Hvar is an island that’s located off the southern coast of Croatia, in the Adriatic sea. Hvar is located in the Croatian region Dalmatia and is considered to be a historic area of the country, with towns and architecture that date back to the 13th century. In addition to its historic cities, Hvar offers its visitors secluded beaches, vineyards, and hidden caves.
Visitors usually like to spend a few days on the island of Hvar because it’s a beautiful oasis and there’s a lot to do and explore on the island. It is possible, though, to go to Hvar for a day-trip and still see enough of the island to feel satisfied. When I visited Croatia, I booked an accommodation in Split, Croatia (where I spent most of my trip) and went on a day trip to Hvar. I had a great experience during my day trip to the island and am sharing some suggested activities and travel tips here for those that wish to do the same.
How to Get to Hvar, Croatia from Split, Croatia
The closest airport to Hvar Island is in Split, Croatia. Most visitors visit Split first and then travel to/from Hvar from there.
The best way to get to Hvar from Split is by ferry or catamaran. There are many boat options to consider when traveling from Split to Hvar—both private and public.
The best ferry option is the Jadrolinija Ferry. Jadrolinja offers frequent transfers and is reasonably priced. The boats are spacious, clean and comfortable. If you choose to ride the Jadrolinja, then I advise that you purchase your tickets in advance and arrive at the marina in Split at least two hours in before the ferry is scheduled to depart. The marina in Split is large and there are many transportation companies docked there, so it’s a good idea to arrive early and give yourself some time to find the correct dock.
The Best Way to Explore Hvar in One Day
The best way to explore Hvar is by rental car, scooter or ATV. Hvar is a large island and the sites are all very spread out. There is public transportation on Hvar, but having your own method of transportation will give you more freedom to explore without any time constraints. This is especially helpful if you decide to go on a day trip to Hvar.
There are many transportation rental companies located throughout the Island. The rental rates are reasonable and there are some really fun cars available for rent, like a Volkswagen Beetle or an old Fiat. Our group rented a convertible and an ATV… it was a blast to explore around the island on our own in our rentals.
Things to Do & See on a Day Trip to Hvar
There is a lot to do on the island of Hvar. If you plan on only going to Hvar for one day, then here is what I advise you to do and see. There are additional activity suggestions later on in this article that you can swap in and out of your itinerary, if you’d like.
#1: Visit Hvar Town:
Hvar Town is the island’s hub and is likely a place that you’ll see no matter what. It’s the busiest section of the Island, with most of the boats, ferries, etc. docking here. There are a lot of great restaurants, bars and accommodation in Hvar Town. There are also lots of beautiful streets that one can walk through while admiring the medieval architecture of the buildings.
#2: Go to Stari Grad:
Stari Grad means “old town” in Croatian. It’s one of the oldest towns in Croatia and also one of the oldest cities in Europe. Stari Grad is located on the North side of Hvar Island. Visitors can walk around the streets and take-in the quaint atmosphere. There are many shops and restaurants in the small village that are worth exploring, if you’ve got the time.
One of the most visited sites in Stari Grad is the Sveti Stjepan (St. Stephen) square, which is located just in front of Sveti Stjepan Church. The church was built in 1605 and still contains architecture from its inception. The best time of day to visit the square is said to be at dusk, as the light from the setting sun illuminates the church.
Another thing worth checking out in Stari Grad is the Stari Grad Museum. The local museum exhibits objects of Stari Grad’s past and present—from 384 BC until today.
#3: Explore the Secluded Beaches:
There are many beautiful beaches on Hvar Island. Some of the most popular beaches on the island are Dubovica, Lučišće, Milna, Zaraće, Jagodna, and Grebiše. There are also some lesser-known, secluded beaches that are worth exploring. There’s usually no signage indicating that the secluded beaches exist, so you’ll have to ask a local or a tour guide to show you how to get to them. My friends and I went to one beach that required us walking down a steep cliff with a make-shift footpath to get there.
