During our recent stay on the Croatian island of Hvar we hired a car from Hvar Town to explore the interior of this lovely Dalmatian island, as well as the northern coast.
Car hire cost around $50 for an economical little runabout (we used less than $10 worth of fuel) and was a comfortable way to see more of the island. Hvar is small so we could do a tour in one day, stopping where and when we pleased without being tied to timetables, and we could carry our swimming gear and refreshments easily.
You can get to many of the destinations by public bus (ask at the tourist information office in the piazza for the timetable) but this way had many advantages, especially with Wandering Kiwi Jr in tow.
The little car climbed quickly away from the fertile coastal plain around Hvar Town with its vineyards, orchards and olive groves, up to the high ridgeline of limestone and dolomite that dominates the spine of the island. We took the ‘old road’ via the village of Brusje, its stone houses wreathed in creepers.
Keep going and going until there are views all around from coast to coast. There are a number of picnic/viewing places so don’t worry about stopping in the middle of the road to take photos (like I did).
Hvar used to be famous for its lavender fields but sadly in the mid-1990s a fire destroyed much of the crop and the industry. Around 500 people left their lives in the hills here and moved to find work on the coast. You can see the odd untended lavender plant and the fields where they used to grow, all marked out with heaps of drystone walls.
You will also see the ‘bunja’ dry stone huts that served as shelters for shepherds and their animals. Usually circular with a diameter of a few metres, these have a proper doorway and a conical roof. The one we visited had its own well. Nowadays the huts are not used. This one near the chapel of St Roch on the road between Brusje and Stari Grad offers a wonderful viewpoint (down to Stari Grad) and there are picnic tables.
We stopped for a wander in both of the picturesque coastal villages of Jelsa and Vrboska. Jelsa has an attractive waterfront of 19th-century pastel coloured facades and sparkly yachts. Behind this the old town is a fascinating warren of textured stone.
Vrboska was bright and relaxed in the sunshine and also had many boats riding gently at anchor. Wander through the town upstream to see the three footbridges – offering pretty reflections in the water.
I felt we had seen a lot of Hvar in a day and without much effort. The long narrow remainder of Hvar towards Sucaraj has rougher roads and few facilities and although it is not out of bounds we saw plenty of unspoilt old villages on the interior roads we did cover. Stari Grad I felt deserved a day all to itself…
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you explored Hvar’s interior?