Things To Do In Hvar, Croatia For Families, Singles & Couples

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Things To Do In Hvar, Croatia For Families, Singles & Couples

A bright spot in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar Island, offers a luxurious island lifestyle that most people can only dream about. Hvar Island has a history that has been dated back to around 6,000 BC. Throughout the centuries, the island has become a favorite and treasured vacation spot among Croatians and foreign tourists alike.

Hvar’s long history has developed into both posh holiday destination mixed with a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle, topped with a rich cultural and historical heritage. Oh, and let’s not forget its popularity with nature lovers.

Hvar Island is known for its excellent climate. It enjoys no fewer than 2,800+ hours of sunshine each year. With warm summers and mild winters, rich culture, beautiful views overlooking the Adriatic Sea, it’s no wonder that Hvar Island attracts so many holidaymakers.

Before heading to Hvar for the vacation of a lifetime, be sure to pick up some essential items for travel to ensure you have the most comfortable holiday.

Should you cancel your trip to the Balkans due to Coronavirus?

Things to do in Hvar Island Travel Blog | Chasing the Donkey

 

Things To Do In Hvar

After all the talk about Hvar Island, now let’s talk about what to do in Hvar. Below, we’ll show you the best Hvar attractions and the top things to do in Hvar, an island known for four main towns:

  • Hvar Town
  • Stari Grad
  • Vrboska
  • Jelsa

Franciscan Monastery & Museum

The Franciscan Monastery & Museum in Hvar is home to beautiful artwork and historical, detailed architecture that rivals any other artwork on Hvar Island. Built in the 16th century by a family of stonemasons, the Franciscan Monastery overlooks a gorgeous shady cove and a 300-year-old cypress tree in the garden. Walk over and marvel at its unusual shape.

In the museum, you will find historic coins, charts, and documents. The two most famous pieces in the museum are an edition of Ptolemy’s Atlas printed in 1524 and The Last Supper painted by Matteo Ingoli. Our Lady of Charity, the attached church, has more works of art, including three polyptychs from 1583 by Francesco da Santacroce.

We always say people must see this. Even if you have just one day to spend on Hvar, don’t skip it! A visit to this magnificent building is one of those absolute must-do things in Hvar.

Fortica

Best Islands In Croatia - Hvar

If you look up the hill from Hvar Town, you will see a fort perched on the summit. That fort is Hvar’s Fortica. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century while under Venetian rule and then again in 1557. You can get to Fortica by walking through the park northwest of St. Stephen’s Square.

Once you climb to the top of the walls, you can already enjoy incredible panoramic views of the city of Hvar and the surrounding Pakleni Islands. These days, the Hvar fort holds a collection of amphora and other exhibits from antiquity to the Middle Ages. Don’t forget to take your camera and get a killer photo.

Local tip: Enjoy a cup of coffee or a cold drink at the café at the very top and absorb the view. The price is worth it.

St. Stephen’s Square And Cathedral

In the Hvar town center, you will find St. Stephen’s Square overlooked by St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The square is surrounded by winding stone streets and was created by reclaiming an inlet that was part of the Bay. About 4,500 square meters in size, this is where the town comes alive.

It dates back to the 13th century when the city center started developing in the north before spreading to the south. You can find parts of the square in the north, dating back to the 15th century. The stunning cathedral was built during the 16th and 17th centuries after the previous cathedral was destroyed by the Turks. From the nave, you can see parts of the first cathedral.

Tour The Hvar Vineyards

Things to do in Hvar | Bastijana Winery | Croatia Travel Blog Chasing the Donkey
Plavac Mali. Photo credit: Bastijana Winery

Either on your own or with a tour group, a tour of Hvar’s best wineries should be on the top of any wine aficionado’s things-to-do list! Winery tours are without question among the best things to do in Hvar. The island is particularly well-known for the famous Plavac Mali grape variety, a red related to Zinfandel. Where should you go? We suggest the following best wineries on Hvar Island.

 

Renaissance Theater

The theater was a significant part of the renaissance. They were popping up all over Europe during this period. One of Hvar’s greatest theaters is the Renaissance Theater, built in 1612 and still standing today. Some say that this theater was the first theater in Europe to open to the upper and lower classes.

