Famous for its bustling nightlife, spectacular landscapes, and dazzling coastline, Hvar Island is the perfect place for a summer getaway. From how to get there to where to stay and what to do, see, and eat, this is the only Hvar Island Travel Guide you’ll need to plan the ultimate trip!
Hvar Island Travel Guide
Hvar Island is located in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Croatia’s mainland. This Dalmatian gem is surrounded by a number of islands including Brač, Korčula, and Vis, and is just about an hour’s boat ride from Split.
Hvar Island is the longest island in Croatia, stretching just over 68km. It is also the sunniest island in Croatia thanks to the 2,718 hours of sunshine it receives each year!
Best Time to Visit Hvar Island
Hvar Island has a pleasant climate, with warm and dry summers and cool winters. The hottest months of the year are July and August, with average temperatures hovering around 31°C (88°F).
July and August are considered to be peak season, during which the island is inundated with tens of thousands of tourists each day. At this time of the year, the party vibe is contagious and there is no end to things you can do. Restaurants, bars, and beaches buzz with an overwhelming amount of tourists all trying to soak up the island vibes.
If you don’t mind a few closed restaurants and bars and wish to enjoy Hvar without the crowds, then you should plan to visit in September or in May. The underfilled restaurants and half-empty beaches are a small price to pay to enjoy the island paradise (almost) all to yourself. Another benefit of visiting at this time of the year is the opportunity to get a glimpse into Hvar’s local life, as the majority of the people on the island are the ones who permanently live there. It’s like stepping back in time!
How to Get to Hvar Island
Hvar Island can be reached from a number of locations.
The closest airports to Hvar Island are in Split and in Dubrovnik. After touching down, you’ll need to board a ferry, catamaran, or boat that will take you to Hvar.
The easiest way to reach Hvar Island is from Split, where you can take a ferry, catamaran, or private boat to the island.
The ferry port is conveniently located right across from the main bus terminal, and can easily be reached by foot from the old town.
The largest and most frequent carrier is Jadrolinija. Jadrolinija offers a direct, year-round ferry from Split to Hvar Town. It is a pretty quick ride, taking only about an hour to arrive in Hvar Town.
Jadrolinija also offers a car-ferry (trajekt) that goes directly from Split to Stari Grad. It runs 7 times a day and takes a little less than 2 hours, and docks at the port located 2km away from Stari Grad.
There is also another non-direct catamaran route from Split to Jelsa, with a stop in Bol on Brač Island. The ride takes a little over an hour and a half and runs around 4 times a day.
Getting to Hvar from Dubrovnik is simple during the high season, as it serves as one of the main gateways to the island. The best way to reach Hvar is by hopping on one of the many catamarans that run daily between Hvar and Dubrovnik.
The journey, however, can take anywhere from 3 to 4 hours, as many of the catamarans make multiple stops along the way to Hvar Island. Be sure to check out the Jadrolinija and Kapetan Luka websites for accurate departure and arrival times.
From Other Places
If you want to travel to Hvar Island from other places in Croatia like Zagreb, Istria, or Zadar, you’ll need to get to Split, Dubrovnik, or Drvenik to catch a ferry.
Drvenik, near Makarska, is a great location to reach Hvar from. This ferry crossing is the shortest of all three as it takes only 30 minutes to reach Sućuraj, on Hvar. Sućuraj is approximately an hour and thirty-minute drive from Hvar Town, and an hour drive from both Jelsa and Stari Grad.
Getting Around Hvar Island
The most convenient way to get around Hvar Island is by scooter or by car. The main road on the island connects Sućuraj to Hvar Town and makes access to Stari Grad, Jelsa, and Vrboska easy.
I do recommend hiring a rental car or scooter while visiting Hvar, as it gives you the freedom to explore the island. You’ll get to discover hidden inland villages and enjoy beautiful scenery that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do without a rental.
However, there are a few things to consider if you plan to use a rental car on Hvar Island. There are two options when it comes to renting a car: renting before getting to Hvar and renting once you arrive on Hvar Island. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to making this decision, and it mostly just boils down to personal preference.
Renting a car before you get to Hvar will almost guarantee you a better choice of vehicles and lower rates.
Renting on the island, however, gives you the opportunity to hire a car only for the days you’ll actually use it. Plus, you’ll get to skip past the long car lines waiting to get onto the ferry.
Taking a car onto the ferry can sometimes be stressful in that you might not actually make it onto the ferry you planned to take across. While when you’re on foot, you’re basically guaranteed a spot!
Traveling to the island without a car will also allow you to go directly to Hvar Town as the car ferries dock in Stari Grad.
One thing to keep in mind whether you end up renting a scooter or car is to keep track of your fuel. There are only three gas stations on the entire island – one in Hvar Town, and two by Jelsa.
Where to Stay on Hvar Island
Deciding where to stay on Hvar Island might seem like a straightforward choice thanks to the party scene that made Hvar Town famous. However, for those looking for more historic, cultural and authentic experiences, there are plenty of other attractive options available on the island.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect from each area:
- Hvar Town | swanky, glittering, luxurious, party
- Stari Grad | quaint, laidback, inexpensive
- Jelsa | family-friendly, local
- Vrboska | quiet, small-town feel
From 5-star hotels to cozy guesthouses and campsites, Hvar Island has plenty of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s style and budget.
Best Towns to Visit | Hvar Island Travel Guide
Hvar Town is the largest and most popular destination to visit on the island. While it is perhaps the most attractive destination on the island, it is also the most expensive when it comes to food and accommodation.
Hvar town boasts a glamorous party scene, a charming historic center, and the most beautiful sunset viewpoint on the entire island. Here, you can expect to rub elbows with ritzy yachties, and if you care about seeing or being seen, Hvar Town is the place to be.
