Visiting Hvar Island, Croatia | Travel Guide

visiting hvar island croatia

If you’re reading this, then chances are that you’re already planning a trip to Hvar Island, Croatia. So, if you’re looking for ideas and inspiration on what to see and what to do while exploring the island and don’t know how to prepare for the trip, I’ve got you covered.

Visiting Hvar Island is one of the best things to do in Croatia (it’s one of the country’s most visited islands for a reason) and a trip to remember. The island is best known as a summer resort and attracts all types of travelers with its pristine beaches, good vibe, fine cuisine, and lavender fields. There are many things to see and do on Hvar Island, so you should plan to stay for at least 4-5 days.

In this travel guide, I have gathered all the information you need before visiting Hvar Island, Croatia. So keep on reading to find out where to go, what to do, how to get to the island, how to explore it, and more.

 


Planning a Trip to Hvar Island, Croatia: What to Know + Tips


 

Where is Hvar Island?

Hvar is an island in Croatia’s Adriatic Sea, located off the Dalmatian coast. It borders the island of Brac to the North, the island of Korcula to the South, the island of Vis to the West, and Croatia’s mainland to the East.

Hvar Island is situated in the southern part of Croatia’s Adriatic Sea, being about 460 km away from Zagreb and about 180 km away from the famous Dubrovnik.

Hvar Island Weather

Hvar Island climate is hot-summer Mediterranean meaning that it has hot summer and mild winters. The average yearly air temperature is 16 °C (61 °F) and the island has a total of 2800 sunshine hours per year (average of 7.7 sunshine hours per day) and even has the most hours of sunshine in all of Croatia.

The average sea temperatures are between 23 °C (73 °F) to 27 °C (81 °F) in summer and 14 °C (57 °F) in winter.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Hvar Island?

There is no straight answer to this question. For some people, the best time to visit Hvar Island would be the summer. July is the sunniest and driest month, while August is the hottest. However, I, for example, wouldn’t want to visit Hvar Island during that time of the year. It might be a great time for swimming and sunbathing, but if you want to do anything else like exploring the island, then you better visit it in Spring or Autumn.

I visited Hvar Island in the middle of September and I believe this is a great time to visit it. The weather is still warm enough for swimming and sunbathing, but temperatures are far more pleasant and bearable for exploring the island and doing sightseeing.

Winter could also be a great time to visit Hvar Island if you don’t care about the beaches, but want to explore and enjoy the beautiful small towns without the abundance of tourists.

So, to answer the question when is the best time to visit Hvar Island, you should first ask yourself what do you want to see and do when you go.

hvar island travel guide

How to Get to Hvar Island?

Getting to Hvar Island might be a quick and easy journey or a long and not so comfortable one depending on where are you coming from. Here I’ll explain how to get to Hvar Island if you’re coming from Zagreb, Split, or Dubrovnik.

How to get from Zagreb / Split to Hvar Island?

To get from Zagreb to Hvar Island, you first need to take take a bus to Split. Buses from Zagreb to Split depart from Autobusni Kolodvor Zagreb (Zagreb’s bus station) every day from 2 am to 11:55 pm. There are over 20 buses a day, so you can easily choose the most convenient time for you to travel. The bus ride takes about 5-6 hours and some even take about 8. Check Zagreb’s bus station for the current schedule and prices info.

Buses from Zagreb arrive at Autobusni Kolodvor Split (Split’s bus station) which is located right at Split’s port.

From there, you have to take a ferry directly to Hvar. There are two companies operating the ferries rides from Split to Hvar – Krilo & Jardolinija. The journey time is about 1, 1 and a half hours.

That is what we did to get to Hvar from Zagreb. We got the bus at 2 am, so we can be in Split at 8 am and catch a ferry in the early morning, so we can have the entire day in Hvar. Otherwise, we would have lost one day in traveling. On the way back we did travel during the day as we didn’t want to spend the night on a bus again. If you don’t want to waste a day from your Croatia itinerary, I recommend you also take the night bus.

Also, my advice is to book your bus tickets in advance. Originally, we wanted to get the 11:55 bus, but it was full and the only option we had is to either wait for the next one (that we did) or start looking for a place to stay in Zagreb at midnight.

