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The trendy, high-end and historic atmosphere of Hvar has transformed this formerly quiet fishing town into one of Croatia’s hottest destinations.
Sailboats and fancy yachts line up to get into Hvar Town’s harbor while centuries-old attractions offer some cultural counterbalance to the town’s undeniably glamorous side. Celebrities are often spotted in and around Hvar. The town of Hvar, the namesake of Hvar Island, is a focal point on every Dalmatian island cruise that takes itself seriously.
However, although many of those cruises stop in Hvar for only a few hours, you’re strongly encouraged to take a bit more time to explore this historic yet modern Croatian island town. Spending 24 hours in Hvar is an appropriate timeframe for a solid first impression. Of course, you’ll need more time if you want to explore the rest of the island as well. For the town alone, a full around-the-clock day can be done like this:
One Day in Hvar: Morning
When arriving in Hvar Town, focus your attention immediately on St. Stephen’s Square, definitely the touristic and social focal point of the town. This is Hvar’s main square, said to be the biggest square in all of Dalmatia. It’s a laidback place, lined with café and restaurant patios filled with sun-kissed tourists.
Located basically right next to Hvar’s harbor, St. Stephen’s Square is where you’ll find the visitor center and a number of the town’s main historic attractions. The visitor center is housed in the 400-year-old Arsenal, a testimony to the town’s military history. Across from the Arsenal, you’ll see the Loggia, which is what’s left of what used to be a rector’s palace in the 15th century, when Hvar was controlled by Venice.
Feel free to leave the square and poke around the backstreets of Hvar. Lined with beautiful old architecture featuring typical Venetian windows, these streets are great for random urban exploration (and a spot of shopping).
To the left of St. Stephen’s Square lies the Benedictine Convent and Lace Museum. A small number of Benedictine sisters still live in this convent, never ever leaving it, spending their days praying and making lace from agava fibers. Inside, you can see amazing examples of their work. If you have spending money, you can even buy a sample. This convent is one of the attractions in Hvar that close in the afternoon. Keep your eye on the time when exploring St. Stephen’s Square and the backstreets in the morning.
Definitely, allow enough time to head back to St. Stephen’s Square and visit the square’s namesake Cathedral of St. Stephen. Remember that this building, too, closes in the afternoon. This is the centrepiece of Hvar Town, a historic structure with an impressive façade and an interior to match it.
One Day in Hvar: Afternoon
Topping a hill above the Old Town of Hvar, Hvar Fortress is a mighty stronghold, its foundation dating from as early as the 13th century. If you ordered that dessert you didn’t really need at lunch, the hike up the hill is a good way to burn off all those unneeded calories. Hvar Fortress is huge, previously serving as a defensive structure and now a popular tourist attraction.
It’s good to know that the fortress’ inside has little to offer in terms of historical reference. There are, however, a bar and café, an old prison that’s open to the public, and the Marine Archaeological Collection, which displays artefacts found in shipwrecks beneath the Dalmatian waters. Also, the views from Hvar Fortress are to die for.
The fortress is open all day long, so you don’t have to rush to get there. It’s recommended, though, to do this hike up the hill as early in the afternoon as possible. If you’re spending your 24 hours in Hvar in the height of summer, you’ll be sweating your butt off if you do this in the middle of the afternoon.
After descending back into town, you have plenty of time left to do what virtually all tourists in Dalmatia do on a daily basis—sunbathing and swimming. Like all Dalmatian destinations, Hvar has gorgeous, crystal-clear water and pebble or concrete beaches. Pathways leading out of town, to both the east and west, take you to various sunbathing spots, some featuring beach bars.
One Day in Hvar: Evening
Be sure to stick around one of the beaches until sunset, which can be exceptionally spectacular here. A great place to do this is Hula Hula, one of the town’s most popular beach bars – but you can take your pick depending on your travel style. This busy bar is generally jam-packed in summer. There are snacks and drinks, DJs playing the latest dance tunes, and tables and chairs.
Later in the evening, head back into town to continue your night out. Hvar is renowned for its nightlife, in the summer months attracting a crowd that’s young, restless and sometimes loud. Keep this in mind when planning your 24 hours in Hvar. If you like a good night’s sleep, don’t book a room in a hotel near the town’s busiest areas.
If you’re keen on a nightly party, however, you’ll have a blast in Hvar. The town boasts what’s arguably the greatest nightlife scene in all of Dalmatia. On average, expect to pay more for drinks here than you would pretty much anywhere else in the region. Focus your attention on the bars in the heart of the town, located along the harbor.
Photos thanks to Mario
For more helpful Hvar travel tips check out these posts:
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