The Croatian party island of Hvar
Updated: Jan 27, 2022
The ferry from Split stops into Hvar harbor on the way back to Dubrovnik, so it was a perfect
next stop on our journey.
Hvar is known for being the "party island," and in the summer it has a reputation for being packed with young euro nouveau riche, middle eastern yacht owners, and anyone else looking for a wild time. That was, of course, until the pandemic put a damper on things. When we arrived, the island had only been re-opened for international business for a few weeks so things were quite subdued. But that didn't stop Jennifer and me from making our own party wherever we stopped.
We hopped off the ferry and were immediately struck by the old world beauty and charm merged with modern luxury.
Our hotel, the Palace Elisabeth, is a stunning historic landmark dating back to the 13th century and just steps from the dock in the heart of everything. We promptly dropped our bags and set about exploring the old town Hvar before returning to the hotel to enjoy a few cocktails by the pool and get ready for the night.
The hills rise quickly from the port of Hvar, and the old town is a series of tiny cobblestone streets and paths that head upward and away from the sea.
Restaurants and shops line the streets at the lower levels, becoming residential as you head upwards.
On our first night we dined at an amazing venue called Paradies Garden. It was a bit of a hidden gem behind stone walls and a wooden door with no windows, but it opened up to an open, multilevel courtyard with no ceiling and views to the stars.
We sat on the upper level where we enjoyed amazing seafood and incredible wine, and the service was stellar. If I was the one giving out Michelin stars, Paradies Garden would have been handed one on the spot.
From the time we stepped off the ferry, we were immediately struck by the ancient fort that hovered above the town. The evening view after dinner was even more striking. A hike was definitely in the plan.
Overlooking the stone walls and clay tile roofs of old town Hvar, as well as the clear blue waters surrounding the Pakleni islands, lies Tvrdava Fortica which was our favorite Hvar viewpoint.
The fort was originally the site of a 6th-century Byzantine citadel, with the Venetians eventually constructing the present-day fortress in the 13th century. The hike was steep, fun, and definitely worth the trip. It is always a thrill to walk through history and imagine the soldiers who defended the land from behind the walls of an ancient fortress hundreds of years ago.
But apparently things can get out of hand, and they frown upon behavior that goes over the line. They have gone so far as to enact legislation and fines for unruly behavior. This sign seems to be saying there is a 700 Euro fine for eating pizza while your husband lies on the ground next to spilled beverages.
Okay not exactly that, but apparently they don't want people passed out drunk in public places and they will fine you for it. Needless to say, we heeded the warning and did our partying in a more presentable fashion.
We decided to head along the coastline in pursuit of the perfect spot to have lunch, imbibe, and enjoy the glorious sunshine and sea. It was late morning and all the high-profile party spots such as Bonj les Bains beach club and Hula Hula were still setting up their pricey cabanas and champagne bars. We kept walking until we came across the unassuming and wonderful Falko beach bar. This was our
kind of place. Nothing pretentious here.
Falko beach bar is nestled amongst Mediterranean pine trees with hammocks strewn between them, picnic tables, and an outdoor bar. We ordered a beer and a glass of wine, some fresh octopus ceviche and a meat and cheese plate, and we were instantly relaxed and ready to enjoy our afternoon. Falko rents beach lounges perched on the rocks, and this is exactly where we spent our afternoon with dips in the ocean to cool off in between refills of cold drinks. There was something about this place that we loved. Nothing fancy. The vibe was mellow, the food was great, and staff was super friendly, and the drinks were fabulous.
On the walk back to our hotel the thump-thump of techno music was now vibrating across the narrow inlet as we worked our way toward the high-profile party bars in the direction of our hotel.
Still too early in the after-the-pandemic re-opening, things were markedly subdued as compared to the reputation these places have. But a small crowd had grown, so we stopped into the Hula bar for a couple of pops.
The scene was very spring break-y with young singles drinking large colorful drinks with long straws while grind dancing to the hypnotic beats coming from the enormous speakers. Not exactly our scene but we had to check it out. The beers were cold, and the sunset was gorgeous.
We couldn't leave Hvar without visiting some of the local galleries, and the colorful Sosa Gallery was immediately a favorite. We especially love the small, hand-sized and colorfully hand-painted ceramic boats in the shape of the traditional boats of Hvar.
There were so many different ones to choose from! We picked out one with our favorite sea blues and greens, and then the artist's wife painted our own personalized name on the side to christen the boat - Quattro 90. A perfect reminder of our time in Hvar.
After a delicious dinner our server was all too eager to accept my invitation to join me in a toast with a shot of local Loza. "živjeli!" (Croatian for Cheers, pronounced zheev yay lee) We departed soon enough and headed back to prepare for our departure the next morning. Dubrovnik here we come!
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