If happiness could be bottled and sold, the place to do it would be in Hvar. It’s a lively island on the Adriatic Sea in the middle of the west coast of Croatia, that’s not only abounding with activity, but with complete beauty. One glimpse at the gorgeous seaport would be enough to fill an extra large bottle of happiness. (If someone figures out how to actually do this, let me know.) Hvar happened to be a random pick on my European vacation list this summer. In planning my trip, I knew Croatia was a must, but wasn’t really familiar with the islands. I actually found a hotel on a different island, and forgetting the name and where exactly it was located, booked travel to Hvar. It was a great mistake, and I didn’t miss that hotel I had originally been seeking at all.
Come to find out, Hvar is pretty well known in Europe. People know it for it’s hip party scene, posh crowd, overload of mega yachts and the most turquoise, crystal clear seawater you have ever seen. Another great quality about Hvar is that it has a variety of landscapes and destinations to meet any travelers needs. For example, the area I stayed in, Hvar town, is the bustling port where you are bound to find mega yachts, mega stars (Bon Jovi in my case) and a mega scene (in the best way possible). Stari Grad on the other side of the island is a sleepier village where you are likely to find more locals. It’s quiet and tranquil, and quite the opposite of Hvar town, but equally as lovely. Hvar island really is a gem, that I thought was waiting to be discovered, but was glad to find out so many people already knew of it’s amazingness.
If I could recommend only one thing about Hvar, it would be to stay longer than you originally had planned! I wished I would have had more time on this beautiful island. (I know I will be back one day to explore even more.) But, no one said I could only recommend one thing, so I am recommending it all. I hope my tips, recommendations and stories will help make your visit to this magical place, just that, magical!
As you read through the recommendations below, here is a map to help you orient yourself on the island.
Where to Stay: Initially my friend and I wanted to splurge on a luxury resort, as we knew we would want to spend lots of time poolside relaxing in Hvar. We thought the Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort would be the best spot, so we booked without hesitation. After ironing out the rest of our travel plans for this trip, we decided we would rather save some money and stay at the nearby sister hotel, Pharos Bay. Just like booking travel to Hvar was a happy mistake, so was this (even though it was a decision). It was almost half the price, with 10x the views! We were able to get a premium room, overlooking the pool and the sea, and it came with daily breakfast. And can I just say, the vibe of this hotel was amazing! It was very mid-century modern, which is my favorite style of all time, mixed with modern pop. [Luggage Tip: Book your luggage transfer from the ferry in advance. Taxis here are few and far between, and rather expensive. It’s only a short walk uphill to Pharos Bay, you just won’t want to tote your luggage up that hill. Especially on a hot and humid day.]
Where to Eat:
- Vita Health Food Bar: Yummy (and healthy) eats right on the Riva in the main harbor. Really slow service during my visit, but the views are incredible and the time you spend waiting won’t matter.
- Macondo: It’s supposed to be delicious (we heard from several sources), but is cash only, and quite expensive. Since our cash was slowly dwindling and we need we needed it for our boat rental, we passed. But it smelled amazing!
- Leporini: It was one of the best meals I had the whole trip! I had white fish, with creamed carrots. So light and refreshing. (This restaurant is located near Macondo.)
- Club Park: Fun place for live music and cocktails after dinner. It’s a fun spot because you can sit on the stairs, pull up a chair or relax on the wall (with cushions), plus you are only steps away from the “party alley” where the late night festivities begin.
- Dardin Stari Grad: The restaurateurs welcome visitors passing by, and this place called to me. There was a lovely outdoor terrace, the service was excellent and the lobster risotto was delicious.
What to Do:
- Soak in the Sun from the Water: Enjoy time at the beach (many are on nearby islands) or the pool during the hottest part of the day. And it does get hot, and humid!
- Take and ATV Adventure: Not only is an ATV ride an adventurous way to see the island, it’s practical too. As I said, taxis are hard to come by here, and expensive, but you can rent a quad for the day, or a few hours, and explore the island in your own way, on your own dime and time. It was about 400 kuna to rent the ATV from the Pharos hotel for 2 hours. It’s a thrill driving an ATV through the mountains, just feet from major drops to the sea below. (It was safe, don’t worry!)
- See the Lavender Fields: Another thing Hvar is well known for, that I also was clueless about, is lavender. And I luckily happened to be there in prime lavender blooming time. The fields are expansive, with gorgeous views of nearby islands, and they smell incredible. If you don’t see this on your ATV ride, take a taxi to Stari Grad via the old road, and ask your driver to stop on the way. (The fields are near Brusje.) It’s a little pricey, but worth it.
- Rent a Boat: Don’t worry, you don’t have to be the Captain. You can find a cute, pink shirt clad Croatian named Tino to chauffeur you. While the mega yachts would be a fun way to see the area, the little boats for rent in the harbor do the job just fine. Tino took us all around the nearby island of Marinkovac, where all the famous Hvar beaches are located. This is the best way to truly see how gorgeous the water is. Pictures can’t even do it justice, and I don’t know that I will ever find another place with water so beautiful. It’s so clear in fact, you could see all the way to the bottom, even when that was about 60 feet down.
- Visit Stari Grad: Exploring the island is a fun way to see more than just the main harbor in Hvar town. There are several little “towns” across the island, most of which are quaint and a perfect option for relaxing near the water in peace and quiet. Stari Grad is a larger town, the largest on the island actually. It’s also peaceful, picturesque and worth a visit.
- Enjoy the Nightlife: Whether you want to people watch along the Riva (main street in the harbour), have cocktails and listen to live music or party into the wee hours of the night, you have an option for it all in Hvar. It is a party town, that draws a lot of Bachelor and Bachelorette parties, and it seems to live up to it’s high class party standards. (Carpe Diem is a nightclub that apparently compares to no other. You take a boat to get there, and it’s open until sunrise. We opted not to do it, but wished after we had.)
- Shop the Local Market: At nigth Hvar town has many vendors out selling their locally made goods. You can find everything from soap and lavender sachets to T-shirts and jewelry.
- Drink the Wine: Croatian wine is delicious, and thanks to being additive free, leaves you hangover free.
- Pick out your Favorite Mega Yacht: The options are endless and your mind will be blown. Daydream and pick out which you fancy yourself sitting on. (If you’re lucky enough to really pick one to own, take me on it with you!)
- Carry plenty of Crotia Kuna (aka cash). Many places on this island do not accept credit cards, so you will want to have cash handy.
- They only have two roads, the old road and the new road. It makes it pretty easy to get around!
- People are incredibly friendly. Talk with the locals and your fellow tourists. Like I mentioned earlier, the happiness is flowing freely here, so it won’t be hard.
- See more tips about travel in Croatia in this post, such as how to get around, best places to visit, etc.
I also posted my basic travel tips for Croatia in this post. Check it out to make sure you have the adventure of a lifetime, no matter where you go in Croatia – but remember, you will find happy in Hvar – just not in a bottle (well, maybe a bottle of wine)!
Signed with Style,