Best Things to do in Hvar: Explore one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world

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The tag of one of the 10 most beautiful islands sits well on Hvar. Its relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle, cultural heritage, delicious local cuisine and fine wines all make it a winner for a vacation of a lifetime for both couples and families. And despite its reputation as a party town, we found that there are many hings to do in Hvar for families. So, if you are wondering about what to do in Hvar Croatia, consider that the island offers a lot more than just being a party island.

We experienced this picturesque island by car, with a luxury stay at a boutique hotel with its private beach. What I remember most are the panoramic views overlooking the Adriatic Sea, cycling and diving adventures on the island, and good restaurants in Hvar town. Even with some sightseeing in Hvar, it turned out to be one of the most relaxing stays on our two-week trip to Croatia. Read my Hvar Travel Guide to know about the best things to do on this lovely island.

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Don’t miss the view from the Fortica, of Hvar town and the Adriatic Sea.

Best time to visit Hvar

July and August are the peak season to visit Croatia. Hvar Island has a pleasant climate, with warm and dry summers and cool winters.

The best time to visit Hvar is from June through October. But do note that Hvar during summer months is crowded and hotels are expensive. The rich and famous are in Hvar town mainly. You can choose to stay in choose Vrboska, Stari Grad, or Jelsa for a more laid back experience in summer.

If you wish to enjoy Hvar without the crowds, visit in the shoulder season: May or September

Hvar sightseeing is enjoyable since the island gets a large number of hours of sunshine (more than 2500 hours per year), which gives it its nickname of Sunny Hvar.

History of Hvar town

In 1420, Venice took proper control of Hvar island and, as it was often used as a stopping point for ships sailing between Venice and the rest of the Mediterranean. The island prospered under this rule, so much so that Hvar town became the richest area in Dalmatia.

Austrian, French and Italian rule happened subsequently, and then it became a part of Yugoslavia in 1922 until Croatia declared its independence in 1991.

How to reach Hvar Island

Hvar Island is located in central Dalmatia, off the coast of Makarska Riviera on the mainland. Split and Dubrovnik airports are the closest airports to Hvar island. There are few boat companies operating between Hvar Island and the mainland. Jadrolinija is a large national carrier, operating on almost all islands’ routes. Jadrolinija offers a direct, year-round ferry from Split to Hvar Town. It is a pretty quick ride, taking only about an hour to arrive in Hvar Town.

Lovely to have your morning coffee with the expansive views to the open sea.

Kapetan Luka is a small regional carrier serving Split, Hvar, Korcula, Mljet, and Dubrovnik with its fast catamarans. Getting to Hvar from Dubrovnik is simple during the high season, as it serves as one of the main gateways to the island. The best way to reach Hvar is by hopping on one of the many catamarans that run daily between Hvar and Dubrovnik.

Drvenik, near Makarska, is a great location to reach Hvar from. This ferry crossing is the shortest of all three as it takes only 30 minutes to reach Sućuraj, on Hvar. 

Getting around on the island

Hvar is known for 4 main towns – Hvar town, Stari Grad, Jelsa, and Vrboska. Hvar Town is convenient since it offers many hotels and restaurants across budgets. It is also the place where the ferry from the mainland or other Croatian islands come to.

The most convenient way to travel around the island is by car, or by scooter. The main island’s road D116 runs from Hvar Town to Sucuraj and connects all major towns on the island, like Stari Grad, Jelsa, and Vrboska.

Things to do in Hvar

Hvar is famous for its sunny days, lavender fields, azure waters and nightlife. There is natural beauty and lovely beaches and hidden coves waiting to be discovered in Hvar. There is also history and culture on the island. 

Hvar sightseeing offers a plethora of enjoyable activities on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. From exploring the Venetian architecture of Hvar Town to marveling at the stunning views from Fortica Fortress, you can get on boat tours to the nearby Pakleni Islands or indulge in wine tasting at local vineyards. Here are the 9 best things to do in Hvar.

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The center in Hvar town is great for people watching.

Explore the island by car

We decided to rent a car in Hvar town to explore the island. My husband wanted to show me some of the sights that he had discovered during his cycling trip. You can opt to rent one of the colorful Beatles, a local on the island owns more than a 100 in all possible colours!

