Easily among the most beautiful islands in all of Croatia, Hvar is a Mediterranean paradise. Hvar island is at the top of any Croatian itinerary, with some of the best beaches and restaurants on the Dalmatian Coast. On the west side of the island lies Hvar Town, a buzzing city rich in history and life.
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The cobblestone streets create a maze of renaissance architecture and medieval fortresses that rub shoulders with nightclubs and wine bars. While Hvar has a party town reputation, its charm and beauty offer so much more. We spent our days in Hvar cruising the white-pebbled beaches, sailing into caves, or galavanting through lavender fields.
So, if you find yourself in the glistening Adriatic Sea and are wondering what to do in Hvar, these sights and activities won’t disappoint. Here are our top picks for things to do in Hvar, along with the best hotels and restaurants.
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How to Get to Hvar Island, Croatia
The easiest way of getting to Hvar Island is to fly into Dubrovnik or Split and take the ferry. The island has four ferry ports in Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Jelsa, and Sucuraj, so you can take your pick. The Kapetan Luka catamaran from Split runs once daily during the high season and takes just over 3 hours. It costs 150 KN per person and will bring you right into Hvar Town.
Even closer, travellers arriving from Split can board either a foot or a car ferry from 3 different companies. Jadrolinija runs catamarans to all of Hvar Island ports up to 16 times daily during the high season! Tickets run 40-110 KN per person, and sailings take 1-2 hours, depending on your port. Lastly, if you hire a car on the mainland, you can hop on Jadrolinija’s car ferry to Stari Grad for 286 KN per car.
Best Time to Visit Hvar
The summer months in Hvar see hoards of tourists on packed beaches with beach bars filled to the brim. If you’re keen to visit Hvar Town to indulge in its bustling party scene, then July and August are when you’ll find it most lively.
We prefer the shoulder season when things aren’t as crowded and dinner reservations are aplenty. We recommend visiting Hvar Island in spring or fall when it’s less busy, and the weather is still absolutely lovely.
But be careful not to push your visit too far into the Fall; as we discovered during our visit in October, many of the Hvar bars, restaurants and attractions shut their doors at the end of September.
Best Things to Do in Hvar, Croatia
1. Visit the Beaches
Hvar Island is bordered by stunning beaches from coast to coast. Whether you’re visiting the island to relax, party, or sightsee, exploring Hvar beaches is a definite must. You’ll be spoiled with postcard-worthy places to sunbathe and plunge into the shimmer of the Adriatic Sea. Here are a few of our favourites of the best beaches in Hvar:
Nestled in pine trees and olive groves, Dubovica Beach is a picturesque pebble beach in a peaceful cove. You’ll need to hire a car or boat to travel the 8 km from Hvar Town, but the trip is worth it! Dubovica is a great picnic spot and one of the best places to go diving in Hvar.
Pokonji Dol Beach
Just a 20-minute walk from the city centre, Pokonji Dol is one of Hvar’s top attractions. You’ll usually find the beach lined with sunbeds while heads bob around in the gorgeous turquoise waters. It’s an easy beach to reach from Hvar Town and the perfect place to launch a kayak or enjoy a seaside lunch at a Konoba.
If you’re in search of a beach even closer to Hvar Town than Pokonji Dol, Bonj Beach is it. The public area at the foot of Hotel Amfora shares a bay with the luxe Hvar Beach Club. Keep your eyes peeled for glitzy celebrities while you’re splashing around in the crystal-clear water.
A bit off the beaten path, Lucisca Beach lines a picturesque little bay that’s around 2-½ km from the small town of Sveta Nedjela. About a 30-minute drive from Hvar town, a trip to this beach might be more practical if you intend to explore the south coast of Hvar island or plan to visit the town of Jelsa.
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2. Go Kayaking
Seeing Hvar Town from the water reveals a totally different perspective than at street level. The best (and most affordable) way to do this is aboard a kayak. There are plenty of places in town that offer rentals so you can get out and hit the sea.
We’d recommend cruising around the coast of Hvar or venturing over to the Pakleni Islands if you’re up for it. The paddle usually takes about an hour each way, and there are lots of pebble beaches from shore to ground. Rentals start at 100 KN, and you also get the option to rent a paddleboard.
3. Sail Around the Pakleni Islands
Just off the coast of Hvar Island, the neighbouring Pakleni Islands, or Paklinski Islands, are perfect for a day trip. The chain of 16 islands has amazing beaches—including those of the nude variety—and lots of charming restaurants. Visiting the Pakleni Islands is a special experience and, seriously one of the best things to do in Hvar.
Your options for reaching the islands are to hire a boat with a skipper, join a tour, or become your own captain for the day. For total relaxation, a full-day sailing tour is the way to go. You’ll set sail on a 37 ft (11.2 m) racing sailboat and weave through the stunning archipelago. Jump in for a swim or throw on a snorkel before settling in for lunch and cocktails at a small family-owned beach bar.
For a more hands-on experience, renting and driving your own boat is sure to be a memorable adventure. A number of companies in Hvar have a fleet of small, easy-to-drive cruisers that are surprisingly affordable. Spend the day exploring the Pakleni Islands on your own schedule for just 500 KN, including insurance.
