The island of Hvar is situated in the Adriatic Sea, in front of the city of Split and between the islands Brac, Vis and Korcula. It is the fourth island in Croatia, according to the extent, and it comprises the surface of 300 km2 and its coast is 250 km long. The island Hvar has Mediterranean nature and climate features. Summers are long and warm, and winters are mild and short. Hvar is considered to be the sunniest island in the Mediterranean Sea with 2715 sunny hours per year and due to these specific climate characteristics tourists from all over the world travel to Hvar island during the summer as well as during the winter. The magazine Conde Nast Traveller, the prominent tourist magazine, has classified the island Hvar among 10 most beautiful islands in the world. If you visit Hvar island you will be sure to taste: one of the most beautiful Mediterranean landscapes nature has ever created, an agreeable and healthy climate, a clean and unpolluted environment, the strong fragrance of lavender, rosemary and heather, age-old and glorious history, an attractive urban visage, a rich variety of cultural and historic monuments, the longest tradition of organized tourism in Croatia. Travelling to Hvar island is an experience you mustn’t miss!
The town of Hvar is the biggest and most important center of the island: it is a unique blend of luxuriant Mediterranean nature, rich and multi-faceted cultural and historical heritage and fashionable tourism present. Facing the sunny side of the world, with all its Mediterranean lure and exuberance, facing the sea which has favored it with an illustrious and unrepeatable history, Hvar is a treasure chest of sights, experience and adventures. In the Middle Ages, Hvar achieved renown and power as an important port and part of the Venetian marine empire. Today, it is the tourism centre of the island and one of the best-loved tourist resorts on the Croatian Riviera.
Many people say of the town Hvar that it is a town as from a fairy- tale because its architecture, wonderful nature and its mild climate. Everybody can find in Hvar all what gives peace to the soul and relaxation to the body.
From the sea, we get the sight of a waterfront promenade strip bordered with a row of palm trees and seven centuries old walls, overtoped by the fortress protecting Hvar, extending downwards to the town and to the Venetian loggia.
Coming from the central part of the island or using the road from the ferry harbor we arrive at the magnificent piazza, a square generally considered the most beautiful of the kind in Dalmatia, dominated by St. Stephen’s Cathedral and bordered by the palaces of Groda and by the cascading stone-built houses of Burak.
But, no matter from which point this town is approached, Hvar straightway presents itself as a monument. Centuries have ground its stone, epochs, above all renaissance, have shaped its appearance.
Monuments within monuments, monuments on monuments. Hvar is a jewel hidden by the time. Hvar has been celebrated in verses. Hvar has been painted by the painters. But Hvar town itself is the best narrator of its own story. It is enough to come and see for oneself.
Stari Grad (Pharos) is the oldest town in Croatia. The same year – 384 b.c. when Greek philosopher Aristotel was born in Trakia, the Greeks from the island of Paros in Agean sea have settled the town on the island of Hvar, and named it Pharos.
Stari Grad (eng. “old town”) is historical heart of Hvar island. The town is situated in a landscape where the blue of the deep bay touches the green of the field of Pharos, with vineyards and olive-groves. The fields used to provide sustenance and the bay provided protection.
Today, both the fields and the bay add an attractive quality to the island, in which the modern vacation sights have become intertwined with the antiquities of the town and of the island.
Because of its position in the middle of the Hvar island, for centuries Stari Grad was a safe harbor to sailors, which have been welcomed by town inhabitants on harbor promenade. Stari Grad bay is still regularly visited by most of the travelers on boats passing trough middle Dalmatia.
The town is surrounded with pine tree forest and cooled with summer breeze (maestral). In the hot summer days it is one of the rare Dalmatian places where the air is fresh and the sleep refreshing. A thousand years long history of the Town has left many monuments in the urban structure of the Town.
A walk through the Stari Grad center, narrow streets and small squares brings the whisperings of the past times.
