Vrboska hidden gem of Hvar Island

Posted on: July 7th, 2019 / Author: Mate I.

Located in the Municipality of Jelsa, on the northern coast of Hvar Island, Vrboska was founded in the 15th century.

This is the smallest town on the island, and is known as the hidden gem of Hvar.

Vrboska is known as Little Venice because of the way it has been built. The town is actually built on both sides of a curved and narrow fjord, and the two side are connected by stone bridges – just like the Venice in Italy.

Stone Bridges of Vrboska Town Hvar Island travel guide
Stone bridges in Vrboska – Hvar Island

The name of the town is also interesting. One theory is that it is derived from the name of the inland fishing village – Vrbanj – whose people first used this inlet as a fishing port.

Another theory is that the name was derived from the Latin word for forest – verboscam. Whatever be the case, this little town now has a unique identity of its own!

A breathtakingly beautiful little town, you will see a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance as well as Baroque architecture that is uniquely Dalmatian.

Beautiful old stone houses along narrow, cobbled streets with enchant you, revealing hidden cafes and other delights.

With only just over 500 permanent residents, you can wander around this little time, without seeing anyone else on the beautiful streets during the less busy months of the year!

Things to Do in Vrboska

This little town is a beautiful place to visit, perfect for a quiet family holiday. There are many sights in and around the town, as well as activities that will keep you entertained.

The Church Fortress of St. Mary

This is definitely the highlight of the town. This architectural marvel is unique to the region.

Originally, it was just the Church of St. Mary, however, in 1465, the Turks destroyed it. The church was then rebuilt in as a fortress-church around 1575 as a place of refuge against the marauding Turkish forces.

Church Fortress of St Mary in Vrboska on Hvar Island Croatia Itinerary
Church Fortress of St. Mary – Vrboska

This fortress is considered to be the most beautiful in all of Croatia. It is also considered to be one of the most beautiful churches in Europe!

The view from the roof of this fortress church is stunning. You can see the sea on one side and the surround countryside on the other side.

In the old days, this was the perfect place to spot incoming marauding ships.

The church is open to visitors and the timings are given on the church door. You can also check with the local tourist board to find out when you can visit.

The Church of St. Lawrence

Vrboska was originally the sister settlement of Vrbanj.

However, by the 16th century, the settlers the town split into two factions – those who wanted Vrboska to become independent of Vrbanj, and those who didn’t.

St Lawrence Church In Vrboska Hvar Island
St. Lawrence Church In Vrboska Hvar Island

Those that wanted to stay within Vrbanj’s domicile gathered in the fortress church, however, those that wanted to be an independent town built their own church – right next to the Church of St. Mary – and called it the Church of St. Lawrence.

This led to the feud within the brotherhood to turn even more bitter, with each faction attempting to claim more privileges and greater jurisdiction, until even the Lord was saddened by this situation. It is said that in 1614, the Holy Cross wept.

The story goes that Katarina, the young daughter of one of the local fishermen, saw tears streaming down from a small cross, which was interpreted as a plea for unity between the factions.

Since then the Crying Cross has been commemorated every year on the first Friday of March, and is one of the major festivals in the town today.

The Fishing Museum

As a fishing community, the locals felt it was necessary to preserve their fishing tradition. So, in 1972, the Fishing Museum was opened.

Here, you will see a fascinating collection of fishing nets, tools, as well as the machinery of the salted sardine fish factory that used to operate in this town in the 19th and early 20th century.

Hvar Fishing Museum in Vrboska
Fisherman museum in Vrboska, Hvar island

There are also some beautifully crafted models of the fishing boats that were used by the locals, lovely curving wooden boats with lanteen rigged sails.

The museum has also reconstructed a fishman’s house from 100 years ago, and this is a graphic example how they had to struggle for their living.

There is a copy of the Statute of Hvar, which had been written in 1643 – a set of rules that governed fishing on the island.

An interesting document, it clearly outlined to fishmen where they were allowed to fish, and with what kinds of nets, and even when they could fish.

The Wineries

A place you must visit when you are in Vrboska is the Pinjata Winery.

Whether you are a wine-lover or not, this place is wonderful!

You can see the authentic konoba where the wines are kept and you can have a wine-tasting session with some delicious home-made appetizers.

Pinjata Winery and Restaurant Vrboska
Pinjata winery and restaurant in Vrboska

And if you are a wine-lover, then you must not miss out trying Ivo and Ivana Caric’s wines at their tasting room in Vrboska.

Their wines have been gaining a lot of critical acclaim in recent years, and are exported to countries around the world.

The Beaches of Vrboska

It doesn’t matter where on Hvar Island you are. The beaches are a must visit.

And Vrboska boasts one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. So, go on over to Soline beach.

Soline beach Vrboska
Soline beach Vrboska

A lovely beach with tiny pebbles and shallow crystal-clear waters that also has an aqua park for the little ones.

There is also a naturist camp, which is one of the biggest and most important on the island as well as Croatia.

Kamp Nudist is located at a discreet distance from the town and to get there, you need to go through a fragrant pine forest.

A Lot More to Offer!

We have only mentioned some of the top spots in Vrboska. There is a lot more to do in this quiet little town.

If you ever get a chance, you should visit the Secret Garden; it isn’t open to the public, but people do get invited sometimes!

Stone Bridges of Vrboska Town Hvar Island travel guide
Stone bridges in Vrboska – Hvar Island

You can also take a romantic boat ride on the traditional Lantina boats, or attend one of the many cultural and religious festivals held in the town.

There are of, course adventure sports.

In fact, Vrboska is one of the few places where you can go wind-surfing on the island.

You can go kayaking under the canal bridges, and it can be quite challenging because of the limited space!

How to Get to Vrboska

If you are flying then, you can opt for one of the three airports in the area – Dubrovnik, Split or Zadar.

Split - Marjan Hill panoramic view of Split
View on Split Croatia from Marjan park forest

The closest airport to Hvar Island is Split, which is just a 40-minute ferry ride away from the island.

If you wish to take the scenic route, you can take the ferry to any one of the ports on the island and then drive down to Vrboska.

Vrboska is only 7km away from Stari Grad, 3km from Jelsa, and it takes about 25 minutes by road from Hvar Town.

If you’re planning to travel to Vrboska via Dubrovnik, be prepared for a longish journey.

You will need to take the ferry to Sućuraj.

From there, you have to take a winding road for about 60km until you reach the turn for Vrboska.

A word of caution here, this road can be a little dangerous, so it is advisable to drive carefully.