Vis is small island in central Dalmatia, placed 45 km from the mainland, and 8 km from the island Hvar. It is the most distant, inhabited Croatian island, for many years tourist was prohibited access to the island as it was used for military purpose. Do to this and its remoteness the island has never been overrun by tourists. As a result of that the island has many areas where the nature is wild and untouched, the resent years there has been written a great deal about this “secret” island and its amazingly beautiful beaches and incredible blue and crystal clear sea.
The Island can be reached from Split with daily car ferry lines and a daily fast boat lines (catamaran), both sailing to the main town Vis on the island, when the ferry arrives buses are waiting for those who needs to go to Komiza or other places on the island. During main season the international car ferry between Split and Ancona also stops on Vis.
Excursions in the countryside will thrill those annoyed by the urban atmosphere and everyday hectic rhythm. Here you can see vineyards, olive-groves, beautiful landscapes and from the highest point of the island Human, the surrounding small island from Vis archipelago (Bisevo, Jabuka, Palagruza…). If the weather is clear it is also possible to see Italy. Spend one evening at the hill top to see the sunset, the impression will definitely remain in your memory for long time.
Vis city is do to its ferry connection to the mainland the largest of the cities on the island, the city is stretched through out most of the bay, which means is has one of the longest sea promenades in Croatia, a walk a lon the promenade in the evening is a must do. Vis is popular among sailors, in the afternoon, sailing and motorboat rally to get some of the best spots along the promenade. In the evening people gather up in the restaurant and bars along the promenade, often one have chance to enjoy locals singing Klapa.
The other main city on the Island is Komiza, which is on opposite site of the island, the city is one of the most charming in hole Croatia. From Komiza centre taxi boats are daily sailing to small island of Bisevo 5 km from Komiza, on Bisovo there is one of Croatias most famous tourist attractions, the Blue Cave, which offers a unique reflection of shades of blue and silver that delights any visitors.
History os Island Vis:
Vis was inhabited already in ancient times and is one of oldest inhabitations in Croatia. Dionisius the Older, the tyrant of Siracuse, founded the first settlement named Issa, in the 4th century B.C.
Ancient Issa was independent city state, urban and commercial centre of the Adriatic. It even minted its own money. Issa remained independent until 1st century BC, when it became a part of the Roman Empire. After that, Issa lost its significant role, but it was still an important strategic position that could control all the maritime ways.
In 7th and 8th century the Croats came to Issa. They soon mingled with the natives and renamed Issa to Vis.
In 925 Croatian Monarch Tomislav took over administration over the island. After the death of Croatian ruler Kresimir, a war of succession erupted and the Narentines under Serbian Prince Časlav Klonimirović took the island in 948. Period of their rule lasted short, as the Byzantines restored control. Brothers of Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja Miroslav and Stracimir made raids on Vis in 1184 and 1185.
In the middle Ages it often changed rulers, and then for a long time it was under Venice, which founded the main settlement, named Velo Selo. During Venetian and Austrian domination, the island's name was Lissa.
After Vienna Congress in 1815, Vis got under the rule of the Habsburg Monarchy.
During World War II, Vis was at one point the main hideout of Josip Broz Tito, the leader of the Yugoslav resistance movement. The strategic importance of Vis was proved once again. The temporary refugee camps were organised here for further shipment to Italy and Egypt. Vis was the base of the Allied Forces planes and navy (Now days, British war veterans visit the island for a yearly cricket game). It was a place of battles against Italians and Germans, place from which all communication were made with the Allies and a place were treaties were signed. The enormous contribution of Vis in the struggle against the oppressors put it into special position in the time of peace.
After the war, the Yugoslav People's Army used the island as one of its main naval bases. In the 45 years to come there were more military than inhabitants, the foreign tourist were banned to come to visit Vis. There were no investments in economy, everything was aimed to keep up the military. The only trades that had decent process were founded thousands of years ago, wine growing and fishing. The photo below is a submarine tunnel which you can see on the island (Close to Vis city). The submarine tunnel is connected to a network subsurface tunnel system, where the soldiers was living and working.