And the last thing you need to know about getting from Split to Hvar Island is that the different ferries arrive in different places on the island. With that being said, you first need to decide where do you want to stay. The ferries connect Split with Hvar town, Stari Grad and Jelsa.

***If you’re flying to Split, then you need to take a taxi or bus from the airport to the port. Bus #37 goes directly to Split’s port. You can find the bus stop by heading out of the terminal and walking across the car park to the main road.

How to get from Dubrovnik to Hvar Island?

Most people who embark on a trip to Croatia are sooner or later in their trip find themselves in Dubrovnik. And that’s not a surprise. Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean region. With its charm, distinctive Old Town, and popular movie locations Dubrovnik have a lot to offer. And since there are not any other places of tourist interest between Hvar and Dubrovnik it only makes sense to visit these places one after the other on your itinerary.

The best way to get from Dubrovnik to Hvar Island or vice versa is by the direct ferry service. The journey takes 3 and half hours and is only available during the tourists season from April to October. Alternatively, you can drive or get a bus to Split and take the ferry from there, or take the car ferry from Drvenik.

Drvenik is 125 km north of Dubrovnik, just on the other side of Hvar Island. From there, if you’re traveling by car, you can take the car ferry to Sucuraj. Sucuraj is 77 km away from Hvar town.

How to Get Around Hvar Island?

Getting around Hvar Island is relatively easy. Within towns limits, you can reach all points of interest by simply walking. Another cool way to get around town or even travel between two close towns is by cycling. Scooters are also everywhere for rent around the island and a great option to explore more than Hvar town. I’ll go more in detail about cycling and scooters below.

Other ways to get around Hvar Island include local buses and water / boat taxis.

The bus company that operates on Hvar Island is called Cazmatrans and connects Hvar town, Stari Grad, Stari Grad port, Jelsa, Vrbovska, and Sucuraj. I cannot guarantee how reliable online schedules are, but there are seasonal schedules posted at the bus stops. If you need the info to arrange your schedule, I recommend asking your accommodation or calling the bus company, just to be 100% sure.

The boat taxis are many and you can them from Hvar town’s port, where the ferries from Split arrive. They can take you to some of Hvar’s best beaches, the surrounding island of Brac, Vis, and Korcula (which btw is one of Europe’s hidden gems), or to some of the most famous locations on the Pakleni islands.

traveling around hvar island croatia

Where to Stay on Hvar Island

Hvar Island is a lot more than Hvar town. However, Hvar town is something like the capital of the island where most of the nightlife happens and where most people end up staying. Stari Grad and Jelsa make good alternative places to stay on Hvar Island. If I return to Hvar Island one day, I would prefer to stay in Stari Grad instead.

  • Hvar Town – Best place to stay in Hvar for nightlife, history, luxury hotels, and beaches.
  • Stari Grad – Best place to stay in Hvar for wandering around, relax, and fine restaurants.
  • Jelsa – Best place to stay in Hvar for nature lovers and families.

Language

The official language on Hvar Island is Croatian, however, the island is a hot tourist destination, so anyone speaks English. Okay, maybe some individuals of the old generation don’t, but generally, all of the hotels, restaurants, tour agencies, etc. do. You won’t have any problems communicating, but I still encourage you to learn a few Croatian words and phrases to use when talking to locals:

  • Bok, zdravo – Hello
  • Dobro jutro  / Dobar dan / Dobra vecer – Good morning / Good afternoon / Good evening
  • Kako ste – How are you
  • Hvala – Thank you
  • Da – Yes
  • Ne – No
  • Drago mi je – Nice to meet you
  • Molim – Please
  • Oprostite – Excuse me

learn croatian

Let’s Talk Money $$$

Visiting Hvar Island, Croatia is kind of expensive. The prices are very touristic and tailored around UK / USA tourists. I found accommodation and some services reasonably priced, but restaurants and bars to be quite expensive. You can expect to pay x2 or x3 times more than what you’ll pay in Zagreb. Also, restaurants and bars in Hvar town are more expensive than in other towns on the island.

