12 incredible things to see and do in Hvar town, Croatia
Hvar town is a Mediterranean dream, full of rustic cobblestoned streets, stunning beaches, and ancient history. From where to stay, the best things to do, and how to party respectfully, this is our ultimate guide to this Croatian gem.
Nestled in a picturesque cove on the western side of Hvar island lies the historic and stunning Hvar town, by far and away one of the most beautiful places we've ever laid eyes on.
We arrived in late April; two weary Aussies hoping to find some vitamin D after the most intense six month winter in London. For six weeks we found happiness in the form of a rustic Mediterranean town that only ever existed in our imagination, in the scent of jasmine carried on a gentle sea breeze, in the therapy that ocean swims deliver, and bathing in 7.7 hours of glorious summer sun, every day
It's a town where stunning Venetian architecture, ancient fortresses, and winding old town lanes are illuminated each afternoon by outstanding sunsets. A town where incredible restaurants serve the day’s best catch, a town where world-class bars keep revellers coming back again and again; and where some truly down to earth locals exist.
Oh, and did we mention the many coves and beaches surrounded by the clearest turquoise blue waters? Because they're amazing, too.
Yep, Hvar town is the dream.
If we’ve convinced you to start planning your trip, here’s our guide to the best things to see and do in Hvar town, Croatia
The top things to see and do in Hvar town, Croatia's jewel in the Adriatic
#1 SPEND A DAY CRUISING THE PAKLENI ISLANDS
If we had to choose our favourite day on Hvar, it would be the day we hired a small 'pasara' boat from Hvar Boats and explored the nearby Pakleni Islands.
Setting off early, we expertly (jokes!) navigated the narrow Hvar strait before arriving at our first point on the Pakleni islands, a stunningly clear bay where we had our first swim.
It set the tone for the day; we'd find ourselves a beautiful, quiet bay, drop anchor and jump straight off the bow into the clear blue waters, before relaxing in the beautiful mediterranean sun. It really was a day dreams are made of.
Some of our favourite bays and beaches included:
The two large bays after Vinogradisce Bay (unfortunately they don't have a name)
Our boat came with a cooler box, where we could store some rolls, drinks and fruit, but you'll need to ask for this and snorkelling gear.
As the pasara boat is so small (5hp), you won't need a boat licence to operate it, however you will get a lesson from your vendor, which we definitely recommend you listen to, as it takes a while to get used to the steering and engine. It's important to note that, while the boat is insured, the propeller and anchor are not, so you'll be liable for any damage (which is easy on the rocks).
It's also important to keep an eye out for large ferries and boats operating in the area - it's the main route from Split to Hvar and Korcula!
Where | Pakleni (or Paklinski) Islands, Hvar
Cost | HRK 400 for a 5hp Pasara boat
Book | We used Hvar Boats, which provide good quality boats at a competitive price
Tips | Pack your own lunch, water, beers and sunscreen.
Make sure you take back all your litter and dispose of in the bins in town.
Don't get drunk, whatever you do!
#2 SPEND A DAY AT HVAR’S STUNNING BEACHES
Being Australian, it’s unavoidable that a love of good beaches runs through our veins.
Fortunately, if there’s one thing Croatia does exceptionally well, it’s stunning coastlines, and Hvar is home to more than a few beaches that’ll absolutely knock your socks off. Of course, over the course of six weeks on the island we got to acquaint ourselves pretty well with a number of them. All in the name of research, you know.
Some of our favourites are just a short walk from town, a few are popular coves where all the tourists come to play, and others are the little hidden gems we somehow stumbled upon. Whichever floats your beach umbrella, these are the best ones close to Hvar town:
If there was ever a beach that looked as though it was lifted straight from a nostalgic 70’s polaroid, Pokonji Dol is about 25 minutes walk from the heart of Hvar town, and is probably the best beach within easy access to the town itself.
The water was the kind of clear turquoise magic that invites you to jump in right away, and while the beach is pebbly it’s still pretty comfortable to lie on. The cove around Pokonji Dol is also home to a couple of gorgeous little rustic restaurants serving the day’s best catch and ice cold beers perfect for a sundowner.
Sunbeds are available for hire, ranging from HRK 70 - 100 for the day.
10 minutes walk west of Hvar town, near Hotel Amfora, lies Bonj, a popular beach with a touch of celeb status about it. This is also the home of the exclusive Bonj Les Bains beach club, to which the global elite flock for their private pontoons and enticing 4-poster sun beds. Unsurprisingly, our budget didn’t stretch far enough to enjoy an afternoon there, but fortunately, those on a budget can still lay about on the small pebble beach, or swim in the turquoise waters.
