Things to do in Hvar
Hvar, Croatia, has a reputation as one of the most beautiful islands in Europe, and it doesn’t disappoint! Located off the picturesque Dalmatian Coast, it’s the perfect place to escape for a few days of relaxation and partying.
Even if a night out dancing isn’t on the agenda, you’ll see the town come alive after dark when restaurant terraces open and the streets get lit up by lanterns. Spend 3 days enjoying all the top things to do in Hvar!
An Island-hopping boat tour is one of the top things to do in Hvar! On this memorable day out, you will visit stunning secluded beaches. Plus, you’ll have a chance to swim and snorkel in the crystal blue waters of the Budikovac Lagoon, Blue Cave, Pakleni Islands, Vis Island, and Stinava Beach.
As you skim across the sea, with the wind in your hair and 80s songs playing on the speakers, you’ll get to see some of the most picture-perfect scenery in Croatia. Simply relax on deck, snorkel in the calm waters, or chat with the friendly staff. Adrenaline seekers can even enjoy some thrilling cliff jumping! End a perfect day on your Croatia itinerary with a stunning sunset as you return to Hvar Town.
During your island hopping tour, you can visit the famous Blue Cave of Hvar, Croatia. With such jaw-dropping beauty, it’s become so popular that there’s now a whole system created for getting there:
- First, get off the speedboat on the other side of the island where the Blue Cave is located.
- Buy a ticket for an additional €18 EUR.
- You will be provided with a number, and you’ll need to wait in line until called.
- Once called, hop on a small boat with about 9 others to enter the cave.
- Only 4 to 5 boats are allowed in the cave at a time. During this time, they turn off the boat’s engine and advance into the cave in gondola style, so it’s wonderfully peaceful.
- The bright blue water is gorgeous! We recommend you visit between 10 AM and 12 PM for the best light reflection in the water. This is when it’s at its most vibrant blue.
Note: Although €18 EUR seems quite expensive to see a cave, it really is a stunning experience.
Information for your Island Hopping Tour
- There is all the gear on the speedboat required for a day at sea, from life vests to snorkeling equipment.
- Water and beer are provided.
- The tour lasts 7.5 hours (a full day). Because of this, you’ll need to pack reef-safe sunscreen, a hat, and a t-shirt to cover up when it gets hot.
- It can get quite busy in the more popular spots with other boats. However, the captain will do their best to avoid these areas.
2. Explore Hvar Town
Hvar Town is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Croatia. In fact, at times, wandering around town feels like you could be in a movie set, with its scenic streets, colorful shutters, and pretty cobblestone terraces.
Start in the center of the town, enjoying a lazy hour sipping coffee at one of the many charming cafes before strolling along the bougainvillea-laden streets in the direction of St Stephen’s Square (a beautiful 15th-century piazza). At lunchtime, grab a bite to eat at one of the tucked-away restaurants with picturesque seating that spills down the steps. Our favorites were Kantun and Teraca Bar.
Beaches Hvar Town
After lunch, head for one of the nearby beaches! Within walking distance of town (30 minutes), you’ll find Pokonji Dol Beach, Robinson Beach, and this great little swimming spot, which is only 10 minutes walking from the main piazza.
However, there are also plenty of places to swim off the rocks that are dotted along the coastline, so you won’t be short of locations to choose from.
After a refreshing swim, head back to your hotel to refresh before enjoying a stroll along the boulevard at sunset — one of the most romantic spots to finish the day!
Where to Stay in Hvar Town
Hvar Town, Croatia, is also the main spot for spending the night on the island. However, Stari Grad and Jelsa are great options, too, and are cheaper and more laid-back than Hvar Town.
3. Hvar Fort (Top Thing to do in Hvar)
For the most beautiful panoramic view of Hvar Town and its token terracotta roofs, visit the majestic Hvar Fortress. Built in 1278 and restored over the centuries, this historic building is also known as the Spanish Fortress. We recommend visiting at sunset when you’ll get incredible golden hour views of the sun going down over the glistening sea and the Pakleni Archipelago on the horizon. It’s a must-see spot on your trip to Hvar, Croatia!
The fort is open daily from 9 AM to 9 PM, and the price is 10 EUR per person (well worth it for one of the best views in Hvar, Croatia!).
Getting there: From Hvar Town, you can take a scenic walk through peaceful gardens and up the cobbled steps to the Fort. This takes about 10 to 15 minutes. There is also the option to go by taxi, car, or motorbike.
4. Pakleni Islands
Just a 10-15 minute taxi boat ride from Hvar island, Croatia, is the beautiful Pakleni Archipelago! These spectacular islands feel like a slice of the Caribbean in Europe, home to luscious green vegetation and white sandy beaches fringed by various colors of blue sea.
The most famous spot on the Pakleni Islands is the Budikovak Blue Lagoon, which is located on a smaller island (home to only 1 person!). This stunning sandy lagoon is only 2-3 meters deep and has turquoise waters that are perfect for swimming; the color constantly changes shade throughout the day.
