When Jay and I decided to go to Croatia in April we knew we wanted to go to Vis Island. Vis is the furthermost island from the mainland and the least visited. Full of carob trees, citrus orchards and vineyards Vis opened to tourist traffic in the 80s and has a long history of beautiful coves, pirates, romans, winemakers, and artists. Sound like a dream? It is. We flew into Zadar from England and spent a few days there, then drove south to catch the Vis ferry from Split.
(pardon my finger in the corner here…)
When to go
Vis in April is very quiet. I think there was maybe five other tourists on the whole island, the rest are locals gearing up for the busy season and enjoying the last few months of having their island to themselves. Because it’s so quiet this is a really nice time to explore and enjoy this peaceful, tiny island.
At this time of year, you have the beaches to yourself and you really feel like you have found a hidden gem. The downside to the slow season is not much is open by way of restaurants & tourism and you can’t quite go swimming yet. The month of May would probably be really nice as well and a bit busier, I’ve heard from the locals September is a great time to come.
When we arrived on Vis Island Maja’s family (our Air B&B host) met us at the ferry terminal and guided us to their home where we stayed for the next four days. Our gorgeous Air B&B suite was located in the very quaint & pretty village of Marinje Zemlje. There’s about 8 houses, vineyards and orchard groves, and a restaurant (at that time of year) and that’s about it, it was perfect.
If you are visiting Vis you will want to rent a vacation property. There’s a couple of hotels that look kind of lonely and there’s also tons of nice vacation rentals that are very reasonably priced. I totally suggest Air B&B! Our host was amazing even though we never ended up meeting her. A bottle of homemade wine & Croatian chocolate were ready upon arrival. Our lovely farmhouse suite was beautifully decorated in a fresh & vintage look. Between the old fashioned shutters, vintage touches, and scenic view I never wanted to leave. Plus, we could walk to the best restuarant on the island – Roki’s from our doorstep.
First, and most importantly there is GREAT coffee on this island! The best coffee I had was in a smoky bar at about 7 AM near the ferry terminal before we left the island. My lungs hurt from the smoke but my tummy was very happy. You can find good coffee pretty much anywhere, check out where the local fisherman are hanging out, there’s also a nice little bakery across from the ferry terminal in Vis.
Because we visited in April almost everything was closed except the grocery stores and the local hang out spots. So we cooked a lot and had a lot of picnics. Two out of our four nights we ate at Roki’s down the road. It was amazing. Both nights we were the only guests and they pulled out all the stops. The restaurant is the backside of Roki’s house on his vineyard. Its a lovely setting. Romantic fire, romantic music, lots of wine, apertifs, desert on the house, the atmosphere and service was fantastic. Roki, Jay, and I spent our first dinner literally talking the night away. After sharing a few bottles of wine, and gorging ourselves on fish peka (a traditional croatian stew slow cooked over coals) we stumbled home and booked our next dinner right away. If you go, book as far in advance as possible, they need at least a day’s notice.
Another important piece of information. The best pizza you will have in your life is on this island. Yes, it’s true. It is in the town of Komiza on the opposite side of the island as the ferry terminal. It’s about a 25 minute drive to that side. The place is Pizzeria Charly in Komiza. Right on the waterfront you can eat wood oven pizza and gaze out at the crystal clear water and hillsides. They also serve icecream. Try any of the pizzas, I think we had the pepperoni.
If you do go to any of the other restaurants chances are they will have Pag cheese on the menu. You must try Pag cheese! This cheese is famous and you can only get it in northern Croatia (I think). It is from the rocky island of Pag where the sheep feed on shrubs and herbs which gives the cheese a distinct taste. It was really really lovely. I’d say it should be on your cheese trying bucket list.
The island is split into two main towns, Vis and Komiza, then there are lots of little villages in between. The beauty of this island is that it really does look untouched from tourism, and farming and fishing still seem to be the main vocations when the tourists aren’t around. A hint – don’t entirely trust the island maps posted on the roadsides, the spot where the grocery store is labelled is not correct! Stick to Vis town for groceries, I’m sure Komiza will have some too!
There are so many idyllic places to visit on the island and so many coves to explore. Stivina bay is probably the most famous.
It’s a bit of a hike down, but the bay is truly beautiful. We could walk to it from our house. In high season the little shack at the bottom serves drinks and food. We could tell that in the middle of Summer it would probably be packed. Although Stiniva was really pretty, we preferred Srebrena, a beautiful pebble beach with rocky outcrops and the clearest water I’ve ever seen.
In April you will have it all to yourself, I even took a quick dip in the water. Walk along the beach to different bays and explore. The water is nice and warm in these bays for swimming, bring a picnic!
Exploring the island you will find lots of places all to yourself. One activity I highly recommend that we didn’t have time to do is to hike to the Queen’s cave – a cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites that was used in the Stone Age. It takes an hour there and back once you get to the trailhead.
I truly cannot put into words how lovely, mysterious, and beautiful Vis island is. If you have the chance to visit, don’t hesitate. You will love it as much as we did. xoxo
*** If you are traveling to Vis Island we highly recommend staying at Maja’s Apartment which you can find here.