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Hvar Island, Croatia

Hvar Island, CroatiaHvar Island has become a favourite holiday destination for Croatians, and it’s a no-brainer to see why.

In addition to sparkling coves and sweet-smelling lavender fields, Hvar Island features the town of Hvar, the perfect spot to wander the Old Town, admire Venetian architecture, and hike to the hilltop Fortica to enjoy the views.

The first inhabitants of Hvar Island were Neolithic people who probably established trade links between Hvar and the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

The Hvar Culture lasted from 3500 to 2500 B.C. Beginning in the 4th century BC, the Greeks colonized the island. In 384 BC the Greek colonisers of Pharos defeated Iadasinoi warriors and their allies, invited by the Hvar indigenes in their resistance to the Greek colonization.

Their victory over much larger forces was immortalized in one of the oldest known inscriptions of Croatia.

Following Roman victory in the Second Illyrian War against Demetrius of Pharos, the island became a part of the Roman Republic in 219 BC and the Greek name Pharos was changed to Pharia.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the west, the island was under the control of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire. The population increased in the Late Antiquity with an abundance of archaeological finds.

Hvar Island, CroatiaA large number of new villa rustica in Stari Grad Plain and also on the previously vacant eastern shores were built.

Hvar is important to the history of Croatia as it was one of the centers of Croatian literature during the Renaissance, with writers such as Petar Hektorović and Hanibal Lucić.

In Stari Grad, tourists can see the Petar Hektorović fortress/villa called Tvrdalj Castle - architectonically designed by the poet himself. Churches on the island contain many important paintings and artworks by famous Venetian artists, including Tintoretto, Veronese, Bellini and others.

In 1797 Hvar was annexed with the fall of the Venetian Republic by the Habsburg monarchy as per the Treaty of Campo Formio. But forces of the French Empire seized it in 1806 during the Napoleonic wars before finally being taken by British marines and sailors in 1812.

The Austrians regained control of the island in 1815 with the Treaty of Vienna. The beginning of the 20th century brought a period of relative prosperity.

The Italian army occupied the island from 1918 until 1921, when Hvar, along with the rest of Croatia joined the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In 1939, an autonomous Croatian Banate was formed that included the island.

During WWII, it was under the control of Independent State of Croatia, but under military occupation of Fascist Italy until 1943.

After 1945, it became a part of People's Republic of Croatia, a constituent republic of Communist Yugoslavia.

Hvar Island, CroatiaHvar has a typical karst landscape, which means limited or no surface water, despite adequate rainfall, which disappears quickly into crevices in the ground.

Farming in such areas requires careful conservation of water and protection of the soil against erosion. The water cisterns in the fields, and the dry-stone walls, especially terracing on the slopes are necessary for the continued success of agriculture on the island.

Hvar's location at the centre of the Adriatic sailing routes has long made this island an important base for commanding trade up and down the Adriatic, across to Italy and throughout the wider Mediterranean.

It has been inhabited since prehistoric times, originally by a Neolithic people whose distinctive pottery gave rise to the term Hvar culture, and later by the Illyrians.

The ancient Greeks founded the colony of Pharos in 384 BC on the site of today's Stari Grad, making it one of the oldest towns in Europe. They were also responsible for setting out the agricultural field divisions of the Stari Grad Plain, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In medieval times, the town of Hvar rose to importance within the Venetian Empire as a major naval base. Prosperity brought culture and the arts, with one of the first public theatres in Europe, nobles' palaces and many fine communal buildings.

One industry, tourism, has however continued to grow and is now a significant contributor to the island's economy.

The formation of The Hygienic Association of Hvar in 1868 for the assistance of visitors to the island has been instrumental in developing the neccesary infrastructure.

Hvar Island, CroatiaThe hotels, apartments, restaurants, marinas, museums, galleries and cafés on the island of Hvar made it a tourist destination which is consistently listed in the top 10 islands by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

The island has a typical Mediterranean vegetation, mostly bare with woody scrub at higher, steeper elevations, turning to pine forests on the lower slopes with Holm oak (Orno-Quercetum ilicis), Aleppo pines (Pinus halapensis Mill) and Black pines (Pinus nigra dalmatica).

Hvar Island is 68 kilometres or 42 miles long, and only 10.5 kilometres or 6.5 miles at its widest point. It covers an area of 297 square kilometres or 115 square miles.

It is the 4th largest of the Adriatic islands by area, and has a coastline length of 254.2 kilometres or 158.0 miles. The highest peak is Sv. Nikola, at 628 metres or 2,060 feetin height.

Hvar has a very mild Mediterranean climate, several beaches and Mediterranean vegetation that make it one of the most attractive tourist centres in Europe. The island promotes itself as "the sunniest spot in Europe", with over 2715 hours of sunlight in an average year.

The climate of Hvar is hot-summer Mediterranean (Csa in the Köppen climate classification). It has mild winters and hot summers. The yearly average air temperature is 16 °C or 61 °F), 703 mm or 27.7 inches of precipitation fall on Hvar on average every year and the town has a total of 2800 sunshine hours per year.

The town of Hvar is the main tourist center. It features a large public square - St Stephen's Square, that is open to the sea. During the tourist season, the port is filled with large yachts and sailboats. All-night discos attract large crowds of young visitors.