Whichever option you choose, be sure to check out some of the islands’ unforgettable places. Two of our favourite beaches near Hvar are on the Pakleni Islands. Mlini Beach on Otok Marinkovac is a dreamy oasis with an amazing open-air restaurant to match. Similarly, Palmizana Beach feels like a real slice of paradise.
And if your trip won’t allow for a full day on the water, an evening sail is a must. This 2-hour Sunset Cruise With Wine is an ideal way to end a busy day exploring Hvar Town. Sip and snack as the water shimmers in the sunset—surely one of the most romantic things to do in Hvar.
4. Stroll Around Old Town
Old Town Hvar is a maze of cobblestone streets and historic buildings that ooze character. You can easily get lost as you wind through the alleyways and skinny steps that make Croatia so magical. We mean getting lost in a good way, of course, as you often discover the best things when you’re not looking for them.
Naturally, as St. Stephen’s Square is the main square of Hvar Town, it’s a great place to explore and people-watch. Grab a cup of coffee and admire the Venetian renaissance architecture that surrounds the Old Town meeting place.
St Stephens Square is also home to the extraordinary 14th-century masterpiece that is St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The iconic bell tower landmark can be seen from much of Hvar Harbour. St. Stephen’s Cathedral looks especially pretty lit up in the evening glow that fills the town square.
Similarly, the Franciscan Monastery is one of the most emblematic things to see in Hvar Island. It’s perched above a peaceful cove wrapped with lavish gardens that are just a short stroll from Hvar Harbour. A 300-year-old cypress tree accents the gardens, while the Franciscan Monastery features artwork by famed Venetian painters. Step inside to admire the massive painting of The Last Supper and gaze at works by Stefano Celesti and Palma Junior.
History buffs will enjoy a private Hvar Walking Tour, where a knowledgeable guide can tell you all about the rich history of the iconic Franciscan Monastery, experience the traditional lace making at the Benedictine nunnery, and get the best photos from the Hvar Spanish Fortress. While it isn’t necessary to join any of the guided Hvar tours, it’s nice to leave the logistics to someone else.
5. Admire the View from Spanjola Fortress
From the streets of Old Town, you may only see a large stone wall hovering over the red rooftops and alleyways. This 16th-century marvel is Fortica Španjola, an enormous fortress that was once the site of shelter during historic attacks. Commonly referred to as Hvar Fort, the fortress features ancient canons and a labyrinth of passageways.
But, what makes Spanjola Fortress one of the top things to do in Hvar is its magnificent panoramic views. In true Croatia fashion, you’ll need to climb up a very long set of steps from St. Stephen’s Square. The steps will open up to the highest place in Hvar Town at Spanjola Fortress. Here, you can look out over the entire town and watch the Pakleni Islands sparkle in the glimmer of the Adriatic Sea.
6. Sniff Lavender in Velo Grablje
Legend has it that the small village of Velo Grablje was once the home to Croatia’s gold rush—of lavender, that is. If you’ve ever visited Hvar Island, the aroma of lavender has surely delighted your nose. In Velo Grablje, it’s believed that a lovestruck farmer grew endless lavender fields which he then turned into oils and struck gold.
Nowadays, you can visit the village as it gets revived to its former glory after years of being abandoned. The village hosts an annual Lavender Festival in June and boasts stunning views of Hvar Island and the sea. To reach Velo Grablje, follow the main highway toward Stari Grad some 15 minutes from Hvar Town.
7. Take a Boat Trip to the Blue and Green Caves
Day tours to nearby islands are one thing on nearly every Hvar travellers’ bucket list. If you’re seeking unique attractions beyond the usual beaches, add visiting a cave to your agenda. This Cave Tour showcases two of Hvar’s coolest spots, the Blue Cave and Green Cave.
On the boat tour, the first stop is Ravnik Island where you’ll be able to swim in the emerald waters of the Green Cave. Next, you’ll head to Bisevo Island, home to the iconic Blue Cave. As the sun shines through the caves, the water lights up in vibrant jewel tones. It creates a magical place to swim and is one of the most fascinating things to do in Hvar.
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8. Tour Local Vineyards
Croatia is known for fantastic Mediterranean wines, with many of its best grapes coming from Hvar. Just like the quintessential olive oil, the local wines are a fabulous addition to any seaside meal. There’s no shortage of wine bars in Hvar Town, but we always enjoy going to the source and tasting at a vineyard.
The main winemaking region of Hvar Island is in Jelsa. It’s about 30 minutes outside of Hvar Town, best visited on a Wine Tasting Tour. On this 3-hour tour, a family of winemakers share insight into the quality and traits of Dalmatian wines. You’ll be treated to a vineyard tour and wine sampling, paired with a spread of local appetizers.
9. Have Lunch in Mekicevica Bay
Mekicevica Bay is one of the best places to visit in Hvar for a secluded day of sunshine. The only way to get there is on a footpath from Pokonji Dol Beach that winds through the pine forest. At the end of the 20-minute walk, you’ll be treated to an incredible beach far from the crowds of town.