While performances stopped being staged there in 2008 and most of the theater is under renovation, you can still visit it. Inside, you will find frescoes and baroque loggias, remnants of the period when the arts flourished.

Secret Hvar

Hvar Island is filled with beautiful attractions, some of which are off the beaten path. These attractions are not found in the city, but off the main roads and buried deep within Hvar’s culture. If you are interested in seeing the attractions and locations forgotten by time, try taking this route of secret things to do in Hvar suggested by Paul, a local

Explore Šćedro Island

Šćedro sits along the southern part of Hvar Island, a smaller island that is a protected nature park. Spend the day here dipping your toes in the waters of the many coves of Šćedro. Although you won’t find it teeming with people, you won’t be the only one either. During the day, many boats take anchorage here to explore its beautiful bays.

Explore further afoot, up, up, up the hill. There you will discover the abandoned stone village of Nastane. During the summer season, boat tours take daily trips to Šćedro. If you’re looking to get away from the busy town, an excursion to this quiet island is one of the best things to do on Hvar Island.

Hvar Lavender Festival

The Island of Hvar has an excellent natural gift, lavender. The Lavender Festival brings many to Hvar Island each June. Lavender is the symbol of Hvar, and as such, the island has a great vibe during the Hvar lavender season. Along with presentations on lavender distillation, and the usual handmade souvenirs to take home to stuff in your smalls draws, you can also try dishes made with lavender in the little village of Velo Grablje during the festival.

Find The Oldest Olive Tree On The Island

Oldest olive tree Hvar | Travel Croatia Guide
Hvar’s Oldest Olive Tree. Photo credit: Paul Bradbury

Placed under heritage protection in 1964, the oldest olive tree on Hvar is almost unknown outside the eastern village of Zastrazisce, which it neighbors. Experts have put it at 2,500 years old, which – if true – would make it one of the ten oldest olive trees in the world. See if you can find it. Here is a clue.

 

Carpe Diem Hvar –  Full Moon Party

Depending on your age, you might want to head toward, or very far away from, the Carpe Diem Full Moon Parties. Located at Stipanska, you will need to take a short boat ride to get to the beach party. If you’re up for it, you can party all night long under the moonlight with the world’s best DJs.

Local tip: Remember the water taxis stop running at 2.30 am. So, if you are at the Carp Diem Beach Club past 2.30 am, make your own boat transport arrangements.

Things to do in Hvar Island Travel Blog_Davor - 2
Photo Credit Davor Strenja

Dormouse Festival

Eight or so years ago, a local association from the village of Dol decided that they would create a festival to celebrate the unique culture and traditions of their village. It was named the Puhijada. One of the elements of this festival celebrates their love of the Dormouse or Puh as we call them in Croatian.

The people of Dol have maintained the tradition of hunting and eating dormice, which they have been doing since ancient times. The Puhijada culminates with a mega dormouse BBQ and lots of Croatian wine. This is my kind of festival, one of the most fun things to do in Hvar Island. The Puhijada is on in early August of each year.

Moor At Palmižana Marina

Are you exploring Hvar while sailing in Croatia? Then we suggest mooring at Palmižana Marina on the island of Saint Klement. Not just because Hvar Town’s Harbor has a measly 15 spaces, but because there are several remarkable beaches you can enjoy on this small group of Croatian islands, known as the Pakleni Islands.

With four restaurants, a cocktail bar, and an art gallery all within a few minutes’ walk from ACI marina, you’ll see why we recommend it. Try Palmizana or those on Marinkovac.

Grapčeva Caves

Hvar Island Grapčeva Caves Filing in Croatia
Hvar Island Grapčeva Caves. Photo credit: Filming in Croatia

A rarely mentioned attraction in Hvar is the Grapčeva Caves, which date back to the Neolithic period. Tours go just several times a week, so book in early to secure your spot.

Get Active

A cycling holiday to Hvar Island 3
Cycling Hvar. Photo credit: Travel Tales of Life

Adventure enthusiasts will love Hvar because of the wide variety of activity choices. Our top three suggestions are: 

  • Cycling. Besides the pristine pebble beaches, quaint towns, and gorgeous vistas, Hvar provides a broad range of spectacular terrain for cyclists. Read a guide to self-guided cycling on Hvar.
  • Kayaking. One option is to take a sea kayak tour from Hvar Town to the Pakleni Islands.
  • Scuba diving. With countless hidden coves and crystal clear waters, Hvar Island is a scuba diver’s paradise.

