Paklenica National Park

landscape of Paklenica

Paklenica is Croatian National park that covers the most attractive parts of southern Velebit, as well as its highest peaks, all located in Lika region. Paklenica is an area of unusual contact between the sea and the mountain, rich in natural forests of beech, black pine and mountain pine. This is a habitat for the endemic plant called pljeskarica in Croatian (Arenaria orbicularis) and other plant and animal rarities, filled with karstic forms. It is famous for some parts of Mala Paklenica and Velika Paklenica. National Park covers an area of 96 km2.

The highest peak is Sveto brdo (1753 m). The main attraction of the Paklenica Park is two impressive canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica, vertically cut into the mountain from the sea to the Velebit’s highest peaks. In this small area of the national park, there are several unusual carst forms, caves, and varied flora and fauna. There are various species of large mammals in the park. too. Throughout the park, one can see game species such as roe deer, red deer, chamois and wild boar. Large predator species include the brown bear, the wolf and the lynx – though there are not a lot of visitors who can claim to see them.

Climbers at the wall in Paklenica

Climbers at the wall in Paklenica

Due to its unique geographical position (similar as Biokovo Mountain), Paklenica National Park features several vegetation and climate zones – from the warm Mediterranean to cold mountain climate. Velebit is a branch of Dinaric Alps structure, a mountain chain that stretches from Slovenia, through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina via Montenegro to Albania. Velebit Mountain, as well as Biokovo, is the only part of Dinaric Alps that gets so close to the sea.

National Park Paklenica is listed as Croatian national park in 1949.

Starigrad Paklenica hotel reservations

Paklenica Hotels

Paklenica Anica Kuk

Anica Kuk – the steep rocks in Paklenica Park (see right photo) is a popular spot for hikers and climbers. In the upper parts of the canyon, there is a large woodland area.

orientation map of the Park

Paklenica, near Zadar, was proclaimed as Croatian national park in 1949. The park, located in the near vicinity of  Starigrad-Paklenica town, covers about 95 km2 of the southern part of Velebit mountain. The landscape here consists of large canyons, mighty cliffs, caves and ridges, beautiful and dynamic landscape popular among hikers, walkers and rock climbers as well as nature lovers and mountaineers. Among this finest mountain scenery, Velika and Mala Paklenica, two deep gorges are the most popular areas of the Park, offering several hundred meters high cliffs where Anica Kuk is the highest one with over 700 meters high climbing face.

The best time to visit Paklenica is spring and Autumn (April, May, early June and September) to avoid winter Bura wind (cold north wind) and high summer temperatures when it could be too hot to walk/hike safely.

climbers in the park

Climbers in the park

Things To Do:

Sights & Activities

Rock Climbing and Hiking

The most popular activities around Paklenica are climbing, walking and hiking. The park has numerous rock-climbing routes and facilities for all levels of climber, from beginners to expert, while hikers have more than 50 kilometres of walking trails to choose from.  Once you arrive, ask at the national park office about walks that will suit your level of ability. There are 70 short and 250 long climbing routes available in the park, some are bolted same are not. They range from 40 meters high at the very beginning to 350 meters and more in an advanced climbing zone of  Ani?a Kuk.

Important note: The only drinking water source is at reception, so make sure you carry plenty of water yourself. Also, make sure you follow only marked paths to avoid any risks.

Birdwatching

Park offers opportunities to see goshawks, falcons, buzzards, golden eagles, striped eagles and owls in their natural habitat, nesting on the cliffs.

Swimming / Sunbathing:

There is plenty of opportunities to swim around Stari Grad Paklenica, the area that offers numerous pebble beaches and swimming spots.

Getting to Paklenica:

By bus:

Most buses that connect Rijeka with Split or Dubrovnik are stopping in Starigrad Paklenica where you get off the bus at the bus stop near Hotel Alan, right across the road of the local tourist office. From Zagreb or Plitvice Lakes, the bus takes about 3 hrs to reach Paklenica (Starigrad). From Rijeka it takes about 3 1/2 hrs, from Zadar about 1 hour, from Split it takes 4 hours, from Dubrovnik about 8 hours. Note – there is no public transport in the park itself.

Day-trips to Paklenica:

Numerous local agencies in Zadar, Sibenik and Split organise day trips to Paklenica – once you arrive check with your nearest local tourist office.

Entry fees to Paklenica National Park:

entry ticket for paklenica

Ticket prices are 40 and 50 Kuna for adults, 20 kunas for a child;  with an option to buy 3 days and 5 day passes that are working out cheaper.

