5 unique things to do in Hvar during summer
Hvar is known as the sunniest island in Croatia, located in the Adriatic sea, surrounded by Brač, Pakleni Islands, and Vis. Packed with fields of lavender, olives trees, and vinegar’s, Hvar remains a fresh and clean place where people and nature exist in complete harmony.
During summer, Hvar offers a wide variety of things to do, from fabulous nightlife, ancient sites, and monuments, to remarkable nature. To inspire future travellers, we made a list of 5 unique things to do in Hvar. The list includes less touristic sites, a bit unusual, but worth discovering. You will appear in this rich, complete, and stunning story where you will be one of the characters witnessing magical scenery. On this travel, explore fascinating nature, human history and enjoy the divine flavours of the Mediterranean. Dig deep into the Dalmatian everyday life and find out what is their recipe for a joyous and stress-free life. Jump in the fresh, clear water of Mekićevica bay, have a late dinner in Menego tavern and discover the remains of our ancestors. This list is an extraordinary path of experiencing, learning, and tasting the best of Hvar’s broad offer.
1. Visit violet oasis of lavender fields
The island Hvar has many attractions that are worth seeing. Fields of lavender are certainly one of them. You will find these magical violet fields on the road from the town Hvar to Stari Grad. The roads go through charming villages Brusje, Velo Grablje, and Selca, surrounded by violet fields. Village Velo Grablje, located about 10 kilometres from the town Hvar, is the place where the culture of lavender growth began and is still present today. With its cultural-historical monuments and fields of lavender, Velo Grablje is under the protection of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia. The whole environment around town Hvar, the villages, stone houses, lavender, and olive fields, present a unique landscape with a specific rural atmosphere. Even in this country area, there is a marvellous view of the Pakleni Islands and the Adriatic Sea.
The agricultural practice of lavender growth started in 1928. After the vine disease phylloxera spread throughout Dalmatia, the local population from Velo Grablje started to breed lavender. Bartul Tomičić was the pioneer in such agriculture. After it turned out that growing lavender was a good endorsement and people could earn by selling its oil, it slowly spread on the other part of the Hvar, like villages Brusje and Selca The industry had its peak in the mid-50s, and at the same time, Hvar became the number 8th producer of lavender in the world. Lavender oil is highly used in pharmaceutics and cosmetic industry. Locals grow olives and rosemary as well, but lavender was their main focus until 1984. The whole year sun and the pleasant weather created conditions for this plant to grow easy. This vast expansion of the lavender industry got locals a lot of wealth, which they used in building houses, schools, as well as spending it on schooling.
The industry declined after the fires in 1984, 1997, and 2005 that caught a lot of lavender fields. Soon growing lavender lost its throne as the primary industry, and the locals quickly switch to tourism. Today, lavender fields are still blossoming, and they will leave you breathless. The surface is a lot smaller than it used to be, still recovering and revitalizing thanks to the small community from the village Velo Grablje, NGO Pjover. To honour the tradition of lavender and its significant role in their lives, locals from Velo Grablje organize an annual lavender festival. This two-day event aims to encourage the cultivation of lavender and the production of lavender oil. Everybody is welcome to participate. It’s a fun event with concerts, workshops, talks, and performances. It is usually happening in late June just before its harvest. At the festival, a variety of products of lavender is presented, like jam, sweets, ice cream, honey, beauty product, and many others. The harvest begins at the beginning of July, after which the lavender flower is prepared to provide the essence. During the time of producing the oil, the divine fragrance of lavender fills the air. If you visit these vivid lavender fields during summer, it will boost your sense, and introduce you to the well-known tradition of Hvar hard work of farming.
With the drive of tourism in Hvar, lavender, which once had an important economic role, now serves as more tourist attraction. Items from lavender, like oils, perfumes, soaps, and scented pillows, you can buy at every souvenir shop on the island.
