By Iva Ralica
The sunny island of Hvar is one of Croatia’s most beautiful gems. If you’re planning on visiting, we recommend visiting a few places.
One of the best summer destinations, Hvar offers beautiful nature, crystal blue sea, long history, rich culture and, last but not least, delicious food and wine.
1. Visit Petar Hektorović Castle in Stari Grad
Tvrdalj, a small villa of the most famous Croatian renaissance poet Petar Hektorović is definitely on the top of our list. The most famous building in Stari Grad, this castle was being built throughout his entire life. This is where Hektorović decided to build a small world, a microcosms, so inside his fortress one can see a fish pond, a dovecote and gardens full of herbs. This was intended to be the home for all the divine creatures – fish, birds and people.
2. Walk around Fortica Španjola – Fortress of Hvar town
Hvar´s fort Fortica, or its local name Španjola, was built in the early 16th century. It holds a rich historical collection and it is built on a 2000-year-old remains of an Illyrian fortress. Still, the most memorable part of the walk around its walls is the view expanding over the city of Hvar and Pakleni islands.
3. Visit Hvar’s 400-year-old theatre
The oldest public theatre in Europe was built above the ancient ruins of Arsenal in Hvar town. Its exterior remains mostly preserved, and its interior dates from the 19th century. The teatre first opened in 1612 and was open for all citizens, regardless of social status. This was unheard of in that period.
4. Wander around the Unesco heritage – Stari Grad Plain
The islands central area is the large plain which was changing its name depending on the population living inside, first the Greeks and then the Romans. In medieval times it was known as the Plain of St. Stephen, but today this is Stari Grad Plain which was being formed for thousands of years by different locals.The plain was first divided into rectangular plots back in ancient times and it remained the same even today.
5. Learn the skill of lace making in the Benedictine convent
The Benedictine convent was built in 17th century after two nuns from Pag came to Hvar to begin the practice. Except fo the spiritual importance, the convent became widely known as the place where agave lace was born. This traditional skill passes on from generations for the past 130 years and it is listed on UNESCO-s list of Cultural Heritage.
6. Visit Škor Square
From all the squares in Stari Grad, Škor Square is the most picturesque one. It reminds of a theatre coulisse and it really takes this role during the summer nights. The square was formed during the 17th century it was once a home to a shipyard after which it was named, since in Dalmatian dialect škver or škor means shipyard. It is surrounded by skalinade, terraces with staircases and gorgeous roof windows called luminari.
7. See the Cathedral & St. Stephen Square
The biggest square in Dalmatia is the one in Hvar, right in front of the cathedral. All the streets lead to this place, popularly called Hvarska pjaca (Hvar’s square) and it makes it the centre of public life. The church was built during the centuries, first settled on the remains of a 6th century church. Then, in 13th century it became a cathedral. Some of its parts are preserved from the 15th century, but the cathedral’s bell tower, one of the finest examples of the Renaissance in Dalmatia, remains fom the 17th century which means that this sanctuary unifies Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque styles.
8. Discover the fortress church of St. Mary of Mercy in Vrboska
A unique architectural construction is the fortress church from the 16th century. The church was fortified after the Turkish attacks. This is really one of the most beautiful churches in Europe dating back from that time and it also guards some of the finest examples of Renaissance art.
9. Explore the Fisherman’s museum in Vrboska
Interesting collection of traditional fishing nets and tools, this museum hides the traces of hard conditions of life on the island during the centuries. Located in a reconstructed fisherman’s house, this location is a monument itself worth seeing.
10. Take a hike around the lost villages
Hiking around lavender fields, magnificent ruins and beautiful landscape is one of the things you don’t want to miss. On this trip from Hvar to Velo Grablje to Malo Grablje following the trail used since medieval times you can learn about the history of Hvar and its way of life. Find out about the herbs used to make the best grappa you’ll try and taste the local wine or homemade prosek.
11. Try local food
Hvar offers a great variety of local ingredients for which the Mediterranean diet is known for. But its traditional dishes include gregada, made with white fish or lobster and shells and potato. Pašticada, dish made from marinated beef and a secret ingredient and every house has its own and panada, made from old bread, olive oil, rice and a traditional tomato sauce are specialties you will love. Sweets made from lavender are the ones you just cannot miss out.
12. Visit Pakleni islands
A unique sight known all over the world, Paklinski or Pakleni islands is a group of 20 islands and rocks in front of the Hvar town. The largest among them is Saint Klement and its settlement Palmižana which hides a few restaurants and bars.
13. Sail and discover gorgeous bays
Sailing towards the cape Pelegrin you will discover a beautiful sight – the bays Mala and Vela Grčka. From the ancient times they were shelters for sailors during the storms. In the nearby bay of Parja you will see the neolithic cave Markova spilja (Mark’s cave) which hides the traces of life from the very past.
14. Discover the underwater world
See why Hvar is called one of the most beautiful islands in the world discovering not only its beautiful nature and surroundings, but also its fascinating underwater world. Canyons and tunnels around the island of Vodnjak, caves and colourful sea-life, sunken ships and maybe lost treasures – you will tell stories about this magnificent experience.
15. Soak up the atmosphere on a summer night
Historical sights, narrow streets and numerous squares become alive during the hot summer nights. Bustling cafes, concerts, performances and activities as well as two amateur theatre companies make every night a night to remember.