Romantic Getaway to Vis Inspired by Mamma Mia 2
After almost a month of enjoying lovely Split, Croatia, we decided we needed a little getaway before we left Croatia. Inspired by the movie, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (Mamma Mia 2), we picked the island of Vis, Croatia, where many scenes of this ABBA tribute were filmed. We packed overnight backpacks and headed out.
Jandrolinja, the Croatian ferry service, sailed us two hours from Split to Vis Town on Vis Island for just under $30 roundtrip for the two of us. A pleasant journey across the Adriatic Sea under pleasant 72 degree skies engaged our excitement for what we’d find when we got to Vis. We had read several Mamma Mia 2 articles about the various locations to visit, learning that to spend a good 24 hours we should start in Vis, sleep in Komiža, and end in Vis. But how would we get around the island?
By the way, you can watch a video about this trip right here.
Getting Around Vis by Bike
The island is not big, but it’s too big to walk in 24 hours. A local bus transports visitors from the ferry port to Komiža on the west end of the island for $1.25 each and transits a few times a day. Taxis run, too, as well as water taxis that circumnavigate the island. We eyed bikes.
I had reached out to Vis Special via Instagram to inquire about bicycles. Being fit and feeling like we had the chops to cycle the island, we eyed local mountain bikes. But after looking at the terrain of the island and a chat with some locals, they convinced us that ebikes were essential. The folks at Vis Special were fantastic, taking their time to show us how to get to the Mamma Mia 2 sites and imploring us to take ebikes. Convinced, we got off-season deals of $65 for two hard tail ebikes for 24 hours, including locks, helmets, and chargers.
The Mamma Mia 2 Beaches of Vis
With water bottles and maps in hand, we headed out of Vis towards the first two beaches on our list for Mamma Mia 2 sites. Thank god for the ebikes. I’m not sure how tall the climb of Vis actually was, but Mt Everest might be a competitor. After shifting to our climbing gears on the bikes and punching in Turbo on the battery, we zipped up the switchbacks, and in no time, we made it to our first beach, Milna.
Milna Beach delighted us, and it was there that the romantic vibe kicked in for our trip. We could imagine spending the summers swimming in its shallow bay and winters holed up reading books overlooking the water. Perhaps our little piece of paradise? After finding a few pieces of sea glass, we mounted the ebikes to visit our first Mamma Mia 2 site, Stiniva Beach.
The ride from Milna to Stiniva Beach through vineyards and olive groves felt like unmanufactured old world charm. It also included another set of ups and downs that put Turbo to test. Finally, we took the left to get to the beach, traveling about a mile off the main road through farms and groves to get to the tiny parking area for Stiniva. Noted as Europe’s most beautiful beach, this secluded and difficult-to-get to cove is the Mamma Mia 2 scene in the background when Sam recalls his first boat ride with Donna.
The Reality of Getting to Stiniva Beach
Let’s be honest about Stiniva Beach. Every tour from Split includes Stiniva, the Blue Cave, the Green Cave, Vis and Komiža. Based on the hordes of tourists in Split and the rapid sales of these “Blue Cave” tours, I was a bit hesitant to pay for one of these tours. All I could imagine was the experience we’ve had in similar places like Cabo San Lucas in Mexico or Waikiki Beach in Hawaii where boat traffic weaves dangerously around hundreds of snorkelers. Getting the chance for “the perfect shot” never happens.
Although we were in shoulder season, we feared the same in Vis, and thus we avoided the tours and created our own experiences tailored to our love of Mamma Mia and ABBA. (We also only spent about $150 total for two instead of $250 via the tours and got exactly what we wanted to do.)
Getting to Stiniva Beach by road would be the better way to go, we figured, as fewer tourists spend the effort to get to this out-of-the way bay. Plus, the hike down to the beach, we had been advised, was treacherous. Shall the truth be told! We locked the bikes and started down the rocky and cree-filled trail. About a third the way down, I called uncle. Without poles and hiking boots, there was no way my knees nor I could make it.
Steve continued his rocky descent to Stiniva.
But it was the end that did him in, too. From cree to a downright scramble where ropes wouldn’t have been unnecessary, he took the photos and turned around. And as we had suspected, the sunbathers and boaters floated in, on, around, and through the bay. I’m glad I could see the bay’s beauty, and I was also happy I hadn’t spent the $125 others had spent to get there.
Guzzling down our water, we continued on the ebikes to Komiža. Along the way, local vintners picked their fall harvest, sheep grazed, and olives plumped off their branches. We stopped and nibbled sweet purple grapes offered to us by the local red wine producers. Then we had one last giant, Turbo-induced climb into Komiža and a fast coast downhill into a local town filled with live-aboard families on ocean-going sailboats enjoying Croatian hospitality.
Our little studio apartment just off the riva in Komiža run by a kind host hugged us in. We plugged in the bikes then headed for sunset and dinner. In Mamma Mia 2, Bill and Harry plot their navigation to Donna’s in a restaurant by the sea with an arch window. Konoba Jastožera is the place; but its high dollar menu of lobster and delicacies weren’t appealing to us. We settled for pictures.
Instead, we found the charming locally run Zagruda Pizzeria. Sitting outside on wooden benches watching the local boat crews in their blue and white shirts finish their end-of-cruise chores, the sun set between tall masts along the bay. Soon, their mast lights danced like fire flies in the sky as we ordered local beers, local food, and local good times. My fishermen’s bean stew feed me for two meals and created a locals-only memory I’ll cherish.
Falling asleep that night was easy. Our tired legs and the fresh sea air combined for the perfect aphrodisiac to a romantic night. In the morning, Steve enjoyed a tasty Americano and croissant while I slurped a yummy smoothie at the local café with the locals as they awakened to another day of tourism and fishing. We walked the small village, getting to know its cats, alleys, and churches.
By 11, the sun had warmed enough to invite us into a dip in one of the many beaches featured in Mamma Mia 2. The clear, clean, crisp water caught our breath, yet reinvigorated our legs and amped us for our ride back over the mountain into Vis. Up hill along the spaghetti road we rode, catching one last look of Komiža before a long downhill coast into Vis, taking us less than an hour to return to the port.
Charming Mamma Mia 2 Scenes in Vis
In the port of Vis, we continued our Mamma Mia 2 journey. Our bikes took us one more stop to the point on the bay which homes the church where Young Donna and Bill help local fisherman Alexio reach St. Jerronim, the church, to marry the love of his life. On the way, we see a catamaran named Mamma Mia 2 and wonder who owns it. Perhaps the deacon of the church? hehehe. A quick visit inside the church awakened a local sleeping inside, and an amble through the cemetery gave us some of the best views we’ve ever seen the dead enjoy.
After dropping the ebikes back to Vis Special, we continued on foot to the “Greek Taverna” often featured in the film. Here, many scenes happened on the steps up the side of the “taverna” and its “market” at the bottom of the steps. In actuality, the taverna is a B&B and the stairs go up into a neighborhood, but who’s to argue with Hollywood? It was fun, though, to recreate the scene and give kudos to the set designers and film commissions who created the entertainment we adore.
Finally, we meandered along the waterfront and Vis’ port, often featured in the film across many scenes. Someone mistook Steve for Pierce Brosnan and me for Meryl Streep and asked us if we were in town for the filming of Mamma Mia 3. Although neither were true, Steve and I certainly would entertain being extras in the next installment of Mamma Mia if it were to include a stay on Vis. We loved it, and we certainly will be back again.
If you go,
Take the ferry: Jadrolinjia
Stay at: Apartments Donika
Get ebikes from: Vis Special
Watch: Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!