Vrboska, the smallest town on Hvar island, is special because of its geographical location hidden in the depth of the bay, the untouched pine forest, the cultural sights with the marks of the Gothic, renaissance and baroque style, and an architecture interwoven with narrow winding roads. Vrboska has a very beautiful little island in the middle of the bay connected with bridges, and therefore it is named Little Venice. The village has been settled since the ancient time and it developed into a fisherman’s village and later into a wonderful little town. It owes its charm to the typical Mediterranean popular architecture, the proud old town houses with characteristics of Gothic, renaissance and baroque style, the sacral spirit of the ancient church buildings, but also to the luxurious modern villas.
Jelsa is located in a bay on the north central port of the the island of Hvar. On both sides of the harbor there are wooded coves ideal for relaxation and swimming.
Jelsa is a welcoming place, pleasing to the eye and ready to receive any guest or traveler. Jelsa borders with the two highest peaks on the Island – St. Nikola on the west and Hum on the east. On the southern side there are three mountains – Vrh, Samotorac and Gozd, while Burkovo hill shields the northern side from the cold, northern winds.
Approaching the place, one will feel the freshness of the woods covering the surrounding slopes. Facing towards Mt. Biokovo on the mainland, Jelsa seems to rise on the shore of one of the large Swiss lakes. At first sight Jelsa seems a new place. The houses on the water front do not present facades of stone covered by century-old patina nor are they typical in design but rather point to the 19th c., the period of the greatest prosperity of the local shipping industry. The municipal park gives the village a modern touch.
Gradually, however, one discovers Jelsa’s more distant past. Monuments from the classical period remain hidden.
In Hvar there is one of the most important observatories of the revolution of the Sun and stars in Croatia. The observatory was founded in 1972 and is located in the vicinity of the former French fortress on the hill overlooking the town of Hvar.
During Holy Week in Hvar you have the rare opportunity to partecipate in age-old and impressive religious ceremonies. The most important is the Mandy Thursday procession called „Following the Cross“, which is held every year for the last 5 centuries in Jelsa and the nearby villages. It is also interesting the pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchr, taking place in various churches in Hvar on Good Friday.
Most of people when come to Hvar think only about sun, sea, beach and party and don’t even thinking about the thing they might be missing: great potential for exploring Hvar history! Walking through Hvar town you will notice the rich history and cultural heritage Hvar has to offer.
Here is the list of historical monuments you shouldn’t miss when in Hvar. You can ask for assistance in Hvar Tourist board (on the main square) or you can use our suggested guidelines bellow.
A day in Hvar exploring history
1. Start you history exploring quest at ruins of the St Marco Dominican convent & church. It is located in a tiny street on the left from Town Loggia, with a beautiful stone church tower dominating the view when you enter in Hvar harbour by sea. In the ruins of the convent you will find today one of Hvar museums, caller The Archeological and stone fragments collection Dr. Grga Novak. Opening hours are from 10AM till 1PM and 8 till 11PM. You will be able to explore a collection of prehistorical items found in Hvar caves.
An interesting story about St. Marco church is the story why is the church called like that. By the legend, when the body of St. Marco (St. mark one of 4 apostles) was carried from Alexandria to Venice (in the peak of Venice Republic), the body only stopped at 2 spots, one of it being Hvar and the Dominican church, which was after that event called St. Marco church.
2. On the south-east side of Hvar, just 5 minutes short walk from Hvar harbour, you can find Franciscan monastery and church. It is nicely nested on the small peninsula, dominating the surroundings. This church is originally from 15th century and the Franciscan monastery is still present there. In there is also The Franciscans art collection with old manuscripts, missal vestments, liturgical objects and paintings and sculptures of the contemporary artists.
Interesting story about this convent is it’s Last supper, an 8 meters wide picture nestled on the wall of dinning room. The legend is that it was made by an artist after the monks saved him from ship wreck in middle ages.
