Visiting Croatia’s national park Paklenica

mountains in a cloud
Clouds over NP Paklenica, Croatia

UPDATED: 5.10.2023.

Paklenica national park is located northeast of Zadar on the southern Velebit mountain range. It is Croatia’s second oldest national park, right after Plitvice Lakes.

While Paklenica may be a lesser-known national park in Croatia, it’s definitely worth a visit. It is no less beautiful than Plitvice or Krka, but it certainly will not be packed with people like those who are year-round.

Streams and canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica are ideal for hiking and rock climbing. Velebit’s highest peaks Vaganski vrh (1.757 m) and Sveto brdo (1.753 m) are within the park.

In this post, we cover:

  • Park’s location
  • Reasons to visit
  • When to visit
  • How to visit
  • Tickets and prices

The facts are these…

Visiting Paklenica, a national park in Croatia

Where is NP Paklenica situated in Croatia?

Croatian national park Paklenica is situated in Zadar County near the Adriatic Sea and Starigrad-Paklenica. It is northeast of Zadar on the mountain range of southern Velebit, a mountain with another national park in the north.

[Read: Visiting Northern Velebit National Park]

Why you should visit Croatia’s national park Paklenica

#1 Manita peć cave

Manita peć is 570 meters above sea level, and the only Paklenica cave open for public visits. The cave is rich with cave formations, speleothems, and underground fauna.

#2 Paklenica mill

There are 13 mills built on Velika Paklenica’s (Big Paklenica) stream, but only the Paklenički mlin (Paklenica mill) is open for public visits. The mill is situated only 150 meters to the northeast of Entrance 1.

#3 Educational trails

NP Paklenica has 4 educational trails: Velika Paklenica, Paklarić, Pjeskarica, and Kratko putovanje kroz prošlost. Trails lead you through the park and provide short journeys through history. The Paklarić educational trail has a view of the Adriatic Sea.

stream in mountains
Stream on Paklenica’s trail

#4 Ethno-house Marasović

At the entrance to the canyon of Velika Paklenica, you can find the hamlet of Marasovići. It is under cultural protection and features several traditional houses built from stone. The old Ethno-house Marasović is an exhibition space that can be visited during summer.

[Read: Why you should restore your traditional Croatian stone house properly]

When to visit Paklenica National Park in Croatia

If you don’t like hot weather, it is best to visit Paklenica in early spring or late summer. Since most of the park is covered with forests, there is shade during the summer.

rock climber
Paklenica is ideal for climbing

How to visit Croatia’s Paklenica National Park

It is possible to reach the park by car, bus, airplane, or boat. Let’s view all options.

Traveling by car

Paklenica is accessible from 3 directions:

  • Zagreb – Follow the Zagreb-Split highway. Get off the highway at the Maslenica junction. Go 15 km to the north in the direction of Rijeka.
  • Rijeka – Follow the road called Jadranska magistrala (D8 national road) or the highway from Rijeka (A6) to Maslenica (A1).
  • Split – Follow the highway from Dugopolje (A1) north to Maslenica (A1).

[Read: Guide on driving in Croatia including highways, tolls, gas stations, car washes, and parking]

Traveling by bus

From the Zadar bus station, you can get a bus that goes to Starigrad-Paklenica. The ride takes 45 minutes. There are also direct lines from Rijeka and Zagreb.

[Read: Public bus transport in Zadar, Croatia – Liburnija]

Traveling by plane

It is possible to get to Zadar by plane. Zadar’s airport called Zemunik is only half an hour away from Starigrad-Paklenica.

[Read: How to get to and from the Zadar Zemunik Airport in Croatia]

Traveling by boat

If you travel to Paklenica from Italy, you can get to Zadar via the ferry line Ancona-Zadar. The journey takes 8 hours, and the ride from Zadar to Starigrad-Paklenica takes 45 minutes by car or bus.

[Read: Guide to ferry and boat travel in Croatia]

lake surrounded with rock
Lake in Paklenica national park

How to buy tickets for Paklenica, Croatia

National park tickets can be purchased at:

Tickets include:

  • One-time visit and walk on marked educational and mountaineer’s trails
  • Access to rock climbing on 500 equipped and marked routes of different difficulty and lengths (graded from 3 to 8c)
  • Visit to the presentation center Podzemni grad Paklenice (Underground Secrets of Paklenica) with an artificial climbing wall, an interactive school of knot tying, and a little school of climbing
  • VAT and insurance

[Read: How to get travel insurance in Croatia (putno), which you can use to apply for residence]

Organized tours include announced groups of at least 20 people.

The price list of NL Paklenica is available here.

mountain rocks
Paklenica’s high rocks

Visit other national parks in Croatia

Nacionalni park Paklenica

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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