Introducing Brač Island
Brač is an island in the Adriatic Sea within Croatia, with an area of 396 square kilometres (153 sq mi), making it the largest island in Dalmatia, and the third largest in the Adriatic. It is separated from the mainland by the Brač Channel, which is 5 to 13 km (3 to 8 miles) wide. The island’s tallest peak, Vidova gora, or Mount St. Vid, stands at 778 m, making it the highest island point in the Adriatic. The view from Vidova Gora stretches all the way to Hvar, Vis and far-away Lastovo, and the light plays in upredictable ways to create amazing scenes such as idyllic glades with grazing sheep. This is an island for rest and health, for daydreaming and fantasising. The island has a population of 13,956, living in numerous settlements, ranging from the main town Supetar, with more than 3,300 inhabitants, to Murvica, where less than two dozen people live. Brač Airport on Brač is the largest airport of all islands surrounding Split.
Brač is famous for two things: its radiant white stone, used to build Diocletian’s Palace in Split and the White House in Washington DC, Berlin’s Reichstag, Catholic cathedral in Liverpool, and Zlatni Rat, the long pebbly beach at Bol that extends lasciviously into the Adriatic and adorns 90% of Croatia’s tourism posters.
Stone from Brač’s quarries has been mined since the Ancient Greek and Roman times and stone used for the construction of important buildings. Piles of unpolished stones layered as walls alongside field paths are a real attraction on the island. According to some estimates, they are equal in quantity to the existing Egyptian pyramids (although uncut), totaling approximately 7 million cubic meters.
These stones were collected for centuries by shepherds and labourers who worked to clean the karst soil to turn it into arable land. To cultivation of Brač’s land is also related to an important decree from the time of the Venetian rule when no man from Brač was allowed to marry until he planted one hundred olive trees.
The most prominent Dalmatian builders and sculptors of the Renaissance, such as Juraj Dalmatinac, Andrea Alessi and Niccolo Fiorentino, applied their creative genius to Brač stone.The tradition of using stone to build with has become an inseparable part of Brač’s identity.
There has been evidence found on the island to suggest that the history of Brac stretches as far back as the Bronze and Iron Ages. The Illyrians at that time named the island Brentos (meaning stag) whilst the Greeks – though never in control of the island – later gave it the name Elaphusa. Croatians arrived to the island before the 8th century.
In the period between the 9th century and up to 1420, Brac flipped between rule by the Venetian Empire and the Croatian Kings as well as the Croatian-Hungarian Empire. Bosnian King Stjepan Tvrtko I took control of much of the Dalmatian region including Brac in 1390, although his death the following year then saw Sigismung, King of Hungary, take control.
In 1420, Venice restored and maintained its power over the island until its fall in 1797, and this period was marked by centralisation and the successive abolishment of the autonomy of the local island commune.
The period of Napoleonic wars at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century was marked by turbulent interchanges of dominance between the Habsburg Monarchy (Austria), France, England and Russia. From 1814 until the end of World War I, Brač was under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From 1918 until 1990, Croatia was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and then the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, until Croatia became an independent country in 1991.
Bol is situated on the southern part of the island Brač, and is the oldest town on the coast of Brač. This little town was founded long ago and became an extraordinary tourist oasis because of the wide gravel and sandy beaches which expands over 10 km and the sources of drinking water. It is not possible to avoid the Zlatni rat, certainly the most beautiful beach on the Adriatic sea, whose cape is turning one moment to one side and the other moment to the other side playing a strange game with the wind and the waves.
Above Bol is rising the coronet of Bols hills, the illlyrian fortress Kostilo (660 m) and the Vidova gora (778 m), the highest top of the Adriatic islands. Bol is only 15 km away from the international tourist and sports airport “Brač”, and excellent connected with the fast lines to the coast.
It fascinates with crystal clear water, wonderful nature and the virgin beauty of the stony island houses the Croatian poet Tin Ujevic sung about. This little town has kept its Mediterranean spirit. The narrow, stony little roads and the wide piazzetas are simple and typically mediteranneous noisy.
Bol’s urban structure consists of the Gothic villa by the pier, St Anthony’s Church, a Renaissance-Baroque palace, a Baroque parish church and Kaštil, the former fortification structure. The Branko Dešković Gallery, located in the Renaissance-Baroque palace in Bol, is famous for its significant works of modern Croatian art. Bol is the only settlement on the southern side of the island and it is abounds with white beaches.
We recommend visiting the following sights in Bol:
Branislav Dešković Gallery
Founded in 1963, the Gallery is located in a beautiful Renaissance-Baroque palace. The collection includes more than 400 works related to the coastal region by some fifty authors, such as Ignjat Job, who painted landscapes and compositions, heavily influenced by the countryside and people of Brač, the heat of the sun, the blue of the sea and the green of the olive trees.
Museum of the Dominican Monastery
Founded in the 1860s, this Museum contains treasures collected over many centuries, such as numerous documents, church books, works of art, liturgical accessories, archival documents (letters, deeds of donations, notary contracts, papal decrees concerning the Bol Monastery) and manuscripts of writers from Brač. Of particular interest are the valuable paintings of the Madonna with the Child and Saints, the work of one of the greatest Italian painters of the Renaissance – Jacopo Tintoretto from Venice.
Bol has more than 2500 beds in private accommodation. Beside a huge number of little restaurants by the sea, discotheques and clubs, this place offers also relaxing moments with tender Dalmatian klapa (a capella songs), concerts of prominent opera singers, theatre, and art exhibitions of popular Croatian artists who have found in the silence of Bol their moments of inspiration. As the biggest tourist centre on the island, Bol offers its guests twenty playing-grounds, a big tennis stadium with 1820 sitting places on which every year the tennis elite is coming together – the players of the popular competitions Jadranska rivijera and WTA Croatian Bol ladies Open.
