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Mljet: Captive In Paradise


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Barbara Alder




Welcome to Croatia’s hidden gem – the stunning island of Mljet. Nestled in the picturesque waters of the Adriatic Sea, Mljet is a true paradise for nature lovers and those seeking a tranquil escape from the bustling tourist destinations. With its untouched landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and rich cultural heritage, Mljet offers a unique and unforgettable experience.


Boasting a fascinating history dating back to ancient times, Mljet has been the home of various civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. Today, the island remains largely untouched by modern development, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in its natural beauty and discover remnants of its rich past.


With its diverse geography, Mljet offers a myriad of attractions for outdoor enthusiasts. From dense pine forests and pristine beaches to serene lakes and stunning cliffs, the island offers a wide range of activities for every taste. The star attraction of Mljet is undoubtedly its National Park, a protected area that encompasses nearly a third of the island. Wander along its scenic trails, take a dip in the crystal-clear lakes, or simply bask in the tranquility of its unspoiled beauty.


Aside from its natural wonders, Mljet is also home to a wealth of cultural heritage and historical sites. Explore ancient ruins, visit charming fishing villages, and discover the island’s rich folklore and traditional crafts. Be sure to sample the local cuisine and savor the flavors of traditional dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.


Whether you’re looking to relax on idyllic beaches, hike through lush forests, or immerse yourself in history and culture, Mljet offers something for everyone. With its warm Mediterranean climate, the island is a year-round destination, although the summer months are particularly popular due to the pleasant weather and the range of outdoor activities available.


So, pack your bags, leave your worries behind, and prepare to be captivated by the allure of Mljet. This hidden paradise awaits your arrival, ready to dazzle you with its natural beauty and timeless charm.


The History of Mljet


With a history dating back thousands of years, Mljet is steeped in ancient legends and captivating tales. The island has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and evidence of early settlements can still be seen today. The Illyrians, an ancient Indo-European tribe, were among the first to establish a presence on Mljet, followed by the Greeks and Romans.


The island’s strategic location in the Adriatic Sea made it a coveted prize for many civilizations. It served as an important trade route and a strategic stronghold for naval powers. The Romans, recognizing its potential, built fortifications and established settlements, leaving behind a rich architectural legacy that can still be admired today.


Mljet, like many other small islands in the Mediterranean, was not immune to the incursions of pirates. Over the centuries, these marauders wreaked havoc, causing destruction and forcing the inhabitants to seek refuge in fortified settlements. The island’s rugged terrain and dense forests provided shelter and protection, allowing the islanders to repel the invaders.


During the middle ages, Mljet came under the rule of the Dubrovnik Republic, which left a lasting impact on the island’s culture and architecture. Many of the island’s churches, monasteries, and fortifications were built during this period, showcasing a blend of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles.


In the 20th century, Mljet, like the rest of Croatia, endured turbulent times. It was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, followed by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After Croatia’s independence in the 1990s, Mljet became a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world to its unspoiled beauty and rich cultural heritage.


Today, Mljet remains a testament to the layers of history that have shaped its identity. Its ancient ruins, such as the Roman palace in Polače and the Benedictine monastery in the middle of Veliko Jezero (Large Lake), serve as reminders of its past glory. The island’s vibrant culture and traditions are still celebrated through various festivities and events that showcase its folklore and heritage.


As you explore Mljet, take a moment to immerse yourself in its fascinating history. From ancient civilizations to medieval fortresses and modern-day developments, every corner of the island has a story to tell, waiting to be discovered by curious travelers.


Geography and Natural Beauty


Mljet is a stunning island nestled in the southernmost part of the Dalmatian region of Croatia. Covering an area of approximately 98 square kilometers, the island is characterized by its diverse geography and breathtaking natural beauty.


The island is known for its lush vegetation, with dense pine forests covering much of its land. These forests, along with the crystal-clear blue waters surrounding the island, create a truly picturesque and serene atmosphere that captivates visitors from the moment they set foot on Mljet.


One of the most remarkable features of Mljet is its two saltwater lakes – Veliko Jezero (Large Lake) and Malo Jezero (Small Lake). These two interconnected lakes form the heart of Mljet National Park and are surrounded by stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity. Take a boat ride across the lakes, swim in their emerald waters, or simply relax on their shores, soaking in the tranquility and beauty of your surroundings.


Mljet is also home to an impressive karst system, with numerous caves, gorges, and limestone formations dotting the island. Explore the depths of Odysseus’ Cave, named after the legendary Greek hero, and marvel at its striking stalactites and stalagmites.


