Why you should visit Bol (Brač Island, Croatia)
Bol, on Brač island, is one of our favorite island towns in Croatia.
So what makes Bol so special?
Unlike Hvar town or Korčula town, Bol doesn’t have much in the way of historical attractions. It’s a small and pretty town – but there are lots of small, pretty places in Croatia.
What makes Bol special are a couple of Croatia’s most famous natural attractions:
– the beach of Zlatni Rat (the most photographed beach in Croatia)
– the peak of Vidova Gora (the highest peak in the Adriatic Sea)
It also has:
– a 2 km promenade lining the coast (leading to more beaches)
– our favorite winery in Croatia – a great place for some wine tasting.
Photos of all that and more below.
We knew about Zlatni Rat beach…but we didn’t know about the 2 km promenade the leads from town to the beach. The whole route is shaded and lined with resorts, restaurants, and nightclubs. Most visitors who come to Bol stay somewhere along this stretch. You’ll find other beaches (besides Zlatni Rat) along the route. You’ll also find lots of kiosks selling souvenirs including handicrafts made of Brač stone (which is famous for its whiteness – Diocletian’s Palace in Split is made from stone mined on Brač).
The next time in Bol we plan on staying on this stretch for a relaxing holiday next to Zlatni Rat beach. A few hotel recommendations: Zlatni Rat Beach Hotel, Villa Zlatni Rat, Bluesun Hotel Elaphusa.
Zlatni Rat beach
Walking down the promenade leads you to Zlatni Rat beach. It is a white pebble beach that juts out into the Hvar channel. Its shape – a narrow spit – and the fact that the curvature of the spit often changes (due to currents and wind) makes it famous. It is regularly listed as one of the top beaches in Europe and is also one of the symbols of Croatian tourism. It’s our favorite beach in Croatia for a few reasons: the fine white stones that don’t hurt your feet (anyone with experience on Croatian beaches knows what I’m talking about), the beautiful shades of blue of the water, and the pine grove in the interior which provides relief on a hot day (we were here in late September – when most tourists have left – and it was still quite warm).
Vidova Gora is the highest peak in the Adriatic islands and is a (relatively) easy hike from Bol. You’ll have fantastic views in every direction including direct views looking straight down on Zlatni Rat beach.
See my post on Hiking Vidova Gora for more.
We’ve lived in Croatia about 11 months now as I write this. I have an admission: we’re not fans of Croatian wines or of Plavac Mali (the main red grape varietal grown in Croatia). I’ll write more about that sometime.
But we never give up when it comes to wine. We decided to go for wine tasting at Stina Winery, a large building along Bol’s waterfront. We went for the “small label” wine tasting which featured a white, a rosé, and a red for 75 kuna (about $15 CAD, or $12 US). The white and rosé were fantastic and I was looking forward to the red. Our server introduced it honestly “I think this wine is shit. I don’t like it”. I tasted it and it was disappointing. We started talking about wines and I told him my feelings about Croatian wines. He said “come inside”. We went into the winery (beautiful interior) and sat at the bar where he proceeded to give us samplings of Stina’s different wines. Great server. While we didn’t love each wine we liked the complexity of Stina’s wines (their wines are not strictly Plavac Mali, some of their wines include a mix of Shiraz and Zinfandel) and ended up buying 3 bottles to take home: 2 bottles of red (the Plavac Mali Majstor and the Tribidrag, a varietal of Zinfandel) and the rosé bottle of Stina Opol. Excellent wines*.
* but with an average price of almost $40 CAD or $31 US a bottle I expect an excellent wine. If I could find excellent wines at $10/bottle like we did in South Africa then I’d be really impressed.
In short, it’s been our best wine experience in Croatia and we really enjoyed it as well as the great service. The wine tasting is of good value and I personally think you can’t leave Bol without trying out some of Stina’s wines.
The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn (there is a once-a-day ferry to Split at 6:25 am). Some last views of Bol:
Summary: Come to Bol for nature, beaches, and a memorable hike. Enjoy the small, charming town and some great wine.
Some practical info
– Check the Jadrolinija schedule for ferries to Bol. The town has a small pier and there are no car ferries, only catamarans (which take about an hour to/from Split). Bol also connects to Jelsa on Hvar island.
– We stayed in this airbnb apartment which was a great deal ($40 CAD or about $32 US/night at the end of September – proof that travelling in Croatia in shoulder season is a good deal). If you haven’t used Airbnb yet, sign up here and save $45 CAD (or equivalent) on your 1st stay.
– Hotels. As mentioned above: Zlatni Rat Beach Hotel, Villa Zlatni Rat, Bluesun Hotel Elaphusa. All close to famous Zlatni Rat beach.
– Time required. We stayed 2 nights which was sufficient to see the sights but both agreed that Bol would be an ideal place to come back to to just relax for a few extra days. I mentioned some hotels further up above – next time we come here we want to have a relaxing beach vacation.
