Hvar is an island and has 3 main towns - Hvar Grad, Stari Grad and Jelsa. The best way to reach Hvar is with a new and beautiful yacht. But lacking a yacht, we opted for the Jardolinja ferry, departing from Split and bound for Stari Grad. Total cost for 2 people and car was 380HRK (Croatian currency or Kuna) or about $50 one way. Make sure you get there at least 30 minutes early and once in line be ready to load onto the ship. After parking, get upstairs pronto to get a table or seat because sometimes the ferry is already full of walk on passengers. The road to Hvar is beautiful, winding, sometimes narrow and takes 30 minutes. The town of Hvar is old, very old. The old, main square is paved with polished white marble similar to Dubrovnik. It was part of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires before the Venetians entered the scene in the 13th century. The symbolic Venetian winged lion carved into the fortress Fortica or Tvrđava Španjola as well as other official buildings in town demonstrates who was in charge. The fortress was built in the 13th century by the Spanish for Venice and is well preserved. It is worth a visit.
Some call Hvar the queen of the Croatian Dalmatian islands. It offers rich history due to its important strategic and nautical position and has many cultural monuments. Due to the mild climate of warm winters and even warmer summers, Hvar is a popular tourist destination especially in the summer season. The island's beautiful rocky coastline is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. There are many small harbors where boats tie up and sailers debark to enjoy a nice meal and perhaps a swim. The sea water is stunning and clean. Inland, there are vast fields of lavender, ancient olive trees and vineyards, perfect for hiking, biking and wine tasting.
Hvar is compact and easy to navigate. However, be ready for a workout depending on where you are staying. We walked down 185 steps to get from our place (which was close to the fortress) to town, and up 185 steps to get home. There is a small market in the town square where you can buy fresh local food which is amazing. Visit Ivo in his little shop next to the bus station for wine, cheese, olives, and dried meats. It will be a memorable visit because Ivo speaks terrific English and has lots to say! Be sure to tell him, Rick sent you.
Biking in Hvar
Bikes are easy to rent and quite reasonably priced. You can rent from several locations in the main square and the cost for the day was about $14 per bike. Ride to the little town of Bursje, a 7km climb, and you arrive at one of the highest points on the island at about 1200 ft. From Brusje you traverse the spine of the island for a while and then wind through vineyards and fields with ancient stone walls. You can see the Adriatic on either side of the island! Then head down through Velo Grabjie towards and Malo Grabjie which are ancient small stone villages. The descent has some gravel on the road so be careful. After about 8 km of descending you end up at Milna which is on the sea. Take the main road back to Hvar. This is a great little loop of about 20 miles. Very scenic with low traffic.... Or, you can ride along either side of Hvar harbor for a few kilometers, along the coast and it is flat!
Hvar Grad is Party Central in the Summer
Hvar Grad, the island’s hub and busiest destination, is estimated to draw around 20,000 people a day in the summer. Visitors wander along the main square, explore the sights along stone streets, swim at the numerous beaches or sail over to the Pakleni Islands but the majority come to party. During the shoulder (Spring and Fall) seasons, visitors enjoy lower prices and fewer crowds. The temperature, of course, is also lower.
Look for Konoba in the restaurant name and you will enjoy traditional fare, like meats and cheeses and sometimes the fresh catch of the day. A Knoboba is a Croatian tavern and is not fancy or pricey.
Konoba Menego proudly serves only Croatian cuisine and is located on the steps between the harbor and Fortico. We found this sweet, lovely place for dinner and if you find yourself in Hvar, please give them a try. Martin, our waiter, speaks excellent English and we learned about present day Croatia. Cash only, no credit cards. $$
For more information on Hvar food
We enjoyed a 90 minute coastal walk to the small village of Milna. The walk is private and tranquil. Along the trail, be mindful of the sharp white rocks that make the Adriatic shoreline so gorgeous and wear the appropriate footwear. The forest provides a little shade and wind protection along the way. And be sure to soak in the blue, stunning water of the Adriatic.
When you arrive in Milna, reward yourself with a delicious lunch on the terrace. We had local sausages and freshly caught, grilled fish. Both fish and sausages as well as vegetables were roasted on an open fire. The fish was seasoned with olive oil and local spices. This lunch was truly incredible! Best if you bring cash. $-$$