Along the coastline, you’ll find an array of beautiful beaches and secluded coves. From sandy shores to pebbly alcoves, each beach offers a unique setting for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea.


For nature enthusiasts, Mljet is a paradise waiting to be explored. The island is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including endangered species such as the Mljet fire salamander. Birdwatchers will delight in spotting numerous bird species, including the elegant white-tailed eagle and the colorful European bee-eater.


As you venture into the interior, you’ll discover picturesque villages nestled among the hills, where time seems to stand still. Explore charming settlements like Goveđari and Korita, where traditional stone houses and narrow cobblestone streets reflect the island’s rich heritage.


Whether you choose to hike through the lush forests, cycle along scenic trails, or simply relax on the beach, Mljet’s natural beauty is bound to leave a lasting impression. It’s a place where you can truly reconnect with nature and find solace in its unspoiled landscapes.


So, breathe in the fresh sea air, admire the vibrant hues of the lakes, and let the beauty of Mljet captivate your senses. This is a destination unlike any other – a haven of natural wonders waiting to be discovered.


Mljet National Park: A Gem in the Adriatic


Mljet National Park is the crown jewel of the island, showcasing the breathtaking beauty and ecological diversity of Mljet. Established in 1960, the park covers an impressive area of 54 square kilometers, encompassing the western part of the island, including its two stunning saltwater lakes – Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero.


The park’s main attraction is Veliko Jezero, the largest lake on the island. With its tranquil turquoise waters and picturesque surroundings, it’s no wonder that this lake is often referred to as one of the most beautiful spots in the Adriatic region. Take a leisurely boat ride across the lake, immersing yourself in its serene ambiance and admiring the rich flora and fauna that thrive in its surroundings.


For nature lovers and adventure seekers, Mljet National Park offers a plethora of activities to enjoy. Explore the park’s numerous hiking and cycling trails, meandering through dense forests, across charming wooden bridges, and along the shores of the lakes. Follow the paths that lead to the park’s hidden gems, such as the panoramic viewpoint at Montokuc, offering unparalleled vistas of the island and the Adriatic Sea.


An absolute must-visit within the national park is the small islet of St. Mary, situated in the heart of Veliko Jezero. Here, you’ll find the picturesque Benedictine monastery, dating back to the 12th century. Explore its serene courtyard, marvel at the ancient frescoes adorning the walls, and take in the tranquility of this spiritual place.


Swimming enthusiasts will find delight in the park’s designated swimming areas, nestled along the shores of Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero. Dive into the refreshing waters, enjoy a peaceful swim amidst the untouched nature, or simply bask in the sun on the pebbly beaches, surrounded by the sound of gentle waves.


Mljet National Park’s commitment to preserving the island’s ecological balance is evident in its efforts to protect and conserve the unique flora and fauna that call Mljet home. The park is a sanctuary for various species of birds, reptiles, and plants, offering a glimpse into the island’s rich biodiversity.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, tranquility, or simply a connection with nature, Mljet National Park promises an unforgettable experience. Immerse yourself in its stunning landscapes, explore its hidden corners, and let the wonders of this natural gem captivate your senses.


As you journey through the park, respect its fragile ecosystem and adhere to the principles of sustainable tourism. Remember, Mljet National Park is not just a destination – it’s a testament to the beauty of our planet that must be preserved for generations to come.


Cultural Heritage and Historical Sites


Mljet is not only renowned for its natural beauty, but it also boasts a rich cultural heritage and a treasure trove of historical sites. Throughout the island, you’ll find remnants of ancient civilizations and architectural wonders that give insight into Mljet’s fascinating past.


One of the most notable historical sites on the island is the Roman palace in Polače. Dating back to the 1st century AD, this well-preserved complex was once the residence of Roman nobility. Wander through its ruins, marvel at its intricate mosaics, and imagine what life was like during the height of the Roman Empire.


Another intriguing site on Mljet is the Benedictine monastery located in the middle of Veliko Jezero (Large Lake). Founded in the 12th century, this picturesque monastery is set on a small islet called St. Mary. Take a boat ride to the islet and explore the monastery’s peaceful grounds, adorned with ancient frescoes and a beautiful church.


The island’s rich history is also evident in its charming villages and traditional settlements. Visit Babino Polje, the largest village on Mljet, and stroll through its narrow streets lined with stone houses. Stop by the local church and admire its intricate woodwork and centuries-old artifacts.


