11 wonderful things to do in Stari Grad, Hvar’s rustic gem
Here’s our definitive list of things to do in Stari Grad, Hvar. Discover top attractions, the best restaurants, historic sites, and of course, ice cream recommendations.
Away from the glamour (and parties) of Hvar town, the glorious Pakleni islands archipelago, and short trips to Hvar’s best beaches, the historic town of Stari Grad is often overlooked by tourists to Hvar Island.
Indeed, our first visit to Hvar Island’s second town was cursory; a short day trip to explore some of Stari Grad’s best things to do from our temporary home in Hvar town.
It didn’t take long for us to realise that this was a town everyone should be spending more time in.
In many ways, Stari Grad is the antithesis of Hvar town; it’s the shy, modest cousin to the party centric and glitzy Hvar town.
The town curves around the deep inlet that made Stari Grad so appealing to those early Greek settlers. Cafes, restaurants and souvenir stores straddle the palm fringed promenade, with hundreds of small boats bobbling in the calm waters opposite.
The narrow streets and laneways of Stari Grad’s old town (fun fact, Stari Grad actually means ‘Old Town’), some dating back 384 BC, are picture perfect - white-stone streets, marble pathways, bougainvillea growing on street corners, and the ubiquitous smell of lavender wafting through the air.
The Stari Grad plain, a UNESCO World Heritage site where an Ancient Greek system of field division has been preserved, is a must see in Stari Grad, as are many of the towns clear blue beaches, ancient churches, hipster cafes and delectable restaurants.
So, if you’re one of the special few who make their way to this side of the island, or you’ve decided for a more sedate Hvar Island experience, here’s our guide to the best things to do in Stari Grad, Hvar’s beautiful second town.
Stari Grad, Hvar | 11 wonderful things to do
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT Stari Grad
Stari Grad’s appeal lies in its atmosphere - it simply is far more relaxed than Hvar town, and for that matter alone, more enjoyable.
While Hvar town experiences the influx of day-trippers keen to see its best attractions, Stari Grad attracts a more chilled clientele - those who prefer to take things as they come. There’s no mad scramble to get from a to b, no selfie sticks, no famous nightclubs and no rowdy backpackers.
There are beautiful streets, picturesque squares, brilliant restaurants, endless Aperol spritz (a prerequisite for us!), and beautiful beaches.
Oh, and it’s also far cheaper than Hvar town.
Top things to do in Stari Grad
#1 Take it all in on Stari Grad’s beautiful Riva
One thing we love about Croatia’s historic coastal and Island towns is their ubiquitous rivas; seafront promenades where locals go to be seen, and to see. And Stari Grad’s is one of our favourites.
A walk along the palm-lined riva is the perfect starting point for any visit to this ancient town, and one of the best things to do in Stari Grad.
Lined with centuries old Venetian Renaissance buildings, al fresco bars and restaurants, colourful souvenir stalls, ice cream stands, and fishing boats, it’s the perfect place to stroll along just before sunset, before sipping an Aperol Spritz and stopping by one of the numerous and incredible local restaurants.
Unlike Hvar Town, with its glitz and glam and constantly thumping bass, the riva in Stari Grad is a more sedate affair.
You’re more likely to hear the sounds hearty of conversation and cutlery on plates than the clubs and unruly backpackers, and it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
#2 Stroll the old Venetian laneways
After our third visit to the quaint town of Stari Grad, we realised that we may have made a mistake by spending the entirety of our six weeks on the island living in Hvar town.
It's not like we didn't like Hvar town; far from it. It's just that Stari Grad, with its quiet laneways, relaxed vibe, friendly people and far cheaper prices(!) was just ‘more us’.
Stari Grad's rustic Mediterranean old town, with its ancient white-stone streets and laneways, are perfect for lazy strolls, and around each corner another historic church, bougainvillea covered staircase, or historic archway can be found.
We recommend making your way to the following points of interest:
| Srinjo kola (Middle St.) |
The epicentre of the action is Srinjo kola (Middle St.), an ancient street dating back to the earlier settlers on Hvar Island. During prosperous maritime years of the 1870’s and 80’s, this was the biggest street ing Stari Grad, full of craftsmen and merchants selling their wares.
