Last, but certainly not least, in our series on the Dalmatian coast is the up-market island of Hvar. This island is one of the most popular destinations in the Adriatic and can get extremely busy between the months of May and September, particularly in August when thousands of Italians flock here. The medieval old town, rocky beaches and vibrant nightlife appeal to both a young backpacker crows as well as well-off yacht owners and cruise-liner passengers.
An original attraction to the island was its low cost, however as Hvar becomes more and more popular the prices continue to rise. Having returned to Hvar myself after 7 years I can confirm that prices are indeed rocketing. A number of five star hotels have popped up on the left side of the old town during my absence, forming a sort of resort quarter. The island is well aware of its increasing exclusivity and restaurants and bars are marketing themselves in this direction.
There are still cheap, affordable establishments to be found, bu a word of warning...... always check the menu and price list before entering. Marianero is a good local restaurant, situated on a small square above the port on the left side of the town. The food in Hvar is typical of that elsewhere in Coratia, with simple dishes of local seafood and grilled meats featuring on nearly all menus. If yo fancy a break from this diet then there is a fabulous Japanese restaurant on the main pier where the ferry docks. Small portions at high prices, but a nice change for the taste buds. Watch out when ordering wine here as it can be very expensive.
The highlight of Hvar for me is its nightlife. Our landlady, Marija told us on arrival that Hvar is the Ibiza of Croatia. While it certainly does not boast the mega clubs, flashing lights and intense music of the Spanish party island, it is undoubtedly the hot spot of nightlife in Dalmatia. Sitting on the square at night provides a perfect people watching opportunity and a good chance to mingle with fellow holiday-makers. There are many great bars along the port and if you go to the left of the main square there are plenty of bars the can accommodate large groups on the side streets. When I was last in Hvar the focus of the late night partying was the nightclub 'up the steps', which took the form of a decrepit concrete amphitheatre with a caged pool in the centre. The staunchness and grime of the venue was its charm. Revisiting the club on my return I found a stylish, up-market empty venue with expensive drinks and flash furnishings. It was mid September, so perhaps I had just missed the season....
An addition to the nightlife scene over the past few years is beach parties. Boats filled with young and lively passengers head to nearby beaches in the middle of the night for some waterside partying. Unfortunately I never managed to get myself on one... next time :)
Other features of Hvar include its castle, which perches at the top of the old town and offers a fantastic view down onto the port. There is a small admission fee into the castle, which houses a little museum, and unusually for many, allows you to explore its dungeons.
Along with Dubrovnik, Korcula and Mljet, Hvar is a must do on a tour of the Dalmatian coast. As with these other locations, if you are on a budget then just hop of the ferry and your accommodation will find you. If you can afford to then there are lots of luxury hotels to relax in-the main benefit of these being that you can sprawl out by a pool, rather than on a rough, rocky shore!