How To Make the Most of 48 Hours in Hvar, Croatia

Discover Hvar in just two days
Discover Hvar in just two days | © FG Trade / iStock
Photo of Martina Vujovic
5 May 2020

The Croatian island of Hvar is known for its Renaissance architecture, lavender fields and some of the country’s most breathtaking beaches. Discover how to get the most out of your time in Hvar with this two-day guide.

Though a 48-hour trip to Hvar will leave you in no doubt that it is worthy of a longer stay, two days on this Adriatic island can take in centuries of history and exceptional natural beauty: explore Hvar’s ancient city walls and hilltop fortress, embrace your inner romantic in a beloved poet’s secret garden, discover secluded coves and experience culinary traditions dating back generations.

Day One

Morning

Arrive into Hvar Town on the Jadrolinija ferry

Take the Jadrolinija ferry from Split | © Remus Kotsell / Getty Images

Most visitors coming to the island of Hvar will be arriving from the port of Split on the Jadrolinija ferry. Make sure to choose the route to Hvar Town – it’s where you’ll want to book your accommodation too. The earliest ferry option is best; during the peak of the tourist season, you can arrive before 9am on a quick one-hour ferry ride. This way, you’ll get the most out of your 48-hour visit. After you’ve dropped off your luggage at your hotel or guesthouse, head towards the main town square.

Time travel to a Spanish fortress

The Fortica fortress (Spanish Fort or Spanjola Fortres) on the Hvar island in Croatia | © DaLiu / iStock

Locally known as Tvrđava Španjola (Spanish fort), Hvar Town’s fortress sits atop slopes with deep historical roots. The first settlements date back to before 500 BC, when the Illyrians created a defensive citadel. Both the Greeks and the Romans left their mark on the fortress – traces of which can still be seen today – but the fortress of today was largely built by the Venetians at the beginning of the 16th century. It’s a 10 to 15-minute walk up a winding path, filled with an abundance of colourful flowers and several huge cactuses. It’s a prime location for panoramic shots of the town below, as well as views of the Adriatic Sea and the entire archipelago of islands – get your camera ready!

Pick up your wheels

Hvar is best explored on your own schedule with a scooter or car, with the added bonus that you’ll be able to escape the crowds and tour groups. As you make your way back down to Hvar Town from the fortress, head to Dino Rent Hvar. The staff will take their time to explain the hot spots on a map – just make sure to bring your ID and proof of driving licence.

Bonus Tip: This is a great time to arrange a boat rental for the next day with the same company. You can choose from boats of different sizes and speeds, depending on your preferences and budget.

Afternoon

Explore some of Hvar’s most picturesque coves

Bay on Hvar with crystal-clear sea water | © Marcutti / iStock

Use your map from the rental place or Google Maps to locate some of the island’s most breathtaking beaches and idyllic towns. A beach route that works for a limited amount of time is: Hvar Town, Mekićevica Beach, Paščuka Beach, Malo Zaraće Beach and Sveta Nedelja (Bay Lučišća).

Refuel and refresh with a lunch stop at Dubovica Beach Bar

Dubovica beach | © FG Trade / iStock

After the last beach stop, you’ll be close to Dubovica Beach Bar – a secluded gem – for a much-needed lunch break. Park the vehicle and take a 10-minute trek down a rocky path to the water below. This is truly a local spot, mostly unknown to tourists. It’s a small home style restaurant with a simple and fresh seafood menu – get your fish straight from the hot coals, served with rosemary and capers. Once you’ve digested, go snorkelling at Dubovica Beach – if you’re lucky, you might even spot an octopus!

Bonus Tip: If time permits before your next stop, head past Stari Grad towards the village of Rudina. Make a stop at Žukova Beach to see yet another secluded pebble beach.

Get in touch with your inner poet at Tvrdalj Castle

Tvrdalj is the defensive castle of the poet Hektorović and a UNESCO World Heritage Site | © Hans Georg Roth / Getty Images

The old town of Hvar, known as Stari Grad, is your next stop. Here you will find Tvrdalj Castle – the fortress-esque summer residence of Croatian Poet Petar Hektorović (1487-1572). If you feel a sudden sense of déjà vu when visiting, it’s probably because you’ve seen some incredible shots of the castle all over Instagram, and with good reason; the late afternoon sunlight filtering through the stone arches is a moment that just begs to be captured. Enjoy a quiet moment by the calming fish pond.

Bonus Tip: Every year from late May to mid July, you can experience the blooming of Hvar’s lavender fields. Grown for many generations, the fields are rich with extraordinary colours of purple and intense fragrances. They are located around Velo Grablje, just a ten-minute drive from Stari Grad. The best time to visit is in late June to coincide with the Lavender Festival.