2. Taste a local cuisine in a small family tavern
The Menego tavern is located in the old part of the town of Hvar, by the main staircase that connects the market and the medieval fortress. This restaurant Menego holds the title konoba. The original meaning of the Croatian word “konoba” refers to the part of the house, ground floor, a depository for food and drinks, and especially vine. From the 19th century, the term gets its broader definition describing a type of restaurant. Nowadays, konoba stands for both. It is a part of the house where you restore your groceries. A lot of the houses used to have one, particularly in Dalmatia. Today it’s quite rare, only big and rich houses can afford one. Also, konoba stands for a restaurant, that typically isn’t fancy but offers domestic food, and fish bought from the boats the same morning. In a way, it stands for great local food that is quite affordable. The same goes for konoba Menego. It opened the door in 1999 and has been working ever since. It’s a family restaurant in an old stone house that’s fully renovated but preserves its authenticity and traditions. The staff works in the traditional folk costume of Hvar. Here you can try authentic products from Hvar and Dalmatia. Tavern serves delicious food like Dalmatian prosciutto, goat cheese, pašticada with njoki (dumplings), Adriatic prawns, local fish, octopus salad, and pogača (pie with sardine, tomato, and onion). They also offer their homemade red wine from the family vineyard on the island of Sveti Klement. On top of it all, they make an excellent dessert, figs stuffed with almonds steeped in rakija (famous Croatian brandy).
The whole layout of tavern Menego will swipe you off your feet, the rustic old house in the small stone valley in the city center, sea net hanging from the seal, massive wooden table and chairs, stone walls with beautiful antiques, the staff in their traditional attire, warm and relaxed atmosphere. This charming place will, except the tasteful traditional dish, serve you a bit of Croatian culture.
You can soak in the Dalmatian vibe while eating fish that’s recently caught and listen to guitar playing in the background from the local artist. Locals might sing along the lyrics of their Dalmatian songs that are placed deep into their hearts through the generations. The simplicity and joy of both these places and locals will give you another perspective in life. They cherish everyday beauty they encounter in nature and people. No wonder there are happy, try to soak in as much as you can, a make it last and after this trip.
3. Visit Grapčeva cave, a cradle of civilization
For those who want to discover more about Hvar history and 6000 years old traces of civilization, Grapčeva cave is a spot to visit. Except for its significant prehistorical findings of the Early Stone Age, dating between 5000 and 4000 B.C., it has incredible natural decor, stalactite, and stalagmites. Grapčeva cave, a cradale of Hvar’s culture, is one of the oldest sites in the Mediterranean, located on the south side of the island Hvar, not far from the village Humac.
The spectacular cave lies on the south hill Grabak surrounded by pines, evergreen oak, juniper, sage, and rosemary. Beneath it is a small bay called Virak with an underwater spring. It used to be spring of fresh water, which is the reason why Grapčeva cave was used from Neolithic to the Bronze Age. Due to sea-level rise, it became underwater spring (locals call it vrulja). It’s still a splendid thing to experience when swimming in the bay to feel cold freshwater mixed with salty seawater. Marvellous position, Mediterranean vegetation, and aromatic herbs give the environment an exceptional ambiance. The view from the entrance of the cave looks to Pelješac, Korčula, Lastovo, Vis, and nearby island Šćedro. There are few entries to the cave, but as you will be going with a guide, he will make sure to enter through the most convenient one. The cave, despite time and the frequent visitor, has managed to preserve its natural beauty rich in stalagmites, stalactites, and pillars. Stalagmites and stalactites decorating the cave create magnificent and unforgettable scenery.
In the second half of the 19th-century, natural scientist Grgur Bučić conduced the first researches of the cave. Archaeological excavations from the 50s discovered three cultural layers, out of which the most interesting is the Neolithic layer (Early Stone Age), rich in adorned and coloured pottery. These unique ceramics show different remarkable motives. The primary graphic motives of the Hvar’s ceramics are spiral, garland, triangle, and rhombus. Expect geometrical motives, sketches and objects appear as well, which show distinct expressions and signify novelties and curiosities in the late Neolithic. In Grapčeva cave researchers found, the oldest drawing of a ship on a piece of a ceramic vase. We can assume that already at that time, Hvar maintained trade connections with remote regions. Archaeological finds are exhibited in the Hvar Heritage Museum, which has an excellent collection of weapons and tools from that time, and in the Archaeological Museum in Split. There is a myth that it was Grapčeva cave where Odysseus fought against the cyclops Polyphemus in Homer’s epic poem Odyssey. Since 1964, the Grapčeva cave is a protected geomorphological natural monument.
The cave is only open to visitors who book a guided tour. The starting point of the trip is Humac. The small village Humac, even dessert, has some magical atmosphere as well as one working tavern, located in a charming stone house, full of antiques, which offers local meals like lame, veal under the bake, prosciutto, and cheese. Open museum in Humac, gorgeous landscape, preserved stone cottages, lovely church, enormous fields of lavender and vinegar, together with the spectacular view that overlooks island Brač and azure sea, keep Humac very much alive and vibrant. These are the reason why Humac, together with Grapčeva cave, is a regularly visited destination by both tourists and locals.
