Ready for a trip to paradise and wonder where you should plant your sunhat? Tag along as we skip across Hvar in Croatia, cherry-picking ten irresistible spots where you’d love to hang your hammock. Even the most glossy travel brochure won’t serve up insights as tantalizing as the ones we’ve unearthed in our deep dive.
Hvar Island, a sparkling jewel nestled in the embrace of the Adriatic Sea, is but a quick, scenic 90-minute ferry ride from the bustling city of Split. It’s a magnet that has captured the heart of adventurers, romantics, and sun-seekers the world over.
The island, stretching a leisurely 65km, is brimming with gifts from Mother Nature. Freshwater springs sprinkle the island with liquid life, feeding the pine forests, vineyards, and fruit orchards that cloak the landscape. Olive groves neatly step down the hills, weaving an emerald patchwork quilt across the island, punctuated with bursts of purple from the fragrant lavender fields that Hvar is famous for.
Imagine strolling down over 250km of stunning coastline, where pebble beaches play kiss-chase with the sparkling sea, marinas flaunt their stately vessels, and secluded coves and bays invite you for a quiet moment of awe.
Each stone and artifact in Hvar whispers tales of a history stretching back to prehistoric times, echoing the footsteps of myriad settlers who have left their architectural fingerprints across the island. Today, Hvar proudly stands as one of Croatia’s crown jewels, charming globetrotters from every corner of the world.
Whether you’re a history buff eager to tread on ancient paths, a nature enthusiast yearning to lose yourself in verdant landscapes, a party animal on the hunt for pulsating nightlife, or a peace-seeker looking for tranquil coastal retreats, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our handpicked selection of the 10 best bases to call ‘home’ during your unforgettable Hvar adventure. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Best Areas to Stay in Hvar
Struggling to pinpoint your perfect nest in the dazzling Hvar Island? With a smorgasbord of enticing locations studding the island, it can be a tough call. Don’t fret – we’re here to give you a leg up!
The classic favourites – Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Jelsa, and Vrboska – top most travel itineraries, but there are lesser-known gems peppered across the island that promise you equally memorable experiences, often without denting your wallet.
On my last escapade to Hvar, I pitched my tent in Hvar Town, and oh boy, was it a delightful pick! It’s a heads-up though – this isn’t exactly the thriftiest option on the island.
Hvar Town - Best area to stay in Hvar for nightlife
Perched comfortably on Hvar’s western coast, Hvar Town is ruled by a stately Venetian fortress, the town’s capital. More than just a busy ferry port and marina, it’s where the who’s who of the world love to rendezvous.
Hvar Town is a medley of sights and sounds that caters to all tastes. The bustling port area is a revolving door of ferries, connecting Hvar to the surrounding islands, mainland and various Adriatic destinations.
Take a leisurely walk along the marina promenade, where yachts from across the Mediterranean bob at anchor, exuding an air of understated luxury. Pause for a refreshing drink or a quick bite at one of the inviting cafes, bars, or restaurants that line the quay, or follow the path to the town’s outskirts, where pine-fringed pebble beaches beckon.
The town heart radiates from the stunning St. Stephen’s Square, overlooked by grand buildings and intricate cobblestone streets. This square, home to an awe-inspiring cathedral, is a historic treasure dating back to the 16th century and is regarded as the largest square in Dalmatia.
You’re welcome to step inside the cathedral, with a note to time your visit 30 minutes before the daily masses. The square isn’t just about the cathedral, it’s a vibrant hub of cafes, bars, and local businesses, and a favourite spot for the sun-soaked locals who share lively conversation over coffee or a pint of local brew.
Not far away, you’ll discover the Bishop’s Palace housing a museum of religious relics, the Franciscan Monastery, and the Church of our Lady of Mercy. Don’t miss the Hanibal Lucic Summer Residence, the Benedictine Monastery, the historic Arsenal and Theatre built in 1612, and the imposing fortress, a vantage point offering stunning sea views.
