No visit to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast would be complete without hopping over to the picturesque island of Hvar. Located between Brac, Vis, and Korcula, Hvar is one of the most-visited destinations in the country and a favorite summertime haunt of celebs and yachties alike. If you’re wondering how to spend 48 hours in the Adriatic, you’re in the right place.
Hvar has earned quite the reputation as a nightlife hotspot that also exudes elegance and glamor, but it is just as impressive when it comes to natural beauty and ancient history. Hvar Town is one of the Mediterranean’s best-preserved medieval towns, and Hvar is the only island in the world to boast four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We’re here to show you that Hvar is so much more than parties and beach clubs and you can do it all in just a short two days.
Whether you’re island hopping with backpacking buddies, cruising the Adriatic in style, or heading to Hvar for a weekend of sunshine and culture, Europe’s sunniest destination is waiting for you. Let’s get into it.
Getting to Hvar:
Hvar is an island, and while it’s by no means remote, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to get there before anything. Croatia’s mainland is well-connected with five land borders and countless maritime others. There are also five international airports, with three being within easy reach of Hvar. You can fly, drive, or take the train from many destinations in Europe to Hvar, but every journey will end with a ferry.
The closest airport to Hvar is on Brac Island, located just 20-minutes away by boat, but you can only fly direct from Milan, Bolzano in Italy, and Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. As such a small port, flights tend to be more expensive. Still, if you’re traveling a long distance anyway, stopping over in one of these three cities and flying into Bol, Brac could be a good idea.
Split is your next best option. The bustling coastal city is just 37 kilometers from the island across the Adriatic, and the ferry journey can take between 50 minutes and two hours depending on the route. You can also jump on a car ferry if you’re visiting with a vehicle, although these slow boats take longer.
Some ferries stop right in Hvar Town, which if you’re not hiring a car, will be the most efficient option and worth the extra ticket costs. You can also travel by boat from the Korcula, another population destination on an island-hopping itinerary. This journey takes just under one hour and a half, or there’s Makarska in just over one hour, and Dubrovnik in three, which also boasts its own international airport.
Some of these ferries will dock in Stari Grad, but we recommend heading straight to Hvar Town if you have only two days on the island. The bus takes half an hour and costs around kn27 ($3.80) each way.
Where to Stay:
With just two days and three nights to spare, you’ll want to base yourself in one destination, and we recommend staying in Hvar Town, or in one of the bays just outside of the center to get a real taste of what the island has to offer.
Accommodation comes in all shapes and sizes in Hvar, and the island is peppered with upscale resorts, boutique hotels, and authentic vacation rentals. Check out some of the options below depending on your budget:
Luka’s Lodge Guesthouse & Hostel ($$) – Luka’s lodge provides quaint, no-nonsense hostel accommodation in the heart of Hvar Town. The charming terrace with sweeping city views is an undoubted highlight.
Apartment Torre ($$) – Just 400 meters from Franciscan Monastery Beach and 600 meters from Bonji Beach in the old town, this self-contained studio flat is set in a traditional stone building with views over the cobblestone streets below.
Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort ($$$) – Two minutes from the beach, Amfora sits in an isolated bay just outside of Hvar Town with a multi-level pool, breezy cabanas, and a stylish cocktail lounge. Better yet, it is just around the corner from Hula Hula and Falko Beach Bar.
Day 1: Morning
You’ve just arrived on the island or you’re waking up for your first morning in Hvar, first things first, you’ll want to enjoy an indulgent breakfast to fuel a day of exploring. Kava 37 is one of Hvar’s specialty coffee shops serving great pastries and even better coffee. Or you could visit Fig, Hvar for more substantial cooked plates.
Next, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the town, and what better way to do this than wandering the cobblestone streets, dipping into the quaint boutiques, strolling the Riva, Hvar’s main marina-side promenade, and perusing the superyachts and sailboats that bob in the bay.
St Stephen’s Square, anchored by the Renaissance-era St Stephen’s Cathedral, is a must-visit. Even if you don’t venture in, the grand facade, set to the backdrop of a green hillside, is worth ogling. Inside, you’ll find valuable paintings from notable artists like Stefano Celesti, Palma Junior, and Spanish-born, Juan Boschetttus.
There’s also the Franciscan Monastery and Hvar Theatre & Arsenal in Hvar Town that is worth wandering around. St Stephen’s Square is also a great place for an Al-Fresco caffeine boost after your morning of exploring.
Day 1: Afternoon
Afternoons get very hot in Hvar, especially in the summer months. The island claims to be the sunniest in Europe and you won’t need persuading of this after just a short walk through the warm-hued streets in the afternoon heat.
One huge pull factor to Hvar, and Croatia on the whole, is the spectacular Adriatic coastlines. Hvar is a natural beauty haven and its shorelines are punctuated by jagged inlets, deep swimming drop-offs, pebbly beaches, and crystal-clear waters. Some of the best beaches can be found on the north side of the island and are easily reachable from the old center by bus or taxi, but there are plenty of great secluded bays and sandy coves right outside Hvar Town.
Bonji Beach and Falko Beach are all within a 15-minute walk, and the rocky shores are lapped by perfect turquoise seas – quintessential of Croatian beaches. Hvar has a popular beach club scene. It might not be as rowdy as Bali but it’s definitely as glamorous and rustic at the same time. Be sure to check out Hula Hula in Majerovica. The waterfront hangout has its own sunbed-laden section of beach with fringed umbrellas and a wooden bar.
