Croatia’s Enchanting Island, Hvar, TOP things to see

Hvar, the fourth-largest island in Croatia, is a gem nestled in the Adriatic Sea. Its highest peak, Sveti Nikola, towers at an impressive 628 meters. Many consider it Croatia’s most beautiful island, and rightfully so, as it is a popular destination. Numerous celebrities also find solace here during their vacations. Hvar Island boasts an abundance of natural and architectural beauty, featuring stunning bays, coastlines, and beaches. While the island’s beaches are mainly pebbly and rocky, there are also sandy shores to discover. Hvar offers an array of entertainment, cultural experiences, and culinary delights. For the younger crowd, Hvar is a party haven with a vibrant nightlife scene.

Updated January 2024

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How to get to hvar island

The Croatian highway can get pretty busy during the summer, especially on Saturdays when there’s a shift change. If possible, it’s better to plan your trip on a different day to avoid the crowds. Keep in mind that the tolls can add up; it costs us about 50 € for a round trip from Zagrab to Split. However, there’s good news for next year (2024). The toll booths might be replaced with an e-sticker system, which will help reduce long queues at the toll stations.

UPDATE 2024: Unfortunately, the tolls wont be replaced with the e-vignette system in 2024, earliest in 2025. It is recommended that you use an ENC device to avoid long queues at toll plazas, as motorway operators will provide a separate lane/gate for those using an ENC. This way, you don’t have to wait in queues that can sometimes be several kilometres long to pay with cash or a card, because the device allows you to pay electronically.

Accessing Hvar Island is possible from two directions via ferry. Ferries from Split set sail to Stari Grad on the bustling western side of the island, while those departing from Drvenik reach the eastern village of Sućuraj. The choice depends on your destination within the island. During the summer, ferries operate on a denser schedule. Split offers seven daily departures, while Drvenik boasts 11 due to its shorter distance. For more information on car ferry schedules and to purchase tickets online visit the official website of Jadrolinija.

If you are arriving by bus or by train You can take a ferry or catamaran to Hvar from Split. For more information visit the official website of Hvar Island or visit-hvar.

If you are planning to visit Hvar by plane, you should fly to Split, because the airport in Split is the closest airport to the island of Hvar. There is an organized bus shuttle service from the airport to the port of Split where in the offices of Jadrolinija you can find the necessary information on boat lines to the island of Hvar.

Another option is to rent a car and take the car ferry as mentioned above. DiscoverCars has a great interface to find the best car rental price, they also offer 24/7 support and free cancellation. With a car you will be flexible and able to visit whatever you want on the whole island.

Another option is to rent a car and take the car ferry as mentioned above. DiscoverCars has a great interface to find the best car rental price, they also offer 24/7 support and free cancellation. With a car you will be flexible and able to visit whatever you want on the whole island.

Where to stay

As a family, we chose to stay in the peaceful village of Milna, exploring the western part of the island. The village offered various beaches, restaurants, and a bakery for convenience. When it comes to hotel searches, I always start my research on sites where I can compare prices and read reviews. Such as Hotellook helps you find and compare prices on hotels around the world. The platform offers a comprehensive database of hotels, making it easier for travelers to find the perfect accommodation. The platform also offers detailed information on hotels, including ratings, reviews, and amenities, helping you make an informed decision about your stay.

Hvar town

At the heart of Hvar Island lies Hvar Town, the largest settlement and its number one attraction. This town stands out for its cleanliness and organization while maintaining its unique character. The waterfront promenade is lined with palm trees and 7th-century city walls. Its medieval atmosphere is heightened by white stone houses. Hvar is a somewhat pricey destination, given its popularity.

Aside from being the most beautiful place on the island, Hvar Town is also the busiest, offering a vibrant nightlife with numerous bars and clubs. It’s the epicenter of the island’s nocturnal activities, with popular spots like Hula Hula and the Carpe Diem Beach accessible by water taxi, even during the day. For those seeking lively and energetic vacations, the capital is a prime choice. However, if tranquility is preferred, quieter villages are available for accommodation, ensuring proximity to Hvar’s attractions.

Perched on a hill in Hvar Town is the Spanjola Fortress, offering a magnificent panoramic view of Hvar and the adjacent islands. Built in the 16th century, the fortress expanded during French and Austrian rule, gaining its present form with various modifications. The fortress hosts valuable medieval and even older artifacts for display, making it a must-visit. Admission for adults is €10 (2023).

Hvar

The Cathedral of St. Stephen (Sv. Stjepan) stands on the main square of Hvar Town. Its construction spanned the 16th and 17th centuries, with the interior completed in the 18th century. The cathedral exhibits a fusion of Renaissance and Baroque styles, boasting eleven Baroque altars, several crafted by Venetian artists. Its bell tower dates back to the 17th century.

To find a great activity, visit GetYourGuide. The great thing about GetYourGuide is that everything is in one place. They offer a ton of activities all over the world with free cancellation 24 hours in advance. It is a marketplace where you can choose between many programmes and read reviews about them.

