HVAR is one of the most hyped of all the Croatian islands. People talk of its verdant colour, fragrant air and mild climate, and at one time local hoteliers even had enough faith in the weather to offer a money-back guarantee if the temperature ever dropped below zero. And Hvar is undeniably beautiful - a slim, green slice of land punctured by jagged inlets and a steep central ridge streaked with the long grey lines of limestone spoil heaps built up over the centuries by farmers attempting to carve out patches of cultivable land.The island's main crop is lavender, which was introduced in the 1930s and covers the island in a spongy grey-blue cloak every spring, before finding its way onto souvenir stalls across the island.

Intensively but tastefully developed as a tourist resort, the island's capital, Hvar Town, is one of the Adriatic's most bewitching – and best preserved –historic towns, and is a good base from which to explore the rest of the island, which is fairly low-key in comparison. Buses out of Hvar Town either take the old road across the central ridge, or speed through the recently built tunnel to reach the northern side of the island, where Stari Grad and Vrboska boast some good beaches, old stone houses and an unhurried, village feel. Jelsa, further east, can't quite compete with its two neighbours in terms of rustic charm, but has more accommodation than Vrboska, which is only a forty-minute walk away. East of Jelsa, the island narrows to a long, thin mountainous strip of land that extends all the way to isolated Sučuraj, which is linked to the mainland by regular ferries, although there's virtually no public transport between here and the rest of the island.
The daily Split–Vela Luka–Lastovo ferry stops at Hvar Town six days a week; on the remaining day (currently Tues), the Split–Vis ferry calls in instead (but note that only foot passengers can get off in Hvar Town). There are also daily catamarans to Hvar Town from Split between mid-May and mid-September. The regular Split–Stari Grad ferry is the easiest way of getting a car on and off the island – foot passengers using this service can catch local buses from the quay to the centre of Stari Grad, Hvar Town or Jelsa. The main coastal ferry (daily in summer) also stops at Stari Grad, connecting the island with Split and points to Rijeka in the north, Korčula and Dubrovnik to the south. During summer there are also ferries from Ancona in Italy to Stari Grad.You can also reach the island on one of several daily ferries from Drvenik on the mainland to Sučuraj – though the poor bus connections mean that this approach is only really of use if you're travelling by car. Lastly, throughout the season there's a daily catamaran service from Jelsa to Split via Bol on Brač.
Travelling on from the island, you'll find that queues for car ferries build up fast in summer, so arrive early. Advance reservations can be made at the Jadrolinija office on the quayside in Hvar Town.

 

 

Hvar Town
The best view of HVAR TOWN is from the sea, with its grainy-white and brown scatter of buildings following the contours of the bay, and the green splashes of palms and pines pushing into every crack and cranny. The harbour is alive with a constant hum of activity, whether it be the Rijeka ferry lumbering into port, catamarans buzzing insect-like around the bay, or tiny water taxis ferrying people to bathe on the nearby Pakleni islands. Once you're on terra firma, central Hvar reveals itself as a medieval town full of pedestrianized alleys overlooked by ancient stone houses, providing an elegant backdrop to the main leisure activity: lounging around in cafes and watching the crowds as they shuffle round the harbour. After Dubrovnik, Hvar is probably the most fashionable of the Adriatic resorts among the Croats themselves, and there's something of southern France in the chic korzo that engulfs the town at dusk.
 


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