Spend Easter On Hvar Island

Things to do on Hvar Island | Procession Za Križen Easter | Croatia Travel Blog
Hvar Island Easter Procession Za Križen. Photo Credit Ivo Pervan via Croatian TZ

Each Easter, Hvar Island holds a Passion procession through seven churches. This tradition began over 500 years ago, and the songs sung are considered to be the oldest Passion songs in Europe. I follow it on the TV and social media each year; it’s a beautiful display. Easter is a key religious period for Catholics (roughly 90% of Croatians), and the procession on Hvar was added to the UNESCO Intangible Heritage list. If you’re interested in cultural things to see in Hvar, this annual procession is a major one.

Here is an excellent guide to the six simultaneous processions in Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrban, and Vrboska, detailing the 22-kilometer walk that begins at 10 pm on Thursday preceding Good Friday.

Day Trips From Hvar

Hvar is glamorous and culturally diverse, but we all like to explore while on holiday in Croatia, right? So here are just a few ideas for day trips you can take from Hvar.

 

Make Sandcastles At Grebisce Beach

Hvar’s best sandy beach for families is Grebisce, which is located on the north side of the Jelsa harbor. It’s nothing flash, but the kids who want to make sandcastles will love it. Just remember to pack the baby powder for when you’re ready to head home.

Best Hvar Beaches

Dubovica Beach

Dubovica is one of the most famous and best beaches in Hvar. It lies on the south side, right before you enter Stari Grad. One of the main focal points along the beach are the beautiful, old stone buildings. The crystal clear water of Dubovica Beach and the mild climate of Hvar Island attract many visitors year-round. Along the pebble beach, you will find a restaurant serving delicious food. Getting to the shore requires a small hike, but once you are there, you will love every second of it.

Lucisca Beach

On the south side of the island, you will find Lucisca Beach. It is located near Hvar Town, and the trip there will provide excellent views. Lucisca Beach is a peaceful beach where many love to go swimming during the summer. Parking can be hard at the beach, so most visitors arrive by boat. While there, enjoy a relaxing day lying out on the beach or going for a swim, or be adventurous and go for a hike or explore the beach’s many caves.

Things to do in Hvar Island 3 | Croatia Travel Blog
Things to do in Hvar. Photo Credit Davor Strenja

Saint Nedilja Beach

This rocky coastline on the southern Hvar shore has cliffs that rise majestically out of the Adriatic. From here, you can also reach Šćedro Island, which we’ve talked about earlier.

Jerolim

Jerolim Beach on Jerolim Island is quite an unusual beach. It is a nudist beach. In fact, it was named one of the top nudist beaches of the world by CNN. Nature is prevalent throughout this beach. Not only is the actual beach outstanding, but nature all along the coastline is as well. You can find several bars along Jerolim Beach, some of which you can lounge around and wait for your drinks in hammocks. This laid-back beach atmosphere is what many long for when looking for a beach retreat.

Where To Stay: Hvar Accommodation

When you’ve decided if visiting abandoned villages and ancient sights or exploring gorgeous lavender fields is more your style, next up is where to sleep? Here is just a sample of the many available Hvar accommodation options.

Where To Eat And Drink On Hvar

Travel to Croatia Dalmatia Davor Hvar
Photo Credit: Davor Strenja Photography

If you are like Mr. Chasing the Donkey, food and drinks are high up on the list of important things to do on holidays. Eating and drinking well are essential to the success of any vacation! Here, too, they are among the best things to do in Hvar Town. Hvar restaurants are like Hvar hotels: mixed for all kinds of budgets. Let’s start the list small, and go up, up…up.

50 Hvar

If you’re looking for food that is not along the lines of typical of the Dalmatian Coast, you should check out 50 Hvar. Located on the beach, 50 Hvar offers one of the best burgers on Hvar Island. You can choose to eat outside on the beach or a small rooftop terrace overlooking the city. Visitors enjoy the friendly staff and atmosphere, making 50 Hvar is a place that anyone can enjoy. Check the website for more information.