From Hvar town, we drove towards Milna. The drive had the same cliffs and scenic bays as we found in Makarska Riviera. When we passed the Pitve-Zavala tunnel to go to the north side, the scenery changed. We also viisited other towns like Jelsa and Vrboska on the island by car. I would highly recommend exploring this island by car as one of the best things to do in Hvar.

Visit Stari Grad and Stari Grad Plains

Stari grad is not only the oldest settlement on the island, but one of the oldest continuous settlements in all of Europe. Amble around the old town in Stari Grad to see ancient buildings. 

The agricultural land in the Stari Grad plain is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This fertile agricultural land has been cultivated since ancient times. Spanning some 80 hectares and dating back 2400 years, Stari Grad Plain has been described as the largest and most productive field on the Adriatic coast, where little has changed since the Ancient Greeks introduced an agricultural colony.

Stari Grad Plains, a UNESCO Heritage Site. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On our car tour, we came upon the Stari Grad Plain. While Hvar is most popular for beaches and coastal towns, in recent years, there is a lot of interest in agritourism. In the right season, you can also see Lavender fields in Hvar.

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Olive trees abound on the island.

Visit Jelsa and Vrboska

Jelsa also has a fascinating wine history and is even known as the island’s wine capital. On our trip to Jelsa, we went to Eis Caffe, recommended by a local. Run by an Albanian, it has become one of the must-do experiences in Jelsa town. We spent an enjoyable afternoon strolling through the main square and indulging in people-watching at Eis Caffe.

Then, we took the picturesque drive to Vrboska, the neighboring town with heavy Venetian influence. It is called ‘Little Venice’.

Headed to Plitvice Lakes National Park? Do read – The road less traveled in Plitvice Lakes National Park

A visit to the Fortica in Hvar town

I cannot recommend a visit to this fortress enough. Even if you are uninterested in its history, the views looking down over Hvar and Pakleni islands are stunning. For the views, you don’t have to pay the entrance fee, you could just go to the side towards the sea (right to the entrance).

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Enjoying the fabulous view from the Fortica.

Dating from the 16th century, the Fortica represents the onetime main fortification of Hvar town, giving centuries of protection to the town and its port.

Construction of the present-day fortification began in 1282, on the decision of the municipality, when Hvar was under Venetian rule. It was built slowly, over many years, undergoing many adaptations, and was funded by the municipality, mostly from the proceeds of selling salt. Its elaborate ground plan, picturesque location and excellent state of preservation make it one of the finest fortifications on the Croatian coast.

Consider this guided walking tour of Hvar town.

What to do in Hvar: Cycling and Diving adventures

With its dramatic landscapes and quiet back roads, Hvar is a great cycling destination. My husband enjoyed an intense off-roading cycling experience with Hvar Adventure. This was an intense 4-hour off-road cycling experience but there are plenty of cycling tours offered on the island for the entire family.

Hvar also offers some diving centers, and it was here that I booked my first dive experience in the Adriatic Sea with Diving Center Viking. Don’t expect to see spectacular marine life like in the tropical islands but it was not a bad way to spend half a day.

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Details from my Logbook on the 2 dives

These were both solo experiences, my daughter was happily playing on the private beach of our resort with one parent. There are several adventure activities like kayaking and cycling, which can be enjoyed together as a family on the island.

Beaches and Water activities

There are enough beaches and coves for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and boating on the island. Dubovica Beach is a lovely cove with clear water perfect for snorkeling. The popular Pokonji Dol beach is located near Hvar Town and is considered one of the best beaches on the island.

The Skala Beach at Sveta Nedjelja is one of the most well-known beaches of Hvar. If you are headed towards Jelsa, check out the beautiful Prapatna Beach whiich is located in the north of the island.

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You get nooks and corners all over the island to enjoy the ocean.

Wine tour

Wine has been a major part of the island’s lifestyle. You can take a wine tour in Hvar. There are many half-day and full-day tours that take you through the fascinating history of wine production accompanied by a local expert. Browse through these tour options:

Sail to Pakleni Islands

Pakleni Islands are a beautiful archipelago off the coast of Hvar town.  You can book a sailing tour to hop from one island to another, and relax, swim, sunbathe and snorkel.

