With the whole world struck down with a GoT final-season fever of nigh on epidemic proportions, pilgrimages to the medieval backdrop of the hit TV series, Croatia’s coastal city of Dubrovnik, have reached an all-time high.
For those seeking to capture all the old-world Adriatic splendour minus the cos-play hordes, we say sidestep Westeros, mount your steeds and beeline instead to the Dalmatian island of Hvar. With vibrant culinary offerings, a pulsing beach scene and sophisticated nightlife that easily rivals that of the Med, Hvar attracts a stylish Euro and celeb-spangled set all summer long – including regular isle hopper Genya Paziouk, who here shares her 48-hour guide to Hvar.
Most visiting Hvar traditionally stay in villas or apartments, or aboard yachts, which are sprinkled all over and around the island. Nevertheless, for those who prefer the comforts of a hotel there’s Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort. Tucked away in a secluded bay, your views will consist of glittering seascapes and the dazzle crafts bobbing atop them. Just a 10-minute walk from the island centre, this bright n’ breezy oasis has it all, from the crisp modernity of the rooms to the jaw-dropping aspect of the Pakleni islands. Step outdoors onto the most famous Adriatic poolside, which encompasses multi-level lagoons overflowing into waterfalls, as well as myriad cabanas and the crystal clear ocean lapping all around. Or for sunshine with a side of scene, hit Bonj Les Bains beach club, where ray-drenched loungers, spa massages, fine dining and ace peep-watching is yours for the basking in.
For breakfast (or brunch, depending on how heavy the head), Fig café is a top kickstarter. Enjoy the Dalmatian-centric menu catering to a full spectrum of tastes, including excellent vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Feeling refuelled and revitalised, follow the pathway back to the Hvarska Pjaca, the largest island square in Dalmatia and the centre of social and public life. Towering over to your right you’ll find St Stephen’s Cathedral, the heart of Hvar island – this is your next stop. Grand yet simple, this historic structure will have you feeling as though you’ve stepped into a time capsule of centuries past, with beautiful art on display and, if you are blessedly lucky, even a mass held in your presence.
When siesta comes to a close, parades of stalls open around the port selling island treasures, souvenirs of lavender, intricate jewellery, and much more, all the better to browse as you wander along to your dinner spot...
Popular, worth booking in advance, and just a few steps to the left of Hvar’s Square is Giaxa. With seating either in a small pocket of space in the alleyway or in the restaurant itself, Giaxa’s well-presented dishes school guests in locally-grown bounty, precisely crafted to highlight traditional recipes. Just a few steps further into the alleyway, you will find Tri Prsuta (Petra Hektorovića 5, +385 98 969 6193) or ‘3 Hams’. With antique furniture and a cave-like entrance, this atmossy wine bar is a beloved stronghold of Croatia’s finest pours. Sit outside along the stone walls, watching the night unfold around you. Red wine lovers, don’t miss the Reserva Dingac Barrique.
With dinner sipped and supped away, now comes the real nightlife…
Start at the bars along the port, such as popular ‘club-pub’ Nautica or lounge bar BB Club. Then, with its thumping tunes, vibe, and ever flowing drinks, you’ll not want (or be able) to miss Carpe Diem Beach Club. Considered the only club proper in Hvar, it’s situated on an island opposite the port, meaning all manner of sins and hedonism are bound to ensue. Hop the 20-min water taxi over to the ‘Devil’s Island’, and prepare to be wowed by stunning dancers, fire shows and bumping till the wee hours.
After scoping the stunning Pakleni from you breakfast table, you’ll not be able to resist a viz to these idyllic isles. Take a boat from the main port across to the cluster chain of approximately 20 islands where you’ll find still, crystalline waters, pebbled beaches, and deserted lagoons. The islands certainly are a top destination for swimming and relaxing during the day, so do come early to ensure you nab a good perch.
Cruising along the coast of the Pakleni Islands, take rest at Palmižana, where you might just have found heaven on earth. Relax under the straw umbrellas or on the sun loungers dotted around the Laganini Lounge Bar, summer cocktail in hand, natch. For lunch, walk up the pebbled path to Laganini Lounge Bar and Fish restaurant for freshly caught fish and other pearls of the sea.
From the Pakleni take a boat directly to Hula Hula Beach Club, the islands most notable beach bar. Located on the rocky seafront, Hula’s vibe is best from 6pm onwards, when the music kicks up a notch and the atmosphere amplifies to buzzing fever pitch as the sun drops below the horizon.
Tucked into the walls of Hvar’s town centre, Dalmatino offers alfresco ambience, flickering candlelight, and simple yet succulent heritage flaves, all while being serenaded with Croatian music by the restaurant’s guitarist. Just add wine, cigars and a liberal dash of romance!
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