A Daytrip to Hvar town, Croatia

If you go to Croatia you can’t escape hearing about the island of Hvar, more specifically Hvar Town. It has become the place to go, mostly among the young partygoers and the international jetset. It’s actually been nicknamed the “St. Tropez of the Adriatic” (it’s also been called “the place of Sodom and Gomorrah”. More on that further below).

The above is not at all our scene. We usually hate that kind of place. But with easy access to Hvar Town from Split (more so in the summer when there are catamarans doing the trip in an hour) we decided to take a daytrip to see it for ourselves.

This post is not a guide (you can click here for that) but rather an ‘impressions’ post. I’ve included some photos as well as our thoughts. Hopefully it’ll help you decide if Hvar is a place you’d want to visit.

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Below: First views of Hvar town with the fortress in the background.


Below: Views from the fortress, also known as Fortica (from the Italian ‘fortezza’ – the present fort was built by the Venetians in the late 1200’s) and Španjola (because Spanish military engineers were involved in the construction). Those islands off the coast are the Pakleni islands – a popular activity is to take a tour (or rent a boat) and visit some of their beaches.

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Below: there are a lot of little streets and steps all over Hvar town (it sometimes reminded us of Dubrovnik). Hvar is known for it’s lavender (but the purple plants below are bougainvillea, another flower you’ll see all over town).


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Below: ivy providing shade. It was a scorching hot day in July.

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Below: small church (there are a lot around Hvar town) and views over the harbour.

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Below: Hvar town has the largest square (St. Stephen’s square) in Dalmatia. It is 4500 square meters and dates back to the 13th century. Life in town revolves around this square. At the end of the square is St. Stephen’s cathedral.

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Below: more Venetian architecture. 

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Below: colourful shop.

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Below: Hvar town generally attracts a younger, party crowd. As of 2017, don’t walk around in a bikini or topless, you could be fined up to 600 Euros! (we’ve noticed all towns in Croatia are cracking down on bad tourist behaviour).

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Below: back at the pier with parting views of the harbour and town.



Thoughts and Impressions

Having read some really horrible stories of Hvar (hence being called “the place of Sodom and Gomorrah”) we were quite certain that we wouldn’t like Hvar town. What we actually found was a very pretty town with some impressive sights. It was clean, there were no drunks or loud music playing, and the locals we talked to were friendly*. 

*Note that we arrived in Hvar town at around 10 am and left around 3 pm. It could very well be that all the partygoers were still sleeping during that time.

So our thoughts? Hvar town is totally worth a day trip. Would we stay there longer than that? Probably not – it’s small (you can see everything in a day), the tourists are young, and the party reputation doesn’t interest us (Vis, another island we recently visited, is more our speed). But if you enjoy partying as well as sightseeing then I can see why it might be the perfect place for you.
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Have you been to Hvar town? What were your impressions?

 

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Comments

  1. Sara Yoel says:

    Hi Frank,
    I can finally claim I have been in a place ahead of you. Took the same day trip (no Catamarans available in May) AM to PM and 2.5 hr ride. You are right regarding the parties…..the young all were sleeping still. It was very hot even in May, so we skipped climbing up to the fortress. Your photo view is awesome from there. We had lunch in a typical touristy place, not so good and overpriced. However, it is a lovely Island for a short day trip, or if one wants to spend lots of money to stay at the expensive hotel on the other end (can’t remember the name), It looks awesome. One can sure get a “deadly” sunburn walking around this island, the sun is so intense! Are you still in Prague?

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Nice to hear from you Sara! Yes, you are probably right – I hear that most of those parties don’t start until 11 pm (when we are usually starting to think of going to bed). Yes, they have hotels in the USD 1000/night range. Can you imagine? A taxi driver told me that that the famous football player Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a place in Hvar and parties there with all his friends. So lots of jetsetters.
      Yes, in Prague for another 2 weeks then we’re back in Split 🙂

  2. Geez, Frank..you really have put Croatia on top of my list to visit. What stunning pics… and you seem to often toss in an unexpected one like the skimpy bikini girls (I’ll pass on the bikini strutting).
    Jane recently posted…What is there to do in Melbourne at Night?My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Jane! Skimpy bikinis – yes, just trying to capture a bit of the atmosphere for my readers 😉

  3. Such pretty photos.. dreamy. As you know we recently spent a few days in Zagreb and I think about the city and then I look at your photos from Split and the photos such as above and I think, surely they can’t be from the same country! Hopefully, we’ll find our way back one day so we can see for ourselves.