After Croatia became independent, its navy did not reclaim most of the facilities, and the many abandoned buildings are being used for civilian purposes, including modern happenings. An area on Humac, the highest peak on the island is still used for military purposes.
This small island hides many worthseeing things, in coastal towns, also in villages deeper in inland.
Town Vis, or ancient Issa, was built upon the regular urban matrix. Most important remains are: thermae, necropolis, theatre and remains of the port. Sacral heritage is very rich here; many churches are built all around the island, there is also beautiful Franciscan monastery.
Vis was attractive to many rich and noble families – today there are villas Jaksa, Dojmi, Delupis and Hektorovic. As it was important strategic point, there are remains of many fortresses: Venetian, English and Austrian-Hungarian. However, most known are Second World War monuments: Tito's cave and many underground tunnels used for Jugoslavian army vehicles.
Vis, especially Komiza, is rich with blue fish, fishing tradition of this small town is so strong that they even invented special type of fishing boat – Falkusa. How good it was tells us the fact that it was used even until second half of 20th ct. To those looking for cultural events, we recommend the Komiza Summer Festival when songs by traditional men's choirs can be heard throughout Komiza.
What to see on Vis:
Vis is small by its surface, but it is necessary with more than one day to see everything there is worth to be seen. After centuries of human and nature shaping, Vis is extraordinary interesting in coastal part as well in its inland.
Town Vis – It is the main town and the biggest place placed on island. It is situated in naturally protected and huge bay that is very good shelter from open sea and bad weather. The tourism here began to develop only about 15 years ago, after the demilitarisation, when town and island opened them selves for tourists. The remains of the military objects in the northwest and northeast part of the Bay of Vis are the witnesses of the stay of the Yugoslav Army. Also, many old remains, even from ancient time are numerous here. Take a walk through mystique town streets after spending day on some of beautiful Vis beaches.
Komiza – this small picturesque town is situated in a bay on the western coast of island Vis. Above it is highest peak named Hum. Komiza is known for two things: beaches and fishing. Beaches here are splendid and in untouched nature, pebbled and sandy. Fishing is, after tourism, most important economic branch, main port is full of fishing boats and it is not rare to see boat full of fresh fish.
Bisevo – this small island in front of Komiza is world wide famous for its Blue Cave (Modra Spilja). It can be entered only by small boats or by swimming, but only on good weather. There are taxi boats from Komiza centre sailing daily to Bisevo. The Blue Cave is especially interesting for divers and in the last few years also weddings took place in this remarkable part of heaven are often prepared.
Rukavac – it is tourist resort, formerly fishing town from Vis 10km away. Its great natural position makes him the safest harbour on southern part of island. If you are searching for great beaches, Rukavac is the best place for you. Among many beaches there, sandy beach “Srebrena” is most popular and considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches of Dalmatia. Accommodation offer is here high quality; also it is possible to rent small motor boats. This is great way for sightseeing the nearby bays and islands. The town has a market and a restaurant where you can enjoy local gastronomic specialties and excellent Vis wine.
Milna – this small village is just near Rukavac, and also known for beautiful natural beaches. Here you can choose between pebbled and sandy beaches, “Zaglav” is one of the best sandy beaches in this region together with “Srebrena” by Rukavac. The Milna bay represents an ideal destination for those who look for a quiet family vacation in a beautiful natural environment. The kind hosts and quality accommodation in private houses and apartments guarantee an unforgettable vacation on this beautiful island.
Vineyards – the Vis vineyards are among best in Dalmatia, because of great position and untouched nature. Autochthonous species cultivated on Vis are: Plavac mali (grown on lands of Stončica, Smokova, Tiho brace polje – Kulor, Vagon, Borovo polje, Ljubišće Velo and Malo, Milna, Zaglav, Podstražje and Bisevo island). They are mostly situated in inland and in last years few producers opened small restaurants where you can try all their products. Hosts are very friendly, it is often that owner sits and talks with guests.
