Hvar is Croatia’s most famous island, an Adriatic gem with a stunning coastline that attracts up to 20,000 visitors daily during the summer season. Yes, there are plenty of amazing island options to choose from when in Croatia, but Hvar is a must. It’s the stuff of glamorous European summers – crystal clear water, ocean swim ladders, medieval Old Towns and a vibrant waterfront. Below is my complete guide to the island including the best beaches, viewpoints, day trips, historical sights, hotels, Airbnbs, restaurants, bars and more, as well as a five-day itinerary. This post contains affiliate links.
One of the best views on the island is from the top of the Spanish Fortress.
Gelato break on the Square of St. Stephen. OUTFIT DETAILS: Free People two-piece set linked here.
Spectacular views of the harbor and town from the Hvar Arsenal Balcony. OUTFIT DETAILS: Free People set linked here.
Hvar’s spectacular waterfront shines in the summer months.
The water literally sparkles at Dubrovica Beach.
MAY AND SEPTEMBER. Summer season and the immediate shoulder months are the ideal times to be on Hvar. When the weather is warm, it’s one of the most popular islands in Croatia, attracting visitors with its idyllic blue waters and bustling waterfront. Peak season is June through August when the island gets pretty busy. Beaches are crowded this time of the year, and lodging is slim pickings if you don’t book well in advance. Visit in May or September, and you still get the warm temps, but less people. Avoid visiting in low season – the weather is cold, and the island feels shuttered and empty.
Quiet mornings in Stari Grad.
The vibrant heart of Hvar Town.
FIVE DAYS. For island hopping visitors with limited time, Hvar Town is doable in just a couple of days. It’ll be rushed, and you’ll miss out on beaches and boat days, but you’ll at least get a taste of the island. For a fuller experience, I recommend at least five days on the island. A few more days is enough time to explore the island at a relaxed pace – enjoy Hvar Town and its energy, visit several beaches, enjoy a boat day and maybe even take a day trip to a neighboring island.
Zarace Beach is one of the most epic spots on the island.
Franciscan Monastery beach is a popular swimming and sunbathing spots in Old Town.
Popular beach that is walking distance from Hvar Town. The water is calm, perfect for swimming. And it’s home to Beach Club Hvar for beachgoers that want a luxury beach day. For visitors that don’t want to pay $50-$300 USD for sun beds and overwater cabanas, there is also a free stretch of beach open to the public.
Dubovica is one of the most charming beaches on Hvar. It’s a 10 minute drive from town, and another 10-15 minute walk down a dirt path to reach the beach. Dubovica sits in a cove, so the crystal clear water is incredibly calm. My favorite part of the beach is the backdrop – a 17th century church and an old summer house sit perched on the rocks.
ISLAND DAY TRIPS
If you’re planning a weeklong stay on Hvar, you have plenty of time to take a day trip to one of the neighboring big islands. It’s possible to visit Vis and Bisevo as part of a boat tour, or visit Brac via the morning and afternoon ferries between the two islands.
FRANCISCAN MONASTERY BEACH
This beach sits at the edge of Old Town. It’s small, and can get very busy in summer season, but sunbathing here is an absolute must. The beach is located next to the Franciscan Monastery, a beautiful 15th century church that serves up the prettiest scenery for a day on the water.
It’s the beating heart of the island. The gorgeous waterfront provides a stunning backdrop to Hvar Town’s famous harbor. Step into the town and you’ll discover a labyrinth of cobbled corridors lined with boutiques, bars, restaurants, gelato shops and cottages. Much of the town is made from beautiful white stone that looks straight out of a storybook.
It’s a 30 to 40 minute drive to reach Jagodna Beach, but worth the journey out to the turquoise idyllic waters. The remote location adds to the allure, a serene escape from the busy beaches that surround Hvar Town. There are no facilities and no beach clubs.