Feeling hungry? There are a few great beach bars to choose from on the Pakleni Islands. We recommend Paganini Lounge Bar and Fish House on the island of St Clement. Alternatively, head for Carpe Diem Beach Hvar and Mamato cafe bar, which are both on Pakleni Island.
Note: If you do an island hopping tour on your visit to Hvar, a swim stop at the Pakleni Islands is also included.
Hiring a Boat
Alternatively, hire a speedboat and tour the Pakleni Islands yourself! Visiting the islands this way gives you the ultimate freedom to explore hidden corners and secluded bays. Best of all, you don’t need a license, and the team will explain the basics before you head off.
The price to rent a speedboat is around 70 EUR from Hvar Boats. If this isn’t an option for you, take a taxi boat for 10 EUR pp.
5. A Night Out in Hvar
One of the top things to do in Hvar is to enjoy the world-famous nightlife! People come from all over Croatia, and Europe, to enjoy the atmosphere of Hvar after dark when there is endless live music, DJs, and dancing.
Some of our favorite bars in Hvar, Croatia, are:
- Lola Bar
- Central Park Club
- Vintage Wine Bar
- Back Lane Craft Bar
- Carpe Diem Bar
- Laganini Lounge Bar
- Teraca Bar
There is something for everyone, whether you prefer dancing all night, watching live music, or sipping on a glass of wine in a coastal bar.
6. Visit Stari Grad
Explore Stari Grad’s palm tree-fringed streets, historical cobblestone steps and archways, and the marina’s calm waters on a day trip from Hvar town!
Stari Grad is the second biggest town on the island and the oldest town in Croatia. Situated on the north coast, it has the same beautiful architecture as Hvar Town. However, the vibe is very different and much quieter. You won’t find a party scene here, but you will find a myriad of fantastic restaurants and picture-perfect scenery around every corner.
Our favorite cafes and restaurants in Stari Grad are:
- Melting Spot
- Fredys food bar
- Konoba Batana
Where to Stay in Stari Grad
If Stari Grad’s tranquil atmosphere is more your thing than the luxury and nightlife of Hvar Town, consider staying here on your trip.
Stari Grad Plain
While in Stari Grad, it’s a must-do to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stari Grad Plain — one of the top things to do in Hvar. This stunning landscape is created from an ancient Greek system, using ancient stone walls to divide the plains. Unbelievably, it has remained intact since the 4th century BC!
We recommend hiring a bike from town to spend a few hours meandering your way through the plains (the perfect way to explore this perfectly preserved landscape).
Petar Hektorovic Fortress
One of the highlights of Stari Grad is visiting the Fortress Petar Hektorović. It has a romantic garden, where it feels as if time stands still, with an emerald blue pond full of fish. This hidden gem is in the middle of the town but tucked away behind an old building.
Tip: if the door is closed, ring the number signposted and call the attendant to open it for you.
7. Plaža Dubovica
Plaža Dubovica is a true hidden gem located on the southern shore of Hvar, Croatia. Although this pebble cove is just 10 km from Hvar Town, you feel as if you’re in your own world as you dip your toes in the tranquil waters of the horseshoe bay. Getting to the beach is a beautiful excursion in itself as you follow the winding goat trail down to the crystal clear waters below.
As this bay is very remote, there is only one small restaurant that only accepts cash (and a nearby house that sells drinks and snacks). Bring your own picnic or reserve a table at the restaurant before your trip. We also recommend arriving early as the beach can get quite busy from midday.
Tip: Take water shoes for the sea urchins, which you’ll usually find located near the rocks.
It is around 6 miles from Hvar Town to this beautiful cove, and depending on your budget, you can take a taxi, hire a motorbike, or take the bus. You will have to park at the top where there are signs to the beach. It’s a 10-min walk down, which is not too difficult but unsuitable for flip-flops!
8. Day Trip to Brac Island
This larger island off the coast of Hvar shows a more authentic, slower side to Croatian island life. The nature here is unrivaled, with some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Croatia, such as the spectacular Golden Horn Beach. Plus, it has landscapes and coastlines that are ideal for hiking and kite surfing. (Read more about the things to do in Brac, Croatia)
Getting to Brac
Simply take a ferry from the harbor at Hvar town to Bol on Brac Island and begin your island experience.
Once on the island, you won’t need to rent transportation as everything is within walking distance. However, if you want to stay for a few days, you might want a car to explore the island.
Where to Stay on Brac Island
Although many people visit Brac on a day trip from Hvar, the island also has excellent options for accommodation if you’d like to stay longer. For example, the main town of Bol or the many quaint fishing villages that pepper the coastline.
9. Epic Route Around Hvar Island
This scenic loop around the island takes in the top sights and gives you time to swim at the best beaches, have a delicious lunch, and see some incredible panoramic views — all in one day. Rent a motorbike, car, or quad-bike and explore the stunning coastline and beautiful towns — it’s one of the top things to do in Hvar!
Stop 1: Malo Grablje
First, make your way to Malo Grablje, a small ghost town that has been left abandoned on the island after the whole village was evacuated in the 60s. Among the deserted stone cottages, discover a fantastic and very authentic restaurant called Konoba Stori Komin, which is the perfect refreshment stop.
