While sailing along the Croatian coastline, one spot supersedes the previous in terms of beauty and Hvar is no exception when it comes to being a Dalmatian island of immense natural beauty. This Renaissance-era port town personifies Croation summer holidays with its Mediterranean feel, beaches, olive trees and endless fields of lavender it is synonymous with. After arriving by way of a tender boat from Le Lyrial, the cruise ship I was on, I found myself smack bang in the middle of ‘it all’ and walking around the island was the perfect way to see the Franciscan town of Hvar. The walking tour gave me a great introduction to this small and charming town located around a natural port which boasts many splendid monuments such as the Cathedral, the ancient Arsenal and various palaces which bear witness to a rich history of gothic and renaissance arts.
From the pier, it is ideal to walk through the narrow streets towards the Franciscan Monastery and see the cloister with its rounded arches which houses a well dating back to the 1400s. A section of the monastery has been turned into a museum and along with a collection of old books and coins the main attraction is the painting of ‘The Last Supper’ which is a work of Venetian artist Palma Junior dating back to the end of the 16th century. One of the oldest specimens of the Cypress tree, estimated at 500 years old, can be seen at the monastery. The branches are elliptic in cross section which is an unusual phenomenon. The Cathedral of St Stephan, Benedictine Monastery and Arsenal, built in 1611, can also be viewed while walking through Hvar.
I recommend spending some time around the main square and the harbour area where you get to witness everything from small fishing boats to the most impressively luxurious yachts… this is where you could spend hours watching Hvar go by! There are numerous beaches as well as platforms alongside the ocean where visitors and locals spend the day sunbathing, making Hvar the perfect spot to get the feel for true Croation island life. Exploring the city by heading towards the hilltop fortress (if you are up to the climb) is amazing as you pass by the beautiful homes of some of the 4000 residents of Hvar city, the ‘Stations of the Cross’ and many Benedictine nuns who have mastered the art of making beautiful lace from agave thread.
Hvar is one of the more popular Croatian islands and is therefore filled with tourists during the summer months, especially when larger cruise vessels are in dock and the beautiful lavender fields are in bloom. I was there in July and the streets and beaches were filled with young sun seekers, so if you are after the ‘island vibe’, Hvar is your ‘place to be’
– by Luana Visagie