Welcome to JetSetting Fools, here you will find our best travel tips for destinations worldwide. Some of the links on this site are Affiliate Links and if you use them to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. For more information, read our Disclosure Policy.
Stari Grad on Hvar Island in Croatia is an idyllic destination. Tucked into a deep bay, the picture-perfect town is steeped in history and boasts numerous restaurants doling out classic Dalmatian fare. Visitors lucky enough to find their way to the little slice of paradise will find an array of things to do in Stari Grad, Croatia.
Why Visit Stari Grad on Hvar Island
Of the 1,200 islands that dot the Adriatic Sea along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, Hvar Island is the most famous. The island’s most recognizable destination is Hvar Town, which is situated on the southwestern shore. The town of Hvar has long been known as a glamorous destination for posh party-goers, celebrities and wealthy yacht owners.
On the north side of Hvar Island, however, is historic Stari Grad, Croatia – one of the oldest towns on the European continent and one of the best places in Croatia to visit. Exuding a relaxed atmosphere and low-key vacation vibe, Stari Grad is a fantastic base for adventures around Hvar Island.
We’ve been fortunate to have spent a lot of time in the historic Croatian town and have experienced the top things to do in Stari Grad on Hvar Island.
Stari Grad, Croatia History
In the year 384 BC, Greeks settled Stari Grad, which makes the town 2,405 years old as of 2022. The Stari Grad Bay provided natural protection, while the flat interior was ideal for cultivating crops.
The land was divided and sectioned – and the historic agricultural grid of the Stari Grad Plain is still visibly evident today, where vineyards, olive trees and lavender still grow.
The land was then claimed by the Romans, followed by the Slavs. In the 13th century, it was ruled by the Venetian Republic, but was destroyed by the Turks and then rebuilt. In the 1800s, Hvar fell under the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the 1900s, when the island became part of Yugoslavia and finally the Republic of Croatia in 1991.
Visiting Stari Grad, Hvar, Croatia
The historic, pedestrian-only Stari Grad Old Town consists of stone, orange-tiled rooftop dwellings and narrow alleys that cluster around the quaint Stari Grad marina. Churches and squares are sprinkled throughout Stari Grad town; the rising bell tower of St. Stephen’s is a recognizable landmark.
To the east of town is the Stari Grad Plain and to the northwest is the forest-covered Kabal Peninsula, which is carved with dramatic coastline and hidden Stari Grad beaches.
Things To Do in Stari Grad, Croatia
What we enjoyed best about staying in Stari Grad, Hvar was the authentic atmosphere that never left us at a loss for things to do on Hvar, Croatia. Steps from our door we could be hiking, biking, sunbathing or dining. In this article, we include the best tips and detailed information for Stari Grad things to do.
Pin, Save or Bookmark our Stari Grad Travel Guide so that you can access it during your trip to Croatia!
#1 Stari Grad, Hvar Beaches
Finding a sunny spot on a Stari Grad beach is one of the top Hvar things to do! From the Stari Grad Marina, just follow the coastline paths (on both the north and south of the marina) that lead to small-pebbled beaches in shallow alcoves.
The beaches that are closest to Stari Grad are convenient, but we preferred walking along the northern shoreline paths to where they entered the forest. From there, we found spots along the rocky beaches that were rustic and secluded.
Top Tip: Along the northern trail toward the Kabal Peninsula, there is an FKK (a.k.a. nude) beach.
#2 Bike the Stari Grad Plain to Jelsa and Vrboska
If you are looking for things to do on Hvar that you can’t do anywhere else in Croatia (or the world, for that matter), then go to the Stari Grad Plain.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, the agricultural landscape is segmented by stone walls – just as it has been since the Greeks first settled the land 2,400 years ago. The Stari Grad Plain is one of the top Hvar attractions.
The Plain extends 6km from Stari Grad to Vrboska. One of the best Hvar, Croatia things to do is to hop on a bike and ride through the Stari Grad Plain.
For an entire day-long adventure, take the northern route from Stari Grad and ride to the town of Vrboska. From there, follow the coastline road and discover the town of Jelsa. On the return route, take the southern road (Route 116) back to Stari Grad and – if you have enough energy by the end – detour up the hill to Dol (to visit the church and take in the view) before getting back to the Stari Grad.