Fig Café Bar

This small, hidden away gem is a lovely place to spend your night eating and relaxing with friends. The Fig Café Bar has a beautiful atmosphere with plenty of string lights to charm up the night. They offer a wide variety of foods, from traditional local dishes to back-home favorites. The staff are very warm and welcoming and encourage you to take your time and enjoy your visit. See Facebook.

Divino

Got your wallet ready, let’s go to Divino. If you’re looking for a classy eating environment with a view, Divino is your place. Divino is located on the waterfront and has a beautiful view that overlooks the Palenki Islands. Being so close to the city, Divino is easy to find. The friendly staff will see to it that you have a relaxed evening full of delectable foods and spirits. Divino offers authentic local dishes and the best wines of the area, a great place to can kick back and relax for a little while. Check Facebook.

Cocktail & Coffee Bars

Caffee Bar Sidro

Caffee Bar Sidro has some of the best coffee on Hvar Island. The Bar is located right on the port, so it’s easy to find. It is open all day and even kicks on through the night. The other big plus is that the Cafe is right on the waterfront, so you can sip your coffee while enjoying the beautiful view.

Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem is a Hvar classic, open from breakfast until well into the night. Visitors love the wide varieties of food and drinks offered here. From pancakes and coffee to the best-mixed cocktails around, you can find it all at Carpe Diem. It’s at night, though, that the place really comes alive. With music spun by local DJs, Carpe Diem is the hub of nighttime activity in Hvar. Crowds love the music and cocktails and make an evening of it partying away at one of Hvar Island’s hottest clubs.

Festivals On Hvar Island

Jelsa Festa Vina

If you are looking for a taste of Hvar Island, look no further than the Jelsa Fest Vina. Every year, during the last weekend in August, this spectacular wine fair takes place. The Jelsa Festa Vina showcases the best wines on Hvar Island as well as other specialty drinks, while also featuring lots of music and dancing with live concerts in the city center. Jelsa Festa Vina attracts people from across the world, and hotels are often booked up for the entirety of the festival.

Forska Festa Pulene

In late October, a gathering of boats can be found in the harbor of Hvar Island. The Forska Festa Pulene, also known as the Traditional Sailboat Festival, has become a widely popular event that celebrates the history of sea vessels on Hvar Island. Pulene comes from the term pulena, which is the wooden statue on the front of boats that were implemented to satisfy the gods. Enjoy this celebration through lectures and exhibits, and be sure to view the replica of the historic boat of St. Jerolim.

Traveling To Hvar Croatia

Although there are many different ways to get to Dalmatia, to actually travel to Hvar, you really only have one option: a (car) ferry from the mainland. Once on the island, you can continue by car, bus, or other local transportation, as we will outline in the next section. Now, we’ll first list all your options to get to major ferry ports that’ll eventually get you to the island, ending with an overview of popular ferry routes.

  • Air: The nearest airports to Hvar Island are in Split, Zadar (160km), Dubrovnik (230km), and Brac. To get to Hvar Island from these airports, you will need to take a bus or taxi or rent a car and then hop on a ferry.
  • Bus: Croatian buses run all throughout the country. If you are traveling by bus to Hvar Island, the connections in Zagreb and Split are the most convenient. You can get to the ferry port in Split by bus, where you’ll then take the ferry to Hvar Island and, if needed, continue on another bus around the island.
  • Train: The nearest train station to Hvar Island is in Split. From here, you can take the ferry to Stari Grad or Hvar Town.
  • Car: There are plenty of locations for you to rent a car, including taking the car from Split to Hvar. If you are traveling to Hvar from Zagreb, take highway A1. You can also take the coastal road via Rijeka if you have time to explore. One of the main roads through Croatia to Hvar Island is Highway A1. From Highway A1, you can find ferry ports in Drvenik or Split.
  • Parking: Many hotels on Hvar Island have free parking included in your stay, but not all do. Parking in the city is often limited and costly, so adjust your budget accordingly.
  • Ferry: Once you’ve made it to a ferry port on the mainland, whether with a rental car or not, there are plenty of ferry lines running to Hvar Island. From mainland Croatia, there are two easy, local ferry options. The main one is the Split-Hvar line, which can take you to either Stari Grad or Hvar Town. The second option is the Drvenik-Hvar line, taking passengers to Sucuraj at the island’s easternmost point. In addition to these two local ferry lines, you can also take inter-island or coastal ferries. These are much longer sea journeys but are a fantastic experience in their own way. This way, you’ll also pass by famous Dalmatian islands near Hvar, such as Korcula and Brac, allowing you to explore them as well. The main Croatian ferry line is Jadrolinija. Check their website for current schedules and prices.

