Information On Hvar Island Beaches, Wine Tasting, & Visiting Fishing Villages
Hvar island is part of the Dalmatian archipelago and is considered one of its longest and largest island. Some of the towns worth a visit on the island include Hvar Town, Stari Grad (ferry port to mainland), Jelsa, Sucaraj (with a ferry port to Drvenik on the mainland), Vrboska and Milna. Today it is recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It is well known for its consistently good weather, it’s clear blue sea, fields of rosemary, marjoram, lavender, thyme, and sage and as well as its excellent night life. The economy is predominantly reliant on tourism but fishing and farming also contribute to its GDP.
Various travel magazines have featured many articles about the Hvar island’s food, environment and natural beauty. It differs from most of the other islands that tend to have less vegetation, pine forests, lavender fields, olive trees and vineyards. The island of Hvar is perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, snorkeling and swimming.
Video Hvar Island general information
- Take the Ferry from Split to Hvar Island,
The island of Hvar is 80km long and approximately 300 sq km in area and probably the most popular Croatian island destination with almost 2800 hours of sunshine every year. It has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters. The best time to visit is from May to September but it can be very busy especially during August when large number of Italians visit by crossing the Adriatic Sea by ferry.
3 Fun things to do, Visit Villages, Wineries and Hvar Beaches
1. Visit Hvar Island Villages
Take the bus, boat, rent a car or scooter and visit some of the villages, wineries, beaches and harbors in Hvar. Places to visit on Hvar Island are Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Vbroska, Vrbanj, Sveta Nedjelja and Jelsa.
- Stari Grad is the oldest town on the island where you will find traditional stone houses, cobblestone streets, many churches and Tvrdalji Castle, a 16th century palace. This historical town is a popular tourist destination and the point of entry for car ferries from Split.
- Stari Grad plain is the agricultural landscape occupying the islands central area. It was setup by the Greeks in the 4th century and is still in largely in its original form. The area is used to grow olives, wheat, figs and almond trees. Today its dominant crop is grapes, lavender and olives. The ingenuity of the Greeks can be seen in the stone walls, stone shelters and water collection system that is largely preserved. The plain is also a UNESCO protected site.
- Jelsa, a small, quiet, picturesque town with a population of about 4,000, it lies on the northern shore of Hvar. Its strategic location made it a trading center of the Adriatic. During the 19th century, ships exported Hvar wines, olive oil and salted fish from the port of Jelsa. Today wine making continues in Jelsa and combined with its lovely beaches, sports facilities, good accommodations and restaurants it makes it a great romantic destination. It is home to three wineries which are part of the Hvar island self guided tour.
- Vrboska with a population of about 600. It lies on the north-eastern side of the UNESCO protected Stari Grad Plain. Vrboscka was founded in the 15th century as a fishing harbor and is known today for the Church of St Mary, a church fortress built as a refuge for Croatians after an attack by the Turks in the 16th Century. Though not as old as Stari Grad, it is a charming fishing village and is very laid back with an island in the middle of the bay.
- Vrbanj – Small picturesque town with about 500 people dating back to the first half of the 14th century. It’s a nice small village with cafes, grocery store, and a wine tasting center located in the heart of Hvar Island. It is home to the Plančić winery, which began production in 1919 and modernized its production in the mid 1980’s. The Hvar island self guided tour makes a stop at the winery.
- Sveta Nedjelja – is a small village on the south side of the island with about 150 inhabitants and it is a 30 min drive from Jelsa or a 15min drive from Hvar. This area is well known for its vineyards that stretch from the sea up the mountainside. The steep terrain produces high quality wines. Visit the beach and stop by the restaurant on the harbor with spectacular views. The restaurant at the harbour is the “factory” outlet for the Zlatan Otok winery located on the hills. It has a wine-room with an underwater cellar that has a window looking out under the sea. Visiting the basement with all the wine barrels and taste some of the best wines on the Island. It is truly worth the visit, however the drive to the village is intense, and not for the faint of heart. It can also be reached by boat.
The village is set on a steep hillside with the large cave and church further up the mountainside. Sveta Nedelja village is about halfway from the sea to the cave and can be approached from the beach along a winding path. The total time from the harbor is 1-2 hours depending on your speed and number of breaks. The terrain is low/medium difficulty. You will need good walking shoes and plenty of water.
2. Visit Hvar Island Wineries
Zlatan Otok Winery on Sveta Nedelja Hill
- Wine Tour – The driver should not be drinking as Croatia has strict law in regards to drinking and driving. Some of the roads to the wineries are small, windy, narrow and lack safety barriers, especially to the Zlatan Otok winery in the village of Sveta Nedelja.
