One of the most underrated places to visit in Croatia is Mljet National Park. Lush greenery, seawater lakes, swimming, kayaking, hiking, bicycling, viewpoints and more. All of this can be found during your time exploring Mljet National Park.
You can visit the National Park as part of a day trip from another nearby island, or you can decide to spend some time on the island itself. Whatever you end up doing, you are sure to enjoy all that the Mljet National Park has to offer.
This guide will go over everything there is to know for a visit to Mljet National Park and talk through all the various things to do during your time there.
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1) Quick Facts & Background
Below are just a few high levels facts and details about the National Park and what it entails:
Name: Mljet National Park
Location: Western Part of Mljet Island
Lakes: Veliko & Malo Jezero (Great & Small Lakes)
Length of Lakes: 4 km / 2.5 miles
Lake Water: Saltwater from the Adriatic Sea
Small Island in Lake: Sveta Marija
Nearest Towns: Pomena & Polace
Entrance Fee: ~$20 USD for Adults (high season)
Opening Hours: 8:00AM – 8:00PM (high season)
Activities: Hiking, Bicycling, Kayaking, Swimming
The remainder of this guide will go into detail about everything there is to know about a visit to Mljet National Park.
2) How to Get to Mljet National Park
Mljet National Park is located on the island of Mljet, and the only way to get yourself to the island is by ferry.
Thankfully, there are ferries from many nearby islands and the mainland of Croatia.
However, it is very important to note that there are different schedules based on time of year, day of week, and the ports on the island.
When planning an itinerary, you must be very aware of the intricacies of the ferry schedule so you can plan accordingly.
I would recommend taking a look at the Mljet ferry schedule page, where you can scroll down and see the various routes that are offered from other nearby places.
For starters, there are 3 different ports on Mljet island – Pomena, Polace, and Sobra.
Pomena is the closest port to the National Park, Polace is another nearby popular port, and Sobra is located on the other side of the island.
If you are planning a trip to just see the National Park, try and stick to Pomena and Polace.
Below are just a few of the main routes along with the timetables for July & August for Polace and Pomena. But be sure to check the link above for the latest:
Mljet National Park from Dubrovnik
To Polace: Monday & Friday 8:00AM; All other days 9:15AM
From Polace: All Days 4:55PM
To Pomena: All Days 4:30PM
From Pomena: All Days 10:45AM
Mljet National Park from Hvar
To Polace: N/A
From Polace: N/A
To Pomena: All Days 8:50AM
From Pomena: All Days 5:50PM
Mljet National Park from Split
To Polace: N/A
From Polace: N/A
To Pomena: All Days 7:40AM
From Pomena: All Days 5:50PM
As you can see the ferries operate a bit differently depending on where you are coming from and when you are traveling.
Just be sure to keep on top of the schedules as you plan your trip.
3) Mljet National Park Bus
If you are getting off the ferry in Polace, there is a mini bus that will take you directly to the National Park entrance in Pristaniste.
Once you are off the ferry in Polace, simply head down the port boardwalk, and you should see the mini bus out in front.
First purchase your National Park entrance ticket from the booth (more on that in the next section), and then hop into the van.
Note: the walk from Pomena to the National Park is just 10-20 minutes so you can easily head there by foot if you arrive in Pomena instead of Polace.
The busses are timed with the ferry schedule but I would advise to try and get off the ferry quickly to guarantee your spot and get on your way into the National Park. The drive is pretty quick and will only take 10 minutes.
The mini van schedule changes depending on time of year, but below is just an example of what it looked like when I was there (as well as the boat schedule to the small island).
If you are day tripping to Mljet, you will need to time your day correctly.
When you get there, be sure to take a photo of the schedule, so you understand which mini bus you must take back to the port to catch you ferry.
4) Mljet National Park Entrance Fee & Hours
Once you arrive in Polace, you will be welcomed by a small ticket booth, where you can purchase your tickets for the day.
You can also purchase tickets in Pristaniste, Pomena, online, or at a few other entrances in the park (there isn’t really a main “entrance” per se to the park).
Below are the latest entrance fees for the park, depending on time of year and age. A regular adult ticket during high season will cost around 150 kn (~$20 USD).
