The island of Hvar is a unique fusion of luxurious Mediterranean nature, rich cultural and historical heritage, and mundane, tourist presence.
"There's a sunrise and a sunset every day, and they're free. Don't miss so many of them."
– Jo Walton
No place in the world evokes so many associations in one's mind as Hvar Island. Lavender fields, crystal clear sea, many sunny hours, olive groves, vineyards, unique gastronomy, pine trees, lace made from agave, rich history, heritage, wooded islets, and hidden coves. Hvar is all of this and much more.
The importance of this island and its position in the middle of the Adriatic was recognized even by the Greeks who colonized the island in the 4th century BC. The Greek patrimony is still present through their division of agricultural plains in Stari Grad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Nowadays, Hvar is an important tourist destination and a famous nautical stop with lavender, wine, and olive oil production. The development of organized tourism started way back in 1868 and is still one of the most vital industries on the island. If the groups back in 1868 - when traveling was difficult and slow - thought this island was worth visiting, you can only start to imagine everything it can offer to you now.
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Hidden bays? Swimming stop in translucent waters? Untouched nature? Fresh fish for lunch? Cocktail in the same hidden bay? Islet hopping? Yes, right here in front of Hvar!
Pakleni islands are a group of 16 uninhabited islets situated southwest of Hvar town and opposite the entrance to Hvar harbor. They're popularly called "hellish islands," but quite the opposite of hell. The islands are a piece of haven. "Paklina" refers to pine resin harvested from these islands and used to coat ships. The main island St. Clement is well protected and is home to a big yacht marina. The island, St. Jerolim, has been welcoming naturists since 1896. When in Hvar, hop on one of the small boats that will take you to this peace of paradise.
FORTICA – THE SPANISH FORTRESS
One of the hot spots on the island is the town of Hvar, and the best possible view of Pakleni islands and the city itself is from the Spanish fortress. The construction of Fortica began in the 13th century, and thanks to the Spanish engineers who formed the structure, the fortress got its nickname "Spanish." It is located above the old town, approximately 90 m above sea level. In the 15th century, the fortress was used as a shelter for the entire population of Hvar when the city was set on fire. Luckily, there were no more fires, so the fortress had a completely different use before the renovation – it was a site of a popular disco.
EXPLORING HVAR TOWN
Whether you decide to do it by yourself or with the help of a local guide, it is a must. In the town, you will see and experience picturesque streets, impressive churches, and unique architecture in different styles. You can visit the Benedictine monastery and see amazing lace out of agave plants, a historic public theater from 1612, an Arsenal building, Venetian loggia, a gothic Franciscan monastery, city walls, and many more, many more. After the walking tour, rest in one of the cozy bars on one of those picturesque streets and have a glass of Hvar's wine to round up your day.
PARTYING BY DAY
A big part of Hvar's offer is also partying. Being more of a day-than-night person doesn't mean you can’t party. Many bays and beaches in the town of Hvar, around the whole island, and on Pakleni islands, have beach bars, restaurants, and even some water toys that can be rented. Just choose one of the hot spots that suit you the most and enjoy the music and parties in the most unique and incredible scenery.
PARTYING BY NIGHT
If you're searching for the ultimate party experience in Croatia, Hvar is your destination. Hvar by night offers some very distinct partying options regardless of your age or music preferences, and there's something for everyone. Except for bars in the town of Hvar and other towns on the island, a one-of-a-kind experience is partying on one of the uninhabited islets in the Pakleni archipelago. Taxi boats to get you to the islets are available from the town port in Hvar.
TASTE HVAR’S BEST WINES
“Beer is made by men, wine by God.”
- Martin Luther
The 1st step before tasting Hvar's best wines is hiring a car with a driver. Done? Great, let's go! Due to many natural fields and more than 2 718 sunny hours per year, Hvar has some of the finest European wines. The tradition of wine-making dates back to the era of ancient Greeks. The wineries are spread out across the whole island. Still, their most significant concentration is around the Stari Grad plain, where the Greeks started the production. Interesting wineries can also be found in Jelsa, Vrboska, and Sveta Nedilja on the island's southern side.
EXPLORING THE ISLAND IN AN ADVENTUROUS WAY
As we told you at the beginning of our Hvar story, this island has something to offer everyone. If you’re the adventurous type, this is a section for you. Biking, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, scuba diving, offroad tours, driving around in vintage convertible cars. Most tours start from the town of Hvar, but many are possible from Stari Grad or Jelsa. For all these tours, you can either be a beginner or level pro – they can be designed per your preferences and different fitness levels.
EAT TRADITIONAL FOOD
It is tough to highlight a few dishes on the island that are so rich in gastronomy. Still, when we need to do so, these would be our choice: gregada, peka, pašticada, and paprenjak. Gregada is a very simple but delicious fish stew famous in Dalmatia, especially on Hvar. The ingredients are fish, white wine, garlic, potatoes, and olive oil. One other traditional meal prepared in whole Dalmatia is peka. It is an ancient technique of preparing the dishes under a bell-shaped cast iron lid and on an open fire. Peka is one of Dalmatia's signature techniques to prepare meat (mostly veal and lamb) or octopus with potatoes. The technique is used to prepare bread, pastries, or cakes. It was always prepared for special events in families and during big gatherings in the old times. And now, let's move on to pašticada, the holy grail of our cooking and dish also prepared for special occasions and big gatherings. This stewed beef dish consists of very tender meat and delicious sauce. It requires a long preparation and is usually served with gnocchi. One of the critical ingredients for the delicious sauce is Prošek – traditional sweet dessert wine that could be compared with sherry. Hvar is known for its sweets, but one among them stands out: paprenjak, a conventional biscuit that has been present in the locals for more than 500 years. It contains a unique mixture of honey, olive oil, Prošek, and spices such as saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.