Srinjo kola is now filled with quaint cafes, deli's and traditional souvenir stores - it actually feels a little bit hipster, more like a street you’d find in the popular suburbs of Europe’s main cities.
We recommend stopping by and sampling some of the gourmet goods and local produce, buying some artwork or souvenirs, or just admiring the ancient Venetian streets.
There’s also an ancient Roman mosaic located on the street, that was discovered in 1923.
| Tvrdalj Palace |
The summer house of aristocratic Croatian poet Petar Hektorovic, Tvrdalj was built for 16th-century.
A fan of the Renaissance, Hektorovic designed the villa himself, however it served an alternative purpose during the attack of the Ottoman Turks. Hektorović, as one of the local nobles, undertook to fortify his house so that it could act as shelter for the local citizens.
The interior is complete with beautiful gardens, living quarters, a sea-water fish pool, terraces and walls, and is worth a visit when in Stari Grad.
| Skor Square |
We also recommend checking out Skor square, the picture perfect square complete with the ancient homes of once noble families. It’s perfect for a little insta-photo shoot, if you’re that way inclined.
#3 Cycle the Stari Grad plains
Cycling through an open plain in the peak summer months might not sound like a brilliant idea, but when it’s a 2,400 year old ancient plain full of Greek, Roman and Venetian history, it totally is.
Stari Grad is actually home to one of the oldest cultivated plains in the world, the Stari Grad plains; so old in fact that UNESCO declared it a world heritage site in 2008.
One of the few large flat areas on Hvar, agricultural plots were laid out by Ionian Greeks from Paros in the 4th century BC, when they colonised the area. Since then, not much has changed and those same plots still being cultivated today.
Exploring the plains by bicycle is one of the best things to do in Stari Grad, as it allows you to stop and check out the ancient ruins along the way, and stop at a winery or konobo for a cheeky vino or local feast.
Bikes can be rented in town if you’d like to explore the plains yourself, otherwise you can organise a tour in Stari Grad.
What | Stari Grad plain
Cost | Free entry into the plain
Bike rental ranges from HRK 75 - 100 per day
#4 Eat the most delicious seafood at Antika
After a morning spent walking the cobbled streets and must see’s in Stari Grad, the heat had left us both hangry and in need of food.
As we rounded a corner we stumbled upon an authentic looking Konoba, called Antika. It was empty, which is never a good sign, yet the jovial chefs and beautiful, rustic-looking restaurant beckoned us to enter. An inspired idea.
We took a table upstairs in the green outdoor garden and ordered away, only after discovering Antika is one of the most traditional restaurants of Stari Grad.
When the food arrived, we knew we’d made a brilliant decision.
The fresh food was delicious (seafood pasta for Mim, and risotto for Mark), and some of the best we’d tasted on Hvar island.
On top of that, the environment was so homely and enjoyable we ended up sitting for two hours, enjoying a beer (or two) before heading on our merry way and exploring more of the best things to do in Stari Grad.
We highly recommend stopping by and sampling the delicious food and wine on offer at Antika.
Where | Antika restaurant, Stari Grad
Cost | Entree: HRK 50 - 70 Mains: HRK 90 - 100
#5 Watch sunset from Glavica Hill, Stari Grad’s highest viewpoint
You may have read that watching the sunset from Glavica Hill is one of the best things to do in Stari Grad - and we totally agree.
Sunsets in Croatia are some of the best we’ve ever experienced, and watching the skies slowly colour themselves golden, before turning all myriads of blue, pink and purple before dark descends.
From the top Glavica Hill, the views over Stari Grad town are astoundingly beautiful, so grab a beer, find somewhere to sit, and watch nature’s light show as the sun bathes the town in a glorious glow.
The panoramic view also takes in Brac, the Stari Grad plain, so don’t forget to look around.
The hike from town might be a little tough in the afternoon heat (20mins), but it follows through some Mediterranean pine forests which provide adequate cover from the rays, and smell typical Mediterranean (read: pleasurable!).
