When we talk about islands in Croatia, the top of mind island for many people is Hvar.
Featuring imposing history which dates back to the time B.C., monumental architecture built during Venetian rule of the island, beautiful beaches, and the highest number of sunny hours of all Croatian islands, Hvar is among the top destinations of Croatia tourism.
Two most prominent towns on the island are Hvar Town and Stari Grad. Two smaller tourist pearls are Jelsa and Vrboska.
In the far east of the island, there is a small fisherman settlement called Sucuraj, a place on an island closest to the mainland.
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Stari Grad is known to be the oldest settlement on Hvar. It was established in 385 A.C. as a Roman city with name Pharos. Just like it was in Roman age, Stari Grad is the most urban area on Hvar.
Stari Grad is the main port of the island of Hvar, and its main connection with the mainland, since most people come to the island via the ferry line Split - Stari Grad
Today's look of Stari Grad dates from the Renaissance and Baroque periods since the monuments from the Roman age are not preserved. The town features a perfectly clean sea, Riva, and nice beaches as well, which makes it a great choice for summer vacation.
How to get to Stari Grad
The most common way to reach Stari Grad is ferry transportation from Split. There is a direct ferry line driving a few times a day (more during the summer season). Ticket price is 5 euros and the travel time is around two hours.
The ferry port is located two kilometres away from the centre of Stari Grad, so you will need to take a bus or walk to reach the town. The walkway is located alongside the sea, so I recommend walking if you do not have heavy luggage.
Things to do in Stari Grad
Stari Grad gave me an impression of a nice and decorated place. It is said that even during high season this place is not as crowded as other famous destinations, like Hvar Town. That's why visitors who look for a quiet, yet lively place may choose Stari Grad as their destination. If you decide to stay in Stari Grad, it's a great idea to go for a day visit to Hvar Town.
When you arrive in Stari Grad, the first interesting attraction you will notice is the palace of Sime Ljubic, located on the south side of the city, near the coast.
The second one is the mansion of Petar Hektorovic, one of the greatest Croatian literates ever. In the 16th century, the building was used as a fortress for the purpose of defence against Turkish invasion.
Church of St. Nicholas is a small Renaissance church built on the remains of an older Romanesque church. Inside you can see interesting artworks like the main altar and painting works.
The most monumental building in the town is the church of St. Stephen, also built in Renaissance style.
The most common way of arrival to the top destination of the island, Hvar Town, is by ferry line Split - Stari Grad, and then taking the bus line Stari Grad - Hvar Town. The bus is waiting for the passengers at the ferry port. The bus ride takes half an hour and the ticket price is around four euros.
Things to do in Hvar Town
Right after getting out of the bus in Hvar Town, you can notice two monumental and impressive buildings. The first one is a fortress Spanjola, located in the upper part of the city, and the second one is the Cathedral of St. Stephen, located just a hundred meters away from the bus station.
The Cathedral's building originates from Baroque, although it was built in the previous periods.
There are many interesting works of art located inside the Cathedral, including altars, statues and paintings.
Entrance to the Hvar Town's Cathedral is free.
The next attraction is Hvar Town's Riva. Nature along the sea is preserved. Every few hundred meters there is a pebble beach. Some of the beaches are more arranged and urban, yet some are natural rocky beaches. There are luxury hotels just near the coast as well.
The top attraction of Hvar Town is fortress Spanjola. It takes around twenty minutes of walking upwards to reach the fortress. I recommend wearing sneakers over flip flops while walking toward the fortress to make the walk more comfortable .
While walking, you will notice a beautiful nature park featuring all kinds of Mediterranean plants.
The price for entering the fortress is 7 euros. The fortress features a beautiful panoramic view of the Hvar city and nearby islands including Pakleni islands.
Visitors can have a good meal in a restaurant featuring Dalmatian music. Another attraction of the fortress is the ancient prison located downstairs, two meters below the land.
Like other defence objects in Dalmatia, the fortress Spanjola was built by Venice in the 13th century for the purpose of defence against the Turkish army. It was renewed a few times during history, and today's look dates from the 16th century when the last reconstruction was made.
In addition to the fortress, Venice built the walls around the former borders of the city. These walls are still preserved today and can be noticed from the town.
When walking on Riva towards the west, you will notice monumental Franciscan church and monastery. The church was made in Gothic style but was adopted during the Baroque age. The lunette was made by Nikola Firentinac, a famous sculptor who took part in the construction of Sibenik Cathedral.
Jelsa and Vrbosa
Two pearls of Hvar's tourism, Jelsa and Vrboska, are small settlements located east of Stari Grad.
Vrboska is used to be called "Hvar's Venice" since it features canals and bridges similar to Venice. Furthermore, It is the quietest port on the island.
Jelsa is a bigger settlement featuring a nice Riva in the centre of the place.
Last, but not least, we mention Sućuraj, the easternmost settlement on the island.
The easiest way to reach Sucuraj is a ferry line Drvenik - Sucuraj, which operates a few times every day during the summer season. The duration of the ferry ride is only 35 minutes. This is a preferred way of arrival to the island if you are located in Makarska Riviera.
Sućuraj is a fishermen's settlement featuring an intimate Mediterranean atmosphere. Unlike Hvar Town and Stari Grad, which are more lively destinations, Sucuraj is ideal for those who want the peaceful experience of holidays.
After exploring Hvar, I am sure you will be impressed by those places, and the island overall. It is difficult to find a person who didn't enjoy Hvar. The island is attracting visitors all over the world, not only to arrive there once but to visit multiple times since every visit to this magnificent island brings a new experience.