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Like much of Croatia, Hvar Island is home to some magically pristine water, charming old towns, and classic Croatian views, but lets be real – Hvar has the best nightlife in Croatia so we know what you’re really here for. Hvar town is small and quaint during the day but quickly comes to life at night when travelers from all over the world emerge for a night out at some pretty famous venues. Under a two hour catamaran ride from Split, it’s pretty much a must-do in Croatia. This Hvar guide is specifically intended for Hvar town (on hvar island), but I also mention another few places that are fantastic to visit on the island.
Standing sentinel above the town, you will find big, grey, 450-year-old Spanjola Fortress. It was built by the Venetian Empire to protect the town from Ottoman invasion – built in the 1550’s, burnt to the ground, and rebuilt in the 1570’s – and still stands the same way today but as a tourist attraction.
It’s just about a 15-20 minute walk to get there, first up some stairs from the main square then up a switchback trail to the top. I take all my groups up there and it really is manageable! Plus, you’ll want to work off some of the drinks you’ll be having later! 😉
You can go inside the fortress for 30 kuna, but as an insider’s tip, you honestly get the same exact view by standing out the front of it. And the view you get is stunning! It looks out over the Pakleni islands surrounding Hvar town’s harbor, and all the boats docked around them waiting to come into Hvar. These islands actually used to be nicknamed the ‘death islands’ long ago because so many ships would get wrecked on them while trying to sail into Hvar’s port on foggy days. And you can see why – the port really is surrounded on all sides!
A bit of shopping
If you wander a bit through the streets surrounding the main square of town, you will find lots of cute little shops to browse through. There are some markets selling beautiful jewelry, and lots of lavender stands, which deserves it’s own headline below!
Or, ‘lavanda’ as they call it!
Hvar island is famous for one of it’s star crops – lavender! They grow it all over the island, and sell it in the form of little scented bags, oils, soaps. perfumes, and even iced cream! You’ll find little purple stands all over the island selling this popular and quite unique souvenir. A little bag of it can cost as little as 10-20 kuna (like $2-4) and can keep your suitcase fresh or make a great gift.
‘Beach’ is a relative term in rocky Croatia, but there are a few places around that you can definitely lay out and catch some sun. There’s a little beach around the corner from the port (to the right if you are facing the town from the water) to have a dip, and an even more secluded one about a 20 minute walk from there in the same direction. You can find swimming spots pretty much anywhere outside of the port, all with croatia’s insanely clear blue water.
This one should kind of really have its own guide, but while I’m writing a Hvar guide I may as well add in a blurb! Stari Grad is a little town on the opposite side of Hvar island to Hvar town (about a 30 minute bus ride – shorter if you have a crazy driver which happens a lot). Stari Grad means ‘old town’ and is actually the oldest port in Croatia – one of the oldest in Europe!! It was settled by some Ancient Greeks who sailed over during the 99th Greek Olympic Games – in the year 385 BC. To put that in perspective, that’s the same year Aristotle was born!!
Stari Grad, in my opinion, is the most charming and cute little old town in Croatia. It’s my favorite place to get lost exploring the little streets, courtyards, and overgrown gardens. In this town you can really feel its age – the old rickety venetian blinds, colorful windowsills, and old stone really give it character.
You can visit the palace of a Croatian Poet, Petar Hektorovic, which has beautiful gardens and architecture. You can visit the site of some ancient Greek, Roman, and early Christian ruins that were all built upon each other, and an old church from the 7th century. There are dozens of little restaurants tucked away on terraces and within grape vines, and there are actually a few wineries up in the hills you can visit as well!
You’ll see a big white cross on the top of one of the hills surrounding the port, which actually marks (apparently) the oldest outdoor church in Europe! There is an altar, pews, lots of stacked rocks, and a stunning view of the town (see the second photo!).
Something interesting you’ll notice here is that a lot of the buildings will be a tiiiiiny bit slanted outward at the top. This is because, when the Ottomans were invading the island, the Venetian inhabitants would literally make a boiling mixture of water and lavender and pour it out their windows at the invaders below. How’s that for an interesting war tactic?!
At night, the best (and pretty much only) bar to go to is Lampedusa – the guys there are lovely and make a fantastic cocktail, and domino jaeger bombs if you’re lucky!
This would be a perfect day trip from Hvar town if you have some time to spare!
Ohhhhhh hula. The site of some of the craziest times; No Hvar guide would be complete without it. Hula Hula is a ‘beach bar;’ it’s pretty much a bar right on the water where you can swim. There are tables and loungers on wooden decks over the water, fantastic vibey music, and the freest poured cocktails you’ll see anywhere. I swear I don’t know how their mojitos are still on absolute point when they’re 80% rum.
Although I usually leave for dinner earlier on my tours, Hula Hula really is the place to be for sunset. Its fun and loungey during the day, but when the sun gets low on the horizon is when the party really starts. It’s kind of like a club shifting from early hours into party time – the music gets louder, people get up to dance on the tables, and the good times start flowing almost as fast as the sambuca shots and pre-mixed strawberry margaritas.
Get here around 5 or 6 (or later if you get dinner before) and stay until just after sunset, if you ask me. Then head either for a quick bite to soak up the drinks, or straight out to the bars I mention below!
If partying isn’t for you – which is still fine even in Hvar – you could catch a pretty amazing sunset from the water. There are heaps of taxi boats or boat rentals around, and once you get just out of the harbor you’ll get a perfect view of the sun setting over the ocean and the rest of the Pakleni Islands.
Foooood – Places to Eat (or Grab a Drink with a View!)