Bonj Beach is perfect for those wanting to stay close to their accommodation, or indeed the clubs and bars that make Hvar so famous.
A 20 minute walk through the pine forest from Pokonji Dol will take you to Mekićevica beach, a secluded pebble cove fringed by pine forests with not a tourist in sight.
If you’re looking to go au naturale close to Hvar town, Mekićevica beach is your best bet - it’s a known FKK (nudist) beach and is sheltered, stunning, and has many places to shade yourself should the searing sun prove too much.
Walking a little further through the forest will take you to Robinson’s - a secluded restaurant serving fresh, homemade seafood.
Read more: Our ultimate guide to Hvar’s 11 best beaches
PARADISE FOUND: 11 beaches on hvar that will blow your mind
#3 TAKE IN THE INCREDIBLE VIEW OF HVAR TOWN FROM TVRDAVA FORTica (HVAR FORT)
High above Hvar, overlooking the red roofs and white-washed walls of the old town and the glistening turquoise waters of the Pakleni Islands in the distance, lies the Tvrdava Fortica home to our favourite Hvar viewpoint.
Originally the site of a 6th century Byzantine citadel, the Venetians eventually constructed the present-day fortress in the 13th century. In 1571, the Fortress acted as shelter for locals after an invading Turkish army attacked and razed the town to the ground. It’s also been known as the Spanish Fort (Trvdava Spanjola) as Spanish engineers worked on it during the 14th century.
Fortunately, the Fortress is now on far safer ground, and houses a small museum showing a collection of historical artefacts found on the seabed around Hvar.
The Fortica is easy to get to - just follow the signs from St Stephen's Square, up the (many) stairs, before passing the town walls. From here, it's a gentle, winding walk through the pine forests before arriving at the fortress entrance. The entrance fee is pretty expensive, especially for those on a backpackers budget.
Where | Spanjola Fortress, Hvar
Opening hours | Sun - Sat 08:00 am - 21:00pm (April - October)
Cost | HRK 40 (children half price)
Reviews | See what other travellers thought of the Spanish fort of Tripadvisor here
#4 EXPLORE THE TWISTING LANEWAYS OF HVAR OLD TOWN
If you travel to Hvar during the height of peak season it may feel impossible to escape the throngs of well-heeled sailing folk and eager backpacking partygoers and find ‘true’ Hvar.
But for those willing to take a few steps away from the main square, up the crumbling stairways and down the winding stone streets and white-washed alleyways, there’s a whole other side to the town that many tourists never get to see.
In these twisting laneways of Hvar’s old town, an old woman leans out a window, washing the wooden shutters. There’s a clatter of cutlery and the waft of something delicious; the soundtrack of families enjoying their Sunday lunch together. Locals greet each other in doorways, pausing to chat before continuing on their way. Little boutique peek out from almost-hidden alcoves. Birds skitter along cobblestones, and in places it’s so quiet you can hear the echo of your own footfall.
This is a world away from the jam-packed Riva and touristy main square, and there’s a lot to love about that.
It’s easy to get wonderfully lost in these rustic stone streets - in fact, it was one of our favourite things to do on the island! - so leave the map at home and let the cobblestones take you on a journey through Hvar town as the locals know it.
#5 LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE EXPLORING HVAR IN A VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE
Mark's a long time fan of Herbie the Love Bug, a VW Beetle with a mind of his own, who's always getting up to mischief and adventures (pretty much Mark!). In fact, Herbie inspired a dream in Mark to have his own Beetle adventures one day, a wish that came true during our time on Hvar.
We hired a little yellow bug from Rapidus and set off to explore as much of Hvar island as possible. We slowly wound our way around the island’s open roads, exploring towns and beaches so removed from the main tourist areas that it almost felt like we were on a different island.
We drove through lavender fields to the small village of Brusje, explored the Venetian streets of Stari Grad, ate delicious gelato in Jelsa, slowly made our way through the Pitve tunnel, and swam in the glorious clear waters at Ivan Dolac. And we finished our day watching sunset from the Napoleonic fort, overlooking Hvar and Pakleni Islands.
It was the dream day, and was without a doubt one of our favourite things to do on Hvar.
If you're thinking of living the Hvar dream too, be warned; the VW beetle is a handful to drive. The cars are manual, with no power steering, and reach a top speed of around 60km/h. They're especially hard to drive through the narrow villages and tunnels.
What | Rapidus Car Hire, Hvar town
Cost | HRK 500 per day including insurance. Fuel
Book | Check availability on the Rapidus website here
Tips | Bring a towel to place on the leather seats/steering wheel, as they get super hot in the summer sun, fill with fuel before returning
#6 avoid partying irresponsIBly ON HVAR
This may be the first blog out there that states that you should avoid (or at least minimise) partying on Hvar, but hear us out.