Top Tip: Pick up a Stari Grad Map of Bike Routes at the Tourist Information Office at the Marina (across from the Tommy grocery store).
#3 Find Tito’s Caves on Kabal Peninsula
Wondering what to do in Hvar that’s off the beaten path? Find Tito’s Caves on Kabal Peninsula (MAP); for thrill-seekers, it might be one of the best things to do in Hvar.
Although no longer a complete secret, we were the sole visitors on the afternoon we went searching for the Yugoslavia-era caves. The caves were built for the Navy (and Yugoslav President Tito seemed to like building secret places), and have passages to sea viewpoints and a series of vacant rooms.
Deeper into the earth, the cement-fortified cave gives way to a rugged natural cave where bats hang from the ceiling. We reluctantly cut our investigation of the Kabal Caves short, as it was nearing sunset and we only had the light from our phones to guide the way.
To get to Tito’s Caves, take the main road to Kabal Peninsula and stay on it until it dead ends. There, you will see TUNELI painted in green on the rocks. Follow the (overgrown) trail toward the cove and take the path that breaks off to the left. The dirt trail takes you along the coastline to the cave entrance.
Top Tip: Bring a real flashlight – or, better yet, a headlamp – to better explore the caves.
#4 Hike to the White Cross on Glavica Hill, Hvar
To the north of the Stari Grad Marina, a large white cross stands on Glavica Hill – and the views from the base of the cross are phenomenal. One of the top things to do in Hvar is climb up the hill to the cross.
We’ve made the hike several times during our stays to enjoy a bit of nature and the stunning views of Stari Grad and the neighboring island of Brac. The cross actually stands on an outdoor altar, next to a small church, where there are special masses throughout the year.
Top Tip: There are two routes to the top of Glavica Hill – or the hike can be done in a loop. Trailheads can be found on Kralja Tomislava (map) and on Put Rudine (walk north on Rudine and look for the marked trail).
#5 Explore Rudina and Zukova Bay, Hvar
Located just 2km north of Stari Grad is the village of Rudina: a place where time stands still. Sparsely populated with just 19 permanent residents, the village delivers on charm. Visiting Rudina is one of the Hvar Island things to do to experience how it used to be.
The village is comprised of two communities: Vela (Big) Rudina and Mala (Small) Rudina. The stone houses in Mala Rudina were built in 1663 and are all owned by the same family. Although many of the structures have been abandoned and are in a state of disrepair, in the main square, a historic stone press and other artifacts stand as they have for centuries.
Top Tip: Northwest of Rudina, trails lead through the forest to Zukova Bay. The long, narrow inlet has a multitude of secluded beaches along the rocky coastline.
#6 Walk the Stari Grad Stone Lanes
Interested in things to do in Stari Grad Old Town? Start by strolling along the waterfront Riva and then navigating on foot through the web of Old Town stone streets. While aimlessly wandering the charming lanes of Stari Grad, look for plaques identifying historic buildings and squares – and seek out a few of the must-see Stari Grad sights.
Petra Hektorovic Tvrdalj Castle
One of the top sights in the Stari Grad Old Town is the Petar Hektorovic Fortress. A 16th century villa built as a summer home for the famous poet, visitors can go inside the historic site to see the garden, fish pond and stone house.
Trg Skor Square
The picturesque Trg Skor Square is one of the most beautiful places in Stari Grad, Hvar. The small square is surrounded by ancient stone buildings – and is often used for community events in the summertime.
St. Steven’s Church
St. Steven’s Catholic Church is an early 17th century church with separate bell tower that was once part of the city’s ancient walls.
Stari Grad Museum
The Stari Grad Museum hosts a permanent collection of artifacts from the island, as well as rotating exhibits. Although a modest museum in Stari Grad, tickets are inexpensive.
Dominican Monastery and Church of St Petra
Founded in 1482, the monastery is a peaceful place to visit in Stari Grad. The small museum features ancient Greek inscriptions and paintings.
Top Tip: For more information about the sights, pick up a handy guide from the Stari Grad Tourist Information Office.
#7 Wine Tasting at Hora Winery Hvar
Located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Stari Grad Plain, Hora Winery offers a unique wine tasting experience. In addition to their range of locally produced wines, the family-run establishment also makes olive oils (try the herb-infused!), grows lavender and prepares local Dalmatian fare.
