Stari Grad Hvar
© Lara Rasin

Top 10 things to do in Stari Grad

Immerse yourself in stunning Stari Grad

By Lara Rasin
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Located on the northern side of Hvar is the heart of the island – the town of Stari Grad, also considered to be the oldest town in Croatia. Stari Grad dates back to 384 BC when Greek settlers travelled from the island of Paros in the Aegean Sea to Stari Grad, naming it Pharos. Read on for our list of the top 10 things to do in this pretty city today.

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You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the 50 best things to do in the world right now.

Stari Grad Hvar
© Lara Rasin

Discover Sveti Stjepan square

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Perhaps the most important public space and one of many squares in Stari Grad, Sveti Stjepan (St. Stephen) square is located just in front of the namesake first baroque church in Croatia. Since the church’s completion around 1605, important town judgements and meetings have taken place in the square. The interior of the Sveti Stjepan church is adorned with works by Venetian artists. Many visitors peek in for a short visit in search of a few moments’ peace, spirituality or mere admiration of an example of Stari Grad’s architecture.

Stari Grad Hvar
© Lara Rasin

Explore the Stari Grad Plain

Things to do

The Stari Grad Plain has remained a cultural landscape and natural reserve since its colonisation by the Ionian Greeks in the 4th century BC. Originally utilised by the Greeks as a rainwater recovery and land organization system (of various crops, grapes and olives), very little has changed in the plain’s functionality over the past 2400 years. Today, everyone from sight-seeking tourists to passionate historians visit the site to admire the landscape, bike the plain and experience local culture and cuisine. For an added bonus, the plain is very easily accessible by ferry, sitting a few minutes away from the harbour.

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Oštarija Rondo
© Oštarija Rondo

Taste local 'vino' at Hora Winery

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No trip to Stari Grad Plain is complete without some proper wine tasting in the region, which was supposedly the first to start making wine in Croatia. Hora Winery is a family-led establishment offering a range of local wines, the most compelling of which is Bogdanuša. Meaning “a gift from God”, this delicious white wine indigenous to Hvar island ranges from greenish-yellow to golden in colour. The grapes from Bogdanuša are also used in combination with other grape varieties to make Prošek, a delectable dessert wine. With such grapevine delights, it’s no wonder Hvar is known as the island of wine.

Stari Grad Hvar
© Lara Rasin

Bathe in Maslinica bay

Things to do

Maslinica bay (meaning, “little olive” bay) remains the only sand beach in Stari Grad’s bay area, located only two km away from the town centre. Easily reachable by car and equipped with an adjacent parking lot, the beach’s shallow waters make it a popular destination among families and children. Due to Maslinica’s somewhat isolated location, utilities such as sunbrellas and lounge chairs are not included, so be sure to bring your own beach accessories for an ideal seaside sojourn. And, enjoy the peace, of course!

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Stari Grad Hvar
© Lara Rasin

Marvel at the Stari Grad Museum

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Satiate your wonders about Stari Grad’s captivating history with a visit to the Stari Grad Museum. From the charming town’s early history, you’ll find plenty of Roman artefacts; for example, the museum’s Abdevnor’s Room houses Roman shipwreck cargo from the 4th century AD. Drift on over to the next most popular exhibition, located in the Gelineo Barvaldi Salon: a recreation of a ship captain’s room during the 18th and 19th centuries, which serves to highlight both the town’s dependence on the sea and the evolution of seamanship throughout the years. The museum sits in a 19th-century neo-Renaissance palace, which in itself is a treasure.

Bellman in the Underground Tunnel
© Boris Vukosav

Roam Tito’s Caves

Things to do

A 20-minute car ride away from Stari Grad lies the Kabal peninsula, the location of the so-called Tito’s Caves –manmade caves which used to serve as a bunker for the former Yugoslavian leader. To view the intriguing spectacle, you’ll drive through one of the peninsula’s charming villages, Velika Rudina, and continue on for 12 km until you reach the top of Kabal. Showing the way to the caves will be the word “TUNEL”, painted in green on a rock. If you make the journey in the evening, you’ll be also rewarded with sunset vistas touted as one of the best on the island.