- Wine Country: Carič wines – Vrbroska Village
- Wine Country: Pinjata winery – Vrbosca Village
- Wine Country: Vinarija Braća Plančić, Winery Plancic, Vrbanj
- Wine Country: Andro Tomic – Jelsa
- Wine Country: Ivo Dubokovic – Jelsa
- Wine Country: Teo Huljic – Jelsa
- Wine Country: Zlatan Otok – Sveta Nedelja Hill. The wines from this winery can be found at the harbour tavern and boat marina which has the wines stored in barrels under the sea
3. Visit Hvar Island Beaches
Hvar Island Town Beaches
Pathways out of Hvar Town both towards east and west will lead you to a variety of mostly pebbly beaches, beach bars and sunbathing spots.
- Bonj les Bains – west about 20 min walk from St Stephan’s square, was once named one of the top 20 beaches in Europe. This beach is also associated with the Hotel Amfora.
- Hula Hula – next to Bonj les Bains Beach, another famous beach spot on Hvar island.
- Pokonji Dol – opposite the lighthouse also called Pokonji Dol. It is a walk of about 30 min east from St Stephan’s Square.
Pakleni Islands Beaches
Information on visiting the islands on a boat, boat + skipper to visit the islands
Outside of Hvar Town bay lies a series of tiny islands collectively called Pakleni Islands which offer small, secluded beaches dubbed the “emerald jewels” due to their breathtaking beauty. They are quiet, with a rich variety of plant life. They are accessible by taxi boat from Hvar Town. These are parked at the harbor. You can also rent a boat and tour the island beaches. These include:
- Palmizana, largest of the pakleni islands and has restaurants and accomodations.
- Jerolim (a naturist/nudist island).
- Stipanska island: which has Carpe Diem Beach and Zdrilca beach with fine dining options.
Hvar Island Beaches; rent a car or scooter
- Milna – a family friendly beach on the southern shore about 4km from Hvar town.
- Mina – popular family friendly beach but located in Jelsa.
- Soline – in Vrboska, and has two beaches. A family friendly beach and a naturist one.
- Dubovica – pebble beach with two eateries, located 8 km from Hvar town. It is often included in lists of top ten beaches in Europe. You can take a bus to this beach from Hvar Town and walk down to the cove.
Self Guided Tour of Hvar Island
Hvar Town Walking Tour – visit the popular attractions of Hvar town following the self guided tour with map and attractions guide. The actual tour will take about 3 hours depending on the number of stops you make.
Hvar Island Tour – Self guided driving tour: rent a scooter, car, boat or take the bus to visit the wineries, beaches and villages. If you want to skip the interior island stops, rent a boat with or without a captain and sail to the attractions. The tour will take the whole day and can be broken into two days if you want to leave the last stop of Sveta Nedleja to another day.
Wine Tour – Use the driving tour listed above and just stop at the wineries in Vrboska, Vrbanj, Jelsa and Sveti Nedjleja. Please note that Hvar Island roads can be treacherous (windy, narrow, steep drops without safety barriers, graveled roads) and the drivers should not partake in wine tasting.
Hvar Town Walking Tour – Easy to follow Hvar old town map & attractions guide, including Hvar Fortress. The self guided tour should take you about half a day to complete.
If you have an old unlocked smartphone, you can purchase a Croatian SIM card at any one of the three major retailers. Each offer different packages and have pre-paid plans designed for tourists. If you get a data plan, it makes all the tours and sightseeing very easy as the chance of you getting lost or disoriented decreases dramatically. We used our old iphone 5 and bought a SIM card with a data plan in Croatia, before we reached Hvar. We were able to explore the entire country without getting lost. You will need your passport when purchasing a SIM card. Many restaurants, cafes and hotels on the island also have free wifi.
There are a number of car rental agencies in Hvar and it’s a great way to explore the island. Try to rent a small car due to the narrow, windy roads. The rental agencies have firm policy of a minimum of one day rental (no hourly rentals).
The main island’s road D116 runs from Hvar Town to Sucuraj and connects all major towns on the island, like Hvar, Stari Grad, Jelsa, Vrboska, and Sucuraj.
This road is partly in good condition, especially in western part of the island around Hvar, Jelsa, and Stari Grad. However the more east you go toward Sucuraj the worse it gets and it becomes narrow, with patched asphalt at many places, few safety barriers, and some sharp bends especially past Jelsa.
Some of the roads are winding, steep, not always paved and mountainous, often times with steep drops and no guard rails. Caution is STRONGLY advised. For those renting a scooter or moped, also you are strongly advised to wear a helmet.
