There are over 1000 islands along the Dalmatian coastline of Croatia and Hvar is known as the Queen of them all. Originally settled by Greeks, it was taken over by Romans in the 3rd century BC, and over the years has been under Austrian, French and Venetian rule. As you wander around this majestic town, you will notice fragments of the past still present in the architecture and food.
The island is also known as the sunniest in Croatia, with over 2,700 hours of sunshine per year. If that isn’t enough to convince you to visit Hvar, here are the best things to see and do on the islands most famous town that bears the same name.
1) Climb the Fortress
When you arrive by the sea, the first thing you will notice is a Fortress overlooking the town from high above, as if it were a sentry guarding the people below.
Perched on a hill with breathtaking views, construction dates back to the 13th century, although it took a few hundred years to finish. Its main purpose was to provide protection from incoming dangers. It did just that in 1571 when the townspeople used it to seek refuge during an attack by the Ottoman Turks.
In 1579, the fortress got struck by lightning, causing it to blow up as the bolt hit a gun powder storage unit.
Today, the main purpose of the Fortica is as an attraction for visitors, welcoming people to the town rather than repelling them as it once did in the past.
The hike to the top takes around 20 minutes. Fill your water bottle for free with the fresh cold water from the tap at the starting point of the hike just off the main square. At first glimpse, you may feel uninspired to hike up after seeing the huge flight of stairs in front of you, but once you conquer those the path is a gradual incline, with the views improving the higher you go and lots of trees providing shade.
You don’t need to go inside the fortress for amazing photo opportunities, but its worth paying the 30 kuna ($4 USD) to do so. Once inside, you can extensively explore the medieval walls and even go down a creepy staircase to see the old prison cells.
2) Swim in the Crystal Clear Waters
Hvar has some of the bluest waters I have ever seen, so this is the perfect place to be a mermaid for the day. From the main square of St Stephens, simply pick which direction you want to follow the water and walk 20 minutes to the left, or 20 minutes to the right. The further you go, the lesser the crowds and you will find a private ledge or some big rocks to soak up the sunshine.
*Watch out for sea urchins, little black spiky balls that you don’t want to step on as they can be painful and stick into your skin.
3) Shop All Things Lavender
Croatia is one of the biggest lavender producers in Europe with Hvar island also known as ‘the island of lavender’. There is a wide variety of items with lavender being sold such as bottles of scented oils, scented laundry sachets, soap bars and more all containing ‘Lavandula Croatica’.
Keep an eye out for ‘Lavanda’ flavoured ice-cream! It’s worth asking for a scoop to try first, as it literally tastes like someone has sprayed some perfume in your mouth. Some love it, some hate it, but definitely give it a try!
4) Watch the Sunset
If you’re sailing Croatia, you will get an incredible view of the sunset from your boat in the port. Otherwise, Hula Hula Bar is the place to be as the sun goes down. Here you will have the perfect view of the sun sinking over the Adriatic sea, whilst drinking cocktails and listening to the Dj play some tunes.
5) Eat Fresh Seafood
The economy of Hvar is primarily based on tourism and you guessed it, fishing, so it’s no surprise that you will eat some of the freshest seafood here. You can’t go wrong with mussels, grilled squid or the catch of the day at any of the Konobas.
6) Party the Night Away
This is the island people come to party. The clubs kick off around 1 or 2 am leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the bars.
Kiva Bar is a hole in the wall bar up an alleyway that becomes jam-packed with what appears to be half the islands population after 9pm. Although extremely crowded, give it a chance as you are guaranteed an unforgettable time as this is the kind of place where anything goes. Dancing on the bars and ledges, crowd surfing and swinging around fire sparklers on the d-floor is sure to provide you with a night you will remember forever. However, your memory may become tarnished if you try too many of Kivas famous drink, a Tequila Boom Boom. What started as a joke between the staff is now the most popular order. Be sure to try one and don’t be too surprised when a bartender puts a military helmet on your head and ‘boom booms’ you to pieces with a hammer, before you must down your drink.
This world famous nightclub is only accessible by boat. The entrance price of 200 kuna ($30 USD) includes a water taxi ride to and from the party island. Although the drinks are ridiculously overpriced, the setting itself is worth a visit and if your night escalates you might even end up going for a swim in its pool or surrounding blue waters. The music tends to be a hit or miss with top 40 tunes to deep deep house and constant doof doof, but in the summer the crowds are endless so the party is what you make of it!
Another nightclub option just off the main square which opens at 2am. Come here for bit more of a local scene and less tourists.
7) Eat a Burek
On the way home after a big night, make sure you stop by one of the Pekaras (bakeries) that are open until the early hours of the morning and order a fresh burek- a puff pastry filled with cheese, meat or spinach. If you’re anything like me, you may wake up to find evidence of your late night feast in your bed the next day.
Have you been to Hvar town? What was your favourite part? Let me know in the comments below