Feel like a little adventure? There’s a buffet of guided tours to choose from. Wine enthusiasts can embark on a sensory journey through local vineyards and wineries. You can charter a boat to the Pakleni Islands off Hvar’s coast, or lace up your hiking boots to drink in the intoxicating scent of lavender fields dotting the island’s interior.
Hvar Town blends the traditional and the contemporary in a mesmerising dance. Local shops, bars, and eateries coexist with gourmet restaurants, high-end cocktail bars, and clubs, creating a playground for the well-heeled. Be it a cosy family restaurant for a soul-warming dinner or trendy nightclubs for moonlit revelry, Hvar Town delivers.
Accommodation is abundant and diverse, ranging from luxurious 4 and 5-star hotels and villas to an array of mid-range options and privately owned lets. Consider yourself warned though – once you experience the magnetic charm of Hvar Town, you might never want to leave!
Best Hotels in Hvar
2. Milna - Best budget friendly area to stay in Hvar
Craving for an off-the-beaten-track escape on your Hvar adventure? Allow me to unveil the charming Milna. This quaint little gem is cradled in a picturesque bay on Hvar’s southern coast, a mere 4km hop from the bustle of Hvar Town.
Despite its petite size, Milna packs a wallop of appeal. The town is a day-tripper’s delight, generously filled with entertaining pursuits to fill your daylight hours and twilight moments. When night falls, nearby Hvar Town swings into action, serving up its nightlife delights. Evidently, this formula has struck a chord, judging by the legion of repeat visitors Milna attracts.
Dating back to the 1600s, Milna still carries a touch of its Baroque-Renaissance aura. An intriguing testimony to this is the grand Ivanic family mansion, now transformed into a boutique guesthouse for modern explorers.
Rewind to the 17th and 18th centuries, and Milna was the epicentre of lavender cultivation, exporting its precious oil all the way to Paris’s perfume powerhouses.
Strolling through Milna is like dipping into a timeless painting, blissfully unspoiled by modern consumerism. The aroma of tempting local dishes wafts from the many restaurants competing to serve you the island’s culinary best.
The picture-perfect pebble beaches of Borca and Mala, separated by whispering pines, caress the village front, with two more nestled at its outskirts. The waters here are crystal clear and shallow, safe for frolickers of all ages. Beach facilities might be basic, but you can still grab a snack or a drink at the local bar/restaurant.
Seeking a breather from the sun’s warm kisses? Wander inland from the beaches to enjoy a cool canopy of wooded respite.
History buffs, rejoice! Milna has an array of organised walking tours that will let you delve into the village’s intriguing past. One of these journeys leads to the eerily abandoned village of Malo Grablje, left to nature’s whims in the 1960s. This ghost village offers a fascinating glimpse into why an entire community chose to leave their homes behind.
Active pursuits in Milna are aplenty, from hiking and cycling trails to tennis courts, boat rentals, and scuba diving opportunities. And for an extra dash of quirkiness, you can even enjoy a donkey ride around the village lanes and beaches.
Nighttime in Milna is a serene affair, with restaurants and bars wrapping up before the clock strikes twelve. For nocturnal butterflies, a 10-minute cab ride will land you in the heart of Hvar Town’s vibrant nightlife.
When it comes to accommodation, Milna doesn’t skimp on options. But remember, this little secret isn’t so secret anymore, so it pays to book your stay ahead of time!
Best Hotels in Milna
3. Stari Grad - A haven for culture vultures and history buffs
Awestruck by Hvar’s rich history? Then your journey wouldn’t be complete without setting foot in the time-honoured Stari Grad. Perched on the island’s northern expanse and nestled within a narrow 8km deep cove, this age-old town earns its name, which translates to ‘Old Town’ in English.
With roots reaching back to 385BC, Stari Grad is a testament to the Greek settlers from Faros on the Greek island of Ikaria. The Greek legacy still whispers through the town, with ‘Faros’ gracing many of its signposts and street signs.
Stari Grad is your ticket to effortless unwinding. As you roll in, you’ll sense the weight of the modern world shedding away, even before you’ve settled into your lodgings.
