Urshka is our go-to tour guide and expert on the island of Hvar. We’ve been entrusting our clients with her for years because of her infectious zeal for the island. Here, we have a chat about her ideal tours and the lesser-known areas of the island.
Interview with Urshka, our Hvar expert
HK: Hi Urshka, how are you?
Urshka: Hello Heather! Everything is good here, thank you. We are seeing things open up in Hvar after the effects of the virus. Usually I would be busy giving tours to visitors now, but instead I am extremely busy home-schooling my daughter.
HK: That is a big change. Everything has been turned upside down recently. I hope you can answer some questions about your Hvar private tours so that people can get an idea of what the island has to offer?
Urshka: Yes. I will be happy to.
HK: Great. Why Hvar is a must visit destination on any Croatia itinerary?
Urshka: Simply because it is amazing and beautiful. Every island here in Croatia is nice, but Hvar has a special kind of charm. I have been to many islands around Croatia, but my heart told me ‘This is the one’. So that’s why I live here with my family now.
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HK: Which is your favorite town in Hvar and why?
Urshka: My favorite is Hvar Town, but perhaps I’m biased because I live here. I have two other favorites; Stari Grad and Vrboska. These my favorite towns, but also there are lots of charming smaller villages on the island. Some of them are abandoned, some have lots of fascinating history. Vrboska for example is lovely – we call it Little Venice because of the long canal and cute stone bridges. It’s just beautiful and feels like life stops there. The feeling amongst the people there is a little bit different. It could be because there are still fishermen that live there. People don’t solely rely on tourism to make a living. It’s remote and laid-back.
Stari Grad is special because of its history. It’s the oldest town on the island. In fact ‘Stari Grad’ means ‘Old Town’ and it’s one of the oldest in the whole country. The Ancient Greeks founded the town and settled there because it was so beautiful.
Not only is it beautiful, but there is also the Stari Grad Plain which is a UNESCO-protected site. Farmers grow the same crops on the plain that the Greeks grew there more than 2,400 years ago, mainly grapes and olives.
HK: Describe your perfect day tour in Hvar for couples.
Urshka: It’s a great destination for couples. I would take them on a private tour which had a good mixture of meeting locals, privacy, adventure and relaxation. They could either travel by car or by boat.
HK: What would you suggest if they travelled by boat? I think that sounds more romantic.
Urshka: I would say, they should start in Hvar Town. Perhaps take a tour to visit the interesting buildings and get a feel for its hustle and bustle. They could also walk up to the Spanish Fortress where you have amazing views of the nearby islands. After they’ve walked back to town, they could take a private boat to the Pakleni Islands that they’ve just seen from the fortress view.
The Pakleni Islands are often a highlight for my clients. There are quiet bays and a handful of great bars and restaurants. The sea is really lovely here, shallow and clear, great for swimming and snorkelling.
Their private boat could then take them to the southern side of Hvar island. Personally I think the southern side is much much nicer. People don’t tend to go there, so it’s much quieter. There are some stunning pebble bays where they can stop and swim.
There’s also a great winery by the sea on the south side of the island where guests can take a tour of the vineyards. The vineyards here are quite unique as they are grown on really steep slopes which means the grapes have very full-on exposure to the sun for a shorter period of time throughout the day, which can make the wine more fortified. This winery also has a wine cellar under the sea. The wines they make here win many awards in Croatia.
HK: That sounds like where I’d like to spend my weekend – in a winery by the sea.
Urshka: Me too. It’s really really nice!
So for the couple, they could have lunch on the Pakleni islands or even at this vineyard where they also have a great tasting menu. We could also organise tastings of other local products, like honey or chocolate. There’s something for everyone, and you’ll always come away having learnt something about Hvar Island.
HK: What does Hvar offer for families?
Urshka: Usually families spend time on the other side of the island, so in Jelsa or even in Stari Grad because it’s more peaceful. Hvar Town in peak season can be very busy, so families sometimes steer away from that.
There are some good activities for families in Jelsa and Vrboska. Depending on the age of the kids, they could try sea-kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and other watersports. Or there is also a paintballing park on the island.
HK: Sounds fun.
Urshka: Yes, we almost have everything here on the island.
HK: Are there any new tours you are working on for when you are able to welcome visitors again?
Urshka: Yes, every year we try to add something new. We have a new tour which is a private cooking class in the heart of the island with including dinner and tastings of olive oil, herbs and spices.
I’m also excited about a new speedboat tour. It’s going to be a truly amazing experience. The guide is a friend of mine who used to be a fisherman. He takes the guests beach-hopping whilst wine-tasting by speedboat. It’s a chilled out day and the guide always snorkels with the guests and is good at finding octopuses hiding spots!
Another of my favourite tours is a big tasting tour of everything local on the island. It includes honey, wine, chocolate, brandy – we get great reviews from guests about this one.
HK: Sounds fantastic. Thanks so much for your time, Urshka. Looking forward to seeing you Croatia as soon as we can!
Urshka: You are welcome. Yes, you too.
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