Wednesday, 18 May 2022

24 Hours in Hvar: Hvar Town, Where History & Glamour Collide

18 May 2022 - If New York had a Croatian equivalent of a city that never sleeps, Hvar town would be it. The vibe here is a complete 180 from the chill, whimsical air of Stari Grad, so let’s dive right into 24 hours in Hvar town!

9.00 a.m. - 10.00 a.m.

After getting off the bus from Stari Grad, leave your bags at your next accommodation and walk over to Kava37 to start your day. Here, you can get an outstanding flat white, perfectly paired with a freshly baked, palm-sized, hazelnut and chocolate chip cookie.

Everything served in this cafe is organic and fair-trade, while the coffee beans are roasted in Kava’s Split-based roastery. They even offer milk alternatives such as oat, almond, and soy!

From this point, there are 2 options for spending the day, or better yet, the next 48- hours in Hvar Town.


10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.

Time to make up for the lack of beach time and a dip in the turquoise waters of the Adriatic by exploring the nearby Pakleni Islands!  Honestly, the best way to go about this if you have a boating license is to rent a small boat and explore the nooks and crannies of the islands at your own pace.

Do note that prior to 2022, you might not have needed a boat license to rent a 5hp boat (€160 for a full day) but the rules have since changed!


Discover your own magical bay by renting a boat and weaving through the islands. Hvar tourist board/Facebook screenshot.

With that said, you’ll be treated to some of the most stunning waters in the area. Imagine finding your own secluded bay, dropping anchor, diving into the crystal waters, and enjoying an ice-cold beer while soaking up the Mediterranean sun. And doing it over, and over, for the entire afternoon. Isn’t this what all vacation dreams are made of?

Better since these small boats usually come with an ice box (already filled with ice in our case) so you can bring your own snacks and drinks. Most tour providers will also rent you additional snorkeling gear, and towels, or even provide you with food and beverage packages to save you the trouble of bringing your own.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a boating license, there are also guided half-day (4 hours) or full-day tours around the islands. Or hire a skipper (€40) who will gladly take you to some of the best spots in the area.


10.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.

Since Stari Grad was packed with activities, it’s time to sit and enjoy some time in the Adriatic Sea. Pokonji Dol is about a 15-minute walk from Hvar Town and is the most accessible beach from the downtown area. Like Pakleni Islands, you won’t miss out on the inviting clear, turquoise waters of the Adriatic, while the pebbled beach means no sand in every nook and cranny imaginable. Makes for easy clean-up!


Pokonji Dol, Mekicevica and Bonj are some of the beaches within walking distance from Hvar Town. Image: Pixabay.

Sunbeds and umbrellas are also available for hire for around 100 kuna (€15) a day, and it’s good if you get there early since this beach tends to fill up quickly!

There are also a couple of restaurants along the cove that serve up the catch of the day, and make perfect pit stops to grab an ice-cold beer and seek a bit of refuge from the heat.


From the comfy day beds to exotic cocktails, Hvar Beach Club's got you covered. Image: Hvar Beach Club/Facebook screenshot.

For those seeking a more luxurious experience (with an exorbitant price tag to match), Hvar Beach Club is where you’d want to be. This place is the embodiment of what Hvar Town is known for - chic and glamorous experiences.

1.00 p.m. - 2.30 p.m

After a relaxing time on the beach, slowly wind your way back towards Hvar Town’s harbor and head towards Lungo Mare. This popular family-run restaurant (notice a theme here?) mainly serves traditional Croatian cuisine including seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes.

The cozy restaurant has lovely terrace seating, nestled amongst the winding vines, and whimsical fishing nets scattered with huge shells dangling overhead. Do save room for dessert here such as the rožata, a local creme caramel, or the semifreddo with almonds, for a light, refreshing ending to your meal.


Rožata is the perfect way to end a meal on a sweet note. Image: Pinterest.

Do note that they only open from 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. for lunch and from 6 p.m. - midnight for dinner.

2.30 p.m. - 5.00 p.m.