Be warned, you will still have to pay for your sunbed even if you eat or drink at most of the beach clubs in Hvar. Lie in the sun, enjoy a snacky lunch from the adjoining Bubba Gump bistro to Hula Hula, take a dip, and wash off your day before getting ready to enjoy your first evening on the island.
Day 1: Evening
What better way to welcome in the Croatian night than by making the most of the spectacular sunset views Hvar has to offer. After a lazy afternoon, it’s time to kick yourself back into action and make the trip up to Tvrđava Fortica, the Spanish hilltop fortress that overlooks Hvar in all its medieval glory.
Fortica occupies the site of an ancient Illyrian settlement dating back to before 500 BC. The present fortress was constructed by the Venetians in 1278 and saved many lives when Hvar’s residents sheltered here in the 1500s as Turks ransacked the town. The Austrians added barracks in the 19th century and the fortress now houses a collection of ancient relics recovered from the seabed. Fortica looms high above Hvar and is lit with a golden glow at night that you can see from the old town.
You can reach the fortress by car or on foot for a spectacularly scenic walk. It only takes around 15 minutes but the trek is relatively steep. Luckily, the sun sets at around 20.30 during summer, so the worst of the afternoon heat will be out of the way for your walk to the top. Once you’ve cleared the 13th-century city walls, it’s an easy sloping meander underneath shady pines to the fortress, otherwise a taxi costs around kn100 ($14).
The entrance fee is kn50 ($7) and you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views across Hvar Town and the Pakleni islands from the top, made even better by the golden glow of the setting sun. If you’re after a long hike and even better sunset scenes, head to Napolean Fortress. You’ll have to set off earlier for the hour-long walk, but it will be worth it.
Head into town to finish your evening with a late dinner. People dine until midnight in Croatia so you’ll have no trouble finding somewhere for a bowl of pasta or the catch of the day. If you didn’t visit for breakfast, Fig offers a variety of Balkan and Mediterranean favorites. Or there’s Dalmatino for great vegan and vegetarian options. Be sure to savor the local fruit, ‘carob’, for dessert. They offer it in alcohol form in Dalmatino and it has a distinctive caramel-like taste.
Day 2: Morning
Morning two in Hvar and you might fancy something more nutritious to keep energy high for a day of adventure. Vita Health Food Bar is known for the best acai bowls in town and the small, family-run café is authentic and cozy with shaded outdoor seating.
No trip to Hvar would be complete without taking to the waters, and a boat trip is a must, especially if you’re limited when it comes to getting around Hvar by land. There are plenty of options for boat trips whether you want to hire your own and take to the helm for ultimate freedom, or join a guided tour where you can relax, snorkel the best spots, and meet like-minded travelers.
A private speedboat tour will give you the most jurisdiction over your itinerary, but these come at a higher cost. We recommend opting for a group trip that includes the Pakleni Islands or Blue Cave with plenty of stop-offs for swimming and snorkeling. If you want to embrace Hvar’s party side, go for a Catamaran Cruise with drinks, music, and an energetic crew.
Boat tour vendors line the marina and there are also plenty of ticket offices tucked away in the narrow streets of the old town, but we recommended booking online in advance to make sure you can grab a spot on a regarded tour. Most trips will set off between 11.00 am and 1.00 pm, giving you plenty of time to eat, get changed, and stock up on provisions for your trip if they’re not included.
Day 2: Afternoon
Depending on the boat trip you’ve chosen, you might have snacks included or the option to bring your own packed lunch, but if you get the chance, stop off at Palmižana for lunch on your own boat or as part of your tour.
The small island, part of the Pakleni chain, boasts a row of beach bars and restaurants at the water’s edge, perfect for a bite to eat, refreshments, and some time out of the midday sun. On that note, be sure to bring a good, water-resistant SPF with you on the water. You never want to underestimate the powerful Hvar sun, especially at sea when the breeze can be deceiving.
Day 2: Evening
Depending on when you return from your exciting day exploring Hvar’s surrounding islands, caves, and magical waters, you can grab an early dinner in town, which you’ll probably need. Don Armando, the Argentinian steakhouse, is a local favorite. It might not sound very authentic, but Argentinian cuisine is characteristic of Hvar’s culinary scene and the leafy courtyard enclosed by original old stone walls makes the perfect setting for dinner. There’s also Bunar Restaurant for some of the best pasta and seafood dishes in town.
After dinner, you won’t want to miss out on your last sunset in Hvar which we recommend experiencing at one of the well-loved beach bars within easy reach of the old town. After a couple of early starts and tons of exploring packed into your two short days on the island, some drinks are well-deserved and Hvar’s nightlife is highly-regarded, and also more upscale than some of Croatia’s tourist hotspots.
Iconic destinations include the likes of Carpe Diem, a celebrity hangout near the marina that’s been welcoming A-listers and Hvar’s tourists since 1999. Don’t be deterred by the grand arched facade, Carpe Diem is a welcoming space with groovy house beats blasted by great DJs until the early hours. Or there’s BB Club & Social bar on the marina side with its Nautica-themed decor and elegant terrace with views of the luxury yachts in the harbor.
Head to Pink Champagne on the outskirts of Hvar Town if you want to keep the party going. Partnered with Hula Hula bar, you’ll find burlesque and cabaret on the agenda here and the fun doesn’t kick off until 2 am. Just don’t miss your ferry off the island to wave goodbye to your Hvar adventure.