A mild climate and a bit over 2 700 sunny hours per year are the reason why Hvar has been known as a lavender island for centuries. Lavender grows all over this island and blooms in June and July. Imagine the colors during these summer months: deep blue coming from the sea, mixing with fresh green from the pines, and mysterious, spiritual purple. Take some of the relaxing lavender back home with you. Expect purchasing it from the local producers on the island who sell it all year round; you can also visit the lavender festival in Velo Grablje, which is held every year at the beginning of July. Lavender is used in many ways so that you can take many lavender souvenirs: biscuits, soaps, essential oil, small bags filled with dried lavender, and many more. There's also something you can't bring back home, but we strongly recommend you taste it: lavender ice cream.
VISIT TO THE ABANDONED VILLAGES
Abandoned buildings, villages, and even cities can be found worldwide, and so is here on Hvar Island. Two abandoned villages, Humac and Malo Grablje, defy time with their stone houses giving their rare visitor an insight into Dalmatia that once was.
Malo Grablje is situated above the bay Milna inside a stone rock. People who used to live here were winemakers and olive oil producers. In 1960, a wine disease basically wiped out almost all their wine crops. The inhabitants were forced to search for opportunities to earn money elsewhere. Old stone houses still have walls and floors but have been taken by nature and are worth visiting. Olive groves and vineyards surround the village.
Stone houses in Humac represent a unique example of well-preserved rural architecture. The charming houses, narrow streets, and courtyards are a true gem for all visitors. Expect to enjoy the architecture; you'll be able to enjoy the magnificent views of surrounding towns and villages, Brač island, and Makarska littoral, thanks to the position of the village 350 m above the sea level nearby the town Jelsa. The fact that there's no cemetery in the village shows us that Humac was never permanently inhabited. It was mainly used as seasonal lodging for farm workers from other villages and settlements on the island. This village, the same as Malo Grablje, has no water or electric power.
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FINGERPRINTS – one of the methods to solve crimes worldwide is dactyloscopy, a method of identifying persons by fingerprints. This would not be possible without Ivan Vučetić, a Croat who invented the technique in the 19th century. He was born on Hvar Island, but due to bad economic conditions at that time, he moved to Argentina at 26 with his brother and a few friends. Besides his career with the Argentinian police, he was a great composer and played the clarinet well.
The first disco ever opened in Croatia was on Hvar Island in Jelsa. The grand opening of the discotheque “Amfora" took place in 1964, which was very popular among locals and tourists.
To us, Hvar is the name of the island and a town, but if you come to Iceland, Hvar will have a whole other meaning. The word “Hvar” means “where” in Icelandic.
“DEAD RECKONING” BY ORSON WELLES – The Deep, aka Dead Reckoning, was an unfinished and unreleased film directed by Orson Welles and shot between 1966 and 1969. The film was a thriller that took place at sea, and for that purpose coasts of Hvar were doubling for the Pacific. Unfortunately, the film was never done due to many problems, and even the original negative has been lost. The only thing that exists as a trace of the film is two workprints that were never seen by the public. Few of the scenes were caught in a documentary about Welles's unfinished work.
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POKONJI DOL BEACH
This fantastic beach is a 25 min walk from the town of Hvar and is one of the most excellent beaches on the island. It is a lovely pebble beach where you can even rent sunbeds. After a good swim in the turquoise waters, you can find refreshments and have lunch in one of the 2 restaurants which serve the catches of the day.
Walking another 20 min from Pokonji Dol beach, you will arrive at Mekicevica, the hidden gem of Hvar. This beach is a secluded pebble cove surrounded by pine forests. For those who cherish the au-naturel vacation, Mekicevica is the right choice since it is partially FKK beach. Even in this secluded part of the island, there is a restaurant where you can get a nice summer lunch and refreshments.
Situated in a secluded cove 8 km east of town Hvar, this stunning pebble beach surrounded by pine trees and olive groves represents the essence of the Med. This beach can be reached only by a steep footpath from the main road, so wear closed shoes, and don't be afraid of the small hike; it is worth it! A beach bar and a restaurant are there to complete the experience.
Outside the town of Hvar, there is a tiny, quiet, stone village Milna, where history and beaches meet. The village's history goes way back to the 17th century, and you can still see examples of baroque-renaissance rustic architecture. The beaches in the town are perfect for all who love snorkeling. You can find a supermarket, bars, and restaurants in the village, so no special preparation is necessary.
Maslinica beach is situated in a perfectly sheltered bay just north of Vrboska. It is one of the most beautiful beaches on the northern side of Hvar Island. This quiet, pebble beach is surrounded by a dense pine forest which offers a lot of shade even on the hottest summer days. The turquoise water is very appealing and invites you to jump in immediately. As there are no bars or restaurants at this beach, prepare some snacks and beverages.
If you're looking for a quiet beach atmosphere, the beautiful beach Prapatna, situated not far away from Jelsa on the island's northern side, is the right choice. The cove is known for a small stone church from right by the beach from the 18th century. The best way to reach Prapatna is by boat from Jelsa, but it can also be done by car. Be prepared with snacks and beverages as they can’t be bought on the beach.
Skala beach is situated in Sveta Nedilja on the island's southern side. Incredible colors and high rocks surrounding the beach make it one of the most exciting beaches on the island. You can see the opaque blue where the sea and the horizon meet from the beach. In Sveta Nedilja, you can find a bar, a restaurant, and one of the best wineries. After the beach, pick your favorite spot and finish the day.
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