To get to Glavica Hill, follow the road out of town towards Rudina - the trail is marked and should be pretty easy to follow.
Where | Glavica Hill
#6 Admire the historical St. Stephen’s church (Sveti Stjepan)
While we’re not religious, nor church goers, the stunning St. Stephens church, and its historic bell tower, are worthy of a visit when strolling through the old cobbled streets of Stari Grad.
In fact, it’s pretty hard to miss - the bell tower is almost ever present when exploring the Stari Grad’s must-do’s.
Located right in the centre of town, Sveti Stjepan, as it’s known locally, has a chequered past. Originally built in the 9/10th century, the church served as the cathedral for the bishop of Hvar from 1147, when the diocese was established until 1278. During the Ottoman raids in 1571, the church was heavily damaged, only to be demolished and repaired in the early 1600’s.
The Dalmatian Baroque design is beautiful, and the interior typically grand, and the ancient gravestone relief sculpture of Eros (located on the right side of the church) is one of the rare remains from the Ancient Greek city.
Where | St. Stephens church, Stari Grad
#7 Wine tasting, glorious food and lavender fields at Hora Farm
Hvar has a proud wine-making history dating back to the Ancient Greeks who planted the islands first vines in 384 BC.
Due to its abundance of natural fields and perfect climate (more than 2718 sunny hours per year), Hvar is known to have some of the finest red wine in Europe. So, if you're like Mim and love a good vino or two, Hvar is your place.
Hora Farm, located on the UNESCO-listed Stari Grad plain, is the best place to sample some of Hvar’s finest, as well as offers a unique wine tasting experience. The owners run through the history of the farm, and the type of grapes they grow, before a wine tasting session.
In addition to their range of locally produced wines, the family-run establishment prepares delicious local Dalmatian fare, which is served on the terrace overlooking the most beautiful vineyard.
Where | Hora Farm, Stari Grad Plain
Opening hours | open daily from May 1 to October 1 from 12:00 to 20:00
#8 Relax and swim at Oslic beach in town
A visit to Stari Grad wouldn’t be complete without a dip in the clear blue waters of Croatia’s Med.
Just outside of Stari Grad town is Oslic Beach, a typically Mediterranean ‘beach’ made up of a small stretch of sand, concrete and rocks. It’s certainly not the best beach on Hvar, but the closest to town to cool off in.
It does get super busy in the early afternoon, and in the later afternoon the sea breeze picks up, making it a little choppy, so we recommend arriving earlier rather than later.
Alternatively, walk out of town towards Brizenica Bay, where there are a number of secluded bays to throw down your towel and embrace the salty waters.
There are no shops or restaurants the further you walk out of town, so pack yourself some food, and a few cheeky beers and bring some water (not single use bottled, of course!).
Where | Oslic beach, Stari Grad
Pack | Towel, sunscreen, water, packed lunch, a good book
Read more | Best beaches on Hvar
#9 Eat all the ice cream, including Lavender
On an island famed for its lavender, it's no surprise to see lavender products just about everywhere on Hvar.
One product that really caught our eye (and made us salivate a little) was lavender ice cream.
Being the ice cream enthusiasts that we are (our life motto is “an ice cream a day keeps the doctor away"), we felt compelled to try this local delicacy. With the floral and herbaceous aroma, light purple colouring, and creamy texture, lavender ice cream was a revelation.
Pretty much everywhere on the island sells lavender ice cream, but we found the best on Stari Grad’s riva.
Unfortunately, we can’t recall the name of the ice cream stall (it was about halfway down the riva), but the flavours tasted a little more 'authentic’ and delicious than others we’ve tried in Hvar town.
But take it from us, trying this local treat is one of the best things to do in Stari Grad.
#10 Enjoy everything gourmet at Za Pod Zub
When exploring the best things to do in Stari Grad, one place we absolutely recommend stopping by is Za Pod Zub, a hip gourmet store run by a lovely young French couple on Srinjo kola (Middle St.).
Za Pod Zub is a Dalmatian expression meaning "good bite for under the tooth”, and this store is the perfect embodiment of the statement.