If you yearn for the familiar feel of pebbles or sand underfoot, a leisurely amble around the headland will lead you to charming beaches nestled against a backdrop of shoreline-hugging pines.
The architectural journey through the ages that is Stari Grad is quite remarkable. Antique buildings frame the narrow paved alleyways and small squares, adorned with vibrant flower pots. Bougainvillea bursts from walls and terraces, filling the air with its fresh and fragrant scent.
The Stari Grad Plain is an absolute must-see. This enduring testament to the agricultural ingenuity of the early Greek settlers is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.
Don’t miss the town’s ancient walls, remnants of the old Greek settlement, a Roman villa, the Greek tower on the Stari Grad Plain, and two Illyrian forts keeping watch above the town.
Religious architecture buffs can explore nine churches and chapels, while lovers of history can marvel at the 16th century Tvrdalj Castle, Palace Biankini which now hosts the Stari Grad Museum, the House and Mausoleum of Sime Ljubica built in 1887, and an old windmill on the harbour’s south side.
Nightfall in Stari Grad brings about tranquil moments, accentuated by the town’s array of family-friendly bars and restaurants. The harbour-side venues are the life of the party, though the town retains its laid-back vibe, far from the throbbing disco bars and all-night parties of Hvar Town, which is just a 25-minute cab ride away.
When it comes to accommodations, Stari Grad’s offerings range from comfortable mid-range hotels to private apartments and villas, offering a more budget-friendly alternative to the more upscale Hvar Town.
Best Hotels in Stari Grad
4. Jelsa - Embrace tranquility and sidestep the tourist crowds
Imagine a place where high mountains hug the landscape, forests dance right up to the shoreline, and pristine, untouched beaches tempt you with their allure. Welcome to Jelsa, one of Hvar’s best-kept secrets, a sanctuary from the bustle, offering the perfect escape.
Nestled in the island’s northern reaches, a mere 26km from Hvar Town, Jelsa’s story starts back in the 14th century. From its humble beginnings as a modest farming village and fishing port, it grew to become a significant shipbuilding hub until the 19th century.
Today, Jelsa basks in the glow of tourism, yet it still clings to its architectural heritage from the 15th and 16th centuries, making it a testament to times gone by. The Church of Saints Fabian and Sebastian graces a paved square from the 16th century, its timeless elegance juxtaposed against surrounding edifices from the 17th and 18th centuries.
While Jelsa may not have the old-world charisma of Hvar Town, it also doesn’t suffer from the inevitable influx of tourists. Your afternoons and evenings can be spent leisurely exploring an array of souvenir shops, local businesses, bars, cafes, and eateries.
The harbour is the town’s beating heart, pulsating with life as people stroll its wide promenade, simply relishing the moment. Beach enthusiasts will find their paradise here, with the island’s only sandy stretch located just a quick 2-kilometre jaunt from town.
For those who embrace naturism, the beaches of Zecevo and Glavice welcome you, reachable by a frequent water taxi service.
Venture out of town, and a treasure trove of attractions await. Rent a car or scooter, or better yet, embark on an organised tour, an ideal choice if visiting vineyards or wineries ranks high on your bucket list.
As nightfall descends, Jelsa transforms into a hub of quiet excitement. A medley of restaurants and bars cater to every generation, offering a laid-back night scene. While some venues may keep the party going a tad longer, don’t anticipate the dawn chorus with a drink in hand.
Jelsa offers a wide spectrum of accommodation options to suit every pocket, ranging from modest 2 and 3-star hotels to luxurious 4-star venues, villas, and apartments. So go ahead, carve your own niche in this tranquil corner of Hvar, and leave the crowds behind.
Best Hotels in Jelsa
5. Vrboska - Best place to stay in Hvar for families
Journey to the tranquil heart of Hvar’s northern coastline, and you’ll find Vrboska, a picturesque village etched into the landscape, just 6km east of Stari Grad and 4km west of Jelsa. It all began in the 15th century, with Vrboska emerging as a thriving port, unfurling along the edges of a picturesque bay and its slender estuary.
