The Traveler's Guide
Top 10 Reasons to Visit Mljet This Summer
Are you staying in Dubrovnik and looking for day trip ideas? The island of Mljet, otherwise known as Croatia’s greenest island, is an unspoiled gem you don’t want to miss. Here are 10 reasons why you should hop on a ferry to Dalmatia’s most southerly island this summer:
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1. It has one of the most stunning nature parks in Croatia
Head to Mljet’s gorgeous National Park for gentle hikes through a dense pine and oak tree forest, and refreshing dips in pristine saltwater lakes (Malo Jezero and Veliko Jezero). Climb up to Montokuc for 360-degree vistas.
2. It’s still fairly under the radar
With little tourist infrastructure and only one road running the length of the island, Mljet is beautifully underdeveloped and the perfect escape from the crowds of Dubrovnik. Since public transportation options are limited, consider bringing your own bike to cycle across the island, or hire a bike within the National Park area.
3. It has enthralled visitors since ancient times
The Greeks took refuge from the rough seas in its sheltered bays and called it ‘Melita’ (‘honey’) for the bees they found in the forest. Centuries later, the Romans enjoyed the scenery so much that they decided to build the third largest palace in the Adriatic on its scenic shores (you can still see what remains of it in Polače). Benedictine monks from Puglia also found inspiration on the island and erected a monastery and church in the 12th century.
4. Even Odysseus fell in love with it (according to legend)
Word has it that the island on which Odysseus took shelter after he got shipwrecked on his way back from the Trojan Wars looks a lot like Mljet. Is Mljet Homer’s mythical island of Ogygia, home of the nymph Calypso, where the wandering hero spent seven years? We may never know, but one thing is for sure: it will hold you spellbound just the same. Check out Odysseus Cave while you’re there!
5. It has surprising wildlife
You may spot boars or hedgehogs, but one species you will likely not expect to see during your visit is the mongoose. The small creatures were introduced in the early 20th century to rid the island of venomous snakes. Will you spot one running between the trees in the forest?
6. It has secluded sandy beaches
Sandy beaches are not common in Croatia. However, hidden away on Mljet’s easternmost point, the enchanting cove of Saplunara is home to not just one, but two long stretches of sand lapped by crystalline waters and fringed by pine woods.
7. It’s a wonderful sailing location
The Greeks knew it: When it comes to safe havens, Mljet is your best bet in the Adriatic. Set your anchor in the sheltered bay of Polače or Okuklje, and be sure to fill your fuel tanks in Dubrovnik first as you won’t be able to do it on Mljet.
8. It’s home to another island
If the thought of an island within an island boggles your mind, you’ve got to see the islet of St Mary (Sveta Marija) on Veliko Jezero, where the monks built their monastery. To get there, take the park boat or rent a canoe.
9. If you’re a lobster fan, treat yourself!
While Mljet’s dining scene is quite unassuming, you’ll find a choice of excellent restaurants in Saplunara, Pomena, and Okuklje—with views to match!—where you can feast on locally-sourced lobster or try the catch of the day.
10. Homemade grappa is everywhere
Just like in the rest of Croatia, no meal on the island is complete without a sip of grappa, whether plain or flavored. Other spirits made on Mljet include liqueurs from bitter orange, fig, myrtle, and even red wine. Živjeli! (Cheers!)