Mljet National Park Croatia – 5 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting

Mljet National Park is located about 30 miles from Dubrovnik, Croatia in the Adriatic Sea. The park covers the entire northwest portion of Mljet Island. Of all of the Adriatic islands, Mljet is one of the most fascinating and greenest.  The island is renowned for having two seasons of spring each year. In fact, new flowers begin to grow even in the fall.

Mljet National Park Croatia

In addition to its beautiful green forests full of Holm oak trees and Aleppo pines, the island is also famous for its wine, olives, and goat cheese. The quiet laid-back atmosphere, Mediterranean vegetation, and two phenomenal lakes make Mljet National Park a must-stop for any traveler looking to enjoy peace, solitude, and nature.

How to Get to Mljet National Park

Most people will get to Mljet National Park by taking the ferry from Dubrovnik. If you are a foot passenger your best option is to take a catamaran ferry that sails daily (from April to October) from either Split, Hvar, Brac, Makarska, Korcula, or Dubrovnik. The main and only car ferry port on the Island is in the town of Sobra, located on the eastern side of Mljet.

Several companies run multi-day or single-day tours to Mljet. Some of the best tours to Mljet include:

Multi-Day Tours

Single-Day Tours

One of the easiest, most comfortable ways to reach Mljet is by a small ship cruise as large cruise ships cannot fit into the small, charming port. Lucky for us, Mljet was a stop on our recent 7- Day Cruise Aboard the Adriatic Princess from Dubrovnik.

Avoid traveling on large cruise liners through Croatia. Only on small ships like the Adriatic Queen can you visit these charming small ports.

Most of our local Croatian friends have never visited the island, as logistically it is that hard to reach. Without this tour, we probably would have never been able to explore one of Croatia’s most unique and picturesque islands.

As you can see, small-ship cruising is the way to go!

Where to Stay on Mljet

There are a number of guesthouses and apartment rentals to stay at on the island of Mljet. However, the best places to stay are inside the boundary of the national park. Below are a few recommendations.

Budget: Guesthouse Pavla (on the lake) or Guesthouse Sanela (overlooks harbor)
Mid-Range: Apartments Linda (modern & clean) or Apartments Slavica (sea views)
Luxury: Apartment Glavica (swimming pool) or Villa Klacina (amazing!!!)

5 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Mljet

This guide offers five great tips for travelers looking to get the most from their trip to Mljet. To summarize, the five things you need to know before visiting Mljet National Park are:

  1. It Has a Geological Wonder—St. Mary Island!
  2. Swimming in the National Park Is Allowed
  3. Tito Had a Luxury Home Here
  4. Bike Rentals Are Available
  5. Mljet is Difficult to Reach

1. It Has a Geological Wonder! St. Mary Island

The island within an island, St. Mary Island.

Most tourists visit Mljet National Park to set foot on the island within the island. From personal experience, it is quite a peculiar feeling to take a boat to an island, only to take yet another boat to visit another island.

The ferry ride to St. Mary Island begins where the Small Lake and Great Lake meet. The two saltwater lakes are filled by a narrow passage between the open sea and the Great Lake. Consequently, the Small Lake becomes filled from a small channel between it and the Great Lake.

Inside the 12th century church at the Monastery of Saint Mary.

On the island of St. Mary sits an old Benedictine monastery. The 12th-century monastery is an impressive structure with a 15th-century fresco of Jesus.

Our tour guide lifted the cloth and this beautiful 15th-century fresco was displayed. Around the time that Christopher Columbus discovered America, this fresco of Jesus was painted.

However, the truly fascinating story may be hidden in time. It is speculated that St. Mary Island is where St. Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked, during the 1st century, on his journey from Caesarea Maritima (today’s Israel) to Rome. This highly controversial topic gets quite detailed, but the possibility of St. Paul visiting this small island makes this excursion an even more extraordinary experience.

2. Swimming in the National Park Is Allowed

Typically in National Parks, no swimming is allowed. However, visitors to Mljet National Park can go swimming in both lakes. During the summer, the small lake is a few degrees warmer than the big lake and the big lake is a few degrees warmer than the sea.

Head to the small lake for bragging rights to say you’ve swum in a lake within a sea. So when visiting, don’t forget to bring your bathing suit!

The Small Lake is the perfect spot for a secluded quiet swim.

3. Tito Had a Luxury Home Here

Be sure to view President Tito’s house on the Great Lake. Josip Broz Tito may have been a controversial leader, but he did have great taste in real estate.  If Tito chose to live there, you know it was fabulous. If the Brijuni Islands were his place to party, then Mljet was his place to relax and get away from it all.

Be sure to catch a glimpse of the most noteworthy property in the National Park.

4. Bike Rentals Are Available

It is helpful to know that there are bike rentals available on the island. A bicycle can make touring the grounds much more appealing and enjoyable.

A quiet well-maintained trail running along the Small Lake.

There are 14 kilometers of mostly flat, paved paths. It is nearly impossible to cover the entire distance in one day without a bike. Bike rentals cost about USD 15 per day. You’ll find the bike rental stand next to the ferry in Polače.

5. Mljet is Difficult to Reach

Despite its beauty, unfortunately, most people visiting Croatia never make it to Mljet.  To reach the island, the majority of travelers must take a ferry there and back in one long day. Many tourists don’t have the luxury of giving up a full vacation day to make this excursion.

Our yacht, the Adriatic Queen with Audrey at the bow.

With the long ferry ride, both back and forth from Dubrovnik, a day trip here may feel extremely rushed. A great alternative is to take a private speed boat or go on a private tour. Select one from the list below.

Have you visited Mljet National Park? If so, what did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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