The tickets include the entrance to the park, access to all the hiking trails and the lakes, the mini bus service, and a one way ticket to the Sveta Marija island (small fee to return).
In high season (May to October) the park is open every day from 8:00AM to 8:00PM. During low season (November to April) it is open every day from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.
5) Day Trip or Overnight
One of the decisions you will need to make when going about your trip to Mljet is whether or not you want to stay overnight on the island.
If you decide to stay overnight, you can explore the National Park at your own pace, and get to spread out some activities over the course of a few days.
This will also give you the chance to visit other places on Mljet beyond just the National Park.
On the other hand, you can just decide for the quick day trip to Mljet. That is what I ended up doing while spending a few days in Dubrovnik.
I took the morning ferry out, spent around 6 hours in the park, and then headed back to Dubrovnik at the end of the day.
While I did get to experience so much of the park, I did not like the feeling that I had to stick to a pretty tight schedule. If you believe you will get the most out of 6 or so hours, go for the day trip.
But if you would like to take things a bit more slowly, then maybe opt for the overnight.
6) Where to Stay
If you do opt for the overnight, then you will need a place to stay for the night (or nights). I would recommend staying nearby in Pomena or Polace.
Pomena will offer the opportunity to walk right to the entrance of the National Park, while Polace will be a quick drive away (or a longer walk). Depending on which port you ferry into may also dictate which place you stay in.
In both places you will find several great guesthouse options to choose from. Some of the top choices include:
7) Mljet National Park Map
To get yourself familiar with the layout of Mljet National Park, below is a helpful map that shows some of the top highlights to consider during a visit.
The map is a screenshot from the Maps.me navigation app. I highly recommend downloading it for your travels in general.
I have added in a few points of interest on the map for your reference:
Polace & Pomena: the two main ports & towns closest to the National Park
Pristaniste: the dropoff entrance for the mini bus from Polace
Great & Small Lakes: these are the main two lakes to explore (Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero)
Veliki Gradac: the viewpoint to see the park from above
Hiking Trails: in blue I highlighted the hiking trail that takes you around the entirety of the two lakes
Bridges: there are two bridges in the park – one between the lakes (Mali Most), and one between the Great Lake & the Adriatic
Viewpoint: I also pinpointed a viewpoint at the very end of the hiking trail overlooking the Soline Channel
8) Mljet National Park Things To Do
Once you arrive in Mljet and get yourself to the National Park, you may be wondering what is there to do.
Well, thankfully there is plenty to do and explore around the area. Some of the top highlights include:
Hiking the Lakes
I will go into a bit more detail about Mljet National Park hiking in the following section, but walking the paths of the park is a top thing to do.
There is a trail that wraps around the two lakes, in addition to a couple of bridges that make their way across.
Walking all along the shoreline, taking in the views, and relaxing along the route is a great way to enjoy the National Park.
Bicycling Around Mljet National Park
If you don’t want to walk the trails, you can decide to take a bicycle ride around instead. This will give you the chance to see the park in a faster way, but also at the pace that works for you.
You can decide to rent bicycles in Polace or Pomena, but it may be easier to just rent directly in the National Park instead.
Near the bridge that connects the two lakes (Mali Most), you should see bicycles for rent.
You may also see smaller bicycle rental shops along the way, just off the main pathway. Costs are pretty reasonable at around $5 USD for an hour or $15 USD for 3+ hours.
Mljet National Park Kayak
The Great and Small Lakes of the National Park are perfect places to take the kayak out for a ride.
You can rent kayaks (and stand up paddle boards) right around the same spot where the bicycle rentals are (between the two lakes), and head out into the water.
You will be able to visit the small Sveta Marija island with the former Benedictine monastery on it, head around to different small beaches, and even make your way to the very end of the lakes.
Prices will be around $10 USD for an hour or $35 USD for 3+ hours.
Swimming the Lakes
Whether you are hiking, bicycling, kayaking, or all of the above, you can certainly add swimming to your time around the lakes too.
The water in the lakes is just beautiful, and very refreshing during a day out in the park. Jumping in the water is the perfect way to cool down and enjoy these seawater lakes.