After spending six weeks on the island, we got to know some of the local residents quite well. And the thing is, they pretty much all had the same negative feelings towards Hvar's 'party island' reputation. In fact, they couldn't believe what their once-quiet island had become, especially in the summer months.
More than once, stories were recounted of drunk tourists having sex at 8am in St. Stephens Square (a massive no-no in a conservative country), drunks vandalised the town centre, and how the thumping bass had long-ago ruined any sort of tranquility.
We personally witnessed drunk tourists launching glass beer bottles over the heads of fellow partygoers, straight into the sea at Hula Hula Bar. Many 'lads' yelling at the top of their voices, staggering through the streets at 8am on their way home from Carpe Diem, with no respect given to the local community. A shop window having to be replaced after a glass bottle had been launched through it the night before.
It seems that travellers and backpackers visit Hvar and seem to lose all sense and respect that this is someone’s home. As fellow travellers, we think that's pretty shit. We love a fun night out as much as the next person, but there are so many amazing things to see and do on Hvar that it seems a waste to come and spend the entire time drunk, looking for a party.
If you're going to come and party on Hvar (which lets be honest, you probably are!), get drunk, have fun, and party till all hours, but just take a moment and respect the locals, the culture, and the environment.
Travel better | 26 top responsible travel tips
#7 SUNSET DRINKS AT FALKO BAR
As with most things in life, that which is most worth having generally requires a bit of effort to get to, but we think that’s what makes a visit to Falko Bar all the more worthwhile.
Located about 2km from St Stephen’s square, past the hustle and bustle of Bonj Les Bains beach club and Hula Hula, Falko bar is the perfect antidote for the rowdiness of some of Hvar’s more famous clubs.
Nestled amongst lush mediterranean pine with hammocks tied between trees and sun lounges spread across the rocky shore, this was by far our favourite little sundowner spot on the island. We even spent out final night on the island here, sipping beers and reminiscing on six weeks of bliss while watching one final, golden Hvar sunset. And trust us, the sunsets from here are A-grade.
Indeed, our favourite little sundowner spot was where we spent our final night on the island, sipping beers and recounting our incredible memories while watching one final, golden Hvar sunset. And trust us, the sunsets from here are A-grade.
The bar serves very reasonably priced cocktails and beers, as well as vegetarian friendly food, while the great vibe and chilled tunes make it the perfect place to eat, drink, swim and enjoy a little sun therapy.
Where | Falko Beach Bar, Hvar
Cost | Free entry
Beers - HRK 18
Aperol Spritz - HRK 46
Reviews | Check out Tripadvisor reviews of Falko Bar here
Book without fear | Our complete guide to Airbnb
#8 TAKE IN THE VIEWS OF HVAR FROM THE NAPOLEON FORTRESS (TRVDAVA NAPOLJUN)
Late afternoons, when the whole of the island was awash with golden light, were our favourites on Hvar, and our favourite place to watch the beauty unfold from was a little hidden gem we discovered, Napoleon fortress.
This former Napoleonic fortress is west of the main Spanish fort, and the hike to the top is about 4km. We did this hike at least once a week while on the island, such was our desire to take in those golden views. Once at the top, you feel so high up that the sky is within reach, while its stretches from one side of an endless horizon to the other. Get ready for some epic views over Hvar town and Pakleni islands, Vis, as well as the island of Brac to the north.
From this elevation, you can watch the old town slowly turn from day to night as the day boats full of tourists begin to drift back to their harbours on the mainland, and a quiet calm begins to filter through the ancient streets again. It's the perfect place to come, picnic in hand, and enjoy a pure travel moment.
Only once were we joined by anyone else, a couple of local boys who were in on our little secret location.
Where | Napoleon Fortress, Hvar
#9 ENJOY THE BEST OF DALMATIAN COOKING AT KONOBA MENEGO
There's a saying on Hvar that the fish need to swim three times; first in the ocean, then in oil, and then finally in wine in the stomach. It says a lot about the local love of fish, oil and wine, and the best place in town to experience all of these local delicacies together is Konoba Menego.
Nestled in the old town on the way to the medieval Fortica, we visited Menego on the recommendation of our Airbnb host, and we're very happy we did. Adorned with Croatian antiques and family photos, this rustic tavern has forged itself quite the reputation, providing locals and tourists alike with a limited, traditional menu from locally sourced produce.
The food was exceptional, and by far the best we'd had in Hvar Town.
