The enchanting Croatian island of Vis has had many identities over the last few thousand years. For a time, it was an ancient Greek colony known as Issa. Then, from the 1950s until the 1980s, Vis was a secret Yugoslavian naval base that was off-limits to foreigners. From there, tourists — and filmmakers — started discovering Vis’ many charms, with the Mamma Mia sequel being filmed on Vis (and not Greece) in 2017.
Shawn and I are fortunate to have spent several winters in Croatia. But, it would be a few years before we would venture to Vis, which is about 2.5 hours away from the mainland city of Split.
One February, just as the Dalmatia region was starting to come alive again with flowers and warmer weather, we decided to head out to Vis for four nights. Our Croatian friends warned us that Vis would be quiet in February, but that promised solitude only added to its allure! We were craving brilliant sunsets, so we decided to base ourselves in the coastal town of Komiža, which faces the south. Tiny Komiža, which has been a center of fishing activity for centuries, is home to about 1,400 people.
Our winter days on Vis were spent simply soaking up the details:
- We took time to take in the scent of lush lavender bushes and rosemary. We marveled at the plump lemons and oranges growing in residents’ gardens.
- We watched the birds flit from one blossom-filled tree to another. As they touched down on the flowery branches, petals danced to the ground, resembling pink snowflakes.
- We walked to the St. Nicholas Church, whose namesake, Saint Nicholas, is the protector of seamen. Every December 6th (St. Nicholas Day), Komiža residents commemorate the saint’s day by burning decrepit wooden fishing boats. As we sat on the white-stone terrace of the church, we looked out at the shimmering Adriatic Sea. We’d brought a flask of coffee and slices of homemade banana bread with us, so we enjoyed a coffee break, too. (If you’re looking for a superb banana bread recipe, be sure to check out Cookie + Kate’s recipe at that link.)
- We popped into a neighborhood café / bar and bought two glasses of their house wine made with Vis’ signature Vugava grape. Crisp and white, it’s similar to Viognier.
- We walked through the rugged landscape, watching the waves crash far below us.
- We were befriended by an affectionate cat on the beach. We nicknamed her Issa.
- We showed our gratitude for the beautiful environment by picking up pieces of plastic that had washed up on the beach.
- We acknowledged the kindness of strangers, most notably a man we met who was tending his vines. When he heard we were visiting Vis for a few days, he offered us the use of his moped for free — no strings attached. We decided to just explore Komiža on foot, nevertheless, we were touched by his thoughtful gesture.
- We sat on our apartment’s balcony, watching the sun set behind the neighboring island of Biševo.
There’s certainly much, much more to do and see in Vis — especially during the warm months! The next time we visit Vis, we look forward to seeing the celebrated Blue Cave on Biševo, as well as the Issa Archaeological Museum in Vis Town, which houses ancient Greek relics.
Have a peek at the Komiža Tourist Board website for more ideas about what to do on Vis.
Where in the World?
How do you get to the island of Vis?
Located southwest of Split (Croatia’s second-largest city), Vis is one of Croatia’s most remote islands. You can get to Vis Town via ferry or catamaran. From Split, the ferry trip takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes, while the catamaran ride is about 1.5 hours.
Visit the Jadrolinija website to see ferry timetables and ticket prices. It is also possible to island-hop to Vis from the neighboring islands of Brač and Hvar.
Note that Jadrolinija is Croatia’s state-owned ferry company, which makes trips from Split to Vis year-round. During the tourist season, it’s also possible to travel via private boat or catamaran.
Accommodation in Komiža, on Vis Island:
We spent 4 nights at the Apartment Mare (affiliate link), in the town of Komiža on Vis’ western coast. When I read other guests’ reviews praising the Apartment Mare’s magnificent views, I was skeptical. However, when we arrived, we couldn’t stop marveling at the magnificent vistas before us. The island of Biševo was straight ahead, framed by swaying sea palms and Vis’ rugged coastline.
Even though we visited Komiža during the winter months, the weather was pleasant enough to sit on the balcony. We spent many hours there, soaking up the sunshine and staring out into the sea.
The apartment was cozy and clean, the internet and heater worked well, and our host, Katarina, was happy to answer any questions we had about the island.
We were just a short walk (down a series of stairs) to Komiža’s main beach, and the town of Komiža was only about eight minutes away.
Also just outside the Apartment Mare’s doorstep: great walking trails, and more superb views of Komiža.
Looking for more Croatia trip-planning inspiration?
From exploring the 1,700-year-old palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian and meeting one of Dalmatia’s few remaining silver filigree master jewelers to foraging for wild asparagus in the Croatian countryside, see all of my posts from Croatia.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.
25 thoughts on “Komiža, Vis: Savoring the Off-Season Charms of One of Croatia’s Most Remote Islands”
Feb is such a lovely time of year in the Med, Tricia. Things burgeoning quietly with all the time in the world to spare.
Hi Jo, I absolutely agree that these quiet and cooler months are a lovely time — perhaps my favorite! — to be in the Mediterranean. The landscape is again green, trees are in bloom, it’s still usually sunny, and the temperatures are comfortable for going on long walks/hikes.
Also, I loved your line about “things burgeoning quietly with all the time in the world to spare.” That’s so true, because you do get to enjoy the scenery without the masses. In addition, it does seem that the locals (especially people who work in the tourist industry) have time to socialize. Hope you’re having a relaxing weekend!
Just back from a couple of weeks in Northern Portugal so I’m catching up with friends and washing 🤣💟
A side-trip to Northern Portugal sounds lovely, Jo! Are there any places you’d recommend?
