Island of Vis

Welcome to the island of Vis, a small piece of paradise between the islands of the southern Adriatic, the open sea and the Straits of Otranto. Abounding with untouched nature, the island of Vis exudes the sincerity of a newly discovered jewel of the Adriatic sea.

The island of Vis belongs to the Mediterranean type of climate with hot summers and mild winters. Temperatures are above 24 ° C in summer and above 6 ° C in winter. The average number of sunshine hours a year is over 2600.

Due to its exceptional geographical position, Vis has been inhabited since prehistoric times.

 

A bit of history

In the 1st millennium BC, the Liburnians, an Illyrian tribe and excellent pirates, lived here. After them, in the early 4th century BC, the Greeks came to the island and founded Issa, the most important Greek colony on Croatian soil, which was located in the area of today’s town of Vis (in the area of Gradina and on the Prirovo peninsula).

Issa had its economic and political autonomy, its currency, and laws. Agriculture was also developed, and the island produced wine from home-grown grapes. Since then, the tradition of wine production has been nurtured on the island.

Romans

In the 1st century BC, Issa was “flirting” with the Romans, becoming their ally on the Adriatic. It lasted until the period of the mighty Caesar who defeated Pompey in the Civil War and turned Issa into a direct subject of Rome, politically dependent on the new Roman colony of Salona. Nevertheless, Issa retained part of its independence, so the population continued to speak Greek and lead a relaxing social life.

With the weakening of the Roman Empire in the 7th century, the island of Vis slowly entered into a new chapter in history, marked by the arrival of new immigrants of Slavic origin, the Croats.

The new inhabitants fit perfectly into the island life by taking over the maritime skills of the natives and continuing to cultivate Mediterranean agricultural species. Among other things, they were excellent pirates, which provoked the anger of Venetians who attacked and destroyed Vis at the end of the 10th century.

The island life retreated to the inner part and Vis became an oasis for the aristocracy from Hvar who built their villas and palaces there and exploited the fertile fields of Vis.

Despite all threats that followed, Vis became an important part of the Venetian Empire and a meeting point for the Middle East and Europe.

Throughout history, the great European Powers seized control of this small island in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. When the Venetian Republic collapsed, Vis came under the control of Austria, and then, with the arrival of Napoleon, France. In 1810, Great Britain invaded Vis. The British built impressive fortifications and brought the game of Cricket to the island, which is still practiced today.

Since 1815, Vis flourished economically and culturally under the control of Austria again. The islanders were valued as skilled fishermen and sailors, and the excellent wines produced from home-grown grapes were prised in the high society throughout Europe.

The well-known Battle of Vis took place in 1866. To dominate the Adriatic, Italy declared war on Austria. The first step in that mission was to conquer Vis, the “Gibraltar of the Adriatic”, as admiral Albini once called it. The relatively small and outdated Austrian fleet led by the admiral Tegerrhoff managed to defeat the magnificent and modern Italian warships in a four-hour battle. In honor of this victory, Emperor Francis Joseph I visited Vis in 1875.

Unfortunately, in the early twentieth century, grapevine disease destroyed the yields and reduced the incomes of most residents who migrated in large waves to overseas countries.

Between the two world wars and during World War II, Italy was trying to finally take over the island but with its capitulation before the Allies in 1943, the island was occupied by Yugoslav partisans.

Due to its strategic position, Vis is closing in on the outside world and becoming a military base with over 30 military facilities, including an underground military hospital and a tunnel to shelter warships. There is no development of tourism, no visits by foreigners, no construction of large hotel complexes and commercial tourist oases. Vis becomes a military enclave, isolated, from which people are constantly migrating.

The Yugoslav army left the island in May 1992 and thus opened up a space for new opportunities and new directions of development.

 

 

Where to go and what to see

The island of Vis has much to offer for all those who are ready to explore and uncompromisingly indulge in the beauties of it.

Geopark Vis Archipelago

The Vis archipelago extends to the area of the island of Vis and its surrounding islands Biševo, Sveti Andrija, Brusnik, Jabuka, and Palagruža. This unique geographical area became part of the European Geoparks Network in 2019 and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The interior of the island of Vis, as well as the islands of Jabuka and Brusnik, are built of volcanic rocks which are the oldest in the Adriatic, unlike other islands built of sedimentary rocks. The magnetite that makes up volcanic rocks disturbs compasses, so navigation in this area is difficult. These islets are also home to endemic species of various animals and plants.

WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) has declared the Vis archipelago one of the last ten paradise oases in the Mediterranean. Based on the exceptional biological diversity of the mainland and underwater flora and fauna of the island of Vis, since 2003 the Vis archipelago, together with the islands of Mljet and Lastovo, forms the Adriatic Blue Corridor, the area with the greatest biodiversity in the Adriatic.

The Geopark Vis Archipelago visitor center is located on the premises of the Ivan Vitić Cultural Center in Komiža. Here visitors will find promotional materials, souvenirs, and all the necessary information about the Geopark.

The Geopark Vis archipelago has 3 geotrails: Geotrail Komiža, Geotrail Biševo, and Geotrail Vis – Rukavac which can be visited with expert guidance.

Geopark Vis Archipelago
Phone: +385 91 271 30 23
Email: geopark@geopark-vis.com

The Geopark Vis Archipelago visitor center
Address: Put Batudae 2, 21485 Komiža, Island of Vis

 

Protected natural monuments and significant landscapes

The Vis archipelago abounds in natural beauty and delights with its landscapes. As a result, many of its parts are protected by law.

The Blue Cave and Medvidina Cave on the island of Biševo, the islands of Jabuka and Brusnik, and the Green Cave on the island of Ravnik have been declared geomorphological cultural monuments.

Stiniva Bay and the island of Ravnik received the title of the significant landscape.

You can visit each of these stunning natural monuments and enjoy its uniqueness.

  

The inner island

Apart from the towns of Komiža and Vis, which are worth exploring, the island is crowded with coves and beaches, and its inner area is densely filled with macadam roads and footpaths that fork from the old Austrian road from Vis to Komiža.

Wandering through the beautiful landscapes of Vis, you will come across charming places that still keep traces of history and the spirit of the island.

Near Podhumlje, in a pine forest on top of a hill, lies Lokva, a Neolithic pool for collecting clay. Although several thousand years old, it is perfectly preserved and worth a nice walk enjoying nature at the same time. When you cross the forest, you will reach a lookout point with a beautiful view of the archeological site Vela Gomila or “Teuta lighthouse”, from the 4th century BC, presumably the largest lighthouse of that period in this part of the Adriatic.

Since you are already nearby, you can visit the hamlet of Talež, founded at the turn of the 19th century, and restored at its original appearance in the year 2000.

Plisko Polje and the bat-and-ball game of Cricket

From the top Sveti Vid in the center of the Vis plateau you can see various places on the island, the beauties of nature, and the runway of the former Allied airport. The small village of Plisko Polje is hidden at the foothill.

In Plisko Polje there is a tavern with excellent local dishes and wine from the island vineyards. But if you want, you can also play Cricket. Several island enthusiasts decided to restore a tradition about 200 years old (brought to the island, of course, by the British) and found a cricket club named after Admiral Sir William Hoste. Players from the UK, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, and Croatia are coming here for 14 years to play the game of Cricket and have a good time.

  

Tito’s cave and the highest peak on the island – Hum

Hum (587m) is the highest peak that separates Komiža from the rest of the island. The main hiker’s target is the chapel of the Holy Spirit (Sveti Duh) located nearby. The view from that point is astonishing. Below the mount you will see Komiža, on the sea the island of Biševo and in the distance, in clear weather, the volcanic rock Jabuka.

If you have an adventurous spirit and love history, visit Tito’s Cave, a hidden war cave beneath the Mount Hum. There are 275 stairs leading to the cave.

In the cave was located the supreme headquarters of the partisan army in 1944, when after the raid on the town of Drvar, Josip Broz Tito, the former Yugoslavian leader, took refuge on the island.

Beaches and coves

The real beauty of the island of Vis lies in its beaches and bays, in the purity of the open sea its crystal clarity, in the underwater sources of fresh water, in the pebble beaches, and the abundance of shade provided by the island vegetation.

The scent of the sea, the beauty of nature and the warmth of the sun create a summer experience that you will remember for a long time.

The bay of Komiža is filled with many beautiful pebble beaches. The largest and most popular beach is Gusarica, just below the hotel Biševo. The cozy Lučica beach is in the town. If you want some music and action, Kamenice beach turns into a nightclub in the evening like Cinderella. Vartalac is a beach intended for pets, Pizdica and Velu Žolo for those who don’t like crowds. There are many other larger and smaller beaches that are all easily accessible and ready to explore and delight you.

You can reach Komiža by bus from the town of Vis. The ride takes about 15 minutes.

When you are already in Komiža, take a boat to the island of Biševo, a real pearl of nature, and enjoy the unique beaches of Mezoporat and Salbunara and one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, the beach of Porat Bay.

