Travelling to Brač is easy, yet despite being one of the closest islands to the mainland, less than an hour by ferry – and a prime candidate for the most popular – Brač lets you carouse with the hordes or get lost in solitude.
In many ways, it’s Croatia’s ‘everyisland’. And, because Brač is so close to Split, you can do it in a day trip. A ride in a bus or hire car from the northern entry port of Supetar – the other main tourist centre and family-friendly resort with sand-and-pebble beaches and package hotels – goes past pines, olive groves and marble quarries to the southern coast and Bol. When explored, Brač allows travellers to step off the tourist conveyor belt, take a break from the herd and gain a deeper sense of the island and its culture.
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Despite being one of the closest islands to the mainland – less than an hour by catamaran – and prime candidate for the most popular, Brač gives you the option to carouse with the hordes or be lost in solitude. In many ways, Brač is Croatia’s everyisland. In Bol, it has a town where you can grab a lively cocktail and head to the island’s postcard shot, the country’s most famous beach, Zlatni Rat, windsurfing central. From Bol you can trek to the area’s highest peak, the 778-metre Vidova Gora, or investigate remote and traditional villages, where donkeys still work the rugged landscape to transport grasses, grapes and olives. And, because Brač is so close to Split, you can do it in a day trip. A bus or hire-car ride from the northern entry port of Supetar – the other main tourist centre and family-friendly resort with sand-and-pebble beaches and package hotels – goes past pines, olive groves and marble quarries to the southern coast and Bol. When explored, Brač allows travellers to step off the tourist conveyor belt, take a break from the herd and gain a deeper sense of the island and its culture. Brač, 40 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide, is karst rock. This supple white stone has been used by Croatia’s finest sculptors. Examples fill the cemetery near Supetar, with tombs of Byzantine and art nouveau fancy created by local Ivan Rendić. His 1900s contemporary Toma Rosandić made the Petrinović Mausoleum, the most impressive monument here. The village of Donji Humac, s
Brač transport guide
Brač is one of the few Adriatic islands to have its own airport (021 559 711, www.airport-brac.hr), 15km north-east of Bol. To get to Supetar, ask at the airport’s information desk to book a taxi, which should cost around 300kn. For buses, see below. Supetar is the island’s main port. Jadrolinija (021 631 357, www.jadrolinija.hr) runs 14 ferries a day travelling from the harbour in Split (28kn, 50mins) in summer (nine a day in winter). To take a car over the water should cost approximately 150kn including the foot-passenger fare/s. From Supetar buses (021 631 122) run to most other destinations on Brač – in summer there are five a day to Bol or Milna. The bus station is located just east of the ferry port. In summer Jadrolinija runs a daily catamaran (25kn, 50mins) from Split to Bol. Excursion boats link Bol with Jelsa on Hvar (100kn, 30mins). Several ferries a day (30kn, 30mins) shuttle between Makarska on the mainland and Sumartin on the far east cape of Brač. Five buses a day run from Sumartin to Supetar – sadly neither linking with the afternoon ferry.
Food and drink in Brač
Brač bar and club guide
Though the bars in Brač certainly don't have the party-crowd cachet of Hvar, the bar staff here don’t like to interrupt a good party so places often open past the stated closing time. In Supetar, Put Vele Luke, the small street that starts near the town’s beach, is the main drag for drinking and nightlife. In Bol, the action is down by the harbour.
Brač restaurant guide
The Brač restaurant scene isn't straightforward. Of course, the busy places in Bol and Supetar fill around their respective harbours. However, it is not here that you will fall upon the best restaurants, but in the centre of the island. Finding these places may take a little work but once there you’ll get a real taste of what Brač is all about. Drop in on a place with a hand-made wooden sign advertising local wine and liqueurs. Stop in and speak – however broken the conversation may be – with locals about what it took to get your meal on the table. You won’t be disappointed.
This legendary konoba stands in the 800-year-old house of the Michieli-Tomić family, whose wines and brandies are sold all over Croatia. Practically everything served is home-made, grown or reared on the property, from pršut ham to lamb, plus, of course, the wine and varied fruit spirits. If you are there in the autumn, you may be lucky enough to watch the family make wine the old-fashioned way in a hand-turned press. You can visit the farm, too. Prices are reasonable for the quality and authenticity. Succulent octopus is prepared ispod peke, under a cooking bell with hot coals. Order this, and your table, in advance. Tomić is near the airport, north-east of Bol.
If not the best restaurant on the island, certainly it has no rivals in the realm of lamb, served with a Forrest Gump-like dedication and in every way imaginable. There’s lamb soup, lamb on the spit, boiled lamb, lamb chops, lamb steak, lamb pâté and the local favourite: lamb under the peka. The clientele includes well-heeled tourists pointed here by locals and workmen still dusty from the nearby marble quarry, visible from the restaurant’s multi-levelled and shaded terrace. Above, on an open-air and wooden-roofed stone patio, you’ll find owner Ivo working the grill and the mechanised spit, which turns with a bike chain. Beyond is an expansive, renovated indoor dining room. But back to the lamb. In July and August there’s a lamb buffet (170kn) and guests can try every variety mentioned above plus lamb liver, local cheese, salted anchovies and lentil soup with smoked ham. Don’t leave without trying the vitalac, which one should do without the nuisance of vegetarians. It’s an island speciality: lamb liver wrapped in the intestines of a lamb which has just drunk milk. There’s also seafood and other peka dishes, and their own bread is baked freshly every day.
Where to stay in Brač
Brač hotel guide
The list of Brač hotel options are slowly increasing, but at a quieter pace than neighbour Hvar. The exception is Postira, with major renovations of existing hotels and one shiny new four-star, Hotel Lipa. Supetar is also on the way up; the Villa Adriatica is an intriguing option, the Velaris group have been renovating their stock, and a four-star built from scratch, Amor, opened a while back. For the better hotels you need to commit and book early. In Bol, this is the antique-filled Villa Giardino and the modern, chic Bračka Perla. Elsewhere, you’d be hard pressed to find better anywhere in Dalmatia than the Hotel Palace Dešković. In Bol, the wooded area on the way to Zlatni Rat is dominated by larger resort complexes. The most impressive is the newly renovated, four-star Elaphusa.
This family-run old villa is usually booked in high season – but snag one of the 14 rooms and you’ll be a guest in someone’s mansion. The interior is meticulously arranged yet comfortably renovated, with antiques furnishing many rooms, which have air-con, ceiling fans and heating. Reserve No.4 and slumber in the bed Franz Josef slept in on a visit in 1875. Breakfast is served on the front terrace and there’s a lovely garden at the back. Note the rave reviews in the visitors’ book.
This four-star element of Tourist Resort Velaris is set in Vela Luke Bay to the west of Supetar town centre. The whole resort was renovated in 2006 and Amor opened in 2007 after being reconstructed over the foundations of its predecessor, Hotel Lučića. Though modern, the exterior has a certain style and the interior is simple but elegant and provides all mod cons. The split-level apartments on the second floor provide some stunning views of Split and more luxury, with a balcony and jacuzzi.