Lots! Obidos is a small medieval town and lovely, Braga is beautiful in a big city way and you’ll have heard of Bom Jesus de Monte? Amarante on the Douro River was probably my favourite place but Monsanto, though out of the way, really unmissable, but you have to enjoy a climb. I’ll be writing about them all in the weeks to come. 🤗💟💟
Jo, some of those spots sound familiar, but I’ve pinned the others I hadn’t heard of before on my map to visit someday. :) We have friends who are headed to Portugal shortly, and I’ll have to direct them to your site. Until then, may you have many wonderful walks! I suppose the temperatures are still quite comfortable there.
Thanks, Tricia. Yes, good walking temperatures at present. Around 20C.
I love Islands like this. Nice to see the two of you enjoying life.
Hi Darlene, these mostly undeveloped islands are a treat to explore! We actually visited Vis a few years ago (we’re in France now), but we’ve enjoyed every Croatian island we’ve visited. Croatia has more than 1,000 islands/islets, but only a few dozen of those are actually inhabited. For that reason, we could spend a lifetime exploring them all.
Do you have any islands that are personal favorites that you’d recommend — either in Spain or elsewhere? The only Spanish island we’ve visited in Gran Canaria, so we have more exploring to do there. :)
I too love Islands. We have a small island near us called Tabarca Island which I love exploring. https://www.alicanteturismo.com/en/tabarca-island/ I am off to Arran Island off the coast of Scotland for a week-long writers retreat. I will be exploring and collecting ideas for another book. Also my daughter owns an acre of land on a small island off the west coast of Canada. I love visiting her there. (will be there next month.)
Darlene, I hadn’t heard of Tabarca Island before you mentioned it, but the snorkeling there sounds wonderful, and the crystal-clear water looks inviting. I also hope you have a productive and relaxing writers retreat in Scotland. Arran Island seems like it’ll offer much inspiration; are you collecting ideas for your Amanda series?
What great photos and description of Vis! After seeing these anyone would want to visit and try their wine! I especially like the local wildlife, Shawn’s video, the boat being repainted, and the two of you enjoying it all!
Hi Marilyn, it’s nice to hear from you! Are you in Mexico or Alaska at the moment?
I’m glad you enjoyed this peek at Vis. This long-weekend trip offered just what we needed: relaxation and some light exploring — but there is so much more to do on Vis. And since you mentioned the wine, I would absolutely love to visit a vineyard and meet a winemaker the next time we’re out there. We enjoyed trying the little café-bar’s house wine, but I’d like to actually see the Vugava grapes growing among Vis’ majestic landscapes.
Wherever you are in the world, I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. Thanks again for dropping by!
Tricia, this makes me want to travel so much. Komiža seems like a very idyllic and peaceful town located in such a beautiful setting. The church, the orchards, the hills, the scenery, the sunset, everything just looks so picture perfect. And the fact that you had the place for yourselves only made your experience even better, I can imagine. Thank you for sharing such a picturesque place with us.
Hi Bama, I hope you’ll be able to get back out on the road and start exploring again soon! This little weekend trip to Vis Island is one we did a few years ago, actually. Revisiting Komiža’s stunning landscapes makes me want to visit an island or coastal area, too. In just a few more weeks/months, I imagine that Vis is going to look quite different from what we experienced in that it’ll be crowded with beach-goers and sun-seekers.
I’ll have to hop on over to your site and see what interesting spots you’ve encountered in Jakarta or beyond. It’s a good thing I just had lunch, because the last time I read about all the tasty restaurants you’d recently visited, I left your website and felt the urge to snack. :)
I would recommend anyone to eat first before reading my blog because I have a habit of throwing food photos here and there. 😄
Tricia and Shawn, you both just took me on a wonderful trip in Croatia. It made me feel for a few minutes being in my Europe, having been so many times in Croatia ( back than called Yugoslavia)
Hi Cornelia, I certainly would’ve enjoyed seeing what Croatia was like when it was still part of Yugoslavia. Perhaps one of these days, our paths will intersect with yours in California, Germany, or Croatia, and you can share some of your favorite memories with us. Hope you’re doing well!
Thank you Tricia, its always so wonderful to connect with you. I might be in Garmisch in August this year, would you two, be around there too?
Hi Cornelia, Shawn and I would love to meet up with you if you come to Garmisch! I’m not sure where we’ll be in August, but please let me know if you’re definitely coming. :)
Awh, that would be a dream come through, Tricia/
Magnificent Tricia! Croatia being gorgeous any time of year!
Dobar dan, Anna!
Each season indeed has its charms! The quieter months (October – early April) are some of our personal favorites though, as we love long hikes and spending time with the locals. :) We’ve even been able to squeeze in some swimming during that period, but several of our Dalmatian friends have told us they think the water is too cold in early autumn / late spring.
A spectacular setting you introduce with this post, Trica. You show the magic of Croatia. The photos are marvelous, a bit of a fairytale setting ~ and especially like the one of you and Shawn with the St. Nicholas Church in the background. I really need to visit Croatia and see Komiža for myself. Wonderful write up, and continue living the dream :-)
Hi Randall, it’s great to hear from you! We haven’t been to Croatia since late last spring. I do wonder how crowded it is now that it’s become an exceedingly popular digital-nomad destination. I suspect that during the off-season (which is when we prefer to travel) that you can still find much of that magic and a bit of solitude. When you head to Croatia, do let me know and I’ll be happy to answer any questions. Where in the world are you at the moment?