Hiking in Paklenica National Park
Velika Paklenica Canyon
Scenic landscape, rocky crags, amazing karst phenomena and dramatic canyons - Paklenica National Park is one of the finest hiking places in Croatia.
I visited the national park this September and made an unforgettable day hike into Velika Paklenica canyon up to the Paklenica mountain hut. The hiking trail led me past fascinating rock formations, a dried up riverbed, old bunkers, a forest cottage and a bubbling mountain stream. I enjoyed a sweeping view from Paklaric lookout and climbed up to Manita pec cave.
This lens is dedicated to this memorable mountain trip. Enjoy!
Rocks, ridges and naked peaks
The Paklenica National Park occupies the coastal part of the southern Velebit, the mythical mountain range in Croatia. Two streams, Velika (big) and Mala (small) Paklenica carved their way through this karst territory forming incredible canyons with steep cliffs up to 700 m high.
As Velebit is predominantly limestone and dolomite, Paklenica National Park boasts countless karstic phenomena including caves, underground streams and crevices. The park has two entrances, the main one at Starigrad-Paklenica, the other one at the neighbouring seaside village, Seline.
Entrance tickets (May-September)
1-day ticket (adult): 50 Kn (10 $)
3-day ticket (adult)*: 100 Kn (19 $)
5-day ticket (adult)*: 150 Kn (28 $)
*includes climbing permit
Paklenica National Park is open all year around.
Tickets cost 10-30 Kn less during winter.
5 "must have" items you should have when go for a hike to Paklenica National Park:
The park administration provides you a simple map at the reception. More detailed maps are available on the national park's website.
Sturdy boots are indispensable in Paklenica. Some parts of the hiking trails are demanding and you really need the footwear that is waterproof and does well on uneven and rocky surfaces.
Always keep a bottle of water with you. In Velika Paklenica canyon there are drinking water taps and you can buy drinks at Manita pec cave, Lugarnica forest cottage and Paklenica mountain hut.
- Personal first aid kit
This does not have to be large but should include antiseptic wipes, adhesive bandages, cotton balls, gauze, sting relief and pain killers.
Protect yourself from sunburns!
Grab your Hiking Boots!
The village of Marasovici
Located only a few hundred meters from the park entrance, some houses of this old village are in a poor state of repair, the others have been recently renovated. The newly-arranged ethno house with a small ethnographic collection is worth a visit just like the konoba, a traditional Dalmatian tavern.
Genuine Dalmatian tavern
The Paklaric Lookout
From the mouth of Velika Paklenica Canyon a wooden footbridge leads to Paklenica mill. From here take the zigzag path to Paklaric lookout that features a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Adriatic coast and the mountains behind.
Paklenica National Park is also a rock climbers' paradise. Climbers all around the world gather here together to conquer the vertical cliff faces of which the 712 m high Anica kuk is the most renowned.
From the basin-shaped valley, Anica luka signs point the way to Anica kuk.
Rock climber in Velika Paklenica Canyon
Manita pec cave
The most memorable part of my hiking trip was the path up to Manita pec cave. Lying 550 m above sea level this cave can be approached in 40 minutes - according to the sign post. Well, it took me more than an hour and seemed a never ending story. The time was approaching 10 am, the sun was shining brightly and its rays were reflected off the stones and bare cliffs... hmm, yummy!
I thought I would never make it! When I finally reached the entrance of the cave, I needed at least 10 minutes to get my breath back.
To visit the cave you need to pay an entrance ticket of 10 Kn. One of the park rangers (yes, they climb up here EVERY DAY!) guides visitors through the huge chambers of the cave highlighting the most interesting karst formations.
Yes, I've made it!
My insider tips
- If you plan to visit Manita pec cave, take a sweater with you. The cave has a permanent temperature of 10°C and you will need an extra layer to avoid getting cold when entering from the summer heat.
- If you visit the park from April to September, wake up early. I mean really early. The park is opened from 6 am and you had better to start your trip as early as possible before it gets very hot.
Have you forgotten your picnic basket at home?
Velika Paklenica Poll
Which attractions would you visit in Velika Paklenica Canyon?
Lugarnica Forest Cottage and Paklenica Mountain Hut
Lugarnica forest cottage offers drinks and simple food for hikers, this was the next stop on my trip. From Anica luka it takes about an hour to get here and it is the easiest section of the canyon. Located on the bank of Paklenica stream, the forest cottage is open every day from mid-April to October. On that day they served me grilled sausages that were carried up here by horses.
Another hour and a half later I was sitting outside Paklenica mountain hut. This romantic house can put up 45 hikers, it has a kitchen and a dining room. If you would like to spend the night here, contact Paklenica Mountaineering Association.