– Organized Tours. If you don’t have the time to stay in Bol or take the ferry, there are some good tour options that will allow you to see the town as well as famous Zlatni Rat beach. This scenic Day Tour from Split is recommended. You can do a similar tour by Catamaran, which is a great way to see the Adriatic (and includes all the beer you can drink).
Related: A Daytrip to Hvar
Related: Korčula Town: Visiting “Little Dubrovnik”
Related: Bbqboy’s Guide to Croatia
Have you been to Bol? Is it your favorite Croatian island? (it’s one of ours)
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Wow! Absolutely stunning. You don’t even need a narrative – just post the photos. ? The shades of blue in the water, the reflections of the boats in the harbor, the trees lining the promenade, the curve of the beach – such a romantic town. Sigh. My list of places to visit in Croatia just gets longer! P.S. While I know how disappointed you were with Lisbon, I’ll bet the prices of the wine got a smile out of you!
Thank you Anita! And yes, you are correct about the wine 🙂
Frank, the name of this town caught my eye..”Bol”..such a cool name.Your pictures showcase it beautifully, I loved the one from the top at Vidova Gora, but also how picturesque would it be to walk on the tree-lined promenade? The promenade path looked like it was paved with a very well polished stone? I like pebbly beaches since sand can sometimes get everywhere and feel very sticky. Great wine strategy Frank…tell them about your disappointment with their wine so then they will make it their mission to prove it otherwise hahaha… love it 🙂
Ha! Thanks Gilda. Wine strategy doesn’t always work – we were on the Island of Vis visiting a winery. Did a wine tasting of 5 wines and really didn’t think much of them. When the guy asked me what I thought I was honest and told him they weren’t my kind of wines. Lissette cringed and the guy got pissed off. No wonder people tell me I have no charm…
That stone is the famous Brac stone that has been exported everywhere, including Diocletian’s palace in Split. And as Victor confirmed in an earlier comment, even the White House uses stone from Brac. I think seeing that white stone in Croatia on our first visit was one of the things that made me fall in love with it. Something you don’t see anywhere else.
Lately, we drink Malvasia, the white wine, when we visit Croatia.
By the way, the White House in Washington, US, is also made from the white stone from this island.
Hi Victor – yes Malvazia can be a decent white wine and when we were in Istria we bought it from someone who made it himself and it was quite good. But we’ve had trouble finding a commercial Malvazia at decent prices (we drink wine every day and don’t want to spend $20 a bottle for something to drink over supper..)
Reds are very, very average to bad in our opinion. Again, unless you want to spend $30/bottle.
The White House – I had heard that and wasn’t sure it was true. Just looked it up and you’re right. Amazing!!
The Wiener Hofburg Palace, Austria; the Parliament Buildings in Budapest, Hungary; and the Governor’s Palace in Trieste, Italy – all of them were made from the same white stone.
Ok, now you’re being a showoff 🙂
Really, parliament building in Budapest? I’m here right now, staying in an apartment 2 blocks away. But yes, you’re right according to this article.
Thanks for the info Victor!
Hi Frank, I’m back in Wales and online 🙂 I’ll be in Croatia in June and July. Unsure plans other than I’ll be in Krk for two weeks visiting a childhood friend. No other place I’d look for ideas than here 😉
Thanks Paula! Appreciate. July high season and prices high – so if you have friend for accommodation that’s a good thing. Don’t know Krk except that it’s a quieter kind of island that’s good for walking. Very relaxing kind of place and everywhere you go in Croatia you’ll have that beautiful sea 😉 I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time (we are most likely not here during June & July – but if so would be a pleasure to finally meet you)
Definitely not my ideal time to visit, but I haven’t seen my friend since 1986. Working visit into her schedule. Hopefully it will work out that I can meet up with you guys. I’ll keep you posted ☺️
Sounds good Paula! Let us know.
Looks like another great excursion out of Split. For me personally, the appeal would be the opportunity for R&R for a couple of days but the hiking also looks appealing.
It’s the perfect beach vacation I think…we’ll come back and do the same some time because our lifes so stressful 🙂
that wine is pretty steep considering the prices in France where everything bar wine and cheese is expensive! What an absolute gem of a place!
Yes, right? The thing is that you can find outrageously priced wines in France but you can also find lots of very good wine at reasonable prices. Our experience here is that there are a mountain of crappy wines and then there are a few good wines at prices that don’t make sense anywhere, especially not in Croatia. Do you think the average Croatian would ever spend over $30 US for a bottle of wine? Forget it. So then who is this priced for? So we have issues with the wine business here…
Apart for that I agree Bol a gem of a place 🙂
stansted airport taxi
very interesting to read
Greetings Frank. Bol looks like a fabulous find. Very much interested in checking it out.
When, more specifically, are the dates for the shoulder season in Croatia?
HI Bruce – I would consider shoulder season September and October, then April and May (June is not quite peak yet but starts getting busy and prices going up…)
September is usually a great month: suddenly much quieter and the temperatures very pleasant.