Evening

Dine at Fig Hvar

Fig Hvar is a popular eatery in downtown Hvar | Courtesy of Fig Restaurants

This popular eatery is accessed via a small alley between the main square restaurants; walk up the stone steps then turn left at the top. Expect a 10 to 15-minute wait when arriving, since reservations aren’t possible. As the name says, it would be wise to order the fig and cheese platter – it comes thoroughly recommended. Make sure to finish eating with enough time to enjoy the sunset at your next stop!

Take in the sunset over the Adriatic at Hula Hula Beach Bar

Hula Hula Beach Bar is the place to experience your first sunset in Hvar, with unadulterated views of the sun setting over the nearby Pakleni Islands. In the daytime, expect chilled out music, sunbeds, VIP areas and open-air massage pavilions. As the sun goes down, the beach bar invites you to move and groove on the island’s best beach dance floor. There’s also a restaurant on site, so you can grab another quick bite after some cocktails. Hula Hula Beach Bar is a perfect introduction to the nightlife that has helped make Hvar such a popular destination.

Day Two

Morning

Start the day at Kava37

Kava37 is a café that served coffee and smoothies | Courtesy of Kava37

Located about 20 steps from the ferry port of Hvar Town, you’ll find this quaint café, slightly hidden in a picturesque alley. There’s seating for approximately 12 people inside, as well as some chairs in the lane outside. The decor is in a minimalist, Nordic style, and the drinks served in pretty ceramic cups. The tasty espressos come from some of the world’s premier coffee plantations, including from those in Ethiopia and Guatemala. You can also order morning smoothies made from pistachio and dates, with a variety of milk options. All of its products are organic and fair-trade. Since Hvar is almost always sunny (and hot), feel free to get your delicious refreshments iced.

Bonus Tip: if you’d rather stick to drinks at Kava37, you can drop into one of the local bakeries for fresh baked goods, such as a croissant filled with sweet marelica (apricot) jam, or a savoury slanac (bread with melted salt).

Become a skipper for a day by setting sail to the Pakleni Islands

The Pakleni Islands have secluded, wild beaches | Calm Eyes / iStock

Pick up your boat rental as early as possible, so that you can have a full day to explore the islands. If you are uncomfortable going at it on your own, there are other options, such as renting with a skipper, taking a taxi boat or choosing a private tour. The seclusion and wild beaches of the Pakleni Islands are hard to match – you’ll experience solitude away from the crowds of Hvar. There is a café or restaurant on most of the larger islands.

Afternoon

Take a lunch break at The Fisherman’s House & Pension Tonci

Make a stop at Sveti Klement island – situated in an isolated bay with copious mooring spots – for some fresh eats, relaxation and the feeling of dining among friends or family. The first floor of the restaurant provides great views over the island, with the island of Vis viewable in the distance on a clear day. Recommendations for food include the sea-bass, swordfish and octopus salad, although several other meat and vegetarian options are also available. It makes all of its own olive oil, vinegar, wine and grappa.

Koiza waterfront on the island of Vis | © Xbrchx / iStock

Bonus Tip: If you have some extra time when returning to the port of Hvar, head over to the Red Rocks on the southeastern end of the island. These are a famous natural attraction of vertically separated red limestone rocks which cascade into the sea.

Have a backyard pint at Vunetovo Craft Beer

Vunetovo Craft Beer’s terrace is surrounded by olive and pomegranate trees | Courtesy of Vunetovo

Upon your return to Hvar harbour, sneak away for a late afternoon beer, or pivo as the locals call it. There’s no better place than Vunetovo’s backyard garden to try some Croatian craft favourites. This quaint micro brewery has a small deck area outside to enjoy a drink amid the olive and pomegranate trees. Sit back with your beer as you relish in the memories you have created thus far.

Evening

When in Dalmatia, dine at Dalmatino

Welcome to Hvar’s most famous restaurant, winner of prestigious awards year after year. This steak and fish house requires a reservation prior to arriving, so reach out on Facebook or online to claim your table. The staff is knowledgeable about every dish and its selection of wine, with reviews calling the service “impeccable”. Some recommended menu items include the gnocchi, sea bass, tuna fish and steak, of course. To get a real taste of Croatia, the staff will offer a complimentary rakija aperitif.

Walk Hvar’s own fashion runway on the riva

View of the illuminated old town Hvar and the harbor with the Pakleni Islands at dusk | © Ultraforma / iStock

Be prepared for a nightly fashion show of guys and gals parading on the riva (seafront) as if it were a high fashion catwalk. It’s a good time to walk off some of those calories you just consumed at Dalmatino.

Night

Sip cocktails at Lola Bar

With hip tunes and a quaint old-town feel, Lola Bar is always buzzing. Along with superb cocktails (try a ‘Run Lola Run’), there’s a good selection of craft beers and non-alcoholic drinks too. It has a simple, yet well-executed food menu if you get hungry after some drinks – choose from a variety of street-food-style bites, such as arancini and burritos.

Pro tip: Lola Bar only takes cash, so be sure to bring some kunas.