Budget what you’ll budget for a vacation in Italy, for example.

Prices of goods in supermarkets are pretty much the same as anywhere else. I even found them to be the same if not a little cheaper than in Bulgaria.

 


Places to Visit on Hvar Island, Croatia


 

Hvar Town

Hvar town is the largest settlement on Hvar Island with some 3,700+ inhabitants. It is the most visited place on the island and where most of the visitors will spend their time visiting the beaches, relaxing, and partying. Hvar town is famous for its nightlife and the reason why here you’ll find so many young travelers. Nice bars, trendy clubs, and excellent restaurants make Hvar town a great destination for everyone that’s looking to have fun while enjoying the untouched bays and stunning Mediterranean landscapes.

But Hvar town it’s not just a party center. Hvar is an ancient town with a rich history and houses many churches, monasteries, palaces, and other historic buildings. The Old Town of Hvar is a maze of cobblestone streets where you can easily lose yourself for good.

But not to worry, all the streets will eventually lead you to Hvarska pjaca (Hvar’s square). This square is the center of public and social life in Hvar town and the largest square in Dalmatia. Hvar’s square is home to the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Founded in the 14th century, the Cathedral is dedicated to St. Stephen, a pope, and martyr, the protector of the Diocese, and the town of Hvar. The Cathedral preserves many valuable items and paintings and the Episcopal Museum next to it houses a collection of objects of art, old books, archival documents, sacred vessels, and liturgical vestments.

If you walk from the center to the north, you’ll climb up to Tvrdava Fortica (Spanish Fort), home to one of my favorite viewpoints on Hvar Island. From there, you can enjoy a wonderful view of the town’s red rooftops and the turquoise waters of the Pakleni Islands in the distance.

Spanish Fort entry fee is HRK 40.

hvar island attractions

Pakleni Islands 

When visiting Hvar Island, Croatia, one of the best places to visit is the Pakelni Islands archipelago. I have to admit, I didn’t visit the island, but will get to the reason why in a second.

The Pakleni Islands are a chain of rocky islets just off the southwest coast of Hvar town, just opposite the town’s port. The islands are a short boat trip away from the town and perhaps the most popular day trip destination from Hvar town. Pakleni Islands offer stunning beaches, some of the fanciest clubs in Hvar, and great snorkeling opportunities.

Most people will visit the Pakleni Islands after hiring a small ”pasara” boat. And here’s the reason why we ended up not visiting the Pakleni Islands. Most blogs and travel guides on Hvar Islands will tell you how easy it is to hire a small boat and explore the archipelago on your own. They will tell you that you don’t need a boat license for the 5hp pasara boats. Well, this isn’t true, or at least not any longer.

I was very excited about the idea of exploring Pakleni Island on our own after hiring a boat. Shortly after we arrived on Hvar Island, my excitement quickly dissipated. See, these blogs aren’t lying, they were simply written a while ago and haven’t been updated with the newest information. This was all possible to do before, but after some incident in 2020, the local police banned it. Now, you can either hire a boat from somewhere illegally or you need to present a boat license.

The good news is that you can still visit Pakleni Island easily by taking the water taxis or by joining a tour. We just filled our itinerary with other things to do and places to go to on Hvar Island and skipped the archipelago. However, when I go back someday, this will be the first thing to do.

Stari Grad

The most charming and romantic place to visit on Hvar Island (in my opinion). With its narrow streets and laneways, Stari Grad reminders me of Kotor town in Montenegro. For those of you who can’t understand the Stari Grad’s name meaning, it literally translates to ”old town” and the town is the historic heart of Hvar Island. Founded in 384 BC by ancient Greeks, Stari Grad is the oldest town in Croatia and one of the oldest in all of Europe. A greater part of Stari Grad falls within the UNESCO Protected World Heritage Site.

Surrounded by pine tree forests, Stari Grad is quieter than Hvar town. Here, you would also find fewer tourists and a more laid-back vibe.

