What comes to mind when you think of Hvar Island in Croatia? Most people think of fancy hotels or well-known beaches, but there's more to it. This 70km island has small villages, green fields, and hills covered in pine trees. Hvar Town is the go-to place for lively beaches and good food, but the island also has quieter spots.
So, what are the best things to do on Hvar Island? Let’s take a look.
1. Tvrdava Fortica
One of the best things to do on Hvar Island is visit Tvrdava Fortica, also known as the Spanish Fortress. This 16th-century marvel is a must-see, and the journey there is equally rewarding. Starting from the harbor, you'll walk up narrow streets with charming architecture.
If you're into flora, a stroll through the fort's herb garden is a must, where you'll find an array of interesting flowers and plants. There's even a pathway leading to locked doors in the walls, adorned with signs to guide you. Walking up to the fortress offers fantastic photo opportunities if you're traveling on a budget. A combo ticket for the fortress and a city theater is recommended for maximum value. Overall, Tvrdava Fortica is a blend of history, natural beauty, and cultural insight that shouldn't be missed.
2. Eat Gregada
When you're on Hvar Island, tasting Gregada is an absolute must. This traditional fish stew has deep roots, is thought to be over 2,000 years old, and was originally brought to the area by Greek settlers.
The dish is an aromatic blend of thinly sliced potatoes and onions layered with white saltwater fish. Drizzled with olive oil and cooked in water and white wine, it's a taste of the sea and Dalmatian history. Modern versions may include parsley, celery, garlic, capers, and salted anchovies, further elevating the flavors. If you're wondering where the best place to eat Gregadad is, people often recommend Giaxa, making it one of the best restaurants in Hvar for an authentic Gregada experience.
3. Visit the caves of Grapceva Spilja
Another incredible stop on your Hvar Island itinerary should be Grapčeva špilja, a breathtaking cave that exceeds all expectations. Unlike any typical cave experience, Grapčeva špilja offers expansive, room-like interiors filled with stunning stalagmites and stalactites of various colors.
Most people opt to hire a car to get there, which is what we recommend you do. Once you arrive, you'll likely get a warm introduction from the owner, offering insights into the cave's history before you explore at your own pace. It's a surprisingly tranquil experience; you can take undisturbed photos, absorbing the beauty around you.
Whether you're traveling with family, friends, or solo, Grapčeva špilja is an affordable adventure, costing only 8 euros for entry (cash only) so thats why its on our list of things to do on Hvar Island.
4. St. Stephen's Cathedral
Located in the heart of a bustling village square surrounded by people, restaurants, and shops, the cathedral is a sanctuary of calm and beauty.
The acoustics of the organ are amazing, creating a soul-soothing environment. Another remarkable feature is that the Scripture readings and sermon verses are available in seven languages, making it easier for international visitors to follow along even if they don't understand Croatian.
However, remember that seating is limited, especially during the summer, so you may need to stand during the mass. For hot and humid days, ladies might appreciate bringing a fan, a local custom.
Architecture enthusiasts will also find St. Stephen's Cathedral intriguing, as it is a masterpiece of Renaissance and Baroque styles. Detailed guides about the altars and artwork are available, allowing you to appreciate every corner of this superb church.
5. Pakleni Islands
When it comes to day trips from Hvar, the Pakleni Islands are a must-visit. Consider renting a boat from a local company like Rent a Boat Mate for a do-it-yourself adventure. Even if you're not experienced, they offer a quick lesson to get you comfortable with the basics of boating. You'll also get personalized tips on which secluded bays to visit for the ultimate relaxation experience.
If you're looking for something more structured, hiring a private guide offers an equally fantastic experience. You'll get to explore the stunning islands in a more educational setting. Just remember, it can get chilly, so bring a light throw. Whether you opt for a boat trip from Hvar to Pakleni Islands or take a taxi boat to Pakleni Islands, this trip is well worth it.
While the islands may seem basic in their rustic charm, they also have some pricier dining options. Families should note that the boat fare for the trip can add up, but it's a must-do, especially considering the beaches on Hvar are pretty stony. On the islands, you can rent chairs and umbrellas at beach clubs, enjoy a meal, and enjoy the scenic beauty. All in all, a Pakleni Islands day trip should be high on your Hvar itinerary.
6. Hvar Public Theatre
The Hvar Public Theatre is not just a venue for performances; it's a living piece of the island's history. Founded in 1612, the theater occupies the first floor of the iconic Arsenal building in the heart of Hvar's historic center. A visit to this cultural institution offers more than just a glimpse into Croatian heritage; it serves as a deep dive into the arts and the fascinating past of this Mediterranean city.
A combined ticket is the way to go if you're considering a visit. These tickets usually include entry to the Arsenal, clock tower, and fortress, making it a cost-effective choice. Inside the theater, you'll find a charming interior with box seats that circle the stage, giving it an old-world ambiance. There's also a VR experience and an art gallery to enhance your visit.
But don't just settle for the day experience. Surprisingly, the theater offers evening performances, which might not be heavily advertised. Check the theatre's website or Facebook page or even directly inquire about upcoming shows during your visit.
7. Mekicevica Beach
Mekicevica Beach is one of the best beaches in Hvar for those who prefer their beaches to be quiet, peaceful, and less crowded. Situated about an hour's walk from Hvar Old Town, the journey there is almost as rewarding as the beach. While parts of the walk can be rocky and uneven, you'll also stroll through picturesque pine forests and past other inviting beaches like Pokonji Dol.
Don't expect sandy shores; this is a pebble beach like many on Hvar, so bringing water shoes and a camping mat or cushion will make your visit more comfortable. The cove's unique angle also makes it a sheltered spot, shielding beachgoers from strong winds.