Within the national park, you’ll discover the ancient village of Goveđari, a place frozen in time. Explore its stone buildings, interact with the friendly locals, and immerse yourself in the traditional way of life that still exists here.


The island is also steeped in mythology and folklore. According to ancient legends, the famous Greek hero Odysseus found refuge on Mljet after his epic journey. The myth of Odysseus and the nymph Calypso is said to have taken place in one of the island’s caves, known as Odysseus’ Cave. Explore this enchanting cave, marvel at its stalactites and stalagmites, and imagine the adventures that unfolded within its depths.


Throughout the year, Mljet hosts various cultural events and festivities that celebrate the island’s heritage. From traditional music performances to art exhibitions and culinary festivals, these events offer a glimpse into the vibrant local culture and provide an opportunity to engage with the island’s residents.


As you explore Mljet, take the time to immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage. Visit historical sites, interact with locals, and embrace the stories and legends that have shaped the island’s identity. By doing so, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for Mljet’s remarkable past.


Activities and Attractions on Mljet


Mljet offers a multitude of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural experiences, this captivating island has something to offer everyone.


One of the top attractions on Mljet is the stunning Mljet National Park, encompassing the western part of the island. Explore its lush landscapes, hike through dense forests, and discover the serene beauty of the two saltwater lakes – Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero. Take a boat ride to the picturesque St. Mary’s islet, home to a centuries-old Benedictine monastery, or dive into the clear waters of the lakes for a refreshing swim.


For outdoor enthusiasts, Mljet offers a range of activities to suit all interests. Hike or cycle through the numerous trails that crisscross the island, revealing stunning vistas and hidden gems along the way. Seek out the island’s secluded beaches and coves, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters. Head to the cliffs of the Odysseus’ Cave and try your hand at cliff jumping for an adrenaline rush and a memorable adventure.


If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, there are plenty of opportunities to do so on Mljet. Visit the small villages scattered across the island, such as Goveđari and Babino Polje, where you can interact with friendly locals, sample traditional cuisine, and witness age-old traditions and customs. Check the local events calendar and join in on festivals and celebrations that showcase the island’s vibrant heritage and folklore.


Boating enthusiasts will delight in exploring the surrounding waters. Rent a kayak, SUP board, or a small motorboat and venture along the coastline, discovering hidden bays, caves, and secluded beaches. Feel the thrill of sailing through the Adriatic and explore the nearby Elaphiti Islands on a boat tour.


No visit to Mljet is complete without indulging in its delicious local cuisine. Sample traditional dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients, including freshly caught seafood, olive oil, goat cheese, and aromatic Mediterranean herbs. Wash it all down with a glass of local wine or a refreshing aperitif made with the island’s famous herb, juniper.


For those seeking relaxation, Mljet offers plenty of opportunities to unwind and rejuvenate. Find a secluded spot on one of the island’s pristine beaches, read a book or simply bask in the sun’s warm rays. Treat yourself to a spa treatment at one of the island’s resorts or take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenades, breathing in the fresh sea air and letting the serenity of Mljet envelop your senses.


From thrilling outdoor adventures to cultural immersion and ultimate relaxation, Mljet promises a memorable and diverse range of activities and attractions for every visitor. Embrace the island’s natural beauty, explore its cultural heritage, and create unforgettable moments on this captivating Croatian gem.


Local Cuisine and Traditional Dishes


Exploring the culinary delights of Mljet is an essential part of immersing yourself in the island’s culture and traditions. A fusion of Mediterranean flavors and traditional Croatian cuisine, the local dishes on Mljet are sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.


Seafood takes center stage in Mljet’s gastronomy, thanks to the island’s prime location in the Adriatic Sea. Taste freshly caught fish, such as sea bream, sea bass, and mackerel, prepared with simple yet exquisite flavors. Indulge in grilled octopus, marinated in olive oil and garlic, or try brodet, a delightful fish stew bursting with the flavors of the sea.


Olive oil is a staple ingredient in Mljet’s cuisine, known for its high-quality and distinct taste. Sample dishes drizzled with locally produced olive oil, enhancing the flavors and imparting a unique richness. You’ll find it in everything from salads and seafood to pasta and braised vegetables.


One traditional dish that shouldn’t be missed is the Peka. This slow-cooked meat dish is prepared by placing meat, usually lamb or veal, together with potatoes and vegetables into a closed pot and then slowly cooking it over hot coals. The result is tender, succulent meat with mouthwatering flavors.


