There’s so much more to Hvar Island than partying. So don’t skip the island just yet if a party isn’t your scene.
Rarely do I visit a destination and leave stunned by how different it was from everything I read and heard about in passing. Hvar, Croatia is one of these few destinations. Hvar is known for its party scene. Some may call it the Mykonos of Croatia. All articles online point to partying and nightlife, but when I visited Croatia in September and spent two days and a night in Hvar, I saw that there was much more beyond just this party culture people alluded to over and over again. Had I known I would’ve extended my stay to beyond 2 days…so I’m here to share my knowledge with you all about my 2 day itinerary and various things to do in Hvar Croatia, beyond partying–and trust me, there’s a lot!
1. How to Get There: Korcula to Hvar
How to get to Hvar depends on where you are coming from. But in essence, almost all ferries lead to Hvar since it’s such a major hub, so you can get to the island no matter what island you’re coming from. Pat and I had just spent two amazing nights in Korcula at Tara’s Lodge. We took the Jadrolinija ferry from Korcula to Hvar (you can book with Bookaway easily). The ferry left at 9:15 AM and took about an hour to get there. Ferries are the most affordable and convenient way to move around the Dalmatian Islands. Because it was the last day of peak season when we took the ferry, the ticket cost us $17 each.
Understanding the timetable on the Jadrolinija site proved challenging, so I found that this Croatia Ferries website helped me a ton when it came to figuring out the frequency of the ferries during off-peak and shoulder season. I later came across Bookaway as well to help in the purchasing of the ferries off-season. During peak season (5/29 – 9/28), the ferry runs everyday 4 times a day. During shoulder and off peak season, it runs once or twice a day. Luckily, the Korcula to Hvar line is one of the few that still has ferries running on a daily basis even during off peak season, so planning your trip to Hvar shouldn’t be that difficult. It’s planning your trip to other islands that can become a bit more tedious. The ride was super smooth and easy with no bumps in the sea.
Should you purchase tickets in advance?
If you’re there during off peak or shoulder season like I was you can buy the tickets one month in advance or day of, no problem. If you’re going during peak season (summer months), you’ll definitely need to buy tickets in advance. Don’t panic if you try and book the ferry tickets 2 months in advance and see that there is no operating ferries. They only put tickets on sale a month before departure.
2. Where to Stay in Hvar
There are many hotels to stay at in Hvar and all offer a very luxurious experience. But Pat and I were in Hvar on the cusp of peak season for a reason, we wanted to experience the more authentic Hvar. I happened to stumble upon a beautiful Airbnb that cost me just a $100 per night smack in the center of Hvar Town. The Airbnb had its own private patio overlooking Hvar Town and its port with a beautiful wooden picnic table and bench where we enjoyed breakfast and happy hour under a pergola rich in olive branches and paper lanterns. This by far had to be the best place to stay in Hvar, both for the views and for how secluded it was from people and hotels. And the sunsets? Gosh…don’t even get me started on that gorgeous sunset!
3. Things to Do in Hvar Town
Hvar Town Travel Guide: 10 Things to Do, Restaurants, and More
After getting settled into our abode, Pat and I spent the next few hours exploring Hvar town. We made the uphill trek to Trdava Fortress or the Spanish Fortress, stopped for drinks at the top to take in the view, wandered the quaint streets of Hvar, stopped for lunch at Fig Cafe (a staple during prime fig season), walked up and down as many stairs as possible in search of lively bars and restaurants tucked away in small streets bursting with colorful flowers, and of course spent some time in St. Stephen Square. This is a list of things to do, restaurants, bars, and more in Hvar Town, according to Svadore.
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4. Hike Robinson Trail
Best Walks in Hvar: Hike Robinson Trail
After spending a few hours exploring Hvar, I wanted to get to know the more remote Robinson Crusoe-style parts of the island. Like Robinson, I left my comfortable Hvar home and went to sea. Unlike him, I didn’t encounter cannibals, captives and mutineers on the way, but I did spend a delightful afternoon exploring the lesser visited parts near Hvar! Pat and I hiked Robinson trail on the Dalmatian Coast of Hvar, Croatia. The hike had us trek to remote swimming spots, hidden coves, and restaurants including Pokonji Dol, Strand Mekićevica, and Robinson beach, all within just an hour long walk from Hvar Town.
