Wednesday, 8 September 2021

New Generation of Architects Launch Morpharos Studio on Hvar

September 8, 2021 - The innovative and young team that makes up the new architectural office Morpharos Studio on the island of Hvar creates contemporary Mediterranean architecture. 

For years, there has been talk of young people leaving Croatia as a problem facing all young members of the European Union. However, instead of going to a bigger town, a young team of architects decided to focus on designing in a smaller town and opened an office in Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. Unlike architecture tied to large urban centers, they turn to authentic, local interventions that balance traditional and contemporary.

Morpharos is an architectural office focused on creating timeless Mediterranean architecture and atmosphere. The buildings are planned from the conceptual stage to the construction details and interiors. The projects combine new technologies and contemporary design with the values ​​of local heritage and traditional construction techniques in the Mediterranean to create architecture that simultaneously belongs to the context of the island but also to the present time.

From the project of small interventions in the city center where the border between interior space and garden is removed, through holiday villas surrounded by olive trees, to the town square in Stari Grad on Hvar, Morpharos puts its stamp on understanding the new island tradition and the Mediterranean region. This is how they create their vision of contemporary Mediterranean architecture.

Stone as a basic building material and a landscape element of the Mediterranean is the basis of the key visuals of Morpharos. Evoking the island's natural elements, they display a set of influences - from smells and tastes, through tactile experiences, to manifested forms - while the Mediterranean context also inspires the color palette. The visual identity for Morpharos is signed by Filburg, an award-winning Zagreb studio for branding, design, and communications.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Hvar Through the Lens of a Croatian Digital Nomad Permit Holder

August 26, 2021 - Digital nomads give back to communities in various ways. The fourth in a new series on TCN, following the lens of Steve Tsentserensky, one of the early recipients of the Croatian digital nomad permit. Where better to continue than gorgeous Hvar?

One of the discussions in Croatia these days surrounds digital nomads. What EXACTLY does Croatia get from digital nomads, especially if they do not have to pay income tax locally with the 12-month permit?

It is a classic Croatian tourism short-term mindset, which has become sadly familiar over the decade I have been writing about the subject. 

For me, there are three key wins for Croatia - and they all cost nothing.

1. Permit holders may not pay tax, but they are spending on rent, food, drink, entertainment once they leave their virtual office. Think of them as long-stay tourists if you will. I never heard of anyone here complaining about tourists spending here.

2. The mindset. This, to me, is one of the most exciting aspects of the digital nomad era. People with fresh ideas, different experiences, stimulating lifestyles. If they are moving to Croatia because it is so great, perhaps Croatia has something to offer, rather than the sad path of emigration. 

3. The fabulous free promo from digital nomads, clearly in love with this beautiful country. They decided to come, love what they find, and want to tell the world how amazing Croatia is - through blogs, Instagram posts and various other forms of social media. Kind of like the national tourist board's job if you like. Only better. 

This series will focus on the last point, the fantastic free promotion of Croatia by these longer term visitors. TCN is thoroughly enjoying our working partnership with one of the early recipients of the digital nomad permit. Steve Tsentserensky from Ohio. Steve first came to my attention with this fabulous video of Zagreb.

We are big fans of Steve's work, and we met recently over a beer or three in Zagreb. Steve will be travelling around the country over the next 12 months (actually, we think a little longer) documenting Croatia through his lens. We thought it would make a nice feature on the site, as well as showing how just one nomad with the permit is spreading the word about this beautiful country, so that others may see and come. 

And so continues our new series - Croatia through the lens of a Croatian digital nomad permit holder, this time in Hvar. Steve visited Hvar Town and Total Croatia partner Suncani Hvar recently. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And so too a great video. So I will shut up now. 

You can follow Steve on Instagram, where he picked up almost 2,000 new followers this week, after his CNBC News video about the Croatian digital nomad lifestyle went viral. Check it out below.

To learn more about the city, check the TC Hvar in a Page guide

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Thursday, 26 August 2021

Jelsa Wine Festival Returns After Last Year's Break

August 26, 2021 - After a year-long hiatus from the pandemic, one of the most popular and traditional events in the town of Jelsa on the island of Hvar marks its long-awaited return. The Jelsa wine festival starts tomorrow and includes sports, cultural activities, a great gastronomic offer, and of course, the best from its wineries.