Hvar Island, CroatiaAnother major economic activity is the cultivation of lavender, used for aromatic oils and soaps. Hvar is often called the "Island of Lavender".

Hvar is also one of the two most famous winemaking zones in Croatia. Vineyards on the southern side of the island are famous for red wines produced from the Plavac Mali grape. The central plain between Stari Grad and Jelsa is famous for its white wines.

Hvar's wine culture is as old as its history, starting with the Greeks in the 4th century. The Stari Grad Plain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasts some of the best wine estates in Croatia, including the oldest Plavac Mali vineyard in the world - Plavac Mali is known to be the original Zinfandel.

You can enjoy touring the vineyards and cellars, see production processes and enjoy tasting several indigenous grapes paired with local delicacies.

After a gourmet meal at one of the town’s excellent restaurants, set out to experience the pristine beaches of the nearby Pakleni Islands, before heading back at sundown to enjoy a sundowner at an after hours beach bar.

Croatia’s Dalmatian coast has a well-defined peak season and off season. Croatia from June to August is the peak season when the sun is bright but its crowds are bigger and prices are generally higher.

Croatia in October to April is the off season, when many shops, restaurants and hotels are closed and options for island hopping are limited.

Hvar Island, CroatiaSo, the best time to visit Croatia’s coast and islands is May and September, the shoulder months when prices are sometimes lower, crowds are thinner and facilities are still open.

Croatia’s coast is serviced by three international airports, in Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik. All three airports can be reached by direct flight from any one of over a dozen European countries.

Flights arriving from outside Europe will need to connect in Zagreb or another European airport before continuing on to the coast.

Sailing cruises of the Dalmatian coast typically depart from Split or Dubrovnik.

If your cruise leaves from Split, you will fly into the Split International Airport, while Dubrovnik is serviced by its own international airport.

Citizens of the European Union can enter Croatia using their ID cards.

Hvar Island, Croatia All other visitors will need a passport valid for three months past the date of departure.

Visas are generally not required for most visitors staying for ninety days or less, though travellers from China, India, South Africa, Russia and Turkey will need a visa.

Many people travel to Croatia and only visit Hvar on a day trip from Split, but they don’t know how much they’re missing out on! Hvar is a gorgeous island in Croatia, which deserves to be more than a day trip destination.

Hvar is full of awesome things to do for every type of traveller, ranging from pristine beaches to cute historical town centres and adjacent Islands.

Given the variety on the island, deciding where to stay in Hvar can be hard. To enjoy your stay in Hvar Island, you need to know which region is best suited for which type of traveller.

Whether you’re a group of friends looking to stay in the heart of the nightlife, or a couple looking for a quieter romantic stay, Hvar accommodation is diverse with something for everyone!

Hvar Island encompasses everything travelers love about Croatia: golden beaches, emerald waters, lavender fields, craggy peaks, ancient towns, and unique cuisines.

Hvar Island, CroatiaOn Hvar, you can hike on medieval trails to scenic vistas, explore villages created by the Greeks, go to a wine tasting, kayak to secluded coves, or visit nearby islands. Always eat a traditional meal cooked in a peka and take advantage of the town's diverse nightlife.

Once you visit Hvar, you'll quickly understand why it's Croatia's most popular island. It offers a little bit of everything so that anyone can enjoy their visit to Hvar. Visitors can travel to Hvar in any season, although it's quiet in the winter months.

Set in Southern Dalmatia, Hvar is nestled amongst the Makarska Riviera to the east, Brač to the north, Vis to the west, and Korčula to the south.

The west is far more lively, with Hvar Town and Stari Grad, plus the Pakleni Islands. The east is more rural and barren, but you'll find family farms, vineyards, and some of the best beaches.

To get to Hvar, you'll need to take a ferry from Split (1-2 hours), Dubrovnik (3.5 hours), or Drvenik on the mainland (35 minutes). Several ferries run between the Dalmatian Islands, so you can easily island hop!

The shape of the Pakleni Islands is perfect for weaving a kayak in and out of scenic coves, bays, and beaches - making your way around the wooded islands, known for their laid-back atmosphere and quiet coastal villages.

Hvar Island, CroatiaTake advantage of the ferry system and enjoy a day trip to the neighboring island of Korčula. The island's unique culture and history combine influences from the Mesolithic people, Greeks, Romans, Hungarians, and French and Marco Polo's home.

Enjoy exploring Old Town, visiting places like the Land Gate, St. Mark's Cathedral, and the art collection at the Bishop's Treasury.

Visitors can also enjoy a day trip to Vis Island, known for its clear waters, amazing caves, and some of the best beaches in Dalmatia. You will stop at both the Blue Cave and Green Cave, where the sun strems in through cracks to illuminate the water, giving off luminous blue and green hues.

Enjoy some time at one of Croatia's most beautiful beaches - Stiniva Beach, then stop at Palmižana Bay in the Pakleni Islands to have lunch.

Being that it is one of the most popular Croatian islands, it's easy to center your trip around Hvar, but you may wantto include it in a biggerer adventure.

Hvar Island, CroatiaGive yourself at least three full days to discover Hvar, exploring the culture and enjoying a day trip.

But, if you'd like to add some time in Split, Dubrovnik, or the Makarska Riviera before catching the ferry, make sure to add another 5-7 days to your intinerary.

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