Our group prioritized spending time on the beach over doing other things on the island, even though we only had one day to spend on Hvar, because the beaches on Hvar Island are incredible. Check out this article on thecommonwanderer.com, which summarizes the top eleven beaches worth checking out on Hvar Island—they do a great job detailing what to see there. But, definitely don’t be afraid to ask a local to direct you to a more, “unknown” beach—you likely won’t be disappointed with what you find.
#4: Tour the Hvar Vineyards:
Croatia does wine really well and that’s no exception on Hvar Island. If you’re a wine fanatic, then it would be a great idea to stop at a vineyard for a tasting. This is something that you can easily spend a full day doing. If you plan on only going on a day trip to Hvar, then visiting a Vineyard in Hvar is a great thing to cap your day off with. There are restaurants within the vineyards on Hvar Island that offer 1 – 3 hour long tastings. The restaurants will also serve bread, cheese and olives with the tasting for free. Tomić Winery is just one of the many great options for wine tastings on Hvar.
#5: Visit Vrboska & Jelsa
Vrboska is the smallest town on Hvar Island. It’s referred to as the “little Venice of Croatia” because it’s a little island that’s surrounded by water and one must walk across numerous bridges to get around. The town is unique and charming—with medieval homes that maintain the same architecture as they did when they were first built in the 1600’s.
Jelsa is located next to Vrboska, which is why I’ve lumped them under one category. It would be wise to visit both of them back to back. Jelsa is surrounded by the two highest mountains on the island—St. Nikola Mountain and Hum Mountain. There are many restaurants, bars and shops in Jelsa that are worth checking out.
#6: Frolick in a Lavendar Field
Something that I didn’t know before I went to Croatia is that lavender is everywhere in the country. It can be found in abundance on the Island of Hvar. A benefit to renting your own method of transportation when visiting Hvar, is that you can stop and explore the lavender fields when you pass through them. They’re so beautiful, smell amazing and are fun to walk through.
Additional Things to do in Hvar (if you plan to stay more than a day)
There’s a lot to do on the Island of Hvar. It’s a booming Island, with lots of restaurants, great accommodation, unique and fun nightlife and amazing beaches. Many people tend to spend a few days on the Island—and some even stay long term for one month+. If you intend to stay for more than a day, then it’s recommended that you check-out some of the additional activities listed below. Our crew had to cut these out of our itinerary because we were only there for a day, but I’ve heard that these are some incredible things to do too:
Take a boat to the Paklinski Islands: Many visitors of Hvar Island like to take a boat to the Paklinski Islands—which feature crystal clear waters and lagoons. Guests can swim and snorkel around the islands.
Visit the Spanish Fortress: This fortress was built at the beginning of the 16th century, during Venetian rule. The fort exhibits remnants from the Middle Ages. It also offers panoramic views of the City of Hvar and the Paklinski Islands.
Explore Grapčeva špilja: There are a few caves on the Island of Hvar that are open for tourist exploration. Grapčeva špilja is a great option for visitors that plan on spending a few days on the island – and it’s considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Croatia.
Go to the Franciscan Monastery: Displays preserved Venetian artwork by painters Palma Junior and Francesco Santacrose, and architecture from the renaissance. There are also gardens on the grounds which feature historic cypress trees that have been growing since the 1700’s.
Visit the Surrounding Islands: In addition to the Palinksi Islands, there are a few other Islands that are accessible via quick taxi-boat from Hvar. These islands include Brac, Jerolim, Palmižana, Zečevo, Vlaka, and Ždrilca.
Go Camping: There are a few sites on the Island of Hvar that allow camping. One of the most popular spots for camping on the Island is Mlaska.
Party!: Hvar Island is not just about beautiful landscape, museums, and architecture – it also has a great party scene—both day and night. A few of the many great spots to party on the island of Hvar are Hula Hula, Carpe Diem and Kiva Bar.
As you can see, there is a lot to do on the Island of Hvar. It’s definitely feasible to go on a day trip to the Hvar and feel satisfied, however, if you decide to stay for more than one day then there will be plenty for you to do and see on the island.
Drop a comment below if you’ve gone to Hvar and have anything else to add to this list.