Here you go – the ultimate guide to the best things to do in Hvar, Croatia. A list of what to see, where to eat and sleep on Hvar Island.
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. The Croatian island has become a favorite and treasured vacation spot among locals and foreign tourists over the years.
With nightlife, some of the best beaches in Croatia and great food – all combined with its long history – Hvar is one of the most popular destinations in the country, topped off with a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle and a rich cultural 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, and picturesque views overlooking the Adriatic Sea, it’s no wonder that Hvar Island attracts so many holidaymakers.
Before heading to this blissful island for the vacation of a lifetime, be sure to pick up some essential items for travel to ensure you have the most comfortable holiday.
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Things To Do In Hvar, Croatia
After all the talk about Hvar Island, let’s talk about what to do in Hvar. Below, we’ll show you the best Hvar attractions and the top things to do on Hvar Island, which is home to four large towns.
- Hvar Town – The main town on the island
- Stari Grad – the oldest town in Croatia!
Admire The Franciscan Monastery & Museum
The Franciscan Monastery & Museum in Hvar Town is home to beautiful artwork and historical, detailed architecture that rivals any other artwork on Hvar Island. Located in the heart of Hvar Town, and 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.
You will find historic coins, charts, and documents in the museum. 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, you’ll get to see 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. And as a bonus, you get a nice view of Hvar Town from here, too.
Enjoy The View From Fortica
If you look up the hill from Hvar Town, you will see a fortress perched on the summit. This is Hvar’s Fortica. Set on an ancient Illyrian settlement, the fort was built under Venetian rule in 1278; by the mid-16th century it was further fortified, helping to protect the town. You can get to Fortica by walking through the park northwest of St. Stephen’s Square. This is easily one of the top things to do in Hvar, especially if you’re looking for some exercise after laying on the beach too long or partying too hard!
These days, Hvar fort holds a collection of amphorae and other exhibits from antiquity to the Middle Ages. Once you climb to the top of the walls, you can one of the best views of Hvar and the surrounding Pakleni Islands (including the island of Vis). 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.
Explore St. Stephen’s Square And Cathedral
Hvar Town has a rich tapestry of historical architecture to explore. In the middle of the town you will find St. Stephen’s Square, which is overlooked by St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The square is surrounded by winding stone streets and was created by reclaiming an inlet that was once part of the bay. Measuring around 4,500 square meters in size, this is where the town comes alive.
From the nave of the cathedral, you can see parts of the original structure. It dates back to the 13th century, when the town started developing in the north before spreading to the south. Some parts of the square on the north side date back to the 15th century. The stunning cathedral was built during the 16th and 17th centuries after the Turks destroyed the previous cathedral.
Tour The Hvar Vineyards
Whether on your own or with a tour group, a tour of Hvar’s best wineries should be on top of any wine lover’s list! This island in Croatia is well-known for its wine, so of course winery tours are, without question, among the best things to do in Hvar. The island is particularly famed for its Plavac Mali grape variety, a red related to Zinfandel. Where should you go? We suggest the following best wineries on Hvar Island:
- Vina Tomić – Bastijana
- Dubokovic Medvid
- Zlatan Otok
You can even escape the crowds and opt for a private wine tasting with a Master of Wine!
Visit The 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 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.
Explore Šćedro Island
Šćedro sits along the southern side 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. During the day, many boats take anchorage here to explore its beautiful bays.
Explore further afield – up, up, up the hill. There you will discover the abandoned stone village of Nastane. During the high 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.
Experience The Hvar Lavender Festival
The Island of Hvar has an excellent natural gift: lavender. Lavender is the symbol of Hvar, and the island has a great vibe during the Hvar lavender season.
The Lavender Festival brings many to Hvar Island each June. 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. There are a number of different lavender fields you can visit, making for fantastic photo ops.
Find The Oldest Olive Tree On The Island
You may not think going to look at a tree would be one of the best things to do on Hvar, but this tree is special. Placed under protection in 1964, the oldest olive tree on Hvar is almost unknown outside the village of Zastrazisce (which it neighbors) on the eastern side of the island.