As written by Turističke Priče, the first Jelsa wine festival was held back in 1952 on the initiative of the community of the Cooperative Association of Jelsa called the District Cooperative Meeting. In 1954, Cooperative Day was held, and since 1956, this event has been called the Wine Fair or Cooperative Rally. The Wine Fair in 1966 was held on August 14 and that day was declared the Day of Tourism in Jelsa. The festival has been held for years in the first half of August, from Friday to Sunday. The crowd would start in the morning and last until dawn the next day. Huge quantities of wine were poured because the idea was to free the taverns by selling old wine for the new one that will come with the upcoming harvest.

This year's Wine Festival is held on August 27 and 28 and in recent years this event has returned to its original purpose: to be a cheerful event to promote Hvar wines, especially the best in the Jelsa ring, a wine-growing region where we find many original varieties of islands such as Bogdanusa, prča, plavac mali, but also the popular international cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah, and thus various wines, from white and red, rosé, to the popular opol and prosecco.

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Jelsa Wine Festival

For the last thirty years, these wines have stood out for their quality, won prizes in competitions, and delighted guests for whom the Wine Festival is a real opportunity to taste and feel the differences between wines from the southern slopes of the island, positions from Jelsa slopes and valleys and fields by the sea. The wine festival is an experience that tourists remember - the sun and the sea have long been the only assets of the island, but also tradition, wine, gastronomy, Dalmatian songs... the spirit of the Mediterranean as it once was.

Various sports and entertainment competitions have been announced: water polo matches are played in the port, rowing competitions are held, international regattas as well, and prosciutto is removed from the top of a ten-meter-high mast. Everything is, of course, spiced with a gastronomic offer and accompanied by concerts. This year, Four Tenors and Zorica Kondža are in charge of good music.

For the third year in a row, in cooperation with the Hvar Winemakers Association and the Wine Stars project, a Summer Wine tasting by Wine Stars is held as part of the Jelsa Wine Festival, with an emphasis on original varieties and what makes them different from other wine regions. Book the last weekend in August for Jelsa where the hosts invite you and guarantee good fun. This year's program will be conducted in accordance with current epidemiological measures and the entire program can be found at this LINK.

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Vineyard on the hills of Jelsa (Photo: Mario Romulić)

After the wine festival, when you are in Jelsa, be sure to look up and discover the starry sky. Apart from the sun and the sea and top wines, Jelsa also offers tourists a starry sky, and the stars are disappearing in modern times precisely because of light pollution, and observing the starry sky is becoming a tourist attraction that you cannot often see.

The stars will be the brightest tourist product of Jelsa, which should acquire the status of the International Dark-Sky Community by the end of the year and become the first municipality/city in Croatia to proudly bear that title. This title confirms Jelsa as a destination that has an exceptional quality of the night sky and respects high environmental standards in terms of light pollution, which together make a big step towards creating an astro-tourist offer in the area of ​​Jelsa.

Croatian wines and grapes are among the best in the world, and you can find more information about them in Total Croatia’s Guide to Croatian Wine HERE. Now in your language!

Jelsa is a slice of safe, authentic lifestyle heaven on Croatia’s premier island, with wine and beach treasures galore. Everything you need to know about Jelsa, you'll find it in our Total Croatia's Jelsa on a Page HERE.

Follow the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 23 August 2021

Summer Hit: Biševo Blue Cave Boom Sees 30% Increase in Visitors

August 23, 2021 - The Biševo Blue Cave boom was anything but expected this summer, with skippers refusing over 15 inquiries from guests per day!

Tourists on Hvar have gone crazy for the Blue Cave, which has been experiencing a tourist boom in recent weeks. And when they find out that everything is reserved that day or even a few days in advance, they do not hesitate to throw an immoral amount of money at skippers in the hope they'll be able to experience this natural wonder, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Unfortunately, reservation lists on all excursion speedboats are full days, and some even weeks, in advance.

