Things to Do Away from the Beach on the Island of Hvar in Croatia
While the beaches are popular on Hvar, there is lots to do inland, including cycling, climbing, wine tasting, hiking, sightseeing, offroad safaris and yoga.
Sailing, sunbathing and sipping cocktails over stunning sunsets are three of the most popular activities on the island of Hvar, but there is plenty to discover away from the water, with a range of activities to suit all levels of energy and fitness.
There are several specialist travel agencies on the island, who offer some great tours inland, enabling tourists to sample a taste of the real Dalmatia. Here is a quick overview of some options to enrich the Hvar holiday experience.
Offroad Tour to Discover the Real Hvar
Hvar has a relatively undeveloped road infrastructure and some of the best sights can only be accessed by jeep. Finding the best spots can also be a challenge, one reason why offroad safaris are a popular way of spending a day away from the beach.
One sight not to miss is the view at Sveti Nikola, which offers a 360 degree panorama of the sea around Hvar, as well as great views of the islands and mainland beyond. It can be accessed on the old road from Hvar Town near Selca.
One of the more interesting tours to try is the Five Senses Tour offered by Secret Hvar. This tour brings to life the essence of the island by introducing Hvar to tourists through its sights, sounds, smells, touch and tastes, the latter including some excellent wine tasting.
Cycling on Hvar
With its picturesque vineyards, olive groves and old stone villages, Hvar is a delight to discover by bike. Several professional cycling clubs come to the island to train, attracted by the challenging hills and temperate climate. Bike rental is very cheap and an excellent way to discover the island at one's own pace, while organised cycling tours are easily arranged.
A recent initiative to put in cycle trails has been implemented, and routes are well sign-posted. A map of the cycle trails is available from local tourist offices.
Wine Tasting: Zlatan Otok and Andro Tomic
There is a long tradition of wine production in Dalmatia, and Hvar suffered terribly from the phylloxera in the first half of the 20th century, which lead to mass emigration. Wine is undergoing a resurgence on the island, however, with award-winning wines from the Plenkovic winery in Sveta Nedelja leading the way (whose Zlatan Otok brand includes Croatia's only Grand Cru).
Wine tasting can be an ad hoc affair, simply knocking on the door of a family selling wine direct, to the more organised wine tours arranged by the agencies. One popular stopping point on these tours is Andro Tomic, who also has a tasting room open to the public in the old town of Jelsa.
Hiking through Authentic Dalmatia
For the more energetic visitor, Hvar Adventure offers an array of hiking tours, which vary in length and levels of exertion. Among the more interesting are hikes to the peak of the island, discovering the Greek tower of Tor and the magical Grapceva Cave near Humac. The hikes take in many of the old paths, and hikers are afforded a chance to experience traditional Dalmatia, walking through the vineyards, olive groves and old stone towns, while learning about the flora and fauna of Hvar.
Rock Climbing in Stiniva and Sveta Nedelja
With its impressive sheer cliffs and spectacular sea views, rock climbing is growing in popularity on Hvar. The two main climbing points are Stiniva on the northern coast and Sveta Nedelja in the south. Daily rock climbing tours are available to beginners and more experienced climbers, and there is also an option to enrol in a one-week course at the rock climbing school.
Yoga and Meditation in Dol
With its excellent climate, natural beauty and relaxed environment, Hvar is growing in popularity as a yoga and meditation centre. and some of the best programmes are offered by Suncokret, a boutique holistic yoga centre, catering to individuals and small groups, and based in authentic stone accommodation in the inland village of Dol. Suncokret is run by an American-Croatian couple and is the island's most established yoga centre, about to enter its eighth season.
Cutural Heritage Tours of Jelsa, Stari Grad and Hvar Town
There is much to see of course in the cultural heritage of the main towns of Jelsa, Stari Grad and Hvar Town, each with their own individual histories and stories. Organised walking tours are available, but English is widely spoken for those wanting to explore solo.
Stari Grad dates back more than 2,300 years and has a beautifully preserved old town, whose highlight is the summer palace of poet Petar Hektorovic, while Jelsa's history can be visited in walls dating back to 1331, or back to Greek times if one is prepared for the hike to the Greek Tor and ancient settlement of Galesnik. The most interesting walking tour is in Hvar Town, however, where official tourism began in 1868, but whose history of tourismdates back much further.
And having discovered the joys of inland Hvar, one can always return to the sea, with a choice of water activities.