Hvar -- an island in the sun

17/07/2009

Hvar offers no shortage of wonders -- from its lush vegetation, sandy beaches and coastal cliffs to the opulent architecture of its cities.

Text and photos by Davor Kosnjikusic for Southeast European Times in Hvar – 17/07/09

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The architectural beauty of Hvar attracts visitors to its central square.

The sunny island of Hvar, which a long time ago was a Greek colony called Pharos, or lighthouse, is the fourth largest island on Croatia's central Dalmatian coast, covered in pine trees and subtropical vegetation.

Sharp cliffs decorate the islands' south coast. The north coast, with its beautiful sandy beaches, draws scuba divers, surfers and swimmers. The two coasts are connected by a tunnel.

Hvar is chock-full of olive trees, lavender fields, and vineyards that produce tasty local wines. The Plenkovic family, from the village of St. Nedjelja on the south coast, runs a wine basement located below sea level.

The island cuisine is best enjoyed in konoba, small traditional restaurants found throughout the island. Fish tops the menu, of course. A local specialty is gregada, a traditional fish soup.

Hvar and Sucuraj are the main island ports, on the west and the east of the island respectively, connected with an 84km-long road. The road's frequent bends and steep curves require good driving skills.

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The island's coastal cliffs are some of the steepest on the Dalmatian coast.

The four main island towns are Hvar, Stari Grad, Jelsa and Vrboska. The old Hvar city boasts a beautiful old port with ornate stone-carved architecture, built largely during the rule of the Venetian Republic.

Today Hvar is a haven for summer parties, at which Croatian and international trend-setters are frequently spotted. Densely packed night clubs along its narrow historic streets offer a rich night life.

Stari Grad is one of the oldest Croatian settlements. The quiet town boasts small restaurants and archaeological sites. The nearby Bay of Maslinica has one of the most beautiful beaches, among the best in the Adriatic.

Although the island is besieged by tourists in the summer, it is not crowded. Tourism is big business on the island, yet Hvar wonders remain affordable. Visitors come to Hvar year-round, and many make their summer visits a tradition.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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