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.
Party At Carpe Diem Hvar – Full Moon Party
For the hedonists out there, one of the best things about Hvar is its nightlife. The island has a reputation as a party island, and this place explains why. 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 must take a short boat ride 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, make your boat transport arrangements if you are at the Carpe Diem Beach Club past 2.30 am.
Attend The 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. One of the elements of this festival celebrates their love of the Dormouse or Puh, as we call them in Croatian. It was named the Puhijada.
The people of Dol have maintained the tradition of hunting and eating dormice, which they have been doing since ancient times. The Puhijada is on in early August each year. The festival 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 on Hvar Island.
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 the ACI marina, you’ll see why we recommend it. Try Palmizana or those on Marinkovac.
Visit The Grapčeva Caves
A rarely mentioned attraction in Hvar is the Grapčeva Caves, which date back to the Neolithic period. Tours to this enigmatic locale – not too far from Hvar Town (around an hour by car) – run just several times a week, so book in early to secure your spot.
Adventure enthusiasts will love Hvar because of the wide variety of activity choices.
Our top three suggestions are:
- Cycling: yes, it’s as simple as hopping on a bike to cycle Hvar. 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. You could even use your pedal power to take a self-guided tour of Hvar’s best sights
- Kayaking: one option is to take a sea kayak tour from Hvar Town and explore the island from the sparkling sea, or journey over to the Pakleni Islands
- Scuba diving: Hvar is known as a scuba diver’s paradise, thanks to its crystal clear waters and countless hidden coves to discover around the island
Spend Easter On Hvar Island, Specifically Jelsa
Each Easter, Hvar Island holds a Passion procession through seven churches. This tradition began over 500 years ago, and the songs sung are considered the oldest Passion songs in Europe. I follow it on the TV and on social media each year; it’s a beautiful display.
Easter is a crucial 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 major.
Here is an excellent guide to the six simultaneous processions in the small towns of Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrban, and Vrboska, detailing the 22-kilometer walk that begins at 10 pm on the Thursday preceding Good Friday.
Visit UNESCO-Protected Stari Grad Plain
The Stari Grad Plain on Hvar Island is a uniquely well-preserved agricultural landscape created by Greek colonists in the 4th century BC. Still in use to this day, the landscape is dominated by wineries and olive groves, and still looks exactly as it did thousands of years ago.
History lovers should make a beeline for this area, as it’s one of the top things to see that really showcase the island’s very long heritage. The stone walls and shelters bear the same layout as when the Greeks cultivated the plain 24 centuries ago. Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this location is the oldest continuously farmed vineyard globally!
So, if you’re trying to figure out what to do in Hvar, the unique Stari Grad Plain certainly deserves a spot in your itinerary.
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Best Hvar Beaches
Visiting beaches on the island is a must! You can spend days in Hvar lounging on the sand, ordering drinks from beach bars and dipping your toes in the sparkling sea.
Here are some of our faves if you want to adventure out on your own – or you may want to consider this epic private boat tour that will take you to hidden beaches. If you’ve got a lot of time in Hvar, then beach-hopping will definitely become a new pastime for you!
Dubovica is one of the most famous and best beaches in Hvar. It lies on the south side, right before you enter the town of Stari Grad. The rustic old stone buildings are one of the main focal points along the beach.
The crystal-clear water of Dubovica Beach and the mild climate of Hvar Island attracts 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 you will love every second of it once you are there. It may even be the absolute best beach in Hvar, but we’ll let you be the judge of that!
On the south side of the island, you will find Lucisca Beach. Lucisca Beach is a peaceful beach where many love to go swimming during the summer. It is located near Hvar Town, and the trip there will provide excellent views.
Parking can be hard at the beach, so most visitors arrive by boat. While there, enjoy a relaxing day lying out on the beach, going for a swim, being adventurous, going for a hike, or exploring the beach’s many caves.
