One of the most visited spots in all of Croatia is the trendy, sophisticated island of Hvar off of the Dalmatian Coast, where celebrities come to play and the young and carefree come to party the night away. I had heard from one of my best friends and travel buddies back home that this was definitely a spot to add to my travel list....and then I heard this advice repeated to me all throughout my trip in Croatia. Thus, during my stay in the port city of Split, I knew exactly which island I would be spending my free day exploring.
|Hvar Town, Croatia|
Hvar is an easy 2-hour ferry ride from the Split Port and ferry tickets will cost you only about $15 US each way. Not bad, if you ask me. After the journey there, my first reaction upon seeing the famous Hvar Town was that it looked like a fairytale image out of the Italian Riviera, right there in the heart of Croatia. I kept saying to myself during my trip, "Why has no one yet discovered this incredible country!?" Sure, there are thousands upon thousands of visitors there every year; but it's not really on the top of people's everyday travel list....but it really should be and this stylish town is just one of the many reasons why!
|Island of Hvar, Croatia|
Hvar's city center has remnants of elegant Venetian architecture and you will definitely feel this Venetian style when you are standing in the middle of it all. The magnificent piazza showcases St. Stephan's Cathedral and the palaces of Groda against the backdrop of cascading stone built houses that are commonplace throughout the island.
|Venetian Style Town Loggia, Hvar Town|
Then there is the stellar waterfront promenade that will leave you stopped in your tracks with its towering palm trees, centuries old walls and the background of the Venetian loggia.
|Stylish Waterfront Promenade, Hvar Town|
|Hvar Town Harbor|
|Hvar Town Port|
|Hvar Town Beach|
All throughout the island, you will be awed by the breathtaking color of the blue waters which are typical throughout the Dalmatian Coast. Here, the beaches aren't sandy, but rocky, and the water starts out crystal clear, getting bluer and bluer the deeper you go in.
|Look at that blue water....and the private tanning deck|
|Yep, I could spend an entire afternoon right here|
Strolling alongside the island's perimeter, you will be met with the restaurant and bar scene which is ever-so-cool, begging you to take a seat, take in the sun and savor a refreshing island drink while enjoying the memorable views. By day, you will find island goers lazing the day away at the eateries and bars; while at night, the lights go on and the music gets loud, turning Hvar's restaurant scene into an Ibiza-like fiesta.
|A typical Hvar Town restaurant scene|
|Restaurant by day....bar by night|
If you have the chance then, I would highly recommend opting to stay the night on Hvar if at all possible since the nightlife is half the experience. I wasn't able to do this, but maybe one day in the future. The number of hotels are limitless; here is one beautiful one that I passed by:
|Amfora Hotel, Hvar Town|
|Beautiful Beachfront Hotel|
Of course, the activity of choice (or rather, the inactivity of choice) is doing....absolutely nothing. Find a place, any place, on the island's coast and relax under the sun's rays. Any of these locales will do the trick:
Once you've had enough down time, there's still some sights to explore. Especially remarkable is the fortress Fortica atop the city. However, to get up there, you're going to have to climb some stairs....a lot of them in fact. But it will be well worth it, there's many characteristic winding streets to take in along the way with much to distract you:
After you've reached the fortress on top of Hvar Island, take time to explore the ruins up there. Better yet, find a shaded spot, sit down and take in the stunning views from this vantage point, up high where the noise and traffic down below is inaudible.
|Breathtaking Views from atop Hvar Town|
|Find a shaded spot to take in the views|
Surrounding the island of Hvar are multiple other islands to visit, each of which have their own personalities. Want a secluded beach? Find a water taxi to jet you over to untouched bays. Or, on the island itself, you can take a tour to the famous lavender fields where fragrant flowers are in bloom. Perhaps visit Stari Grad, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, just a 30 minute bus ride away. All in all, Hvar Island is a stop not to be missed with enough life and activity to keep you sufficiently entertained if that's your cup of tea....or enough quiet spots to avoid the hustle and bustle if you would prefer some true R & R.