"And what can I tell you? It is not craziness but madness. Everyone wants to see the cave. Some booked a spot a few weeks before their arrival. They prepared better. There are no boats, no spots; there are so many reservations that you have to wait for days to go. Nobody expected this kind of madness, this surpassed everything, this is more than anything," says Antonija Maljković, a skipper from Hvar who has taken guests for years to tour Komiža, Biševo, and the Blue Cave.

She says that people know how to beg and admits that they offer generous amounts of money to find a seat on the boat - but the law is clear. There can be exactly 12 guests and two crew members in the speedboat, which is why she has to leave many behind on the shore. This summer, everything is up and running at full speed. 

"I have to refuse ten, 15, or more inquiries a day. It's not just like that with me. And you know how many of them came to Hvar and did not manage to board? There is also madness in front of Biševo; already around 8 am, 9 am, the invasion of fast boats from Split, Omiš, Trogir, Makarska, Hvar, Bol, Vis, and Komiža begins. And where are the sailors? Everyone is heading south; everyone is running to find a place in line to not wait for hours. And it is known that at the entrance, considering how many people there are, they wait for four or more hours," Antonija added.

Guests come from all over Europe, and there are many French, British, American, and English tourists. Crowds die down only in the afternoon, after 4 pm. 

"To see that morning scene on the high seas. The speedboats are just rushing there. It's like watching an invasion in which everyone would like to come first," Antonija said, remembering just how poor the season was last year. 

Great interest in visiting the Blue Cave is confirmed by the Nautical Center Komiža, an authorized concessionaire for receiving visitors and conducting visits to the protected natural monument, the Blue Cave in Mezoporat Bay on Biševo Island. Visitors must board one of the boats operated by the center's experienced sailors to enter the cave.

"This year, we are really recording great interest of visitors compared to last year's pandemic year. By July 31 this year, we had achieved 58.45 percent compared to the record tourist year in 2019 and 136 percent compared to last year. Given the overall situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, our expectations of interest and attendance at the Blue Cave for this year were 30 percent higher than the results achieved in 2020. Therefore, we believe that the effects of attendance in July and August are a pleasant surprise for all entities related to tourism activities along the Adriatic," concludes Brigita Fiamengo, director of the Nautical Center Komiža.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Hvar Town: More Arrivals and Overnight Stays... But Less Income

August 18, 2021 - An in-depth look at the most recent numbers from the eVisitor system shows two realities in Hvar Town in terms of tourists arrivals and overnight stays.

According to the eVisitor system, in the last two weeks, Hvar Town has broken tourist records, reports HrTurizam. The numbers of arrivals and overnight stays on the days from 1 to 10 August are 5% better than the record 2019. Nautics records as much as 15% better results compared to 2019.

Unfortunately, looking only at the system, in the town of Hvar on August 12, on 12,059 registered beds, "only" 7,183 guests were registered. Therefore, as the Hvar Tourist Board points out, there should be a "catastrophic" tourist season in the town.

In order not to look at everything through numbers, the last week there has been a big rush to the free hotel or private accommodation in the town of Hvar, more last-minute rooms are needed, and to the great satisfaction of Hvar everything is filled for next week, and even Booking .com the city of Hvar declared SOLD OUT.

If we go back to the numbers, in July, Hvar Town saw 143,530 overnight stays and 30,032 arrivals, which is an increase of 150% in overnight stays and 100% in arrivals compared to 2020. Compared to 2019, 77% of tourist traffic was realized.

Americans, Germans, French, and Slovenes lead in nationalities at Hvar Town, while the number of arrivals of guests from Great Britain is expected to increase by the beginning of September.

According to Petar Razović, director of the Hvar Tourist Board, these results were achieved primarily through excellent cooperation between the Hvar Tourist Board and the Hvar Tourist Board, adherence to epidemiological measures, as well as jointly done marketing activities of all Hvar tourist boards.

