Worldwide Scott | July 3, 2016 9:00 PM ET
A Mini-Guide to Hvar, Croatia’s Island in the Sun
Photos by Worldwide Scott
I first heard the word “Hvar” at a hostel breakfast table in Dublin. I had struck up a conversation with a group of fellow travelers and they were a hearty group, who all happened to be sporting a golden tan. It was the typical travelers’ back-and-forth: “Where have you been?” “Where are you going?” “What’s been your highlight?” Without hesitation, they all said that the island of Hvar in Croatia had been their favorite place in Europe.
I filed Hvar away, and when some space opened up in my itinerary a couple weeks later, I made a boat-assisted beeline for the Croatian island.
I’m sure glad I did, because I found it to be at the pinnacle of Adriatic island good life. So here’s a mini guide for when you head Hvar’s way.
READ MORE: See The Jewels of Croatia With Homeric Tours
Where to Base
Hvar isn’t just the name of the island, but also the name of its largest town, dubbed simply Hvar Town. While the smaller Stari Grad is certainly charming and Jelsa is definitely an unsung gem, Hvar Town is where it’s at.
Home to an always-packed harbor (both traditional fisherman's dinghies and yachting behemoths), a gorgeous square with historic cathedral, and plenty of bars and restaurants, this is Hvar’s hub.
Where to Stay
Hvar is home to wide range of accommodations, but don’t expect to find many discounts, especially in summer. The Luxurious Adriana overlooks the harbor while the Amfora is home to a gorgeous waterfall-laden swimming pool.
For a more down-to-earth experience, the island has plenty of locally owned apartment stays, which probably offer the best combination of value and authenticity. You can book ahead through sites like Hvar Apartments or Villas Hvar or just show up and negotiate room rates with a local on the spot — a rich tradition in these parts.
Or you could always stay at the Green Lizard, a no-frills-but-fun hilltop hotel/hostel with sweeping views over the water that hosted me twice. This is perfect if you want to spend most of your time on the beach or out at night.
What To Do
Hvar is legendary for its sunshine, with many locals bragging that it is, in fact, the sunniest place in Europe. While I typically cringe when I hear those kind of bold claims boasted without stats, I can offer no evidence to the contrary.
Sunning oneself is sport here, so make sure to stake your claim early on one of the island’s numerous pebble beaches and rocks. You could also take a day trip out to the nearby Pakleni islands to snorkel or sunbathe in more privacy.
The island is covered in hills, many of which are loaded with lavender, and a day spent walking or cycling among them will be one you’ll remember. Hvar Town is also home to a fortress, which can be scaled, and St. Stephen’s cathedral, whose beauty draws stares. Mostly though, you’re just going to want to sit back, relax and enjoy the show as the island attracts a jet-setting crowd from around the world looking to let loose.
READ MORE: Adventures in Street Eats: Burek
Where To Eat & Drink
For a sunsetter, you can’t go wrong with the Hula Hula Beach Bar, which is carved among the coastal rocks a few minutes from the main harbor. It’s truly one of the coolest bars I’ve been to, and with a direct view to the sun’s daily plunge into the sea, you won’t soon forget a happy hour spent here.
Afterwards, you’ll find plenty of other bars and restaurants on the plaza grilling fresh fish or whipping up pizzas, but if you want authentic food from the region, look no further than Tavern Menego.
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