As the port grew, embracing prosperity, the village expanded, spawning multi-arch stone bridges that seamlessly connected the port area. This intricate network of stone bridges set the stage for the town’s development into the charming haven you see today.
Tucked away at the cove’s apex, Vrboska is embraced by rolling hills, verdant forests, and thriving olive and fruit groves. Until the early 20th century, the village had its own sardine canning factory, a symbol of simpler times that sadly no longer exists.
Today, Vrboska hums to the tune of tourism and maritime commerce, with a nod to its agricultural and marine roots.
The town offers intriguing landmarks, such as the St Mary of Mercy church built in 1579, the venerable Church of St Lawrence, and the fascinating Fisherman’s Museum, providing a deep dive into the area’s fishing heritage. Just a stone’s throw away is the Stari Grad Plain, a journey into antiquity that’s absolutely worth your time.
If sun, sand and sea are on your itinerary, the nearby Soline beach is a family-friendly paradise nestled among aromatic pine groves. For naturist enthusiasts, nearby options include a campsite and the FKK Auto Camp Nudist, merely a kilometre from the village.
Traditional sunbathers can head to the delightful pebble beaches within a leisurely walk from the town.
Vrboska’s town centre and harbour are teeming with unique souvenir shops, general stores, local businesses, bars, and eateries to satiate even the most enthusiastic adventurers.
Accommodation options are abundant, ranging from economical apartments to luxurious villas. So, if you’re in pursuit of an idyllic spot for your family in Hvar, Vrboska fits the bill perfectly with its enchanting blend of history, nature, and culture.
Best Hotels in Vrboska
6. Zavala, the best village to stay in Hvar for all ages
Perched on the island’s sun-kissed south coast, Zavala, with its quaint village and charming port, is set against a mesmerising tableau of pine-veiled hills, terraced fields ablaze with lavender and rosemary, and groves flourishing with oranges and olives. It is a place that whispers relaxation, beckons explorers, and invites camaraderie during moonlit evenings.
The journey to Zavala from Jelsa is an adventure in itself, unfolding along a scenic route that snakes its way to the picturesque village of Pitve. A unique highlight of this journey is a kilometre-long, single-lane tunnel, unlit and governed by traffic signals, that seemingly transports you to another world.
As you bid farewell to the tunnel’s shadows, a breath-taking panorama of the sparkling Adriatic Sea, immaculate coastlines, and distant islands unfurls before your eyes, assuring you’ve chosen the right sanctuary in Hvar.
Nestled slightly inland from the coast, a leisurely stroll from the village leads you to the bustling harbour. Follow the inviting promenade, flanked by hotels, apartments, and pebble beaches, from one end at the Bay of Petarcica to the other, where a cluster of restaurants and bars await at the harbour.
Evenings in Zavala are a mellow affair, centred around the village’s pubs and eateries. Here, you can indulge in locally sourced delicacies like freshly caught fish, seasonal fruit, and the finest wines, all seasoned with homegrown and freshly pressed olive oil.
If a moonlit romantic amble back to your accommodation from a seaside restaurant is on your mind, remember to carry a torch, for the walkway remains unlit in its authenticity.
When it comes to accommodation, Zavala doesn’t disappoint. The options range from cost-effective to luxurious, featuring a selection of apartments, villas, hotels, and even a campsite, all offering terrific value. So, if a rejuvenating escape from the everyday is what you seek, Zavala in Hvar could just be your perfect hideaway.
Best Hotels in Zavala
7. Sveta Nedjelja - A Serene Retreat for the Seekers of Tranquillity
Tucked at the foot of Hvar Island’s towering zenith, Mount St Nicholas, lies the charming hamlet of Sveta Nedjelja, perched on the island’s southern rim. It’s a tranquil haven treasured by those in quest of a peaceful sanctuary in Hvar, promising the essentials for an idyllic, restful sojourn far from the madding crowd.
