Top 10 Things to Do on Hvar Island

Renowned for its abundant sunshine, beautiful beaches, lavender fields, vineyards, historical landmarks, and world-class dining and nightlife scene, it's no surprise that Hvar is a popular island to visit on a Croatia holiday. Hvar Town is particularly famous for drawing the rich and famous. During the summertime, you'll see the harbour filled with megayachts that the many international jetsetters arrive on. Just some of the big names who've spent time here include Jackie O, Prince Harry, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, and Beyonce. But beyond hobnobbing with the wealthy, whether you plan to visit on a Croatia cruise or on your own as part of an independent holiday, these are the top 10 things to do on Hvar Island.    
Hvar at night

1. Experience the Nightlife of Hvar Town

As noted, the nightlife in Hvar town is so vibrant that it draws some of the rich and famous from across the globe but anyone who wants to have a good time here can enjoy it. Sometimes referred to as the “town that never sleeps,” at least not between June and September, you’ll have nearly an endless list of bars and nightclubs to choose from, whether you want to relax and enjoy live music in a casual venue or indulge in an ultra-luxurious night out dressed to the nines. That includes Carpe Diem, one of Croatia’s glitziest coastal bars with a reservation-only policy throughout August. The crowd is always dressed to impress, while resident DJs spin house music.

Hvar Franciscan Monastery

2. Visit the Franciscan Monastery

An easy stroll from the main square along the waterfront will bring you to the Franciscan monastery. Overlooking a picturesque cove it dates to the 15th century and includes an elegant bell tower. Step through the arched gateway and into the cloistered Renaissance courtyard where classic music concerts are occasionally hosted throughout the summer. A tranquil garden offers spectacular views of the sea while a small museum showcases items that include nautical charts and valuable documents like the edition of Ptolemy’s Atlas that was printed in 1524, coins, lace, and a collection of sacral art. The most notable piece is The Last Supper. This impressive approximately 26′ X 8′ work by Venetian Mateo Ponzoni Pončun dates to the early 17th century.

Hvar vineyard

3. Tour the Island’s Vineyards

Croatian wines are among the world’s best and some are produced on the sunniest island of Hvar. It has a winemaking tradition that dates back some 2,500 years with the first vines brought to the island by ancient Greek settlers.  The oldest continuously cultivated vineyards are located in the UNESCO-listed Stari Grad Plain but you’ll find them throughout Hvar. Native grape varietals, both reds and whites, are almost exclusively grown in this region, producing high-quality and highly acclaimed wines. Tomic is one of the most highly sought-after family-run wineries, ideal for starting a wine tour. Incredibly photogenic, it’s located in the small town of Jelsa and produces an array of impressive wines made using indigenous grapes like Plavac Mali and Posip.

Stari Grad

4. Explore Stari Grad

Stari Grad is Croatia’s oldest town, founded by the ancient Greeks in 384 BC. It’s the island’s historical heart, curving around the deep inlet that made this area so appealing to its early settlers. Shops, cafes, and restaurants line its palm-fringed promenade while the narrow lanes and alleyways of the Old Town are postcard perfect. It’s a joy to explore with the aroma of lavender wafting through the air while bougainvillaea is draped on street corners, adding vibrant splashes of colour. The UNESCO-listed Stari Grad Plain is a must-visit, with the system of field division the ancient Greeks came up with still preserved. You’ll also see the town’s past in its charming stone homes built in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Hvar Beach

5. Discover the Island’s Beautiful Beaches

If you visit Hvar during the warmer months you’ll want to spend a day on at least one of its beautiful beaches. Pokonji Dol is just a mile outside of Hvar Town, the most easily accessible from the port. It’s Hvar’s largest pebble beach and edges clear blue water ideal for swimming. Pedal boats, canoes, and kayaks are available for visiting nearby bays and secluded coves. While it can get busy here as it’s so close to town, there’s a roped-off swimming area with plenty of room to relax, along with deck chairs and parasols. A bit further from Hvar Town, about five miles away, is Uvala Dubovica, tucked in a tranquil cove providing a pebbled paradise with sparkling blue waters.

Hvar lavender fields

6. Marvel at the Hvar Lavender Fields

Hvar’s lavender fields are one of the top sights in Croatia, but you’ll need to visit in June and July when they’ll be in full bloom. This is when you can enjoy strolls through an endless sea of purple while the fragrance of the flowers wafts through the air. There are few experiences as magical, and if you’re here around mid-July, you can also join in the festival that celebrates the lavender with a variety of events. Enjoy workshops and demonstrations, and purchase all sorts of lavender products. You can buy lavender-scented pillows, soaps, perfumes, and more. Tours are available during the season, led by an expert who will bring you through the fields and reveal more about Hvar’s lavender history.

Jeep safari Hvar

7. Embark on a Jeep Safari

Jeep safaris are available to bring you on a memorable tour of the island, including some of the hidden places that most visitors don’t get to see. Many include Stari Grad so you can witness where settlement on the island was birthed and go off-road to Hvar’s highest peak, Sveti Nikola for magnificent views. You’ll see deserted villages in the inner part of the island and perhaps enjoy a visit to scenic Velo Grablj, the former hub of lavender production. Breathtaking views of the sea can be enjoyed from Vidokovac and you might drive through a tunnel chiselled into the rock some 50 years ago, used as a film set. A winery visit for a tasting is sometimes included too.

Pakleni Islands

8. Go Snorkelling in the Pakleni Islands

The Pakleni archipelago lies just opposite Hvar Town’s harbour. They’re easy to reach on a boat tour that includes time to stop at Sveti Klement, the largest of the Pakleni islands which is home to Palmizana Beach. This is one of the best places to snorkel in Croatia with the bay it frames known for its sandy bottom and variety of sea life, including shells. Okorija Bay is renowned for its sunken artefacts telling stories of time goes by, while Bok Bay hosts remarkable rock formations and grottoes. Tarsus Bay and Jerolim Island have impressive seagrass that serve as important underwater ecosystems. All of these areas offer unique experiences while easily accessible for snorkelers and filled with striking natural beauty.

Velo Grablj

9. Discover Abandoned Stone Villages

Tours are available that will bring you to some of Hvar’s interesting abandoned stone villages like Malo Grablje. Just four miles from Hvar Town, winemakers once lived here but a vine disease wiped out much of the grape crops causing residents to flee the ill-fated village with no way to earn a living. They left everything just as it was and moved to Milna in search of new work in the fishing industry. The stone homes have been crumbling ever since. Some still have floors and roofs but many are being recalled by nature. While it’s been deserted, it presents impressive photo ops and your tour might include a visit to one of the families who once lived here.

Fortica Fortress

10. Enjoy Panoramic Views from Fortica Fortress

Last but not least on our list of top things to do on Hvar, is to take in the panoramic view from Fortica Fortress. Also known as Spanjola, this Venetian fort sits on a 328-foot-high hill requiring only a gentle climb to reach the top. Once there you’ll enjoy a stunning vista of the harbour, Hvar town, the endless blue of the sea, and nearby islands. It’s more than worth the ascent, but if you don’t want to trudge on foot you can drive or take a taxi to the top. The fortress occupies the site of an ancient Illyrian settlement dating from at least 500 BC, while the Venetians began construction of the fortress you see today in the 13th century.

Discover Hvar by Cruise

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