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6. Dinner in Hvar
That night we enjoyed dinner in Hvar at Konoba Menego, one of the best go-to taverns in Hvar Town for authentic Dalmatian specialties. The restaurant was in an old traditional Dalmatian house giving it a very cozy vibe. Sea shells strung from the ceiling with light bulbs inside and old family portraits told the story of this old Dalmatian Konoba. The waiters served you in folk costume from Kvar and Dalmatian klapa songs played in the background. The family does its best to preserve the family’s authentic house and Hvar’s products–and it shows. It was exactly what we wanted, an authentic and local family run restaurant. There are plenty of dinner options in Hvar and out of Hvar town that are unique if you have the chance to get to them…for a list of extensive places to eat on Hvar, see my list here.
5. Visit Coves on Hvar
Best Beaches on Hvar Island: Zarace and Dubovica
The next morning, we woke up bright and early and decided it was time to rent an ATV and go explore other parts of Hvar Island. Our first stop was Zaraće beach. You can choose to visit Velo Zaracé, which in the summer has a beach bar, private cabana on the rocks facing the water, and pebbly beach, or visit Malo Zaracé, an incredibly massive rock that has staircases that lead down to the crystal blue waters with a tiny pebble beach on the side Our next destination: Dubovica beach or cove, considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the island of Hvar.
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6. Things to Do in Stari Grad
Why You Can’t Miss Stari Grad When On Hvar
Whether you’re sleeping in Stari Grad or visiting for an afternoon, you can’t skip this historic village and UNESCO World Heritage Site on Hvar. Stari Grad is one of the oldest towns in Europe and the oldest town in Croatia (according to historians). And if history isn’t your thing, then go for the unbelievable pasta that still sticks in our minds and on our taste buds.
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7. What and Where to Eat in Hvar
For lunch, stop by Fig Cafe if your in Hvar town. Pat and I ordered 2 fig and farm cheese flatbreads with poached figs, roasted local walnuts, fresh farm cheese, fig jam, and mache. The flatbreads were big enough to feed two people and super affordable at just $10 each. Hvar’s fig season was in full swing late in September, which is why I chose to take him to Fig Cafe, so we can indulge in one of the local economies most coveted food staples. All this to say, even if you don’t have figs here, don’t skip out on them when in Hvar.
Another lunch option if you’re on the opposite side of Hvar in Stari Grad is Antika. I had one of the most unforgettable homemade pasta dishes of my life here. I swear, it’s something that I still remember to this day.
For dinner, eat at Konoba Menego, one of the best go-to taverns in Hvar Town for authentic Dalmatian specialties. The restaurant was in an old traditional Dalmatian house giving it a very cozy vibe. Sea shells strung from the ceiling with light bulbs inside and old family portraits told the story of this old Dalmatian Konoba. The waiters served you in folk costume from Kvar and Dalmatian klapa songs played in the background. The family does its best to preserve the family’s authentic house and Hvar’s products–and it shows. It was exactly what we wanted, an authentic and local family run restaurant.
Because Croatia has such a fruitful landscape, don’t forget to also try local olive oil, pomegranates, and wine.
For more food options, read on here.
8. How to Get Around Hvar: ATV
Hvar is enormous. We stayed in Hvar only for 2 days so didn’t have the chance to wander to the other side of the island to Jelsa and beyond. To explore the local area of Hvar, Stari Grad, and Zarace we rented an ATV. The streets were perfect for it and better than the hassle of renting a car. You can rent ATVs in Hvar square or choose to rent a scooter or bicycle. I don’t recommend renting a car unless you plan to drive to the other side of Hvar. It’s not worth it and just becomes a hassle otherwise.
9. What to Know Before You Go
Is Hvar a party island? Absolutely. However, that’s also not completely true. Like most party islands, if you visit June – August, you will find a big party crowd. But if you go in the shoulder season May and September/October, you’ll find it to be a quiet and peaceful island full of local charm. I was a bit warded off by the party culture and when researching online didn’t find much to do aside from that, which is why I only booked 2 days. But when there I regretted it, if you go in shoulder season, take your time to really get to know the entire island. There is so much to do from olive oil and wine tastings to hikes and coves to find.
10. When is the Best Time to Visit Hvar?
During the summer months, hordes of people ferry over to Hvar to fulfill their summer fantasies of pristine beaches and nightlife, surrounded by a crowd of stunning and A-list tanning vacationers. While rubbing elbows with people to the point where your cramming a 6,000 person village with 30,000 people in the summer months may appeal to some, I crave for the more authentic experience behind Hvar. The only way to have a more intimate travel experience, including more typical contact with locals and culture, in a place as renowned as Hvar is to go during shoulder season, end of September to October. Not only was I rewarded with more tempting prices and open spaces within Hvar, but more authentic experiences as well.
>> Next: Hvar Town Travel Guide: 10 Things to Do, Restaurants and More
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