The most popular beach in the town of Vis is Prirovo, which is located on the small peninsula of the same name in the town port. For naturists, the Punta od Biskupa is ideal, which spreads on sloping stone slabs and rocks.

There are beautiful sandy beaches in the bays of Milna, Brgujac, Parja, Stončica, and the enchanting beach Zaglav, which is known as one of the beauties of the Adriatic.

Diving along the shores of Vela Smokova beach is the best choice for adventurers. There they will find the sunken wing of a plane from World War II.

There are also Grandovec, Vela Svitnja, Bili Bok, and other beautiful beaches that are worth exploring. Among them stand out the Srebrna beach, named after the silver sheen of its large pebbles in the moonlight, and Stiniva beach.

Stiniva Bay is a protected part of nature. In 2016 Stiniva Beach was declared the most beautiful beach in Europe. Here many will find the paradise they have always sought: crystal clear seawater, white sand, and breathtaking cliffs in the background.

 

Excursions

From the town of Vis you can go on various organized excursions: visit the island of Biševo where are located the world-famous beauty Blue Cave and the stunning and mysterious Medvidina Cave, sail to the islands of Svetac and Brusnik, to the legendary Palagruža or to the most remote Croatian island, the volcanic Jabuka.

 

Mamma Mia! on the island of Vis

In the summer of 2017, for 24 days, Vis had become a Hollywood stage. The beauties of nature of this enchanting island served as the scenery for the shooting of the sequel to the legendary film Mamma Mia! based on the eponymous musical with the songs of the pop group ABBA.

On the beaches or in the island charming cafes a passer-by could meet Pirce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, or Colin Firth. In that short period, the islanders lived like in a movie!

The selected locations for the filming of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again were the towns of Vis and Komiža and Barjoška beach.

Some scenes were filmed in the port of Vis, where the ferry docks. A few steps away from the port, the doors and nearby stairs of the Pizzeria and boarding house Dionis served as a backdrop for the Greek style market, which featured imported groceries from real Greek markets.

In Komiža, the Lobster restaurant Jastožera became a Greek tavern.

All the scenes on the beach were filmed on Barjoška beach, near the Komiža bay.

The world-famous beaches Stiniva and Srebrna also played a role in the film. Their specifics natural beauty makes them the mecca of all romantic souls and explorers of beauty in the world.

 

More tips

The island of Vis has been isolated for a long time from tourists, and this isolation has saved it from disturbing the fragile balance between nature and overbuilding. Here, history buffs can tour the labyrinths of underground tunnels and undermines of the former Yugoslav National Army (JNA), Tito’s Cave, explore the remains of the airport and dive to the museums with sunken planes, sailboats, submarines, and warships in the seabed of the island.

If even that is not enough, we bring you a few more suggestions on what to visit and explore on the island of Vis:

  • Komiža and The Fishermen’s museum

The museum is situated in the “Komuna”, a Venetian fortress from the 16th century, on the waterfront of the town. Fishing enthusiasts will be delighted with the collection of original items of boat and fishing equipment from local fishermen, for centuries known as the best and most famous on the Adriatic Sea. The museum exhibits the replica of the famous Komiža’s fishing boat, called “Gajeta Falkuša“, a fast and agile boat that the fishermen used for dangerous hunting on the high seas.

  • The Blue Cave on the island of Biševo is almost magical, a theatrical backdrop in which nature plays with shapes and colors creating an image in front of which no one can remain indifferent. The Blue Grotto or Blue Cave (Croatian: Modra špilja), is a waterlogged sea cave located in a small bay called Balun, on the east side of the island of Biševo.

The Blue Cave owes its attractive name to the reflection of the sunlight that around noon, during calm seas, penetrates through the underwater opening into the cave, reflecting off the white bottom and giving the cave an aquamarine color, while objects in the water appear to be silver.

The cave is from 3 to 20 meters deep, and its typical karst shape, which includes underwater cracks, makes it very interesting for divers.

It is open for sightseeing from May, but it is better to make an appointment at least 24 hours before the visit.

 

  • Astrotourism on the island of Biševo

Even though the island of Biševo has not yet been granted the status of an International Dark Sky Park, by preserving the island’s traditions and nature, the sky above Biševo is extremely dark and the stars on it are especially bright. There is no light pollution and the preservation of the night sky is actively promoted for all generations who are already here and who are yet to come.

The goal is to popularize astronomy, but also romantic walks under the sky full of stars.

And much more things to see and to do on the island of Vis…