Have your driving license, passport and identity papers with you as Hvar has random spot checks. You must always wear your seatbelt.
Hvar Island has few petrol stations. There is one in Hvar Town called Ina and two near Jelsa called Ina and Bugy which is on the road between Jelsa and Stari Grad. In the summer, these are open all day. From Sucaraj to the nearest petrol station on the island, is approx 50 km, so it is advisable to fill up before arriving on the island.
Scooter – Scooter Rental
Scooter rental companies are plentiful on the island and are used by tourists to venture out from the port at which they arrive. Check rental companies as prices can really vary. Some rentals companies will drop off the scooter at your port of arrival for an additional charge. Some roads on the island are gravel and can be treacherous on a scooter.
Scooters can be rented for approximately 250kn per day but hourly rates are also available, Some may rent mopeds. There are hourly rates for the mopeds also. Mopeds are often old with tens of thousands of miles on them.
Uber/Taxis and private transfer
All are available on the island. Taxis can be prebooked online with fixed prices at https://hvartaxi.com/ Don’t take taxis from the ferry port, they are a rip-off!
Hvar has a local bus system which connects all major towns on Hvar including Jelsa, Vrboska, Stari Grad, Stari Grad ferry terminal, Hvar, Sucuraj and it is operated by Cazmatrans.
Information can also be obtained at getbybus.com. Just enter “Hvar” as start and end destinations and it will display the available stations in Hvar.
To Hvar Island harbors such as Vrboska, Jelsa, Sveta Nedjelja, hvar beaches, or Pakleni islands
- Aside from renting a boat, chartering a boat with a captain/guide or taking a taxi boat, you can also access Uber boats.
- Uber boats: I am unfamiliar with this service and assume it works similar to boat taxi. The price can vary greatly in the peak season and have been known to be very expensive.
Getting to Hvar Island
The ports on Hvar island include Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Jelsa and Sucuraj. Where you arrive depends on your departure point and whether you need a car ferry or “passenger only” transportation.
Jadrolinija operates a Car ferry that arrives near Stari Grad which takes approx. two hours from Split.
Jadrolinjija, Blueline and Dalmatia-express operate passenger ferries and hydrofoils.
Taxi boats and catemarans can be taken from Split to Stari Grad or Hvar Town. They are much faster than the car ferries.
Croatian ferries website is useful for the variety of combinations of port, passenger and car ferries, and lists prices. You can book online. Once you chose the route, the website will list the ferry companies that service that route and link to their website, so booking can be completed online.
If you travel by car from the mainland, make sure you fill up the gas tank prior to crossing onto the island. There are only three petrol and or gas stations for motor vehicles on Hvar Island: one in Hvar Town, one in Jelsa and one between Jelsa and Stari Grad.
Stari Grad: Obala F. Tudmana bb, 21460 Stari Grad, tel: 021-765-763, Email: [email protected]
Hvar Town: Trg sv. Stjepana 16, 21450 Hvar, tel: 021-741-059, email: [email protected]
Jelsa: Riva bb, 21465 Jelsa, tel: 021-761-918, email: [email protected]
Sucuraj: Sucuraj bb, 21469 Sucuraj, tel: 021-717-288, email: [email protected]
For Additional Croatia Travel Guides, Tourist Maps and Airport Transfer:
- Dubrovnik Game of Thrones and Old Town Self Guided Tour – Follow the Map and Guide to visit the film locations for Game of Thrones, beaches and churches. The self guided tour will take you a full day if you also visit the beaches. Use the map and attractions guide to visit the attractions of Old Town Dubrovnik and the locations of the Games of Thrones Scenes. The map has picture of the sites and how they looked for the film scenes. The walking tour will take you ½ a day. If you visit Lokrum island and spend time at the beach/monastery/fort on the island, this will take you another ½ day to full day. Lokrum Island is the location of the City of Qarth in GoT and is a 10 min water taxi ride from the Dubrovnik Port
- Dubrovnik Day Trips. Spend a day at each of the villages of Ston and Cavtat a short distance from Dubrovnik. Cavtat is a charming village that was invaded by the Slavs. The inhabitants fled and were the original settlers of Dubrovnik. Visit the historical beaches and spend time on the beach or hike the Ronald Brown Pathway. Ston is a small village on a hill surrounded by a 7 km wall that is second in size to the Great Wall of China. It is famous for its defensive walls, its salt “mines” and its oyster bays. The oysters from Ston are well renowned
- Upper Town, Old Town Zagreb – 15 must see attractions of Old Town Zagreb. Walk the attractions of Upper Town Zagreb, the self-guided walking tour will take you to the various attractions in ½ a day. You may want to explore some of these attractions in greater depth such as the Museum of Broken Relationships or climb the Lotrščak Tower. In that case the self guided tour will take more than half a day
