A Hvar Destination on the Rise: Interview with Stari Grad Tourist Board Director Danijela Vlahovic

Total Croatia News


March 10, 2018 – It celebrates 2400 years of existence recently, making it one of the oldest town in Croatia, and a wave of recent investment is bringing the good times back to Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. An interview with Stari Grad Tourist Board Director, Danijela Vlahovic. 

The island of Hvar has been voted in the top 5 destinations in Europe for 2018. Congratulations! I understand you were very involved in the campaign. Can you tell us a little more about it?

The island of Hvar is a destination which tourists recognise and visit, so it was logical that the island was in contention for this prestigious title, since Hvar has been proclaimed as one of the ten most beautiful islands.


The promotion of the island of Hvar as a destination can help us become even better positioned in the tourist markets of Europe and the world, to be more recognisable and to attract a much broader spectrum of target groups in the tourist market. Only through a joint promotion can the island of Hvar reach its full potential, which lies precisely in its diversity. That diversity of the island of Hvar has to be communicated to the markets, since that is our advantage and our platform for further tourism development. The island of Hvar has entered the TOP 5 destinations, and we consider it a great success since the competition was very strong.
Stari Grad is going through enormous change, with several exciting projects. Can you tell us a little about Olive Bay, Valamar and Four Seasons? How do you think it will impact tourism in Stari Grad?

Stari Grad is changing in every sense and in a positive way. After we promoted Stari Grad as a desirable nautical destination, which is now visited by more and more yachtsmen every year, it is time for hotels in Stari Grad to take up their role in the development of tourism. Hotels Helios Faros d.d will most likely enter the Hotels Valamar Riviera d.d., which makes us extremely pleased since that is one of the most important hotel groups in Croatia. We look forward to cooperating with Valamar Riviera d.d. and we hope for good further cooperation to our mutual satisfaction. This acquisition will surely bring Stari Grad to a different level as a tourist destination, and we will certainly support them. We look forward to cooperating with Valamar Riviera d.d.


An investment in the construction of Olive Bay has begun – the development of two smaller hotels and several holiday homes is foreseen. There is already a lovely promenade which joins the ferry dock and an already existing promenade that goes along the bay to the northern side and the hotel area. Stari Grad now boasts one of the longest coastal promenades in Dalmatia.

As far as the Brizenica Bay project is concerned, i.e. the construction of the Four Seasons hotel, according to the information from the town administration, a location permit has been issued but not yet the construction permit.

The opening of two entirely new parts of the town, one on the west side (Olive Bay) and another on the north side (Brizenica Bay) will undoubtedly expand and strengthen the town of Stari Grad.

However, it should be borne in mind that our most significant tourist resource is the preserved space and nature – therefore, we would be careful in the future with the new construction zones. I personally believe that no new construction zones will be needed for a long time and that these two projects will fulfil the needs for building zones for the foreseeable future.

We need to concentrate on how to make the best use of what we have and what we are planning to build in these two bays, to work on increasing the quality and not the quantity of tourist product and in that way increase the income of all those who live of tourism.


The sailing scene has really improved in recent years with the expansion of the riva. What is the latest with all the works, and how much has the nautical tourism changed in recent years?

Nautical tourism started to develop intensively after the new coastal facility was in the bay, thus giving us 130 berths. The number of ships coming in during 2017 was 16% higher than in 2016.

Nautical tourism is vital for Stari Grad, especially in the last two years. You have to keep in mind that our hotels in the present state are very inadequate for further development, so we cannot expect much better results – that is changing now, and that is a good thing – but until now the yachtsmen were the ones who brought the highest income to the local population (restaurants, shops…).

It is estimated that the 130 berths in the yacht harbour in Stari Grad in 2017 generated 90,000 overnight stays – for comparison, the Hotels Helios Faros realised 123,000 overnights, and private accommodation 114,000 overnights – this data shows how much nautical tourism is essential for Stari Grad.


Stari Grad has always been an interesting gourmet destination, but the restaurant scene seems to have really taken off in recent years. Give us an overview.

In addition to restaurants that have been operating in Stari Grad for years, every year new ones are opened. The gastronomic offer is varied to a certain extent, but it still needs to be further developed to include local indigenous meals and to take advantage of the fact that the Mediterranean diet has been included in the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage.

This is also an excellent opportunity to announce the 7th Congress of the Mediterranean Diet, which will bring together all the countries that have entered it as the intangible heritage into the UNESCO list. It will take place in early June and be attended by representatives from Greece, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Cyprus and Portugal. A gastronomical presentation of original dishes from all the participating countries of the congress will also be held in Stari Grad, Hvar and Jelsa.

We are also extremely proud, and we congratulate the Apolon Restaurant on its inclusion in the Michelin’s restaurant guide in Croatia.

One of the best additions to the Hvar tourism scene in recent years has been the Days in the Bay festival in September. How did that come about, and what is in store for visitors this year?

The Festival of Sea and Sailors “Days in the Bay” is a beautiful event that was first held as part of the celebrations of 2,400 years since the foundation of Stari Grad. It tells a story about old wooden and traditional boats, sailors and sea. This year, we also had guests from Italy who presented their traditional small wooden boats. The Stari Grad Bay full with old ships, the regatta and the evening Dance of the Sails is really something spectacular.

Our goal is to make this event international, and it will be held every two years because it is an extremely demanding event, from a financial and organisational point of view.

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Stari Grad, of course, has its very own UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Stari Grad Plain. What is the best way to explore it?

The best way to explore the Stari Grad Plain is to ride a bicycle on 2,400-year-old paths that cross the field. We also recommend that guests should include villages on the edge of the area, Dol and Vrbanj, in their tour, and to conclude it with visiting beautiful Vrboska and Jelsa.

Also, the Stari Grad Plain and the villages of Dol and Vrbanj also feature several family farms where domestic products can be tasted – which also should not be missed.

Tell us a little about the rise of cycling tourism in central Hvar.

Recreational cyclists and professionals are an important target group of tourists and visitors to the island of Hvar. The island of Hvar is ideal for the development of this type of selective tourist product, which has been recognised by all the tourist boards on the island. We have created a cycling map of the island of Hvar and set up signs for cyclists.

The fact that the island of Hvar has been recognized as a cycling destination is proven by the arrival of the Bahrain national team to train on the island of Hvar in late 2017, which was an excellent promotion of cycling tourism on the island of Hvar.

However, it would be necessary to invest in bicycle infrastructure, particularly in those sections of cycling paths which were actually constructed on roads designed for cars. It is essential to widen the roads and build bicycle paths for the safety of both cyclists and drivers. This is something which we still need to do.

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And finally, three things to see in Stari Grad that most tourists miss.

The Stari Grad coves that can be reached only by boat – which may seem a bit complicated at first glance but, if you rent a boat and sail within the Stari Grad Bay, you can find beautiful natural coves ideal for enjoyment on both sides of the bay.

Walk to the Glavica summit – on a hill north of Stari Grad, from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the entire the Stari Grad Bay, the Plain and the town itself.

Diving and exploration of the underwater world of the Stari Grad Bay is also an activity we recommend to our visitors – however, this is just for those who feel inclined to such activities. If they opt to do this, they will surely not be disappointed when they realise how exciting the undersea world of our Adriatic Sea is.


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