The village’s coastal stretch boasts a petite pebble beach, home to an array of tourist-friendly apartments, while the village proper exudes an old-world charm with its original stone structures, labyrinthine streets, and winding alleyways.
Ascend from the heart of Sveta Nedjelja, and the terrains rise to embrace vineyards spilling down the mountainside, where red grapes destined for Hvar’s celebrated red wine sway in the gentle breeze, adjacent to small-scale farmers’ olive groves.
Ascend from the heart of Sveta Nedjelja, and the terrains rise to embrace vineyards spilling down the mountainside, where red grapes destined for Hvar’s celebrated red wine sway in the gentle breeze, adjacent to small-scale farmers’ olive groves.
Near the peak of Sveti Nikola, a modest chapel rests, overlooked by an ancient cave sheltering the remnants of a bygone monastery, a graveyard, and a 16th-century church. The ascent, however, is not for the faint-hearted; a demanding 40-minute hike leads to the cave, while the summit demands an additional 40 minutes of strenuous climbing.
Adrenaline-seekers are no strangers to Sveta Nedjelja; it’s a favoured spot for free-climbers and mountaineers drawn to its vertical cliffs and challenging ascents.
The seafront, with its pristine pebble beach, quaint harbour, and welcoming bars and restaurants, sets the scene for languid, sun-soaked days. Within the village, you can discover the local church, pick a favourite dining spot or café, explore the essential oil production unit, or tour the nearby wine bottling facility.
For your everyday necessities, the village hosts mini-marts and shops catering to all self-catering needs. If you crave a change of scenery, a plethora of guided tours will unveil local attractions, and worn trails invite explorations into the heartland to discover the rural charm and quaint farms.
A leisurely drive in your rented vehicle can transport you to the town of Jelsa in 20 minutes, or to the bustling Hvar Town in half an hour.
Evenings in Sveta Nedjelja are about savouring local cuisine in cosy restaurants, relaxing in bars, and café-hopping. Accommodation primarily comprises apartments and villas, many flaunting enchanting sea views, balconies, terraces, or gardens. It’s the perfect destination to unwind and rejuvenate in Hvar’s peaceful embrace.
Best Hotels in Sveta Nedjelja
Zastrazisce is a quaint settlement, home to a close-knit community of merely 200 inhabitants. This village, perched 193m above sea level, comprises a cluster of charming hamlets dotted across the eastern stretch of the island.
The village, a canvas of old stone cottages, hosts a school, a convenience store, a duo of churches, and a single eatery, catering to both locals and the surrounding region. Although neighbouring villages are within reach, anything beyond daily necessities might necessitate a scenic 20km drive to the lively town of Jelsa.
Centuries past saw the village thrive on cattle-rearing, but today, the locals earn their living from the bountiful groves of oranges and olives, fragrant lavender fields, supplemented by a modest income from tourism.
Zastrazisce takes pride in its ancient olive tree, a privately owned gem estimated to be over 2000 years old. Other local attractions include the village of Humac, renowned for its stone cottages, and the awe-inspiring Grapčeva cave, housing fascinating stalagmites and stalactites.
This hamlet also serves as an excellent base to discover the island’s alluring bays and coves, tucked away on both the north and south coasts.
Accommodation choices are primarily private, with many traditional cottages converted into welcoming homestays. As nightfall descends, you can revel in the local culture, exchanging tales with fellow travellers and warm-hearted locals. Your stay in Zastrazisce promises an unforgettable tapestry of historic charm, cultural immersion, and tranquil retreat.
Best Hotels in Zastrazisce
9. Gdinj - Bask in the Tranquil Charm of a Time-Honoured Village
Nestled on Hvar island’s eastern sliver, just 30km from Hvar Town, you’ll find Gdinj. As you traverse the scenic Route 116, passing through Humac and Zastrazisce, you’ll approach what feels like a portal into a forgotten era.
