Hvar island is set just off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia in the Adriatic Sea.
It’s a wonderful island that will appeal to many different tastes – great for hiking, but it’s also the perfect destination for a relaxing holiday too with its wonderful weather.
And you can combine any visit with culture, history and sightseeing because there are several historic and beautiful towns to visit.
This long, thin island features beautiful rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves and pine clad hillsides that rival anywhere in southern Turkey or Italy.
Large selection of Hotels
In addition to many independent accommodation offerings – bed and breakfast types – the island of Hvar does have a large selection of hotels as well.
The two main places to stay are Hvar Town, and Stari Grad, and in the former there are around 130 properties.
Traditionally the hotels have been a little more basic and affordable on Hvar than on the mainland, but this is changing now as the island becomes more popular.
As it stands there are no 5 star hotels in Hvar Town, but there are fourteen 4 star hotels to choose from.
These include the boutique Riva Hvar Yacht Harbour Hotel which is perfectly located if you’re arriving by luxury yacht
And the fabulous Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort (picture above), can be recommended.
There are also some cheaper alternatives and apartments to choose from. So there should be something for any budget. An overview here >>
Stari Grad has far fewer places to stay but could make a nice, quieter alternative to Hvar Town. There are less than 30 places of accommodations, and this includes two 4 star establishments, and nineteen 3 star.
The majority of places in Stari Grad, and a large number in Hvar Town, are actually self catering apartments rather than full service hotels.
Set on the northern side of the island of Hvar, opposite to Hvar Town, Stari Grad is the other major tourist destination on the island.
Those who have visited claim that Stari Grad doesn’t hold quite the same appeal as Hvar Town, but if you’re interested in history and culture than you should definitely take the time to visit it anyway.
The town’s history is impressive after all – it is the oldest town in Croatia, and in fact one of the oldest in Europe.
It was settled by Greeks who came here from the island of Paros in 384BC. Later the Romans inhabited the ancient town, and later still the Slav people.
The Slavs named the town Hvar but when the capital of the island was moved to what’s now known as Hvar Town this town simply became known as ‘old city’ – Stari Grad.
Stari Grad Plain
Today the town is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Stari Grad Plain, which is an agricultural landscape recognised by UNESCO for its cultural importance.
The ancient agricultural plain was set up by those first Greek colonists in the 4th century BC, and today it is still used in largely the same way as back then.
It’s amazing to think that the walls that divide the land, and the water collection system, actually dates back to the Greek times and has been meticulously maintained over a period of twenty-four centuries!
You can hike into and around this area to get a look at the ancient way of agriculture yourself. The main crops cultivated back then and still to this day are vines and olives.
While exploring you should look out for the remains of several Roman period buildings, as well as a couple of Illyrian forts.
The old town is centred around the agricultural plain while there was a newer section of town built by the Venetians in the 13th century.
The Venetians offered protection to the people of Stari Grad as long as the town on the southern side of the island (now Hvar Town) was expanded so that the Venetian fleet could use it.
Stari Grad was attacked by the Turks in the 16th century and many buildings were destroyed, but rebuilding quickly began.
Now you’ll find a good selection of buildings with medieval renaissance architecture dating from just after that period.
There are numerous churches to visit, and on the edges of town is a castle built as a fortified summer residence for Petar Haktorovic, a Croatian poet.
The residence was built in the period after the Turks attacked in the 16th century as he grew frightened of future attack and fortified his house so that he, and the local people, could take shelter.
Today it is a well preserved Renaissance style building with an interior courtyard that contains a sea-water fish pond.