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Things To Do In Bol: Brac Island Croatia
Travel to Croatia, and head to Bol. It’s the bewitching port town in Brač Croatia. Brač Island sits on the Dalmatian Coast, Croatia, easily reached by ferry from Split or Makarska in Dalmatia. This guide of top picks for things to do in Bol will help you plan that annual family holiday, romantic getaway or that once-in-a-lifetime trip with friends. We’ve selected places with authentic Croatian food, the best local experiences and tips for the beach and must-see cultural attractions. Ready to start your Dalmatian island getaway?
1. Zlatni Rat Beach
Croatian holidays must include at least one beach trip – and I think of all of the things to do in Bol – the prettiest beach in Croatia is Zlatni Rat Beach. Long, golden, and covered in pebbles, this beach protrudes over 500 meters out into the Adriatic Sea in a v-shape, surrounded by deep blue and turquoise water. The shape of the beach changes with the wind and water current, which makes it one of the unique in Croatia.
Check out our advice on how to get to and get the most out of Zlatni Rat Croatia.
2. Try The Local Wines Of Bol
A day at the beach can make you very thirsty, so we suggest a visit to Stina Winery, situated on the main promenade. The Stina Wine Project began in 2009 when local winery Jako Vino leased a cellar from the Agricultural Cooperative of Bol and began purchasing grapes from the local vineyards. The newly formed winery is a blend of new and old traditions that serve up some of Croatia’s finest wine.
3. Step Back In Time At Blaca Monastery
In the early 16th century, two Glagolitic monks fled the Turks and were offered protection and shelter in a cave in Bol. After receiving the certificate of ownership, these founding monks built a church surrounding the cave, and the jaw-dropping Blaca Monastery was born.
Now a museum, the monastery has dozens of eye-opening artifacts, including 8,000 books, many written in Glagolitic script. Be sure to opt for the guided tour, and you’ll be shown many exhibits, among which are paintings, armor, a 400-kilo piano, and a telescope. All of these were acquired using payment in the form of wine, olive oil and honey from the monastery’s farm, shipped to Blaca via boats from Italy and Vienna, and carried up the mountainside by workers.
4. Get Caught Up In The Mystery Of The Dragons Cave
Known as Zmajeva Spilja to the locals, Dragon’s Cave is one of four monasteries in Bol, and there are some theories about its age and original purpose. Our guide told us that many believe the cave dates back as far as the 4th century, but most claim it to be from the 15th century.
Choose between these disputing theories during your visit to Dragon’s Cave – tours start in town and requires a 1.5+-hour hike up some fairly steep terrain overlooking views out to the sea. Not for the faint-hearted or unfit, but undoubtedly suitable for those interested in ancient Slavic history and conspiracy theories. Carefully examine the carvings to your left and see if you can spot where one theory suggests the original carving was changed hundreds of years later. Travel to Croatia like the Bender family and when you do, tell us what you think about the climb to Dragons Cave.
5. Eat Croatian Cuisine
Visit Croatia, and you’ll enjoy many eating opportunities – especially if you are Island Hopping in Croatia. As silly as it may sound, you absolutely have to try Croatian food. But where? There are so many choices of places to eat in Brac. In Bol you can eat like a local in many places, these three will be sure to serve you the best of Croatia.
Vagabundo Restaurant & Bar | Serving up exceptional Croatian dishes with a modern twist. Vagabundo has an extensive wine list, a great children’s menu, and incredible views. We could not agree on what the standout dish is – just try them all. Bonus. Vagabundo offers free wi-fi| website
Konoba Vallum. Traditional Mediterranean food served in a cozy and inviting Konoba. We especially enjoyed the fish soup | Visit: Bracka Cesta 13
Terasa Santo. A family run restaurant with a spectacular view of the port. Don’t pass up the fish platter for two |website
6. Go Back To School
The art of lapidary, a centuries-old tradition, is kept alive in Bol at the Sculpting Academy in Pučišća. It is here where students learn how to take enormous slices of Brač stone and transform them into decorative pieces. Amazingly, it’s the only stone masonry school in Europe and best of all you can check it out while school is in session and watch how the stone comes alive.