"How important it is that the island of Hvar is finally moving in the direction of unification was shown by this challenging tourist year when we accurately predicted and later worked together to promote the entire island of Hvar as ''green'' in the ECDC map and a safe island in our emitting markets. Successful work by the end of September will result in the adoption of the Brand Strategy of the island of Hvar, which will be unique in Croatia and further development of the entire destination", Razović points out and adds that looking at the conditions of preparation this year and what else should be done for the tourist development of the whole island, the people of Hvar united in thinking that the time has come to have their islander in the system of the Ministry or the Croatian Tourist Board.

If you want to know more about Hvar, such as the best restaurants, beaches, and tours, be sure to read Total Croatia's complete guide, where you will find everything you need before planning your trip to Croatia's elite island. Now available in your language!

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Hvar Town 2021 Photo Essay: Warm August Morning Moments

August 17, 2021 - They say that a picture says a thousand words... TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac teamed up with photographer Nina Lelas to explore the once-again bustling Hvar town center in August. Check out our Hvar Town 2021 photo essay to see for yourself! 

It was August 12 and the morning was brutally hot. The world-renowned sunny days on Hvar showed their dark side as I sweat profusely, looking as if someone threw a bucket of water on me.

Leaving my cool room at Pharos for a photo essay on Hvar in the morning felt like a suicide mission. But, one that would be quickly over as I expected nobody would be crazy enough to hang around the town's centre. I figured they would either be at the beach or at the pool and wait for the sun to go down to maybe take a stroll and grab a bite to eat for dinner in one of Hvar's excellent restaurants.

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People resisting sun © Nina Lelas

But to my surprise, the town was packed with people. Every cafe seat was completely taken and the main square saw people walking around to see the town. From Hvar's churches, museums, city walls, historical sites, and waterfront promenade with lovely yachts that move your imagination to daydream about a different kind of life – it is a perfect postcard that triggers people's curiosity. Surprisingly enough, the narrow streets next to the main square, which provide much more shade and have their own romantic side, are mostly empty. The few people we came across were actually moving from these refreshing pockets towards the main square. Perhaps, because so many apartments are packed in those streets, they are just not as attractive as many reside there due to accommodation. Take a look at a typical August morning of Hvar and start planning for next season.

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Enjoying coffee and drinks © Nina Lelas

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Every bit of shade welcome © Nina Lelas

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Apart from joy, Hvar can provide healthcare if needed too © Nina Lelas

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The main square beauty attracts people from every direction © Nina Lelas

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Lovely side streets of Hvar town © Nina Lelas

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Shade and vegetation of chilled side streets © Nina Lelas

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Admiring details on every corner © Nina Lelas

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Back to the Adriatic © Nina Lelas

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Yachts are nice but you don't have to drive, only relax when on catamaran © Nina Lelas

Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

For more about traveling Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Hvar Town Budget Restaurants: Yes, They're Real

August 16, 2021 - Finding himself in a luxury destination with a not so luxurious budget, TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac avoided starvation by locating Hvar Town budget restaurants. Here are his suggestions. 

The words ''cheap price'' are very relative. It's much easier to determine a high price but what qualifies as actually cheap is a much tougher question. In that spirit, Hvar Town, known as one of the more popular and therefore more expensive destinations, lives up to its reputation. Last week, the Croatian media landscape was stunned by the bill issued at one of Hvar's elite clubs. The undoubtebly fun night that featured loads of high-quality beverages such as four 4,800 kuna worth bottles of Don Julio tequila reached the total amount of 99,154 kuna.

A one night spending spree on that level is downright impossible from journalist's income.

So, for the week in Hvar, it was convenient for my paycheck to serve both to feed my stomach after a relaxing day of SCS (swimming, chilling, and sightseeing), and in the meantime, why not inform the public on Hvar Town budget restaurants. Again, ''cheap eats'' may be a hard to define term, but here are some solutions which will nevertheless see you well fed for a little over 200 kuna. Three restaurants after which you don't have to file for bankruptcy, but you'll still have an enjoyable and quite the in-style dining experience. Why only three, you may ask? Well, I can't confirm these are indeed the only three options, but, well, there was sort of a limited budget involved in the research.