The island’s traditional cheeses, such as Pag cheese and goat cheese, are a true delight for cheese connoisseurs. Made from sheep or goat milk, these cheeses have a distinct flavor profile, often paired with locally made honey or homemade fig jam.


For a taste of Mljet’s countryside, try dishes featuring wild asparagus, mushrooms, and aromatic herbs. Asparagus is typically foraged during the spring months and is used in risottos, omelets, and salads. Mushrooms, with their earthy flavors, are often featured in hearty stews and sauces.


Don’t forget to explore the island’s sweet delights. Sample fritule, small doughnut-like pastries dusted with powdered sugar, or try the famous Rozata, a creamy caramel custard reminiscent of a crème brûlée. Pair your dessert with a glass of the local liqueur, made with aromatic herbs, honey, and fruits, for a perfect ending to your culinary journey.


To fully experience Mljet’s culinary traditions, seek out the local taverns and konobas (traditional restaurants). These charming establishments serve up homemade dishes prepared with love and passed down through generations. Engage with the friendly locals, who are always eager to share their culinary heritage and the stories behind each dish.


So, come hungry and be prepared to indulge in the flavors of Mljet. From fresh seafood to hearty stews and delectable desserts, the island’s cuisine promises to take you on a culinary adventure you won’t soon forget.


Accommodation Options on the Island


When it comes to accommodation on Mljet, visitors are spoiled for choice. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious resort, a cozy guesthouse, or a charming villa, the island offers a range of options to suit every taste and budget.


For those looking for a luxurious getaway, Mljet boasts several high-end resorts and hotels that offer a combination of comfort, elegance, and stunning views. Enjoy lavish amenities, such as swimming pools, spas, and fine dining options, while surrounded by the natural beauty of the island.


If you prefer a more authentic and intimate experience, consider staying in one of the charming guesthouses or family-run bed and breakfast accommodations scattered across Mljet. These cozy establishments provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere, allowing guests to connect with the local community and feel like part of the Mljet family.


For a truly unique experience, consider renting a private villa or apartment. This option provides the freedom and flexibility to create your own itinerary and immerse yourself in the island’s laid-back lifestyle. Many villas offer stunning sea views, private pools, and spacious interiors, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay.


For budget-conscious travelers, Mljet also offers a selection of affordable accommodations such as guesthouses, hostels, and campsites. These options provide a comfortable and economical stay, allowing visitors to allocate their budget towards exploring the island’s attractions and indulging in its culinary delights.


No matter which accommodation option you choose, rest assured that the hospitality on Mljet is second to none. The locals take great pride in providing outstanding service and ensuring that every guest feels welcome and well taken care of. From arranging transportation and organizing excursions to offering insider tips on the best places to visit, the island’s hosts are always ready to go above and beyond to make your stay unforgettable.


Whether you’re seeking a luxurious retreat, a cozy home away from home, or an affordable base for your adventures, Mljet offers a range of accommodation options to suit every preference. So, find your perfect oasis on the island and get ready to create beautiful memories in this idyllic Croatian paradise.


Transportation and Getting Around Mljet


Getting to and around Mljet is relatively straightforward, thanks to its well-connected transportation options and compact size. Whether you choose to arrive by ferry or take advantage of local transportation on the island, getting around Mljet is a breeze.


The most common way to reach Mljet is by ferry. Ferries operate regularly from Dubrovnik, Split, and other nearby islands, making it convenient for travelers to access the island. The main ports on Mljet are Sobra and Polače, where ferries dock and serve as gateways to the island’s attractions.


Once on Mljet, there are several options for getting around the island. One popular choice is to rent a car or a scooter, allowing you to explore the island at your own pace. This gives you the freedom to visit remote beaches, venture into the interior, and discover hidden gems that may not be easily accessible by other means of transportation. Rental agencies can be found at the main ports and in popular tourist areas.


Another popular way to get around Mljet is by bicycle. The island offers a network of well-maintained cycling routes, allowing you to pedal through scenic landscapes and take in the island’s natural beauty. Bicycles can be rented from various rental shops on the island, and many accommodations also offer bike rental services for their guests.


If you prefer not to drive or cycle, Mljet has a reliable local bus service that connects various parts of the island. The buses run on scheduled routes, making it convenient to visit different villages, the national park, and other attractions. The timetable can be obtained at the tourist information centers or at the bus stops.