After lunch, take a couple of hours to explore St. Stephen’s Square, reportedly the largest square in all of Dalmatia. Here you’ll find some of Hvar Town’s main attractions such as the 400-year-old Arsenal from Hvar’s military past; the Cathedral of St. Stephen’s, complete with a bell tower; and the Loggia, which used to be part of a palace in the 15th century when Hvar was under Venetian rule.


St. Stephen's Church still holds mass today. Image: Rory321/Tripadvisor screenshot.

Also, take the time to pop into the Hvar Theater, which was the first civic theater in all of Europe! As well as the 15th century Franciscan monastery that houses a collection of artifacts like Roman and Venetian coins, and an ancient edition of Ptolemy's Atlas from 1524!


The Franciscan monastery. Image: Hvar Tourist Board/Facebook screenshot.

Take the time to wander through the back alleys of Hvar Town, away from the buzz of the Riva and St. Stephen’s square. Here, you can hear yourself think, and be treated to another dimension of the Dalmatian way of life. One at a much slower and deliberate pace where neighbors stop for a quick chat, and cats lounge on the cool stone entryways.


Explore the tiny alleyways of Hvar town at your own pace. Image: Pixabay

Along the way, you may stumble across the occasional boutique selling one-of-a-kind items that make perfect souvenirs for loved ones back home or capture a picturesque alcove as a memento.

5.00 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.

You should not leave Hvar without trying some desserts from Slasticarnica Hvar. This restaurant/cafe/ice cream bar offers a variety of treats that provide the perfect pick me up after all that walking, and its location right by the harbour makes it a great spot for people-watching.

6.00 p.m. - 7.30 p.m.

After a spot of people watching with your afternoon treat, time to head back to your accommodation to get dressed for an evening out on Hvar. Maybe even a nap if you plan on partying the night away!

7.30 p.m. - 9.00 p.m.

Again, because the sunsets in Croatia are some of the most spectacular in the world, time for a drink and a spot to watch the sun go down. I find it difficult to pick just one spot so here are a couple, Hula Hula or Falko Beach Bar.


The spectacular Croatian sunsets. Image: Pixabay

Hula Hula has a much livelier crowd (sometimes, it can get downright rowdy), but is the ideal place to watch the golden sunset if you manage to nab a seat! The fact that it’s a short walking distance from the square is also a plus.

However, if you’re more like me and looking for a more chill, relaxed vibe with an equally spectacular view of the sunset, then you’re in for a 20-minute walk to Falko Beach Bar. Think hammocks, lounge music, and innovative cocktails.

9.00 p.m. - 10.30 p.m.

Tucked down an alley in Hvar’s old town is Konoba Menego. Cozy, rustic (also family-owned), and dotted with an eclectic mix of antiques and pictures, this place is well-known to both locals and tourists alike. Not only is it a must-visit whenever we’re in Hvar Town, but it also tops the list of recommended places when friends and family visit the area as well.

The food is slightly pricey, and the menu limited, but what they do make is nothing short of exceptional. Start off with the Dalmatian stuffed bread and cheese plate, followed by the boar, or for seafood lovers, the shrimp gnocchi. Pair this with a liter of their house red or white wine that is produced by the family’s neighboring vineyards.


For a taste of home-cooked Dalmatian cuisine. Image: Konoba Menego.

Again, because you’re on vacation and calories take a back seat, finish off with the drunken figs that are so saturated with brandy, and the assortment of Dalmatian cakes and biscuits.

Do note that this is a small restaurant, so either head there early or after the dinner rush, otherwise the wait times can be around an hour. Bear in mind that they only accept cash!

10.30 p.m. - the sun comes up

Opened in 1999, Carpe Diem Beach Bar remains the most famous place to see and be seen in Hvar. After all, it’s a favorite haunt of star-studded celebrities when they happen to be in this part of town, so the prices tend to reflect their status.

While the party really gets going around 1 a.m., the club is a whole day affair where you can get coffee in the afternoon, lunch, and even a message all in one place. The short boat ride is included in the 150 kuna (€20) admission price (it might have changed since) and it runs every 10-15 minutes, so you won’t be kept waiting too long.