    As for the bikini buns… one thing we’ve noticed as we’ve traveled around Europe this summer is that short shorts are seemingly shorter than ever, and the girls wearing them are younger than ever. I must be getting really old because I keep thinking, no way would I let my daughter out of the house wearing those! I’ve always been grateful for our son, avoided so many of those issues. 🙂
    Patti recently posted…Fraulein Maria & The Sound of Music ~My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Patti! Like I mentioned on my comment on your Zagreb post, Zagreb is geographically part of Central Europe. Pretty, but nothing like the Dalmatian coast. Totally different climate as well.

      You could not be more right about the young girls in short shorts. I started to notice it 2 years ago..now you sometimes see these girls walking around with these shorts right up their butt crack. A month ago I noticed a young girl (16?) walking around like that with her parents and was just thinking WTF?? You’re right, who lets their kids dress like that?
      My mom has the same reaction Patti :). Maybe we’re all getting old…

  4. We spent 5 days on Vis and 3 on Hvar. Vis was more laid back and more our style too, but Hvar Island had plenty to occupy us for three days. We stayed in Hvar town because of an airbnb I fell in love with. Originally I thought to stay in Starigrad on Hvar Island because it is quieter, but we enjoyed staying in Hvar town. Our apartment had great views and we caught buses around the island, whereas on Vis we hired a car. We liked them both.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yes, I was actually looking at your post recently and saw the photos of the airbnb (which we might consider the next time – we could use it as a base to see more of the island sometime during the off-season).
      When did you go Jan? I think it was April or May? Was it busy with partygoers at that time?

  5. I’ve heard good things about Hvar but hadn’t seen many pictures of it. Thanks for sharing your impressions of it! I hope to visit and see more of Croatia in the near future so maybe this will be one of those places.
    Mike Clegg from Travel and Destinations recently posted…Things That Annoy Me About HotelsMy Profile

  6. Great photos of Hvar Grad, Frank. We went to Hvar Grad in June as part of a multi-island tour and it was just as expensive and just as charming as visits in 2001 and 2006 (a subpar caipirinha was $10 in 2006!). We visited Hvar again a couple of days ago and decided to check out the swimming in Ivan Dolac instead of going to Hvar Grad. I was reminded that the island of Hvar is so much more than the destinations serving ferries with it’s lovely rolling hills, farms, vineyards, and cute stone towns. And Ivan Dolac definitely offered clear water and lesser crowds for swimming.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Argg, a caipirinha for $10!! You’re bringing up a major peeve of mine – the artificial tourist economy of Croatia during high season. I can understand prices going up but when you see London prices in Dubrovnik or Hvar it really brings a bad taste to your mouth…

      I think we’ll have to go back to Hvar during low season and explore it with a car. It IS a beautiful place. Thanks for the Ivan Dolac tip Lucija!

  7. It looks absolutely beautiful! I would opt for a day trip along what you did. I am also getting old and can’t imagine the partying. I would however venture there at night in search of Zlatan, one of my absolute favorite footballers. Loved him since he was a teenager :-). I won’t ell Federico otherwise we just might have to go there! 🙂

  8. Hey Frank –

    Thanks for the post on Hvar! We were there last fall. It seemed like a great place to spend a few days, lots of history and beautiful archetecture. It didn’t seem very crowded, but then, we were there right at the end of the season, and eerything was shutting down. (We spent an evening in a wine bar; the owner told us he’d be leaving in the morning for his “winter home” in Zagreb.)

    So no, we did not experience any of the “Sodom and Gammorah” aspects, for better or for worse. We hiked up to the fortress (occupied by Napoleon in the 1800’s, we learned!) and toured around inside. Apparently, during the season it is used as an event center. It would be a great place to see a concert, but we were satisfied with the simple museum and fantastic views from up there.