Sveta Nedjelja Beach
This list of Hvar’s best beaches wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this area. This rocky coastline on the southern Hvar shore has cliffs that rise majestically out of the Adriatic. Located about 12 km from Hvar Town, this area is home to several excellent beaches, hotels, and restaurants. From here, you can also reach Šćedro Island, which we’ve talked about earlier.
Jerolim Beach on Jerolim Island is quite an unusual beach. It is a nudist beach. It was named one of the top nudist beaches in 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.
Hvar’s best sandy beach for families is Grebišće, located on the north side of the Jelsa harbor. It’s nothing flashy, but the kids who want to make sandcastles will love it. Remember to pack the baby powder when ready to head home.
Pokonji Dol Beach
Beach visits are easily among the top things to do in Hvar Town, and Pokonji Dol Beach is one of the town’s most popular beaches. Less than 30 minutes on foot from Hvar Town, this stunning pebble beach features beautiful blue water and has many eateries and accommodations. For beach lovers, it might just be the best place to stay in Hvar for you.
One of the most photogenic beaches in Hvar—and that says something!
Zaraće Beach is a large pebble beach situated below the abandoned village of Zaraće. It boasts stunning azure water and offers terrific snorkeling and swimming opportunities. Spending an afternoon at this glorious beach is an activity that belongs on any list of what to do in Hvar, Croatia.
Where To Party On Hvar
Get your wallet ready; let’s go to Divino. Divino is located on the waterfront and has a beautiful view that overlooks the Palenki Islands. If you’re looking for a classy eating environment with a view, Divino is the place to spend a memorable night on the island.
Being so close to the city, Divino is easy to find. The friendly staff at this popular Hvar institution will see that you have a relaxed evening full of delectable foods and spirits. Divino offers authentic local dishes and the best wines in the area, a great place to kick back and relax for a little while. Check Facebook.
Carpe Diem is a Hvar classic, open from breakfast until well into the night. Visitors love the wide variety of food and drinks offered here. You can find everything from pancakes and coffee to the best-mixed cocktails around at Carpe Diem. It’s at night, though, that the place comes alive.
With music spun by local DJs, Carpe Diem is the hub of nightlife in Hvar. Crowds love the music and cocktails and make an evening of it partying away at one of Hvar Island’s hottest clubs.
Hula Hula Beach Bar
Watching the sunset at the deck of Hula Hula Beach Bar is among the most popular things to do in Hvar Town. This famous and iconic beach bar is one of the town’s party hotspots, well-known for its lively beach dance floor, late-night music, and enthusiastic crowd. It’s among the best places to visit for fans of good views and good times alike.
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.
The Pakleni archipelago is just a quick boat ride from the old town of Hvar. You can take a water taxi from Hvar to Pakleni islands or join a day tour.
Hvar To Dubrovnik
This stunning UNESCO-protected city is one of the most famous destinations in Croatia. It offers incredible history, great beaches, excellent seafood, and Game of Thrones tours. Boat trips leave daily to the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, as it’s known, or you can get a private boat transfer. Either way, it’s one of the best day trips from Hvar.
Zlatni Rat Beach
Day trips to Bol to see the famous Zlatni Rat Beach leave daily. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in all Croatia and often cited as one of the world’s most stunning beaches. A classic slice of quintessential coastal scenery in Croatia.
Small-Group Traditional Squid Fishing Trips
A family-friendly trip that the whole family can enjoy – exploring the coast of Hvar while soaking up views of nearby islands (and catching squid, of course).
Are you an adventurous foodie? Then a Blue Cave and Gastronomy Tour is something that must be added to your itinerary.
Blue Cave Tour
Although it’s not technically one of the things to do in Hvar, Croatia—it’s not on Hvar Island at all—the Blue Cave is still one of the best places to visit during your Hvar vacation.
The Blue Cave on the island of Bisevo, as its name implies, is blessed with beautiful blue colors. These vibrant blues result from sunlight reflecting through the clear seawater and bouncing off the white limestone bottom. Blue Cave tours from Hvar may also stop at the Green Cave and include activities like swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing on a beach.
