There are plenty of things to do in Hvar, a historical and picturesque island along Croatia's Dalmatian coastline. This destination thrives with travellers looking to explore its historic sights and soak up the lavish coastal lifestyle. One of the island’s most popular destination is Hvar Town, which has lively beaches, modern restaurants, luxury guesthouses, and a lively nightlife scene. Its labyrinth of age-old cobbled and marble streets adds a distinctly Croatian aesthetic.

    Hvar is an excellent choice if you're looking for a vibrant island setting that's both glamorous and relaxing. You can also find an array of towns and communities around the island that are easily reachable by ferry.

    What are the best things to do in Hvar?

    1

    Explore the ancient alleyways of Hvar Old Town

    Great for shopping and Croatian dining

    Hvar Old Town is brimming with ancient landmarks that are worth visiting, including 13th-century fortifications and Byzantine cathedrals. Set between the harbour and hillsides, the maze of interconnected streets at the centre of town offers a wealth of restaurants, cafés and shopping boutiques.

    The delicious smells of Mediterranean cuisine waft down the cobbled paths, while the salty scent of the ocean also permeates the air. If you're looking for a pleasant coffee spot, Kava 37 should be at the top of your list. This chic family-run café is known for its speciality coffee with the beans roasted on-site.

    Location: 21450, Hvar, Croatia

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    2

    Climb to Hvar Fort

    See the entire Hvar Town from above

    Some of the best views of Hvar can be experienced from Tvrdava Fortica (Hvar Fort), which sits high above Hvar Town. It occupies the site of a Byzantine citadel dating back to the 6th century. Follow the signs from the centre square as you summit the stairs, passing by a collection of charming shops. Soon, you'll come to a path that winds its way up through a forest of pine trees lined with native lavender bushes. 

    From the top of this 13th-century fort, you'll be able to snap some shots of the historic landmarks far below – you can even see the Pakleni Islands in the distance.

    Location: Ul. Higijeničkog Društva 19, 21450, Hvar, Croatia

    Open: Daily from 9am to 9pm

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    3

    Cathedral of St. Stephen

    Experience Hvar Town's ancient history

    Katedrala Svetog Stjepana (Cathedral of St. Stephen) was constructed between the 16th and 17th centuries, during the Dalmatian Renaissance. Inside, there's a wide range of historic artefacts and paintings by some of the region's most highly regarded ancient art figures, such as Stefano Celesti, Palma Junior and Spaniard Juan Boschettus.

    Designed in Baroque style, the cathedral's highlights include its distinctive bell tower, ancient stone reliefs depicting a series of saints, and carved choir stalls dating back to the 15th century. The Cathedral of St. Stephen is in Hvar Town's main square – you can find bakeries and alfresco eateries close to the landmark.

    Location: Trg Sv .Stjepana, 21450, Hvar, Croatia

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    4

    Franciscan Monastery

    See artefacts and art from a bygone age

    The Franciscan Monastery is tucked around the bay from the centre of Hvar Town. Overlooking the Adriatic, this quaint monastery is recognised for its stellar collection of ancient exhibits, ranging from Venetian paintings and historic maps to rare coins from the Greek and Roman empires. Plus, within the elevated garden, there's a 300-year-old cypress tree.

    In front of the monastery, there's a quiet stone beach that's an excellent spot to enjoy the sun away from crowds. Choose one of the nearby jetties to sunbathe and dive into the sea, or rent a boat from the nearby vendors.

    Location: Šetalište put Križa, 21450, Hvar, Croatia

    Phone: +385 (0)21 741 193

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    5

    Explore the sights of Jelsa

    A serene coastal town on Hvar’s northern coast

    Jelsa is a serene community on the northern coast of Hvar. While it’s much smaller than Hvar Town, it offers some outstanding sightseeing and dining opportunities. Surrounding the charming harbour is a collection of coffee shops and restaurants, as well as lush parks, town squares and swimming spots.

    Like Hvar Town, Jelsa has a myriad of alleyways sprawling off the main street. This is where you'll find many of the most authentic dining spots. Artichoke is an excellent choice for wine-lovers, while Eis Café’s homemade desserts and ice creams attract those looking for cooling treats in the Croatian summer.

    Location: Jelsa, Croatia

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    6

    Dubovica Beach

    A secluded beachside experience

    One of the most enjoyable places to soak up the sun on Hvar is Dubovica Beach. Located around 8 km from Hvar Town, this secluded spot features a clean pebble beach that's flanked by pine trees and olive groves.

    You’ll need to climb down a rather steep hike from a road above Dubovica Beach. It’s worth the effort as its waters are some of the clearest on the island. There's also a restaurant serving pizzas and cold drinks on the beach. If you'd like to skip the walk, you can catch a boat from the harbour in Hvar Town.

    Location: Dubovica Beach, 21450, Hvar, Croatia

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    7

    Sail to the Pakleni Islands

    Perfect for a day trip from Hvar Town

    The Pakleni Islands lie just off the coast of Hvar Town – it’s an easy-to-reach destination that doesn't require you to catch a ferry. Boats regularly make the 20-minute trip from Hvar Town's harbour. Alternatively, you can rent a boat for the day if you're comfortable sailing on your own.

    Once you arrive on the Pakleni Islands, you'll dock at a beach that has a small jetty and a laidback restaurant serving seafood and ice-cold drinks. You can also follow the track that cuts through the middle of the island, leading you to some other spectacular attractions like Mlini Beach.

    Location: Pakleni Otoci, Croatia

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    photo by Arnie Papp (CC BY 2.0) modified

    8

    Saint Nicholas

    Panoramic vistas from Hvar's highest point

    Sveti Nikola (Saint Nicholas) is the third highest peak in Croatia, offering impressive views of Hvar and the Adriatic Sea. Part of a mountain range that stretches from Zavala to Sveta Nedjelja, it reaches a height of around 628 metres. You can reach the summit without too much difficulty, thanks to accessible trails found at the villages of Dol, Svirče and Sveta Nedjelja.

    It takes about 2 hours to reach the top and there's a cosy chapel providing you with a spot to rest once you’ve arrived. Appropriately named after the patron saint of passengers and sailors, this tiny church was built to watch over the surrounding maritime routes.

    Location: Sveti Nikola, 21465, Svirče, Croatia

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    9

    Jagodna Bay

    Explore this cove away from the crowds

    Jagodna Bay is a remote cove on the southern coast of Hvar, positioned right between the picturesque villages of Sveta Nedalja and Ivan Dolac. Surrounded by jagged cliffsides, this idyllic spot has a fine coating of sand instead of the hard pebbles you'll find at most other waterfronts on Hvar.

    The shallow water is excellent for families with young children. Once the sun starts to dip, you can take shelter underneath the cliffs to take a break from the sweltering sun.

    Location: 21465, Sveta Nedilja, Croatia

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    10

    Bonj Beach

    Enjoy late-night music and cocktails

    Hvar Town is known for having an incredible nightlife scene, alongside its renowned historic town centre and natural landscapes. From rock 'n' roll bars to beachfront nightclubs, there's no shortage of places to party late into the night. For many of the most glamorous venues, you'll want to head along the coast to the west of town.

    There are many bars and nightclubs to choose from, but some of the liveliest spots are close to Bonj Beach. Falko Beach Bar, Bonj Beach Club, and Hula Hula Beach Bar serve cocktails straight to your stylish sunbed. During summer, many venues host regular beach and boat parties featuring international DJs.

    Location: Bonj Beach, 21450, Hvar, Croatia

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    Hudson Brown | Contributing Writer

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