We participated in the Hora Winery tasting tour as part of our Croatia Island Hopping Explorer Cruise with Sail Croatia, but travelers can visit Hora on their own, as well.
Top Tip: Hora is typically open daily from May through September.
Best Restaurants in Stari Grad, Croatia
There are several Stari Grad restaurants in the Old Town. Most of the restaurants in Stari Grad serve traditional fare from the Dalmatian region.
The food prepared by the chef at Konoba Batana is divine. The Stari Grad restaurant is located within the depths of the Old Town and diners sit on an open-air patio. Our favorite dishes are the Istrian Fuzi Pasta with Truffles and Beef Filet Risotto with Wine Sauce. We also recommend ordering the house wine, which is fabulous. Read reviews
The quaint, family-run Jurin Podrum is tucked into a lane just one street back from the water. Delivering on atmosphere, the small restaurant has both indoor and outdoor tables. The menu includes traditional Dalmatian starters and meat (try the lamb), fish and pasta mains that are prepared with local recipes. Read reviews
A casual eatery with phenomenal pizzas, Marko’s is our go-to spot for an easy-going and inexpensive night out in Stari Grad. We enjoy the house specialty pizza (look on the second page of Pizza listings), but pasta and meat dishes are also available. Read reviews
Kod Barba Luke
Kod Barba Luke is an establishment that came highly recommended to us by our local Stari Grad friends. The harbor-facing restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner…or just wine! Read reviews
Antika Stari Grad Restaurant
The charming Antika restaurant in Stari Grad is a favorite spot for seafood and pasta. The food is delicious, the service is top notch and the atmosphere is on point! Read reviews
Za Pod Zub
Not technically a restaurant, Za Pod Zub is a small market stocked with Croatian goods. The shop sells local artisan products – like cheese, truffles, honey, chocolates and ice cream. It’s a great place to pick up embellishments for a picnic lunch, souvenirs and they even sell Croatian Craft Beer. Read reviews
Stari Grad, Hvar Map
Use this link to Google Maps – and interactive, online version of our Stari Grad Map – to plan your visit to Stari Grad, Hvar, Croatia!
More Things To Do on Hvar Island, Croatia
We have highlighted the best things to do in Stari Grad Town – but there are other adventures to be had on Hvar Island!
Visit Hvar Town on a Day Trip from Stari Grad
Hvar Town sits on the south side of Hvar Island – and is an easy day trip from Stari Grad.
While Hvar Town has a party reputation (one they are attempting to transform), there are more things to do in Hvar Town than party. We are highlighting just a few ways to spend a day in Hvar Town.
Climb to the Hvar Fortress: The 16th century Fortica Spanjola watches over Hvar Town and the harbor from its lofty perch. Climb to Hvar Fortress for stunning views of the town and sea. If you’re looking for a bigger challenge (and an even more amazig view) follow the steep switchbacks to the Napoleon Fortress!
Visit the Hvar Cathedral: The Baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral is located on the main square, with portions dating to the 15th century.
Watch the Sunset: Follow the coastline to the west of Hvar Town and find a rock along the sea to take in the summer sunset. If you would rather watch the sunset from a bar, keep going until you find the infamous Hula Hula Bar (and overpriced cocktails) – or continue on until you find the FALKO Beach Bar, which has a much more subtle atmosphere. Looking for craft beer? Duck into Vunetovo and enjoy some excellent Croatian brews!
Pro Tip: Use this link to Google Maps for an interactive version of our Hvar Town Map that will help you to find all the best things to do in Hvar Town, Croatia.
Guided Hvar Tours: Day Trips from Stari Grad
For those who want a little guidance on Hvar Island, there are tour guides that lead the way to some of the best things the island has to offer. Check out these small group tours on Hvar Island:
- Lavender Fields Tour
- Island Wine Tasting Tour
- Wine and Dalmatian Dinner Tour
- Abandoned Village and Dinner Tour
- Hidden Gems Half Day Tour with Meal
Note: Many of the tours depart from Hvar Town; request pick up in Stari Grad if available.
Planning a Trip to Stari Grad, Hvar, Croatia
Deciding what to do in Stari Grad on Hvar Island is just one facet of planning your trip. You will also need to decide where to stay, how to get there and what to pack. Our top tips for planning a trip to Hvar Island will help make your planning a breeze!
