The Croatian island of Hvar is by far the most popular island in the country. The island of sunshine, lavender and beautifully clean beaches is, beside Dubrovnik, Croatia’s top destination.
Hvar is also the sunniest of all Croatia’s islands where lavender oil production is a century-old industry while lavender fields dominate the landscape of small family-owned plots divided by dry stone walls.
Ideal for people who are either looking for a full beach holiday or just a day trip visit as a part of island-hopping from Split or Dubrovnik, Hvar offers interesting sightseeing, bars and restaurants offering tasty local cuisine as well as secluded beaches for peace and quiet moments.
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Hvar at a glance
Where is Hvar island? The island is located off the coast of Croatia, between the well-known cities of Split and Dubrovnik. The distance from Split is 19 nautical miles (35 km) and from Dubrovnik 77 nautical miles (140 km). From both places, Hvar is easily reachable as a day trip destination (see other day trips from Split).
What is the size of Hvar? The island covers an area of 297 km2. The total length is 69 km. Being a fairly narrow island (see map below) the width is 10 km at the widest point but most of the island is just about 2-3km wide. The population of the islands is just over 11 thousand permanent inhabitants, 3800 of them living in Hvar Town.
How is Hvar pronounced? Hvar is pronounced “h-w-aar” although the locals call it simply “fa-ar” or “fooor“. So if you are in Hvar, just pronounce it “fa-ar” or “fooor” and you will be fine, everyone will know what you are talking about!
Is Hvar a party island? If you are asking yourself is Hvar a party island, then the answer is yes. It is a party island but not exclusively. The island is also a favourite among families with children as well as among mature travellers who are looking for peace and quiet. If you choose the right location to stay in, the island is a great one to visit, you’ll not be disappointed.
Best Things to do in Hvar
- See the main attraction of Hvar Old Town: walk the Piazza, the town’s main square, visit St. Stephan’s Cathedral that is dominating the square, see the Arsenal palace and local Marina. In the evening, stroll along the Riva, the town’s seafront promenade while admiring the sunset views over the ocean.
- Swim and sunbathe in the popular nearby Pokonji Dol beach, situated within an easy walking distance from the Town.
- Spend a day on the beaches at nearby Pakleni islands
- Try delicious traditional Croatian local food accompanied by locally produced wines and olive oil
- Hike to the top of the hill to the old, 16th century-built fortress of Hvar, locally called Fortica Spanjola (see photo below) a protection castle with a fort, from where you can enjoy the beautiful and breathtaking panoramic view of Hvar Town, its harbour and marina as well as Pakleni islands. (below photo)
- Explore Hvar island lavender fields
- Check which guided tours are available and what are the latest prices for private tours, hiking, cycling, diving or kayaking on the island – click here
- If you have more time, visit Jelsa and Vrboska (bus timetable), two lovely seaside villages on Island’s northern coast.
Hvar For Families With Kids
If you are visiting Hvar as a part of your family holiday, the best places to stay are away from the centre of Hvar Town, where most of the clubs and nightlife are concentrated. Hvar Town is a car-free zone that is very kid-friendly during the daytime. All popular Island beaches are nearby while Pakleni islands are just a 5 min taxi boat or shuttle ride away. If you are into quieter places then Vrboska would be my choice. This picturesque village, the 15th-century fishing harbour is situated in the long, narrow and deep bay on the northern side of the Island, 27 km away from the Hvar town. The village is peaceful and probably among the most beautiful ones on the entire coast.
Numerous beaches and swimming spots are dotted along with the island’s diverse coastline. Being the sunniest island in the country, Hvar is a perfect spot for a beach holiday. Here is a map of the most popular ones with brief descriptions. They include crowded and public ones as well as more secluded and less known pebbly coves away from the crowds. Find out more details in a separate article that covers the beaches on the island and see the map:
Beaches Direction Map
Where to Stay
You will be spoiled by the choice of where to stay in Hvar. The island is very touristy with accommodation on offer ranging from the most luxurious hotels to very basic private rooms and campsites. The most popular place to stay is in Hvar Old Town and its surrounding streets while the rest of the island is less crowded. Although the island’s accommodation is known as pricey, if you carefully plan your stay you can find good deals in privately owned apartments and rooms for the most part of the year.
When to Make Your Reservations
If you are looking to book the best places to stay, do it as soon as you can. That particularly applies for June to September, the busiest tourist season. For the rest of the year, I still recommend booking in advance, but you can do it last minute. For the best offers and to find out what is currently available check here.
Getting to Hvar & Day trips
Hvar island has no airport so you would need to fly either to Split airport or to Dubrovnik. From there, you will take the most convenient ferry crossing to the island. The alternative to public transport is a private boat crossing.
By Ferry, Car Ferry or Catamaran
- Car ferries to the island depart from Split to Stari Grad (Hvar) ferry port and from Drvenik to Sucuraj (Hvar) ferry port. (see how to get from Stari Grad to Hvar)
- From Split – for foot passengers – take all year round daily fast ferry catamaran from Split. (map)
- from Brac to Hvar
- From Dubrovnik, Mljet Island (Pomena and Sobra) and Korcula – for foot passengers – from April to October take a daily foot passenger fast catamaran ferry from Dubrovnik, stopping in Mljet and Korcula.
- From Lastovo – for foot passengers – take a daily fast ferry catamaran
- From Vis – for foot passengers – once a week fast ferry catamaran
- From and to Hvar > Zadar
Check detailed schedules, booking info and ferry ticket prices on croatiaferries.com
The alternative to above mentioned public transport service is a private boat crossing, private tours or day trips from Split, Dubrovnik, Brac, Vis and other places in the vicinity – see what is available
On the above map, you can see the locations of all Hvar island ferry ports that are the entry points to the island as well as other ports in the area that have connecting ferries to reach the island. See also a map of all Croatian islands including Hvar.
To get a bit better impression of the area, have a look at this lovely video that shows aerial footage of the island and the town, shot on a nice sunny day around Hvar’s Riva, the main square, the local marina and Pakleni archipelago. Don’t miss the end bit with lovely sunset views: