Hvar definitely has a party reputation and thanks to the amazing weather, stunning beaches and plenty of beach clubs and bars, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a party destination. However there are plenty of things to do on Hvar even if you don’t want to party - which I was very relieved to discover after our recent trip.
I’ll be honest - I completely fell in love with Hvar. I am not a party person at all, I prefer a laid back bar or brewery with a beer and a view is a nice bonus. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that Hvar could offer me that, plus stunning beaches, plus amazing drives and hiking routes, plus incredible nature and great food.
So I wanted to put together this guide on the best things to do in Hvar Island. Because many people visit the town of Hvar (it’s a bit confusing but the main town and the island both share the same name!) and never see anything more of the island.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to share some of the best things to do in Hvar Town without partying too, but there are just so many things to see on Hvar Island that a trip to Hvar town without seeing anything else of the island is a wasted opportunity.
Hopefully this guide gives you plenty of ideas for things to do in Hvar Island, Croatia beyond the party scene the island is known for.
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How to get to Hvar
Hvar island is around 40km from Split and is easiest reached by ferry. The high speed catamaran ferry is foot passenger only and will get you there in 50 minutes. The car ferry takes much longer, 2.5 hours from Split and it arrives at Stari Grad on the other side of Hvar island. Stari Grad is a 20 minute drive from Hvar town.
If you are planning to see more of Hvar island than just the Old Town Hvar, you can either hire a car or scooter in Split and take the car ferry. Or you can take the passenger ferry and hire a car, scooter or ATV once you arrive in Hvar - there are plenty of rental options available.
Best things to do: Hvar Island
Jelsa is a real hidden gem on Hvar.
While most people head to Hvar or take the passenger ferry to Stari Grad, Jelsa can be found on the east side of the island with a beautifully colourful old town, a port that’s popular with private yachts and a charming al fresco culture that feels much more relaxed and local than Hvar.
We drove over here one morning for coffee and a stroll and were amazed at how quiet it was in mid-July compared to Hvar!
If you’re looking for the best place to stay on Hvar Island, I’d really recommend Jelsa. There’s so many great local restaurants and cafes, the town is small and beautiful, there’s a local park area and also the Mina Beach area where there’s beach activities, water activities and an aquapark.
Explore Stari Grad and the Kabal Peninsula
We arrived in Hvar on the car ferry from Split which docks in Stari Grad. Stari Grad is around 20 minutes drive from Hvar town.
We left the port straight away to head to Hvar Town but decided to go back to Stari Grad the next day to check it out more and I’m so glad we did!
Stari Grad is a thriving town, similar in size to Hvar town but quite a bit quieter as there’s not really the club and party scene there like there is in Hvar town.
However there are still plenty of people, loads of bars and restaurants, boat trips, activities and beaches within easy reach.
Stari Grad is another great option for places to stay on Hvar that aren’t Hvar Town.
You also have the nearby Kabal Peninsula which is full of activities like swimming, hiking, cycling or beach days. There are a few restaurants or cafes dotted through the peninsula too, it’s a really beautiful part of the island that most people miss.
Do a Farm to Table Experience
This is a great option if you’re looking for memorable and unique things to do on Hvar.
The Family Farm in Brusje is just 10 minutes drive into the hills from Hvar town but it feels like another world.
This is an authentic, local restaurant and cultural experience in a local village which feels so serene and peaceful, a completely different world from the atmosphere back down the mountain!
It’s a great stop if you’re on a cycling tour in the mountains or if you hire an ATV or buggy to escape into the mountains for the day. The views in all directions are stunning from up there, especially at sunset.
There is space for 50 people, so it should not be necessary to book and they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, fresh juices, homemade jam, honey, oils, pollen, olive oil and more.
You can just eat there, or you can do a tasting of the olive oil or honey.
Find out more here.
If you’re staying closer to Stari Grad or Jelsa, or you’re looking for an alternative farm to table experience in Hvar, check out FarmHouse Agrotourism Pharos.
They also offer wine tasting as well as a farm to table experience. You may need to book in the day before at the property during the busy season.
Lavender fields and farms
Did you know Hvar is famous for its lavender?In fact there are lavender farms and fields everywhere across the island, which is why you’ll see a lot of lavender products being sold in the market stalls in the towns and even in Split.
If you want to see the lavender, you’ll need to visit during mid to late July to see them in full bloom. There is even a lavender festival in the middle weekend of July!
Where to find lavender fields in Hvar?
If you want to see the fields for yourself, there is one close to Jelsa with a very instagrammable lavender swing seat, it’s called Lavanda Hvar.
Alternatively, drive up into the hills above Hvar town and you’ll find them on the road between Velo Grablje and Brusje.
Visiting Vrboska is a very authentic experience, it feels even more local than Jelsa. There were barely any people when we visited in July, however we were charmed by the Venice-like style with the river running through the houses and the bridge spanning the estuary.
There’s a popular port area is Vrboska which is where you’ll find lots of the cafes and bars.
But the town is a nice quiet escape from other places on the island and is just a few minutes drive from Jelsa.
Take 30 minutes to explore the town and stroll along the estuary. The island in the middle is a pretty unique feature too that I’ve not seen much in Croatia.
Hike St Nicolas Peak
This recommendation is very dependent on what time of year you visit as July and August are often too hot for long hikes unless you’re a very experienced hiker in hot conditions!
However at 626m, the view from the peak of St Nicolas is worth it!
You start from the village of Sveta Nedilja and it takes around 2 hours to complete the hike.
At the top there is a small 15th- century chapel - the Church of St Nicholas.
Visit an underwater wine cellar
One of the most unique things to do in Hvar island is to visit an underwater wine cellar.
The position of Hvar, the soil, the sea and the wind conditions make it ideal for growing grapes for wine. There are plenty of wineries and wine tours to visit on the island, but none are as unique as the wine cellar at Bilo Idro.
Bilo Idro is the wine cellar owned by Zlatan Otok winery who have vineyards in Hvar and Makaska.
You can visit them by car, or dock your boat at their winery dock, or go on a wine tour and tasting to visit this and other signature Hvar wineries.
Drive the mountain route above Hvar Town
If hiking sounds a bit too much for you, especially when visiting in the summer months, I highly recommend getting outside of Hvar town and driving into the mountains above the city where you’ll find some of the best views in Hvar.
Take the Jerka Misetica road from Hvar town and follow it into the mountains, through Brusje, past Velo Grablje and down the mountain road towards Stari Grad.
This spectacular route is one of the best driving routes in Hvar, with views of Hvar Town, the Hvar coast, lavender fields, the Pakleni Islands and the islands of Brač and Korcula in the distance.
This is one of the top things to do in Hvar in my opinion because it’s a view and perspective of the island that most people never experience when they visit.
Explore the best beaches on Hvar Island away from the town
Hvar is all about the epic coastline yet most people never make it beyond the town beaches in Hvar or Stari Grad.
I recommend hiring a car or scooter, or even a buggy or ATV and head to some of the other beaches around the island. The best ones are always the more challenging ones to get to!
Here are some of the best beaches on Hvar Island to escape the crowds
Plaza Malo Zarace and Plaza Velo Zarace
Bay Lucisca - Sveta Nedjelja
Plaza Mala Stiniva
Visit the Pakleni Islands
The Pakleni Islands are popular for a reason and while you might see some of the party crowd heading over to Carpe Diem, take a water taxi from Hvar or a boat trip to one of the other island coves such as Mlini or Palmizana.
You can find water taxis for 60-80kn from the harbour in Hvar town, these run throughout the day so you have the flexibility to spend as much or as little time there as you want.
Find out more about how to get to the Pakleni Islands and a guide to the islands.
Or book this private or small-group sailing day trip to the Pakleni Islands which takes you to much more secluded spots around the islands, away from the main beaches and party crowds so you can try local small restaurants and snorkel in secluded coves.
Best things to do in Hvar Town if you don’t want to party
Everyone knows the fortress, right?
A walk up to the Spanish Fortress, or Tvrđava Fortica in Croatian, takes around 20 minutes and it’s 70kn / 10 euro entry. The views of the Old Town, the harbour and the islands beyond are absolutely worth the walk up!
I would recommend doing the walk early in the morning or going up for sunset when it’s cooler. The peak temperatures in the day during July and August are too hot for uphill walking! The fortress stays open until 10pm so staying for sunset is no problem.
Everyone visiting the Spanish Fortress, but have you heard of the Napoleon Fortress?The Napoleon Fortress is the second fortress that overlooks Hvar Town and it sits on the much higher hill behind the Spanish Fortress.
To reach the Napoleon Fortress, take the Jerka Misetica road from the old town, about 5 minutes up the road is the Trailhead for the Napoleon Fortress. From here it’s about 30 minutes uphill to reach the fortress, so allow 1-1.5 hours for the full walk.
Again, this is a fairly easy walk with a clear trail that takes less than two hours but I would not suggest doing it in the peak daytime sun.
The views from the top at sunset are said to be the best, so I would suggest aiming for that.
If you’re visiting in the low season when the weather is cooler, that is the perfect time to visit Hvar and do the hiking trails.
We loved this restaurant so much that we went two nights in a row!
On the edge of the town, by the taxi rank is this unassuming traditional restaurant. But their courtyard terrace area is gorgeous, covered in vines, with an outdoor oven, traditional decor and wonderful staff.
We loved it here, loved the relaxed vibe and it was never too busy, it didn’t feel touristy and there was no party vibe, just a really relaxed and enjoyable spot that felt like our secret place - except now I’m sharing it with you!
Another sort of, but sort of not, hidden gem in Hvar town is the Teraca Bar.
Because we live in Split and wanted to avoid the party scene when we visited Hvar, we asked some locals about the bar that they would be going to and this is the one they said.
It’s located on the terrace above St Stephens Square in the heart of the Old Town and you can access it via the steps next to the tourist info centre.
Despite its central location, we never struggled to get a seat here, it was busy but not packed with a really chilled, relaxed vibe and amazing views across the town with the fortress lit up on the hill.
Side note: the terrace at the top of the stairs and looking out across the harbour is a great sunset spot!
Vunetovo Craft Beer
Of course if you know our love of craft beer then you’ll know we always find craft breweries wherever we go!
This understated family-run brewery is located on the beachfront, along the promenade walk, right before Hula Hula Beach Bar (you’ll hear the music!)
It’s literally a small doorway in the wall, right before the public toilets and it’s in a small garden area with the family serving you from their small stone building in the corner.
It’s rustic and charming, the family are super friendly and the craft beers are great. I especially loved the grapefruit session.
Hire a boat
This is one of the best things to do in Hvar, Croatia because it’s an amazing way for you to escape the crowds and see some of the more hard to reach spots on Hvar island.
You can either book in advance with a boat hire company such as Hvar Boats or Luka Rent, or you can wait until you get to Hvar because there are countless options available. You’ll be approached by people in the harbour area and you’ll see plenty of moored boats with photo numbers to call to rent the boat.
An important thing to note is that by Croatian law, someone on board must hold a valid boat licence. Some small rental agencies will allow you to take a boat out without a licence but you need to decide if that’s a risk you’re willing to take.
Instead, I would suggest renting a boat with a private skipper so you can go wherever you want and essentially have a private tour with a local who will know all the best spots.
From Hvar town, by boat you could visit the Pakleni Islands, the Red Rocks of Hvar, coves and beaches only accessible by water and even the underwater wine cellar I mentioned earlier, which has its own dock.
Or you could just choose to anchor in a small bay, take your own drinks in a cooler, swim in the sea and enjoy the sunshine away from the crowds, in your own slice of paradise!
Get ice cream at Aroma Gelato
Okay this ice cream shop is no hidden gem, it’s on Fabrika which is the main street running along the harbour wall in Hvar town.
An Italian person once told me that the way to spot true, authentic gelato is if it’s covered. If the ice cream is piled high in tubs within the freezer chest then it’s no good.
So when we walked past Aroma Gelato, I immediately spotted that the ice cream was stored in metal containers below the work surface so it wasn’t on display.
Let me tell you, it was possibly the best ice cream I’ve had in my life. We tried a few flavours during our stay, our favourites were rum raisin, apple pie, red grapefruit, lemon and basil, mango alphonso, mocha chocolate with coffee and caramel with sea salt.
Listen to live lounge music at Central Park Club
I know this location has club in the title but it’s not a club as in a nightclub. Instead, it's a super chill live music lounge with outdoor seating, string lights in the palm trees and a great cocktail and snack menu.
The music is acoustic lounge music and this was probably the most magical evening we spent in Hvar, listening to the music and sipping spritz’.
Falko - an alternative beach club
If you do want to experience a beach club, perhaps for sunset drinks by the water or some alfresco dining by the sea but you don’t want to party atmosphere of Hula Hula, then Falko Beach Bar is a great option for a more chilled vibe.
Located further along the promenade, Falko is only open until 9pm - so it’s the perfect chilled spot for sunset drinks and with such an early close, you’re pretty much guaranteed to avoid the party crowd.
They will also do your drinks to-go in plastic cups if you’d like to sit out front on the rocks by the waves.
Hire a buggy or ATV
If you’re looking for more adrenaline fueled Hvar activities, then hiring an ATV or buggy is a must!
Hiring one of these vehicles allows you to get outside the town, go offroading and get access to some of the more hard-to-reach beaches and trails that cars or scooters can’t handle.
There are several booths to rent from in the town area and they can give you maps and tips of areas to visit either along the coast or the mountains depending on what you want to explore.
Summary: best things to do in Hvar Island
Definitely don’t be put off from visiting Hvar in the summer just because it’s the party season! Yes it’s quieter in the shoulder season and low season but if you want to guarantee the good weather, take boat trips and enjoy the beaches, then there are still plenty of things to do on Hvar island if you don’t want to party.
Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas and inspiration for the best things to do, Hvar town and beyond as well as top things to do in Hvar town that aren’t clubs or parties!
Pin this for later to plan your future trip!