1.) Alviž

With a bus not really being the top of the list of options for the high class, it's convenient that one on-budget restaurant is located right at the Hvar Town bus station. From the outside, Alviž looks like some small diner where you might have to bump into other guests crowded into a small place as you munch on wooden tables and chairs. You might feel hesitant to come in, but one look at the menu that promises delicious meals at much more affordable prices makes it worth visiting. Once inside, you realise that the space is actually luxurious as you're taken to the backyard with a real Dalmatian ambiance. Wooden tables underneath brick rooftops and wooden ledges make way for wine, and you are in for a fantastic dining experience. The red and white wine options are fantastically refreshing, but sadly, the beer options are scarce. The food is served quickly and cooked to perfection. You can find a variety of dishes for under 150 kuna, but as the sides are purchased separately and you need to add the drink, you're in for bill of just over 200 kuna usually. Tested and recommended: Fried squid and four types of cheese pizza. Sadly, the fried squid would have gone well the traditional Dalmatian blitva (chard), but one minus to the venue is that you can't order it as a separate side-dish. Still, the squid and fries go together very well.

 

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Fried squid and four types of cheese pizza © Nina Lelas

2.) Villa Dinka

Here's another restaurant with a strong Dalmatian vibe squeezed in between the Amfora and Pharos hotels. This time, there are no wine grapes growing above you, and it looks a bit more formal, but it is nevertheless a cozy place to dine with a stunning view of the Adriatic and the Paklenski islands to trigger your appetite. Again, the sides must be ordered additionally, but along with one drink, the bill doesn't hit higher than a little over 200 kuna. When dining with one more person, meat platas for two are definitely the best bet for meat lovers in Croatia to both get full and to save money. Villa Dinka is no exception to that rule, but they upped their game and topped the usual meat offer of Čevapi, shish kebab and steaks by also adding lamb chops and beefsteak. A delicious upgrade!

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Meat plata from Villa Dinka © Nina Lelas

3.) Đordota Vartal

Not too far from the Franciscan Monastery, Đordota Varta seems to have been crowned as the best on-budget restaurant in all of Hvar Town. The restaurant was completely filled, but people were persistent in waiting in line, hoping to get some food. Once inside, you could see why. Another typical Dalmatian restaurant, with the craftsmanship of Dalmatia being the leading theme as the restaurant is decorated with saws and other tools people on Hvar used in the past. The dishes are accompanied by sides, but you can order more if needed. The tuna steak is absolutely divine, with big portions cooked to perfection, perhaps one of the best-grilled tuna steak's I've had in all of Croatia. For meat lovers, the satisfactorily filled portion of the traditional Dalmatian Pašticada with gnocchi is a must. The beer and wine selection were alright, but not very memorable thanks to the restaurant's short but well-executed cocktail list, with 50-60 kuna per cocktail it obviously isn't the cheaper thrill to get, but these prices are quite standard for coastal Croatia and more accessible than many drinks from other cocktail bars Hvar has to offer. One sip of that delicious pina colada pays up a triple in pleasure.

If you're too hungry to remember to reserve your table and you're also too hungry to wait for the aforementioned goodies, you can also opt for the restaurant's beach terrace. Sadly, over there, you can only order pizza, but the dedication of the staff will nonetheless make sure that pizza, while affordable, is next level compared to your usual experience.

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Delicious Pašticada and tuna steak © Nina Lelas

Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

For more about traveling Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Grgur Bučić: The Croatian Scientist Who Measured Hvar's Sunshine Hours

August 13, 2021 - You came to Hvar expecting sunny days and you weren't conned. Meet and thank Croatian scientist Grgur Bučić who started the weather station on Hvar, one of the first in Croatia, which measured how sunny Hvar really is. 

There's nothing worse than when a traveller on a short holiday on the Croatian coast ends up stuck in their hotel room because of bad weather. Unless you want to risk bad weather sabotaging your Adriatic swimming experience, and maybe if you're lucky to get rescued by indoor pools, you should definitely play it safe and go to Hvar. Known for years as the sunniest Croatian island, there couldn't be a safer place to count on a rain-free holiday.

During my time in Hvar town, the forecast showed rain and uncertain weather on the coast, but even the couple of clouds that formed over Hvar quickly dispersed and probably headed over to the mainland, to Split or elsewhere.