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Stari Grad Hvar
© Lara Rasin

Hike up Glavica hill

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An additional must-see sunset viewpoint is Glavica hill (meaning “little head” hill), which you’ll find at the end of a beginners’ level hike. The 20-minute trek may be a little tougher during those hot Adriatic afternoons, but thick and dense pine trees will provide any shade needed along the way. At the top of the hill, you’ll get a full view of the town’s terracotta rooftops as the sky above is completely taken over by an array of colours. To get to the viewpoint, simply head out of town following the road towards Rudina – and a marked trail will guide you the rest of the way.

Carpe Diem Bar Hvar Croatia
© Carpe Diem Bar Hvar Croatia

Club it up at Carpe Diem

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If you’re in search of Hvar’s delightfully notorious nightlife parties, you can journey just a 20-minute taxi ride away to Stipanska bay on the island of Markinovac. This where Carpe Diem beach awaits you. The popular beach club hosts a number of amenities, too, including a beach volleyball court, a wellness bath, swimming pool and diving school. Then there’s, of course, Carpe Diem’s renowned Beach Bar. Themed beach parties with some of the world’s most famous DJs offer everything you need for a night of fun. Guests can also reserve tables ahead of time.

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In continental Croatia, on the other hand, freshwater fish like carp are eaten
© Olenka Danileiko

Savour the delicacies of Antika restaurant

Things to do

Antika is one of Stari Grad’s most traditional seafood restaurants. Its menu is graced with an array of seafood pastas, risottos, grilled fish and house wines. Additionally, the prices won’t break the bank in comparison to other Dalmatian hotspot restaurants – Antika’s mains range from 45-85 kn. As you feast, take in the rustic yet modern restaurant interior, decorated with wooden dining room furnishings, with walls strewn with framed paintings, some with aptly nautical themes.

Stari Grad Hvar
© Lara Rasin

Go off-roading, Hvar-style

Things to do

Car ferries arrive at Stari Grad, 16km (ten miles) to the east of Hvar town, where traffic is bar

Starting from just 14 euros per person is an unforgettable jeep adventure through Hvar’s idyllic towns, lavender fields, olive groves and vineyards. Hvar’s Off Road Safari offers three tours to choose from, all of which begin in Stari Grad. The first tour winds through quaint villages, stops by Hvar Town, and concludes with a tasting of local Croatian wines, olive and fig liqueurs and herb brandy. The second tour’s highlight is the visit to Hvar island’s highest point, St. Nicholas peak, and ends with the same food experience as the first tour. The third tour is the longest and most elaborate. From Stari Grad, you’ll see St. Nicholas, various coves and caves, and endless charming towns.

red from the centre. Seven a day run from Split in summer, three in winter (1hr 45mins, 39kn foot passengers, 265kn small car under 2m in height, 465kn big car). Ferries running on the main coastal line down from Rijeka or up from Dubrovnik also call at Stari Grad, as do international lines from Ancona and Pescara on the Italian coast, run by Jadrolinija, Split Tours and SNAV. Another regular ferry option from the mainland is at Drvenik on the Makarska Riviera to the isolated town of Sućuraj (40min, 13kn, 90kn small car under 2m in height, 155kn big car) on Hvar’s eastern tip. Sućuraj is practically isolated as far as local buses are concerned, so you need your own transport or arrange for someone to pick you up. Operating like its namesake service on land, UberBOAT provides reliable and safe transportation from a speedy transfer over the waves or a half- or full-day tour. Once you request a speedboat for between eight and 12 passengers, you're guided to a nearby pick-up point where your captain will be waiting.  Hvar Town is served by Jadrolinija catamarans (1hr 10min, 40kn) on the Split-Hvar-Vela Luka-Ubli (daily) and Splt-Hvar-Vis (weekly) routes (both daily). There is also a privately-run catamaran (Krilo) from Split to Korčula that calls at Hvar Town. These catamarans are busy in high season so try and buy tickets in advance. Jelsa is served by the Jadrolinija Split-Bol-Jels

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