Monday, May 14, 2007

Croatia Online - Vis Revisited

We posted a full report on Vis on April 10th 2006. For details of the best restaurants, beaches and other useful information see Croatia Online Destinations - Vis.

On a return visit this weekend, we thought it would be useful to see what’s changed and give readers a feel for what it’s like in May. We were lucky with exceptionally warm sunny weather and a sea that’s warm enough for a bracing swim.

For first timers to Vis, it couldn’t be easier to get there. Just hop on a ferry to Split and in two hours you’re right in the centre of Vis town. At this time of year ferries run twice daily but you really need to spend at least a night there to give yourselves a chance to see it properly. We took the 9.30 ferry on Saturday morning and returned on the 4pm ferry on Sunday afternoon. The ferries were far from full but there was a good mix of locals and tourists. It was the same ferry both ways – Petar Hektorović, named after the famous Croatian writer and poet. Only three weeks ago this ferry was an integral part of the Croatia Boat Show, housing the press centre and many exhibitors (see previous reports). It’s a great big affair on 5 floors with a modest café on the air conditioned third floor and sun decks above. It costs 130 kunas (£12) for a car and 30 kunas (£3) per person so if you’re on a budget, leave the car behind and hire a scooter when you get to Vis. The journey takes you between Hvar and Brać and you can just see Milna, on Brać, as you pass through the gap. Boat spotters can get a glimpse of a complete range of vessels. We saw the tiniest of day boats dwarfed by a tanker, another ferry and a cruise liner, all in five minutes. The passengers must have been relieved to see a couple of yachts after the wake caused by all these giants.

We arrived at 12 and headed straight to our hotel, one of the only two in Vis Town, both run by the town authorities. Hotel Tamaris is open all year round; Hotel Issa, a short walk out of town, near a good beach, is open in the summer season only. You couldn’t wish for a more picture postcard view than you get from the windows of the sea facing rooms of Hotel Tamaris. Passing yachts moor over the road directly outside, and a wooded peninsula with elegant church and cemetery lie further away, on the other side of the bay. It’s not expensive either with a single room at 320 kunas (£30), and a double at 540 kunas (£50), including breakfast. At those prices you won’t be expecting 4 star anyway. The rooms are perfectly adequate, with high ceilings and a fresh lick of paint, but the interior is a little faded – touches of mould on the shower, squeaky furniture and just a little bit dark. During our visit, there were 3 boats staying overnight at the moorings outside, and you can imagine it might get a little rowdy in the summer when there might be 30. The best thing about Hotel Tamaris is the location of its terrace and the comfort and style of its good quality yellow linen tablecloths and blue chairs. From here you can enjoy a three course set menu for 55 kunas (£5), a beer or an aperitif, and just watch the world go by. The yachts come and go (some with more skill than others), the locals amble to and from church, the vicar and a nun cycle past, and your brain just tries to take in the idyllic qualities of the view. The food is satisfying rather than great but it’s the only way to spend a Sunday when the weather’s good.

Whilst there are plenty of other small settlements on Vis Island, mostly around the better beaches, the only one of any significance is Komiža, a traditional fishing village. There are two roads to it from Vis – one takes you over the top of the island on a good road about 10 kilometres long; the other is 18 kilometres of less comfortable driving around the coast. Neither Vis town nor Komiža had quite come to life for the tourist season yet and we love it like that. However, the downside is that some of the best restaurants in Komiža, and to a lesser extent Vis, are not open yet. We were disappointed to see Bako firmly shut with not much preparation for the summer yet evident. We were delighted to see a local fisherman, with a choice catch, bartering in the street with restaurateurs wanting the best of his offering. Instead of sampling Bako’s best fish, we therefore settled for a Pizza in the centre of town and headed back to Vis for a better choice of restaurants.

As our previous posting suggests (see link above), there’s an abundance of good restaurants to choose from in Vis town, particularly along the bay in Kut. We chose to stay close to home and had Beef Stroganoff in Dionis, a short walk after turning right out of the hotel. When we spent Christmas in Vis over two years ago, Dionis seemed to be the only restaurant open, apart from Hotel Tamaris’ rather soulless interior. Now it’s already got its awning up for dining on the terrace. Though it may be a little over geared to the hotel’s tourists, and a little short on menu choice, it’s in a good location and still provides reasonable value for money. On Sunday we strolled through Kut and noticed Restaurant Val looking particularly elegant and inviting.

Our verdict on Vis in May – it’s a real treat if you just want to relax and watch the world go by. Our guess is that relaxation won’t be the name of the game once the high summer invasion starts. We just hope that it stays affordable and unspoilt for as long as possible and wonder how many years it will be before Hotel Tamaris is bought by some rich developer, revamped, and priced out of the range of most of Joe public. You just can’t beat those views, the location and the olde worlde charme.


For more details on Jadrolinija ferries and timetables go via the link on our earlier posting (see above). Catamarans also run in the summer. Our previous posting also contains more details on restaurants, tourist offices etc.

Hotel Tamaris is really the only choice for a night’s stay on the island out of season. Most apartment owners aren’t open for business before June and tend not to be interested in a stay of less than three nights. There’s one big hotel in Komiža but again its only open in the summer.

Today's photo shows the view from the hotel window!


Post a Comment

<< Home