Traveling Around Hvar Island

You have several options for transport on Hvar, each with their own merits and drawbacks.

Car Hire: This is the option we always choose. With a car seat and an adventurous spirit, we like to be on our own timetable and not be tied down to a bus schedule. Keep in mind that car ferries between Hvar Island and other islands are limited, so buy tickets for ferry transport early. You can arrange car rentals on Hvar ahead of time, car rental is available all year round here, or you can rent a car on the mainland and take it across on the ferry (no special papers are needed).

Buses: There is a local public bus network that you can use to get you around the Island of Hvar. Inexpensive and reliable. Bus times are here.

Local Drivers And Taxis: These are all over Hvar, and local drivers will make 1:1 arrangements with you for specific pickups. Because Hvar is a tourist island, you won’t have any issue communicating with them in English.

Weather In Hvar

With over 2,700 hours of glorious sunshine each year, that’s about 7.4 hours on average per day, this is one of the sunniest destinations in Europe. No surprise, in other words that Hvar has become such a hugely popular beach, party, and summer destination.

As one of the Dalmatian Islands, located in the Adriatic Sea, which is a sub-sea of the Mediterranean Sea, Hvar enjoys moderate to hot weather all year. Winters are typically gentle and not too cold, allowing for winter tourism, while summers are warm and dry, perfect for sunbathing and water sports.

Snow in winter is very rare, happening once in about every twenty years. If it does snow, some hotels offer free stays! That’s how unusual that is. Winter days may see some rainfall and can be quite windy at times, but it’s never too uncomfortable to make your winter break a total failure. In fact, this is among the most pleasant winter destinations in all of Europe.

The summer weather is absolutely spectacular. Temperatures climb to an average daytime high of around 25 degrees Celsius, with peaks well into the 30s. Sunshine is abundant this time of year, creating the perfect weather for swimming, exploring, and other leisure outdoor activities.

If you want to visit Hvar in the shoulder seasons, spring, or fall, it’s good to know that fall is typically warmer than spring.

How To Pronounce Hvar?

I wrecked my brain on how to answer this question, which I know many of you were wondering, so took the advice from “Hvar: An Insider’s Guide Book,” which says to either: 1) ignore the ‘H’ altogether and just say ‘Var’; 2) insert an ‘A’ and come up with Ha-var making you sound like a tourist, or 3) try the correct pronunciation.

The above book was written by a local (and friend) Paul. It’s the most comprehensive guidebook on the island and well worth the $15 price tag.

Facts About Hvar Croatia

  • If you give birth on a Jadrolinija ferry from Hvar, your child will get free travel on the ferry for life.
  • Ivan Vucetic, criminologist and anthropologist, was born on the island of Hvar and later emigrated to Argentina, where he was known as Juan). He was the pioneer of scientific dactyloscopy (identification by fingerprints), and his methods of identification are used worldwide. You can find more facts about Croatia here.

It feels like we left so much out of this guide – and that’s because we did. The list of things to do on Hvar Island is vast. You’ll have to go and see it for yourself. What else would you suggest people see on Hvar? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments (42)

  1. This is a great guide, Hvar is amazing… I will recommend this to everyone! I love architecture in Hvar.

  2. Great list of things to do in Hvar 🙂 For me the most beautiful town was Stari Grad with its charming architecture, beautiful harbour and narrow streets 🙂

  3. Great tips!!

    Flew in from Amsterdam, booked an online ferry crossing with our rental 🚗.

    Chilling in our mobile home @camp vira & getting ready to explore Hvar!

  4. Hi
    We are thinking of coming to Hvar the end of August, and are driving down from the UK but don’t seem to be able to book a ferry online or can you only do it at the ferry terminal?

