Croatia can really feel like an actor that, regardless of expertise and charisma, by no means fairly makes it to mega-stardom. If it’s the case of needing the precise position then Mamma Mia 2, due out subsequent week, may simply do the trick for Vis, an island off its coast: final 12 months the movie’s forged and crew refashioned it because the “Greek” resort of Kalokairi that serves because the backdrop to the movies.
If you’re wealthy sufficient, you’ll be able to arrive on Vis by helicopter, however a ferry from Split takes a bit of over two hours and prices simply £6.40 for foot passengers. However you come although, the arrival feels filmic. After a sequence of small islands, a harbour lined with a jagged mouth of creamy white homes emerges. As you get nearer up, they seem to have a satisfying ratio of balconies, washing traces and tiny jetties.
If you’re staying in Vis city (and there are compelling the reason why it is best to) you don’t want a automotive. It takes about 20 minutes to stroll across the harbour to Kut, the oldest and prettiest half, the place most individuals keep.
Built by the Venetians within the 17th century, Kut is a sequence of courtyards and passageways in limestone, overhung with balconies, with steps rising up into the hills behind. There aren’t any good garments boutiques; as a substitute there are mini-marts and boat chandlers. The water is achingly clear, the meals, Italian in affect, majors on seafood. Particularly in Kut, Vis has a successful means of making eating places inside the partitions of ruined palazzos. Stellar examples embody the pizzas at Lambik and the smarter, Spanish-influenced Lola (lolavisisland.com). Prices are cheap; a meal at Pojoda, broadly considered the island’s greatest restaurant, prices round £30.
‘The water is achingly clear’: Stiniva seashore, Vis island. Photograph: Matthew Baker/Getty Images
Vis looks like Greece designed by the Dutch: mellow however sensible and environment friendly. It’s not an enormous island; it takes about 15 minutes to drive from Vis city to the opposite predominant hub of Komiža. Equally fairly and the place the Mamma Mia 2 manufacturing was largely based mostly, its harbour was taverna-ed as much as permit for a few massive dance numbers. Komiža remains to be a significant fishing port and there are a sequence of excellent eating places right here. Jastožera (jastozera.eu) specialises in lobster, whereas Konoba Bako (konobabako.hr), practically subsequent door, does the identical however has a group of historical amphora. Komiža additionally has extra seashores – of the pebbly Croatian selection – than Kut.
The island of Vis is rather a lot sleepier than Hvar, its club-minded neighbour to the east. While Vis has three,000 beds, Hvar has over 30,000. A big a part of me hopes it’s going to keep at this quantity, for Vis is in a really candy spot proper now. Cruise ships can’t drop in, and there’s only one good lodge – the 10-room San Giorgio, tucked down an alley in Kut – though there are an rising variety of meticulously renovated villas and residences.
Despite its low-key vibe, Vis has sufficient sights to keep away from beach-centred boredom
Just a few issues have helped hold Vis underneath the tourism radar. When the remainder of the nation began to divulge heart’s contents to tourism within the 1960s, Vis was saved off limits by the Yugoslav military. There’s nonetheless a legacy of 16 deserted military bases throughout the island, although most individuals anticipate not less than a pair to turn out to be resorts in a decade or so.
Despite its low-key vibe, Vis has sufficient sights, together with an archaeological museum and church buildings, to keep away from beach-centred boredom. Above all, on neighbouring Biševo island, a sequence of caves have swimming pools of iridescent blue mild (which function within the movie), due to a shaft of daylight assembly pure white sand on the seafloor. There’s an motion facet to Vis, too: the harbours are lined with each kind of boat, from tour vessels to crusing boats and Ribs. Cycling is massive right here, so is exploring a community of tunnels constructed by the Yugoslav military, alongside abseiling and diving – wrecks embody a B-17 from the Second World War.
Vis is getting smarter although. Fort George (fortgeorgecroatia.com), a British legacy of the Napoleonic Wars excessive on the hill simply north of Vis city, is now an upmarket celebration venue. The superyacht set are starting to circle, too. Last 12 months David Guetta held a yacht-hopping celebration (Guetta DJ-ed, naturally) simply offshore close to the Blue Cave.
Street life: outdated stone homes in Vis city. Photograph: Natasa Kirin/Getty Images/iStockphoto
A specific amount of Yugoslav army-issue barbed wire stays on the island however the sense of lushness with scrubland of untamed rosemary, capers and sage greater than makes up for it, alongside that pleasing oddness that the very best islands have. Vis additionally has its personal number of carob tree alongside oranges and lemon timber, whereas throughout are vineyards and olive timber, the previous lately planted after Phylloxera devastated wine manufacturing within the early a part of the 20th century.
There’s additionally a pragmatism on Vis that presumably comes with the territory. This is an island that has been scrapped over and requisitioned frequently – the Greeks introduced wine and, a bit later, the Romans did their regular baths and logistic enter. The Venetians left their mark with structure and meals whereas the British and French each occupied it through the Napoleonic wars. Later on, the Austro-Hungarians added some positive roads with Tyrolean-style bollards and a way of effectivity that also pervades right this moment, based on Siniša, a geography instructor at Vis’s solely secondary college and who supplied to indicate me round.
“Somebody asked me how delayed ferries were. I had to tell him that this was Croatia and they leave on time,” he informed me.
But the island isn’t with out its issues. House costs are rocketing and lots of have gotten holiday lets. There’s an absence of jobs so the younger are leaving, however others are returning. Niko Rokis is an Australian of Croatian descent who determined to come again and create a winery, which additionally has an excellent bar and restaurant (rokis.hr). He additionally created a cricket pitch, which implies that this little island (inhabitants three,500) is represented on the nationwide squad.
“We’re starting to get pub teams visiting from the UK,” mentioned Siniša, who has performed for the nationwide crew and is the opening batsman. “They can go to the West Indies and definitely get beaten, or come here where they probably won’t.”
Way to go
Return flights with Croatia Airlines (croatiaairlines.com) begin at £207. Ferry data: jadrolinija.hr. Rooms on the San Giorgio begin at £149 (hotelsangiorgiovis.com). Vis Villas: visvillas.com. For extra data, go to croatia.hr and dalmatia.hr