In the evening you can find various artists in the cloister of the Franciscan monastery: musician, klapas, acting groups which perform there as a part of Hvar summer festival.
3. Visiting Hvar Arsenal and Theater . Dominating the south side of the largest square in Dalmatia is Hvar Arsenal. A building that was initiated by Venice Republic back in 13th century and therefor setting a crucial stone for Hvar further development over the centuries. This is also the largest public bulding in general on this part of the Adriatic, and has been used as a shed for Venetian fleet boats and its equipment. During the centuries this building was reconstructed quite a few times and the last reconstruction is being done as we speak. Full information on this page: http://www.hvar.hr/Default.aspx?tabid=1088
On the upper floor of the Arsenal you will find famous Hvar theater built in 1612 and therefore being one of the most important historic monuments in Croatia.
Please note that the Arsenal and Theater are currently being renovated so it is possible that the visiting times can be reduced.
4. Hvar Cathedral and The Bishop’s museum. At the central position of the town square you will see Hvar Cathedral, dedicated to St. Stephen, which is considered a jewel of late Renaissance Dalmatian architecture. It was built from 13th to 18th century and is expressed by monumental interior and expressive facade.
On the left side of the Chatedral you can find The Bishop’s museum with liturgical objects, documents, paintings dated from 15th till 19th century.
The Museum is open from 9AM till 12AM and from 5PM till 7PM.
5. The Benedictine convent and The Hanibal Lucic Art Collection located in the heart of the old town Hvar. Benedictine nuns are well known for agave lace.
The Hanibal Lucic Art collection is open every day from 10AM till 12AM and from 5PM till 7PM with collection of paintings, icons and other artifacts from 16th to 18th century.
6. Hvar Loggia (Town Hall), built in early 17th century as part of the complex which included the Prince’s Palace. It’s first use was as a courtroom and city hall, for which purpose the Loggia is still used.
It is located on the opposite side from Hvar Arsenal and is considered to be one of the most beutiful buildings in Dalmatia.
One of the most popular beach clubs in Hvar is definitely Hula Hula Beach. It is located in the west part of Hvar town, just a short 5 minute seaside walk from hotel Amfora and 15 minute seaside walk from city center.
Hula Hula is ideal for a complete day relaxation, with sunbeds and umbrellas rentals and Bubba Gump restaurant which offers light food, thai food and seafood.
Also wide range of cocktails and tropical drinks is available at Hula Hula.
Hula Hula beach is famous for it’s after beach parties, which start at 5 PM and last till sunset which you can clearly see from this location!
Which are the things that should be done when in Hvar? What to see, what to do?
Here is our top ten things to do when in Hvar:
1. Visit Hvar fortress Spanjola, which overlooks the Hvar port (upper picture has been taken from the fortress). This fortress is called Fortica (by it’s Italian name), and was built by Venice Republic in 1557 and it lies on the hill, protecting it with it’s fortified walls. The view from Fortica is amazing and a thing that you most definitely shouldn’t miss.
To get to Hvar fortress you can take steps just in the middle of Hvar square – Pjaca. Please note that there are quite a few stairs to get to the fortress but it’s deffinitly worth it!
Also you can take the taxi to reach the fortress. The taxi station is located just behing the Hvar Chatedrale.
2. Go to one of the beaches on Paklinski islands. The Paklinski islands are an arpichelago of islands just in fornt of Hvar harbour, protecting it from the different winds. These islands were inhabited in antic times (Villa Rusticae on Sv. Klement island) and are now protected by Croatian state. On these islands you can find different bathing, diving, suntanning opportunities. Around the islands the sea is clear, clean and perfect for you day trip!
You can take a taxi boat from Hvar port to any of the islands or you can just rent a small boat which will allow you to explore the hidden coves of the islands.
Here is the list of beaches which you can visit:
Jerolim Beach – closest to Hvar town, well know for it’s naturist past & present!