Check out this sailing experience on a yacht from Hvar’s main port to Pakleni islands.

Nightlife and local cuisine

The island is famous for its nightlife, but that’s mostly located in Hvar town. 

Hvar has many restaurants with superb Dalmatian dishes. Hvar does have a typical local dish that’s worth trying known as gregada. This modest fish stew is thought to be the oldest way of preparing fish in Dalmatia.

We ate a hearty meal at the highly recommended Dalmatino in Hvar town. Excellent fish and the aperitif they gave, to begin with, is to be tried for sure. Eis Caffe ice-cream and affogato, if you visit Jelsa, won’t leave you disappointed.

Boutique stay in the heart of the island

We took the Jadrolinjia ferry from Split to reach Hvar town. A staff person from our resort – Little Green Bay – was waiting for us to help arrange the taxi transfer to the resort.

The first impression of the resort and the secluded bay in which it is nestled is delightful. True to its name, very private, bohemian, and not entirely equipped for kids. But if you ask my daughter about the part she enjoyed most in Croatia, she would promptly respond – the 3 days spent in Little Green Bay 🙂

The private bay with crystal-clear water acts as a convenient swimming pool.

If you rather stay in Hvar town to have easy access to restaurants and sites, check hotel options here.

Croatia offers a stunning array of islands, each with its unique attractions. It becomes quite difficult to choose which islands to go to. The good news is that whichever one you choose would not disappoint you. We were happy with our choices – Hvar and Vis – as part of our two-week family holiday. For more options, check this post on some of the best islands in Croatia.

[This post was originally published in 2017, and later updated in 2023.]

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Hvar comes with a tag of “one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world.” And despite its reputation as a party town, we found it offers a lot more for families. Read more for things to do in Hvar. #hvar #croatia #hvarsightseeing #thingstodoinhvar

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Author: Shweta Singhal

Hi! I am Shweta, the zest behind this blog . I play several roles – parent to a 6-year old, adventure enthusiast, travel blogger, generally open to trying out new things in life. Besides travel, I love books and theatre and art. I would love to hear from you; do drop a comment. Join me on Instagram / Twitter @zestinatote.

15 thoughts

  1. Thanks! hearing a lot of hear recently about Hvar. Croatia was known as the land of Goran Ivanisevic and gradually i heard about Dubrovnic. The little green bay seems like a beautiful place to laze around. Your kids know swimming?

    1. Croatia has become much more people in India thanks to GoT. My daughter does know swimming, but I had to hold her and take her in the calm bay. It was her first time in the ocean, I think.

  2. Croatia has been in our buckelist list and Hvar tops it. Littlr Green Bay looks like the perfect place to spend some time and relax with family.

  3. No wonder Hvar is one of the 10 most beautiful islands! The place looks absolutely gorgeous. Loved reading about its history as well. It had been ruled by many! Will keep this place in mind definitely.

  4. I did some island hopping on my last trip to Croatia and it was amazing! Unfortunately, we only spent two days in Hvar and did not have the chance to explore out of Hvar town…your gorgeous photos have tempted me to think about another trip back there! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing about your trip! 🙂

  5. I had wanted to visit Hvar when we went to Dubrovnik for a wedding but we didn’t have time, especially as I was so slowed down by the high temperatures! I hope to visit again so I can enjoy the beauty of Hvar. Little Green Bay looks gorgeous!

    1. Kavita, the weather feels better on the islands as opposed to the towns. For me, no trip to Croatia is complete without visiting one of the 1000 islands scattered across the Adriatic Sea. Hope you get to do another trip.

  6. Hvar is definitely a beautiful place. I totally fell in love with the views and that little Green Bay. I had always thought when I go to croatia I am not going to miss the plitvice lake national park. But now I guess, I won’t want to miss Hvar as well

  7. Hi Shweta, thanks for this nice post! I like it very much and will share your story on our facebook page later on. I’m sure it will help our guests to explore the island and find the most beautiful places! Of course you are also more then welcome to explore the beautiful beaches at the other part of the island, ‘behind the tunnel’ in Zavala where our house is located, which is built by the locals over there!
    Kind regards! Saskia

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