In store, they offer premium products sourced from Hvar and all of Croatia, including delicious olives, cheese, truffle, marmalades and honey, chocolate, craft beer and some of the best wine on Hvar.
We ended up staying for close to an hour, sampling the myriad of delicious olives (we bought a tub and it was heaven), local wine and of course cheese.
Getting to know the owners, Chloe and Yvan, and their story was an added bonus.
Where | Za Pod Zub, Srinjo kola
#11 Visit the LAVENDER FARMS IN nearby BRUSJE
Founded in the 16th century as a shepherd settlement the charming town of Brusje is home to Hvar island’s popular lavender fields.
A short drive from Stari Grad, this ancient village lays somewhat in a state of decay, dotted with rustic stone homes and narrow laneways.
The surrounding fields are where Hvar's lavender production occurs and this is the best place to see the rolling fields of purple that the island is so famed for.
The best time to see Hvar Island under a purple blanket is late June, which also coincides with the islands' Lavender Festival that occurs in neighbouring Velo Grablje.
If you do head out this way, you MUST eat at Izletiste family farm, which serves traditional Dalmation cuisine, fresh juices and offers some of the best views of Hvar.
They also sell lavender infused honey, which is a perfect gift for that special someone at home.
Where | Brusje
Eat | Izletiste family farm
A map of the best things to do in Stari Grad
Exploring more of Hvar Island
As you may or may not know, we spent six weeks living on the island of Hvar, and got to know it pretty darn well.
Not only is it one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever visited, there’s also an incredible amount of things to do on Hvar Island and in Hvar town, as well as a huge selection of amazing beaches to chose from.
Below is a selection of our top posts from the island, which should have all the information you need to have an incredible holiday.
HVAR ISLAND | Top things to see and do in Hvar Island
HVAR’S BEST BEACHES | Our complete guide to Hvar’s best beaches
Stari Grad, Hvar TRAVEL GUIDE | OUR Stari Grad TRIP PLANING ESSENTIALS
WHERE IS Stari Grad, CROATIA?
Stari Grad is located on northern side of the island of Hvar in the Adriatic sea, off Croatia's famous Dalmatian coast.
It’s one of the oldest towns in Europe, settled by the Greeks in 384 BC, and its long, protected bay and prime agricultural land has long been sought by invaders.
It's surrounded by a number of islands including Brac, Korcula and Vis, and is around an hours boat ride from Split. The island is the longest and sunniest in Croatia, and has around 11,000 in habitants.
On the opposite side of the Adriatic lies Italy, and important ports such as Ancona.
WHEN TO VISIT Stari Grad, CROATIA?
We're slightly biased, given we spent six weeks on Hvar Island from late April through to mid-June, however we believe exploring Stari Grad during the shoulder seasons (April - early June, Sept - Oct) is the best time to visit.
Not only are the days long and the sea warm, but the crowds are far less and more manageable, making the town extremely pleasant.
What's more, the prices of food and drinks are cheaper during the shoulder period.
ACCOMMODATION in Stari Grad
From cosy, family run guesthouses to extravagant beachside resorts, forested campsites to party hostels, there are plenty of accommodation options in Stari Grad to suit every style, traveller or budget.
We recommend staying at the quaint Apartmani Melem, located just outside of Stari Grad town. It’s a beautiful little apartment with a large backyard complete with barbeque, perfect to cook up a fresh seafood feast from the local fisherman.
BOOK | Apartmani Melem
Alternatively, use the following links to check rates, availability or to book accommodation on in Stari Grad.
Airbnb | Book using our code and receive up to £30 off your booking.
Hotels | Search prices and availability on Booking.com here
Hostels | Search prices and availability on Hostelworld here
BOOK WITHOUT FEAR | OUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO AIRBNB
HOW TO GET TO Split, Croatia
All travel to Hvar Island generally involves arriving into the coastal city of Split.
Most European budget airlines fly directly to Split, especially during the summer season from April - October.
HOW TO GET FROM SPLIT TO HVAR ISLAND AND STARI GRAD
A direct ferry service by Jadrolinja operates from Split to Stari Grad seven times daily during the peak summer months from June to September.
Tickets can be purchased online here (Jadrolinija).