Our starter was a veggie plate drizzled in local olive oil, vinegar, honey and garlic. For mains, Mark had a local polenta chicken dish, while Mim satiated her seafood cravings by indulging in a seafood platter consisting of octopus salad, marinated fish, anchovies, shrimps and olives. The meal was washed down with a local house wine from a producer just 5km away.
The hospitality was as authentic as we'd found on the island, and the overall dining experience was hands down our favourite.
Where | Konoba Menego, Hvar old town
Opening hours | Mon - Fri: 12pm - 14:30pm, 18:00 - 23:00pm
Sat & Sun: 18:00pm - 23:00pm
Cost | Mains start at HRK 110, Entree starts at HRK 50, Carafe of wine is HRK 27
Note | As we're now vegetarians, we're unsure of vegetarian options
Reviews | Check out Tripadvisor reviews of Konoba Menego here
#10 PEOPLE WATCH IN ST STEPHEN’S SQUARE, AND EXPLORE HVAR CATHEDRAL
The centre of public and social life in Hvar, Hvarska pjaca, or St. Stephens Square, is the largest old square in all of Dalmatia. Surrounded by Venetian and Renaissance architecture, including the Cathedral of St. Stephen, the cathedral bell tower, and the Arsenal, the square really is one of the prettiest we've seen in Europe.
Almost daily, we'd make our way into town and sit on the steps at the start of the square, watching the world go by while eating a delicious börek or ice cream. We'd watch little old ladies gossip, local friends stop and chat, tourists stumble on the slippery stone paths, and a local busker perform a brilliant rendition 'Hallelujah'. We watched important cultural and religious ceremonies occur, such as the solemn procession of Corpus Christi, and St. Prošper day, where the square came alive with locals selling their wares.
The baroque Hvar cathedral was built in the 16th and 17th centuries, during the Dalmatian Renaissance and provides the picturesque backdrop to the square. If you've got time, head inside and check out some of the stone reliefs, and the 15th century choir stalls.
The square is now home to a multitude of restaurants, shops and bars which sell overpriced food and drinks to unsuspecting tourists (seriously, don’t bother eating in any of these places!), which has diminished the beauty somewhat, however it still remains a wonderful place of interest in Hvar town.
Where | Hvarska pjaca, Hvar
#11 EAT ALL THE LOCAL BISCUITS, CAKES, AND PASTRIES AT NONICA PATISSERIE
We, and especially Mim, are sweet tooths at heart (hence we ate an ice cream a day on Hvar!), so when we stumbled upon Nonica, we knew we'd found our own little sweets-filled paradise.
Tucked away down one of Hvar's picturesque, white-washed alleyways, Nonica is a town institution which offers a wide variety of traditional treats prepared according to ‘grandma’s old recipes’ handed down and perfected over the centuries.
After a few minutes of indecision we decided to go full traditional and selected the Hvar Cake, a sweet and spicy dough mix cooked in olive oil, as well as a dense chocolate brownie. Both were as expected... tasty AF, and were ably washed down with a coffee and cold chocolate.
Nonica is not only a great place to sample some local treats, but also to sit back and watch the world go by on the ancient stone streets of Hvar.
For those wanting a memento from Hvar, Nonica also sell pesticide-free jams made from fruit grown locally under the hot Mediterranean sun... nom.
Opening hours | Mon -Sat: 8:00am - 14:00pm, 17:00 - 23:00pm
Sun: 17:00pm - 23:00pm
Cost | Hvar cake - HRK 14, Coffee - HRK 10
Reviews | see what other travellers thought of Nonica Patisserie on Tripadvisor here
#12 Admire the FRANCISCAN MONASTERY
In our eyes, this is Hvar's most iconic scene; the view of the stunning Franciscan monastery sitting on the prettiest little cove just a short stroll from the main Hvar riva.
This 15th-century Franciscan monastery houses a rich display of museum exhibits including a collection of Greek, Roman and Venetian coins, rare amphora, and an ancient edition of Ptolemy's Atlas, dated from 1524. There's also a beautiful painting of The Last Supper thought to be the work of celebrated 16th-century Venetian painter Matteo Ingoli, and a 300-year-old Cypress tree standing tall in the monastery garden.
It's a place that's definitely worthy of a quiet stroll, in between swims, ice creams, and sundowners.
Opening hours | Mon - Sat, 9:00am - 15:00pm & 15:00 - 19:00pm (May - Oct)
Cost | Museum entry: HRK 30
A map of the best things to do in Hvar town, Croatia
day tours on hvar island
Looking for different ways to explore Hvar Town, and the villages of Hvar? These are some of our fave picks for day tours around the island.
