Upon arriving at Mljet National Park, I thought for a second that it looked like Banff National Park in Canada, minus the mountainous landscape. The turquoise waters set against the lush greenery were so jaw-droppingly gorgeous that I let out a gasp. It looks like the scenic lake you see in postcards, yet this national park is so underrated. You’ve probably heard of Krka National Park or Plitvice National Park, but Mljet National Park doesn’t get as much love – until now.
Mljet National Park, a haven for adventure lovers, is a must-visit destination in Croatia. Located on the Dalmatian island of Mljet, it’s the perfect place for kayaking, snorkeling, boating, and other outdoor activities. In this post, I’m breaking down everything you need to know to have an unforgettable experience at Mljet National Park. Let’s dive in.
Want to read more about Croatia? You’re in luck! This post is a part of the Croatia series. Here is the complete 15-part series:
Krka National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Krka National Park, Croatia
Plitvice National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Plitvice vs Krka – Krka vs Plitvice National Park: Which One Should You Visit?
Mljet National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Mljet National Park, Croatia
Know before you go
How To Get To Mljet National Park
Here are the different options available for getting to the park:
Ferry – A ferry is the most common way to get to Mljet National Park. Ferries depart from various cities in Croatia, such as Dubrovnik, Split, and Korčula. It takes approximately 2-3 hours to reach Mljet from Dubrovnik, for example, and the journey time can vary depending on your departure point. You can book the ferry ride in advance online or buy your tickets at the port.
If you’re coming from Split or Dubrovnik, the easiest way to get to Mljet National Park is to take a ferry to Sobra, located on the island of Mljet. You can take a local bus or taxi to the park entrance from there.
Catamaran – A catamaran is another option for getting to Mljet National Park. These high-speed boats are faster than ferries and are a good option for those short on time. Catamarans depart from cities like Dubrovnik and Split and offer a scenic ride along the Croatian coast. As with the ferry, you can book the catamaran in advance online or buy your tickets at the port.
Private boat – For those who prefer a more personalized experience, a private boat is an option for getting to Mljet National Park. This is an excellent option for groups or families and can offer more flexibility with your schedule. Private boats can be rented with or without a skipper, depending on your boating experience.
Once you reach the island of Mljet, you must go to the national park. The park is located on the western side of the island. You can access it by car, bus, or bike. Some visitors rent a bike or scooter to explore the park independently, while others prefer a guided tour. Whatever your preferred mode of transportation, plenty of options are available to get you to Mljet National Park.
Admission Fees for Mljet National Park
The entrance fee to Mljet National Park varies depending on the time of year and whether you visit during peak season. However, as of 2023, the prices range from 70 to 150 kunas per person (around 10-20 USD), with discounts available for students, seniors, and children. You can purchase tickets online or at the entrance to the park.
What to Bring To Mljet National Park?
When visiting Mljet National Park, you must bring appropriate gear and clothing. Wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring a hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Don’t forget your swimsuit and towel as there are plenty of opportunities for swimming in the park’s lakes and coastline.
Planning Your Visit
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Mljet National Park largely depends on your preferences and what you want to experience in the park. Here are some factors to consider when planning your visit:
Weather – The summer months of June to August are the peak tourist season, with temperatures ranging from 77-86°F and plenty of sunshine. However, these months can also be quite crowded and expensive. If you prefer cooler weather and fewer crowds, consider visiting during the spring (April to May) or fall (September to October).
Activities – Mljet National Park offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as swimming, hiking, cycling, and kayaking. The best time to enjoy these activities is during summer when the weather is warm, and the water is inviting. However, the spring and fall months may be more suitable if you prefer hiking or cycling in cooler temperatures.
Crowds – As mentioned, summer can be quite crowded, especially in July and August. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of April to June or September to October. These months offer milder weather and fewer crowds.
Cost – The peak season (June to August) is typically more expensive than the shoulder seasons. If you’re traveling on a budget, consider visiting during the spring or fall when prices are lower.
When is Mljet National Park open?
Mljet National Park is open every day of the week from 8 am to 8 pm. Holidays may affect these hours.
Types of activities available at Mljet National Park
Mljet National Park is overflowing with activities to enjoy. Here are some of the main types of activities available at the park:
Hiking – Mljet National Park is a great place to explore on foot, with a range of hiking trails that offer stunning views of the island’s landscapes. One of the most popular hikes is the trail that leads to the summit of Montokuc, the highest peak on the island. The trail is about 3.5 miles long and takes about 2 hours.
Swimming and snorkeling – Mljet National Park is home to two beautiful lakes, Veliko Jezero (Big Lake) and Malo Jezero (Small Lake), which are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The lake’s water is crystal clear and calm, perfect for a refreshing swim. You can also rent snorkeling equipment to explore the underwater world of the lakes.
