Hvar, Croatia

Hvar is a town on an island of the same name, sitting proudly in crystal clear Adriatic waters less than 25 miles south of Split. Undoubtedly one of the Dalmatian Coast’s most beautiful destinations.

Hvar may, of course, simply be your springboard towards the many other stunningly beautiful islands and islets sprinkled in the surrounding waters. Amidst the Pakleni Islands, a short boat ride from Hvar Town, hidden bays and coves arc into the green wooded interiors, creating secluded pockets of sand and pebble beaches.

Standing on a large natural bay, Hvar’s appeal stretched back to the ancient Greeks, and perhaps even earlier. It was as an important trading post for the Venetians that Hvar really flourished - for six centuries. Subsequent invasions and pirate attacks have left a beautiful legacy, photogenic fortifications that wrap themselves around this gorgeous town.

Inland are patchworks of olive groves, vineyards and lavender fields, which you can easily explore further on foot or by bicycle. Sampling the bounty of this fertile land is another rewarding day out, and you may be able to call in for tastings of the local olive oil or Croatian wines.

Probably no part of the island has been farmed longer than the UNESCO-listed Stari Grad Plain to the east of Hvar Town. Established by the Greeks almost 2,500 years ago, it still retains dry stone walls and evidence of its irrigation systems.

Within the town itself, winding alleys and marbled streets possess an undoubted charm, not to mention a huge number of treasures. The fifteenth century Franciscan monastery with its Renaissance cloisters, for example, offers a haven of serenity close to the waterfront.

While Hvar is quaint, it has pockets of grandeur. Foremost among these is St. Stephen’s Square, whose namesake cathedral features a four-story bell tower and holds a collection of medieval and Renaissance paintings. Close by stands the great Arsenal, within whose cavernous interior war galleons were once repaired and refitted. A fortress overlooks it all, the neat marina, bobbing with yachts, and the orange-red roofs, given extra warmth by the light of the summer sun.