HVAR TOWN TRAVEL GUIDE | OUR HVAR TRIP PLANNING ESSENTIALS
WHERE IS HVAR, CROATIA?
The island of Hvar is located in the Adriatic sea, off Croatia's famous Dalmatian coast. It's surrounded by a number of islands including Brac, Korcula and Vis, and is around an hours boat ride from Split. The island is the longest and sunniest in Croatia, and has around 11,000 in habitants.
On the opposite side of the Adriatic lies Italy, and important ports such as Ancona.
WHEN TO VISIT HVAR, CROATIA?
We're slightly biased, given we spent six weeks on Hvar from late April through to mid-June, however we believe visiting the island during the shoulder seasons (April - early June, Sept - Oct) is the best time to visit.
Not only are the days long and the sea warm, but the crowds are smaller and more manageable, making the island extremely pleasant. What's more, the prices of food and drinks are cheaper during the shoulder period.
Visiting during the peak summer months of mid-June to August means you'll have to contend with upwards of 20,000 daily visitors to the island, which in our opinion is unsustainable and is a detriment to the island.
WHERE TO STAY IN HVAR TOWN, CROATIA
We spent the entirety of our time on Hvar staying in an apartment we rented through Airbnb, and would definitely recommend it to anyone. Our hosts Vlado and his son, Tin, provided us with the very best tips and deep insights into the island’s culture and history - the type of local knowledge you wouldn’t get staying in a hotel.
As the majority of apartments on the island are for use during the peak tourism periods, the island doesn't suffer from rental issues affecting larger cities such as Paris or Barcelona.
If you’re a fan of AirBnB, there are a heap of options available in Hvar town. You can book a locally-run guesthouse close to town for less than £25 - £30 per night. Book using our code and receive up to £30 off your booking.
We’ve also written a comprehensive guide to Airbnb to help you book the best, cheapest and safest accommodation, every time.
If you’re after a more luxurious splurge, Hvar town is literally teeming with mid to high end hotels - think open, breezy rooms, and beautiful views, right in the heart of town.
Our top 3 picks are:
HERACLEA HOUSE | James Bond would be happy to call this home for a few days. A stunningly appointed 5* hotel right in the centre of town, with views to die for. A splurge here is worth it! Prices and availability here
If they’re not quite right for you, search for all hotel options for Hvar using HotelsCombined here.
Given Hvar's popularity on the European backpacker trail, the town has a number of very well appointed backpacker hostels. Hvar's hostels are perfect for those who are travelling solo, or are on a tight budget.
We've selected our pick of the bunch below:
HVAR OUT | New renovated (this actually happened when we were in Hvar), this is hands down the best located hostel in Hvar. Clean, bright and lovely rooms, and a great atmosphere. Check prices and availability here.
HOW TO GET TO HVAR TOWN, CROATIA
All travel to Hvar town generally involves arriving into the coastal city of Split. Most European budget airlines fly directly to Split, especially during the summer season from April - October.
Check flight prices and availability to Split with Skyscanner here.
HOW TO GET FROM SPLIT TO HVAR TOWN
Travellers fear not, it's super easy to get from Split to Hvar. Ferries service the island up to 18 times per day during the peak summer periods, however in the low season it runs 2 or 3 journeys per day, in total 15 times per week. The boat ride generally takes an hour, but we recommend arriving at least 45 mins before departure as the seats fill up VERY quickly!
Tickets can be purchased online for both Jadrolinija and Krilo, which we recommend doing at least 24 hours prior in the peak season as the seats sell out quickly. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased in Spilt at the tourism centre on Split Riva, opposite Diocletians Palace, or at the ticket booths further down the harbour.
From the town of Split, you'll need to head to Split port where the boats and catamarans both depart from, generally from the terminals closest to Split Riva (be sure to clarify when purchasing your ticket!).
Note: if the direct ferry from Split to Hvar is booked out, you can also take the ferry to Stari Grad, and catch a local bus or taxi to Hvar town.
The return journey departs from Hvar Riva, and tickets can be purchased from the adjoining ticket office.
Split to Hvar ferry cost | HRK 40 - 110 one way, per person, (season/ferry dependent)
Split to Hvar ferry departure times | 0740, 0830, 0900, 0945, 1000, 1030, 1100, 1130, 1300, 1500, 1530, 1600, 1630, 1700, 2000 (based on summer season, times subject to change)
Hvar to Split ferry departure times | 0635, 0750, 1015, 1030, 1050, 1130, 1245, 1300, 1435, 1445, 1730, 1800, 1945, 2130 (based on summer season, times subject to change)
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