If you haven’t seen Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again yet — go see it right now. We’ll wait.
Just kidding! This is Travel Awaits, not Travel Waits.
But Mamma Mia 2 really is worth it if you’re looking for a movie to see with your daughter or some girlfriends, preferably at one of those fancy new theatres where you can channel your inner Tanya (Christine Baranski) and order chardonnay direct to your seat.
Apart from Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, and the music of ABBA, the big star of the show here is the backdrop. Like the original, Here We Go Again is set on the Greek island of Skopelos. Unlike the original, however, the sequel wasn’t filmed in Greece. Instead, it was shot almost entirely on the Croatian island of Vis.
The popularity of the film seems likely to make this jewel of the Adriatic an overnight travel sensation. So before you plan your Mamma Mia! getaway, here’s a little guide to the best attractions Vis has to offer.
Mount Hum is the highest point on this rather small island, and it affords visitors with panoramic views. You can drive to the top — but be forewarned: there may not be as many signs to guide you as you might expect. At the top, there’s a small chapel if you’re religiously inclined or just interested in architecture.
You’ll also pass by the old haunt of the former Yugoslav rebel leader and president, Josip Broz Tito. During WWII, the communist Tito led a gallant band of partisans in resisting the Nazi occupation of his country. He spent several months of the war holed up in a cave here on Mount Hum. It’s tough to find — look for a flight of stairs off to your right about halfway up the mountain.
Whether you’re a history buff, a fan of heights, or just someone hankering for a view, Mount Hum is worth the detour.
Vis has a number of attractive beaches, which is unsurprising considering that it’s an island in the temperate Adriatic Sea, strategically located between Italy and the Balkans.
In 2016, Vis’ Stiniva Cove was voted the best beach in Europe. But that kind of visibility has led to a glut of tourists. It may not be worth fighting the crowds at this point.
The best Vis beach is probably Srebrna Bay, a secluded stretch of sand with crystal clear waters, a big parking lot, and picnic benches. That ‘big parking lot’ may concern you; obviously, it’s there to accommodate big crowds. But actually, Srebrna is generally less busy than some of the better-known beaches, blessing it with a relaxing and clean atmosphere.
It’s worth noting that Vis is very lightly populated. By the last count, only 3,400 people live here year-round, and the population has been declining for decades. So if you visit early in the summer or early in the autumn, you won’t have much competition for a primo spot on the beach at Srebrna Bay.
However, it is a little isolated, so you’ll probably want to bring your picnic snacks with you.
Taking A Dive
Vis is relatively untouched, a sort of blast from the past. For this reason, the waters around the island are particularly pristine, which makes it a haven for diving enthusiasts.
The rocky coastline has also been the demise of plenty of ships, many of which can clearly be seen from the surface. So if you’re interested in exploring old shipwrecks, you should visit the ISSA Diving Center in Komiža. They operate excursions both for beginners and more adventurous divers.
Dining Done Weird
Vis is home to a remarkably unusual little restaurant.
Konoba Senko sits on the southern end of the island, in the sheltered, out-of-the-way Mala Travna cove. Its owner and chef is notable Croatian writer Senko Karuza, who has created an interactive food experience based on locally-sourced, organic ingredients, wine, grappa, and schnapps.
This isn’t a traditional restaurant: you may end up spending three or four hours here, sampling dishes that rely heavily on freshly caught fish. (If you’re not big on seafood, this may not be for you.)
Konoba Senko is really quite isolated, and there are intriguing adult beverages on offer, so you’ll probably want to take a taxi. You’d also do well to book ahead.
If you don’t feel like spending your whole vacation on Vis, there are plenty of boat tours you can take from the mainland or from other nearby islands.
For example, the Five Island Speedboat Tour will take you from mainland Croatia (Split, or Trogir) on a magical ride hitting the highlights of the Adriatic archipelago.
Among the stops: the island of Biševo, where you can explore the world-famous Blue Cave, snorkel off Budikovac Island, and visit Vis’ fishing village of Komiža.
What’s That Sound? Crickets
If you don’t know how cricket works — well, join the club. But if you’d like to catch a game, learn a thing or two, or even play, Vis is a surprisingly good place to do so.
Back in the days of the Napoleonic Wars, a British naval commander founded a cricket club on Vis in order to keep his garrison from going insane. The pastime stuck. The club exists to this day, and continues to welcome visitors to take part in matches of the sport I call “wonky baseball.”
There you have it! Get out there and explore Vis before it becomes Mecca for Mamma Mia 2 fanatics. If you’re lucky, maybe some exasperated locals will show you where your favorite scenes were shot.