Just 50 minutes from Split by ferry, Brač is an island with beautiful pebble beaches and delightful villages, tall mountains and Aleppo pine forests. People also come to take part in adventure sports against the island’s natural backdrop.
Unlike its neighbouring island Hvar, Brač (pronounced ‘Brahtch’) is mainly populated by local Croatians, so the island has retained much of its traditional character. Although Brač’s major towns lack in nightlife, the compensation is found in charming stone villages, authentic konobas (taverns), laidback beaches and plenty of outdoor activities.
The history and culture of Brač begins in Škrip, the island’s oldest settlement. Škrip is where you’ll find the Brač Museum housed in Radojković Tower. The museum building is itself a piece of history: pieces of the structure date back to 1400 B.C. The museum features historical equipment, Roman carvings and archaeological artefacts.
The Museum of Olive Oil (Put ploča 5) is dedicated to one of the island’s celebrated agricultural products. Here you’ll learn about the traditional process of olive oil production on Brač while surrounded by paintings and sculptures crafted by local artists.
Zlatni Rat, aka the ‘Golden Horn,’ is a one kilometre-long beach of smooth white pebbles shaded by a pine tree grove on the west side of Bol. The beach is known to change shape depending on the wind. If you prefer to be closer to the water, 100 kuna (£12) will buy you a lounge chair and umbrella for the day. The northwesterly Mistral wind offers more than perfect windsurfing conditions; it’s also a cool breeze that provides respite from the heat. Though the beach can get crowded during high season, Auro Beach Bar adds a great ambiance, serving delicious cocktails and perfectly percolated espressos.
During the Hundred Years’ Croatian–Ottoman War (1493–1593), Catholics seeking refuge were drawn to the island of Brač. The caves under the Vidova gora made an excellent hideaway, and today, you’ll find several hermetic monasteries. Most famous is the Blaca Hermitage, founded in 1515 by two Glagolitic monks. The hermitage was maintained continuously until 1963, when father Nikola Miličević died. The preserved hermitage-cum-museum houses a collection of ancient weapons, timekeeping devices, a library with more than 11,000 books, and the telescope bequeathed by Miličević—also a well-known astronomer—which is among the most powerful in Croatia.
If you’re interested in learning more about Brač’s precious white stone, head to Pučišća on the east of the island. The stone excavated from here can be found in buildings and monuments from Vienna to Budapest and beyond. It’s also home to the Pučišća Stonemason School where 25 students from around the country are invited to study every year. The specialized school was founded in 1909 and provides opportunities for students to learn manual techniques of carving.
As famous as Brač stone is, is a man renowned for sculpting it: Ivan Rendić. Though his abilities were born on the island of Brač, he completed art school in Venice and worked in Trieste, where he became the first famous Croatian sculptor of the modern age. He lived in Supetar, Brač’s administrative centre, for part of his life. There you can discover some of his work, from the Ivan Rendić Gallery in the national library to the ornate gravestones and sarcophagi he sculpted in Supetar cemetery.
When it comes to variety, Bol offers the most choice on Brač, with a selection of resorts, boutique hotels, apartment rentals and campsites. For a boutique stay, Hotel Bol (Hrvatskih domobrana 19) does an excellent job of providing luxury service at an affordable price. The hotel features a contemporary design with amenities including an outdoor swimming pool, gym and sauna facilities, bathrobe and olive-based toiletries, as well as free shuttle service to Zlatni Rat beach. Staff offer a personal touch in all their interactions, even leaving local treats with personal notes in the rooms. Booking with them includes a host of benefits, such as discounts on activities and rentals. It’s always the little touches that make you feel at home, from the homemade bread at the buffet breakfast to the free pick-up and drop off service at the catamaran jetty.
Supetar is the main port of entry from the mainland, just a 50-minute ferry journey from Split. Here you will find a selection of hostels, apartments and resorts. Hostel D&D (Put Vele Luke 17) offers excellent value for anyone who just wants a cozy place to sleep after enjoying the beaches, restaurants and nightlife of Supetar. The hostel is centrally located with bright rooms overlooking the hostel’s garden, filled with olive trees and a BBQ. Shared bathrooms are fitted with showers and guests have access to free Wi-Fi throughout their stay.
