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Mljet Island

Mljet island is one of the Croatian islands that is also a National Park. Historically considered as one of Dubrovnik’s islands (beside Elafiti Archipelago), Mljet is situated 14.5 nautical miles from Dubrovnik (about 27 kilometres).

The island has just over a thousand permanent inhabitants. Conveniently connected by daily ferry boat lines with Dubrovnik and daily car ferry crossing to Croatian mainland (Prapratno), Mljet is one of the most popular islands to visit while holidaying in Dubrovnik region.

Swimming in the lakes of Mljet National Park
Swimming in the lakes of Mljet National Park

When to Go

The best time of the year to visit Mljet is in May and June and September and October. Thes are the months that are less crowded as opposed to July and August when the island gets busy with people on the summer holidays. The weather is milder than in July and August (when heath can rise up to 40°C) which is suitable for any outdoor activity including open water swimming, hiking, cycling and snorkeling. The average sea temperatures are above 20 °C, still great for swimming, especially within the salted lakes.

Weather in Mljet

Weather in Mljet is very similar to the weather in other south Dalmatian islands, meaning spring and autumns are milder (temperatures up to 20 C) while summers (July & August) are hot with temperatures up to 40 C.

Winter, early spring and late autumn (November to March) can get pretty cold here, due to chilly Bura wind that is typical for the area. All villages inside and away from the coast are well sheltered from Bura, although the average temperatures are lower and you do need some form of heating.

National Park Mljet - St Mary's Island @ Veliko Jezero (Large Lake)
National Park Mljet – St Mary’s Island @ Veliko Jezero (Large Lake)

How Long Should You Visit

Mljet, with its two stunning lakes, considered as one among the Adriatic’s most beautiful islands, is an ideal island to visit for at least as a day trip from either Dubrovnik. It is just 1 hr 20 minutes by fast catamaran ferry from the town. I would say that the minimum visit is at least 1 whole day. Two days (48 hrs) are ideal.

Overnight on the island and see all the attractions (St.Mary’s Benedictine Monastery, Polače Palace and Saplunara Beach) with enough time to swim in some of the best beaches and do some hiking or cycling around.

A week or longer is fine for people who are looking for a slow holiday with plenty of outdoors opportunities in an amazing natural environment. So, you’ll need a day, two or three to do it justice.

Benedictine Monastery @ St Mary's Island, Mljet National Park
Benedictine Monastery @ St Mary’s Island, Mljet National Park

Best Things to do in Mljet

  • Visit the two salted lakes, the centrepieces of the whole island
  • See the main attraction on the island which is the Benedictine Monastery at St Mary’s Islet in the Large Lake
  • Visit Polače village that features unusual ruins of the ancient Roman palace from 5th century AD
  • Spend a day on the Saplunara sandy beach
  • Hike to the top of the hills to enjoy the views over to Peljesac and Korcula island (see below map)
  • check which guided tours are available and what are the latest prices for hiking, diving or kayaking on the island – click here

History

According to legend, Odysseus used the island as a safe haven on his trips among the islands in the Greek archipelagos. Ancient Greeks called the island ‘Melita’ after ‘honey’ and their sailors used the island as a refuge against storms and as a stopover to get fresh water from Blace lakes.

The Romans owned the island from 5 BC and later on, the island was ruled by Byzantine Empire until 1333 when Mljet was granted to Benedictines. In 1410 it becomes a part of Ragusa, the Dubrovnik republic when many of Dubrovnik’s captains build their summer residences along its coast.

Polače village - remains of the walls of a 4th Century AD Roman Palace
Polače village – remains of the walls of a 4th Century AD Roman Palace

Mljet National Park

Mljet national park was established in 1960 and covers the northwestern part of the island well known for its lush vegetation, large pine forest and two amazingly scenic saltwater lakes Large and Small Lake (Veliko & Malo Jezero) which are about 4 km long.

The area is an unspoiled oasis of tranquillity that, the lakes are excellent for swimming and snorkeling, with crystal clear water of turquoise colour (see photos). This is the most visited part of the island, covered in untouched Mediterranean forest, two lakes and features two villages – Pomena and Polače and the small hamlet of Babine Kuce right at the edge of the Large Lake.

The entrance to the park is right within the villages where you get an entrance ticket and a map. From the entrance on, you enter into the area where cars are forbidden.

The lakes are encircled by tarmac paths, ideal for walking or cycling where you can choose numerous spots to stop and bath in warm and clear waters, perfect for bathing. Water in these lakes is much warmer than anywhere else along the island’s coast.

Small Lake’s high saline concentration is considered to have some healing properties for rheumatism and skin eczema.

Benedictine Monastery at St Mary’s Islet

The most interesting feature of the park in St Mary’s islet and its 12th-century Benedictine monastery with St Mary’s Church, both encircled by high stone-built walls and guarded by a tall defensive tower. Abandoned in the 19th century by the monks, the monastery nowadays features a nice restaurant, a cafe and souvenir shop. Find out more

You get to this atmospheric islet by National Park owned sun-powered (completely silent) boats from Pristaniste spot, which is right next to Mali Most (the connecting stone bridge between Large and Small Lake). The free boat ride is included in your entrance ticket.