Accommodation on Vis:
Except for one hotel in town Vis the only accommodation which is offered on the island is private accommodation, the selection of apartments on Island Vis, mainly consist of charming old stone houses. The majority of the accommodation can be found in Town Vis and I Komiza, but of course accommodation is also available in the smaller cities on the island.
Beaches on Island Vis:
Beaches on Vis are perfect for those that are searching for the peace and tranquillity, untouched nature and crystal clear sea. Whole island is full with phenomenal beaches, sandy, pebbled or gavel everything can be found here. Best beaches are hidden, we recommend use of small motor bikes that can be rented in almost place on island – this is the easiest way to reach best places.
Stoncica bay is one of the most beautiful and looks a lot as Hawaii beaches. It is situated 6km from Vis town on the north eastern coast of the island. Its sandy bay is great for families with children, here you can also rent accommodation and eat in interesting local restaurant. This is a perfect place to anyone seeking peace and quiet, a vacation away from civilization. No phones, no running waters but rainwater cisterns. Stoncica also has a good mooring for nautical tourists.
Zaglav is the biggest sandy beach on whole island and probably the most beautiful. It is placed near Milna village. There are two ways to reach it: with taxi boats from Milna centre or by foot, you’ll have to walk around 10 min along the coast. Here is also possible to eat in restaurant and to rent accommodation. This is also great place for yachts because of sand.
Srebrena beach (Silver Beach) is situated in Rukavac village near Milna. It is especially beautiful white pebbles beach; many say one of the most beautiful beaches on the Adriatic.
Restaurants on Vis:
Vis is traditional island in many ways, for sure in relation to gastronomy. The food offered is mostly seafood and here it is really caught in the cleanest part of Adriatic. In the last years the agro tourism has been developed in 10 rural house-holds on Vis and Bisevo. The local culinary specialities (domestic bread-komiska pogaca, dishes under the baking-lid, pilchards on the grill, beans and noodles on fish stew- brodetto) are offered together with domestic wine. It’s not possible to imagine the traditional dishes without these fruits of the sea.
Here are some of our favourite restaurants on island Vis:
JASTOZERA – placed in Komiza, Jastozera invites you with its great charming interior that in past times used to be storage for lobsters (jastog=lobster). Speciality of this restaurant is that it can literally be entered by small boat from the sea. And walls are decorated in old times style. Food offer here is great, especially lobster, as well as wine choice. We recommend reservation in advance!
AGRO-TOURISM DARKO – this is one of many organic smallholdings and restaurants in the villages all over the island. Interest of tourists increases for such type of tourism so the quality grows too. Best way to find them is asking domestic people for a way. In Darko’s place you’ll feel pure nature and its products. It is palced in village Zena Glava, served are delicacies of owners homestead: non-pesticide fruit, and vegetables from the garden, olives and olive oil, goat cheese, wine with fish specialities ofcourse.
Entertainment and night life:
Vis is not and island of wild parties, sleepless nights and loud music. It is a island of peace and quietness, beautiful nature and great history. This is place where man can rest so much that it “hurts”. There are few interesting coffee bars, some of them are working longer like clubs, but that’s all regarding megalomaniac clubs, cocktail bars etc.
Entertainment on Vis during summer is mainly various concerts. One think not to miss out on is the summer cinema in Vis town, if you can recommend a cinema with greater ambient, we would love to hear about it.
Bike riding on Vis is quite popular, although the landscape is quite challenging, it is a perfect way to really explore the island. Bikes, cars and other forms of transportation can be rented in town Vis, next to the ferry terminal.
Vis offers various sports and recreation opportunities too. Diving, paragliding, fishery and nautical tourism are well organised here.
Shopping on Island Vis:
In Vis, Komiza, Rukavac and Milna market is daily open during summer months. It is possible to freshly caught fish when the fishermen’s arrive in the harbour, but for that you have to be up early. Fruits, vegetables, olive oil, wine and other homemade products can be bought on smaller market places in Vis and Komiza or from domestic people selling them by the roads.
Doctor (021) 711 633
Dentist (021) 711 663
Police (021) 711 006
Post (021) 711 050
Taxi (098) 9622 508
Jadrolinija (021) 711 032
Tourist board (021) 717 017