50 Hvar Burger Bar
This is a bomb.com burger place just up one street from the harbor. Run by Aussies and good looking Croatian girls, 50 is a great choice for takeaway food or to eat on the terrace. It’s actually a burger & Champagne bar (fancy fancy) and has some artisan burgers that are absolutely to die for – think gorgonzola & fig, polenta fries, or truffle burgers…. it’s a must.
George’s Garden (Vartal)
I think this place is technically called Vartal, but the English version is George’s Garden. Its near the little beach to the right around the harbor, and is also fantastic croatian food- meats, pastas, seafood, veggies. They have some amazing homemade sauces that you can order with meats, and sides as well so you can make it all into a meal. The atmosphere and service is great as well.
Spice Thai Kitchen
Sometimes I want to take my groups for something different once in the week, and I most often take them to this Thai Place called Spice in Hvar. you wouldn’t expect good Thai food in Croatia, but this places proved you damn wrong. If you need a bit of a break from Croatian food and a great curry or pad thai, this is your place.
W Burger & Steak House
Right next to Spice you’ll find another burger place which is also amazing – two in one town! The Black & Blue burger is my fave, but the others are fantastic as well. And with its location right in the middle of the square it couldn’t be more convenient!
Rozeta Sushi & Oyster Bar
I’ve only been here once when I wasn’t with my group, but it was actually really decent sushi! And by that I mean it was good; I normally wouldn’t expect sushi in Croatia to be fantastic but this place definitely proved me wrong.
Kogo’s is the first restaurant you come to in the main square of town, and it’s a great example of good Croatian food. You’ll find your gorgonzola steaks, great pizzas, gnocchi, and all the good stuff.
Hotel Adriana Rooftop Bar
Now I’ve never been here at night, but whenever I rid myself of my passengers for 30 minutes in the afternoon (don’t tell them I said that 😉 ) I head straight here for my only quiet time of the day. You can a spot-on view of Hvar’s entire harbor; it’s absolutely stunning.I usually get iced coffee or fruit juice in preparation for the night but they have a cocktail and food menu too.
Late Night Eats
Hvar has fantastic late night pizza and pastry shops, so if you need a quick feed before bed the pizza is amazing. One quick word of warning though – sometimes certain shops will put their prices up the later it gets (they are used to drunk tourists that are not used to the currency) so you can be paying up to 40 kuna (8AUD) for a slice of 20 kuna pizza. Just make sure to look twice!
my group killing it at the pizza parlour at 2am 😛
And the Section We’ve Been Waiting For…. Nightlife!
Kiva’s alleyway – crammed to say the least.
When a certain song comes on, all the tour guides will dance on the bar 😛
Kiva is 100% the party starter around here! With an absolutely on-point singalong playlist, it’s hard not to get the dance party going here. From 830-930 it will go from zero to absolutely cram-packed during high season, so get there early! Here they have amazing cocktails (and usually happy hour until 11) and their famous tequila boom’s – yes, you should be scared. 😛 A Tequila Boom is when they put a helmet on your head and pour a highball glass of tequila and a bit of fruit juice, and quite literally bang it against your head 6 or 7 times before handing it to you to shoot. It ‘eases’ the pain of the shot, ha! It’s definitely a sight to behold.
Insider’s tip: they do have aircon units in Kiva (it gets that hot its nearly unbearable) and they hit directly in the middle of the room and right under the doorway. So if you want a cool breeze to cool off while you’re tearing up the d-floor, this is where to stand 🙂
We always go to Sidro when Kiva gets a bit too crowded, around 1030 or 11 during high season. Sidro is also a little bar with great singalong music and amazing cocktails. But, you absolutely cannot go to Hvar without getting an espresso martini from here. I think they must add some sorcery into their cocktail shaker because these are absolutely magic. I sometimes end up having over 4 of them and can’t sleep at all that night… but #worthit. Seriously, so, so good. Also one of their bartenders is ridiculously hott 😛
When the tour guides escape for a quiet espresso martini!
I haven’t really been here much myself, but it’s right next to Kiva and seems to be a good time.
This is the famous ‘club on an island’ in Hvar. You can take free water taxis back and forth from here all night – its on an island directly across from the harbor and takes about 10-15 minutes via water taxi boat. In high season entry can get up to 200 kuna (40AUD) but is often cheaper if you get there before 1am. And if you’re thinking that’s late – welcome to Hvar. The clubs open at 12:30 and get busy around 1:30 or 2, so be prepared for a late one! It can be a bit of a marathon starting at Hula, to Kiva, to Sidro, to here…. but you can do it!
Carpe Diem is an outdoor club nestled within trees on this little island. They will usually play house, deep house, and tech music, often getting more and more commercial as the night goes on. They have a big VIP section and fairly famous DJ’s playing some nights, and lots and lots of tables you can purchase. There’s even a pool you can swim in if you want, and a spot you can jump in the sea.
But, if I were to give you one tip on this place, it’s that drinks are INSANELY expensive. And they make you pay for water too. So if you need to drink, drink before getting here unless you want to go broke.
Pink Champagne is the other big club in Hvar. Its located just past the main square of town and is actually underground – you take stairs or an elevator down to it. Pink Champagne always price matches Carpe Diem, so they always cost the same… If you ask me it is far inferior to Carpe, but that’s just my opinion. It’s much smaller, and is essentially a few bars and a big dance floor downstairs. Check them both out for yourself!
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I also have lots of other Adventure & Sunset Guides, check them out 🙂
When the owner of Kiva gives you shots of sambuca, tequila, and jaeger to give your group!
What tends to happen at Hula Hula
Sunset view from Hula Hula!
Couldn’t leave this one out of my coworker crowd surfing at Kiva 😛
My birthday this summer at Hula!
My group killing it for a second night at Kiva