Vis is an island of contrasts. The more prosperous town of Vis languishes on the north eastern coast facing the its upmarket rival Hvar, while the hardworking fishing town of Komiza occupies the western end of the island.
Vis has seen more than its fair share of conflict. Since 3000BC Vis has played host to every passing nationality that has sort to get a foothold in this area.
The influences of all these cultures are represented in the layout and style of the island, with the Venetians providing a central backbone of grand buildings. More recently (1950’s to 1989) Vis was off limits to most foreigners due to its role as base for the Yugoslav National Army. As a result the island was a poor cousin to the neighbouring islands as they lined their pockets with the all might tourist dollar.
Now, however, Vis is one of the most popular destinations in the area and caters remarkably well to both land and sea based visitors. With the weather gods on your side Vis makes a wonderful destination to add to your sailing route but be warned… if the weather is unsettled Vis can be a very uncomfortable quayside for all concerned!
Vis has a delightful old town. The Italianate harbourside houses sweep majestically around the port of Vis (Lissa) complemented by a striking backdrop of high hills behind.
Vis offers everything you need in a harbour. A variety of restaurants, cafes and bars line the harbour front and there is a plethora of other shops. There is a definite sense that Vis is taking its lead from Hvar when it comes to town planning so be prepared for some higher prices than you would normally expect.
Both ends of the bay (known as Vis and Kut) offer quayside mooring and buoys or it is also possible to anchor. Anchoring is free as long and, as you don’t impinge on the mooring fields or the ferry turning circle, you won’t be hassled.
Unfortunately the other two options for mooring come at a fairly hefty price. For a 12m yacht the going rate is 252 kuna/night (approximately 34€ 2015) and the town quay will set you back 30 kuna/m plus an additional 160 kuna per night (approximately 56€ in 2015) Power and water is available but will more than likely cost you extra.
Both ends of the bay provide adequate protection in settled weather but can become choppy in the afternoon due to the high hills around confusing the afternoon sea breezes. If there is any chance of a blow from the north steer well clear of Vis. This is not the place to be caught out if the bora blows and even the Sirocco gains momentum as it sweeps down the hills and gullies. I once had to bunk out of this bay at 3am due to an unscheduled bora and as I bashed my way to windward I could hear the yachts clashing together as they had to remain, pinned to the quay by the wind and waves. Given a choice I would suggest you head for the moorings or anchorage north of the ferry quay. Here it is somewhat more sheltered and the tiny peninsula and church afford pleasant if somewhat more noisy surroundings.
There is not much opportunity for beachside swimming in Vis so you may want to stop for that last minute swim in one of the bays at the entrance to the harbour.
Vis has an interesting history and many palaces, fortresses and churches remain. the island also produces some great wines; particularly the vugava whites. Ruins from the Greek and roman occupation litter the countryside as do remnants pertaining to later invaders but none are particularly well marked or managed. Highlights include an amphitheatre visible on Gradina Hill (though don’t expect too much). The town has had spells under the Venetians (who left some fine buildings), the Austro-Hungarians, the French, the Italians and the British. In 1866, the Italians and Austrians held the first battle between ironclad battleships just offshore.
Walks crisscross the island. A rewarding one begins in the port and travels up steeply counter-clockwise to a war memorial before sweeping round the eastern side of the bay and depositing you for cool refreshments near Kut Church. If you are feeling slightly lazier, a bus runs between the pretty and lively fishing village of Komiza and Viz (Lissa). In Komiza you will find a fishing museum and the crumbling but picturesque ruins of a fort long since abandoned. In Vis there is a small archaeological and ethnographic museum which offers an interesting view of life on the island.
You can also visit the Blue Caves in Bisevo island from here.
May sees the carnival and amateur dramatics festival whilst concerts and theatre are put on through the summer months. There are several art galleries around town.
The town offers a supermarket, bakery, market, pharmacy, banks and ATM’s. You can also hire cars, scooters and mountain bikes – the island has good roads thanks to its military past. There are also a couple of dive centres in town.