Fun Fact: The Roman Emperor Diocletian had a palace built in Split made from Brač stone. The stone was quarried by Roman slaves over many years. You can find out where else Brač stone is said to have been used by checking out these facts about Croatia.
7. Spot The Sculptures
With the stone masonry school on this part of the Dalmatian Coast, it comes as no surprise that the town is covered with sophisticated works chiseled from Brač stone, including many sculptures that are dotted around the picturesque town. See how many you can spot along your travels.
8. Wander Along The Promenade
Stroll along the Bol Promenade, which takes you along the seashore from the town of Bol all the way to Zlatni Rat Beach. The route is lined with Brač stone and shaded with large overhanging pine trees. I’d suggest wandering along with ice-cream in hand on your first day to pick out your favorite beach spots.
9. Get A Brač Stone Souvenir
Clocks, mortar, and pestles, candlestick holders and magnets are just a few Brač stone souvenirs cut, sanded, polished, and waiting to be taken home with you. One of the best places to pick up a souvenir is at one of the several kiosks along the beach promenade.
10. Sip Coffee At The Bol Marina
Simple, but mandatory. The port is small and has more than a handful of places to drink Croatia’s finest brew. See if you can spot the 15th-century palace with Gothic windows.
11. Head Up High To Vidova Gora
The highest peak on the Dalmatian Coast is Vidova Gora on the island of Brač. Drive up to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the town of Bol, Zlatni Rat beach and out to the brilliant blue sea.
12. Take A Day Trip From Bol
Hvar, Makarska, Split and many other places are all accessible as day trips from Brač Island Croatia. Popular tours include lunch, drinks, and transport, meaning all your have to do is sit back and enjoy the sites. A tour of Croatia would be incomplete without visiting one of the Croatian Islands – so why not make it to more than one?
13. Explore The Other Side Of Brač Island Croatia
Though not quite as charming as Bol, Supertar makes a fun day trip to the other side of the island, 45 minutes away by road. Head to the marina, take a stroll around the town and catch a glimpse of the 18th century Church of the Annunciation to see partial remains of 6th-century mosaic work.
14. Get Out On The Water
You can windsurf, dive or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) in many of the Croatian Islands – but, Bol has special powers along this stretch of the Dalmatian Coast. The Maestral Winds that blow along the southern part of Brač Island make for perfect conditions for those looking for wind and surf sports.
Both experienced windsurfers or those looking to start should check out the team at Zoo-Station (thanks for the photos guys) for equipment hire and windsurfing classes in Bol. For kayaking and SUP hire, reach out to Big Blue Sports who have equipment for hire at an easy to find location.
Windsurfing is just one of the many fun things for kids to do in Croatia that we recommend.
15. Rent A Bike In Bol
With an abundance of things to do in such scenic surroundings, you should get on two wheels. A detailed bike map of Bol can be printed off or pick up a copy at the tourist office. If you want to arrange bike hire for your Croatia family holidays – there are many places on this Croatian Island to do that, ask your hotel about the closest place to rent a bike in Bol.
16. Get Pampered At The Spa In Bol
Make a booking at one of the largest and best wellness centers in Croatia. A welcoming team of masseurs & beauty therapists awaits to pamper you at the Thalasso Wellness Centre.
Stretching out in 4,000 m2 of glorious relaxation space, the spa at Elaphusa is one of the largest wellness centers along the Adriatic. I can recommend you book one (or all!) of their unique olive oil treatments. I had both the olive oil facial and the full-body massages in this luxurious spa. Both left me feeling hydrated and wishing I had more time.
