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First things first: Hvar is a small island off the southern coast of Croatia in the Adriatic Sea, straight south from the ancient city of Split. You may never have heard of it before, but it’s a very special place, and very much worth visiting! According to Conde Nast magazine, Hvar is one of the best islands in Europe for 2023. Here’s why:

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1. The glamour of Hvar town

Hvar’s capital is a Mediterranean hotspot for celebrities and the just plain wealthy of Europe, who often arrive in yachts. But besides rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, you’ll love the promenade lined with buildings from the Baroque and Renaissance periods, fronted by cafes, perfect for people-watching. The main square, Pjaca, is the largest square in Dalmatia, and is home to the most impressive architectural masterpieces in the town: the Cathedral of St. Stephen, the Bishop’s Palace, and the Arsenal, which also houses the town theater.

2. The views

Climb the steps to the Spanish Fortress above Hvar. Your effort will be rewarded by the magnificent views of the town of Hvar, the sea, and the Pakleni islands: an enchanting archipelago of more than 20 islands. The fortress, by the way, wasn’t built by the Spanish; it’s a Venetian creation from the 16th century. The workmen were mostly Spanish, giving it its name.

3. The aroma!

Yes, really! Here, the salty sea breezes combine with the scent of lavender in the air from May to July. Lavender is Hvar’s best-selling export, and as it flowers, you’ll see stone terraces filled with the purple glow of lavender plants. Get to Hvar at the end of June for the traditional Lavender Festival in the town of Velo Grablje.

4. A UNESCO site

Today’s town of Stari Grad was founded by the Greeks as far back as the 4th century BC. They’re the ones who started farming on the Stari Grad Plains. They partitioned the fields using stone walls, and planted them with grapevines. Nowadays the 8-hectare site is still partitioned and farmed the same way as it was over 2000 years ago: hence, the UNESCO site designation. Nowadays in addition to vineyards there are other crops like olive, fig and olive trees. The paths crossing the Stari Grad fields are ideal for cycling.

5. A cycling paradise

And speaking of cycling, this island is one of few in Europe that have well-signposted cycle paths. You can rent a road or mountain bike or an ebike to explore on your own, or take a guided bike tour. If you want to see other islands in the region as well, the solution is to take a boating and biking tour that includes Hvar.

6. Authentic small towns

Nearby the Stari Grad Plains are two small towns: Jelsa and Vrboska. They’re quite different, but both have authentic harbors where fishing boats moor. In Vrboska a canal runs through the center of town, crossed by lots of small bridges in a range of architectural styles. Jelsa has a charming central square, another great people-watching location.

7. Food and drink

Not surprisingly, Hvar (and the whole Croatian coast) is an excellent place for seafood. It’s also a great place to discover some lesser-known wines. Visit the winery Bilo Idron in Sveta Nedjelja on the southern coast of Hvar. It produces award-winning wines from organic, hand-picked grapes. At a marina in Sveta Nedjelja, the owner of the winery runs a restaurant with the same name; enjoy a wine-tasting or a delicious seafood meal there.

8. Its beauty

It’s probably clear by now that Hvar is a beautiful place. You’ll see spectacular views of the sea, the mainland and other islands. You’ll see the internationally glamorous Hvar City but also some smaller, more authentic towns. Cycling or walking through agricultural land crisscrossed by stone walls, you’ll smell the enchanting scent of lavender, and you’ll pass ancient monasteries and churches too.

Want to see more?

Are you impressed by the small island of Hvar in the Adriatic Sea? Click here to watch the video!

The best times to visit are May, June, September and October to avoid the more extreme heat of the middle of summer. It’s also less crowded then. Several of our tours include bicycle routes on the island of Hvar: Pearls of Dalmatia, Highlights of Dalmatia, Southern Dalmatia and Islands, and our Southern Dalmatia and islands PLUS tour. Take a look!

Our travel experts would be happy to help you book your dream tour. Just contact us online or call us at +31 20 72 35 400 so that we can help you!

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