There are two bridges that make their way across the lake (marked on the map above). These are both great spots to jump into the water.
All along the perimeter of the lakes too you are sure to find small beaches and spots to take a swim.
In the middle of the Great Lake you will find the small Sveta Marija island with a Benedictine monastery.
The building has a café so if you are looking to have a quick meal or snack, you can do so here.
Getting to the island is easy, as there are boats from different parts of the lakes that will take you there. The main docking places on the lake include Pristaniste and Mali Most.
You can also kayak to the island if you opted for a rental. Swimming is not recommended as there are constant boats making their way to and from the island.
While enjoying the lakeside is a great way to go about a visit to the National Park, why not also take in the view from above.
On the northern shore of the lakes, you will find a couple hiking trails that will take you up to viewpoints. From up top you will get some vast views of the surrounding Mljet National Park landscape.
During my time in the park, I made my way up to the Veliki Gradac viewpoint. The trailhead can be reached just off the main path nearby Pristaniste.
If you would like to take a bit of a longer hike, then check out the Montokuc viewpoint as well.
9) Hiking Around Malo Jezero & Veliko Jezero
During my time in the National Park, I took part of a hiking trail that went around most of the two lakes. If you opt to do the same, the route will be around 10-12 km / 6-7.5 miles, but you can certainly change the route so it works for you.
Starting at the mini bus drop off point in Pristaniste, I went northbound along the Great Lake and towards the Small Lake. It is a stunning walk as the pathway hugs the lakeside throughout.
I then reached the bridge that is at the meeting point of the Great and Small Lake, and saw some folks jumping into the water. I opted to do the same, and spent some time cooling off in the clear lake seawater.
After a bit of water time, I continued the walk around the Small Lake, took a quick shortcut (small red line on the map above), and started to walk around the Great Lake.
The walk along the Great Lake was just as beautiful, as I followed the pathway around and soon came across the small Sveta Marija island. While I did not make my way onto the island, I did enjoy the view from shore.
It was then following the pathway along the southern shore of the lake and reaching the second bridge that marks the end of the Great Lake.
This is another perfect spot for a swim if you are up for it! After passing by the bridge, I made my way past the lakes and towards the sea itself.
Here is where some of the clearest and most beautiful water of the National Park is located. Head to the very end of the pathway for some of the best views you can ask for.
I then retraced my footsteps back to the bridge, crossed over to the north side of the Great Lake and made the walk back to Pristaniste.
This hike can certainly be changed based on your time and interest level.
You can also use a combination of walking, bicycling and boat rides to cut down on overall hiking times.
10) Mljet National Park Tour
Understandingly, doing everything on your own doesn’t work for everyone. Thankfully, there are tours that make their way around the National Park, taking you to some top highlights.
Below are a couple of my recommended options to choose from during your time in Croatia:
- From Dubrovnik: Mljet National Park & 3 Islands Tour
- From Dubrovnik: Private Speedboat Cruise to Mljet
11) Frequently Asked Questions
To wrap up this guide, I just wanted to touch on a few of the most frequently asked questions about Mljet National Park.
Can You Swim in Mljet Lakes?
Yes, you certainly can swim in the Mljet Lakes. Swimming is one of the top activities to do while visiting the National Park.
Jumping in the beautiful water to cool down is a great experience to take part of. A couple of the best swimming spots include the areas around the two bridges of the lakes. So, be sure to bring that bathing suit for a visit!
Can You Stay on Mljet?
Yes, you can stay on Mljet and make more of just a day trip out of it. In the closest towns to the National Park entrances – Pomena and Polace – you will find plenty of guesthouse options.
These family run operations are great places to choose from when exploring Mljet and the National Park.
How Do You Get Around Mljet National Park?
There are a few main ways to get yourself around Mljet National Park. Many people opt to just walk around the park, while others take bicycles around the trails.
In addition to hiking and biking, you can also kayak or standup paddle board around the lakes if you would like to spend more time on the water.
Lastly, there is also a boat on the lake that takes visitors to the small Sveta Marija island.
That about wraps up a guide to Mljet National Park of Croatia. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them in below.
Have fun out there and safe travels!