A dreamy archipelago sits just off the coast of Hvar, accessible by water taxi or private boat. You can actually see the islands from Hvar Town – best view is up at the Spanish Fortress. Rent a boat for the day to visit the islands (no boating license required). The island waters are very calm for swimming – lots of serene beaches and secret coves. Plan to stop at Palmizana Beach midday for lunch, it’s a small bay on Sveti Klement that is home to a handful of picturesque bars and restaurants. The boat ride over from Hvar is only 15 minutes.
POKONJI DOL BEACH
It’s a 20-30 minute walk from Old Town to reach Pokonji dol Beach, but the coastal stroll is absolutely stunning, and there are several private rocky coves to stop at along the way for a dip in the inviting Adriatic water. The beach gets very crowded during the summer.
RENT A BOAT
Hvar is an amazing place to explore by boat, and most companies do not require a boat license, as long as you are a responsible driver (experience preferred, but usually not necessary). Most of the beaches and offshore islands can be reached by boat, plus you’ll have access to the remote red rocks and sea caves that are only accessible by water. We used Hvar Experience to rent our boat.
This is a short, steep hike from town that is best to do in the morning, especially during the summer. The 16th century fortress sits perched over Hvar and offers sweeping views of the town below, as well as the Pakleni Islands. Explore the fort’s corridors, chapel, a small jail, bastions and museum. The walk up from town takes approximately 20 minutes – it’s also possible to drive.
This is the oldest settlement on Hvar. If you rent a car for the day, it’s worth a stop to see the picturesque town and have lunch. You’ll be amazed at the low key vibes of Stari Grad compared to Hvar Town.
Tvrdalj Castle is a hidden gem in Stari Grad. A former summer residence of 16th century poet Petar Hektorovic, the Renaissance building is completely serene. Particularly lovely is the beautiful open air courtyard at the entrance where a blue saltwater pool is filled with dozens of mullet.
Zarace Beach is truly epic. It’s home to two coves that face opposite directions – Malo Zarace and Velo Zarace. Both are walkable from the same parking area. I particularly love Velo Zarace, an inlet of deep turquoise water that literally twinkles under the Adriatic sunshine. A very serene place to spend the day swimming and sunbathing.
Stone houses in Hvar’s oldest town Stari Grad.
The quiet corners tucked away in Hvar Town.
The cobbled streets of Stari Grad.
If you’re simply looking for a small, clean and bright space close to Hvar Town, then Anatota checks all the boxes. The property is located close to the Spanish Fortress, a short walk to all the shops, bars and restaurants. The private balcony views are spectacular.
White washed stone reminiscent of the Greek islands leads the way to this beautiful one bedroom apartment perched in the hills above Hvar Town. The apartment’s bright interior is mostly white decor – very clean and modern. It’s a 15 minute walk from the Blue Lagoon Apartment to reach town.
Another bright white apartment that has been completely renovated and modernized. This Boutique Apartment sits in the middle of Hvar Town, walking distance to all the shops, bars, beaches and restaurants. The decor is minimalist chic, very Mediterranean and beautiful.
Heracla Residence is a modern two-bedroom apartment that stays true to its Hvar roots with hints of Old World charm in its design details. White spaces in the apartment are mixed with exposed wood beams, stone walls and bits of moulding. This is an Airbnb Plus property, very high demand.
Another Airbnb Plus property that requires booking months in advance if you’re visiting in high season. The nautical themed apartment is small, but very clean, modern and sleek. Hideaway Apartment is located in the residential hills behind Hvar, a 10-15 minute walk to reach the main town.
Very cool space located just steps away from the main square in Hvar Town. A stay here feels very authentic, as most of the walls are exposed stone. All the feels of an Old World storybook, but with modern creature comforts. History Hvar Design Heritage offers a variety of rooms ranging from doubles to deluxe king studios.
The dazzling Maslina Resort sits on its own private bay, near picturesque Star Grad. The rooms are spacious and beautiful with private terraces overlooking the sea. The property is a splurge, home to a lovely outdoor pool, spa and on-site restaurant.
