coves are used by a mix of clothed and naturist bathers.