Small sun-powered ferry boat takes you around Large lake in Mljet National Park
Small sun-powered ferry boat takes you around Large Lake (Veliko Jezero) in Mljet National Park

Veliko & Malo Jezero

Malo and Veliko Jezero aka Small and Large Lake are the main features of the National Park, the two salt lakes that are part of the National Park. It takes just 15 minutes to walk from Pomena village to the lakes.

From there, take a free boat ride from the Mali Most pier to the corner of Large Lake, where you will see the Otok Svete Marije islet with a church and Benedictine monastery.

Large Lake is connected to the sea by the narrow canal in Soline hamlet. The currents here are pretty strong and can be especially hard to swim during the periods between high and low tide. On the other side of the lake, at Mali Most, the tides create a shallow water slide that people like to swim in. It is a shallow spot, fun to play with.

Mljet For Families With Kids

Relaxing and densely forested shores of the Large Lake
Relaxing and densely forested shores of the Large Lake

Kids will definitely love Mljet especially the National Park bit. There are no cars here, just bicycles and kayaks. Small Lake is an ideal beach for children where they can slide on the tide that runs between two lakes. Another great place for children is Saplunara sandy beach, where they can easily get into the water, play with the sand, build sandcastles and interact with other children. You will find in both spots a basic cafe, ice cream kiosk and candy shop to keep kids entertained.

Beaches

There is plenty of places to swim and sunbathe on the island. Read more details in a separate article that covers the beaches on the island and see the map below:

Best hikes/walks

Hiking in Mljet National Park on a warm summer's day
Hiking in Mljet National Park on a warm summer’s day

The highest peak on the island is Velji Grad, 513 meters. There are numerous hiking/walking trails along the whole island so if you are visiting in hiking season (not July or August, when weather is very hot) you will have plenty of trails to choose from.

The trails are well marked. Some are suitable for beginners, such as the ones that lead along both lakes. Part of these trails are shaded by pine trees and other vegetation (see above photo). Make sure you have enough water with you at any time of the year.

It is very likely you will see mongooses on your way. They were imported here from far east to deal with snakes that were overtaking the island at the time. Nowadays, there are no snakes, just mongooses crossing the forest paths.

If you’re staying in or near Polače village, you can walk over to the Large Lake by a well-signed forest path that leads via the Montokuc hill (245 m) in about 50 minutes. From the top of the hill, you will get amazing views over the Park. You can buy a hiking map in the small shop in Pomena or Polače when you get your entrance ticket.

Numerous hiking trails lead through the vineyards on Mljet island
Numerous hiking trails lead through the vineyards on Mljet island

Cycling & Kayaking

There is a popular tarmac cycling path around Large Lake. You can rent a bike on several spots within the Park and this is a great and handy way to explore the Lakes any time of the year. The cycling path is partly shaded by tall trees which make it easy to cycle even if it’s very hot.
You can also rent kayaks to explore Large Lake, St Mary’s islet and Monastery. They can also be rented at the same spots where you get your bicycle – at Mali Most bridge.

Diving

if you are into scuba diving, get in touch with aquatica-mljet.hr the company that does diving trips on the island. They are located in Pomena village and can get you to diving spots that include some shipwrecks from WW2 and antique Roman wreck that features amphorae and other ceramics from the time. On the south side of the island, you can dive to a couple of deep walls too. Here is a video:

Where to Stay

Mljet has numerous private rooms and apartments available to rent. Most of them have a terrace or a private balcony with sea views. If you are staying in any of the seaside villages, any location should be good as from most of the houses you will have a sea-views from at least one room. There is just one hotel on the island, Hotel Odisej in Pomena.

When to Make Your Reservations

If you are after booking the best places to stay, make your reservation as soon as you can. That particularly applies for July and August when is the busiest part of the year. For the rest of the year, it is less busy, but you should still book your accommodation in advance. For the best hotel prices and to check what is currently available check here.

Getting to Mljet & Day trips

By Ferry

  • For foot passengers – take all year round daily fast ferry from Dubrovnik.
  • Car ferries to the island are departing from Prapratno on Peljesac.
  • April to October – daily fast ferries from Split, Brac, Hvar, Korcula and Dubrovnik.
  • From Lastovo, in July & August, twice a week, a fast ferry catamaran. See detailed schedules and ferry ticket prices info on the croatiaferries.com website
  • by private tours from Dubrovnik, Peljesac and Korcula – see what is available

If you are travelling around Croatia for the first time find more details about how to get to Croatia and how to get around Croatia.

Directions Map

On the above map, you can see the locations of Mljet ferry ports as an entry point to the island. See also a map of all Croatian islands including Mljet.

More info

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