Hvar island lies in the Adriatic Sea off the Croatia coast, in central Dalmatia. It’s about 50 miles east-to-west, with a high mountain ridge running along it. On its northern shore, lies the Stari Grad Plain, a fertile area of vineyards and olive groves that is reminiscent of rural France or a quiet version of Napa Valley in California.
Map: Zoom in to see Vrboska on the coast just to the north of Jelsa. Zoom out to find out exactly where in the Mediterranean Sea this is!
Since 2008, the Stari Grad Plain is a UNESCO protected World Heritage site, as one of the best preserved examples of ancient Greek agriculture. Vrboska lies at the eastern edge of the Stari Grad Plain.Nearby is Jelsa, a bustling market town just along the coast south of Vrboska. Takes 5 minutes in the car via the inland road, or you can easily walk it along the coastal road in 45 minutes. The market square is good place to find people – we know several who use the cafes there as an office!
On the other side of the plain you’ll find Stari Grad, the island’s original settlement, having been founded by the ancient Greeks in 384 BC back when they first laid out these fields. It really does feel old, and has a fascinating history. There are excavations going on to locate the boundaries of the original Faros. The monastery has a good museum, but unfortunately these are mostly casts, not original stone inscriptions.The town museum has an interesting hydro-archaeological exhibit, and some local art – always good to see! Tvrdalj is the main tourist draw here, and well worth a visit. I love it for the gardens, as well as the famous fish-pond!
The island’s most famous town lies on the south shore, a short drive through the tunnel. The town of Hvar is well known to tourists, lying in a beautiful location with plenty of daytime activities, great restaurants and a lively nightlife.There’s an old castle high on a hill with superb views, old town walls and twisty little streets to explore. The largest town on the island, it boasts a long proud history as a Venetian commune, an important maritime trading hub, and a centre for literature and the arts. Nowadays it’s a popular stop for the yachting crowd, island hoppers and cruisers.The great and the good also berth here as they sail around the Adriatic – celebrity spotting is a good local sport!
At the eastern point of the island, nearest the mainland, lies Sucuraj (St George). It’s a tiny port for the ferry, and has a rather good winery.