A charming huddle of time-worn stone cottages line the roadside, whispering stories of their origin in the 16th century. Born as eight petite hamlets, they’ve since interwoven into one harmonious village.
Currently, Gdinj boasts around 100 year-round dwellers, most nurturing the land or managing the few local shops, bars, and eateries. While some of the erstwhile homes now welcome adventurous tourists, many retain their untouched charm, veiled in tranquil silence.
To uncover this rural gem, consider a car rental or alternative transportation. However, those craving an authentic experience can hop on the local bus from Hvar Town, which conveniently stops here.
At first glance, Gdinj may appear a curious choice for your Hvar stay. But as the sun casts a warm glow on a summer day, the soothing serenity of this lesser-trodden path will steal your heart.
Perched 360 metres above sea level, Gdinj offers breathtaking panoramas. From the south, you gaze upon the distant island of Korčula, while the northern vista opens to the island of Brač.
A single road, entwined with labyrinthine alleyways and quaint squares, invites you to explore the heart of the village. Discover modest, yet charming shops, mini-marts, bars, and eateries tucked away in the corners. For larger amenities like fuel stations or healthcare, a trip to Jelsa is required.
Visitors to Gdinj often venture into the coastal regions, captivated by the mesmerising beaches and pine-draped landscapes. A short ten-minute stroll from the village centre will lead you to the 16th-century Church of St. George, an unmissable piece of history.
The village’s nightlife hums gently with the few available bars and restaurants. It’s an idyllic haven for travellers seeking to cultivate connections with locals and immerse themselves in the essence of their chosen destination.
Accommodation primarily comes in the form of privately owned, tastefully transformed studios, larger apartments, and houses, all priced attractively for the budget-savvy wanderer.
Best Hotels in Gdinj
10. Sucuraj, best area to stay in Hvar for beach lovers
Gracefully poised on Hvar Island’s easternmost tip, the enticing port and fishing hamlet of Sucuraj sits tantalisingly close to the Croatian mainland – a mere 25-minute car ferry ride from the coastal town of Drvenik.
Dipping its toes in the annals of history, Sucuraj first saw settlement in the 14th century. While tangible remnants from that epoch are scant, the village’s intriguing past is echoed in the ruins of a 16th-century Augustinian monastery and the fort built by the Venetians in the following century. Amid these whispers of antiquity, the Church of St Anthony from Padova still stands tall.
Almost cleaved in twain, Sucuraj presents two unique faces – the northern Upper Sucuraj and its southern counterpart, Lower Sucuraj. Its snug position in the bay proffers easy access to over 25km of sun-kissed coastline.
A multitude of coves, bays and beaches fringe both sides of Hvar island, making Sucuraj an irresistible lure for those keen to explore the island’s varied landscape. The beaches, each presenting an artist’s canvas of splendid scenery, pebble-kissed shores and crystalline waters, cater to everyone – from families with young children to adventurous naturists. Some even extend a warm welcome to motorhome/camping enthusiasts.
The port area is a vibrant hive of activity, with ferries frequently plying their trade between the mainland and other islands. Anchoring Sucuraj’s enduring fishing legacy is a small fleet that often graces the village’s seafood restaurants with their fresh catch of the day.
Like a classic Dalmatian coastal village, Sucuraj is a captivating maze of stone cottages, narrow arteries and twisting alleyways. Lose yourself in this quaint labyrinth, discovering charming general stores, souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars along the way.
Aside from the inviting coastline, visitors can bask in the village’s other attractions, such as the Church of St Jure and the historic lighthouse. A network of walking and cycling trails ensure that the bucolic countryside and coastal areas are readily accessible for the exploratory traveller.
As the sun dips, Sucuraj’s nightlife stirs with a diverse array of restaurants and bars catering to a broad spectrum of tastes.
Accommodation is generously available, primarily in the form of homes, studios, and larger apartments, many boasting scenic views over the port area and beaches.
If you’re pondering where to stay in Hvar for a taste of serene beach life, invigorating country walks, and tantalising local cuisine, Sucuraj promises a fitting retreat.