In addition to swimming in the Adriatic, Hvar has plenty of heritage and things to see, like the Spanish Fortress (Tvrđava Španjola), lots of churches (such as St. Stephen’s Cathedral), its historical theatre (the oldest municipal theatre in all of Europe, by the way), an archaeological collection in the former Dominican St. Mark’s Church, and the Natural History Cabinet in the Hanibal Lucić Summer Residence – to name a few. In fact, Hvar boasts more UNESCO heritage than any other island in the world.

One of the other interesting sites is also the Former Church and Monastery of St. Veneranda. As Hvar heritage writes, the church was built in 1561 for the needs of Greek Orthodox sailors who were in the service of Venice. Today, the site serves as an outdoor cinema.

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The former church tower, the former weather station © Nina Lelas

Right next to it, back in 1858, famous Croatian nature scientist Grgur Bučić established a weather station, one of the first in the entire country. Being part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy at the time, the station was part of the Austrian network of meteorological stations. Thanks to the measures taken under Bučić's expertise, the sunny days of Hvar are not a market scheme to attract tourists in need of clear sunny weather, but an actually very well-advertised scientific fact. In addition, for his experiments with sponge development, Bučić received global recognition, and seven species of sponges, crabs, and fish were named after him. He published articles regarding meteorology and oceanography and also studied insects and marine life. He also pioneered numerous archaeological digs across Croatia, including on Hvar.

Back in 2018, as TCN wrote, the station marked 160 years of existence. Organised by the Hvar Town Library and State Meteorological and Hydrological Service, this celebratory event revealed some interesting historical moments from and about the station. These include polar lights, storms, falling meteors, earthquakes, vineyards destroyed by hail, sunken ships, and epidemics. In 1884, based on data from Bučić himself, climatologist Julius von Hann (often looked upon as the father of modern meteorology) published his work ''Klima von Lesina'' (The climate of Hvar town), the first-ever such book on a Croatian town or area.

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Grgur Bučić © MuzejHvar.com

Today, the Bučić tower is locked, and the path to the church now serves as an outdoor cinema, without that many interesting things to be seen. Could the tower be renovated and showcase the instruments this pioneer station used in the past? Perhaps, and it would certainly be a cool addition to the already extensive offer Hvar has for its visitors.

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Veneranda, location of the station, screenshot / Google maps

While waiting to see what the future may bring, it's worth taking a look at this station, not far from the waterfront and the nearby beaches. Express some gratitude and dedicate a refreshing swim to Bučić himself, a brilliant man whose findings gave us scientific, statistical reassurance that Hvar is the sunniest place in all of Croatia.

Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

For more about Croatian history, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Peak Season Hvar Town 2021: a Destination Returning to High Quality

July 26, 2021 - A visit to peak season Hvar Town 2021, a pleasant experience very different to just a few years ago.

I met an American friend for a drink in Split the other day. A recent arrival in Croatia, he was just back from his first visit to Hvar Town and was waxing lyrical about the island that had been my home for 13 years.

I smiled. Not just as his obvious love and enthusiasm for what really is one of the most beautiful islands in the world, but also that his (correct) perception of elite Hvar Town was a sign that this magical place has once more found its focus after a rather turbulent few years.

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I too had been to Hvar Town last week, my first visit for a while. And it was... different, but in a very pleasant way.  

As I listened to my American friend talking about Hvar's beauty, I filled him in a little on the recent history, commenting just how far Hvar Town had come in such a short space of time. 

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I have been writing about Hvar for over a decade, and with over 9,000 articles written about the island over the years, there is little that I have not covered. And one topic has been the subject of much controversy over the years - Hvar Town and the party. 

Hvar Town is a destination which has it all. The Pakleni islands, a spectacular old town, UNESCO heritage, the oldest public theatre in the world, fabulous food and wine, lively nightlife, beaches to die for, and an outstanding adventure tourism offer. When they all work in tandem, the town is magnificent. 