Kayaking – Another popular activity in Mljet National Park is kayaking. You can rent a kayak and explore the lakes at your own pace. The lakes are surrounded by beautiful forests and cliffs, offering a scenic and peaceful paddling experience. I went kayaking for the first time at the lakes, and it was a truly splendid experience. I highly recommend renting a kayak here for an hour or so to experience the lakes.
Cycling – Mljet National Park has several cycling trails perfect for exploring the island’s landscapes on two wheels. You can rent a bicycle and follow the trails, which take you through forests, along the lakeshore, and past stunning viewpoints.
Boat tours – You can take a boat tour of the lakes and the nearby island of St. Mary’s. The tours offer a unique perspective on the park’s natural beauty and provide the opportunity to see wildlife such as ducks, herons, and fish.
Sightseeing – Mljet National Park has several historical and cultural sites worth visiting. The park is home to an ancient Benedictine monastery on the island of St. Mary’s and a Roman palace and ruins from the Illyrian period.
These are just a few of the activities available at Mljet National Park. Whether you prefer hiking, swimming, kayaking, cycling, or sightseeing, there is something for everyone at this beautiful park.
Tips for visiting during peak season
If you’re planning to visit Mljet National Park during the peak season (June to August), here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip:
Book in advance – During peak season, the park can get quite crowded, and accommodation and activities can book up quickly. It’s a good idea to book your accommodation, tours, and activities in advance to avoid waiting in long lines or missing out altogether.
Arrive early – To avoid the crowds and make the most of your time in the park, consider arriving early in the morning, right when the park opens. This will give you more time to explore the park before the crowds arrive.
Stay hydrated – The summer months in Croatia can be scorching hot, so staying hydrated while in the park is essential. Be sure to bring plenty of water and drink regularly throughout the day.
Wear sunscreen and a hat – The sunshine is strong in Croatia, especially during the summer months. Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
Respect the park’s rules and regulations – Mljet National Park is a protected natural area, and you must follow specific rules and regulations to help preserve the park’s natural beauty. Be sure to obey signs, stay on designated trails, and not litter.
Be prepared for the heat – Besides staying hydrated, it’s essential to be prepared in other ways. Wear light, breathable clothing, and take breaks in shaded areas to cool off.
Be patient – With crowds comes the potential for delays and longer wait times. Be patient, and don’t let the crowds and lines ruin your experience. Remember that you’re there to enjoy the park and all it offers.
Where to Stay
If you plan to spend more than a day in the area, I recommend staying in the nearby town of Polače, just a few kilometers from the park entrance. There are several accommodations available, including hotels, apartments, and campsites.
Exploring the Park
Mljet National Park is home to two stunning saltwater lakes, Veliko and Malo Jezero, connected by a narrow channel. You can explore the lakes by renting a kayak or boat tour. Several hiking trails lead to the park’s highest peak, Montokuc, offering breathtaking island views.
In addition, Mljet National Park is home to the 12th-century Benedictine Monastery on the islet of St. Mary, which you can visit during your time in the park. I took a boat to this monastery, and it was a great place to capture photos, with the lakes in the background and a stunning backdrop of the island.
Overview of the park’s features and landscapes
Mljet National Park is located on the island of Mljet in Croatia and is one of the most beautiful natural reserves in the country. The park covers an area of 34 square miles and includes a range of landscapes and features that make it a unique and stunning destination for visitors.
Mljet National Park’s main features are its two saltwater lakes, Veliko Jezero (Big Lake) and Malo Jezero (Small Lake). These lakes are surrounded by dense forests and cliffs, which provide a beautiful backdrop for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and other water-based activities. You can take a boat tour of the lakes to explore their natural beauty and see the wildlife there, such as ducks, herons, and fish.
Another feature of Mljet National Park is Montokuc, the highest peak on the island. You can hike to the summit of Montokuc to enjoy stunning panoramic views of the park and the surrounding area. Hikers can enjoy the park’s natural beauty and see various plant and animal species.
Mljet National Park is also home to St. Mary’s Island, a small island in the middle of Veliko Jezero. On the island, you can explore an ancient Benedictine monastery dating back to the 12th century. The monastery is a fascinating historical site and offers a glimpse into the island’s past.
In addition to these main features, Mljet National Park is home to many other natural wonders, including caves, cliffs, and beaches. The park is rich in plant and animal life, with various species unique to the area. Overall, the landscape and features of Mljet National Park make it a truly special and unforgettable destination.
How do you get around Mljet National Park?
Getting around Mljet National Park is relatively easy, as the park provides various transportation options for visitors. Here are the main ways to get around the park:
Walking/Hiking: The park has well-marked trails perfect for exploring on foot. Walking allows you to immerse yourself in the park’s natural beauty and discover its hidden gems at your own pace. Some trails lead to viewpoints, lakes, beaches, and other attractions within the park.
