A gorgeous island two hours away from Dubrovnik, Mljet National Park is situated on the island of Mljet, a 37km long island with an area of 98.10 km. The park itself is situated on the western tip of the island, gorgeously forested with two lagoons: Veliko and Malo jezero. The former is home to the St Mary’s island which in turns is home to a 12th-century Benedictine monastery. The two lagoons are warmer than the ocean and connect to each other and the sea by a narrow channel, with excellent paths encircling it and best explored by cycling.
Dubrovnik to Mljet Day Trip
Enticed by the photos we found on Pinterest, we immediately put cycling in Mljet National Park a top priority. Despite being a popular day trip destination, planning the logistics of the trip actually took some digging.
Ferry Durbrovnik Mljet
1) From Pile Gate, take the 8:15 bus (1A, 1B or 3).
Tickets can be purchased for kn 12 at the Liberatus stand next to the bus stop.
I recommend you buy for two journeys so you don’t have to worry about it on the way back.
Remember to validate your ticket on the bus. Tickets purchased from the driver cost an extra 3 kunas.
2) Get off at the first Port Cruz stop, then simply cross the road towards the seaside and carry on down the road and turn right before the Travel Corner Store (the massive green sign opposite the road).
3) The ferry is run by GT line and departs at 9:50. The tickets are on sale at the ticket booth opposite the boat, which is white and the only ticket booth there so you won’t miss it.
Ticket costs kn 140 return, remember to buy the return leg so you won’t be stranded as there is only one afternoon ferry out. The ferry is air-conditioned for those who are worried about boiling alive, with two levels and comfortable blue seats.
4) It took under two hours to get to Polace, Mljet, and the boat also makes a stop at Sipan and another island after Mljet so make sure you get off at the right stop. You can always ask the captain before you get off if you are not sure.
Adult: kn 90/100
Student: kn 50
Children under 6 go free
Mljet Bike Rental
Now here’s the part that no one will ever tell you: you can rent a bike immediately off the pier at Polace for kn 75. But the journey to the national park, via the gate along the one-way path to the right), is an uphill journey that will cause you to wonder if you really know how to cycle at all.
Not to mention there is an almost constant flow of traffic scaring the less experienced of cyclists. So unless you have faith in your cycling ability, or that you didn’t want to spend extra money on a shuttle, then my suggestion is don’t do it.
Besides, the qualities of the bikes you get aren’t that amazing, we didn’t even have the bell to warn pedestrians. Alternatively, you can wheel it up, but it’s quite a long walk.
You can rent a cycle inside the national park. There are several places we cycled passed that rent bicycles though not all the way to the ticket office where you can get the shuttle out.
Alternatively, you can take the ferry to Mali Most from St Mary’s Island, where you can rent a bike and circle around the southern side of the Veliko Lagoon. You can also rent a kayak there as well.
Mljet National Park tickets
We ended up renting a bike straight off the ferry – but the bike ride uphill into the National Park was brutal.
Tickets are purchased inside the National Park, with wooden huts that sit along the main road so you definitely won’t miss it. When we were there the first ticket booth was closed and we had to bike to the next booth to buy them.
The ticket price includes a return boat ride to St Mary’s Island, where you can visit the Benedictine Monastery. But keep in mind the schedule as ferries leave every hour or so and go either back to the ticket office or to the Small Bridge (Mali Most) which separate the two lagoons.
St Mary Island – Mljet Monastery
A must see in Mljet National Park, there is no reason not to see it as the ferry ride is included in your ticket. A small island close to the southern shore of the Veliko Lagoon, swimming in the surrounding water is forbidden due to the ferries passing through.
The main attraction on the island is the 12th century Benedictine Monastery, one of the most important monuments of Romanesque culture in Croatia. It is also home to the shrine of Lady of the Lake that has been a pilgrimage place for centuries. The stain glass window at the church and the balcony was absolutely beautiful.
Here’s the schedule of the ferry (taken in June, 2015)
Mljet Lake / Lagoon
The best way to enjoy the lagoon is to find a hidden spot where you can chill and take a dip. A lot of people congregate at the flat ground around Mali Most to sunbath, but I suggest you continue down the path and look out for places where you can venture down and take a dip.
We managed to find a hidden spot below all the hedges and settled there for lunch and a swim. It was nice to be able to relax with just us and swim in the lovely water.
Though I had not actually been to the town itself, we cycled all the way across the southern shore of the Veliko Lagoon to where the lagoon meets the sea through a narrow channel. Soline is directly across from us, and you can reach there by small boats (although I didn’t see anyone around to operate them).
The landscape there was magnificent, with gorgeous blue water and gently dipping limestone slabs.
Where to stay in Mljet
If you decide to stay a night in Mljet – whether to explore the island more or en-route to Split from Dubrovnik – here are some suggestions:
Splurge: Want to be by the lake in the national park? You can totally do that with Pansion Mali Raj.