Normally I’m a city break kind of girl, I love nothing more than spending the day in museums and galleries, admiring the architecture and enjoying the city buzz. This year however I was ready for holiday that was a bit more chilled out. Looking for a bit of rest and relaxation many of my friends and family recommended Croatia.
Hvar is such a tiny island that, like most of Croatia’s islands, it doesn’t have it’s own airport. The nearest airport is Split, and from there you can get a ferry to the island.
There are normally only two or three ferries a day to each island, but having a few hours to kill in split isn’t the worst thing in the world.
The bus from the airport (about 30 mins) drops you off by the ferry port. Avoid the cheap and touristy cafes to your right and walk towards the market. Once through the market (selling everything from figs to flip flops) you will find yourself in the enchanting little enclave that is Diocletian’s palace. This buzzing hub was once the palace of the roman emperor Diocletian and is now filled with shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. The perfect place to while a way a few hours.Jelsa
After an hour or two on the ferry, which was mostly spent marveling at the sapphire sea below, we arrived at our destination. Jelsa is a small town largely untouched by tourism. It’s old town curves around a small harbour and mountains rise up behind it. It is quite simply charming, and our time spent in Jelsa was exactly the sun soaked bliss we’d been hoping it would be. We stayed in lovely apartment we found through Airbnb. The town was full of apartments and rooms to rent in family run guesthouses, and our host was delightful. As soon as we arrived she handed us maps, guidebooks and a carafe of homemade wine! Her english was excellent and she had plenty of wonderful recommendations for us. Our first three days in Jelsa went pretty much like this: hire bikes, cycle along the stunning sea front, stop to swim in the abundance of beautiful coves, find somewhere for lunch, cycle on, swim some more, return our bikes late in the afternoon, have cocktails by the harbour, enjoy a lovely dinner, sleep. Needless to say it was pretty blissful. On several night we were lucky enough to enjoy live music. On the Friday night there was a performance of traditional Croatian music and dance, including a clappa, a group of 8 harmonised voices, and on another night a female signer sang a mixture of Croatian tunes and Bob Dylan classics.
Vrboska is a tiny little village four kilometres from Jelsa with just 500 residents. It is best reached by bicycle, as the road from Jelsa is smooth, even and virtually traffic free, there are plenty of places to stop for a swim along the way.
Vrboska is just magically picturesque, with its little bridge over the tranquil bay. I recommend the excellent (and enormous) pizzas at for lunch, followed by a scoop of gelato and a wander around town.
Stari Grad is a town similar in size to Jelsa, though it feels a little bit quieter, and it’s just 30 minutes away by bus. Its quaint back streets and alleys are perfect for exploring, and there are plenty of picturesque bistros nestled under canopies of bougainvillea for lunch. Part two coming up!