Cycling: Cycling is another popular mode of transportation within the park. You can rent bicycles from local rental shops and pedal through the park’s scenic trails and roads. Cycling allows you to cover more ground and efficiently explore the park’s various areas.
Boat/Shuttle Service: Since Mljet National Park includes the two saltwater lakes, Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero, a boat and shuttle service is available to help visitors navigate different parts of the park. You can take a boat to reach St. Mary’s Island and explore the ancient Benedictine monastery. Shuttle buses also operate within the park, providing transportation between key locations.
Kayaking: If you’re looking for a unique and adventurous way to get around, kayaking is an excellent option. You can rent kayaks and paddle through the lakes, discovering hidden coves and secluded spots. I went kayaking at the small lake Malo Jezero, the trip’s highlight.
I should note that private vehicles are not permitted within the park, so the methods mentioned above are the primary means of transportation available. Whether you walk, cycle, take a boat, or kayak, each mode of transport offers its benefits and allows you to experience the park’s natural wonders in different ways.
The main attractions in the park
The saltwater lakes – Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero are the park’s most iconic features, and you can’t miss the opportunity to see and explore them. Swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling are popular activities in the lakes.
St. Mary’s Island – This small island in the middle of Veliko Jezero is home to an ancient Benedictine monastery, a fascinating historical site to explore. You can take a boat trip to the island and tour the monastery. The monastery also provides a beautiful backdrop for photos.
Montokuc – The highest peak on the island, Montokuc offers stunning panoramic views of the park and the surrounding area. Hiking to the summit is a popular activity for visitors.
Odysseus’ Cave – Located on the southern coast of the island, this cave is said to be the spot where Odysseus was held captive by the nymph Calypso. The cave is a unique geological formation and a popular destination.
Sutmiholjska Beach – This beautiful sandy beach is located on the island’s southern coast and is an excellent spot for swimming and sunbathing. The crystal-clear waters and natural beauty of the beach make it a must-see attraction in the park.
Polace – This small fishing village is located on the island’s northwestern coast and is a great place to explore the local culture and way of life. You can wander through the village’s narrow streets, enjoy local cuisine, and visit the ancient Roman palace ruins.
These attractions are just a few must-see sights in Mljet National Park. You should also take the time to explore the park’s natural beauty, including its forests, cliffs, and wildlife, contributing to the unique and unforgettable experience of visiting this stunning Croatian destination.
The best places for swimming and snorkeling
Mljet National Park is home to some of the most beautiful swimming and snorkeling spots in Croatia. Here are some of the best spots for swimming and snorkeling in the park:
Veliko Jezero – The park’s largest lake is excellent for swimming and snorkeling. The crystal-clear water teems with fish and other aquatic life, and you can explore the lake’s many coves and bays.
Malo Jezero – The park’s smaller lake is also popular for swimming and snorkeling. The water here is even clearer than in Veliko Jezero, and you can often see the lake’s resident eels and other fish.
Saplunara Beach – This sandy beach on the island’s eastern side is an excellent spot for swimming and sunbathing. The shallow water is perfect for children, and the beach is surrounded by lush vegetation.
Blace Bay is a secluded beach on the island’s southern coast. The water is crystal clear, and you can explore the underwater world, including schools of fish and other marine life.
Limuni Beach is a rocky beach on the island’s western side. The water is deep and clear, and you can see a range of fish and other sea creatures.
St. Mary’s Island – The waters around St. Mary’s Island are great for snorkeling. You can explore the underwater world around the island and see a variety of fish and other aquatic life.
Safety Tips for Visiting Mljet National Park
Taking some safety precautions is important to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some safety tips for visiting the park:
Stay on designated trails – The park has many hiking trails essential to avoid getting lost or injured. Veering off the path can also damage the park’s delicate ecosystem.
Be aware of your surroundings – While the park is generally safe, you should be aware of its surroundings and look for potential hazards, such as cliffs or loose rocks.
Stay hydrated – The park can get hot during the summer months, and it’s essential to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Wear appropriate footwear – The park’s terrain can be uneven and rocky, so it’s important to wear sturdy footwear with a good grip to prevent slips and falls. Tennis shoes or sturdy sandals are the way to go.
Protect yourself from the sun – The park gets a lot of sun, so it’s important to protect your skin by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
Respect wildlife – Mljet National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, and you should respect their space and avoid feeding or approaching them.
Follow park rules and regulations – The park has rules and regulations to protect visitors and the environment, so it’s essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for everyone.
By following these safety tips, you can enjoy all that Mljet National Park offers while staying safe and protected.
