When you visit 6 different Croatian islands in 8 days, it is hard not to fall in love with all of them. But during my Split to Dubrovnik Sailing Adventure with Intrepid Travel, there was one island that really stole my heart: Vis.
There is a charm about Vis that is palpable from the minute you arrive. The local vibe is proud yet welcoming, beautiful yet humble, charming yet unpretentious. The cozy restaurants will have you hanging out for hours sipping on locally-produced wine from the island and enjoying the company of friendly locals.
It was only the second stop on our 8-day itinerary in Croatia, but I found myself thinking back on my time in Vis throughout the entire rest of the trip (although Korcula came a close second!).
A stunning piece of land about a 4-hour sail from Split, Vis encapsulated everything I had pictured about Croatia prior to traveling there – stunning scenery, unique history, adorable towns – in one easy-to-explore port.
Interesting local history
I am, admittedly, a history nerd, but regardless of your affinity for yesteryear, there are several interesting things to discover about the history of Vis. Just steps from the central Vis town are Roman ruins dating back to the 4th century BC. Named Issa, the island became an independent polis in the Roman Empire and even founded colonies such as Split. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the island came under the control the Venetian Empire when most of its main settlements came to exist in their modern form, which is why you will vestiges of Italian cooking throughout the island’s cuisine.
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The most fascinating part of Vis’ history however falls during World War II when Josip Tito, the leader of the Yugoslavian resistance, hid out on the island to escape the Axis powers. Vis was one of the most heavily bombed Croatian islands during the war, which is surprising because it was only sparsely inhabited, and today the shores are a treasure trove of wrecks which can be explored by scuba diving. Vis also served as a British army base during the war to help protect Tito, who stayed in a remote cave for several months, which you can visit as a historical site today.
I learned about all of this during a 3-hour wine and history tour of Vis, led by a charming and knowledgeable local historian. His passion for his home island showed through his tour which made it all the more fun! Our captain Ante helped us set up the tour for bonding as a group. (Read more local tips from our skipper, Ante, here!)
Charming small towns and adorable villages
The main city on Vis is Vis Town, which is the most likely spot to port if you’re on one of Intrepid’s Sailing Adventure itineraries but don’t limit yourself to just exploring Vis town; there are several other adorable hamlets and villages around the island that will easily capture your heart.
VISIT CROATIA ON ONE OF INTREPID TRAVEL’S SMALL GROUP TRIPS
About a 20-minute walk east along the waterfront of Vis Town will bring to the old town which is full of beautiful galleries and delicious restaurants. For dinner one night, our captain was kind enough to make a reservation for our whole group to eat together at Stara Teza, an adorable restaurant with a gorgeous little garden patio.
Another must-visit town on Vis is Komiza, which is best seen at golden hour or sunset. This charming fishing village is so darn picturesque you’ll wander down every alley snapping photos and saying “OMG this street is cuter than the last!” The sandstone architecture and bell tower are cute enough, but the town is nestled on the edge of the water with vintage boats in the harbor beneath the backdrop of the forested mountain. It is truly beautiful!
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Beautiful natural scenery
Vis is the farthest of the islands in Dalmatian chain with one of the highest altitudes at 580 meters, which gives you stunning views of the entire region, especially on a clear day. The name Vis originates from the Croatian word Visena which means height, and from one of the highest points on the island, you can even see to Italy on a cloudless day!
In addition to mountain scenery, Vis also has lots of beautiful beaches throughout the island where you can easily jump into the crystal blue water. There is one walking distance from Vis town which is used by locals and visitors alike or you can find a rocky beach right smack dab in the middle of Komiza town which offers a gorgeous sunset!
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Finally, Vis is the ideal jumping off point for exploring another natural wonder nearby – the Blue Cave! You’ll see day trip operators around the island offering tours of the cave (it can only be visited with a licensed operator) and you can even find tours offered as far away as Split. The Blue Cave is on a small island just off the coast of Vis, forming a stunning ocean cave with an underwater display of iridescent blue water.
You can expect crowds during the summer, but it is a great add-on to any day trip itinerary from Vis. Our captain helped us coordinate a visit as a group so that we could all go together and skip the lines for a group price!
Ready to visit Vis?
My list is only the beginning of things to enjoy on a visit to Vis and it is definitely an island where you can go slow to discover your own hidden gems to fall in love with!
Intrepid Travel itineraries typically include one full day on the island which is enough to see all the highlights but you could easily relax here for several days to get the full effect.
Looking to explore an island paradise like this for yourself? Check out all of Intrepid Travel’s Croatia adventures.
(All images courtesy of Megan Arzbaecher, and all taken on Intrepid’s Croatia Sailing Adventure.)