    We took the ferry back to Dubrovnik where we were staying for the month, and that was decidely a worthwhile trip!

    Thanks for the post, and the photographs. It’s a great reminder of the fine visit we had last year.
    Paul Menconi recently posted…A Town Made of Stone Part 2My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks so much Paul. You are right, the castle is an event center in the summer and they have concerts there from what I hear. We also went into the dungeons of the castle which were quite interesting. I can’t imagine the poor people who were holed up in there.

      Sounds like you went at the perfect time. We’d like to do the same sometime over the next few months, go there for a weekend and use Hvar town as a base to explore the rest of the island. It’s scary how Croatia goes from busy to dead (we haven’t experienced that yet not having been here in the Autumn) and dead to incredibly busy in early summer. Do you remember when exactly you went?

      Are you and Paula still planning on being back to Europe in the spring? Maybe our paths will finally end up crossing 🙂

  9. Hehe… you’re probably right – the partygoers are probably sleeping. The party scene isn’t my scene, either. But the town looks awesome in the day, especially seeing that’s it’s relatively open and empty. That’s my kind of place; though, I would probably need to leave before party time or find a really secluded place to sleep the night. I’d go there.
    HUNG THAI recently posted…Hard work: the path to realizing your dreamMy Profile

  10. Your photos make me wish I was heading there. Nice day trip indeed. Glad they are giving a steep fines for walking around in a bikini, so disrespectful to the culture.
    Paula recently posted…Waterfalls of Brecon Beacons – VideoMy Profile

  11. We visited Hvar town for a day while on a Croatian cruise several years ago — and were quite enchanted by it. (Didn’t know it had a bit of a party reputation.) Your photos certainly make it look very attractive! Funny about the young women wearing those skimpy bikinis :-). When you’re young, you look at life differently than when you’re a bit more mature :-).
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Wine Flies Tour: A day of wine tasting in StellenboschMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      I think Hvar has really gained its party reputation over the last few years. Even in Split we’ve noticed more and more of the young party tourists the last several years. It’s a shame really and has a lot to do with the budget airlines coming from (especially) the UK.

  12. Those 3 girls have exactly the same bodies, like they were cloned. Weird.

  13. Hi Frank! I’ve just found your blog and really appreciate your lovely photos and insights. I’m hoping you can answer my questions – will our family of 4 be able to find transport to Hvar (or other smaller islands) in late March when we visit Croatia? We are hoping to see Pula, Dubrovnik, Split and some smaller places in between. After living in Thailand for 2 years and seeing the difference it makes to visit places in the offseason when large crowds of tourists AREN’T present, we are hoping to see a different Croatia than people experience in August. Thoughts?

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Sonja,
      Thanks for your kind comments!
      Yes, no issue with ferries to the islands. The only thing: Most ferries leave FOR the islands in the late afternoon and come back FROM the islands early in the mornings (they’re scheduled for locals working on the mainland). So you’ll basically end up booking 2 nights somewhere on the islands for 1 full day there. But otherwise the ferries are good and reliable. We’ve taken a bunch of them this summer exploring Brac, Vis and Korcula (in addition to Brac).
      You’ll also enjoy the off-season prices which (as far as lodging goes) can be 1/3 the cost of what you would pay in the off season.
      Bases: Yes to Split and Dubrovnik, but I wouldn’t recommend Pula for anything more than a daytrip from Rovinj (stay in Rovinj, not Pula). Between Split and Dubrovnik, I really recommend visiting Omis (as a day trip) and staying maybe a night in Markarska. I was in Makarska this weekend and the geography is just spectacular.

      As to your main question: you’re fine in late March. March 1st things start to wake up just a bit and it’s not dead (like Jan/Feb can be). Weather should be nice (sunny, but coolish). And you’ll benefit from less tourists and lower prices.
      Feel free to write me personally if you have any questions 🙂
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Hiking Vidova Gora from Bol. Brač Island, CroatiaMy Profile

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