Stari Grad is a small town with a very ancient history that lies in a sheltered bay along the northern coast of the island of Hvar. The town is said to have been founded around 384 B.C. by settlers from theGreek island of Paros and then, given its origins, was named Civitas Vetus, or ‘old town’, by the Romans.
Thanks to its location and its harbour, this town was for centuries a sailor’s town that based its economy on fishing and trade, and its small but atmospheric old town holds many traces of its past. Now Stari Grad presents itself as a quiet and relaxed tourist destination that is surrounded by cultivated fields, vineyards and olive groves.
The centre boasts several typical restaurants where you can eat excellent local cuisine, small shops and several cafes. It is important to know that Stari Grad is not ideal for those looking for nightlife and nightclubs, but it is perfect for a slow-paced stay and for those who enjoy small, uncrowded beaches where they can sunbathe in relaxation.
Stari Grad with its wide bay contains not only public beaches with all facilities, but also numerous wild coves and natural bays, some of which are not marked and can only be reached by sea. In the northernmost part of the shoreline is Bonj Beach, a pebble beach (with a few concrete slabs) that can be easily reached on foot from the centre and is famous for its crystal-clear waters. In addition to restaurants and bars, children’s playgrounds and many other facilities can also be found here, making Bonj a popular beach with tourists and locals alike.
The southern part of the bay (about 100 metres from the Borik district) is home to Lantern beach, which is surrounded by a green pine forest and is characterised by a pebble beach washed by a turquoise sea. The beach is also equipped with facilities such as showers, changing rooms, toilets and sunbed and umbrella rental.
Slightly outside the town centre, near the settlement of Rudina, is the Žukova Bay, a beach surrounded by lush pine trees and washed by crystal clear sea. Ideal for those looking for a secluded and quiet spot, Žukova boasts a pebble beach that has neither bars nor restaurants, so it is essential to bring your own drinks and food for the day.
The centre of Stari Grad consists of narrow streets surrounded by stone houses, small churches and numerous small squares that are often meeting places. Strolling through the town, you can’t miss a visit to the Church of St. Stephen, which was built in the 17th century, and a stop at the town museum, which is located inside the Biankini Palace and houses artefacts found in the area since Greek times. Continuing on, you will find the Monastery of St Dominic, founded in 1482, inside which are preserved some truly ancient writings. Finally, the symbol of the city is the Tvrdalj holiday home of Petar Hektorović, who was one of the most famous authors of the Croatian Renaissance.
For a different day out, you can plan a cycling trip to the Stari Grad plain, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. The spectacular nature of this area lies in the fact that the agricultural landscape has been preserved as it was in the time of the ancient Greeks. This fertile plain has always been dedicated to cultivation and here you can still see the ‘chora’, the ancient system of land division used in ancient Greece, as well as stone walls and small shelters built by farmers and breeders.
Being a small village, Stari Grad does not have the abundance of accommodation and facilities found in larger towns on the island. In the northernmost part of the bay of Stari Grad there are mostly flats and private houses, which are a popular option in Croatia; in the southernmost area there are also hotels and a resort. In the area of the old town, several old buildings have been renovated and converted into accommodation facilities, and some of these have become cosy boutique hotels.
Reaching Stari Grad is very easy both for those travelling by car and those relying on public transport, although it must be said that the car is definitely the best way to discover this island and its hidden gems. Those travelling by car from Hvar will take around forty-five minutes to reach Stari Grad via the D116, while from Jelsa it takes around fifteen minutes.
Ferries of the SNAV company connect Stari Grad with the city of Ancona with weekly departures; the port of Stari Grad is less than 2 km from the main town square, which can be reached by taking a taxi or bus from the pier area. In addition, numerous other lines connect the island of Hvar with Split, Rijeka and Dubrovnik. Local buses connect the town of Stari Grad with Hvar, Jelsa and other settlements on the island.
Stari Grad is a quiet town on the northern coast of the island of Hvar. The town is 25 km from Hvar and only 10 km from Jelsa.