4. Discover the secluded beach not far from the Hvar center
Hvar has many delightful beaches, and it’s hard to choose where to go. We recommend visiting two beautiful beaches, Mekićevica and Milna beach. Mekićevica is on the way to Milna, located 3 kilometers from the center of Hvar town. It would take you about 40 minutes to walk by foot from the center to the Mekićevica. The trail is mild, it flows the coastline, and the entire time there is a pretty view over the sea. Instead of flip-flops, it’s better to wear proper footwear. On beach Mekićevica there is a lovely restaurant Robinson. It’s is a unique and comfortable piece of happiness that you will find in this small paradise. The entire ambient and the furniture of a restaurant are simple wooden chairs and tables in and around the stone cottage that fit quite well in the whole environment and nature. The vibe of the restaurant, together with the outgunning staff, follows the relaxing and chill atmosphere of the entire scenery. They serve traditional dishes that are either caught that morning by the owner or bought on the market. Some of the meals you can try while taking a break from the swimming are brodetto, grilled fish, pašticada, or octopus salad. The short hike that you have to take to get to this unique restaurant and amazing Mekićevica beach is worth it. Step away from the city fuzz, and jump into the little adventure on the Dalmatia coast. Mekićevica beach has rocky and pebble fragments with pines trees that give cool shade. It is an excellent spot to peacefully swim and lay around the beach because it’s not packed with people.
A bit further, following the path, you can find a subtle pebble beach, Milna. It’s 2 kilometers distant from Mekićevica and 5 kilometers from the center of Hvar town. This one hour walk from the port is simple and enjoyable, especially when the final goal is a lovely beach. The trail to Milna follows the coastline, and the entire time there is a view on the Adriatic sea and nearby islands. Pine trees are there the whole way to give proper shade on hot summer days.
Both these beaches mentioned are reachable by boat taxis. The Mekićevica beach is our usual spot where we stop for swimming and relaxing on our Sunset kayak tour. The thing about Dalmatian beaches is that usually the best beaches are hidden away. It takes some time to approach them, either by foot or car, and at least short walk thought wood is included, but that leaves you to witness the extraordinary nature in which you get to enjoy with several other persistent people. The city beaches are the most accessible one, and not many people would make an effort to go and check more authentic wild beaches.
5. Kayak to magical archipelago Pakleni Islands
In Hvar, you can find all kinds of entertainment. There is so much to see and do that people often don’t have enough time to participate in everything. The best thing is to sort and organize everything before the trip, or at least to have in mind the sites you would like to visit. Hvar is a summer destination where many people come to enjoy the pleasant weather and the Adriatic sea. So, it’s no wonder many tourists go to the first beach and stay there until their vacation is over. To experience more, you should consider doing some activity and sightsee for a bit.
The combination of sunbathing on the beach and exploring new places is assembled in kayaking. With kayaking tour to Pakleni Islands, you can enjoy the sun, slide on the sky-blue water, dive and swim in the blue oasis and relax on the pebble beach of Pakleni Islands. Both tourists and locals spend a lot of their time resting on one of the islands of the archipelago Pakleni Islands because they hold isolated lagoons and idyllic bays with pine trees. This archipelago is only reachable by boat, so kayaking there can be a good alternative. Kayaking is an easy hobby to learn, like riding a bike. Due to the several types of kayaking, everyone can enjoy the sport, both beginners and experts. The most important thing to learn is how to paddle. With each paddle, your progress will reveal. After a few hours of paddling, you will master the sport and have fun.
On our tour will we kayak until we reach the island Marinkovac, the third island in the row of the archipelago from the Hvar coast. After kayaking through the passage Ždrilca, we will reach our destination bay Ždrilca, where we will have one long stop. Bay Ždrilca lies on the western part of the island Marinkovac. The bay has seasonal restaurants and charming stone cottages that are a proud representative of Dalmatian architecture. Ždrilca is full of olive trees that give delicious oil, which you can try in the restaurant Tri Grede, along with other Dalmatians specialties. This pebbled beach, with pine trees that provide excellent coverage from the sun, will fascinate you. There is a pathway through which you can walk to the other side of Marinkovac in a short time.
This is a great way to learn something new while enjoying all the perks the Hvar environment is offering, and in the end, you get to visit the archipelago Pakleni Islands and the vibrant life of the underwater of majestic Adriatic sea.