Last Friday we ventured over to the other side of Vis to the second largest town on the island, Komiža. When some fellow-travelers from Vienna described Komiža as even smaller than Vis Town, I didn’t think that could be possible.
Turns out, I was wrong.
Komiža, at last census, had less than 1,400 residents. Its beautiful old town hugs mostly around a tiny harbor with a modern man-made pier and dozens of small fishing boats moored every day.
Despite its size, Komiža did not disappoint.
Komiža is a popular destination for its beaches. It is on the south side of the island protected from the worst of the cooler winds from the north. So, the public bus runs between the ferry pier in Vis Town across to Komiža several times every day for just 20 Kuna per person. That’s about USD $3. The bus ride is just 20 minutes. The bus leaves shortly after the ferry arrives to allow passengers to connect.
We had an early lunch and caught the 12:30 bus to Komiža. The bus drivers accept cash only. No ticket is needed and exact change is not necessary. Some of the buses are a bit older than others, but it was a very comfortable ride even if the smaller buses can get packed with standing room only at popular times of the day.
The ride down into Komiža on the other side of the island is dramatic. Komiža itself hugs a tiny harbor… much smaller than Vis Town… the foothills are dotted with breathtaking olive and grape vineyards, a monastery which dates to the 12th century watches over the town below and rocky hills rise dramatically above it all.
What to See
Just as in Vis Town, there are charming, centuries-old buildings at every turn. There are abandoned buildings and buildings that have been repurposed… a former seaside mansion becomes overnight kayak storage for the beach rental company, for example. There are narrow alleyways where you can stretch your arms across and almost touch both buildings. Believe it or not, a few of these narrow alleys are also roads for cars!… small, practical cars.
The Sea and Beaches
In centuries past, Komiža was known as a small fishing port town. Now, it is known more for its beaches. But don’t confuse Komiža with Ibiza. There are no resorts, no night clubs and only one smallish hotel at the edge of town. It faces Komiža’s largest beach which stretches just 300 meters or so. The Our Lady of Pirates catholic church sits directly on this beach and dates from the 16th century.
The water is crystal clear and takes on several shades of aquamarine depending on what lies on the sea floor beneath. The rocky shoreline adds to the beauty. The beaches here in Komiža, as well as all around Vis Island, are mostly rock and pebble beaches. Don’t expect any of the powdery white sand we saw in Clearwater, Florida!
Komiža’s tiny harbor is stunning, but compared to the wide-open expanses of Vis Town where you could walk along the waterfront for easily an hour or more, it did feel a bit claustrophobic. There are maybe a dozen restaurants and shops packed along a little Riva (the waterfront promenade) barely two city blocks. We are in April now. It is off-season. There were very few tourists and foreigners. I can’t imagine what it must feel like packed to the gills with tourists.
We finished off our relaxing day in Komiža with a dinner before boarding the bus back to Vis Town… a pizza and two glasses of the local red wine called Plavic Mali. We grabbed a shaded table on the Riva at Restaurant Pizzeria Zadruga. The friendly hostess graciously allowed us to enjoy our wine leisurely before ordering a main. the ham, cheese, mushroom, and olive pizza was 55 Kuna… about USD $8 at current exchange rates… and each glass of wine was 14 Kuna… about USD $2 at current exchange rates. Note that small, family-run restaurants like Restaurant Pizzeria Zadruga do not accept credit cards… cash only.
The service was excellent, the food was good. If I had to be critical, I thought the pizza was a tad on the salty side for me… but it was delicious. I wasn’t complaining while I was stuffing my face with bready, tomatoey, cheesy goodness!
Komiža provided us a day to remember. And I’m sure we just scratched the surface. This little fishing village is also a jumping off point to one of the most visited islets off the Vis Island coast… a tiny island called Biševo. A trip for another time, perhaps.
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We will be here on Vis Island for another 2 weeks or so before heading down to Montenegro!
Bog! [“Be well” in the local Vis dialect]