The first time I set foot on Hvar, I had no idea I would fall so deeply in love with this small island off the Adriatic coast. We had planned to go island-hopping that year, 2011, and after 4 days in Split it was time for a short stay in Hvar. We arrived with the catamaran, which takes around one hour from Split, and already when we stepped off the boat it all looked very promising. We had planned to stay there for 3 days, but ended up staying a week. Since then, we’ve been back in Hvar 2012, 2013 and 2014. Next year, we are (hopefully) going back to visit Hvar, our favorite island.
When we’re in Hvar, we’re always renting the same apartment, one with amazing views of the city and the small Pakleni islands, 5 minutes by foot to the main quare, 10 minutes by foot to our favourite beach bar Hula hula. I selfishly won’t tell you the name of it, because it’s always booked so early, but I suggest renting an apartment in Hvar city (with air condition!) through booking.com or hostelworld.com.
So what’s so magic about Hvar? What makes us go back year after year?
- The beauty. Hvar is really, really beautiful. It was spared during the Balkan wars, so all the old buildings are still intact. The main city, also calles Hvar, has a small city centre with narrow cobblestone streets, small shops selling clothes, locally made shoes, jewellry – and even a specialized vegan/vegetarian shop! It is full of amazing restaurants, cocktail bars and ice cream parlors. If you travel outside of the main town, you will be met by lavendel fields, olive tree fields and vinyards. Not to mention the beaches! The whole island is truly beautiful.
- The possibility to explore. Hvar island is worth exploring, but there are also many nearby small islands and caves to explore. There’s the Pakleni islands, the Green cave, the Blue Cave and Vis, amongst others. Book a guided boat tour through one of the tourist agencies or directly from the tour guides when they’re available during the evenings on the promenade.
- The people. There’s something special about the small Hvar population. They are very friendly, laid back and social. They will help you as much as they can, and if they can’t, they will help you find somebody who can. The population alone are worth the visit.
- The food. Take it from a foodie: the food here is just EXCELLENT! Hvar is famous for its fish and seafood, but since I don’t eat that, I’ve had to find other good restaurants to visit. My first year there, I was a bit afraid that I wouldn’t find anything vegetarian, but boy was I wrong! Most of the restauarants have someting vegetarian, but it can be a bit hard to find something vegan, as many of the vegetarian dishes are based on cheese (greek salad with feta cheese, parmesan over the spaghetti pomodoro etc.), but thankfully most restaurants will custom make something for you, if you ask nicely. On my last trip, in 2014, a small vegan shop had opened, with all sorts of vegan goodies, so the healthy vegan lifestyle is spreading to even the tiniest islands on the Adriatic cost.
- The wine. Croatian wine might be the most underrated wine in the world, and frankly I am surprised, dissappointed, and happy all at once that not all wine bars all over the world offer a range of Croatian wine. Surprised and dissappointed, because how can they not have tasted a Dingac Riserva or a Plavac Mali wine? Happy because then I get to have it all for “myself”. It’s a special treat whenever we land in Croatia, tired and sweaty, and head down to the local wine bar to get a glass of Dingac. In Hvar town, you will find my favorite wine bar in the whole world, Tri Prsuta, which has the best wine list, the most amazing atmosphere and two extremely kind and knowledgable owners who will pour up a glass of any wine you like, in front of you, while you enjoy the music on the small benches outside on the tiny little street where it’s located. I am only sharing this with you because I think the owners behind this little gem deserve all the success they can get – I’d much rather have this little place stay “my” secret, but here you go 😉
- The Pakleni islands – the Pakleni islands are a cluster of islets which you can reach by boat. If you don’t have your own yacht to cruise in, you can always take one of the taxis running from the harbour right in the centre of Hvar town. From here, you hop on an excursion boat, pay around 40kn (around EUR 6) for a round trip, and head on to one of the beautiful beaches. Beware though, many of the beaches are for nudists, so unless you’re all for that, make sure to find the non-nudist beaches. When you’re ready to go home, you hop on one of the boats again – simple as that. My favourite beach is on Palmizana, on the Sveti Klement island. Here you’ll find a few nice restaurants, a small secluded beach and the beach club Laganini where you can relax in comfy beach beds, or have a mojito in one of their cool treehouses (tree terraces might be the right word for it). Get to the islands early though, as all the best spots are taken first.
- The parties. Hvar is my favorite party place because it’s down to earth and over the top at the same time. Whether you party it up at your fancy yacht, the famous Carpe Diem bar or one of the small bars where you sit on the outside stairs with a cheap glass of vodka lemon you’re guaranteed to have a good time. You simply can’t be bored, over- or underwhelmed by the party scene and that’s what I love about it. You see, sometimes I’d rather not be around people, sometimes I want to talk to EVERYONE I meet, sometimes I just want a really good mojito and a chat with Jacob and then there are times when I feel like drinking too much, dancing with strangers and have a sing-off on the way home at five in the morning. No matter which of these moods I’m in, I always manage to get what I’m after in Hvar. You can party all day at Hula Hula Bar, get a fantastic mojito pitcher on the rooftop bar of the Adriana hotel (PS. I don’t share mojito pitchers but you could 😉 ), grab a table by a stranger by the harbour bars (or go inside for dancing), get your hard-partying on at Carpe Diem or Veneranda or have some good cocktails by the yacht parking to the left side of the town square.
- The beaches. Although most of the beaches are pebble beaches, which I’m not a particularly big fan of, the clean waters sure do make up for that. I love coming down in the morning, where you are able to see absolutely everything on the bottoms of the ocean. Be careful though, there are many sea urchins around Hvar (which is actually a good sign, as they only stay in clean water) so buy those rubber ocean shoes if you want to be safe.
Have I managed to convince you yet? If so, maybe I’ll see you there next year!