Visiting Paklenica National Park
Paklenica National Park is located northeast of Zadar on the southern Velebit mountain range. This park includes streams and canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica, great for hiking and rock climbing. Velebit’s highest peaks Vaganski vrh (1757 m) and Sveto brdo (1753 m) are located within the park.
It is Croatia’s second oldest national park, right after Plitvice Lakes National Park. 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 are year-round.
Why you should visit Paklenica National Park
“Manita peć” cave
Manita peć is situated 570 meters above sea level and it is the only one of Paklenica’s caves that is open for public visits. The cave is rich with cave formations, speleothems, and underground fauna.
Paklenički mlin (Paklenica mill)
There are 13 mills built on the stream of Velika Paklenica, but only the Paklenica mill is open for public visits. The mill is situated only 150 meters to the northeast from Entrance 1.
NP Paklenica has 4 educational trails: Velika Paklenica, Paklarić, Pjeskarica, and “Kratko putovanje kroz prošlost”. These trails lead you through the park and provide short journeys through history. The Paklarić educational trail has a view of the Adriatic sea.
At the entrance to the canyon of Velika Paklenica, you can find the hamlet of Marasovići. It under cultural protection and features several traditional houses built from stone. The old Ethno-house Marasović is an exhibition space, which can be visited during the summer season.
How to visit the Paklenica National Park
Where it is
Paklenica National Park is in Zadar County on the southern part of the Velebit mountain near the Adriatic sea and Starigrad-Paklenica.
When to go
If you don’t like hot weather, it is best to visit Nacionalni park Paklenica in early spring or late summer. Since most of the park is covered with forests, there is a shade during the summer.
How to get to Paklenica National Park
It is possible to reach the park by:
- Car – Accessible from 3 directions:
- From Zagreb – Follow the Zagreb-Split highway. Get off the highway at the Maslenica junction. Go 15 km to the north in direction of Rijeka.
- From Rijeka – Follow the road “Jadranska magistrala” (national road D8) or highway from Rijeka (A6) to Maslenica (A1).
- From Split – Follow the highway from Dugopolje (A1) north to Maslenica (A1).
- 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.
- Airplane – It is possible to get to Zadar by plane. Zadar’s airport Zemunik is only half an hour away from Starigrad-Paklenica.
- Ferry – If you travel from Italy, you can get to Zadar via ferry line Ancona-Zadar. The journey takes 8 hours, and the ride from Zadar to Starigrad-Paklenica takes 45 minutes by car or bus.
Tickets & Pricing
Where to buy tickets
National park tickets can be purchased:
- At the Entrance 1 called “Velika Paklenica”
- At the Entrance 2 called “Mala Paklenica”
- Online via web shop Parkovi Hrvatske with a 5% discount
All 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 length (graded from 3 to 8c)
- A visit to the presentation center “Podzemni grad Paklenice” (The underground Secrets of Paklenica) with an artificial climbing wall, an interactive “Škola vezanja čvorova” (School of Knot Tying) and “Mala škola penjanja” (Little School of Climbing). There is also a souvenir shop and caffe bar “Bunker” for coffee breaks.
- VAT and insurance
The price list for NL Paklenica is available here.
Organized tours to Paklenica National Park may include:
- Announced groups of at least 20 people – Requirements include:
- An announcement is mandatory at least 7 days before the visit
- For each group of 20 persons, 1 guide gets a free one-time entrance
- For each group of 15 students or preschool children, 1 guide gets a free one-time entrance
- The cancellation of the guided visit must be done at least 24 hours before the scheduled visit
- Contractors of Paklenica National Park
- They pay a 10% commission
Visit other national parks in Croatia
- Brijuni National Park
- Kornati National Park
- Krka National Park
- Mljet National Park
- Northern Velebit National Park
- Plitvice National Park
- Risnjak National Park
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.