Hvar is a remarkable island off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. The 13th-century walls and Renaissance vibes of the main port town create a superb base for island hopping around the Adriatic Sea.
Seeking to escape the dreary Southern Hemisphere winter and spend some time in a summer paradise? With a Mediterranean climate, Hvar is absolutely perfect for a relaxing beach getaway or a lively party weekend. After an hour-and-a-half journey from Split Airport, you’ll be ready to chill out and leave all your daily worries behind.
Excited to explore Hvar? To help you get started on your planning, here are 15 things to do in Hvar, Croatia.
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The Blue and Green Caves
There are two natural wonders you’ll want to prioritize seeing while holidaying in Hvar: The Blue Cave and the Green Cave. Although these caves are in two separate areas, they are usually combined into one convenient tour lasting around seven or eight hours.
The best way to see the caves is by booking a small speed boat or yacht trip for the day. If you’re hoping to escape the crowds of fellow tourists for a little bit and are willing to pay a lot more, there are private, customisable tours available as well.
Immerse yourself in the emerald light of the Green Cave (Zelena Špilja) on the island of Ravnik, and swim in the vibrant, glowing waters inside the Blue Cave (Modra Špilja) on the coast of Biševo. Your guides will know the ideal time to visit each cave, usually around midday when the most amount of sunlight is reflected through the water.
Next, you’ll stop at the picturesque Stiniva Cove, a secluded oasis between the two caves. You’ll also depart at Vinogradišće at Palmižana for a delicious seafood lunch and a cocktail at the beach bar. Afterwards, spend your time swimming, sunbathing, and appreciating your extraordinary surroundings.
The Lavender Fields
In the past century, Hvar Island has become known as the land of lavender. If you’re around during June and July, you’ll have the opportunity to see some of the gorgeous lavender fields for yourself.
While the production levels aren’t what they used to be due to forest fires and other factors, there are still a few main areas where you can experience the pale purple hues and relaxing scent of the flowering plants. The remaining fields are found around the villages of Zastrazisce, Gdinj and Bogomolje. Buses don’t go out this far, so your options are renting a car or ordering a taxi.
If you’re visiting Hvar during the other 10 months of the year, you can still pick up some lavender-related souvenirs. Year-round, local market vendors and shops sell handmade products like lavender essential oils, soaps and perfumes. These items make wonderful gifts for loved ones back home and won’t take up too much space in your luggage.
The Cathedral of St. Stephen
The Cathedral of St. Stephen, commonly known as Hvar Cathedral, is a charming Roman Catholic cathedral in the main square of Hvar. In fact, it’s easily one of the most impressive structures in the city. Though its foundations date back to an early sixth-century church, its current facade was built in the 16th and 17th centuries.
It’s definitely worth a stop to gaze up at the impressive Renaissance-style bell tower. Inside the cathedral, the walls are adorned with beautiful paintings by the likes of Stefano Celesti and Palma Junior. If you find yourself in the square just before sunset, you’ll see the last rays of light gorgeously illuminating the building from behind.
Eight kilometres east of the main city is Dubovica, a breathtaking cove with a pebbled beach and picnic area. There’s also a beach bar and a home-style restaurant nearby, so you can spend the entire day here if you feel like! The crystal-clear waters are perfect for a relaxing swim.
Since there are no direct roads, it’s somewhat of a hidden gem away from the tourist trail. There’s a bit of a hike down to the shoreline, so come wearing appropriate shoes. However, depending on the season, this means that there’s a chance you’ll find a quiet spot to yourself. You’ll also need to bring your own towels and beach umbrellas.
The Spanish Fortress
Also known by the names Tvrdava Fortica and the Španjola, Hvar’s Spanish Fortress offers a marvellous vista of downtown Hvar, the Pakleni Islands and the Adriatic Sea. Reaching the fortress at the top of the hill requires a 20-minute walk. You can also take a taxi, but the views are so much more rewarding when earned! Walking may take even longer though, as you’ll want to stop a dozen times to take photos! In this case, be safe and pay attention to where you step.
The fortress itself costs 50 Croatian kuna to enter, and there’s a bar inside serving fresh juices and even alcoholic beverages, so bring some spare cash with you. There’s also an old prison below, which can be interesting to check out while you’re there.
A half-day exploration of the Pakleni Islands is one of the most popular Hvar activities. Located close to Hvar’s main harbour, this tiny archipelago is comprised of secluded beaches and deep blue waters.
A great way to explore the islands is via speed boat. A private or small group tour is the most convenient, as snorkelling equipment is already taken care of for you. Plus, you’ll have an experienced guide that knows the ins and outs of each island. There’s also a four-hour sea kayaking tour you can join, guided by a fantastic instructor. There’s even the option of hiring a boat on your own if you aren’t planning on drinking too much!
Sveti Klement (Saint Clement) is considered the main island and is the largest by far. There are three main areas here. Palmižana is the most popular resort area, and also where you’ll find most of the other tourists. From June to September, the top-tier seafood houses like Laganini Lounge Bar and Zori Restaurant will require bookings in advance.
Perna is one of the few genuinely sandy beaches on Sveti Klement, although there’s less in the way of restaurants and beach clubs here. The same goes for Vlaka Beach; while the peaceful shorelines and clear, calm seas are enticing, you’d better pack your own drinks and snacks.
