When I travelled to Hvar (Croatia’s largest island) about 3 years ago, I realised very quickly this was quite a ‘trendy’ destination. Shiny yachts were lined up in the harbour, glamourous (with a substantial hint of tacky) couples pranced along the Marina and Carpe Diem was heaving with hot Europeans downing champagne.
In many ways Hvar can be seen as the St. Tropez of France or the Mykonos of Greece. That may paint a somewhat shallow image of the island. But one look at the island itself, surrounded by clear blue waters and with stunning architecture, all the while retaining a mixture of Croatian and almost Italian charm, and you’ll be much more tempted.
This year practically every second person I meet has either been or is going to Hvar. It seems to offer that perfect combination of sea, sun and party. City Turtle discovers what not to miss on Croatia’s most popular island.
Hvar at dusk
Where to drink if you want:
Beach side cocktails
Address: 21450 Hvar
Party here in your bikini, enjoying the last rays as the sun sets. The beats get louder during the day and expect lots of dancing on podiums. If you don’t want to get involved with dancing too early on in the evening, just sip one of their incredible cocktails and enjoy one of the best views of the island.
The sunset view of Hula Hula
Sophisticated Rooftop Aperitifs
Address: Ive Milia 3, 21450 Hvar
This is the place to enjoy the best views of the harbour and have a low-key cocktail before dinner. The hotel itself is quite pricey but you shouldn’t miss a drink on their roof top bar.
The Top Bar, Adriana Hotel, Hvar
All night partying
It’s the most famous place in Hvar – for many the highlight of the Marina – and definitely worth a night of drinking and socialising with Euro Trash. I met some wonderful Norwegians when I was there who were a lot of fun and very generous. Bouncers can be quite strict, especially if it’s busy, and men will find it quite hard to barge in. Most nights it is heaving. I preferred the Carpe Diem Beach Party (on certain nights) – on a nearby island. You can take boat taxis across to Carpe Diem’s island which is much less full but still has amazing music, food, booze and lounge areas.
View form Carpe Diem Beach Club at dawn
To hit it hard
You are greeted by the barman with a soviet helmet and a potent shot. The rest of the night will be downhill from here.. This place is small and often spills out onto the street. The barmen are friendly, the party-goers are a massively mixed-bunch (from Croats to Aussies, most of whom are generally off their faces). It is unpretentious, loud and super fun.
Where to eat:
Sveti Marak 9, Hvar
This place was my favourite. A short walk away from the Marina, it is tucked away in one of Hvar perfect little side streets. Tables are set closely together on the charming cobbled stones. Make sure you come here early as there were substantial queues last time I was there. The food is a range of sea food and pizzas and pastas (food on Hvar is heavily influenced by Italy just across the Adriatic Sea). The seafood pasta was delicious, as was the tuna steak. There is a low-key but buzzing vibe here and the prices are some of the best on the island.
Obala b.b. 21450, Hvar
Known by many as the best restaurant of the island, this place is visited by every celebrity who touches the island and by anyone who appreciates truly excellent food. The sea food here is unrivalled. Choose whatever fish you wish to eat – all caught that day – and they will cook it to perfection. The views of Hvar’s harbour are delightful but it is the service which plays the largest role in making this a ‘luxury’ experience. The service is unobtrusive but attentive, the waiters are knowledgable and utterly charming. It’s not cheap, but as a treat this place will certainly not let you down.
Food with a view
1 Petar Hektorovica, Hvar
385 21 741 400
Luna can be recognised by it’s lilac shutters, which stand out from Hvar’s stone walls. The rooftop is wonderful (book in advance because it is very popular) – and I would only really come here if you do manage to book a table on the roof terrace. There is real ambience here and many people think it is one of Hvar’s most romantic restaurants. The food is good, especially the Croatian fish stew and the steak. It is also great value for money.
What to do
If you are active
Hire a speedboat to explore the beaches on the Pakleni Islands. A powerful rib is £200 for the day – shared between a few it isn’t too expensive. There are definitely cheaper options available. You can also explore Amo beach and Carpe Diem beach (they service great salads for lunch here). The other islands have loads of nice coves where you can anchor up and swim in the crystal clear water. Also many of the bays have seafood restaurants and bars if you get thirsty. Exploring these islands is a MUST.
If only we could all afford one of these..
–If you want to chill
Beach, Sea, and more Beach. Yes, there are pebbled beaches. And if you don’t want to spend too much money you may find yourself lying on slabs of cement. OK that doesn’t sound quite so comfortable but you can jump off the side into the most beautiful water to cool down (mind the sea urchins, which we named ‘Black Bastards’). Or you can hire deck chairs. There are so many options.
Sea Urchin & Star Fish
Many thanks to Phil Kelleher and Charlotte Harper for their recommendations…