For those who want a truly immersive experience, walking is an excellent option. Mljet offers several well-marked walking trails that lead you through stunning landscapes, including the national park and scenic coastal paths. Lace up your walking shoes and enjoy the island at a leisurely pace, taking in the sights, sounds, and scents along the way.


For shorter distances or accessing specific areas, taxis are also available on Mljet. You can find them at the ports, in the main tourist areas, or by calling for a pick-up. Taxis can be a convenient option if you’re traveling with luggage or have limited mobility.


Regardless of the mode of transportation you choose, it’s important to note that Mljet is a small island, and many attractions and accommodations are within close proximity. This makes it easy to explore the island and visit multiple sites in a day, regardless of your chosen mode of transport.


As you journey around Mljet, take the time to enjoy the scenic drives, stop at viewpoints for breathtaking panoramas, and embrace the relaxed atmosphere of the island. Getting around Mljet is not just a means of transportation, but an opportunity to further immerse yourself in the island’s beauty and charm.


Best Time to Visit Mljet


Mljet is a year-round destination, each season offering its own unique charm and allure. The best time to visit Mljet depends on your preferences, whether you’re seeking sunny beach days, outdoor adventures, or a more tranquil and secluded experience.


Summer, from June to September, is the peak tourist season on Mljet. The weather is warm, and the days are long, providing plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the island’s beautiful beaches. The crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea are perfect for water activities like snorkeling and diving. However, keep in mind that summer is also the busiest time on the island, so expect larger crowds and higher accommodation prices.


Spring (April to May) and autumn (October to November) offer a more tranquil experience on Mljet. The weather is pleasant, and the temperatures are mild, making it ideal for hiking, cycling, and exploring the island’s natural beauty. During these seasons, you’ll also have a better chance of finding quieter beaches and enjoying the island’s attractions without the summer crowds. Just be aware that the weather can be unpredictable, with occasional rain showers and cooler evenings.


Winter (December to March) is the low season on Mljet. While the island is quieter during this time, it offers a unique experience for those seeking a peaceful and secluded getaway. The temperatures are cooler, but still relatively mild compared to continental Europe. It’s a great time for hiking and exploring the island’s untouched landscapes. However, it’s important to note that some accommodations, restaurants, and attractions may have limited availability during the winter months.


Another factor to consider when planning your visit to Mljet is the island’s festivals and events. From cultural celebrations to religious processions, Mljet comes alive with traditional festivities throughout the year. The summer months, in particular, are filled with concerts, food festivals, and other events that showcase the island’s vibrant culture and heritage.


Ultimately, the best time to visit Mljet depends on your preferences and the kind of experience you’re looking for. Whether you choose the peak tourist season for sunny beach days or the quieter months for a more intimate island experience, Mljet will captivate you with its natural beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality.


Remember to check the weather forecast and plan ahead to make the most of your visit. No matter the time of year, Mljet’s allure and timeless charm are sure to leave a lasting impression.




Mljet, with its captivating beauty and rich cultural heritage, is a hidden gem in the Adriatic. From its pristine beaches and lush landscapes to its ancient ruins and charming villages, the island offers a unique and unforgettable experience for every traveler.


Immerse yourself in the island’s fascinating history by exploring ancient sites such as the Roman palace in Polače and the Benedictine monastery on St. Mary’s islet. Take a boat ride across the shimmering lakes of Mljet National Park or hike through its dense forests, allowing the tranquility of the island to envelop your senses.


Indulge in the local cuisine, savoring dishes made with fresh seafood, mouthwatering cheeses, and aromatic herbs. Discover the island’s vibrant culture and traditions through its festivals and events, and connect with the welcoming locals who are eager to share their stories and heritage.


Whether you choose to relax on pristine beaches, embark on thrilling outdoor adventures, or simply embrace the laid-back island lifestyle, Mljet offers an escape from the ordinary and a chance to reconnect with nature and yourself.


Visit Mljet during the summer months for warm and sunny beach days, or choose the quieter seasons of spring and autumn for a more serene experience. Even during the winter months, Mljet’s charm shines through, providing a peaceful and secluded getaway.


As you explore Mljet, let the natural beauty of the island captivate your senses. Breathe in the fresh sea air, hike along scenic trails, and be mesmerized by the crystal-clear waters that surround you. Embrace the hospitality of the locals and indulge in the flavors of the island’s cuisine.


Mljet is a place where time seems to stand still, where ancient legends blend with modern-day discoveries, and where tranquility meets adventure. So pack your bags, embark on an unforgettable journey, and let Mljet captivate you with its paradisiacal landscapes and timeless allure.