Ben and I have extremely fond memories of Hvar. After visiting during our Croatia roadtrip back in 2014, we always said we would go back. The opportunity arose when my best friend mentioned her dad and his best friend would be doing a roadtrip ending up in Croatia and would we like to join them all in Hvar. Not liking to disappoint, we of course accepted and got to work planning things for us all to do. A week before we went, we were presented with an itinerary that they had put together and, quite honestly, I couldn’t have done better. I thought I would share a few of the things we got up to and a those that I would recommend, in case they help you with your planning if you’re heading there soon!
What to See
Hvar is a stunning harbour town. Cafes and Restaurants spill out into the cobbled streets that fall away into the diamond-like sea lapping the walls. Boats are constantly streaming in and out. Filtering fishermen, locals and tourists and working like taxis to take people from island to island.
One thing I regret having never done is walk up to the battlements. There is an incredible viewpoint there and I can only imagine how incredible the sunset would be overlooking the walls – we’ll just have to go back again one day! If you need convincing, look at this post and you’ll practically run up there!
The island itself is beautiful. I would love to go back at some point, hire a car and truly explore. It’s so easy to spend so much time in the town itself, without getting bored, that we just haven’t got out to explore properly! It’s Greek Island/Mallorca Hybrid with everything you could expect to see on those islands and more. Rural countryside and secluded beaches that you can enjoy to yourself.
There are numerous tiny islands dotted off the coast of Hvar that are so easily explored by boat. Get yourself a boat and a skipper for the day and sail out to see the Blue and Green Caves. We explored the Green Cave on the island of Ravnik. It’s a naturally formed sea cave that you can swim right into. A hole in the rocky roof fills the cave with sunlight, turning the water and rocks a beautiful green, which gives the cave its name.
What and where to Eat
Croatian food has definitely upped its game in the last few years. We always make a point to try the local food, wherever in the world we are. Being close to the sea, the fish and seafood is obviously exquisite (although typically you should stick to eating shellfish during months that include an ‘R’ as, due to the way shellfish feed, that’s when the sea is generally cleaner). The Croatians also produce a delicious local dish called Pasticada. Typically served with gnocchi, this is a rich meat stew where the meat has been slow cooked until it literally melts in the mouth. The other dish to try is Black Risotto – not terribly aesthetic, but made with squid ink and very tasty.
We ate some of the best meals I’ve ever had while on the island.
Laganini – I mentioned our day out at Laganini back in 2014. The food back then was delicious and unbelievably cheap. The food now is outrageously more expensive, but truly not-to-be-missed! The sushi, is easily the best sushi I’ve ever eaten. They very kindly made Ben his own plate of veggie sushi too and he pretty much devoured the entire plate. We ate from the ‘Beach’ menu, but the restaurant menu also looked absolutely delicious. As with most places when they do well, Laganini has changed a lot since 2014. The £10 jugs that we previously drank have been swapped for £30k bottles of champagne and there are now minimum spends connected to the lounge areas. We had a minimum spend to meet of £1k for the area that we were sitting in, but we decided that it was worth it as we would be there for the day drinking and eating and would most probably meet that spend anyway. Things to note are that you do need to take a boat to Laganini and you also need to be aware of the sea urchins – stepping on one looks very painful!
Carpe Diem – Eat under the cream canopy and enjoy fresh fish and delicious food overlooking the beauty of their private bay. I ordered grilled squid which became my go-to order on the island. We were a table of ten and we couldn’t have been looked after better. I sipped on Bellinis and enjoyed my squid while Ben went for a grilled chicken and the rest of the table had salads and other fish dishes. The cocktails here are delicious and our server was absolutely lovely and brilliantly attentive. Especially as the bottles of rosé were going down very quickly!
Restaurant Park – Our first meal on the island. A stunning setting, just off the main square and raised up to get the best of the breeze. Pillars and different levels create a really private dining experience. We had a beautiful table in the centre of the restaurant and ordered bottles of wine, squid and Pasticada between us. If you’re going to order Pasticada on the island, this is the place to eat it. It was melt-in-the-mouth delicious and the grilled squid was just as good.