Although most tourists rush through Stari Grad on their way to Hvar town, I assure you that spending some time in this wonderful town is absolutely worth it. A day trip from Hvar town to Stari Grad is a great way to explore the town and escape from the busy and loud capital. Don’t miss the beautiful seafront promenade and check out the little and cutest local boutiques.

Jelsa & Vrboska

I recommend visiting Jelsa and Vrboska on a single trip. Half-day in each place is enough to see all of what they have to offer.

Jelsa is a cute little town situated in the heart of Hvar Island. Especially charming is the harbor, with the picturesque waterfront, traditional Dalmatian stone houses, the Jelsa sign, and the donkey sculpture. The donkey is one of the symbols of Dalmatia for serving humankind for centuries. Jelsa is surrounded by mountains and hills and has a couple of nice paks.

visiting jesla hvar island

Vrboska is the smallest town on Hvar Island. It is nestled in a deep narrow bay, surrounded by pine forest, vineyards, and olive groves. The town features a very small and pretty island in the middle of the bay. This island is connected with bridges and because of it and the other bridges and canals in the town, Vrboska is named Croatia’s Little Venice.

 


What to do & see on Hvar Island, Croatia


 

Hvar Island Beaches

Most people are visiting Hvar Island for its beaches and I completely understand why. With its crystal clear turquoise waters, Hvar’s beaches are dreamy. I didn’t spend too much time visiting Hvar Island’s beaches and couldn’t reach some that I wanted to, but I liked all the ones that I managed to visit. Here are a couple of beaches on Hvar Island that you should check out:

  • Pokonji dol beach – This beach was recommended to us by our host and I liked it a lot. It’s about 20 or so minutes walking from town and on the way to the beach, there is a supermarket from where you can grab some snacks or drinks.
  • Milna beach – Milna is a small village just outside Hvar town. It is not so pretty as the other beaches on the list, but it has a very laid-back vibe and is not as visited as most other beaches on Hvar Island.
  • Dubovica beach – Located in a secluded bay, Dubovica is one of Hvar’s best beaches. Surrounded by pine trees and olive groves, the sea at Dubovica is crystal clear. There is only one restaurant at the beach and nothing around, so if you don’t want to overpay for drinks and food, make sure you bring your own.
  • Sveta Nedelja beach – The beach that I wanted to visit the most, but sadly didn’t manage to. Sveta Nedelja beach is not easily accessible, so the options to get there are very limited. If you find a way to visit this beach, go for it, from the pictures that I have seen it might just be the most beautiful beach on Hvar Island.
  • Zarace beach – A picture-perfect beach located just before Dubovica beach.

hvar town beach

There are only two downsides of Hvar Island’s beaches, in my opinion, and they are:

  • Stone beaches – As a Bulgarian child that spent each summer on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, I am used to and I prefer sandy beaches. Although I think Hvar beaches are amazing, I don’t like that they are only stones. To feel comfortable, you need water shoes and if you’re planning to spend the entire day on the beach, you need to pay for a sunbed (otherwise you’ll distort by laying on the stones all day long).
  • Hvar beaches are deep – Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but all the beaches that I visited on Hvar Island were getting deep after 5 meters in.

TIP: Hvar beaches are accessible after a rather steep footpath, so good, comfortable travel shoes are advisable.

hvar island beaches to visit

Exploring the Island on a Scooter

No trip to Hvar Island is complete without a scooter journey and if you’ve been following my SE Asia adventures, you’ll know how much I loved exploring a new place on a scooter (my Ha Giang motorbike trip was and still is one of my favorites).

Hvar Island is the perfect destination to explore on a scooter. Most points of interest on the island are not far away from one another, so in one day, you can easily explore a couple of beaches or towns, for example. Exploring Hvar Island on a scooter gives you the freedom to make your own schedule.

There are tens of scooter rentals in Hvar town, which makes finding a scooter to rent one of the easiest things to do. Prices are more or less the same, so you can rent depending on availability and the kind of scooter you want to rent.

I recommend renting a scooter early in the morning so you can have the entire day to explore the island in peace.

one of the best things to do on hvar island croatia

Cycling

Cycling in Lagos was one of the highlights of my trip to Portugal. Ever since, if I don’t or for some reason can’t rent a scooter, I always go for a bicycle. It is more environment friendly, it’s a workout and plus I always loved cycling.

