While you can easily soak up the sun on Hvar, it’s worth hiring a boat or catching a water taxi to the nearby Pakleni islands, a tiny archipelago of about 20 islets where there are plenty of places to have a dip and small, secluded beaches to get a tan – all-over if you fancy it. One of the most popular beaches is St Jerolim, and even though it’s a long-established naturist beach, you can keep your triangles on. Same goes at Stipanska and St Klement, the largest, but the general consensus is gear off.

Back on Hvar, set aside time to explore the fascinating historical and cultural delights of the town, particularly the _panjol Fortress. It’s a steep and sweaty trek up a winding hill, but once you hit the top, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the red-roofed town below across to the Pakleni islands. It’s also a symbol of the turbulent history of the town, which has endured frequent changes of rule, including Venetian (which explains the gorgeous architecture), Austrian and French. Before converting to a fortress in the 1500s to ward off the invading Turks (the whole town was destroyed in 1571), it was a medieval castle. Inside there’s a collection of relics that have been fished from the sea.

The other main site is the town square itself. St Stephen’s, a Renaissance-baroque style cathedral, stands tall on the eastern side, alongside a belltower from the 17th century, while the Arsenal building, which houses an art gallery and one of the oldest theatres in Europe (built in 1612), is positioned on the opposite edge towards the harbour. Spilling from the piazza, a string of stalls are piled high with beaded jewellery and lavender-scented keepsakes.

Before you swap your hiking for drinking boots, pound your way to the Franciscan monastery, which is south of the town (follow the quay). Formerly a hospice for sailors, it contains some fetching 15th- and 16th-century paintings, including the famous Last Supper. Which brings up the matter of larder – the seafood here is amazing, so be sure to lap up some island lobster.

Sail away
Hvar is one of many islands in Croatia along the Dalmatian Coast. While you’re here, you might as well hop to a few and the easiest way is by sailing boat. Here are a few stops you should make:

• Brac: stop off in Milna, a small fishing village with peaceful bays, ideal for a quiet unwind; and Bol, home to the stone the White House is made from and great cocktail bar Varadero, on the main strip.

• Korcula: Said to be birthplace of Marco Polo has a selection of interesting museums, including the adventurer’s old digs. There’s also a thriving nightlife.

• Mljet: Naturally beautiful, half of this island is a pristine national park and there’s also two inland saltwater lakes. It’s the perfect place to hire a moped and explore.

• Dubrovnik: OK, so it’s not an island but the jewel of the Adriatic is one of Croatia’s best preserved cities, completely surrounded with walls and forts. There’s plenty to see and do here, but make time to relax in one of the many al-fresco cafés and bars.

After hours hvar
For a top night out, hop along to the BB Club on the harbourfront, where you can sit against a backdrop of luxurious yachts and watch the sun go down. DJs are on hand to get you in the spirit, before you move onto to Carpe Diem, the island’s hippest club. Open until 5am, it’s where in-the-know tourists, trendy local crew and the odd celebrity flock to drink and dance the night away. With a list of cocktails almost as long as the island’s coastline, you’re unlikely to go thirsty. To save you making your way through them all, top picks include the Bikini Bomber, King Kong, Flying Kangaroo, Drive Me Crazy and Surfers on Acid – Jägermeister mixed with coconut, lime and pineapple juice. Phwoar.

Visit TNT’s Croatia Travel Guide.