Complete Guide to Visiting Jelsa Town and Grapceva Cave
Jelsa town is a small port on the north part of the island of Hvar. Located in the center of the island in just 10 km from the Stari Grad and 30 km from the town of Hvar , Jelsa is one of the most popular destinations on the island.
After Hvar town, Jelsa is a second settlement on the island of Hvar in terms of population, with about 3500 residents.
Thick pine forests, high poplars (which is quite rare on the Dalmatian islands), nice sand beaches, vineyards and olive-groves render this small town and its surroundings a special attraction.
In the immediate vicinity of the town are the two highest peaks on Hvar island, St. Nikola on the west and Hum on the east.
History Of Jelsa Town
First time Jelsa is mentioned in 1331. According the dates from the Statute of the town of Hvar, it’s named after a tree alder, birch species that grows in swampy ground.
In the second half of the nineteenth. century swamp near Jelsa was dried, and with it disappeared the alder trees.
Until the mid of 19th century , Jelsa had no the port as it looks today. The houses looked as if emerging from the sea that infiltrates into the city, creating a swamp.
Only drained the swamps, and cutting alder trees by which Jelsa is named, was created today’s town center with the Perivoj garden created in 1870, one of the most beautiful gardens in Dalmatia.
Things To See
Arriving in Jelsa town visitors can witness many cultural and historical monuments. Two of them are the most important among Hvar island attractions, the church of the Assumption and St John Square with its Renaissance and Baroque appearance.
During the summer season you can enjoy many folklore, religious, musical and theatrical events which traditionally take place in Jelsa:
- Nights of Antun Dobronic – Every year (20 July – 20 August) Jelsa organizes musical, drama and folklore events called the “Nights of Antun Dobronic”. Who is Antun Dobronic?
- Municipality Day – The Municipality of Jelsa has chosen the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (August 15) to celebrate Municipality Day by holding a ceremonial session and a banquet as well as evening entertainment and fireworks.
- Wine festival in Jelsa – Every year during the last weekend in August a traditional Wine fair is organized in Jelsa. The best wines from Hvar are on display as well as a variety of local gastronomic specialties.
Procession during Holy Week
Following the Cross
It’s a unique procession in the world that draws pilgrims and tourists who follow the barefoot cross bearer 22 km through the night on Monday/Thursday (Holy Thursday). This Cross Procession is on the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Processions are moving on Holy Thursday from six parochial churches of Jelsa, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska at 22:00 and before dawn on Good Friday on the way back.
For five centuries the people of Hvar in a special way celebrate Easter taking part in procession of ‘Following The Cross. This is a unique rite of special devotion and expression of religious and cultural identity of the inhabitants of Hvar island. Read more about this traditional procession on Jelsa tourist board website!
On of the interesting sights in vicinity of Jelsa town is this cave, the cradle of Hvar island culture and civilization. The cave is one of the prehistoric findings dating back to the New Stone Age (Neolithic Period) 5000 – 4000 years BC and one of the oldest discoveries in the Adriatic and the Mediterranean.
It is situated 239 m above sea level and was the cultish place of a Neolithic islander. The cave consists of a small hall (13,5 x 5 m) and a larger one (22 x 23 m) surrounded by hallways and chambers.
Nightlife and Party Venues
One of the most common reasons why many visitors choose to come to Jelsa town, except for the beautiful sandy beaches and friendly hosts who offer you accommodation in apartments and villas , is a rich choice of entertainment that can be found here .
The very center of Jelsa is along the riva (seafront) promenade. This is also the center of all happenings in Jelsa.
An unavoidable part of of nightlife in Jelsa are certainly ‘Tarantella‘ bar and ‘Taboo‘ lounge bar (known for its large selection of local spirits – particularly schnapps – rakija in Croatian).
Don’ miss also the ‘Villa Verde’ and enjoying couple of cocktails and a new opened ‘Mojito bar‘. It’s a great location and a great bar, for those looking for a wide choice of drinks to party all night.
Jelsa Town Beaches
East of of the town is a sandy cove called Mina, and on the small Glavica peninsula the public beach Soline. Since the sixties the islet of Zecevo has been frequented by nudists, which makes Jelsa one of the pioneers of nudist tourism on the Croatian coast.
Within a short walking distance there is a sandy beach bay Mina ideal for small children. A nearby hotel Hvar Jelsa with many facilities is another advantage.
In Jelsa town and the surrounding area there are many activities you can take during your stay in this part of the island. There are many hiking and mountain trails suitable for hikers to some important sights like:
- Humac, once a shepherds’ settlement, is located 7 km east from Jelsa town, 350 m above sea level and offers a bird’s eye view of the valleys and the west side of the Island, providing a view of the Island of Brac and the coastline of Makarska.
- There are two towers situated on a mountain plateau south of Jelsa: the Greek-Illyrian Tower Tor from the 4th century BC and the medieval town fortress Galesnik.
- For hiking and biking fans you can take a 10 km trail from Jelsa to Stari Grad, visiting UNESCO Stari Grad plain.
- Free Climbing – The climbing area is situated in a little cove called Vela Stiniva, with no more than a dozen houses and a nice beach. The cove is in direction of Sucuraj (the easternmost town on the island of Hvar).
After about 15km from Jelsa town, you will reach a hill village Zastrazisce. In the village, turn left at the sign for ‘Vela Stiniva’ and just follow the road to the sea. There are about 80 marked routes on the rocks on both sides of the cove for free-climbers to enjoy.
Getting To Jelsa
If you are driving Jelsa town can be reached by car ferry to Stari Grad port. From there you have to proceed to Jelsa (10 km). Check all information how to get to Hvar island!
The other way to get to Jelsa is a fast catamaran line from Split to Jelsa (via Bol town on Brac island). This is only a passengers line, operating by Jadrolinija, only in high season period.
The third and most faster way to reach Jelsa is taking a seaplane from Split port or Split airport. In just 13 minutes from € 19,50 one way is the most comfortable way of traveling.