The untamed island of Mljet is one of Croatia's best islands and a paradise for anyone looking to get away from it all. The northwestern third of Mljet island is a national park with two inland lakes and miles of cycling and strolling trails. There are few residents, no large towns and only one major road that runs north-south through the pines, oak trees and macchia. Mljet is the most thickly forested island in the Adriatic. Lying off the coast of the Peljesac peninsula, Mljet is an easy day trip from Dubrovnik during the summer when ferries are frequent and easily accessible for an overnight stay year round.
The seaside villages of Pomena, Polace, Sobra and Saplunara attract the most visitors. Sobra is the port for car ferries; Saplunara is known for its beaches; Pomena and Polace are the entry points for the national park. Babino Polje is the administrative center of the island.
The lushly forested island is so seductive, it's said that Odysseus came and stayed for seven years. The Odysseus cave is a large and beautiful grotto where the peripatetic traveller allegedly met the nymph, Calypso, who nursed him back to health on the island. It is accessible via boat or a rough path from Babino Polje.
Odysseus cave courtesy Mljet Tourist Office
The waters around Mljet are a treasure trove for scuba divers. A recent excavation around a 10th-century shipwreck revealed several hundred artifacts including bottles, amphorae and decorated glass. To arrange diving trips, contact Aquatica Mljet.
Mljet Island National Park covers almost 5400 hectares, including a protected maritime environment that stretches 500m along the coast.
The highlight and most unusual feature of Mljet National Park are the two inland salt water lakes--Malo Jezero and Veliko Jezero--connected to the sea by a narrow canal.
Malo Jezero (Small Lake) is the smaller of the two salt-water lakes.
The calm, clear waters of Veliko Jezero (Great Lake) make great kayaking even for beginners.
You can stroll along the lakes on paths shaded by pine trees, bicycle through the park and around the lakes or simply swim the clear, blue water.
In the middle of Veliko Jezero is the tiny islet of Sv Marija (St Mary) which contains a former Benedictine monastery dating from the 12th century. It's now a reasonably-priced restaurant. Sv Marija island is accessible by regularly scheduled small boats and is included in the price of admission.
The interior of Sv Marija islet is a delightful network of shady paths and flowery vegetation with blue Veliko Jezero lake peeking out from behind the trees.
How to Visit the National Park
The two access points are Pomena and Polace (pronounced Po-latch-e) which also have most of the accommodation and restaurants. The admission price for the national park is 125/70Kn adult/ kids and includes a short bus trip to Pristaniste on the shores of Veliko Jezero or Mali Most on the shores of Malo Jezero. From either stop board the boat (included in admission) to the monastery on Sv Marija islet. There are bike, boat and kayak rentals at either Pristaniste or Mali Most. Entry prices are less off-season.
Opening hours are 8am-8pm daily.
To see it all, rent a car
[See the Prapratno-Sobra car ferry schedule]
There's also a passenger boat, the Nona Ana,between Dubrovnik and Polace that leaves in the morning and returns in the afternoon. It runs from June to September and connects with Korcula Island in July and August.
[See the Nona Ana schedule]
Another passenger boat runs seasonally from Split to Brac, Hvar and Korcula islands, then going on to Mljet (Pomena) and Dubrovnik. It is possible to make a day trip from Split to Mljet but not Dubrovnik with this schedule.
[See the Split-Mljet-Dubrovnik ferry schedule]
For a romantic, rustic experience there's no better island than Mljet. There's only one hotel on the island however, the Hotel Odisej in Pomena, but there's a fair amount of private accommodation mostly in Pomena and Polace. Try Guesthouse Pomena, Villa Lucija, or X-Rooms Mljet.
Dining in Mljet
Fish and seafood are served everywhere on Mljet island. Many islanders are still engaged in fishing and happily supply the local restaurants. For local specialties, try the makaruli which is homemade macaroni with goat cheese and fried garlic or prandispanj, a traditional cake.
The Mljet Island National Park tourist office (tel 020-744 186) has offices in Polace (opening hours 8am-8pm April-October; off-season by appointment only), Pomena and one near Sobra (tel 020-746 025) open 8am-8pm in season. For more information and to buy tickets online, see the Mljet National Park website. Another good source of information is the tourist board of Mljet Island.
Last updated: September 7, 2018
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