Bonj Les Bains – We ate here twice, once for dinner and once for lunch. At night, the restaurant is a gorgeously breezy spot where guests dress up and lights twinkle overhead. During our evening meal, I had the lamb chops with a side of asparagus and truffle mash. The truffle mash needs an extra special mention, because even thinking about it is making my mouth water. I could happily never eat a potato again unless it was served like this. During the day, the white walls of the restaurant and the flowing curtains frame the turquoise view. Cold air is pumped through the air con to keep you cool which is a real luxury! For lunch, I had tuna ceviche and a side salad. The ceviche was presented beautifully on a wooden boat and served with soya sauce and wasabi to dip. The boys chose burgers for their lunch and both raved about them, so they must have been pretty good!
Gostorica Moli Onte – My favourite meal of the entire trip. A family run restaurant overlooking the bay of Milna in Hvar (car or boat is needed to get here from the main town of Hvar, but there is a shuttle service from your boat to the restaurant). We wanted local food and decided to get a selection of cold meats, cheeses, fish and salads to start before hot meats and a huge Dentex fish served for main with potatoes and courgettes cooked in the oil. Everything was absolutely delicious, but the hot meats were overcooked and tasteless. I would recommend only eating the hot fish, cold meats and cold fish which were delicious.
What to Do
Like most coastal places, the best place to be in Hvar is on or in the water.
Hiring a boat – One of the best things you can do. When we went in 2014, we hired an outboard motor boat for €40 for the day. This time around, we hired a bigger boat for ten of us and a skipper to take us around. (so that everyone could also have a drink and not worry). We had complete freedom to choose where we wanted to go. We ended up heading to the Green Cave, some beautiful deserted swimming spots and beaches and to local restaurant Gostorica Moli Onte.
Hit the Beach – Hvar has some gorgeous little local beaches. Although the majority of the swim spots are ladders leading down from the rocks straight into the water. You can hire a lounger on the rocks or beach for around 100 kuna/person/day. Or just take a towel down to the rocks and lie there for free. This is what the majority of the locals do. So great to do if you want to feel a little more immersed in the local life and culture.
Walk along the water front – You can literally walk from one side of the town, all the way around the bay to the other side. Best times to do this are either sunrise (to avoid the crowds) or sunset (best view and a bit cooler than mid day sun!).
Carpe Diem – The best music on the island. Also technically not on Hvar, you can take the Carpe Diem taxi across to the island for 50 kuna/person. The minute you step onto the island, it feels as though you’ve stepped on to a beautiful resort. The island has been sculpted around the crystal clear bay, with loungers nestled into the pebbles and a restaurant tucked under a cream canopy. The DJ booth is surrounded by the trees, and houses its own bar with Bali-esque swings to sit on and place your order.
Laganini – Spend the day lounging in the sun at this beach-club style spot, just a short taxi-boat away from the main square and located on the island of St Clement. The service is amazing and the bay is really beautiful with stunningly clear water. If you don’t want to spend too much money, just take a towel and lounge on the rocks next to Laganini. Make sure you book in for lunch though. One of the best meals you’ll have during your stay.
Hula Hula Beach Bar – Head here for breakfast in the morning, or spend the afternoon and watch it turn from relaxed beach club into full night club as the sun goes down. Just try and avoid the toilets that are less than glamorous as the evening goes on! Think day-to-night beach wear.
Things to note if you are heading to Hvar:
These points are mainly enforced for behaviour in the main square. Just remember you’re visiting a historic beautiful island that deserves our respect.
- Drinking alcohol in the main square or in public places can incur a €700 fine
- You must cover your swimsuit in public spaces (or wear a shirt for men). If you don’t you could face a €600 fine
- Picnics in public could set you back €700, so just make sure you’re respectful in the main square!
Until next time Hvar, Hvala!