For amenities, a small restaurant serving delectable local food is available on-site. If you continue your walk to nearby Robinson's Beach, you'll also find a bar where you can grab a drink and use the toilet facilities.
8. Rent a bike or scooter from Rent a Hvar
Rent a Hvar is your go-to rental service in Hvar if you're looking to add some adventure to your vacation. They've got something for everyone, including bikes, e-bikes, quads, buggies, scooters, and cars but we highly recommend opting for their electric bikes or buggies as this gives you a unique way to explore the island.
Now, let's talk about the electric bikes. If you're active, this is the perfect way to navigate Hvar's scenic but challenging terrain. Some people like taking their e-bikes to Trvdava Fortica and to Milna. While there might be better options for some, especially if you're not used to regular physical activity, the experience was thrilling for those who are up for the challenge.
Operated by Mi and Ti, this rental company offers excellent customer service. Their bikes are well-maintained and in good condition. Conveniently located near Old Town Hvar, Rent a Hvar offers fair and competitive pricing and flexible rates if you're visiting during the off-peak tourist season. This is on our list if you want to know what to do in Hvar for a day.
9. Luviji Winery
Luviji Winery offers an experience that blends family tradition, passion, and premium-quality wines. At just a walking distance from the town, this boutique vineyard serves as a beacon of local culture and a purveyor of exquisite wines.
Your host will likely be Vjeko, the vineyard's founder's grandson and a Zagreb agriculture student. This means you're not just getting a wine tasting; you're getting a wine education. The €25 package offers four wines along with tasty snacks. With choices ranging from whites and reds to a delightful rosé, the wines are not just local favorites but also family pride.
For those looking to elevate their experience, they even offer a six-wine package featuring the mouthwatering dessert wine Prosek. Their delicious wines represent the quality and family passion that goes into each bottle.
Luviji also runs a restaurant in the town, extending its hospitality and excellent wine selection to an elegant rooftop dining experience. Make sure to check it out; it comes highly recommended.
10. Stari Grad Museum
Stari Grad Museum is one of those hidden treasures that genuinely captures the essence and history of Hvar.
One of the highlights is the collection of ancient amphorae from a 4th-century shipwreck as these well-preserved artifacts offer a glimpse into the region's maritime history and trade routes, giving visitors a tangible connection to the past. The museum might be small, but what it needs to include in size makes up for its exhibits' quality and uniqueness.
You might even get a tour from the museum's passionate curator, Veronika. Her deep knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject matter bring the exhibits to life, adding depth to your visit. So if you are what to do in Hvar, visit the museum!
11. See Hvar by TukTuk
See Hvar by TukTuk is a must-do experience for anyone visiting the island. It's an exceptional way to venture beyond Hvar Town and explore the island's hidden secrets while learning about its rich history. What sets this Hvar tour apart is the exceptional guide, Petar. He's not just a safe and capable driver; he's a treasure trove of knowledge about the island and Croatia.
Whether you're stopping to purchase local lavender goods or exploring old ghost towns, Petar accommodates your interests, making the trip more personalized and special. He goes above and beyond to share intriguing facts about Hvar and Croatia's journey to independence from Yugoslavia.
This isn't just a Hvar sightseeing tour; it's an enriching experience that dives deep into the culture and history of the island. With a guide like Petar, passionate about sharing his local insights, it truly becomes an unforgettable adventure.
12. Walk Around The Habor
If you were wondering why hvar is so popular, take a walk around the harbor as it's a great way to spend a few hours. The area is bustling but, in a good way, full of life and energy. There's plenty to see and do with a wide square and multiple surrounding streets.
Whether you're in the mood for shopping, eating, or just people-watching, the harbor has something for everyone, as there are plenty of artisan shops where you can pick up unique souvenirs and a wide array of restaurants where you can grab a meal or a snack. While strolling along the port area, an ice cream in hand adds that extra bit of joy to the experience.
Even if you only have a few hours, the harbor offers shaded areas to take a break from the heat, sit down, and soak in the surroundings. It's a fantastic place for both relaxation and entertainment, a must-see if you're in Hvar.
13. Vunetovo Craft Beer
If you're a craft beer fan and in Hvar, you don't want to miss Vunetovo Craft Beer. This little spot is cozy with a great view, where you can kick back and enjoy some great beers. The staff are friendly, adding to the overall pleasant experience.
This brewery is conveniently located along the promenade and they offer a good range of beers, including Special IPA and West Coast IPA, both hoppy and fruity. They also serve a tasty cheese and meat platter for 80 Kuna if you get hungry. Even though it's a small place, it packs a lot of charm.
14. Stari Grad Plain
Stari Grad Plain should be on your places to visit on the island of Hvar. The area is rich in history and natural beauty, offering a peaceful escape from more touristy spots. Walking from Stari Grad to Vrboska takes you through a lush landscape filled with olive trees, grape vines, pomegranate, and fennel plants. The ancient stone walls are a sight to behold, and you'll encounter some intriguing ruins and formations along the way.
Biking there is the best option, especially if you want to exercise. Rent a bike from a local shop in Stari Grad and pedal your way to Vrboska or Jelsa. The route takes you through quiet paths where you won't have to worry about car traffic, making for a relaxed ride. Just be mindful of the heat if you visit in the summer; it can get pretty intense.
Signs along the bike route offer interesting historical information, adding to the overall experience. And make sure to pick some figs from the trees you'll pass or take time to admire the many vineyards. Remember to stay hydrated, especially if you're out in the heat.
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.