In the 1950s, the last remaining residents of Malo Grablje left their village behind for better opportunities on the coast. Today, the Hvar village stands abandoned, tucked in a valley surrounded by terraced fields and steep hills. Nature has been reclaiming the village for decades — trees grow through walls, shafts of sunlight pour through holes in the roofs and wildflowers grow freely.
While most of Malo Grablje’s former residents now live on the coast in Milna, one resident, Mr. Berti Tudor, moved back and restored his family home where he now operates a traditional Hvar restaurant.
You can explore Malo Grablje on foot by walking downhill for just over a mile (2 kilometers) from Velo Grablje.
The island of Vis lies in the Adriatic Sea, northwest of Dubrovnik off Croatia’s striated coastline. It is chiefly known for its gorgeous Italianate harbor town of the same name, which is abuzz with cool boutiques, restaurants and bars and guarded by a stone fortress. Just over six miles (10 km) away on the south coast of the island is the tiny, crescent-shaped cove of Stiniva, enclosed by steep cliffs that are barely 13 feet (four meters) apart, which were formed when a sea cave collapsed inwards many thousands of years ago.
There are no direct roads and the cove entrance is too narrow, shallow and rocky for yachts to enter, but this elusive little bay is one of the island’s most popular spots for its calm, shallow waters and beach of rounded pebble. It was accorded long-term protection in 1967 for its natural beauty and there is little else here apart from a laid-back rustic beach bar.
Stiniva Cove is best reached by small boat from the sea (taxi boats leave from Rukavac) but from inland it is a steep, 30-minute walk from the village of Žužec near Plisko Polje. Thanks to its protective cliffs, the beach is in shade after 3.30pm.
Address: Island of Vis, Central and Southern Dalmatia 21480, Croatia
There’s no better place to take in the essence of Hvar than in its main plaza while admiring the Cathedral of St Stephen. Set upon a backdrop of green hillside, the church you see today was built between the 16th and 17th centuries, with elements of an even older church still preserved inside.
Though the cathedral boasts a relatively humble interior, it is noted for its attractive altars, late Renaissance paintings, and 15th-century wooden choir stalls. For most, though, it’s the exterior that really leaves the biggest impression, with its scalloped rooftop and four-story, 17th-century bell tower that both grandly watch over the expansive limestone plaza that rolls out to the Adriatic Sea.
Though Hvar may be warm and waterside, note that women may be expected to cover up their shoulders in order to enter the cathedral. Take advantage of your central Hvar location to check out other city sights, including the hilltop fortress, and the Arsenal, a naval building-turned-theater. The island of Hvar is an easy day trip from Split. Ferries will take you to the town of Stari Grad or to the ferry terminal in Hvar town, which is a short walk away from the plaza and Hvar Cathedral.