Note: This Guide to Hvar is part of my Tour Guide’s Super-Guide to Croatia. Click to see the rest, and for some preliminary Croatia info that would be useful for this guide!
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. Coming in at about an hour’s catamaran ride from Split, it’s pretty much a must-do in Croatia. This city guide to Hvar is specifically intended for Hvar Town (on Hvar island), but I also mention another few places and smaller towns that are fantastic to visit on the island.
Oh, and as far as accomodation goes: as a boat tour guide, I always stay on the boats when I am sailing in Croatia. So, I unfortunately don’t have many accomodation recommendations for Hvar. But, I have stayed in a few pretty amazing Airbnb’s there on my time off (which is what I would recommend) and have heard of a few good hostels as well.
Adventure Guide to Hvar
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 clothing, 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.
Kayaking to the Pakleni Islands
Kayaking is popular all over the country, and Hvar is no exception. Sign up for a kayaking tour to these secluded islands right off the coast from Hvar, and enjoy lunch on a beach.
Rent a Scooter and Explore Hvar!
You can rent scooters from right behind the church in Hvar, and use them to explore some more secluded parts of Hvar island. You can take them to Stari Grad (which I have outlined below), Jelsa, or anywhere along the long, thin, beautiful island.
When you make the realization that you have spent more of your life in the past 1.5 years living on THIS BOAT than you have in your home state of California. So, as one of my passengers joked, where am I from? Petrina. As of right now, I am from the boat called Petrina. …. But as as far as California is concerned, I am planning a few whole MONTHS home next year, at least Jan, Feb, and some of March before an Africa tour I am planning. But that's another story for another day. 2 more days on my 'home,' #Petrina 💙 #boatlife #topdecker #travel #Hvar #Croatia #sarong #pirateslife
Guide to Hvar Day Trips
If you aren’t spending time in Split itself, it is easily accessible from Hvar and is worth a visit. See my Super-Guide for extra info on Split and booking trips from there, or some other locations you can visit from Hvar.
Just a quick ferry ride away is another spectacular island, Korčula. This island has a beautiful walled old town (like a mini-Dubrovnik) and lots of history and culture. See my Korčula Guide here.
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 about this charming town! 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!
Blue Caves and Vis Island:
Vis Island is visible from Hvar Town, and is yet another amazing place to visit. You can see the famous Blue Caves on a small island just on the other side of Vis, and tours to both these places are available from Hvar or also from Split.
Sunset Guide to Hvar
Hula Hula Beach Bar
Ohhhhh, Hula. This place is the site of some of the craziest times, and no guide to Hvar 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 off of ladders into the water. There are tables and lounges on wooden decks over the water, fantastic vibey music, and the free-est poured cocktails you’ll see anywhere. I swear I don’t know how their mojitos are still absolutely on-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.
I would recommend to get here around 5 or 6 (or later if you get dinner before) and stay until just after sunset. Then head into town 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.
If you do rent a boat or make a trip out to the little islands outside of the port, make sure to stay for sunset and watch it over the water.
Food Guide to Hvar – Places to Eat (or Grab a Drink with a View!)
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 specializes in 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, and the view of the sunset is great from here also.
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 right in the main square of Hvar. You wouldn’t clasically expect good Thai food in Croatia, but this place proves you damn wrong. If you need a bit of a break from Croatian food and want a great curry or pad thai, this is your place.
W Burger & Steak House
Right next to Spice you’ll find an amazing Burger place with the same owner. The black & blue burger is my fave, but the others are fantastic as well. If you can’t decide between burgers and Thai food, try the Thai burger here! 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 get 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.
This little hole-in-the-wall serves some of the most creative cocktails I have seen in Croatia, and also has a tasty and equally creative breakfast selection. It’s called a ‘music bar’ and assumingly turns into a different scene at night, but unfortunately I have yet to make it at night time.
If you want to get fancy and have a quite luxurious meal in Hvar, Dalmatino is a great option. With waiters very well-versed in food & drink pairings and some very gourmet options, this is a great place to treat yourself.
With a creative menu of interesting pairings, Black Pepper is also a great place to treat yourself right in Hvar’s old town. Make reservations early, though, it fills up!
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…. a Guide to Hvar 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 booms’ – 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, wink wink! It’s definitely a sight to behold.
Insider’s tip: they do have aircon units in Kiva (it eventually gets so hot its nearly unbearable). The streams of air hit directly in the middle of the room, and right under the doorway. So, if you want a 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 magical. I sometimes end up having over 4 of them and can’t sleep at all that night… but #worthit. Seriously, so, so good.
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 bar sprang up out of nowhere in the summer of ’17 and really took charge of the Hvar bar scene. It looks umassumingly out at the port, but once you go inside you will find club-like lighting, a dance floor going quite far back into the building, and a large courtyard to get some air.
Carpe Diem – The Club on an Island
This is the famous ‘club on an island’ in Hvar. You can take free water taxis back and forth from here all night. It’s 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 Club
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, lit-up dance floor downstairs. Check them both out for yourself!
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If you haven’t checked out my post “20 Signs You Have Sailed Croatia,” click here!!
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