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But something went badly wrong over the last decade, as the party - always an accepted and welcome part of the tourism makeup - took full control of tourism in Hvar Town. Rather than attracting global headlines for its beauty and culture, Hvar was appearing on lists such as top 7 stag destinations in Europe. The arrival of The Yacht Week brought with it drunken debauchery, The elite waterfront was often taken over by drunken Brits and Aussies, while early morning risers would sometimes have to step over sleeping bodies to go on with their daily business. So bad did things become that the Mayor Riki Novak introduced signs threatening huge fines for people eating, drinking and walking topless on the streets of the historic centre. It was a story which went around the globe.

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Was all that just a bad dream, I asked myself, as I strolled around last week, a question I asked myself again when talking to my American friend. 

Perhaps. 

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Hvar Town 2021 is magnificent! Those infamous signs are there as a reminder of the recent past, but that is all. The nightlife is still there, but now more contained as it used to be. And in its place, the return of quality on every level. No topless drunkards wandering through the main square carrying open cans of beer, just people relaxing in one of the Adriatic's most beautiful towns. 

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There have been a lot of positives in Hvar Town over the last few years, apart from the scaling back of the party. Europe's oldest public theatre reopened on the main square after a 20-year renovation. Opposite, and across Dalmatia's largest square, the island welcomed its first-ever five star hotel in 2019, as Hotel Palace Elisabeth, hvar heritage hotel, opened its doors on the very place where organised tourism began in Europe with the founding of the Hvar Health Society in 1868. 

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In front of the hotel, the iconic Loggia has also been through an upgrade, and the centre of the town has never looked as appealing as it does at the moment, especially in peak season. The numbers are not quite at pre-pandemic level, but the hotels are completely full, and there is a pleasant relaxed buzz about the place.

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Lunch was a chance to catch up on yet one more renovation and upgrade - the new Suncani Hvar Beach Club, located in the spectacular 1927 Bons les Bains colonnade. With every sunbed and cabana already rented out for the day, I had to console myself with a waterfront lunch instead.

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And rather tasty it was, with a shared table including tuna tartare, grilled tuna and shrimp, and lamb chops. 

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The view to the sea is always magnificent, but there is a real feeling that the town itself has recognised its quality offer and is moving on from the party era in search of more discerning guests looking for a more elegant experience that perhaps they have had in recent years. 

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Walking along the waterfront , which was not too busy, was a very pleasant experience, and there were plenty swimming in the little bay next to the 550-year-old Franciscan Monastery. My next meeeting was in Krizna Luka, which was once almost an afterthought compared to the more fashionable centre. But in recent years, it - like the rest of the town - has raised its game. New cafes and restaurants have emerged, and they seem to be growing in popularity with an excellent (and more affordable) offering than in the centre. Krizna Luka is also becoming more central to local life, with more apparently more cafes open there during the winter than in the centre. 

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The pandemic has wreaked much havoc and destruction to tourism all over the world. But  maybe, just maybe, it has also contrinbuted to a tourism mindset reset in certain quarters. Aided by a very focused strategy of the Hvar tourism chiefs, things are finally moving very much in the right direction. 

If you have never been to Hvar, now is the time. 

To learn more about Hvar Town, check out the TC Hvar Town in a Page guide

 

 

 

Friday, 23 July 2021

Agglomeration Project on Hvar Island to Be Completed by End 2023

ZAGREB, 23 July 2021 - The construction of water supply and drainage infrastructure in the Jelsa-Vrboska-Basina-Stari Grad agglomeration on Hvar island, a project worth HRK 437 million (€58.2m), will be completed by the end of 2023, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said during a visit to this southern Adriatic island on Friday.

The project, co-financed by the European Union, includes the construction of a drainage system and two waste-water treatment facilities as well as the reconstruction of the water supply network.

Plenković visited a construction site where the work began in February.

The Mayor of Jelsa, Nikša Peronja, said that the agglomeration project was very important for the central part of the island because its implementation was a condition for the development of tourism.

In Jelsa, Plenković met with the heads of all local government units on the island. "We discussed all essential development projects for Hvar island, notably those relating to the modernisation of the road infrastructure."

The prime minister noted that during the COVID-19 crisis HRK 55 million (€7.3m) had been disbursed for the wages of workers in Hvar, Stari Grad, Jelsa and Sućuraj.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

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