Starigrad Paklenica is located in central Dalmatia where most traffic routes intersect.
You can get to Starigrad Paklenica in the following ways:
By air – the Zemunik Zadar Airport (ZAD) is well connected to all the major cities in Croatia and Europe and is only a 30-minute ride from Starigrad Paklenica.
You can find more information at www.zadar-airport.hr
By car – You can reach Starigrad Paklenica from several directions, but the fastest way to reach us is via the A1 highway in the direction Zagreb - Split. It is best to exit the highway at either the Maslenica or Posedarje interchange and take the main road towards Rijeka. If you arrive from the direction of Rijeka, take the Adriatic Road – state road D-8.
All information on road traffic can be found on the web pages of the Croatian Automobile Club at www.hak.hr.
By ferry – Ancona - Zadar – If you are arriving from Italy, the shortest route possible is to take the Zadar-bound ferry from Ancona. The trip takes 8 hours (the ferry usually leaves at 10 pm and arrives in Zadar at 6 am). The advantage is that this trip is much more comfortable and less stressful than using other methods of transport. When you arrive in Zadar, you are only one hour away from Starigrad Paklenica!
You can find more information at www.jadrolinija.hr
By train – Zagreb - Knin - Zadar
You can find more information on the website of the Croatian Railways at www.hznet.hr
By bus– Zadar is the centre of northern Dalmatia and has good connections with all major Croatian cities and major European capitals. It takes only one more hour to get from Zadar to Starigrad Paklenica.
You can find more information on bus times at www.autobusni-kolodvor.com
Distances from Starigrad Paklenica
- Starigrad Paklenica – Zadar (40 km)
- Starigrad Paklenica – Zagreb (264 km)
- Starigrad Paklenica – Split (170 km)
- Starigrad Paklenica – Ljubljana (325 km)
- Starigrad Paklenica – Vienna (615 km)
- Starigrad Paklenica – Munich (735 km)
- Starigrad Paklenica – Budapest (1050 km)
St PETER’S CHURCH
A medieval church situated on the Adriatic highway between Starigrad and Seline. In the vicinity, there is a graveyard dating back to the mid-13th century. Its eye-catching tombstones, made from hefty stone slabs, are still standing, sometimes decorated with simple, shallow relief forms from the period between the 14th and 16th centuries.
The church was built in the pre-Romanesque, old Croatian style, probably at the turn of the 10th century. Near the church, there is also a small building, which was probably used as a baptistery. ‘From the fragments, we are led to believe that the church was built with the help of the votive gift of a benefactress, as was the case with the construction of churches and chapels in the old Croatian period.’ – Rukavina, A., Zvona ispod zvijezda (A bell under the stars), ‘Ličke župe’, Gospić, 1984.
Over the past few years, archaeological research has been carried out at the site, which will certainly lead to new discoveries about the church.
PAKLENICA NATIONAL PARK
Paklenica is the combined name for two canyons (Velika and Mala Paklenica - the most beautiful part of the Velebit massif, which UNESCO has declared a part of the World Biosphere Reserve) with cliffs up to 400m high, rising sharply from the sea to just below the highest peaks and extending vertically in the direction of the mountain.
There are numerous interesting and unusual natural phenomena where the mountains meet the sea, in the steep-sided, deep canyons of the piedmont valley that follows the line of the main ridge of Velebit. The primordial nature arouses people’s curiosity and inspires visitors. Paklenica National Park is Croatia’s most famous alpine centre and is well-known even abroad.
In 1949, the area was declared a national park. Today, Paklenica National Park is one of the most attractive natural, scientific and tourist regions in the north-eastern Mediterranean. The rich and diverse array of flora and fauna (with many endemic species, like the Griffon vulture), the numerous karst phenomena (like Manita Cave), as well as the wide range of sporting activities (free-climbing, trekking, picnicking day trips to the Lugarnica forest hut, a tour of a mill and learning about how it works) attract all sorts of visitors.
HIKE AND BIKE PATH
The hike and bike path connects Starigrad-Paklenica and Seline, the coast and its mountain backdrop, the past and the present.