We rented bicycles for two days (used them just for one) and cycled from Hvar town to Milna and then Dubovica beach and back. The next day, we were planning to do a big cycling trip, but the truth is that we were lazy, it was too hot and we went for the scooter instead.

With this in mind, I recommend renting a bicycle to explore the island if you’re visiting Hvar in early Spring or late Autumn when the temperatures are not so high. Alternatively, cycling could be a great way to get around Hvar town or Stari Grad.

cycling hvar island

Fest on the Food

Hvar Island is not just beautiful sights. In between wandering the ancient cobblestone streets, exploring the beaches, and admiring the historic architecture, treat yourself to an incredible culinary experience. Hvar offers delicious delicacies from the Adriatic Sea and traditional Dalmatian cuisine.

In Hvar’s traditional Dalmatian restaurants (”konoba”) you will find plenty of seafood and meat dishes such as pasticada, peka, octopus salad, black risotto, etc. Local recipes are passed between generations for centuries. Grilled fish is another Dalmatian classic dish that can be found in every restaurant on Hvar Island, and it is prepared in probably every home. From sardines, tuna, and sea bream to the mackerel, saithe, and groupers, the fish is one of Croatia’s best summer specialties – and in the combination with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary, the final flavors are to die for!

food on hvar island croatia

visiting hvar island croatia for the food

Pasta and pizza are also offered in pretty much every restaurant on Hvar. Shrimps, oysters, mussels, and lobsters are other seafood dishes that you need to try. One of my favorite things to eat on Hvar was the salted sardines in olive oil – so, so delicious! I’ve had it a couple of times in different restaurants and every time it was great, but the best I had in Bistro Kod Damira in Stari Grad.

what to eat when visiting hvar island croatia

Shopping 

If you are looking for Hvar souvenirs look further than magnets. On the island, you’ll find some unique local products typical for the region. Here are a few ideas of what to take back home while supporting the local producers:

  • Lavender goods – One of the things that Hvar is most famous for is lavender. Lavender production is an important factor of the island of Hvar, which proves the lavender festival in Velo Grablje each June. Lavender souvenirs are widely available across the entire island in boutiques and waterfront stalls.
  • Honey – Honey has a long production tradition on Hvar. One of the bee’s favorite plants on Hvar is unsurprisingly the lavender and so the lavender honey is one of the best quality. Rosemary and sage honey are also very popular and of the best quality.
  • Wine – With wine traditions dating back 2400 years, Hvar can definitely satisfy every wine lover. There are plenty of wineries to visit on Hvar Island, where you can buy wine directly from the producers.
  • Olive oil – As the most commonly used ingredient in Croatian cuisine, it’s no surprise that there are over 200,000 olive trees on Hvar alone. The olive oil that’s being produced in Hvar is so good that in May 2021 won 3 gold medals from the International Olive Oil Competition in New York.
  • Art – Support local artists by buying handpainted dalmatian boats, ceramic Hvar house replicas, sculptures, and paintings.

And that was it, my travel guide to visiting Hvar Island, Croatia. If you have any questions on something that I haven’t covered or you think that I can add something, let me know in the comments below.

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PLAN YOUR TRIP TO HVAR ISLAND, CROATIA

If you’re already decided to visit Hvar Island, you can see my top travel recommendations here:

Where to stay in Hvar Town:

Apartments Haracic and Successus Old Town House are great options for budget travelers. For more luxurious mid-range travelers, Heritage suites Zanini, Lola Apartments, Hvar Design Heritage Suits and Maki Apartments are four of the best choices!

Top-rated Hvar Island tours and experiences:

Need a Visa for Croatia?

I recommend iVisa, they will sort your Georgian visa quickly and efficiently.

Travel Insurance:

You better not have to use it, but it’s always good to be assured when traveling abroad, as well as in your own country. If you decide to get insurance, check for coverage and rate with my recommended provider World Nomads.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links here are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a booking after clicking.  It comes at no extra cost to you but it helps me with the running of this site! As always, opinions are my own. Thank you!


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