For one of the most unique stays on Hvar, look no further than the Old Tower. That’s right, this is an 18th century stone windmill tower that has been converted into a four story Airbnb. It isn’t the most chic inside, but there’s a lot of character and charm. And the outdoor space has been completely renovated for sunset drinks and hosting. The Old Tower is located in the hills over Hvar Town – an easy 10 minute walk to reach the water.
Palace Elisabeth, Hvar Heritage Hotel might be the best situated hotel on the island, located in a historic building on the main square overlooking the harbor. Everything in town is just a few steps way.
This 15th century house sits in the heart of Hvar’s city centre next to the Church of St. Annunziata. Villa Varda – Villa Latica is a Gothic mini palace, a three-story villa that houses two bedrooms, modern bathroom, kitchen and fabulous rooftop. Location is spectacular.
Lapping in the luxury at the beautiful Maslina Resort, my favorite place to stay on the island.
Breakfast feast at Maslina Resort.
Solid restaurant in Stari Grad that specializes in fresh pastas, seafood and risotto.
Aroma scoops delicious homemade gelato, offering more than two dozen flavors including orange with ginger, blueberry, chocolate with orange, raspberry, rum raisin, tiramisu, peppermint chocolate and more.
BACKLANE CRAFT BAR
This aptly named cocktail bar sits tucked away on a back lane in Hvar Town. Attractive outdoor seating lines a little square – perfect for people watching in the evenings. Drinks here are delicious!
CENTRAL PARK CLUB
Worth a stop to enjoy a drink in the lovely outdoor seating under the restaurant’s beautiful bougainvillea. Best to visit in the evenings when there is live music – a great vibe.
Make reservations well in advance, and request an outdoor table. This is the most popular restaurant on the island. Menu highlights include grilled John Dory, Gregada, grilled scampi and the selection of gnocchi.
Popular bar overlooking the water that is a great vibe for sunset drinks. It’s a 20-minute walk to Falko Bar from Hvar Town along picturesque coastline.
Absolutely delicious restaurant located in the back of town that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and all are delicious!). The menu is filled with delicious fare including spicy eggs, Chimichurri potatoes, watermelon + mint salad, California toast and delicious burritos.
This was the best meal I ate during my last three week trip to Europe. Giaxa sits tucked away in Hvar Town where tables line a medieval alleyway and fill an open air courtyard. The specialty at Giaxa is the lobster tagliatelle, and it’s worth every penny of the 80 to 100 euros (pricing based on the weight of the lobster). I would travel all the way back to Hvar, just to eat this meal again.
A fabulous spot for fresh seafood in Hvar Town. Favorites on the menu are the mussels bouzzara, grilled scampi, Gregada and grilled whole fish.
Popular restaurant in Stari Grad famous for their Gregada. Arrive early for outdoor seating in the alleyway.
I would travel back to Hvar just to eat the lobster tagliatelle from Giaxa. It’s the restaurant’s specialty, and it’s AMAZING!
The most charming outdoor seating at Antika, in Stari Grad.
If you’re based in Hvar Town, most restaurants, bars, shops and beaches are within walking distance. If you’re interested in exploring more of the island (I highly recommend it!), just rent a car or scooter for the days you plan to explore. The most popular agency for car and scooter bookings is Antonio Rent. Book early in you visit in high season.
Twinning is winning in Stari Grad. This is the cutest town on the island!
Hvar is a small island that is only reachable by boat – no airports. Most tourists arrive by ferry which connects Hvar to Dubrovnik, Split, Bol, Korcula, Mljet and a few more destinations. I always use Ferryhopper to look up ferry schedules and book all my ferry tickets.
Tvrdalj Castle is a hidden gem in Stari Grad. The open air courtyard is home to a blue saltwater pool filled with dozens of mullet.
I love all the stairway seating at the bars in Hvar Town.