When you visit Hvar, you must participate in some water activities. The swimming is excellent, but a half-day small-group sea kayak adventure will allow you to enjoy the sun and the beauty of the Adriatic Sea’s pleasant blue waters.
The route is often shadowed by tall pine trees, giving a balance of sun and shade. Then, maneuver through the narrow straits along with the islands around Hvar, where you can enjoy lunch on one of the small hidden pebble beaches on the island. While you’re there, have fun swimming and snorkeling.
Finally, we always recommend getting to know how the locals live and the area’s history. You can achieve this by joining this fun yet informative Hvar walking tour. Wander around the town and its historic stone streets with your small group (up to 6 people, to keep it personal).
With your guide, you’ll discover an abandoned village while still taking part in the local culinary culture of the Dalmatian coast – something that has survived, and benefited from, the country’s many different internal and external influences.
Where To Stay In Hvar Town
When you’ve decided if visiting abandoned villages and ancient sights, or exploring beautiful lavender fields is more your style, next up is where to sleep.
Recommendations on where to stay in Hvar run from gorgeous Airbnbs to plush hotels and everything in between.
Traveling To Hvar Croatia
Although there are many different ways to travel to Dalmatia, to get to Hvar, you only have one option: a (car) ferry from Split to Hvar.
Once on the island, you can continue by car, bus, or other local transportation, as we will outline in the next section. We’ll first list all your options to get to major ferry ports that eventually get you to the island, ending with an overview of popular ferry routes.
The nearest airports to Hvar Island are Split, Zadar (160km), Dubrovnik (230km), and Brac. To get to Hvar Island from these airports, take a taxi or bus or rent a car and hop on a ferry
Croatian buses run 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
There are plenty of locations for renting a vehicle, 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. Having a car is a good option as it allows you to explore the whole island at your own pace – for starters, there are plenty of things to see just a short drive from Hvar Town
Many hotels in Hvar 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
Once you’ve made it to a ferry port on the mainland, whether with a rental car or not, it’s time to get the ferry to Hvar Island. From mainland Croatia, there are two easy, local ferry options. The main one is the Split-Hvar line. This travels from Split to Hvar (as the name implies), taking you to either Stari Grad or Hvar Town. People often use this one to take a day trip to Hvar. The second-best way to get to Hvar by ferry 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 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. The top Croatian ferry line is Jadrolinija. Check their website for current schedules and prices.
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Traveling Around Hvar Island
You have several options for transport on Hvar, each with its own merits and drawbacks.
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. Plus it’s a big island, so exploring Hvar by bus can take an age (or what seems like one).
Remember 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).
There is a local public bus network that you can use to get you around Hvar Island. Bus times are here. Inexpensive and reliable.
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 definitely a tourist island, you won’t have issues communicating with them in English.
Weather & The Best Time To Visit Hvar
With over 2,700 hours of glorious sunshine each year – about 7.4 hours on average per day – this is one of the sunniest destinations in Europe. Hvar is a great year-round destination. No surprise, in other words, that Hvar has become such a hugely popular beach, party, and summer hotspot.
As one of the Dalmatian Islands, located in the Adriatic Sea, 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 scarce, 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 pretty windy, but it’s never too uncomfortable to make your winter break a failure. This is among the most pleasant winter destinations in all of Europe.
The summer weather is spectacular, and we’d say it’s the best time to visit Hvar. 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 (especially if you want to visit Hvar). So I 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 pioneered scientific dactyloscopy (identification by fingerprints), and his identification methods are used worldwide. You can find more facts about Croatia here
Hvar is one island in Croatia that you shouldn’t miss out on; in fact, we’d say that overlooking Hvar is a mistake. There’s so much to see and do here that 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 – a day trip to the island of Brac, a visit to the ancient town of Stari Grad… You’ll have to go and see it for yourself.
What other suggestions do you have for what to see in Hvar? Let us know in the comments below.