For more information on Hvar’s most famous destination, check out my guide to Hvar Town.
Stari Grad is the oldest settlement on the island and is much more low-key than Hvar Town.
This laidback destination is located along deep bay embellished with a seemingly endless string of boats. At the very tip of the bay sits the darling old town, consisting of romantic stone alleyways, ancient churches and even a Renaissance castle.
While beaches aren’t exactly Stari Grad’s forte, it still remains a favorite summer destination on Hvar Island.
This sweet little Mediterranean community is more subdued than Hvar Town and is the perfect choice for a family-friendly holiday.
Positioned on the north side of the island, Jelsa boasts some pretty great beaches, restaurants, and accommodation at a much lower cost than.
Jelsa also has a fascinating wine history and is even known as the island’s wine capital!
Things to Do on Hvar | Hvar Island Travel Guide
Go Beach Hopping
If you love the sun, sea, and sand, then Hvar Island is the place for you. This Dalmatian island is home to some of the most stunning beaches in all of Croatia, and is perfect for those who enjoy beach hopping.
The island’s 254 kilometers of coastline provides endless possibilities for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Check out my guide on the best beaches on Hvar Island here!
Experience the Nightlife
Hvar is considered one of the top party islands in all of Europe, so if nightlife is your thing, you simply cannot miss Hvar Town.
There is no shortage of party venues in Hvar Town, and there are plenty of boat parties happening just off the shore as well.
Carpe Diem Beach Club is the watering hole for those who love to dance, while at Hula Hula you can expect a party from dusk until dawn. Other notable mentions include Lola’s Bar & Street Food, Kiva Bar, and Central Park Club.
Explore the Pakleni Islands
One of my favorite things to do in Hvar Town is to spend an entire day hopping around the Pakleni (or Paklinski) Islands. This gorgeous chain of wooded islands sits right across from Hvar Town. Though often translated to “Hell’s Islands”, the name Pakleni is actually thought to have derived from paklina, a former pine resin that was harvested on the archipelago to waterproof boats.
Today, the Pakleni Islands are known for their crystal clear bays, striking lagoons, secret beaches, and elegant beach bars.
The closest island to Hvar Town is Jerolim where clothing is optional. Next up is Marinkovac, known for the famous Carpe Diem Beach. Across from Marinkovac lie the glittery lagoons of Mlina and Ždrilica where you can find the best barbecue restaurant in all of Hvar, Tri Grede.
The largest of the Pakleni Islands is St. Klement, home to the dazzling village of Palmižana adorned with innumerable Bougainvillea trees.
Discover the Inland Villages
It’s not only the idyllic beaches and coastal towns that produce unforgettable memories for tourists visiting Hvar.
Away from the breathtaking coast lies a world of history and tradition, tucked into the mountainous interior of the island.
Renting a car or scooter will allow you to uncover the island’s hidden gems. One village worth mentioning is Velo Grablje, where you’ll find captivating stone homes and courtyards that date back to the 14th century. Once the heart of lavender production in Dalmatia, Velo Grablje is now home to only 14 inhabitants. A young couple in the village run a delightful restaurant, Konoba Zbondini, that offers traditional Dalmatian cuisine and even cooking classes.
Walking a bit further down the hill will lead you to Malo Grablje, a hauntingly charming and completely abandoned village!
Go on a Wine Tour
There are many ways to get to know a place, but I believe one of the best ways to do it are through food and wine!
Wine on Hvar Island is a centuries-old lifestyle and tradition. Dating all the way back to 400 BC when the ancient Greeks first brought grapevines to Hvar from Paros, the island natives have been perfecting the art of vinification.
There are many half-day and full-day tours that take you through the fascinating history of wine production accompanied by a local expert.
You can also do it on your own, but having a local guide will give you a more comprehensive experience. Plus, you can drink all the wine you want and not worry about driving.
Taste the Local Cuisine
Much of the cuisine on Hvar Island is similar to what you will find throughout the rest of Dalmatia. However, Hvar does have a typical local dish that’s worth trying known as gregada. This modest fish stew is thought to be the oldest way of preparing fish in Dalmatia.
Other island specialties worth trying is locally made olive oil that can be found almost everywhere, and the homemade goat cheese from Konoba Luviji.
Day Trips from Hvar
The stunning medieval island of Korčula makes a perfect day trip for those looking to do some island hopping around Hvar. Korčula is one of Croatia’s most treasured islands and is even believed to be the birthplace of Marco Polo.
Korčula Island can easily be reached from Hvar via the public ferry or by private boat tour.
The remote island of Vis is arguably one of the most beautiful islands off the Dalmatian coast. It is also one of the most fascinating islands as it spent much of its history as a military base for the Yugoslavian army.
Cut off from foreigners and visitors from 1950 to 1989, Vis was underpopulated for many years, leaving its natural beauty almost completely untouched. For this reason, many visitors go to Vis to enjoy the dense pine forests and sparkling unspoiled coastline.
Vis Island can be reached from Hvar by taking a catamaran – the ride lasts about an hour.
One of the more popular destinations to combine with Vis Island is the Blue Cave on the island of Biševo. At just around noon, the sun creates a unique natural phenomenon, making the water inside the cave glow a bright blue.
Witness the magnificent work of Mother Nature with just a short boat ride away from Hvar Island! Many local agencies offer private and group day tours to both Vis Island and Blue Cave, just be sure to shop around for a fair price.
Have you ever been to Hvar Island? Help a fellow traveler out and share your favorite things about Hvar in the comments below!
Go Beyond Hvar Island
- Check out the 10 Must-See Hidden Gems in Croatia.
- Find out when the best time to visit Dubrovnik is.
- If you’re in Dalmatia, don’t skip out on a visit to Mostar!
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