Hvar is known as the party island of Croatia. However, that’s not true year-round. Go in the fall, and you’ll experience this jewel of the Adriatic in a different way.
A three-hour ferry ride from Dubrovnik, Hvar is the sun-dappled island with an irrepressible spirit. She waits for you like the chic ambassador that she is, ready for your exploration.
Hvar vistas are a proverbial postcard image – a snapshot of utter vacation beauty. A seaside promenade encircles the port passing florals, playgrounds and boats spangling the felicitous harbor. Seafood platters beckon you at every restaurant. Equally satiating are the morning sunrises on your hotel balcony.
Strolling on the seawall reveals the buoyancy of boats while sailors prepare for another day at sea. Watch the yachtees tend to luxurious vessels as if straight from an episode of what should be called Below Deck: Adriatic. Try Villa Dinka for delicious seafood dining.
Schedule a tuk-tuk or van tour of the island. Winding your way through the mountain roads of tawny grasses and scenic overlooks creates anticipation for Hvar’s essence. Biking tourists stop to photograph the town below for the dichotomy of rural and urban views all at once.
While you tour hilltop relics and agriculture, you are mere minutes away from must-sees. For example, Hvar has the oldest theater in Europe (even older than the Shakespeare Theatre). Interestingly enough, the fingerprint discovery originated in Hvar. Stari Grad, one of the oldest European towns founded by the ancient Greeks in 384 B.C., was originally named Pharos. Hvar’s highlights range from its famous lavender fields to a completely sustainable Renaissance home (Tvrdalj Castle) of the poet, Peter Hektorovic. It’s enlightening to learn about his methods, medicinal plants and tools.
The lavender fields bristle with a powerful beauty. It’s meditative to simply sit in the field appreciating the serene earthiness. Ground yourself in the terrain. In fall, lavender is past its bloom, therefore, the color and scent are subdued. Reportedly, when the lavender is in season, many people can’t even drive past the fields due to the overpowering aroma. Hvar’s lavender is ranked among the top quality in the world.
Afterwards, enjoy an afternoon basking at the beach, which is only to be topped by an evening of ambrosial dining.
It’s recommended that you call ahead to Malo Grablje restaurant with your menu order. The cooks must prepare certain Peka meals “under the bell” which is a Dutch oven method cooked on charcoals. The sojourn there takes you through unexpected wilderness roads of Stori Komin, an abandoned village. Ascending the quarter-mile roads, you’ll peer through ruins in this walk back-in-time. Abandoned due to harsh times and diseased olive crops, the Hvar spirit reclaimed the worth of this locale and made it an incredible dining destination.
The night atmosphere is thick with the promise of gastronomic splendor as you first view your simmering meal. Dining under the grapevine pergolas surrounded by moonlight is unforgettable. You’re ingesting not only the cuisine but also the Croatian culture and joy.
Peek inside the kitchen to see cooks, wine glasses in hand, looking satisfied with their hospitality. This writer’s courses of charcuterie, sardines, lamb, veal and potatoes were perfectly complimented by the homemade wine elixir. Only a few tables are available, which creates an intimate setting. Hvar, Hvar away in the Adriatic, it’s not just a party … it’s paradise.