Jelsa is a small bay-side town located in the middle of the northern coast of the island of Hvar in Croatia. The population of Jelsa is only 3,600, but this increases during the summer as tourists visit the town to see what it has to offer. Despite this, it felt neither touristy or crowded.
Just outside of Jelsa’s centre are several houses next to large swathes of grapevines which are used to make wine. In fact the agricultural plain lying further west of Jelsa “Starigrad Plain” is on of Croatia’s many UNESCO heritage listed sites, with the harvesting of grapes and olives – which was started in the area by the Ancient Greeks in the 4th century BC, continuing until this day.
The bay that Jelsa is located upon is stunning. The water is a beautiful, deep, vibrant blue, with fishing boats moored along the coastline. Being one of the only places on Hvar Island that contains a significant amount of freshwater, the vegetation is more luscious than on other parts of the island.
There are a variety of businesses, apartments, restaurants, cafes and bars all along the bay, providing the lifeblood of the local economy.
One of the best things to do in Jelsa is to wander around, admire the beauty of the old architecture and beautiful geography. After my walk, while sitting down for lunch overlooking the bay, I couldn’t help but clear my mind and engage in some inward reflection – Jelsa just has that effect on you.
Jelsa library is located right on the bay.
The old town of Jelsa remains largely intact, and is located to the right of the bay. It is full of beautiful old buildings, and narrow cobble stone lined streets. There are several little churches in the old town, such as the Renaissance-Baroque Church of St John. The church and many of the surrounding houses date back to the 16th century.
St Mary’s Church dates back to 1351 and was built in the Gothic style. In 1535 it was expanded significantly.
Jesla was an unexpected highlight of my time in Croatia. I only visited was because one of my work colleagues had spent some time there are few years back and highly recommended it. After a day there, I could see why. The bus trip from Hvar to Jelsa is a worthwhile one in itself, passing through some beautiful and varied scenery and towns before reaching its final destination.