Mljet Travel Guide

The idyllic island of Mljet, located off the coast of the Peljesac Peninsula in Croatia, is a nature lover’s paradise. The island is mostly covered in a lush forest, and its National Park takes up about a third of the island. Mljet is car-free and has a small population that comes to life during the…

Island History

Mljet has a long and complicated history, going back thousands of years to the Illyrians. Archeological remains found in the channel suggest they were pirates. The Romans took over in 167 BC, calling it Melite/Melita, which comes from the Greek word for honey. It’s believed there were a lot of bee colonies on the island at that time.

Although Mljet was under the control of the Romans, they did not exploit their power over the island much until the 3rd century, when they constructed a palace for the Roman governor that also served as a defence against invaders. Eventually, the Benedictines gained control of Mljet from the Romans in the 12th century by order of the Pope. The Republic of Ragusa ruled over Mljet until the 14th century.

A catastrophic event happened on the island in the early 1900s. Mljet used to be full of venomous snakes which the monks did not like. According to legend, St. Paul the Apostle, who was said to have shipwrecked on Mljet, was wounded by these poisonous snakes because there were so many of them. The monks on the island were frustrated for years because of the snakes. They decided to introduce a colony of Indian Mongoose to address the issue. The mongoose were natural predators of the snakes which eradicated them on the island. However, they then shifted their attention to native birds and chickens with not much that could be done as there was no natural predator to the mongoose on the island.

Mljet’s National Park status was awarded in the later half of the 20th century, which resulted in the island becoming a popular tourist destination for travellers from all over.

Best way to get to Mljet

Mljet is an island located off the coast of Croatia. While it is not as easy to get to as some of the other islands in Croatia, it is still possible to get there via ferry or catamaran from Split or Dubrovnik. For international travellers, the best option is to fly into either Split or Dubrovnik and then take a ferry or catamaran to Mljet.

The nearest port to Mljet Island is Dubrovnik. There are regular ferry connections from this location, and the journey takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. The ferry will dock in Pomena, which is on the same side as the National Park. There are various catamaran options available from both Split and Korčula for travelling to Mljet. The journey from Korčula only takes 30 minutes, whereas from Split it takes around 3 hours.

You can browse our selection of Cruises in Croatia to find the one which offers the Mljet in the itinerary.

What to do while I am in Mljet?

Explore the National Park

One of Croatia’s eight national parks, and the most unspoiled of them all, Mljet’s National Park is a must-see for anyone visiting the island. Backpack in hand, walk in any direction you like! Admission to the National Park costs around 18 Euros, and tickets can be purchased at Pomena before you enter the park, or at the ticket office just inside. Once inside, there are plenty of activities on offer; but taking a moment to appreciate the pristine and untouched nature of the park is an experience not to be missed.

The National Park is available to tourists throughout the year, although the summer season provides the best opportunity to enjoy swimming in warm waters. The park includes various small, picturesque villages, most notably Goveđari. This village was established by Benedictines and populated with mainlanders who were required to pay homage to the monastery.

Rent a Kayak while in Mljet

Instead of spending your time on land, why not explore the coastline by kayak? The sheltered waters of the National Park make for ideal kayaking conditions and offer breathtaking views of the island’s coast. Perfect for any level of traveller, the calmness of the lake makes for a relaxing experience. With crystal clear turquoise waters, chartreuse shallows and more, you won’t believe the colours you’ll see. The best place to rent a kayak is from Mali Most, where the two famous Mljet lakes are joined by a narrow channel. A 2-person kayak will cost you approximately €25-30 for the day.

If you’re looking for an adventure, why not kayak over to St. Mary’s island? The island is famously known as the island within an island and it’ll take you around half an hour to get there. Once you’ve arrived, take some time to relax with a refreshing drink at the monastery restaurant before making your way back.

Take a Bike tour around the Mljet island

Bicycles are the best way to get around the island of Mljet, as there aren’t many cars. If you’re experienced, you can try cycling around the whole island to see its beauty, although it might take a while. Most cyclists stick to riding within the National Park since there are only other cyclists and pedestrians in traffic. The terrain is good for all levels of riders. You can coast along gravel paths by the large lake for views and if you brought your swimsuit, you can stop and swim in the refreshing water. If you want to go around the large lake, it’s about 1450m2 (9km return), versus the small lake which is only 250m2.

Explore St. Mary’s Island by Boat

If you are visiting Great Lake, you will not be able to miss the famous St. Mary’s Island – a must see for visitors. The island has a rich history, which can be explored by walking around and exploring the monastery, chapels, and untouched forest. To get to the island, flag down a taxi boat! Taxi boats travel to the island regularly to pick up passengers who want to visit. National Park entry includes a ticket to the island, so all you need to do is wave your flag over to the other side!

The most remarkable thing to see on St. Mary’s island is the 12th-century Benedictine Monastery and church located on the southeast side of the island. Both buildings are surrounded by stone walls with a defensive tower standing guard.

Visit Small Lake and Great Lake

Mljet’s two stunning natural features, Small Lake and Great Lake are enveloped by thick forests. These lakes are significant to Mljet because they used to be freshwater lakes, but both turned into saltwater lakes over time due to the natural development of the narrow Solinski channel that connects the lakes to the Adriatic Sea.

Great Lake, easily identifiable by the islet of St. Mary’s in its centre, is a popular spot for swimming in the summer due to the warm water temperature. The shores of Great Lake are full of nooks and crannies to explore, including swimming or kayaking out to the islet itself! One of the top attractions of Great Lake is its thriving coral reef, which can be observed while snorkelling. Thanks to the Adriatic opening, which allows for a saltwater ecosystem, an abundance of clams and mussels can be found in the area.

The beauty of Small Lake is just as breathtaking as that of Great Lake, even though its name would suggest otherwise. Small Lake’s water is warmer than Great Lake’s! Where Great Lake has an islet, Small Lake has a distinguishable bridge called Small Stone Bridge, which arches between the shorelines – this is also an excellent spot for a photo opportunity.

What about accommodation in Mljet?

There are a limited number of accommodation options available in comparison to larger Croatian towns, however, there are some stunning properties that offer the opportunity to stay in Pomona, Polace, Saplunara and Okuklje.

Towns on Mljet island

Polače

Polače is a town on the northern coast of Mljet, west of the island. It is the largest and safest bay on the island, making it a popular tourist destination. The town has many ancient ruins from the 1st to 6th century, most notably the Roman Palace from which the town gets its name. Polače is significant to Mljet for its valuable heritage. The scenic beauty of Polače is one of its main attractions. The bay is over 5 km long and 4 km wide, making it a lovely place to bike along the coastal shoreline. Walking to National Park from Polače takes around 40 minutes, but it is a stunning journey that is definitely worth it.

Pomena

Pomena is a small, picturesque village located at the west end of Mljet. Originally founded by the Goveđari people, it is approximately 2 kilometres away from the neighbouring village of Goveđari. The residents of Pomena are very friendly and welcoming, and the population remains relatively small at around 50 people. The villagers mostly make their living through fishing, which has been a tradition for many years.
Pomena is a popular destination for tourists seeking to enter the National Park, due to its proximity to the Small Lake. It is also a prime location for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking, as well as offering a more calming and serene experience.