First, use our Guide to Planning a Croatia Vacation to get started with what you need to know about traveling to the country. For some ideas on what to see and how to plan your time, take a look at our 2-Week Croatia Itinerary.
Then, in order to stay organized while making your plans, use our ready-to-print Travel Planner.
Decide Where To Stay: Stari Grad or Hvar Town
With so many things to do on Hvar Island, Croatia, it can be difficult to choose where to stay. We have spent time in both Stari Grad and Hvar Town – and love them both!
Both cities offer historic settings, beaches and plenty of restaurants and cafes. Hvar Town offers a bit of glitz and glam, while Stari Grad is more low-key and better located to explore more of Hvar Island.
If you have time in your Croatia Vacation, we recommend enjoying both places!
Where To Stay in Stari Grad, Croatia
When we visit Stari Grad, we stay at Hidden House. It’s a beautifully renovated and cozy boutique property nestled in the Old Town where you’ll be hosted personally by the fantastic owners, Amanda and Chris. For more information about booking, visit the House Hidden website.
For other Stari Grad hotels, apartments and holiday homes, start your search on Booking.com.
How To Get To Stari Grad, Hvar
Although located in a deep cove on an Adriatic island, Stari Grad is relatively easy to get to. With a port that can accommodate car ferries, sail boats and cruise ships, travelers can easily to get to Stari Grad.
Ferry from Split to Hvar Island
Getting from Split to Hvar is best done by ferry (well, unless you have your own yacht!).
Croatia ferries make the trip from Split to Hvar several times a day to both Stari Grad and Hvar Town. There are two types of boats from Split to Hvar: Car Ferry and Catamaran.
Pro Tip: If you see signs for the Hvar airport around the island, don’t get too excited. The Hvar airport is just a grass field, not designed for commercial flights!
Ferry from Split to Stari Grad
The car ferry from Split to Hvar docks at Stari Grad. The Stari Grad ferry takes about 2 hours from Split.
The Stari Grad Port is 2km from the Stari Grad main square – but travelers can take a taxi or sometimes a bus (check the schedule). A picturesque shoreline path also connects the ferry port to Stari Grad.
In the high season, it is best to buy your Split-Stari Grad ferry tickets in advance.
Pro Tip: One of the best things to do in Split is to use the ferries to complete a day trip to Stari Grad. Just hop on the morning ferry to Stari Grad and return on the early evening Stari Grad to Split Ferry.
Ferry from Split to Hvar Town
The smaller (and faster) Split to Hvar catamaran docks at Hvar Town. In fact, the catamaran ferry from Split-Hvar Town docks right on the Hvar Riva in, dropping visitors off just steps from the main square.
That said, visitors using the catamaran ferry to Island Hvar with the intent of traveling to Stari Grad will need to determine how to get from Hvar Town to Stari Grad. Options include taxis, scooter or car rental or the local bus.
The catamaran from Split to Hvar Town only takes about an hour and is serviced by multiple companies. Although there are more ferries to Hvar Town, it is always wise to buy tickets in advance.
Travel from Stari Grad to Hvar Town
Traveling between Stari Grad and Hvar Town is fairly simple. The scenic drive between Hvar Town and Stari Grad takes about a half hour to drive. Check directions on Google Maps.
In fact, getting around Hvar Island is easy if you have a car. You can rent a car in Stari Grad (or Hvar Town) if you want to explore the island on your own and don’t want to travel from the mainland with a vehicle.
Alternatively, there is a bus from Stari Grad to Hvar Town for those traveling without a car. Check the most current Hvar to Stari Grad bus schedule at the bus stop in each town.
What You Will Need For Your Trip to Croatia
A few final travel tips and packing hacks before you travel to Croatia!
The Stari Grad Old Town is flat and walkable, but some of the stones on the streets are slick. It is best to pack comfortable travel shoes with slip-resistant soles for your trip. If you plan on taking excursions from Stari Grad or cycling the Stari Grad Plain, we recommend bringing activewear shoes.
Travel Camera for Croatia Photography
We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip to Croatia. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual travel camera for higher quality photos.
Packing for Croatia
Croatia Travel Insurance
We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to Croatia, travel protected with World Nomads.
Pin it! See all of our travel pins on our JetSetting Fools Pinterest Board.