At a Glance
If Croatia's compelling and charismatic bunch of islands were people, Hvar would be the little brother of the family. Boundless energy and full of fun, this is one holiday destination where you are guaranteed to get an adrenaline rush.At least, this is the impression one gets after a day soaking up the atmosphere at the island's eponymous capital. Hvar City serves as a stunning backdrop to parties, sports and other activities. Its beautiful waterfront promenade is lined with palm trees, beyond which lies golden sands and the clear blue sea. But equally, a brief wander in the opposite direction will see you exploring coarse Croatian countryside - the sort of which made the producers of Game of Thrones sit up and decide this country was the perfect place to set their fantasy epic.
Being a popular resort, it isn't particularly difficult to reach Hvar. However, being on an island, you will need a means of crossing the water. Ferries can be taken most easily from Split, which has a nearby airport you can make use of. These come in at Stari Grad and are capable of transporting cars if you want to rent one as soon as you land. However, there is also a local bus from Split Airport that runs to the harbour and back. Getting around Hvar itself is not a problem as the island is compact and there are plenty of bus services. However, drivers are advised that they are not permitted behind the wheel of a car if they have any alcohol in their bloodstream. Petrol stations are available in the island's capital and in the town of Jelsa.
Eating and Drinking
Hvar Town may not be a particularly cheap place to eat out, but the good news is that it's completely worth it. Restaurants tend to open during high season only - from April until October - and offer melt in the mouth seafood that is absolutely divine. Self-catered holidaymakers will find plenty of supermarkets selling fresh meat and vegetables that you can whip up into practically anything - salads, stews and risottos if you're keen to get into the Croatian vibe, all served with a nice drink of rakija fruit brandy.For places to eat, it's worth checking out Dalmatino, a wonderful restaurant that specialises in Croatian cuisine. The pleasant little courtyard is highly conducive to that much-desired holiday feeling. You might be a little surprised to find pasta on the menu of somewhere claiming to be serving traditional Croatian food, but Croatia's proximity to Italy means that there are a lot of areas where the cultures mix. Gastronomy is one of them. For a more upmarket affair, consider Giaxa and opt for the Hvarska gregada - fresh fish, sliced potatoes, onion, olive oil, white wine and herbs, prepared as a fisherman would.
Things to See and Do
We've already said that Hvar is an adrenaline junkie's heaven. Now we're going to explain why exactly this is the case. A brief wander along the picturesque beachfront will reveal plenty of people gybing and taking along the horizon - in boats, catamarans or on windsurfers. You will also see various centres offering everything from water skiing opportunities to paragliding. If you like the water, you'll find there are plenty of chances to get your adrenaline fix.Not all of the fun is exclusively focused around Hvar's picture perfect ocean, however, and there is plenty to explore. It's easy to spend a morning wandering the Old Town of the capital. Start at the cathedral overlooking Trg Svetog Stjepana in the centre before walking down south to the Franciscan monastery. Both are fantastic examples of Croatian architecture. From there, emerge into the maze of little streets that characterise this part of town and wander around, looking for knick knacks.It's worth venturing away from the city itself, too. Hire a car and drive to Stari Grad, which was founded by the Greeks in 400 BC. It's a picturesque enough place to spend a morning, and visiting its main attraction Tvdjalij - a renaissance villa constructed in the 1500s by Petar Hektorovic - may well take up the afternoon as well.If you're not done relishing the sea, seek a little sanctuary and take a water taxi out to the Pakleni Islands. This archipelago is entirely free of cars and offers plenty of secluded beaches for bathing. Some of these are nudist-friendly.
Don't get too exhausted getting your groove on in Hvar - you need enough energy to experience the nightlife. The island's bubbly and excitable personality rears its head again as the sun goes down, with the locals and tourists flocking to bars, restaurants and clubs to enjoy themselves to the extreme. Be it sipping Rakija in the local or dancing the night away until dawn, you won't find yourself wanting anything else. Nautica in the Fabrika district of Hvar Town is particularly worth checking out - the menu boasts over 100 cocktails and shooters, meaning there's something for everyone.
Hvar plays host to two of the biggest names in the music festival calendar - FOR and Ultra Europe, happening in June and July respectively. The permanent party atmosphere that grips the streets during these events is almost worth experiencing on its own, even if you're not a fan of the artists. However, with major names such as the Klaxons and AVICII having previously attended both of them, you're bound to find someone you like.