Be literally and figuratively transported into a different world. Image: Carpe Diem Beach Bar/Facebook screenshot.

Once you’re there, it’s a completely different world with light shows, fire breathers, DJs, the occasional fashion show, and creative cocktails, which may be the perfect way to end your 24 hours in Hvar Town.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Carpe Diem Swaps The Yacht Week for Hvar Wine Tasting Afternoons

July 30, 2019 - As Hvar moves its tourism story away from the party, is a new service from Carpe Diem the biggest symbol of change in the new direction? Meet Taste Croatia, Carpe Diem style. 

A few months ago, I met and interviewed Petar Razovic, the new Hvar Town Tourist Board director, who had been in the position just over a year. I had assumed it would be just another standard interview listening to the same old stories, but there was something different about Razovic and his vision for Hvar. You can read the interview here.

He seemed determined to reset Hvar's tourism strategy away from the cheapening party destination it had become and more towards the elite destination it had been until fairly recently. With party boats jumping on the bandwagon of the infamous Yacht Week, it was sad to see the change that was occurring. Symbolic of that for many were the after beach parties at Carpe Diem, where up to 500 drunk 'sailors' would cram in for a party from 17:00 to 20:00, before being sent out to 'explore' the town, before heading out to Carpe Diem Beach at midnight to party until dawn. 

carpe-diem-hvar (3).jpg

Razovic, the town authorities and Carpe Diem have been in discussions as to how better manage the situation, so that the party can exist side by side with the rest of Hvar tourism, as it had done before. The Yacht Week was moved to the Pakleni Islands and reduced to just five times a month, and security guards would oversee the orderly departure to Carpe Diem Beach at Stipanska by night, and an orderly arrival early in the morning. When I stayed in late June (admittedly not the peak season), the system was working well, as you can see from my experience of a night in Hvar Town: Hvar Town, a Changing Destination: A View from Hotel Adriana Terraces.

carpe-diem-hvar (7).jpg

The oldest public theatre in Europe reopened after 20 years, the first luxury 5-star hotel on the island is due to open in a few weeks, it seemed that Hvar was really taking concrete steps to change. Rome was not built in a day, but the wheels were certainly in motion. 

And then THIS!

carpe-diem-hvar (4).jpg

A new concept from Carpe Diem during the day, promoting the quality wines of the island (and, I think, also the rest of Croatia) - Taste Croatia.

Less on the daytime party, more on the gourmet quality, and a chance to learn more about the fine wines of the island and beyond. The wines will also be available for purchase - an ideal Hvar souvenir. 

carpe-diem-hvar (5).jpg

Come on Thursdays and Sundays from 16:00 to 18:00 teach week for a special wine tasting event. Details for reservations in the flyer above. 

So there we are, one more step in the right direction, and an excellent platform for Hvar's excellent winemakers to impress visitors to Hvar Town. 

Perhaps now is the time to say thanks for the memories, Ultra Europe, but we need to keep working on our brand?

To learn more about the potential of Hvar as a food and wine destination, Creating Quality Gourmet Tourism in Croatia: Case Study Hvar

carpe-diem-hvar (6).JPG

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Hvar Allows Carpe Diem to Operate 24 Hours a Day

The Hvar Town Council has changed the regulation on the operating hours of hospitality facilities in the town, which is, in fact, a step towards achieving the goal of cooperation between the local authorities and the owners of the Carpe Diem club, reports Slobodna Dalmacija on February 28, 2019.

This is part of the attempt to introduce some order in the party tourism industry in Hvar. It was openly announced that the same level of co-operation is expected with the well-known "Hula Hula" beach bar, as well as with the ever-increasing number of boats on which party guests "relax." The idea is to demand from these venues to adapt their behaviour so that they would contribute to a better tourist image of the town.

