One of the bigger islands along the Dalmatian coast, Hvar was for centuries a busy trading post for various empires traversing the busy Adriatic Sea. Today this Croatian seaside gem serves as a beautiful, authentic coastal town, where visitors can enjoy the beauty of a slower pace of life.
The island of Hvar has been populated for over 5,000 years and some of the main historic sites here stem from the Greek, Roman and Venetian colonisations. The Greeks developed the inland Stari Grad Plain and made it a fertile agricultural landscape, where the structure of it has been more or less preserved to this day. Protected as a UNESCO Heritage Site, the plains are still used to grow grapes and olives. While this is definitely a great place to visit, especially for wine-lovers, the life on the island really evolves around the coastal areas.
In the eponymously named capital of Hvar, you can still see the remnants of the Venetians, who, from the 13th century onward, turned the city into an important port in their empire and a safe harbour for their extensive fleet. The Venetians fortified the city to protect it from marauders, and today the walls and fortress are still key features in the urban landscape. Climb the steep hill that rise above the city, until you reach the old Spanjola Fortress. The walls and towers offer panoramic views of the red-tiled buildings below and the many small islands that are scattered around Hvar.
Descending the hill via the narrow path, you can stroll around the scenic streets of the city. The tightly-packed rows of houses open up on the St Stephen Square, where the bell tower of the old cathedral rises above the grey cobbled streets. Cafés and restaurants populate the charming square and all of these are great places to grab a light lunch before continuing your exploration of the island. Next to the square you’ll find the romantic, old harbour. From here you can go on daytrip to the nearby Paklini Islands either by tour boat or, if you fancy it, by renting your own boat.
The islands are part of the larger Croatian archipelago in the Adriatic Sea and each of them are like tiny pieces of paradise that are perfect for a day of hiking or a romantic picnic on an isolated beach. Returning to the island of Hvar, you can while away the evening in a restaurant that overlooks the sea. For locals there is no bigger passion than seafood, and when you taste a char-grilled fish prepared by one of the local chefs, you’ll know exactly why.
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