The second most visited island is Marinkovac. You’ll never want to leave the heavenly cove of Mlini, where the surrounding trees provide a little welcome shade from the heat. Opposite Marinkovac is Ždrilca. Though not as well known, all the amenities you’ll need for a memorable beach day are offered here. Rent a lounge chair or a bean bag, dine at Tri Grede, and book a massage.
Tvrdalj Castle, the former summer residence of Croatian poet Petar Hektorović, is a beautifully-preserved Renaissance building worth visiting. It’s located in the small settlement of Stari Grad, about 20 kilometres east of the main town. It features an inner courtyard with a fish pool surrounded by a vaulted terrace.
All of the living quarters are arranged facing the pool, although they are private and entrance is not permitted. There’s also a walled garden with herbs and medicinal plants. Engraved into the stone walls of the castle are 20 of Hektorović’s quotes, though they are all in Latin, Croatian and Italian.
During the 16th-century, the castle acted as a shelter for citizens during attacks from the Ottomans. For only 20 kuna, come and explore this great piece of Stari Grad history.
A Wine Tasting Tour
A three-hour vineyard tour is a superb introduction to Hvar’s wine making history and production. Stop by a winery in the town of Jelsa and learn about grapes like Plavac Mali, which are known for producing some of the best red wines along the Dalmatian coastline. See how ancient winemaking traditions are merged with newer technologies, then sample some of the top locally produced wines like Prošek.
This stunning 15th-century monastery overlooks an idyllic cove near the main harbour of Hvar and is about a 500-metre walk from St. Stephen’s Square. Its graceful bell tower was built in the 16th century by a renowned stonemason family, and the ancient gardens containing a 500-year-old cypress tree are ideal for getting some peace away from the crowds. The adjacent church contains paintings by Francesco da Santacroce. Stop here for a moment of quiet reflection and, of course, the breathtaking views.
Head underground to Grapčeva, a rock cave on the island of Hvar. This cave is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Croatia, with representations of neolithic culture from over 6,000 years ago. Engravings and ceramics found inside indicate that the space was used for cult purposes. You’ll find the typical, eerie stalactites and stalagmites hanging above you as you make your way through the cave.
Only organised travellers can visit Grapčeva, as you must have a local guide with you to enter. You can find someone to take you on Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 9 in the morning in the village of Humac.
A beautiful piece of architecture you must stop and admire is the Venetian Loggia and Clock Tower in front of the serene harbour. With origins as early as the 13th century, the loggia was reconstructed during the 15th century and again after damage by the Ottoman Turks in the 1570s. In the early 17th century, its elegant obelisks were added to create a Late Renaissance look.
While its original purpose is unknown, the loggia was used as a courthouse during the Venetian rule. Now, you can stay the night here, as it is the site of the Palace Elisabeth Hvar Hotel.
Not sure what to do in Hvar in the evenings? The nightlife in Hvar, particularly during the summertime, has something for everyone.
For those seeking a party, Hvar Town is the place to be. One of the trendiest clubs is Carpe Diem at Riva 32, which has been going strong since 1999. If you love a good cocktail, you’ll find an impressive list to choose from here. The club often attracts some VIP holiday-goers and has a vibrant atmosphere. Start with a sunset drink before the DJ kicks things up a notch and you move on to dancing the night away. Keep in mind before you arrive that the venue is cash only.
Another venue that ensures a great night out during the summer is Veneranda on Ulica Dinka Kovačevića. Located inside the walls of a former monastery, it offers a historic setting to enjoy a drink and let loose on the dancefloor. There’s also an open-air cinema showing films and video projections, a concert area, a swimming pool and a pizza lounge. You’ll never be bored here, that’s for sure!
On the weekends, you can expect to pay at least 100 kuna to get in. The party gets started around 10 p.m. and kicks on until 5 in the morning.
Central Park Club
If you prefer a casual drink and a more relaxed atmosphere, Central Park Club is a colourful yet chill spot to hang from April to September. Close to the main square, there’s live jazz, blues, and soul music performed every evening. It’s a perfect escape and a change of pace if you’re sick of the louder electro music at most other clubs! Earlier in the day, you can order a filling burger, an antipasto platter or a cup of coffee.
Eager to find the best local grub? Dalmatino at Sveti Marak 1 is by far the best Croatian and Mediterranean restaurant on Hvar. Taste some oysters and shrimp tartare to start, then move on to a main of gnocchi, grilled fish or steak. Extra sauces are available, as well as sides of seasonal vegetables. For dessert, indulge in granny’s homemade cake or a selection of cheeses with your wine.
Not only is the food mouthwatering, but the service is excellent too. The attentive staff will discuss the menu with you and suggest dishes to accommodate any dietary requirements you may have. As Dalmatino is so popular, you should make a reservation at least a day before to avoid disappointment.
Recommended tours in Hvar
- Blue and Green Cave Speedboat Small Group Tour from Hvar
- Hvar Wine Tasting Tour
- Hvar Wine Tour and Dalmatian Dinner
- Hvar Hidden Gems Half Day Tour with Lunch or Dinner
- Hvar Island Tour and Olive Oil Tasting
- Blue & Green cave tour with yacht from town Hvar
- Red rocks & Hells’ islands private getaway tour
- Discover Hvar and Pakleni Islands by Sea Kayak
- Traditional flavours of Hvar
- Chocolate and Wine Tasting Small-Group Tour from Hvar
- Magic Christmas Tour in Hvar
- Discover Scuba Diving in Hvar
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