Alternatively, If you’re visiting Stari Grad as part of a trip to Hvar Island, just jump aboard the 1 hour Split to Hvar ferry, which services the island up to 18 times per day during the peak summer periods.
You will however, need to catch a bus from Hvar town to Stari Grad to complete the journey.
Alternatively, tickets can be purchased in Spilt at the tourism centre on Split Riva, opposite Diocletians Palace, or at the ticket booths further down the harbour.
From the town of Split, you'll need to head to Split port where the boats and catamarans both depart from, generally from the terminals closest to Split Riva (be sure to clarify when purchasing your ticket!).
Note: if the direct ferry from Split to Hvar is booked out, you can also take the car ferry to Stari Grad, and catch a local bus or taxi to Hvar town.
Split to Stari Grad ferry cost | 47 Kuna one way, per person
Split to Stari Grad departure times | 0130, 0500, 0830, 1100, 1430, 1700, 2030 (based on summer season, times subject to change)
Split to Hvar ferry cost | 40 - 110 Kuna one way, per person, depending on season and ferry type
Split to Hvar ferry departure times | 0740, 0830, 0900, 0945, 1000, 1030, 1100, 1130, 1300, 1500, 1530, 1600, 1630, 1700, 2000 (based on summer season, times subject to change)
how to get from Stari Grad to Hvar town
| PUBLIC TRANSPORT |
Public transport on Hvar island is a simple and cost effective way to get around, however you'll need to plan your travels around the bus timetable, which we've listed below.
The most popular route, from Hvar to Stari Grad is pretty frequent, with up to five services a day.
Who | Vozni Red buses
Cost | Around 25 - 50 Kuna per trip
Timetable Hvar to Stari Grad | 0745, 0945, 1220, 1645, 2245
Timetable Stari Grad to Hvar | 0630, 0800, 1010, 1430, 2205
HOW TO GET AROUND HVAR ISLAND
Despite being an island, the majority of Hvar's main attractions are easily accessible thanks to a decent public transport service. Car and scooter hire is also possible, for fairly reasonable prices.
| CAR HIRE |
Car hire is a great way to explore the island's main things to do. We used Suncity car hire, where a small car costs 330 kuna per day (€35), which included but no driving on Dubovica-Sveta Nedilja dirt road. The car must be returned with fuel.
Alternatively, hire a VW beetle for the day for around 500 kuna (€50), which also includes insurance and must be returned with fuel.
Cost | between 300 - 800 Kuna depending on vehicle size
| SCOOTER HIRE |
A far cheaper (dare we say it, backpacker friendly) way to get around Hvar island is via scooter.
Scooters are great for shorter trips, to some of the small beaches just outside of Hvar town, or through to Stari Grad, however we wouldn't recommend riding one to explore the whole island.
At 50cc, you won't need a drivers licence to drive one, however we recommend previous experience riding a scooter/motorbike. And please, always wear your helmet!
Rent | Suncity
Cost | HRK 200 for 24 hours
ARE YOU PLANNING TO VISIT HVAR SOON?
We have a heap of essential reading before you travel to the paradise island of Hvar:
HVAR ISLANDS | Top things to see and do in Hvar Island
HVAR’S BEST BEACHES | Our complete guide to Hvar’s best beaches
TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t leave home without travel insurance (seriously, don’t!). Click here to get the best deals with World Nomads, our trusted travel insurance provider
PHOTOGRAPHY | Love our photography? Wondering what gear we use to get all of our photos around the world? Click here to view our detailed photography gear guide, as well as our top travel photography tips!
ECO FRIENDLY PACKING ESSENTIALS | Don’t leave home without our favourite eco-friendly travel essentials
Have you been to Hvar yourself? Help your fellow travellers our by sharing your favourite things to do in Hvar Island, Croatia in the comments below!
HEADING TO CROATIA? YOU’LL LOVE THESE GUIDES TOO!
Some of the links on this post are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase using these links, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that by using these affiliate links, you're directly supporting The Common Wanderer to stay wandering, the running costs of the site, and our ability to provide you with free content to help you on your travels.
That, and you're officially a legend.