- Zagreb Lower Town, Lenuci Horseshoe – Visit the 7 Squares and Botanical gardens in the shape of a horseshoe, including the under ground 31,000 sq meter shopping mall. A ½ day tour of the U-shaped system of 7 parks and Zagreb botanical gardens. The Lenuci horseshoe in Lower Town Zagreb is a short walking distance from Zagreb’s main Ban Jelačić Square and facing the main train station Glavni Kolodvor. The Square include pavilions, theater, museums, state archives and an underground mall amongst its many historical buildings dotted throughout the horseshoe
- Walking tour Zagreb Lower town and Grič Tunnels – A 2 hour tour of the tunnels under Zagreb old town; they were built as shelter during the war and are now used by the locals to cross Old Town or to go between upper town and lower town. Not only are they a short cut, they are cool in the summer and a welcome relief from the searing sun. Explore the old world war tunnels and visit the sights of lower town
- Unique and Fun things to do in Zagreb – Explore activities and places to visit such as Jarun Lake, the Antiques Fair or discover current events in Zagreb
- Old Town Split and Marjan Hill – Explore the Old Town Square, then head over to Marjan Hill. This self guided tour can take a whole day as the walking portion of the tour will guide you to attractions in the Old Town and then on to Marjan Hill. This part of the tour will take ½ a day. The tour will end at the beach where you can spend the rest of the day, take the local bus back or walk along the promenade back to Old Town
- Split, Salona ancient Roman Ruins – On the outskirts of Split, don’t miss the roman ruins of Salona, the birthplace of Emperor Diocletian. Step outside of the Old Town of Split and visit the nearby city of Solin (which is the ancient city of Salona, Diocletian’s birthplace). Then continue onto the town of Trogir. This self guided tour has instructions for local buses to take you on a route for a full day trip from Split to Salona (stop in Salona, then continue onto Trojir. Then catch the local bus back to Split
- Trogir, UNESCO World Heritage Site – This attraction is often overlooked. It is a charming, authentic village, a heritage city where the Old Town is on an Island. It is an easy bus ride from Split to Trogir, with a stopover in Salona (Solin)
- Split, Diocletian’s Palace – Not to be missed, the10 must see attractions in the palace to stop and take pictures. The Palace tour is a ½ day self-guided tour through the palace that will end at the market which you can explore
- Zadar Western Half – The old town is located on an island; explore the attractions on the westerns side of the island in this ½ day self guided walking tour. Attractions include popular attractions such as the Sea Organ, Greetings to the Sun and the Roman Forum / Ruins
- Zadar Eastern Half – Take a ½ day to visit the churches, parks and other attractions on the eastern side of Zadar Island. Visit the fish markets and green markets for fresh food and explore the cobblestone alleyways for a touch of ambiance and potential souvenir shopping
- Zadar islands – The Zadar Archipelago has around a 100 islands off its coast, many of them uninhabited. Visit all or any of the 9 popular islands in this map and use the attractions guide to the islands. You can rent a boat rent a boat with or without a captain, get a water taxi, take the ferry/ to visit the islands and swim in the Adriatic or anchor at hidden beach/cove
- Island Visit
- Croatia Islands – Rent or hire a boat to visit the 9 popular islands off the mainland. Visit 1 or 2 or all 9 islands for a fabulous day out to sea
- Hvar Island
- Hvar old town attractions and Španjola fortress (Fortica) – Use the self guided tour map and attractions to visit the popular sites in Hvar Old Town. The tour will take ½ a day to the major attractions in Hvar Town, including climbing to the Spanjola fortress that has been protecting Hvar for hundreds of years. However it could be longer if you want to spend time visiting the museums or spending an afternoon enjoying the magnificent views from the Fortress
- Hvar Island driving tour – Take the local bus, rent a car / scooter for the day to visit the numerous attractions on the island. This can take two days as there is a lot to see and do. It includes: wine tasting, visiting a cave monastery high on the hills, quaint fishing villages, popular beaches, hidden coves and harbours A great tour that will take you across the island
- Hvar Islands and Lavendar Fields Tour – You can rent a boat (with or without a captain) and visit the islands off Hvar Island. The Pakleni Islands are an archipelago of 20 islands off the coat of Hvar. They are known for beautiful beaches, charming village towns and secluded coves. You can take the bus to visit the abandoned villages of Velo Grabjle and Malo Grabjle,. It is a short bus ride or scooter/car trip from Hvar Town. Explore the fields of lavender and Olive Grove farms
- Getting around Croatia – Information on Croatian buses and ferries