Croatia has become a hotspot over the last few years for tourists looking for a road less travelled without sacrificing on any of their creature comforts. Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split are the most common destinations for people travelling to Croatia, but with literally 1000s of islands along its coast, there’s one in particular that catches the eye – Hvar.
Sitting off the Dalmation Coast in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar is different from its neighbours, rich in fresh water springs and a fertile coast. It’s no wonder, then, that they have cultivated olives and vineyards for over 2400 years since the Greeks first introduced them to the island.
A two-hour ferry ride from Split, Hvar is famous for red wines produced from the Plavac Mali grape and for its white wines from Stari Grad and Jelsa. In fact, the Stari Grad Plain became a World Heritage site in 2008 thanks to its system for parceling land and cultivation tactics used on the island, the same that have been used since Greek colonists first arrived in the 4th century BCE.
While the island’s fabulous wine is what draws most of the tourists to Hvar, there is so much more on offer for curious travellers. The Plain boasts 120 archaeological finds, all open to visitors and tourists can pick their way through various prehistoric, Greek, Roman and medieval paths or buildings. There are guided tours aplenty, but a real treat is the Hvar Life, a cycling tour led by a historian with wine tasting at a local family winery.
The main town on the island, also called Hvar, has plenty to offer itself, with cobblestone streets full of quaint restaurants and bars. Be sure to check out the Tri Prsuta wine bar for an unforgettable vino experience.
Outside of the city, the countryside is really quite stunning, with gentle rolling hills, lavender fields, olive trees, vineyards and beaches with pristine water as far as the eye can see. You can even hop across the water to some of the other islands around Hvar, with the Pakleni islands a particularly popular spot.
So with excellent wine, lovely people, good food (especially the olives and cheese) and stunning scenery, Hvar has everything it needs to be your dream vacation.
While the island isn’t necessarily somewhere you’d want to stay for two weeks, it’s only a stone’s throw from the mainland, so be sure to combine it with stops in some of the more mainstream cities in Croatia for the ultimate experience.