The Hvar Climbing Festival

7 minute read

We have already written about Hvar as an exceptional location for sports climbing

But, did you know that Hvar has as many as 10 climbing sites and over 500 routes for sport climbing? I have learned about the origins of the Hvar Climbing Festival and the unique features of Hvar as a climbing destination from one of the festival organizers, Fabijan Belić.

First Climbing Site On The Island Hvar

The oldest climbing site on the island was established over 20 years ago in Sveta Nedilja on the southern side of the island. The team from Cliffbase was actually the first to start bolting routes on the island and gradually, using private means, built a network of climbing routes on the high cliffs of Hvar Afterward, the climbing site in Milna near Hvar was developed with the help of funds provided by the tourist boards of the island. Then, there were Straćine near Stari Grad, Vela Stiniva as the largest climbing site, followed by the coves of Pokrivenik and Podstine near Hvar.

Climbing destination with accommodations for climbers

Young Fabijan, a returnee from Germany, speaks with a charming mix of the local “bodulski” dialect and German accent. When it comes to island vocabulary, he could easily beat me in no time, as my brain switches dialects depending on whom I am speaking with.

Nona would slap me right on the mouth if she heard it.

What is truly special is the fact that upon returning to the island, Fabijan created a guesthouse with an actual climbing wall in his family home in Jelsa. I believe this might be the only accommodation on the island that offers such an in-house recreational facility. Correct me if I’m wrong. It’s wonderful to hear that guests specifically come to Fabijan’s guesthouse for climbing, especially during March and April. As a cliff climbing guide, he leads tours around the island, allowing climbers to explore Hvar’s beautiful climbing spots and enjoy their passion for the sport. Genius!

RROIC // Hvar Climbing Festival

The duo who built the Hvar Climbing Festival

My father recently told me, “If you want something to be done here, you have to do it yourself. Later, things will start rolling, but first, you have to do it on your own.” That’s how Fabijan met another islander based in Zagreb, Roko Roić, through their shared love for climbing. Together, they created two climbing locations that were published in the ninth edition of the Croatian climbing guide last year. Roko bolted one of the most challenging climbing sites, Lučišća near Hvar town, while Fabijan decided to develop the climbing site at Pitve, Popinjenica

RROIC // Hvar Climbing Festival

Expensive and dangerous hobby

I’m watching a video clip in which young Roče is hanging from the cliff and drilling a hole with a hammer drill, and the dust keeps falling on his head, filling his mouth. The clip is hilarious and has over 9 million views on social media channels. How do they choose the climbing sites they will work on?

The stone decides. When we are hiking or simply walking in the woods, we look for beautiful rocks and assess whether it’s worth creating a climbing site there. How far is it from the location, and can we reach it by car?


He reveals to me that bolting climbing routes is a very expensive sport, and most of the development on the island was done independently by solo climbers, primarily for their own enjoyment.

HVAR CLIMBING //Climbing on Hvar

Success Of The First Climbing Festival

This festival was created with the support of the Jelsa Tourist Board. I hope that other tourist boards will recognize such activities and, through joint efforts, promote this sport by providing support and resources. Hvar, as a climbing destination, has tremendous potential, especially during the pre-season when the weather is favorable for such activities. It attracts a specific niche of people who seek challenges and unique climbing experiences. And Hvar offers all of that, and more.

Considering everything, the teams had a great time exploring the island in old trucks and the festival photos have circulated throughout the region. There were over 300 participants, including several top-notch professionals, and the youngest competitor was only 7 years old . Climbing is a sport enjoyed by both children and adults, and as Fabijan reveals, kids often outperform older climbers because they lack fear. Perhaps it’s a great idea to consider adding a climbing wall to the new sports and recreational center in the city of Hvar. It could provide an excellent opportunity for people of all ages to engage in this exciting sport and further promote climbing on the island. Just thinking out loud.

hvar climbing festival
RROIC // Hvar Climbing Festival

I can’t wait for next year’s edition; the date is already marked. See you on May 30, 2024, at the Hvar Climbing Festival!

With love, M.

See more