With its busy port lined with mega yachts, beautiful landscape, bustling nightlife, luxury day clubs, and great shopping, the Croatian town of Hvar is rapidly turning into one of the trendiest destinations in the Mediterranean.
The city’s hillsides are coated with lush pine forests, olive groves, vineyards, fruit orchards, and lavender fields. Architecture is heavily influenced by traditional Greek, Roman, Venetian, French, and Austrian schools of architecture. Narrow stone streets with quaint boutiques wind around St. Stephen square, where you’ll find some relaxing things to do in Hvar.
Stop off for an organic smoothie at Vita Health Food Bar, or visit the local market whose aromas burst from lavender products whose scent carries for miles. For gifts and souvenirs, you can take home fruit and herb liqueurs, olive oil, lavender, honey, dried figs, and lemon and fig marmalade, among other luxuries and delicacies.
To get to Hvar, you must first fly into Dubrovnik or Split. We recommend spending some time getting to know one or both of these charming cities while you’re there. Both Dubrovnik and Split offer catamarans and ferries to Hvar. However, you need to book them in advance.
If you forget to purchase tickets in advance (like us ― oops!), the other options are: Hire a private boat, take a two-hour taxi ride through Bosnia to Drvenik, and jump on a ferry to Sucuraj, then take another two-hour taxi ride to Hvar. For us, Bosnia sounded like a country worth adding to our passports, so we opted for Adventure number two.
If you are taking a yacht, you can forget everything I just told you.
Busabout and Contiki are the most cost-effective options for sailing around Croatia, with 7-day tours around Hvar and neighboring islands starting at 7,000 Croatian Kuna ($1,000 US). These are large boats, with shared cabins for up to 30 people. Either go with a group or travel solo. Solo is a great way to meet new people and party with them on the glistening waters of Hvar.
It’s not everyday you get to see the world from your own yacht ― unless you’re a millionaire, of course. With prices from $550 to $1,500 US per person, as long as you can gather 8-10 friends, you can hire a private yacht, with your own skipper and hostess, for a week. If you can’t rustle up 10 friends, don’t worry; you can book a twin-share cabin with a friend on a shared yacht for around $1,300 US per person.
You can raft-up with the other yachts if you want to party with a crowd. If you need some private time, retreat to your own yacht, and sun bake those hangovers away in peace. If you favor privacy and don’t want strangers partying around you 24/7, you can hire a private yacht, where you have the freedom to move at your own pace, visit your choice of islands, and still raft-up with other yachts, if you have friends in the area.
Charters start at $10,000 US at Hvar Boat Rent for a basic model. If you’re a real baller, you can drop up to $1M US at LateSail.
You can’t leave Hvar without sampling the traditional Croatian dish Brodet ― a fish stew made with several types of fish, layered in a pot with potatoes, and cooked in either a tomato sauce or cream sauce. It’s a heavy but delicious dish that’s served at many Croatian eateries.
Bonj ‘Les Bain’ Luxury Beach Club offers a delicious lunch with cocktails. Café Pjaca is in the main square of Hvar and serves meals all day on a sunny terrace that’s perfect for people watching. If you love lounging under the stars among old, stone walls, after dinner cocktails at are a must. We love the music and vibe at Pink Champagne after 1 am, and you can’t go wrong at BB Club, Carpe Diem, or Hula Hula.
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Hvar for visitors is exploring the coastline’s sparkling waters on a private yacht or a sailing tour. Croatia’s rustic charm, oodles of history, spectacular scenery, and sailing opportunities are the essence of this Adriatic jewel. Navigating the seas in style is no longer for just the rich and famous.
For exciting things to do in Hvar, you have the option of Yacht Week Croatia. There are 10 weeks of Yacht Week Croatia throughout the year, starting June 4, 2016, and ending on 27 August – 3 September 2016, concluding the season.
There’s also cave tours. Honestly, though, they’re a bit of a tourist trap. If you absolutely want to see the caves and don’t mind taking a small boat with other tourists to get there, then enjoy the experience. For around 40 kuna ($6 US), you can take a boat to an island, where you are ferried to the beautiful Blue Caves, Blue Grotto, or Green Caves.
There are hundreds of islands along the Dalmatian Coast, with a litany of unique swimming holes and cliff-jumping opportunities. My advice: Target Palmizana Island and spend an entire day at the restaurant and day club Laganini. Enjoy a nap in the tree bed, or have staff cater to your whims at the lounges along the rocks. There is a picnic table if you arrive with an army of friends. The music sets the ambiance, the food is impressive, and the crowd is stellar.
As an added bonus, if you’ve invested in traveling by yacht and are averse to leaving the comfort of the deck, Laganini will personally deliver cocktails and lunch to you.
Hvar is known for its boutiques, which feature a plethora of amazing, local designers, including Sheriff & Cherry sunglasses. We recommend taking time to peruse the town to discover unique fashion pieces. Thesaurus Jewelry will not disappoint. Hike up to the Spanish fortress Tvrđava Španjola, and take in the panoramic view of the bay. If you buy lavender here, you will find it’s much cheaper than at the local market.
If you’re interested in giving back to the community while traveling through Hvar, you can volunteer with the Adriatic Dolphin Project on the island of Lošinj. The Adriatic Dolphin Project offers the opportunity to join their research team as eco-volunteers.