Restaurants, Bars & Cafes
Brač is an island that offers a delicious taste of the Mediterranean, well-known for its wine, carob, fig, sour cherry and olive groves. Seafood, lamb, fresh cheese, fruits and wine are the mainstays of Brač cuisine.
When it comes to local favourites, Ranč (Hrvatskih domobrana 23) is a stand-out. Hidden away from the tourist buzz of Bol’s waterfront, Ranč serves up local specialities and traditional Dalmatian cuisine. Here you will dine under the roof of their homey tavern or outdoors in the garden. Locally caught fish, homemade bread and house wine demonstrate the care and attention paid to the preparation. However, the most memorable part of dining here is the service: friendly, patient and helpful, they truly succeed in building rapport. Be sure to book in advance.
Brač is renowned for its wine, particularly the white Pošip grape and red Plavac Mali. A visit to Stina Winery (Riva 16) offers the opportunity to savour each one. Stina began as a cooperative in 1903 to help winegrowers sell their wine at fair prices. Today, the winery features a deep cellar of Plavac Mali, Vugava, and Pošip from their vineyards in Grabica. Head to the gorgeous waterfront establishment in Bol for a wine-tasting and tour, or sit on the outdoor patio with a bottle and some tasty Croatian bite-sized dishes.
Although Brač is more about rest and relaxation, the island still has its own nightlife scene. Varadero (Ul. Radića Frane) on Bol’s harbour is a favourite among tourists looking for a night out. Take a seat in their outdoor lounge featuring tiki huts, sofas and armchairs to sip complex cocktails. In the high season, Varadero draws well-known Croatian DJs to help people dance the night away.
Kaštil Gospodnetić Agroturizam (Dol 13) is a family farm and castle in Dol that serves up some of the best in local dishes. Throughout the year, the farm grows wine, olives and vegetables; in the summer, they serve up tasty homemade meals with a beautiful view. It’s more than just a local dining experience. Before being seated, you’ll learn about their family and be shown around their 19th century noble house. Enjoy spit-roasted lamb peka, cuttlefish risotto, and local cheese served with homemade bread.
Konoba Tomić (Gornji Humac 37) is located in Gornji Humac, one of Brač’s oldest villages. The 800-year old family house features a rustic wine cellar with an old wine press and trough where wine was once fermented. At this konoba, you’ll taste the magic at its source: everything they serve is either homemade, homegrown or locally caught. You’ll rarely get this close to the origin of your food and drink! If that is not enough, the warm bread at Konoba Tomić is served fresh from a wood-fired oven.
Vidova gora is the highest point of all of Croatia’s islands. It’s a steady 2-hour uphill walk past a stone quarry and through pine forest to the peak. Alternatively, you can make your way up to the 778-metre peak by car. From the top, you can see Hvar, Vis, and the coast of the mainland; some even say that on a clear day you can see the coast of Italy. From here, you’ll also have a bird’s eye view of Zlatni Rat and into the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic. The hike is mostly shaded, but it is best to get out early in the morning, before it gets too hot. Bug spray and sturdy walking shoes are strongly advised; the path is pebbly, and slipping is almost unavoidable.
The crystalline Adriatic Sea and selection of underwater caves means that diving is a popular outdoor activity on Brač. You can arrange night dives or day trips around the island to different dive spots. Discover the remains of an ancient Roman villa, nearly two millennia old. Remarkably, the mosaic tiles are still intact. For cave diving, a favourite is Lučice Cave; meanwhile the mushroom-shaped reef at Cape Smociguzica is beloved for the bright yellow gorgonia.
Thanks to the consistently powerful Mistral wind, Zlatni Rat is one of the most popular spots for windsurfing and kitesurfing in the Adriatic Sea. With companies like Big Blue Sport (Put Zlatnog rata 3), you can organize private lessons and five-day courses that will get you sailing through the sea in no time. If you’re more of an armchair watersport enthusiast, just sit back and wait until the afternoon. That’s when the winds are strongest and the pros really start putting on a show.