Vis island has a special place in the hearts of many Croatians, who consider this a truly unspoiled example of the best of the Dalmatian coast. Its designation as a military base under Tito froze development for more than 40 years, allowing farming and fishing to remain the dominant activities.
Now tourism is taking over this remote spot, one of the farthest islands from the mainland. Vis has become a hot destination among those in the know who want a quiet getaway amid a gorgeous patch of clear sea, which provides great fish, swimming and diving. While the party scene here may not be as raucous as on Hvar, Vis island’s gastronomy can compare with any Dalmatian destination.
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Vis island overview
Vis town was created through the union of the seaside communities of Luka, the working harbour area, and Kut, the neighbourhood with more food, fun and night-time action. Both sides are relatively quiet during daytime beach hours, and a lot of the restaurants only open around 6pm. The marina brings in a sizeable yachting crowd who support a growing number of gourmet restaurants. Students also come here for the fantastic nearby beaches and bars. Komiža feels slightly more bohemian. This is the place to enjoy an easy-going Mediterranean pace and excellent pebbly beaches. Many of Komiža’s servers are year-round residents, who tend to be more friendly and casual than summer workers after their tip. Despite the relaxed atmosphere, the village has some fancy, formal restaurants, as well as the island’s only disco to speak of, the beachside Aquarius, run by a husband-and-wife team who fell in love with Komiža. Refreshingly, there is no nightlife industry per se. Obscure historic remains relate to the island’s strategic importance since 500 BC. In Vis town, you can find Greek vessels, Roman baths and Baroque Austrian architecture. After passing to the Italians, in 1944 Vis was used as a base by Tito and his Partisans. It remained a military facility, off-limits to foreigners, until 1989. You can visit Tito’s cave headquarters, halfway up Mount Hum – just ask at any local travel agency. The major historical sights in Vis town are the Archaeological Museum in the Austrian fortress,
Restaurants in Vis
Vis restaurant guide
Vis restaurants benefit from a bounty of natural ingredients and a love of good cuisine, which help create a keener culture of quality restaurants, bistros and konobas than should be expected from such a small island. The landmark restaurant in Vis town’s is Kut Pojoda. In Komiža, a gastro enclave by Pol Kalafotovo beach contains the Konobas Bako and Jastožera.
This is Croatia as it should be: a sandy bay, somebody’s house overlooking it, the only one of ten there. A few tables are placed randomly outside, perhaps five paces from the sea. At them are sat regulars necking drinks and awaiting a plate of the usual: grilled sardines which have been skewered, ungutted, then sizzled on an open grill. Other dishes are available, all from the canon of Dalmatian favourites. Incongruously, a gaggle of jolly yachters may interrupt this timeless Adriatic tableau with demands for ‘pints of beer’ in plummy accents before sitting back to enjoy the experience as much as anyone.
On a terrace just above the sea, the friendly beachside Bako provides some of the fancier meals in Komiža while exuding a relaxed atmosphere. There is gorgeous beachside seating, with tables intermingled with pine trees and tall lamps. Inside, sit amid ancient Greek and Roman artefacts recovered from the deep by the restaurant’s founder, Tonko Borčić Bako, who dove here for decades. A simple menu includes fresh langouste lobsters, grilled, broiled or served in brodet Dalmatian stew.
At this old lobster pot-house hoisted above the sea, dining tables are placed on a floor of planks, under which yachters can pole their tenders into the restaurant and rope off next to the cage from where dinners are plucked. Waiters happily discuss the ingredients, merits and history of every item on the menu – in particular the several tantalising versions of lobster: langouste lobster with spaghetti au gratin; cream soup with lobster, and grilled lobster with four sauces. As well as lobster, there are crabs, clams and fabulous octopus salad appetisers. Also, there are grills, steaks and an extensive selection of domestic wines. Celebs love it – note the pictures of John Malkovich and other notable Croatophiles to have visited. Not cheap, but worth the price. Book well ahead.
Bars and nightlife in Vis
Vis bar and club guide
Vis is a happening destination when it comes to bars, with several solid places to enjoy a beverage. Bejbi, just across from the ferry, is where to sink a few with locals and internationals. In Komiža, Corto Maltese is a good choice for cocktails among the younger set, while hipster cafe-bar-cum-restaurant Fabrika is good for coffee and cocktails. Aquarius is the only place to truly party on Vis island, a club where traditional island life and big-city rave intersect.