Stari Grad

Stari Grad, located in the northern part of the island, is Hvar’s oldest settlement, Europe’s one of the first towns, and Croatia’s. It shares the bustle of Hvar Town but with less crowding. Ferries arriving from Split dock here. With a history spanning 2500 years, Stari Grad boasts a legacy dating back to its Greek settlers in 384 BC. The ancient Greek settlement remains mostly unexplored, with a few remnants visible, including 11-meter-high Greek walls. Despite this, several ancient 500-year-old churches still stand. Stari Grad is surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and oak forests.

Stari Grad

Stari Grad’s main attraction is the Trvdalj, a mesmerizing palace built in 1520. It features a garden with an over hundred-year-old magnolia tree and a fishpond filled with seawater. Nearby stands the 16th-century Church of St. Rocco and the Dominican Monastery founded in 1482. If you would like to have a unique experience, check out Private Old Town Historical Walking Tour.

Jelsa

Jelsa, situated in the heart of Hvar and bordered by two of the island’s tallest mountains and forests, is home to around 3600 residents. It has a rich tradition in tourism, with the first hotel, Hotel Jardan, opening in 1911. While architectural wonders may not be the focus here, the town is less crowded. It features numerous palm trees, Mediterranean trees, and plants. Jelsa offers a well-equipped environment for sports and other leisure activities. Jelsa also hosts a sandy beach.

Milna

Several smaller beaches are located next to each other near Milna, where sunbeds can be rented. Some are along the hiking trail between Hvar and Milna, so the more secluded coves are not easily accessible.

Plaza dubovica

Around a 20-minute drive from Hvar, followed by an equally long walk, or a boat ride, lies the slightly secluded Dubovica Beach with its picturesque pebble shore and crystal-clear waters. It’s advisable to wear sturdy shoes due to the steep rocky slope. As access is only by car or by boat, this small and splendid beach is less crowded compared to others. A restaurant and bar are located along the beach. To get there, drive about 10 km from Hvar, and after Zaraca, you’ll find the Dubovica sign about 1-2 km away, where parking is available. Arriving early is recommended, as the roadside parking spaces (which are not fully developed) fill up quickly.

Plaza dubovica

Pakleni islands

Facing Hvar Town are the Pakleni Islands, a collection of 20 small, romantic islets. They are adorned with beautiful beaches, unique rocks, and medieval houses. The crystal-clear sea in this area is truly something to behold, making the islands peaceful and idyllic. The Pakleni Islands are easily accessible by water taxis departing from Hvar’s harbor. Among them, Jerolim Island is closest to Hvar and is a favorite among naturists. The Marinkovac Island also boasts a naturist beach. The largest of the Pakleni Islands is Sveti Klement, renowned for the picturesque village of Palmizana. Buja is an exotic island with rich flora.

Red rocks

If you set sail from Hvar towards St. Nedjelja, after passing through the coves of Dubovica and Pišćena, you’ll encounter Crvene stijene (Red Rocks). This natural wonder consists of vertically fragmented reddish cliffs that plunge dramatically into the sea. The interplay of sea and rain over time has carved impressive layers into the limestone, resulting in a breathtaking natural masterpiece. Tip: Boat tour to visit Red Rocks and Pakleni Islands where you get a chance to swim in the two different bays.

Blue cave near Vis

A visit to the Blue Cave (Modra Špilja) on the island of Biševo, near Vis Island, promises an unforgettable memory. The remarkable play of sunlight reflecting off the white seabed creates a mesmerizing blue light that illuminates the cave both above and below the water’s surface. Objects submerged in the water even take on a silver glow. Biševo Island, with its enchanting shores, vineyards, and pine-scented forests, offers a true paradise for relaxation. Tip: Visit the island of Vis and the Blue Cave by speedboat tour.

Scenic Mountain Drives and Hiking Sveti Nikola, Hvar

For a truly breathtaking experience, take a drive through the mountains to uncover spectacular vistas, and charming villages, and hike up to Sveti Nikola. You can do it with your own car or by renting a scooter or Quad or even there are bicycle tours. They are the perfect way to discover the beauty of the island from a different perspective.

Scenic Mountain Drives and Hiking Sveti Nikola, Hvar
Scenic Mountain Drives and Hiking Sveti Nikola, Hvar

Summary

Hvar Island, the fourth-largest island in Croatia, is a popular destination with stunning natural and architectural beauty. It offers an array of entertainment, cultural experiences, and culinary delights, and is a party haven with a vibrant nightlife scene. Accessing Hvar Island is possible from two directions via ferry, bus, or train. Hvar Town, the largest settlement and its number one attraction, stands out for its cleanliness and organization while maintaining its unique character. It’s the epicenter of the island’s nocturnal activities, with popular spots like Hula Hula and the Carpe Diem Beach accessible by water taxi. When it comes to hotel searches, Hvar is a somewhat pricey destination, but quieter villages are available for accommodation.

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