For over 40 years a military territory off limits to tourists, the remote island of Vis has retained a bohemian charm that other Croatian islands cannot boast.
Discovered in recent years by the tourism industry, Vis is still largely untouched and is the ideal destination for those seeking an ‘authentic’ experience, simplicity, nature and tranquillity.
Few tourists choose to come here, discouraged by the island’s remoteness from the coast. In fact, it takes more than two hours by ferry to reach Vis, but this is one of the key ingredients of the charm of this island with its lush nature overlooking the sea, described as ‘the last natural paradise of the eastern Mediterranean’ by the WWF.
Vis is also a gourmet paradise, an ideal destination for lovers of good food and especially good wine. The konoba, former wine cellars now converted into typical taverns, serve delicious fresh fish dishes and the fine wines that have been produced on the island for more than two thousand years.
Don’t leave the island without tasting a glass of white Vugava or red Plavac Mali, two of Croatia’s best labels.
The first inhabited place on the island and still the most important today, Vis town lies on a wide horseshoe-shaped bay on the southern slopes of Mount Gravina.
Divided into two distinct settlements, Luka to the north-west of the bay and Kut to the south-east, Vis is a quiet little town, where the pace of life is still slow and it is possible to spend hours in complete relaxation strolling along the promenade or through the narrow streets of the centre lined with 17th-century palaces of decadent charm.
A few minutes’ walk from the ferry pier will take you to the remains of a Greek necropolis and Roman baths, while the hills around the bay are dotted with fortresses built by the British during their rule over the island in the 19th century.
If ancient history fascinates you, don’t miss the Archaeological Museum of Vis, where you can learn about the necropolis, thermal baths and other historical findings on Vis. On display is a collection of ancient artefacts, mostly Greek but also Roman, including sculptures, ceramics and jewellery.
A good way to explore the surroundings of Vis is to rent a scooter or mountain bike and ride the scenic (and winding!) coastal roads of the island.
Be inebriated by the island’s natural scents (wild herbs, rosemary, myrtle, lavender and lentisk) and dazzled by the thousands of shades of green of the lush vegetation, with Mediterranean macchia and olive, fig and dwarf vine plants.
Komiža, the island’s second tourist resort, also lies on a bay at the foot of a mountain. It is a fishing village, with no famous sights to visit but with great charm: tourists come here to savour a timeless atmosphere and stroll along the steep alleys that lead from the pier up the mountain, lined with characteristic stone houses.
The big attraction of Vis is the spectacular Blue Cave, which is, however, located… on another island! This splendid cave, one of the most famous and visited natural wonders in Croatia, opens up along the shoreline of the tiny island of Biševo, off the southern coast of Vis.
The uniqueness of the Blue Cave lies in an underwater opening through which the sun’s rays pass at a specific time of day (between eleven and midday), creating enchanting reflections of blue light.
The crystal-clear waters of the sea make it possible to see the rocks at the bottom of the cave, at a depth of about 16 metres, which are also of extraordinary colours ranging from soft pink to silver grey.
The easiest way to visit the Blue Grotto is to take a boat trip from Vis; the tourist boats make a stop to allow tourists to swim inside the cave.
Excursions depart from various places on Vis (departure from Komiža is recommended), but also other islands and even mainland Croatia. In summer it is a very crowded attraction, but outside of the summer months there is a risk of not being able to enter the cave due to rough seas.
The isolation and remote location of Vis have preserved its natural beauty almost intact. There is a great variety of beaches on the island, many of them wild and not yet reached by mass tourism. Whether small coves, wide bays, pebble, rock or sandy beaches, they are all washed by an incredibly transparent sea that brings to mind posters and postcards of exotic locations.
Here is a list of the best beaches on Vis:
Those who choose Vis for a summer holiday know very well that they will be dealing with peace and tranquillity: the island, being off the main tourist routes, is a pleasant and relaxing place, but there is no shortage of options for sleeping, given by the flats, rooms to let and holiday homes, managed directly by the locals, and rented out to tourists during the summer months. Hotels, on the other hand, are absent.
There are two larger towns on Vis where we recommend staying. They are Komiža, on the west coast, and Vis town, on the north coast. Ferries to and from Split and Hvar arrive in the latter locality, so it is the ideal place to sleep on Vis after a long journey, since once you have disembarked you will have accommodation within walking distance. At the same time, both Vis Town and Komiža are located along road 117, a circular road that runs all around the island, but due to its geographical conformation it runs mostly inland, only coming to the coast at Vis Town and Komiža.
There are also other small villages scattered here and there along road 107 or along the Vis coastline, such as Rukavac, Podšpilje or Podhumlje. Here you will find a few simple rooms to stay overnight, ideal for those seeking peace and quiet, and also for those winking at the budget, as prices are lower than in the main towns on the island.
To get to the island of Vis you need to take a ferry or catamaran from Split. The sea crossing takes two and a half hours if you choose the ferry, an hour and fifteen if you travel by catamaran.
There are no direct ferries to Vis from other countries, but it is possible to arrive in Split by ferry from the Italian city of Ancona, which provides the next ferry connection to Vis.
What's the weather at Vis? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Vis for the next few days.
Vis is one of the most distant inhabited islands from the Croatian coast: its 4000 inhabitants live more than 40 kilometres from the country's coastline. Vis lies off the coast of the islands of Hvar and Korcula, and a few kilometres from the almost completely uninhabited islets of Biševo and Sveti Andrija.
The island of Vis is oval in shape, approximately 16 kilometres wide and 8 kilometres wide. Its distance from the Croatian coastline, on the other hand, makes it one of the Croatian islands closest to Italy: as the crow flies, it is about 110 kilometres from Gargano, in the north of Apulia, while it is at the same latitude as San Benedetto del Tronto, from which it is just over 175 kilometres away.