The island of VIS (Lissa in Italian, Issa in Greek) is a Croatian island located in the Adriatic Sea. Vis one of the most beautiful and peaceful islands in Europe.

Croatia and the Adriatic Sea

Croatia is a European country that is geographically at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe. Approximately 4.5 million inhabitants live there. The neighbouring countries are Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. The seaside border of Croatia measures 948 km long and with its rugged coastline and numerous islands (of which there are 1246) in the Adriatic Sea, this country ranks among the most popular and exotic tourist destinations in the world. A large part of the country has a Mediterranean climate. The capital is Zagreb.

The Adriatic Sea is one of the warmest seas and is extremely clean. In summer the surface temperature reaches 28 degrees Celsius.

It is situated between the Balkan and Apennine Peninsula and is part of the Mediterranean Sea. It is approximately 8700 km long and 160 km wide.

Geography: The island of Vis

The island of Vis is one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia, located in the Adriatic Sea, in Central Dalmatia, an area of ​​90.3 square kilometres and has a population of approximately 5,000. It belongs to Split-Dalmatia County and is located about 17 km south-west of the island of Brac, 44 km south of the mainland coast of Croatia and 111 km from the Italian coast. The island stretches along three mountain ranges with stony fields in between.

The highest point is Hum (587 m AMSL). Part of the interior is made up of fertile fields, which are used for the cultivation of grape vines, fruit, vegetables and olive trees.

The southern coast of the island is made ​​up of many beautiful bays and coves. The sea here is crystal clear. For the better part of the year the island has mild and pleasant weather with the average July temperature reaching 26° C.

The capital of the island is the town of Vis with 1,900 inhabitants in the eastern part of the northern coast of the island and it is one of the important ports on the Adriatic. Grandovac bay offers what is considered to be the most beautiful beach in the town.

The second city on the west coast of the island is Komiža with 2,500 inhabitants and is thought of as the cradle of fisheries. In past centuries Komiža fishermen were known in all Mediterranean ports as excellent experts of their craft. Komiža was the first place in Dalmatia where catching fish became industrialized. There are also grapevines, fruit and vegetables grown in this region.

The island of Vis is an ideal place for those who love peace and quiet, for active sportsmen, and also for admirers of historical monuments.

History: The island of Vis

The first inhabitants settled in Vis as early as the 3rd millennium BC and were of Mediterranean origin. Croats began living in Vis in the 7th Century. From 1420 to 1797 it was under the rule of Venice. Venice then ceded the city to Austria and in 1805 it came under the dominion of France. After the Napoleonic wars in 1818 Vis was once again with Austria, and later Italy took it over. In 1866 the Italian-Austrian war took place with a massive naval battle, which was won by the Austrian fleet.

With the Rapalski contract in 1920, the island fell to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. From 1944, the island was a military territory and inaccessible to tourists. Only in 1989 was the island finally opened to foreign tourists.

Flora and fauna

Due to the fact that for many years the island was under military rule, nature on the island is magnificent and well-preserved. You can find many naturally occurring species of plants and animals here.

There are many vineyards within the interior of the island.

Much of nature here is untouched and thanks to its own sources of fresh water it is beautifully lush and green.

The underwater is a rich and hidden world of fish.

Points of interest

Near the town of Vis are preserved fortified walls in Gradina and the ruins of a former Greco-Roman settlement called Issa.

On the Prirovo peninsula, where there is now a Franciscan monastery, the remains of a Roman theatre have been unearthed and on the coast from the east side lies the ruins of a Roman agora.

Above the town Komiža is the prominent Monastery of St. Nicholas from the 13th century.

On the northwest edge of Komiža stands the Renaissance St. Mary's church Gospa Gusarica, which is interesting both for its architectural and interior design.

In Komiža there is a fortress from the 16th century where now a fisheries museum can be found. The most popular part of the museum is Gajeta Falkusa, a ship with five sails and five oars.

Among the most interesting places on the island is Stiniva cove on the southern coast which offers a pebble beach produced by a collapsed cave ceiling. It is protected as a special geomorphological natural monument.

Recommended swimming areas

Rukavac bay southeast of Vis is known for its beautiful pebble beaches. It is possible to rent small motor boats here. Entry into the sea is gradual, not steep, and is therefore especially suitable for children and non-swimmers. The bay offers excellent conditions for water and beach sports, especially beach volleyball, diving and windsurfing. There are also restaurants where you can enjoy local seafood specialties and wines.