17. Visit The Churches Of Bol
There are several churches for you to admire in Bol. The most famous is the Gothic-Renaissance church, Our Lady of Grace from the 15th century (currently under renovation as at June 2014). Standing at the altar is a renaissance painting of Madonna and Child with Saints, painted by famed Jacopo Tintoretto. The altarpiece was restored in 2003 at the Croatian Conservation Institute, and I was fortunate enough to see the painting in an exclusive private viewing earlier this year. Once open again to the public, I would encourage you to visit to appreciate this intricate portrait close-up.
18. Visit The Local Market In Bol
Scout out the place known as the ‘Kings Stairs’ and you’ll find the heart of the city, where fruit and vegetables can be purchased. Locals are here daily with the season’s best offerings. The Kings Stairs where the markets are were built in honor of Emperor Francis Joseph in 1875.
19. Marvel At The Branislav DešKović Gallery
The Branislav Dešković Gallery is complete with over 380 exhibits collected over 50 years from artists born in or inspired by Bol. The gallery is positioned in the port of Bol, in a 17th-century renaissance-baroque palace. Named after the first Impressionist sculptor in Croatia, Dešković of which there are a number of his sculptures on display. You can’t miss the gallery if you look out for the huge dog statue by the entrance.
As the trees rustle, and the waves lap against the shore, don’t forget to take the time to daydream while in Bol.
Is Brac Island Family-Friendly?
The Island of Brac and Bol, in particular, are excellent for families. With safe beaches and a friendly and welcoming attitude for your wee ones. Deciding if a Croatia holiday is the right choice for your family can be made easier with this useful guide to Croatia for families. Hint: we think that Croatia family holidays are perfect for kids of all ages, even teenagers – yes, we said teens!
So, after you tour Croatia – well okay, Bol you’ll need a place to rest you head. Where shall you sleep?
Accommodation In Brac
Now that you know of just some of the things to do in Bol, you’ll need to know where to stay in Brac. Because Brac Island is so much more than just Bol, there are several places you can find beach accommodation, luxury accommodation, or perhaps you need budget accommodation. Croatia vacation rentals are also available on Brac Island – you just need to your Brac accommodation book in advance to get a good deal and nab the best-of-the-bunch.
Croatian villas can vary in price, from ones with many zeros at the end, to a bunch that are very budget friendly. The Brac villas on offer are booked well in advance, but there is an abundance of them.
Accommodation In Bol
Enjoy 4-star luxury accommodation at the Bluesun Hotel Elaphusa; it’s where we enjoyed views to Zlatni Rat and one of the other Croatian Island hotspots – Hvar. Family-friendly Croatia resorts come no better than Hotel Elaphusa. It is a 10-minute leisurely stroll to Zlatni Rat along the shaded promenade and provides exceptional service. It has our tick of approval.
Bluesun Hotel Elaphusa
Beachside accommodation in Bol
More Bol Accommodation Options
Beach accommodation right by Zlatni Rat Beach costs a little more, so think about booking vacation rentals just a few streets back to save some money (and avoid the late-night noise).
We’ve selected a range of accommodations in Bol to get your search started:
- Bluesun Hotel Borak
- Hotel Bol
- Apartments Lovely Croatia
- Villa Christine Bol
- Villa Dalmatina
- Penthouse Apartments Bol
- Bluesun Hotel Bonaca – All Inclusive
- Villa Ana Bol
- Hotel Kastil
There is also one hostel, Hostel White House Bol.
Getting To Brač Island On The Dalmatian Coast
Bol is situated in the southern part of Brač Croatia, and there are a few ways to get to Island. After all, Croatia Island hopping is a part if the experience while visiting Croatia.
Fly. A German airline, Express Airways announced the opening of three new direct routes connecting Germany and Sweden with Brač Island, Croatia. Flights start May 2015.
Ferry: There are regular ferry connections from many places, including Split. Look for ferry connections to Supetar, which is on the opposite side of Bol, and then you can drive or catch a taxi or bus and arrive in Bol 40minutes later. Or look for the catamaran connections to Bol.
With so many things to do in Bol, which will you try first?