Premužićeva staza is a long hiking trail located on Velebit mountain within Velebit Nature Park. Hikers say that it is Velebit’s most beautiful hiking trail and some claim it to be one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world.
You’ll pass a variety of landscapes on the trail including forests, stones, meadows, lawns, and even an abyss. This diversity makes the trail very special.
In 2009, Premužićeva staza was protected as a Croatian cultural asset of national importance.
In this post, we cover:
- Basics of the Premužićeva staza
- History of the trail
- Stages of the trail
- Statistics of the trail
- Peaks of Velebit along the trail
- Mountain lodges and shelters along the trail
- Marija’s experience
Let’s go hiking…
Premužićeva staza is 57 kilometers long. The average width of the trail is 1.20 meters. Its average slope is 10% and its largest slope is 20%. There are no high elevations on the trail. The whole trail is at approximately 1.600 meters above sea level.
It usually takes 3 days of walking to cross the well-marked trail, but you can also pick only one part of the trail to hike at a time. Premužićeva staza is not demanding and it is very comfortable for walking. In addition to experienced hikers, the trail is suitable for children, elderly, and everyone else who enjoys long walks.
Sixteen kilometers of the trail passes through Northern Velebit Nature Park, which is ideal for day trips. However, no matter if you visit only a part of the trail or decide to stay more than one day, proper hiking attire and enough food and water is a must!
Croatian mountaineers have been delighted with the mountain of Velebit since the 1920s. A man named Ivan Krajač secured funds to build this trail. Krajač was a minister of trade and industry of the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
The construction of the trail began in 1930. Then it was stopped for a whole season due to a lack of funds. In the summer of 1933, the construction of the trail was completed. Given the length of the trail, it was built pretty quickly.
Premužićeva staza was named after Ante Premužić who designed the trail. He also organized and participated in the construction. Premužić was a forestry engineer and mountaineer who was very passionate about the mountain of Velebit.
The trail is so well designed that it perfectly fits into nature due to the dry-stone walling technique that was used in construction. Dry-stone walling technique uses stones for building walls and stairs without any binding material. Stones that perfectly fit together are laid one on to another until a solid construction is built. The trail is made of paths, serpentines, tunnels, and bridges.
Premužićeva staza begins at the Northern Velebit National Park below the mountain house “Zavižan”. On this part of the trail, there are many instructional boards that detail interesting information about the trail, and it’s nature, flora and fauna.
This first part of the trail heads towards Lika where you’ll find many forests.
Part of the trail passes by the strict reserve Hajdučki i Rožanski kukovi. It is forbidden to visit it, since strict reserves are more protected than Croatian national parks. These reserves can be visited only for research purposes.
The trail passes by the famous mountain shelter “Rossijeva koliba” and continues towards Alan, where the middle part of the Velebit mountain begins. From this part of the trail, you will have a panoramic view on the Adriatic sea and islands. When you see them from this height, they can look a bit unreal – almost like a painting rather than reality.
The end of the trail is at Baške Oštarije.
The Premužićeva staza trail, by the numbers:
- Total length: 57 kilometers
- Length in Northern Velebit National Park: 16 kilometers
- Approximate width: 1.2 meters
- Average slope: 10%
- Largest slope: 20%, sedlo Crikvena (Northern Velebit National Park)
- Lowest peak: 920 meters, Baške Oštarije (Velebit Nature Park)
- Highest peak: 1.630 meters (Northern Velebit National Park)
- Difference in height between lowest and highest point: 700 meters
- Trail crossing time: ~ 3 days
- Start of construction: 1930
- End of construction: 1933
Premužićeva staza passes by many of Velebit’s peaks that you can visit while crossing the trail. Given their elevation, they offer incredible views of the Adriatic coast and islands.
Peaks along the trail include:
- Bačić kuk – 1.304 meters
- Budakovo brdo – 1.317 meters
- Crikvena – 1.641 meters
- Goli vrh – 1.669 meters
- Gromovača – 1.676 meters
- Kiza – 1.274 meters
- Šatorina – 1.624 meters
- Veliki Zavižan – 1.676 meters
- Visibaba – 1.160 meters
- Vratarski kuk – 1.676 meters
- Zečjak – 1.629 meters
Islands that you can see from these peaks:
- Goli otok
There are several mountain lodges and huts along Premužićeva staza that will come in handy if you’d like to rest or stay overnight.
- Mountain lodge “Zavižan”
- Mountain shelter “Rossijevo sklonište”
- Mountain house “Alan”
- Mountain shelter “Ograđenica”
- Mountain house “Kugina kuća”
- Mountain lodge “Ravni Dabar”
- Mountain shelter “Skorpovac”
I hiked the trail during the summer 2017. It took us 3 days with 16 people in our team. Some were my friends and some were friends of friends. It was mid-August and the weather in Croatia was hot. We came to the mountain house “Zavižan” the first evening to sleep over and started hiking in the morning. It was quite cold at “Zavižan” and we were dressed almost in winter gear, even though it was summertime.
We had an unpleasant surprise in the morning. It rained and the rain didn’t stop falling. We had to decide whether or not to keep going. We decided to go despite the cold rain. After all, we had good hiking equipment. It was rainy almost all the time while we were passing through the Northern Velebit National Park. Arrival to “Rossijeva koliba” was a relief. We lit a fire in the old furnace, ate, changed our clothes, and warmed up.
During the rest of the trip, the weather was nice and warm. We came across very strong bura several times which often occurs on the mountain of Velebit. During all 3 days, we had a medium hiking tempo, but we walked all day. We took small breaks during hiking to chill, eat, or stare in nature. We slept over in mountain houses every night (we announced our arrival in advance). The people who welcomed us were extraordinary.
The terrain wasn’t demanding at all. The biggest problem was my big backpack, even though I only took the minimum with me (I am in good condition, but I’m skinny). I recommend taking all the necessary equipment, but every additional thing will be a burden. Food and water are the greatest burden. You must have at least 4 liters of water every day.
I will definitely hike the Premužićeva staza again, hopefully this summer. I would like to go with only one or two people and take the slowest tempo possible to enjoy nature the longest I can. Premužićeva is calling me.
I have the feeling that I could spend days and days mingling around the trail and nearest peaks. Food and water are always the biggest issues, so a good plan is everything. Don’t go there just like that, be aware that you must be 100% responsible for your safety and the safety of your companions. First make a safe plan and then go hiking.
Good luck and enjoy every minute on the trail!
Our other Croatia hiking posts
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- Hiking trails on Učka mountain
- Peaks of the Balkans Trail
- Via Adriatica Trail
- Via Dinarica Mega Trail