My heart belongs to Hvar
The charming town of Hvar (on the island of the same name) is where my husband and I decided to get married. We had been living in Croatia for three years and wanted our families and friends to experience the magic of the country that had become our home. Hvar stood out among so many other gorgeous islands for several reasons. It was the first one we had visited together and it had been love at first sight: who would resist the beauty of this Venetian architectural jewel, lost in the Adriatic sea and nestled in a dramatic landscape? Our reasons were also practical: Hvar is easily reachable from Split by ferry and offers a wide range of accommodations from welcoming homestays to luxury hotels. It took us several months to get everything prepared for our big day and it required frequent visits to the island. We got to know it, round the year, discovering different aspects each time and getting closer to the islanders who slowly adopted us.
It has been many years now since I last visited Hvar and I am quite sure it has changed a lot so don't expect to find the latest trendy addresses in this post. I will only share with you my Hvar routine and best tips.
What to do on Hvar?
RELAX and take it easy! Get yourself into the slow rhythm of the island.
If you still can’t resist a morning-run, you will have two options: for a shorter-run, head West along the seaside towards Amfora hotel and go as far as the coastal path takes you, you will get a nice shade from the pine trees. For a longer one, go towards the East, pass the Franciscan monastery and run all the way to Pokonji Dol. I particularly love the last stretch before the beach when you are completely surrounded by an overwhelming Mediterranean flora with the Adriatic sea sparkling at your feet.
The best way to treat yourself afterwards is to either head for a fancy breakfast at the Pjaca café on the main square or, to go more local, grab some delicacies at the bakery on the square and have your coffee with the islanders at the shady café close to the post office. Either way, just take your time, read and observe.
Catch a taxi-boat on the harbor (or a tour-boat or rent your own little motor-bark) and take off for Palmizana in the Pakleni islands. As you pass by Zori reserve a nice table for a late lunch and walk a bit further West to find a shady rock-platform to spread your towel and dive into crystalline waters.
Once you get tired of exercising and reading, treat yourself with grilled fish and seafood at Zori, this could last the whole afternoon!
Go back into town and stroll around the charming narrow streets, inhaling the intoxicating fragrance of fig trees, later climb up to the Fortress for a beautiful sunset with a view in a peaceful atmosphere or if you feel too tired after this exhausting day and already are into a party-mood walk to the hula hula beach and bar for a swim-drink-dance at sunset.
Enjoy a delicious platter of spaghetti with scampi at Hannibal on the main square then get yourself a tasty ice cream, walk around the stone-paved streets and Riva to find out if you are up for a party night at Carpe Diem or simply want to end the evening with a drink at the roof top bar of the Adriana hotel.
The next day, you may want to simply repeat the same program or:
- Rent a scooter to explore the hilly interior, its vineyards, olive groves and lavender fields. You can go all the way to the port of Stari Grad and explore its narrow streets, arched passages and flowery stairways. It is worth going as far as Pitve to discover a traditional island-village with its old stone houses, terraced gardens and local konobas (taverns). On your way back you can stop for a swim at Milna or Zaraće.
- Pack yourself a picnic from the local food market (behind the main square) and set off on a motor-bark for a day of cabotage around the Pakleni islands.
- Rent a boat or take an excursion to the island of Vis (my favorite village there is Komiža).
- Pamper yourself with a spa treatment at the Adriana hotel
Where to stay?
- My recommendation for a family stay in a very typical environment is Pansion Oaza just behind the main square. Mateo and Virginia’s traditional house offers a quiet and warm atmosphere. They will welcome you as family members in the simple but comfortable rooms they are renting out. The children will enjoy the animals: donkeys, goats and turtles, and the spacious garden to run around. The jasmine and orange trees’ fragrances are exhilarating!
- For a comfortable self-catering apartment (different sizes available), we always enjoyed staying at 10 Dolac House, just a few steps off the main square. The owners were always extremely helpful and we enjoyed the peace and quiet of its location.
- For a larger family or group at the heart of the Riva’s bustling life, I suggest the Machiedo house (four bedrooms/ self-catered). I absolutely loved all our stays in that traditionally decorated stone house, which has a large terrace overlooking the Riva, the perfect setting for long-lasting family meals. Mirna, the owner, is a charming lady who will make sure you have the most memorable stay.
- For a comfortable hotel stay in a heritage building (at a more reasonable price than the Sunčani Hvar luxury hotels) just off the harbor, the Park Hotel is a wonderful option. The rooms are spacious, comfortable, with breathtaking views to the harbor. The service is excellent and the large terrace is wonderful for breakfast and al fresco dinners.