Imagine a secluded mediterranean island; clear turquoise waters, lush forests, clear skies. Sounds like a fantasy, but the Croatian island of Mljet offers all these things, just a short ferry journey away from Dubrovnik or Split.
Half of the island is a national park, and a cycle around the ‘Big Lake’ is the perfect way to take in this unique and beautiful slice of paradise.
One of Europe’s best rides? For Beeline designer Sam, it’s right up there.
Looking out and seeing nothing but the see, amazing colours and smells
Shaded gravel tracks, some slight elevation
When to go
May - October (mid-summer is very hot)
Why is it Europe's best?
"A relaxed holiday ride that was probably the best way to explore the national park"
Mljet is the most southerly and easterly of the larger Adriatic islands of the Dalmatia region of Croatia. The National Park covers the western part of the island, and has a uniquely rugged landscape, much of which is covered with pine trees that perfume the air - perfect for helpful you to relax as you pedal around the big lake.
Sam and wife Alex rented bikes near the entrance to the National Park, but there are plenty of bike rental places situation around the park, as well as in the ferry port town of Pomena. The bikes on offer are pretty basic hybrid type bikes, perfectly comfortable and hardy enough to cope with some of the lumpier roads.
The twin salt water lakes (Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake)) are interconnected by a narrow canal. Sam and Alex started out from this canal, working their way around the northern shore. The shady gravel tracks are very pleasant to ride along, and generally the paths are fairly quiet, although can get busy during peak season.
Once you’ve walked your bike over the recently constructed “Great Bridge”, which spans the inlet where the mediterranean meets the lake, it’s only a short ride down to the tip of the island. Once you get there, it’s well worth jumping out of the saddle to walk out over the rocks jutting out into the ocean, giving you an uninterrupted view out into the sea.
As you continue around the lake, you’ll approach Melita Island, which is home to a 12th century Benedictine Monastery. There’s a regular boat that you can jump on to explore, and there’s even a restaurant inside the Monastery if you fancy some dinner.
When things get a bit too warm, you can just park up and take a dip in the beautiful clear water, so make sure you pack a towel and swimming costume. It’s also worth bringing plenty of water, since there are very few cafés and shops outside of the main visitor centre area.
Sam & Alex found that this was a really fun ride even though their cycling experience is quite different - nothing proved too challenging for Alex even though she isn’t a seasoned cyclist.
A great ride to do as a couple or as a family.
Sam has shared this trip as part of our Ultimate Trip 2018 competition. We're on the hunt for Europe's best bike trips and there is still time to enter (closes 5th Feb 2018 23:59 GMT). It could be long or short, faraway or nearby...if you think that it is special, tell us about it!