No visit to Croatia is complete without spending a few days on its blissful Dalmatian coastline and enjoying the Mediterranean sunshine. Whether you wish to explore ancient walled towns or spend your days lounging on picturesque islands with long pebbly beaches, there is plenty to look forward to when visiting Croatia.
Hvar and Split are indisputably two of the most popular destinations on the Dalmatian Coast. The country’s second-largest city, Split is well-known for its vibrant nightlife, world-class museums, and charming historic buildings. The city also serves as the main gateway for some of Croatia’s top islands. A haven for yachters, Hvar oozes charm on every turn! It is actually the only island in the world with 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
In this travel guide to Hvar vs Split, you will find all the necessary information about these charming tourist destinations in Croatia.
Hvar vs Split: The General Vibe
Home to Roman monuments, palaces, and galleries, Split is a great place to visit for all you culture vultures and history buffs. You can go for a stroll along the sea promenade (Riva), explore the cobblestone streets in the Old Town, and sample delicious Dalmatian cuisine in family-run restaurants.
Thanks to a reliable ferry ride service, the city also serves as a hub to visit some of the most popular islands on the Dalmatian coastline including Brac, Korcula, Vis, Solta, and Hvar.
Compared to Split, Hvar offers a different kind of vibe. Most travelers come to Hvar for the postcard-perfect beaches, secluded coves, lush vineyards, and idyllic little coastal towns.
In Hvar Town, you will find a range of historical attractions, a lively nightlife scene, and stylish hotels. If you wish to experience a more unhurried way of Dalmatian life, the island is also home to a few coastal villages like Stari Grad, Vrboska, Velo Grablje, and Jelsa.
Hvar vs Split: Getting Around
Getting around both Hvar and Split is super easy! In Split, public transport is efficient and reliable. The good news is that most attractions in the Old Town and the Waterfront Promenade in Split are easily reachable on foot. However, if you wish to reach every corner of the city, we recommend hopping on a bus. Tickets can be as cheap as 2 euros and you can buy them in most newsstands and ticket booths in Spilt. Travelers who wish to venture beyond the city gates can also take the bus or rent a car.
Hvar Town and its harbor don’t require a set of wheels since all attractions are quite close to one another. To explore places like Stari Grad, Jelsa, Sucuraj, the island’s bus operator, Cazmatrans has got you covered. Unfortunately, the bus schedules make it difficult to visit more than one destination a day. Therefore, the most convenient way to travel around the island is by car. The world-famous Pakleni Islands are easily reachable via many taxi boats that you will find down in the harbor.
Is it easy to travel from Split to Hvar? Yep! You can hop on a catamaran or ferry in Split and arrive in Hvar in just over an hour. The main operator is the local Jadrolinija which runs a daily service between Split and Hvar throughout the year. Fares vary, but you should expect to pay around 12 euros one way. During the summer season, the catamarans service the Hvar to Split route more than 10 times a day. If you wish to splash out, book a speedboat transfer from Split to Hvar via UberBOAT!
Hvar vs Split: Nightlife
Split has the best nightlife scene in Dalmatia! Whether you wish to enjoy artisan cocktails and sunset views down at the Riva, dance the night away at posh nightclubs, or see live music performances in stylish venues, the city offers something for everyone.
On the waterfront promenade, you will find popular bars like Antique Bar, Congo, and Cakula. For more of an upscale vibe, head out to Fabrique. This trendy venue also offers a delicious food menu. Some of the other popular venues for going out in the evening include Gaga Bar and Vanilla Club.
The nightlife on Hvar Island revolves around Hvar Town where you will find a lively nightlife scene during the summer season. Head out to Carpe Diem, the most popular venue on the island that attracts an upscale clientele and has a reservation-only policy in August. The cocktail list at Carpe Diem is spectacular and the club’s beach adds to the entertainment. You can also check out the Pink Champagne Bar or enjoy sunset views from the popular Hula Hula Beach Bar.
Hvar vs Split: Things to do
Both Split and Hvar offer a range of attractions to enjoy. In Split, visit the world-famous Diocletian’s Palace and admire the beauty of ancient architecture. For those who don’t know, Ivan Mestrovic is one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century. The Ivan Mestrovic Gallery and its collection of nearly 100 statues in wood, stone, marble, and bronze is not to be missed when exploring the city of Split.
To enjoy magnificent views of the city, we recommend climbing to the top of Marjan Hill. The hill is home to numerous jogging and bicycle trails. Make sure to stop by the Vidilica Bar to enjoy refreshments and the best panoramic views of Split. Game of Thrones fans will definitely want to check out the Klis Fortress, located about 10 km from the city. You may recognize the fortress as the City of Meereen from the Game of Thrones.