Rules and regulations to follow while in the park
Mljet National Park has rules and regulations to protect the environment, wildlife, and visitors. Here are some of the main rules and regulations to follow while in the park:
Stay on designated trails – As mentioned earlier, it’s essential to stay on designated trails to avoid getting lost or injuring yourself. Veering off the path can also damage the park’s delicate ecosystem.
No littering – You are not allowed to litter in the park. Disposing all trash in designated bins or taking it with you when you leave is essential.
No feeding wildlife – You cannot feed wildlife in the park. Feeding animals can disrupt their natural diet and behavior and be dangerous for visitors.
No swimming in non-designated areas – You can only swim in designated park areas. Swimming in non-designated areas can be dangerous and disrupt the ecosystem.
No smoking – Smoking is not allowed in the park due to the risk of wildfires.
No camping outside designated areas – You can only camp in designated park areas. Camping outside of these areas can damage the environment and disrupt wildlife.
Respect park staff and other visitors – You should respect park staff and other visitors and follow their instructions and requests.
By following these rules and regulations, you can help protect the park’s environment and wildlife and ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for everyone.
Tips for avoiding crowds at Mljet National Park
Mljet National Park can get crowded during peak season, so it’s essential to plan to avoid crowds. Here are some tips for avoiding crowds:
Visit during the off-peak season – If possible, plan your visit during the shoulder season (April-June and September-October) when there are fewer tourists.
Visit early in the day – The park is less crowded in the early morning, so consider arriving early to beat the crowds.
Visit late in the day – Similarly, the park is less crowded in the late afternoon/evening, so consider visiting later for a quieter experience.
Explore less popular areas – While the lakes and main hiking trails are popular attractions, many other park areas are less crowded. Consider exploring some lesser-known hiking trails or visiting some of the more secluded beaches.
Book in advance – If you plan to take a guided tour or participate in any park activities, consider booking in advance to avoid disappointment and to secure your spot.
Avoid weekends and holidays – The park is generally more crowded on weekends and holidays, so consider visiting on a weekday if possible.
By following these tips, you can enjoy a quieter and more peaceful experience in Mljet National Park and make the most of your visit without feeling overwhelmed by crowds.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you pronounce Mljet?
Mljet is pronounced Mil-yet in Croatian.
Is it worth going to Mljet?
Absolutely! Mljet National Park is definitely worth visiting for its natural beauty, tranquility, and unique attractions. The park’s landscape is breathtaking, with its picturesque saltwater lakes, dense forests, cliffs, and stunning coastal areas. The combination of lush greenery, crystal-clear waters, and diverse wildlife creates a mesmerizing setting.
If you’re looking for a tranquil escape from the bustling cities and crowded tourist destinations, Mljet offers a peaceful retreat where you can reconnect with nature and enjoy a slower pace of life. The park’s attractions are also unique, such as St. Mary’s Island with its ancient monastery and Odysseus’ Cave with its mythical associations.
Lastly, Mljet also offers a range of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. From hiking and cycling through the park’s trails to kayaking in the lakes or snorkeling along the coast, there are plenty of opportunities to engage in outdoor adventures and enjoy the park’s natural wonders.
Overall, Mljet National Park offers a combination of stunning natural landscapes, cultural heritage, and outdoor activities, making it a worthwhile destination for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and those seeking a peaceful retreat. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, unwind, and create lasting memories.
Can you walk around Mljet?
Yes, you can walk around Mljet National Park. Walking is one of the main ways to get around the park. The park has well-marked trails that are perfect for exploring on foot. Some trails lead to viewpoints, lakes, beaches, and other attractions within the park.
How long do I need in Mljet?
Budget at least one day to explore Mljet National Park. On a day trip, you can see the main sights and experience the best of the park. If you can spend 2-3 days, that would be even better because it will allow you to explore other parts of the island of Mljet.
Can you swim in Mljet?
Yes, swimming is allowed in Mljet National Park. The park is home to two saltwater lakes, Veliko Jezero (Big Lake) and Malo Jezero (Small Lake), where visitors can swim in crystal-clear waters. The lakes provide a beautiful and tranquil setting for swimming, surrounded by lush forests and stunning landscapes.
Both lakes offer opportunities for leisurely swims, and the water is generally calm and suitable for all ages. The lakes have designated swimming areas where visitors can safely enjoy the water. It’s important to note that there may be specific rules and regulations, such as lifeguard supervision or restricted swimming areas, so it’s advisable to follow any signage or instructions provided by park authorities.
In addition to the lakes, Mljet National Park also boasts several beautiful beaches along its coastline, such as Saplunara Beach and Limuni Beach, where visitors can enjoy swimming in the Adriatic Sea. These beaches offer sandy or rocky shores, and the clear waters make for refreshing swims during the summer months.
Whether you prefer swimming in the lakes or exploring the coastal beaches, Mljet offers various opportunities to enjoy a dip in its pristine waters and make the most of your visit to the park.
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