10 Reasons Why the Time to Visit Hvar is Now

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Secret Hvar
Secret Hvar

Secret Hvar

September 2, 2020 – Although the season may be coming to an end, there are plenty of reasons why now is a great time to visit Hvar. 

One of my favourite images of Hvar is this 1905 postcard from the excellent collection belonging to Sinisa from Secret Hvar, which we featured on this site several years ago

Dated September 9, 1905, the sender explains that this is ‘Hvar, a quaint old town, which is becoming popular as a winter resort.’

Some 115 years later, Hvar is anything but a winter resort, with almost all hotels and restaurants closed over the winter period. The island where organised tourism in Europe began with the founding of the Hvar Health Society in 1868, is now very much a summer destination, while also enjoying some recent success in extending its season into the shoulder months. 

Everyone’s experience of the recent lockdown is different and very much based on their individual circumstances, I spent 63 days on Hvar and came to really appreciate the space and the freedom that the island afforded me, as others less fortunate were confined to apartments in cities. I have spent a lot of time talking to people about their experiences over the summer, and people are now home and preparing for an uncertain autumn and winter with the virus. 

Not everyone can travel at the moment, and for those who are subjected to 14-day quarantines which would affect their job, travel is impossible, but there are a number of people who are more flexible with their arrangements, and for whom an extended stay on a Dalmatian island might be infinitely more preferable to life in a crowded city subject to potential lockdowns, as we explored in As Tourists Leave Croatia, the Case for an Extended Autumn Stay on Hvar.


(Panorama Penthouse Jelsa)

That 1905 postcard keeps talking to me – popular as a winter resort. While Hvar and Dalmatia have an awful lot to do to make it popular as a winter resort, there is plenty to do away from the crowds in late summer and autumn. Ten things that could add a lot of quality to your idyllic view on Hvar in these uncertain times. 

1. Lifestyle

If I was running Croatian tourism, I would build a strategy around Croatia’s safety, authentic experiences, and lifestyle. With the arrival of the digital nomad visa, this is the biggest opportunity Croatia has had in years to move from its beaches mass tourism into something far more sustainable and year-round. Rather than Croatia, Full of Life (check out a Dalmatian town in January), more Croatia, Your Safe, Authentic, Lifestyle Destination. 

And few do the lifestyle better than Hvar. A little Hvar lifestyle will take a lot of the stress out of your life, and it will make you a lot more relaxed in general. The golden rule if you are coming to do business here – do not try and change Dalmatia, but expect Dalmatia to change you. And it will. Mixing up some online work with the renowned cafe culture is a perfect combination. 

2. Beaches


Hvar’s beaches are internationally famous, and rightly so. They are also far emptier in September, and the swimming season usually extends into October. But the beaches have another function once the sea temperature cools – a fantastic place to clear your head to the sound of the crashing waves. If you have never stood on a beach during the full force of the bura to remove all the cobwebs from the system, I highly recommend it.  

3. Sailing

Hvar is one of the great sailing destinations of the Adriatic, with the Pakleni Islands in front of the town a particular draw. The sailing season is year-round, and the town even holds an annual New Year regatta, while sailing tours for the proficient and the beginner are freely available. A half-day sailing tour of the Pakleni Islands is particularly recommended.  

4. Kayaking


(Photo credit Hvar Sea Kayak)

One of the big growth industries in the Croatian tourism sector in recent years, sea kayaking is an excellent way to leave the rest behind and explore the hidden bays and coves that most tourists don’t get to see. Kayaking tours for beginners are available, and the season runs into October.    

5. Cycling


(Photo credit Bahrain Merida)

Hvar has really pushed hard to improve its cycling presence in recent years, and there are now many cycling routes marked, and even a dedicated cycling map of the island. The roads are excellent for cycling outside the main season when traffic is much reduced. So much so, in fact, that leading cycling team Bahrain McLaren have made Hvar in December their winter training base for the last three years. And if cycling on Hvar in December is good enough for one of the world’s top teams…  

6. Hiking

Hiking is one of the most underrated activities on Hvar, and an ideal one in these socially distanced times. The island is breathtakingly beautiful, as well as being full of ancient sites dating back to Greek, Roman and Illyrian times, while its diverse and aromatic nature ensures that there is something to learn and savour at ever turn. Don’t miss a hike ot the very top of Hvar, some 621m above sea level, to be rewarded by a spectacular 360 view of the Adriatic.  

7. Wine tours


(The Romanesque cellars of Andro Tomic – photo credit Vina Tomic Facebook)

Hvar is an island of wine, whose eclectic winemakers are producing some outstanding wines in the various micro-climates and differing terroir on the island. The tasting experiences are also very diverse. Choose from an underwater tasting in Sveta Nedjejla, one in a Romanesque cellar in Jelsa, the only Master of Wine making wine in Croatia in Vrisnik, or sampling Plavac Mali in the only cave winery accessible only by speedboat. Wine tourism is gradually growing more popular on Hvar, whose several indigenous grapes (Bogdanusa, Prc, Drnakusa and others) offer some very different flavours to the more globalised varieties. 

8. Harvests


There is no authentic experience in Dalmatia as authentic as a harvest. Highly recommended are the lavender harvest in late June and early July.  But the biggest harvests each year for families in Dalmatia are the grape (early September) and olive (late October/early November) harvests. Both are great opportunities to experience this essential part fo the Dalmatian way of life, seeing locals in their natural habitat. Volunteers are always welcome, and they are usually rewarded with a feast of grilled meat of fish, as well as copious amounts of wine for their troubles. 

9. Sunsets


(Romulic and Stojcic)

The sunset island. What else to expect but the most fabulous sunsets to lift the mood?

10. Space


(Photo credit Hvar Tours)

A new currency which will become all the more important in these socially distanced times. This was one of the things I treasured the most in my Hvar lockdown – the freedom to roam without any danger of coming into contact with more than a handful of people at a time. Coming to Zagreb after lockdown did feel somewhat claustrophobic by comparison. To put the amount of space in perspective, Hvar is 20% bigger than the Gaza Strip, which has a population of 1.9 million. Hvar has a population of just 10,500, and with access to the sea all around. 

Significant winter tourism, as described by that 1905 Hvar postcard above, is probably a very long way away, but it is worth tourism chiefs looking into ways that islands such as Hvar can use that space, authentic experiences, safety and lifestyle to promote a different kind of tourism. Island living is not for everyone and it takes a particular kind of mentality to endure it at times (speaking as someone who spent 13 years full-time on Hvar), but the rewards are plentiful. And in this era of restrictions and lockdowns, there are few places I would rather be.   

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