After enjoying Mekicevica Beach, make your way up to Robinson for a delightful spread of homemade fare. This charming restaurant offers authentic Dalmatian cuisine served under a canopy of pine and olive trees.
10. Visit the Nearby Village of Jelsa
Just a 30-minute drive from the town of Hvar, the seaside village of Jelsa is the perfect escape from the tourist crowds. If you don’t want to bother with a rental car, there are buses that leave from Hvar several times a day.
As we mentioned, there are wineries in Jelsa open for tours, plenty of historic sites to take in, and pristine pebble beaches for a peaceful swim. The harbour is a perfect place for a stroll, with the historic town centre in the background, plus bars and restaurants.
Where to Eat & Drink in Hvar, Croatia
Hvar Town is abuzz with glitzy restaurants and stylish cocktail bars. Here are a few of our top picks for places to wine and dine beyond the usual contenders.
For a more upscale dining experience with a view of the harbour, Val Marina is a highly-rated restaurant that specializes in beautifully plated dishes consisting of locally and sustainably sourced ingredients.
Naturally, fresh seafood and Mediterranean dishes are their specialities, but there are some wonderful vegan options available that offer a taste of produce grown on Hvar Island.
Hula Hula Beach Bar
One of the trendier spots in Hvar, Hula Hula Beach Bar is in a prime location right on the coast. Beachside tables and sun loungers can be rented from the bar, and the onsite restaurant serves typical pub fare.
It’s a great spot for a cocktail while you watch the sunset and boats sail by, but be aware that it fills up with a young crowd at night and turns into a party.
In a city known for its vibrant nightlife, it’s rare to find a chill spot away from the crowds. Meanwhile, hidden high above Hvar’s main square, Teraca Bar is exactly that.
This cosy retreat has an amazing outdoor terrace where you can watch as waves of tourists pass through St. Stephen’s Square. Grab a cocktail, listen to the music, and enjoy the view! Teraca doesn’t advertise (or even have a website) so you’ll be in on the secret at one of the best bars in Hvar.
Hvar is full of beach bars, but there’s something special about Falko. Similar to Teraca, it feels far from Hvar’s nightlife and has an unpretentious vibe that can be hard to find. Falko proudly serves a menu of fresh seafood and homemade snacks, including vegetarian dishes and reasonably priced cocktails. It’s an idyllic place to watch the sunset and soak in views of the sea and nearby islands.
For a taste of authentic Dalmatian cuisine, look no further than Konoba Menego. Absolutely everything is local and homemade and so, so delicious. Try the papucice, a mouthwatering dish of seasonal vegetables sprinkled with almonds and local figs. And don’t forget to pair your meal with a regional wine from Jelsa!
Where to Stay in Hvar, Croatia
Just like restaurants, accommodation in Hvar is plentiful. Check out these gems for a memorable stay.
In Hvar Town
For a luxurious island experience, Hotel Adriana is a chic spot overlooking the harbour. It’s a short walk to all of Hvar Town’s landmarks and has a pool, rooftop bar, and spa onsite. The boutique hotel offers suites and glamorous penthouses with incredible views starting at 1,725 KN per night.
Just outside of St. Stephen’s Square, Villa Nora is a restored 14th century palace in the heart of Hvar. The rooms blend modern and traditional with exposed beams and stone accents. The hotel is a great launch point for exploring Hvar and Lucullus – the hotel’s restaurant, is fantastic. Rooms start at just 905 KN per night.
Just a 10-minute walk from Hvar town’s historic centre, the apartment-style accommodations at B&B Buzolic are made for comfort. All rooms include a living room with a seating area, a dining area, and a full kitchen with cooking utensils. If you book well in advance, you can request a room with a balcony facing the Adriatic Sea, with stunning views of the water and the nearby Paklinski Islands.
Villa Perka in Sveta Nedjelja
Settle into eco-luxury just 30 minutes outside of Hvar Town in Sveta Nedjelja at Villa Perka. The stone villas are surrounded by lush Mediterranean vegetation and boast incredible views from the rooms and swimming pool.
Villa Perka is the first eco-friendly retreat in Hvar, with an emphasis on local products, natural cleaners, and celebrating the community. Villas start at 1,500 KN per night.
Cast Away in Gromin Dolac
For a truly unique experience, camping in Hvar at Cast Away is pure bliss. This eco-resort in Gromin Dolac, 50 minutes outside of Hvar Town, offers cosy beach huts steps from the water. The grounds are lined with hammocks and sunbeds, along with activity rentals like kayaks and mountain bikes. Cast Away is fully off-grid with solar power and rainwater collection. Huts at the Cast Away start at 340 KN per night.
Essential Travel Info & FAQs
How long do you need in Hvar?
To explore the island of Hvar, we recommend staying for 3-4 days. You only really need one day to see the sights of this town, but you’ll want to plan to visit nearby beaches and islands.
Is Hvar expensive?
Hvar is known to attract an up-market crowd with its buzzing nightlife scene. That said, it can get pretty pricey compared to other Croatian islands. Bars, restaurants, and hotels in Hvar Town will generally be more expensive than in smaller towns on the island. But that’s not to say that it can’t be enjoyed on a budget, of course.