Bol is ideal for the lovers of little football, volleyball, basketball, byciclis, and the extreme sports (trekking, free climbing…), the water sports like diving and windsurfing. In the aquatorium of Bol you will find a true paradise for surfers, always attractive because of the extraordinary good winds.
The town’s major attraction is Zlatni Rat, the seductive pebbly beach that “leaks” into the Adriatic and draws crowds of swimmers and windsurfers in summer. A long coastal promenade, lined with pine trees and gardens, connects the beach with the old town. Bol is a buzzing place in summer, one of Croatia’s favourites and perennially packed with tourists.
The Zlatni Rat, often referred to as the Golden Cape or Golden Horn, is a spit of land located about 2 kilometres (1 mile) west from the harbour town of Bol on the southern coast of the Croatian island of Brač, in the region of Dalmatia. It extends southward into the Hvar Channel, a body of water in the Adriatic Sea between the islands of Brač and Hvar, which is home to strong currents. The landform itself is mostly composed of a white pebble beach, with a Mediterranean pine grove taking up the remainder.
Zlatni Rat has been regularly listed as one of the top beaches in Europe. Its distinctive shape can be seen in many travel brochures, which made it one of the symbols of Croatian tourism.
The beaches on either side of the spit extend for some 634 metres (2,080 ft) altogether, but the exact shape and length of the landform varies with regard to changes in tide, current, and wind. The spit points directly south. The farthest end, which is usually turned slightly towards the east, will often shift to the west in certain weather conditions, esp. a strong south-easterly Sirocco wind (known in Croatia as the Jugo). Changes in the shape of the beach occur once in every two to three years, and have been observed in 2010 and 2016.
The surrounding waters are usually cool and clear, due to the current in the Hvar Channel. The current is mildly hazardous for swimmers who venture far southwards from the tip towards the open sea, as it could be difficult to swim back west towards the beach (the swimmer being well over 150 metres (500 ft) from the coast); the danger is not severe, however, as the standard current would carry the swimmer back east towards the harbor of Bol (and the beaches on the promontory of land that lies between Zlatni Rat and the town). A reliable afternoon westerly wind known as a Maestral has made the beach a destination for windsurfers.
The pine tree grove which borders the beach is home to the remnants of a Roman villa rustica, which included a swimming pool. The westernmost edge of the beach, and several coves to the west of the main beach, are traditionally clothing-optional. The promontory is protected as a geomorphological phenomenon.
The beach Zlatni Rat can be reached by car or an easy 20 minute walk along the sea. In the summer months, a small tourist train as well as tourist boats departing from the port of Bol will take every half hour to the beach.
Getting to Brač
Due to its proximity to the mainland and Split in particular, Brač is one of the most accessible islands in the Croatian Adriatic.
By car and passenger ferries
One important thing you need to know about getting to Brač island is that there are two different types of ferries you can take, both operated by only one ferry company, Jadrolinija. One is a car ferry, the only option you have to take a car to the island, and the other is a catamaran, which is a speed boat for passengers only.
A very frequent car ferry route (journey time: 50 minutes) operates from Split to Supetar on the north of the island with an even higher frequency during summer.
The year-round daily catamaran service from Split to Bol, on the south side of the island, takes 55 minutes. This catamaran then sails on to Jelsa on the island of Hvar.
In summer, a once-a-week catamaran runs from Split to Milna on western Brač, with a journey time of 30 minutes.
From early June to mid October, there is also a catamaran service from Split to Bol that then travels on to Hvar, Korcula and Dubrovnik.
Another service to the island of Brač from the mainland run by Jadrolinija is its car ferry from Makarska to Sumratin on eastern Brac. This route operates daily, year-round with more ferries operating during summer. Journey time is one hour. This service is useful for those travelling by car from the southern Croatian coast – or if you perhaps want to visit Brač as a day trip from Makarska. Passengers on foot are allowed on car ferries, and some say it’s even better, not to mention, cheaper.
All of the above ferries are run by the main ferry company in Croatia, Jadrolinija.
Jadrolinija‘s catmaran from Dubrovnik to Bol on Brač takes 4 hours and 10 minutes.
Brač Island does have an airport, however flights to the island are only operated during the summer season. Croatia Airlines operates twice per week a direct flight from Zagreb to Brač Island from May to October. Apart from that, most flights are charted.
The closest international airports to Brač are the ones in Split and Dubrovnik. From Dubrovnik, frequent bus lines are available to Makarska or Split, or you can choose taxi or car rental.
Split Airport is situated 30 km from Split ferry station. Transfer of passengers from the Airport is organised by buses, also there is a local bus every 20 minutes and taxis are available during the operating time of Split Airport.
In Split you can choose one of the sea transports to Brač, Supetar or Bol, by catamarans or ferries.
You can find more details on Croatia Airlines website.
Getting around Brač Island
The best way to explore Brač is with a car, sometimes you might need 1 hour to reach another part of the island, even though the roads are good. You can also choose to rent a scooter or a quad, which can be done in many places around the island, especially Bol. If you arrived in Croatia by plane, you may want to rent a car in Split or Dubrovnik.
If you don’t have your own hire car, bus is the best way of getting around the island. Buses run between all the major resorts and towns on the island. The best idea is to check at the bus station in the town you’re staying in for up-to-date timetable information.