Eight of the ten councillors present (4 HDZ, 2 MOST, 1 SDP and 1 independent) supported the proposal made by Joško Rosso (MOST) that restaurants and bars located at least 500 metres (it used to be 2,000 meters) from the populated part of the town should be allowed to operate 24 hours a day.

Since the change of regulations is actually only relevant to the Carpe Diem Beach Club, located in the bay of Stipanska at the Martinkovac islet in the Pakleni Islands archipelago, since there are no other venues which fulfil this condition, the logical question is why the change was needed.

“Carpe Diem’s operating hours were limited to 2 am in order to strengthen the position of the town administration in terms of the rules of behaviour. Since there is no real alternative in Hvar to this venue, during the summer, after the closure of the coffee shops at Pjaca, there were up to several thousand young people not knowing what to do next. Of course, the police would have more work. On the other hand, with the closure of Stipanska, we would have fewer younger tourists coming, the number of seasonal workers would fall, as well as town-level revenues. We would certainly lose in this game, and that is not the goal, but on the contrary, to responsibly change this form of tourism in our town,” said Rosso.

Citizens complain mostly about the noisy "after beach parties" during the afternoons at the "Carpe Diem" bar at the town's waterfront, as well as about the night-time noise coming from Stipanska and the return of guests to Hvar in the early morning hours. Nada Jeličić (MOST) is known for her attitudes toward party tourism since it was her amendment last year which returned Stipanska under the administration of the town, which allowed it to stay open just until 2 am. But she has now apparently changed her position, so she was asked by reporters what made her change her opinion.

“I must emphasise that finally, in order to get rid of the party destination image, we have set the condition that the summer after-beach parties at Carpe Diem must be discontinued and that the noise from Stipanska must be strictly controlled, so it does not bother citizens and other tourists who do not enjoy this kind of entertainment. The start of the night transportation to Stipanska was moved from 11 pm to 00.30am, and the venue must provide staff on the waterfront in the early morning hours who will welcome the guests, warn them if they are too noisy, and direct them towards their apartments or taxi-vehicles if needed,” said Jeličić.

All this, the councillor added, is in the best interest of the town, but if the agreement is not respected, the current amendments to the regulations will be revoked, and the situation will return to the previous one. The local council adopted the change because the negotiations with Josip Ćurković, one of the co-owners of Carpe Diem, included the independent councillor Katica Vučetić, who is also the president of the Hvar Craftsmen Association, and Jurica Miličić (HDZ), president of the City Council. Rosso stated at the session that "in this case, this is not a takeover of negotiating powers of the mayor, because making decisions is, in any case, the exclusive competence of the Council.”

Even before, Mayor Rikardo Novak did not hide the fact that the town was negotiating with the club co-owners, so last year there were fewer protests about the noise coming from Stipanska. For a while, they even discontinued the after-beach parties and announced they would move them from the town to Stipanska this year.

The “war” against party tourism in Hvar was first announced in mid-2017. At the time, Mayor Novak spoke about people vomiting around the town, urinating on every corner, walking without a shirt, sleeping in public areas, drifting around and not knowing what is happening. Therefore, the town introduced fines for such behaviour: whoever walks in swimwear will pay up to 600 euro, women dressed in the upper part of the swimsuit and men with no shirts will pay up to 500 euro, and people wandering the streets carrying alcohol or lying drunk on the streets up to 700 euro. However, this all remained just a threat since fees are seldom charged.

More news about Hvar can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Translated from Slobodna Dalmacija (reported by Mirko Crnčević).

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Goodbye Jelsa Bench, Hello Carpe Diem? Mayor Niksa Peronja Gives Prime Concession to Hvar Party Partner

March 31, 2018 - All change in the heart of intellectual life on Hvar, as Jelsa's famous Bench, aka the island Wikipedia, looks set to move way for the expansion of the Hvar party to central Hvar. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

In Croatia for a Music Festival? Don't Stop There!

So you’re coming to Croatia for a music festival this summer, and intend on spending 3-5 days with your friends, in the sun, but mostly only at the site of the festival. Since you’re already at it, why not extend your stay and see some of the gems and pearls Croatia has to offer?