Stipanska Beach – with Carpe Diem Beach starting to be one of the most visited beaches in the Adriatic
Mlini Beach – perfect for families
Palmizana Beach – the biggest and the most popular beach on Paklinski islands
3. Dinning out. After a day at one of the Paklinski island beaches a visit to one of the Hvar restaurants is a must! Havr offers a diversity of restaurants, from the ones that are specialized in fish to real authentic conobas, the price also varies from place to place, from budget restaurants to most exlusive ones on the island.
Here are a couple of restaurants (there are plenty more!) for you to choose from:
Restaurant Gariful – a restaurant located on the Hvar Riva (in Harbour), specialized in fresh fish & Dom Perignon!
Restaurant Hanibal – on the main square
Zlatna Skoljka – slow food restaurant
4. Nightlife. Hvar is a synonim for nightlife in Croatia. After dining at of of the Hvar restaurants you will definitely try to experience Hvar night vibe. The night life begins at one of the cafe’s on Pjaca (Town Square), and then moving to Carpe Diem, the best Hvar bar and especially to Kiva bar, Nautica bar and Ka’Lavanda bar.
At the end all roads lead to Venerenada, Hvar’s most popular and costly dicoteque!
5. Historic Hvar town: Loggia, Arsenal, Theatre. In the Hvar center there are some sights which you shouldn’t miss! You can start with Hvar loggia and old Venetian clock. The loggia is dated originality from 13th century, but it’s current layout is from 16th century. This elegant building is one of the most beautiful in the Dalmatia.
You shouldn’t miss the visit to Hvar Arsenal, a place where Venetian fleet was situated and Theater, the oldest communal theater in the Europe.
Both Arsenal and Theater are located in the same building, and are currently being renovated.
6. Hvar churches The most important church in Hvar is it’s Cathedral, located on the main square. It is dated from 13th century and is named after St. Stephen the town protector. You shouldn0t miss the Benedictine convent located in the heart of the old town Hvar and Franciscan monastery just 5 minutes walk from Hvar harbour.
7. Rent a scooter or car and visit UNESCO protected Stari Grad. Stari Grad is the oldest settlement on the island founded by Greeks over 3000 years ago. It is located on the north side of the island, just 15 km from Hvar town. This town is rich with history and together with UNESCO protected Hora, a Greek parcelization, the best persevered on the Mediterranean, makes it a thing you shouldn’t miss.
8. Little old fisherman village Vrboska, around 30 km from Hvar town. This nice little village is ofter called little Venice, with it’s bridges and long bay. A unique Fortress-Church is a point which you should visit when in Vrboska.
9. Abandon villages – Malo Grablje Just 6 km from Hvar (road to Milna) you can find abandon village called Malo Grablje. It’s architecture is typically rural Mediterranean.
10. And last but not the least, don’t miss the ritual of coffe drinking at Hvar Pjaca, main town square, a daily ritual done by all local people. This will allow you to spend some time at the bigest square in Dalmatia and enjoy in history-rich view: Hvar Loggia, arsenal & theater, chatedral and vibrant Hvar port with mega yachts. It doesn’t get better than this!
Mlini beach is located one one of the Paklinski islands’ called Marinkovac. For getting to this nice beach you have to take one of the boat taxies which are located just in front of Hvar Arsenal. You have to take the boats that go to Zdrilca & Mlini beach, the ride take about 15 minutes and costs around 5€. You will land to Zdrilca and from there you need to go on you right following the sign across the island to Mlini beach.
There you will fine crystal clear sea, and pines that go just 10 meters from shore (natural shade!), with a lot of flat shores and a nice small pebble stone / sandy beach.
Just 20 meters from the beach you will find nice restaurant (Mlini beach Restaurant) located in stone-made little house with big shady terrace. This restaurant serves light Mediterranean food which suites beach perfectly.
Taxi boats from Hvar to Zdrilca & Mlini beach go from 9 AM till 1 PM, with return from 4 PM till 7 PM.