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How to Book a Villa on Hvar: Here’s What to Know

Every summer, Hvar welcomes thousands of guests to its shores for unparalleled nightlife, pristine beaches, and endless Mediterranean charm. While the island offers a few hotels, most guests stay in independently owned rooms, apartments, or villas. Going beyond the comfort zone of recognised hospitality brands has become easier in recent years due to platforms like Airbnb, but there is still some risk of the unknown. Here are some tips and best practices that will ensure you and your loved ones rent an incredible villa at a fair price when you come to Hvar.

Where to Begin: One Key Question

In planning a vacation, one considers budget, number of travellers, and the duration of one’s visit. But the most important question beyond these practical essentials is: how do you want to feel when you are on holiday?

The answer might seem obvious – you want to feel great! But there are different ways to enjoy one’s time abroad, and Hvar offers a wonderful spectrum of experiences for a variety of travellers seeking different things. For example, Hvar Town’s nightclubs are the highlight of Europe’s summer music season. But Hvar Town is a tiny corner of Hvar island. Stari Grad offers refined nautical luxury and farm-to-table dining. Jelsa is affordable and convenient. Ivan Dolac, Zavala, and Sveta Nedelja are beach towns. Farther east, there are opportunities for true solitude and escape. The mountain towns of Pitve, Svirče, Vrisnik, Dol, and Vrbanj offer a feeling of refreshment and traditional European rural life.

Hvar Town

Hvar Town: a tiny far-west corner of Hvar island

Some people want to do absolutely nothing on holiday – they want a break from over-packed schedules and demanding lives. Others want to get active – a change of pace from sedentary routines. Or to explore history and culture through cuisine, archaeology, and museums. And there are those who are looking for new friendships and relationships in a celebratory, carefree setting. All of those experiences are available on Hvar, but not all at once or in the same place.

Think back over previous vacations and activities. Which ones did you really love? When did you feel most alive and like your best self? What do those places and moments have in common? Once you know what conditions make you thrive, then you can build your holiday on Hvar around those characteristics.

The Best Location for a Villa on Hvar

We have already written a very detailed guide to Hvar’s layout and regions, so we won’t reiterate all of that here, but be aware that aside from Stari Grad, Jelsa, and Hvar Town, all other destinations more or less require a car in order to get around. The mountain villages are quite close to those three main towns. The seaside towns on the southern coast are about 30 minutes away, but have their own handful of restaurants and bodegas. Finally, everything east of Jelsa can be considered truly remote.

Within each of those regions mentioned above, you have rentals that are more or less walkable. Even in Pokrivenik, a gorgeous bay on the largely undiscovered northern coast of Hvar, there are some rentals which are right on the water, and others that require a longer walk. A 15-minute stroll to the beach can get old if you’re schlepping cushions, snacks, a cooler full of drinks, towels, an umbrella, and all the rest of it.

Pokrivenik Bay from above

Pokrivenik Bay from above. Photo credit: Vice Rudan

Likewise, in Hvar, there are rentals that are directly on the Riva (a water-side pedestrian thoroughfare), which is always noisy at night, and there are villas perched high above the town, which require an arduous walk up countless stairs every time you want to return to your room.

The gorgeous (yet nonetheless tiring) cobbled street stairs of Hvar town

The gorgeous (yet nonetheless tiring) cobbled street stairs of Hvar town

Look closely at where properties are placed and don’t hesitate to call us if you have questions about the ideal spot. We only include well-positioned properties in our portfolio, but we can explain our rationale to you so that you can better understand your destination.

Who Manages the Property?

When you’re scrolling through pictures of villas online, you’re probably thinking about the views, the ambience, common spaces, and appliances. You might not be thinking about who will be there to make sure that everything runs smoothly, but this person or company is so important to the quality of your stay."

Don’t book a property if the owner or manager doesn’t have a strong track record of positive reviews, or else you might wind up in a dirty apartment or having long negotiations to make sure someone can let you in when you show up at the door.

If you can, call the property manager to ask a few questions: what happens if an appliance breaks? What would you do if we had a medical emergency? If something goes wrong in the middle of the night, will someone be available to help us?

Finally, a limited number of property managers on the island, including Hvar Away, offer a concierge service, which is a huge bonus that a lot of people don’t appreciate. If you are staying somewhere far from a grocery store, we can deliver what you need. If you don’t want to hire a car, but want to travel someplace far away, we can arrange a taxi service for you at the best available rate. We can recommend restaurants and design itineraries with vetted partners who are guaranteed to provide you with a safe and memorable experience. While these services cost a little bit more money, it is worth it in the long run not to waste precious time on holiday dealing with errands or sitting through mediocre activities.

Alavia Bar & Restaurant

Alavia Bar & Restaurant, an exclusive Hvar hilltop spot we recommend to our guests wishing for a magical evening

The Best Time to Rent a Villa on Hvar

If you are into nightlife, the best time to be on Hvar is unquestionably high summer: late June through the end of August. Outside of those months, the clubs are quieter or closed completely.

For families travelling with children, often the only possible time is during the kids’ holidays from mid July through the end of August.

For other visitors, the shoulder season is ideal: May through mid-June and September through mid-October. The weather in these months is spectacular: sunny, warm, and breezy enough to make outdoor activities like hiking and biking terrifically fun. Prices are also considerably lower in these seasons. The sea is better in the fall than the spring, because in the fall it’s still warm from the summer. Weather also tends to be more reliable in the fall. The spring is known for getting a few rainy days and strong winds.

For digital nomads and other long-term travellers, the winter is worth exploring, but with a bit of caution. Apartments and villas in southern Croatia are usually built to serve guests in warm weather. They can be quite chilly in the winter months and sometimes a bit leaky. With that said, if you can find a place that is well insulated for a good price, Hvar is truly a paradise in the wintertime for those who love the outdoors and quiet activities like painting and writing.

Springtime in Hvar Town

Springtime in Hvar Town

From late November through December the island sees a lot of rain, although nothing like the U.K. or the Low Countries. Other months are cool and sunny – ideal for long days outside. Most restaurants are closed, so the island is very quiet indeed, but there is a small population of expats here (including us!) who get together regularly.

How to Book a Villa on Hvar

Once you’ve zeroed in on your dream property with the perfect location, amenities, and price – then you’re ready to book! You can choose between booking through a third party platform like Airbnb or Booking.com, booking directly with the property owner or agency, or paying in cash when you arrive.

We don’t recommend paying in cash. Too many things can go wrong and you have no recourse under those circumstances. A lot of transactions happen in cash in Croatia for a variety of historical and tax reasons, but very few villa or apartment rentals are handled in this way, and we strongly discourage you from rolling the dice here.

Booking directly with the owner using your credit card or a bank transfer is somewhat safer, because there is a paper trail, but it can still put you in a difficult position if you are unsatisfied with your stay for whatever reason. Airbnb and Booking.com both have strong refund policies and customer support teams designed to protect guests. We recommend booking with agencies, like ours, which match or exceed those customer protections. If you find an agency like this, book with them directly. The price is usually lower, because they do not charge as much in overhead fees, and dealing with a human being is almost always easier than getting on the phone with essentially a software company.

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