In short, Hvar is a small island off the coast of Croatia where Europeans go to lose their mind for a few days. I don’t know what it is about Croatia that seems to attract debauchery but it’s readily apparent. I saw some of the craziest scenes and had more of my own wild nights than I care to admit for being 28. it. is. wild.
As I sit at the airport in Split I have time to reflect on the last month. I spent more consistent time in Hvar than I have spent anywhere else in over a year which inevitably caused me to have a hard time leaving. It’s so small and so touristy but the people there recognize familiar faces and making friends is easy. I knew the names of the bartenders, bouncers, and waiters of my favorite places. When you get to know the people of Croatia, past their stern demeanor, they’re some of the kindest of any country I’ve been. They work their butts off for 3-4 months out of the year and often go back to where they came from, from Australia to Zagreb. I did not do a lot of research before making my way to Hvar, my knowledge was limited to knowing that Croatia had rocky beaches. I went in without any expectations or preconceived notions.
I spent 3 nights in Milan, 3 in Split, 2 in Korcula, 24 in Hvar, & (soon) 3 in Barcelona. Mid-way through my trip my main thought was that I am not meant to live on an island. Especially a touristy one. There are around 4,000 locals in the town and during the busy summer season, an extra 15,000 tourists, I’ve been told. I have absolutely enjoyed my beach time, getting tan, and more pizza than I have ever had in my life but like with every city or town, especially island, it has drawbacks. Given my nomadic lifestyle, I veiw every place I spend an extended time in as my new home and Hvar is simply too small and too touristy for me as a home. Due to the quick tourist turn around we made new groups of friends every few days and we would see them often whether we planned to or not.
We stayed at an Airbnb outside of Hvar town, closer to the better beaches but farther from the center of town. Likely better for our long term stay. I never really left the island while I was there, the beaches I experienced were beautiful and good enough for my purposes. Maybe I should have and I would probably recommend getting out but I still feel that I did the island justice.
I learned a lot more about myself than I ever expected from this trip. I’m not sure if I can attribute these epiphonies to my newly acquired age of 28, the consistency of one location, or the sheer amount of chaos I experienced in Hvar but I now know that I want to slow my life down a little and spend even more time in Europe every year. I’ve been wandering a lot, not lost, but overwhelmed with the opportunities I have as a freelance photographer. I like to think it is a blessing and a curse but I know that the blessing far outweighs the curse.
Top Recommendations for Hvar :
Kiva Bar – Kiva, where at 10pm the street becomes bar. An alley packed with people so full I have legitimately worried about their fire hazards. Especially because they love to light sparklers and give them to drunk people. Alas, it won as our favorite place because they often played the best music. We would hang out in the street and end up chatting with people from all over the world and when the time was right we’d cram ourselves onto the dance floor. They close their doors at 2am then people stumble their way to Pink Champagne or Carpe Diem where the music was decidedly less melodic.
Hula Hula Beach Bar – I don’t recommend going in the evening but we found the daytime vibes of food, drinks, and good views to be on point.
Fig Cafe – We ate here twice. It’s tucked away on a side street off the main square with modern mediterranean inspired flatbreads and the unusual but delicious options of curry or burrito.
Alviz – The best pizza we had on this trip, which is saying a lot given the amount of pizza we’ve had. A popular spot with garden dining.
Park Cafe – This was more of a daytime coffee place for us but the evening vibes are equally pleasent with live music and (my favorite European restaurant trait) stairways used as tables lit with candles.
Milna Beach – From Hvar town it’s about an hour and a half hike. You pass a few beaches on the way but I found this one to be the most secluded and beautiful, all in one.
Vrbroska – We drove around the island one day (in the lovely vintage Volkswagen above) and I happened to love this sleepy town they call the Venice of Hvar. I highly recommend getting a car for a day, check out the other towns, go to a vineyard, and see the quieter side of the island. If you go earlier enough in the season you can also witness the lavender fields on the island.
Hvar Fortress – Worth the hike. Go for sunset, so good, we did it twice.
The Wine! -Drink all the wine. It is, almost always, buttery, delicious, & cheap. I brought two bottles back for my wine loving brother & I to drink. My favorite white is the Malvazija by Meneghetti. My favorite red is Royal Dingač by Matuško. Both can be be found at the the Divino wine shop by the ferry drop off. The local beer is fairly average but they also have local liqueurs that are quite good.