One of the world’s best beach destinations, Croatia has thousands of islands, small and large. It’s one of the greatest cruise and boating destinations in the entire Mediterranean. One of Croatia’s islands that’s absolutely worth visiting is Hvar. In this post, we’ll discuss what to do in Hvar, an island that’s as historic as it is glamorous.
What to Do in Hvar, an historic Croatian city on the Dalmatian Coast
Hvar Town is the namesake of Hvar Island, the largest town on the island and the place you should focus on when deciding what to do in Hvar. Most main attractions lie in this charming yet bustling old town. With its vibrant harbor filled with sailboats and yachts, a vibrant nightlife, a few fine beaches and some interesting historic sites, Hvar Town packs a lot in a fairly small size.
Visiting Hvar Fortress
The question “what to do in Hvar?” is easily answered. One of your priorities should be visiting Hvar Fortress.
This enormous castle tops a hill just behind Hvar’s old town center. The hike to get there takes between twenty and thirty minutes. Hvar Fortress is one of the very few tourist attractions in Hvar that don’t close in the afternoon, so you can visit it whenever you please. The best times, however, are in the morning, early afternoon or sunset.
In the castle, there’s a prison you can visit, a bar and café to replenish any fluids lost on the hike up, and a small museum exhibiting items found in shipwrecks in the area.
Exploring St. Stephen’s Square
St. Stephen’s Square is the centerpiece of Hvar Town, home to several beautiful historic buildings. The main structure in this large square—the largest in Dalmatia—is St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Make sure to visit this imposing edifice in the morning. It’s one of the many attractions in Hvar that close in the afternoon. Keep this in mind.
Also on St. Stephen’s Square, you can stock up on information at the tourist information center, housed in the former Arsenal. Other note-worthy buildings at and around the square are the Loggia and the Benedictine Convent. The latter also closes in the afternoon, so make sure to pay a visit before lunchtime.
Partying the Night Away
Famous for its vibrant bar scene, Hvar Town is the place to be at night if you like partying and socializing. It’s good to realize just how loud it can be in the height of summer, though. If you’re fond of more peace and quiet, don’t visit Hvar in July or August, but opt to go there in the shoulder season, and make sure to book a hotel in Hvar located away from the main bar areas.
If, however, you’re after a memorable party, Hvar is where you should go. Boasting one of the—if not the—best party scenes in Dalmatia, the town is dotted with bars and nightclubs. You’ll find most of them in the middle of the town and along the harbor.
Hiking on the Pakleni Islands
Within viewing distance from Hvar Town, the Pakleni Islands beckon outdoor enthusiasts. A quick boat ride away, these islands offer you the chance to escape the glitz, glamour and sometimes rowdiness that overtakes Hvar in summer.
There are also a number of excellent Croatian beaches—some are nudist—on the islands while fun hiking trails run along the coast and provide great afternoon workouts.
Cross-Island Road Tripping
The Scenic Old Road leaves Hvar Town toward the north and cuts across the heart of the island. Highlights on the way are expansive farmlands, occasionally dotted by “trims”, little stone huts that are often hundreds of years old; the semi-ghost town of Velo Grabje where you can do a fantastic hike; and the town of Stari Grad, literally “old town”.
Stari Grad is another major attraction on Hvar Island, the oldest settlement on the island, dating back more than two millennia.
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