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Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Hvar

One of the most popular islands of the Dalmatian Coast, Hvar is proud of its reputation as the ‘sunniest and greenest’ of Croatia’s many isles, with a wealth of natural attractions. Reachable by car-ferry from mainland Split or Makarska, Hvar’s glitzy beach resorts and Mediterranean climate draw a steady stream of day-trippers and island-hoppers, who come to enjoy the stretches of sand and pebble beaches, scenic hiking and cycling trails, and lively culinary scene, noted for its local seafood.

Hvar Town is the main tourist hub, a beautifully preserved medieval town, still surrounded by its 13th century defense walls and a favored haunt of European celebrities, who dock their yachts in the harbor. The laid-back port town of Stari Grad, the quiet fishing villages of Jelsa and Vrboska, and the nearby Pakleni Islands are also popular destinations, surrounded by a landscape of vast lavender plantations, sprawling vineyards and secluded rocky coves.
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Hvar Spanish Fortress (Tvrdava Fortica)
30 Tours and Activities

Skirted by a fringe of trees, the 16th-century Hvar Fortress rises above its namesake seaside village. Not long after the castle’s 16th-century completion, it dutifully protected Hvar citizens from attacks by the Turks, and then shortly thereafter was all but destroyed due to fires from a lightening storm. But the fortress was rebuilt, and its Middle Aged walls survived — and all of it stands tall today as arguably Hvar’s most prized sight.

Also called Fortica Španjola (meaning Spanish Fortress, given that it is said that Spanish engineers worked on its construction), the castle can be reached by first trekking up the staircase-filled backstreets of Hvar, then onto a zig-zag path that takes you farther up a hill of flowers and greenery. It’s not a brisk walk by any means, but your efforts will be rewarded with spectacular views of the town, harbor, and islands beyond. Meanwhile, catch your breath and quench your thirst at the castle café.

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Cathedral of St. Stephen (Hvar Cathedral)
9 Tours and Activities

There’s no better place to take in the essence of Hvar than in its main plaza while admiring the Cathedral of St Stephen. Set upon a backdrop of green hillside, the church you see today was built between the 16th and 17th centuries, with elements of an even older church still preserved inside.

Though the cathedral boasts a relatively humble interior, it is noted for its attractive altars, late Renaissance paintings, and 15th-century wooden choir stalls. For most, though, it’s the exterior that really leaves the biggest impression, with its scalloped rooftop and four-story, 17th-century bell tower that both grandly watch over the expansive limestone plaza that rolls out to the Adriatic Sea.

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Pakleni Islands (Paklinski Islands)
98 Tours and Activities

Lying just minutes offshore from fashionable Hvar Island along Croatia’s spectacularly indented Dalmatian coastline, the Pakleni archipelago (Pakleni Otoci in Croatian) forms 17 sand-fringed low-lying speckles lapped by crystal-clear seas and backed by stunted pine forests. While they are mostly uninhabited in winter, these car-free islands are one of the most popular summertime getaways in the Adriatic, for their pocket-sized beaches and easy walking through the heather-scented maquis scrub. The central island of Sveti Klement offers several photogenic and miniscule settlements including Palmižana, which has a small museum of island life, elegant villas, botanical gardens and smart beach restaurants, and the ancient fishing hamlet of Vlaka with its 14th-century church, tumbledown stone houses and vineyards.

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Malo Grablje
6 Tours and Activities

In the 1950s, the last remaining residents of Malo Grablje left their village behind for better opportunities on the coast. Today, the Hvar village stands abandoned, tucked in a valley surrounded by terraced fields and steep hills. Nature has been reclaiming the village for decades — trees grow through walls, shafts of sunlight pour through holes in the roofs and wildflowers grow freely. While most of Malo Grablje’s former residents now live on the coast in Milna, one resident, Mr. Berti Tudor, moved back and restored his family home where he now operates a traditional Hvar restaurant.

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