Stop 2: Milna
Drive to the beaches of Milna for your first swim of the day. Here, you’ll find several small protected coves made up of small pebblestones that guarantee crystal-clear water and excellent snorkeling. If you don’t eat in Malo Grablje, you’ll find many restaurants to choose from in the village, serving freshly caught seafood.
Stop 3: Plaža Dubovica
From here, Continue to Plaža Dubovica, our favorite hidden beach on the southern shores of Hvar, Croatia.
Stop 4: Stari Grad
Enjoy the tranquility of the rustic town of Stari Grad, wandering the ancient streets and discovering the tucked-away charm of the Petar Hektorovic Fortress.
Stop 5: Vrboska
Make your way to Vrboska via the Stari Grad Plains (a UNESCO World Heritage landscape that has been active since Ancient Greek times). Once in Vrbokska, discover some of the quaint churches and other important cultural buildings that line the streets of this sweet fishing village.
Stop 6: Jelsa
On the way to Jelsa, stop off at some beautiful coves with pristine blue water, such as Beach Vitarnja next to Tirkiz Beach Bar.
Once in Jelsa itself, make a quick stop to look at the two highest mountains on the island: St Nikola and Hum. There are also some stunning diving spots here, as well as great hiking, free climbing, and mountain biking if you want to stop a bit longer and make the most of the outdoor sports on offer.
Stop 7: Brusje
Now take the old highway (not the tunnel) to Brusje. The drive to this area is magnificent, with jaw-dropping views. You will ascend high up into the mountain, and until the month of August, you will find beautiful Lavender fields in this area surrounded by lots of old ‘dry stone walling’. Much of this is classed as a UNESCO intangible heritage site.
Final Stop: Hvar
Finish the loop back to Hvar and end the day with a visit to the Fort at sunset as you overlook the historic Hvar Town and coastline.
Additional Stop: Wineries
Hvar is known for its many sprawling vineyards, which means there are also many wineries to visit! Most of these are located in the center/southeast of the island, and you can add one or two to your Hvar Island loop. It’s a great way to learn about the wine-making process and explore more of the beautiful scenery on this fantastic island!
Driving in Hvar, Croatia
We rented our car from Antonio Rental, but there are plenty to choose from in Hvar Town. If you are visiting in the high season, we recommend booking ahead.
Look at the Hvar map if you want to explore beyond our recommended loop. Although please note that after Jelsa, there’s not much happening tourism-wise on the island. There’s only one developed road, and the rest is unpaved, making traveling a little uncomfortable!
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Hvar, Croatia
The island has a great food and wine scene, with many fantastic restaurants in the main towns of Hvar Town and Stari Grad. Also known as the ‘Island of Lavender’, you’ll find a lot floral produce, such as the signature Hvar lavender-flavored gelato! Some of our favorite spots to eat are:
- Mediterraneo Dine & Wine
- La Bocca
- Dalmatino Hvar
- Konoba Bunar
- aROMA Gelato
- Coffee Snob
A traditional delicacy to try is Dalmatian Peka: a baked dish with veggies and meat, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs. For something sweet, try Paprenjak: a classic Croatian cookie that contains honey and is spiced with cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Where to Stay in Hvar, Croatia
We’d recommend staying in Hvar Town, with its lively atmosphere and range of accommodation and restaurant options. All the boat tours start from Hvar Town, and the passenger ferries arrive here, too (not the car ferry, which comes on the other side of the island).
The downside to staying in Hvar Town is that it’s quite expensive in the high season and also busy in the evening when everyone gets dressed up to visit restaurants and bars.
Alternatively, base yourself in the quieter Stari Grad, the second biggest town on the island.
How to Visit Hvar, Croatia
If you are flying to Croatia, Split is the closest city to Hvar, with an international airport.
Hvar is quite a big island, so if you’re going on a road trip through Croatia, you can bring your car by taking the ferry from Split. We suggest booking your spot on the ferry in advance if traveling in high season.
One of the easiest ways to see the island is by renting a car or a motorbike. This gives you flexibility and freedom to see off-the-beaten-track places and to follow the epic Hvar Island loop.
If you’re unable to rent a car, buses connect all the main towns on the island. These are cheap and can be a great way to move around. However, the schedule can be unreliable.
How Much Does Hvar Cost?
Hvar is known as a luxury holiday destination, so it can be expensive, particularly during the busy summer season of June to August. Hvar Town is the most expensive destination on the island, with Stari Grad and Jelsa being the slightly cheaper options.
For budget travelers, we recommend you visit outside of summer and stay outside of Hvar Town. There are a few supermarkets in Hvar to buy food for picnics, so you can cut down your restaurant costs.
Best Time to Visit Hvar, Croatia
Hvar is the sunniest place in Croatia, so you’ll find golden rays on most days of the year. As such, we recommend visiting Hvar, Croatia, in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall when the weather is still great for swimming, but it’s cooler, and there are fewer crowds.
Alternatively, if you’re ok with the heat and higher prices, visit in the summer, when there are loads of great festivals and events. For example, the Lavender Festival is in late June/early July, the Hvar Summer Festival in July, and in Jelsa, you’ll find the Wine Festival in August.