To the west of Rukavac bay is the gorgeous Srebrena with two snow-white sandy beaches - Big and Small Srebrena. The large pebble beaches are separated by rock formations.

The sandy beached Milna cove lies to the northwest from the town of Vis.

Mala Travna cove is surrounded by rocks and has a pebble beach. In the cove is a small restaurant in a traditional old stone house.

Stiniva cove lies southwest of the town of Vis and has retained its unspoiled beauty. The cove is notable for its shape, tapering to a narrow entrance into the final section, where it extends into a picturesque area hidden between the rocks. At the very end of the cove is a perfect area for swimming with a nice small pebble beach. It is also an ideal place for scuba diving, with spectacular jagged rocks below the surface and full of caves and overhangs.

Smričevica cove is surrounded by cliffs and with a pebble beach.

Other coves to the west of the island, for example, Taleška, Duboka, Metudole are less accessible to tourists due to the rocky and unsettled coast. For the most part only yachtsmen go there.

Recommended sports activities

In Komiža there is a diving club and excellent conditions for sailing, windsurfing and sea sport fishing. There are also sports fields available for ball sports.

On the island you can take full advantage of bike trails and you also have the chance to go horseback riding.

Marked hiking trails are available for tourists.

For those who love adrenaline activities then you can try air gliding.

Recommended trips

Cruises around the island and bays are quite popular..
Among the most well known islands includes the western island of Biševo, where the famous Blue Cave is located or on the south-eastern island of Ravnik you can find Green Cave, which was created by waves breaking on the limestone rocks.
Another popular area is the neighbouring island of Budikovac known as a beautiful place for swimming.
During the socialist regime the island of Vis was a military fortress inaccessible to foreigners. Nearly 70 km of tunnels, underground corridors and bunkers were built on the island. The largest bunker is Vela Glava, which was established as an underground command post. It included roughly 400 m of underground tunnels at a depth of about 60 meters. Above ground were observation and emergency exits which were protected by tank artillery guns. Other bunkers were built for special military purposes such as the Crvena Stine bunker, the Radino bunker or the Stupišče bunker. Bunkers were also built on the island for torpedo boats, submarines and other naval vessels. Northwest of Vis in Parja cove is quite an interesting bunker named Jastog, which housed combat boats and submarines. Now the bunker is used for sport boats as shelter from unfavourable weather.
The vast majority of bunkers, tunnels and underground space is now open to tourists, but some of these places are still unorganized and you enter at your own risk.
At the end of the Second World War, the island became the seat of the General Staff of the Yugoslav national liberation army led by Tito. They took shelter on the island when he miraculously managed to escape siege by the Nazis near the town of Drvar in northeastern Bosnia. The cave in Vis was Tito's humble dwelling until the end of the war and other nearby caves served as residence for the military staff headquarters. Tito's cave is now accessible as an interesting historical object. It is located southeast of Komiza, on the slopes of the highest mountain of the island - Hum (587 m). You can reach it from the road leading south from Vis to Komiza.

Other recommendations

The delicacy named "Hib", which is unique to the island of Vis, has been prepared for important guests and on Christmas for many years now. It is an exclusive product of the island and the key ingredients of this delicacy are figs, almonds and homemade brandy. This delicacy has received the official and prestigious designation as a "Croatian island product".

In local pubs you can also enjoy excellent fish and local wines. There are many fish restaurants, where they prepare food using only the freshest ingredients and quite typically from freshly caught bluefish and lobster.

During July and August the island of Vis offers various summer events and traditional music festivals.

Outside the summer season on December 6th in Komiža, there is a big celebration for St. Nicholas holiday, part of which is the burning of an old ship as a special thanks to local fishermen for protection.

Fresh food from local producers and growers is still available at traditional marketplaces. The Vis market usually offers fruit, vegetables, cheeses, cold cuts and olive oil. Next to the food market is the old fish market.

The Komiza market offers a select, wide ranging assortment and quality of crops and is considered to be one of the best in the Adriatic. They provide only goods from local growers and producers. It is possible to buy pickled figs, olives, dried figs, brandy and other products. A special fish shop, perhaps the smallest in the Adriatic, is located on Škvor square and is very well stocked with fish.