The tag of one of the 10 most beautiful islands sits well on Hvar.
And despite its reputation as a party town, we found this island in Croatia offers a lot more – we experienced a luxury stay at the beautiful Little Green Bay with its private beach, good restaurants in Hvar town, panoramic views overlooking the Adriatic Sea, cycling and diving adventures, and a picturesque island to explore by car.
The island enjoys a large number of hours of sunshine (more than 2500 hours per year), which gives it its nickname of Sunny Hvar. Its relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle, cultural heritage, delicious local cuisine and fine wines all make it a winner for a vacation of a lifetime.
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.
Boutique stay in the heart of the island
We took the Jadrolinjia ferry from Split to 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 🙂
Do read: Two-week itinerary for Croatia
Exploring Hvar island
Hvar is known for 4 main towns – Hvar town, Stari Grad, Jelsa and Vrboska.
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 colourful 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 came upon the Stari Grad Plain, a UNESCO World Heritage site. 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. While Hvar is most popular for beaches and coastal towns, in recent years, there is a lot of interest in agritourism.
Eventually, we showed up in in the town of Jelsa. We went to Eis Caffe, recommended highly by the cyclist guide Massimo, which whom my husband had enjoyed an off-road cycling experience that morning. Run by an Albanian, it has become one of the must-do experiences in Jelsa town.
After strolling through the main square and indulging in people-watching while relaxing at Eis Caffe, we took the picturesque drive to Vrboska, the neighbouring town with a heavy Venetian influence. It is called ‘Little Venice’, a tag that Massimo, an Italian who hails from Venice was quite dismissive about!
Are you headed to Plitvice Lakes National Park? If yes, do read about travel tips to beat the crowds there.
A visit to the Fortica
We gave Stari Grad town a miss and rounded up the day with 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).
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. Its elaborate ground plan, picturesque location and excellent state of preservation make it one of the finest fortifications on the Croatian coast. 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.
Adventures in Hvar, Croatia
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. Hvar also offers some diving centres, and it was here that I booked my first dive experience in the Adriatic Sea with Diving Center Viking.
These were both solo experiences, my daughter was happy 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.
Food in Hvar
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.
We enjoyed our meals at the resort, Little Green Bay.
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.
Do read – Vis: an interesting history to boot
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What is your favourite island experience in Croatia?
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