The Island of Hvar is not your average summer holiday destination. In addition to picturesque beaches and secluded coves with crystal clear waters, the island offers a variety of fun things to do.
Kick off your Hvar travel itinerary with a visit to the Hvar Old Town and its St. Stephen’s Cathedral where you can enjoy some of the finest examples of Renaissance and Baroque style of architecture. Not to be missed is the newly restored clock tower and the 13th-century tower fortress. The beautiful Pakleni Islands are nestled just a short taxi boat drive from Hvar. Here, you can enjoy a range of water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The island’s coastline is peppered with numerous sleepy fishing villages including Pokonji Dol, Vrboska, Milna, and Jelsa.
Hvar vs Split: Beaches
When it comes to the beaches, Hvar has the obvious advantage. However, Split is also home to a few stretches of coastline worth mentioning. The most popular beach is the legendary Bacvice where you will find locals cooling down in the summer season.
Located just a short walk from the Old Town in Split, the beach is easily reachable. It is also a popular place to party at night! Travelers can also spend a day at the pebbled beach of Kastelet or visit Trstenik beach, maintained by the famous Radisson Blu Resort.
Beachgoers staying in Hvar are spoiled for choice. The island is home to some of the best beaches in Croatia. Drop your towel at the pebble beach at Milna or visit Uvala Dubovica which can be accessed via a rocky hill. There coastal villages of Vrboska and Jelsa are also packed with many stunning beaches that offer ideal conditions for snorkeling and swimming. Some of the other beaches that you simply must visit while vacationing in Hvar include Lucisca Bay, Dubovica, Soline Beach, Maslenica, and Zarace.
Hvar vs Split: Food and Drink
Dalmatian cuisine is spectacular in every way. Whether you are craving freshly-caught fish and seafood or you want to sample local meat delicacies, you won’t stay hungry here. We have to say that both Split and Hvar have a similar cuisine that revolves around fish, seafood, and meat. Wine lovers will be delighted to hear that Dalmatian wines are ranked among the best in this part of Europe.
In Split, the family-run Konoba Hvararin is one of the liveliest traditional dining establishments. The restaurant is located close to the old town and serves traditional Dalmatian cuisine. Sample local wine from the nearby Neretva region at Monica’s wine bar or indulge in seafood at the award-winning Zrno Soli restaurant.
Foodies visiting the island of Hvar are in for a real treat. This picturesque island is well-known for its fabulous restaurants and wine estates. Want to have lunch, but don’t really want to leave the beach? Make your way to the Beach Club Hvar that offers everything from sushi to salads.
When in Hvar, make sure to try a traditional dish called peka! Meat and veggies are roasted inside a pan which is set on a bed of red-hot coal and covered with a lid. Keep in mind that this is slow-cooking and a piece of lamb will take three hours to cook. Where to sample local cuisine in Hvar? Try seafood at Macondo, sample pasticada at Konoba Menego, and get squid braised with onions at Robinson. To sample local wines from the island, stop by Tri Pršuta (‘Three Hams’) in Hvar Town.
Hvar vs Split: Accommodation
Both Split and Hvar offer a range of accommodation options. Prices vary but expect to pay between 50 and 100 euros per night during the summer season. In Split, we recommend spending a few nights at the prestigious Hotel Vestibul Palace. This stylish boutique property boasts seven contemporary-styled rooms and suites and has a cool wine cellar.
Travelers searching for accommodation near Diocletian Palace can book a room at the Heritage Hotel Antique Split. The fabulous Palace Judita Heritage Hotel offers 8 individually and tastefully decorated suites with natural wood furniture, posh bathrooms, and exposed stone walls.
Being a jet-set type of destination, it comes as no surprise that Hvar features many super stylish hotels. For instance, Hotel Adriana and its sister property Palace Elizabeth offer 5-star accommodation with Venetian monuments, chandeliers, and frescoes. If you are searching for a resort-like place to stay, book a room at Hotel Amfora. This family-friendly resort boasts all the necessary facilities needed for a memorable vacation including a freshwater pool, rooftop gym, and a beachfront cabana.
Hvar vs Split: The Final Verdict
It’s definitely not an easy decision to make. There is Split, an amazing Dalmatian city brimming with cultural and historical attractions, plus a few awesome beaches. Then, there is Hvar, one of the most beautiful islands in Europe with gorgeous beaches. Therefore, we go for a tie here!