Opening times:

June to September opening times are 6 am to 9 pm; May and October opening times are 7 am to 4 pm.

Accommodation in Paklenica:

There are plenty of private accommodation (private rooms and apartments) in the near vicinity of the Park as well as several camping sites, the nearest one right next to the entrance to the park – see here and here

There are also three mountain shelters with basic facilities and no electricity – Ivine Vodice, Struge and Vlaški Grad that is free to use if you have your own sleeping bag.  For basic accommodation also check Planinarski Dom Paklenica (www.pdpaklenica.hr) a mountain hut on about two hours walk from the entrance of the Park.

Note – wild camping is not allowed in the park!

Food:

There are several tapas style restaurants within the Park as well as on its outskirts, offering locally sourced food and wine including a selection of grilled meat, pasta, risottos, seafood, fish and more.

More information:

  • If you plan to hike or climb into the mountains visit local tourist office and the national park office in Starigrad where you can get detailed hiking maps as well as advise about visiting park including accommodation in mountain huts.
  • to find more details about the Park, the National Park official site is www.np-paklenica.hr
  • once there, visit National Park visitors information centre – address: NP Paklenica, Dr Franje Tu?mana 14a, 23244 Starigrad Paklenica, tel: 023-369 202, Croatia where you can get leaflets, booklets, maps, brochures and books about visiting the Park.

Paklenica – 60th anniversary of the national park:

Paklenica national park has recently celebrated its 60th anniversary of being declared a protected area. The park is spread over 95 square kilometres and is located at a littoral slope of the southern part of Velebit, just above the town Marasovici, bordering with the zone of the highest peaks – Vaganski vrh, Babin vrh and Sveto brdo.

The park contains the area of torrential currents of Mala and Velika Paklenica, their recognizable canyons, cut vertically into the southern slopes of Velebit and the wider surrounding area. In a relatively small area, one can find an extreme richness in geo-morphological forms and phenomena, a variety of flora and fauna, attractive landscapes and untouched nature.
Certainly, the most attractive part of southern Velebit are the canyons of Mala and Velika Paklenica.

The canyon of Velika Paklenica is 14 km long, and 500 to 800 meters wide. In its narrowest parts, the canyon is only 50 m wide. On both sides of the canyon, there are vertical rocks, of which some are taller than 700 meters. This canyon is visited by more than 110,000 visitors annually. The canyon of Mala Paklenica is of more humble dimensions and the torrent flowing through it is significantly weaker. It is 12 km long, from 400 to 500 meters wide, and in its narrowest part it is only 10 meters wide, while the surrounding rocks are up to 650 meters tall. A representative for the central part of the park is the relief complex of Borovnik and Crni vrh, and the valley expanses of Mala and Velika Mocila.

The eastern part of the park is geo-morphologically extremely differentiated, inaccessible and wild. Further to the east, this wilderness turns into an area of more mild forms in the region of the Mali and Veliki Libinj, which form karst plateaus with numerous karst sinkholes, whose bottoms were mostly used for agriculture.

The tip of the Paklenica national park is made up by the narrow ridge of Mountain Velebit, one to three km wide. This is where Velebit’s highest peak is located – Vaganski vrh (1757 km). Walking is the only true way to get to know the park. It has between 150 and 200 km of paths, from tourist ones, which lead from the canyon of Velika Paklenica to the Manita pec cave, the forest lodge “Lugarnica” and the mountaineers’ refuge hut, to mountaineers’ paths leading to Velebit’s highest peaks.

All paths in the park are marked with signs and tables. The park features the mountaineers refuge hut “Paklenica” with 50 beds in rooms with several beds. The walk from the canyon to the hut takes around two hours. It is open every day from June to September, and only during the weekends for the rest of the year. The Paklenica national park is the most significant climbing centre in Croatia, well known outside the country. It is particularly attractive on account of its proximity to the coast, which makes the Paklenica Riviera an ideal destination for combining climbing and water-sports

The history of mountain climbing in Paklenica begins in the distant 1938. Nowadays, in the Paklenica climbing destinations, there are more than 360 directions of varying difficulty and lengths so every climber can find something for himself. The main climbing season in Paklenica begins in the spring and lasts until late in the autumn. There are also three educational paths in the park a one bike trail. The name of the park originates from the resin of the black pine tree, the so-called “paklina”, used by the local population in folk-medicine for healing wounds, as silver for lighting and to coat wooden boats.