      1. Many thanks but have tried that with no luck unless I,m being a complete idiot? (not impossible)

  5. Hi Sarah, I will be in Hvar for 2 nights with my husband and 2 sons (5yrs & 7yrs) in July. As I’ve heard Hvar is a party town, would you recommend staying in Starigrad or Jesla instead? We will be catching the ferry from Split. We won’t have a car so will need to rely on buses and taxis to get to Hvar town.

  6. Awesome guide! Although, I visited Hvar, I noticed that I missed some of the places. Noted now for the next time!

  7. HI Sarah-Jane, can you help me?
    We are a party of 4, 2 adults 2 teenage children, arriving into Split at 23.30 from Ireland travelling on to Hvar. I’ve been researching water taxis but they are all coming in around €400 for a one way trip from the airport to Hvar! Would you have any recommendations

      1. Thank you so much, Sarah Jane. However, the ferries don’t run 24 hours and as we arrive at nearly midnight, it has to be a water taxi, I think? Any further thoughts?

        1. Change your flight to arrive earlier? Stay overnight at a cheap hotel in Split? Ask your hotel if they recommend a cheaper water taxi? If not, sorry you are at the mercy of the water taxi.

          1. Thank you so much for your excellent and prompt advice. Can’t change flight as there is only one a day! I’ll contact the hotel and see what they say. Really sound advice and I’m looking forward to our holiday and following your tips! Thank you so much again, Sarah Jane! 🙂

  8. Among all these islands I fashioned about THE HVAR island. I thought Hvar is one of most ecological and also economical balanced island in earth

    I knew residents of Hvar mostly work in the fishing and tourism industries. Hvar has a very mild Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches and Mediterranean vegetation The island promotes itself as “the sunniest spot in Europe.

    Hope oneday visit HVAR.

  9. Thank you! We will stay in Jelsa at Hvar from june 8th till june 15th. Then we drive to Mlini near Dubrovnik until june 22.
    We have got a lot of suggestions from you for our holidays.

  10. Yeah I thought Dan and Domi will love it.. its got everything..beaches, nearby uninhabited islands that you can get to easily with speed boat, mountains, restaurants, markets and nightlife.. Can’t beat it!!

  11. Some interesting info about the franciscan monastery, is that it was built, or rather, modified, to welcome the wounded warriors returning from the Battle of Lepanto against the turks… at that time, Hvar was part of the Republic of Venice -until it was conquered by Napoleon- as it can be seen all over town with the images of the winged lion, symbol of St Mark the evangelist saint and patron of Venice… anyway, the cypress is supposed to be as old as that part of the monastery…
    The painting is also -supposedly- the largest and first on a single canvas, instead of a fresco, and its authorship is still debated… initially its author was said to be Matteo Roselli, but later, that it is either Palma il Giovane, or Matteo Ingoli. The legend also says that the beggar at the feet of one of the apostles is the author himself…
    In the adjacent church there are many graves. In one of them it is buried perhaps the most prominent son of Hvar Town -and of Venice- poet Hannibal Lucic, or Anibal Lucio.
    In the town of StariGrad, north of Hvar Town, there is the palace of the other great poet, Petar Hektorovic, and in that same town, there is the bendictine monastery, which looks more as a fortress due to the changes made to it to protect it from the frequent turk invasions… in the close fields one can see the best preserved greek land division on the Mediterranean, with cultural traces of the people who lived there since the 4th century B.C.

  12. Love your blog! Came across this from a friend who tagged me as our sons name is Hvar. Love Hvar and all of Croatia, my father was born in Zadar (my daughters name originates from here too). Can’t wait to read your future blogs and convince my husband that we need to go back. Xx

    1. What a kick ass name! Never heard of that before – love, love, love. Thanks for the kind words Tania. Yes, convince him to come back – we are in Zadar. Tell him that I’ll buy him Kava xx

  13. I haven’t stopped talking about Croatia since my trip there two years ago!! Fell in love with the people, beauty of the country, food & culture. I still love following your ‘Chasing the Donkey’ page……thank you

  14. Secret Island Tour was GREAT. Went to the highest place on the island and into the “dark” interior.

    Also do a wine tour!

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