If you start out from the centre of Starigrad-Paklenica, you can expect a gentle ride/walk through the streets of the old town. You can complement the experience with a walk along the Mirila educational mountain trail, letting you discover a unique part of Croatian cultural heritage – the stone memorials located along the trails of Velebit, which bear witness to the former way of life and death on the slopes of Velebit.
We recommend a visit to the small ethnographic museum and the Dalmatian tavern in the newly-renovated ethno-house in the hamlet of Marasovići. From here, you can head into Paklenica National Park or continue along the path that wends its way through the old, picturesque villages situated on the gentle mountain slopes, with idyllic views of the Velebit Channel.
You can reach the shore from any of the old villages on this path and treat yourself to refreshments in one of the quaint restaurants and cafés or even cool off in the crystal clear sea. You will be amazed by the sumptuous beauty of the natural beaches of Pisak and Kulina, and there, on its final cape, Večka Tower stands hiding the secret of King Pasoglav… There is also the old Croatian church of Saint Peter (10th century) nearby, which is certainly worth a visit.
Having seen and learnt so much about the life and customs of the people living at the foot of Velebit, you will return to Starigrad-Paklenica, where you began this short trip through history.
Trail length: Starigrad-Reljani 8km
Trail difficulty: easy, apart from the section from Matkovača to Mirila (900m, medium difficulty) and crossing the riverbed in the Mala Paklenica canyon (200m, medium difficulty)
Terrain: asphalt - macadam - earth - stone
Altitude difference: 100m
Along the mountain paths through the Velebit passes, elevations and clearings, the mirila can be found - stone monuments to the deceased.
They date back to the times when people lived and died in the Velebit hamlets (17th – 20th century), mainly making their livelihoods from animal husbandry. They preserve the memories of those who died on the mountain slopes and who had to be carried to the village church and to the graveyard where they were buried.
On these tortuous treks, stopping for a rest and placing the deceased on the ground was only permitted in one place - a place where the deceased would say his final farewell to the sun. A mirilo was erected at this place - the height of the deceased marked with a stone laid at his head and feet and then these stones were connected with other slabs. The headstones were adorned with symbols engraved in shallow relief. They were revered and visited more than the grave itself where ‘only the body lay, without the soul that had remained at the mirilo.’
The mystical markings depicted on the headstones, among which the cross and the sun’s corona were the most common, point to the continuity of artistic decoration from prehistoric cultures through to early Christianity and the iconography of medieval Bosnian tombstones, while inscriptions are rare and belong to more recent times.
As stone markers of a unique funeral cult, the mirila tell us of the customs, the way of life and the creativity of an entire age.
The park boasts some 70 caves, among which the most beautiful are Manita Cave and the Vodarica pit. Only Manita Cave is open to tourists.
From Anića Luka, there is a path heading towards the western side of the canyon, to Manita Cave. The entrance to the cave is about 550m above sea level. The cave is 175m in length and is divided into two halls, which abound in stalactites, stalagmites and calcium carbonate columns. It is thought that these features are approximately 80,000 years old.
The cave is reached by a 1-½ hour walk and visitors must be accompanied by a guide.
Kornati National Park
Due to the exceptional beauty of the landscape, the intriguing geomorphology, the extreme jaggedness of the coastline and the incredibly rich marine life, the majority of the Kornati waters was declared a national park in 1980.
Paklenica National Park
The National Park of Paklenica lies between the highest peak of Mt. Velebit (Vaganski vrh, 1758m) and the Adriatic Coast, extending over an area of 95km². Its most attractive features are the monumental canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica, whose steep cliffs rising up over 400m have made Paklenica a world famous mountain climbing destination.
The old beech forests, the second biggest black pine reserve in Europe, the mysterious caves, endemic plants and abundant fauna enrich this primeval natural ambience. Paklenica National Park provides a challenge to every nature lover: walker, mountaineer, alpinist, or adventurer.
Krka National Park
This national park is a vast area of exceptional and numerous natural riches, for the most part untouched. It encompasses one or more preserved or insignificantly altered ecosystems.
With its seven travertine waterfalls, totalling 242m in height, Krka is a phenomenon of nature and karst. At the very heart of the National Park is a Franciscan monastery, situated on the islet of Visovac.
Northern Velebit National Park
The area was declared a national park due to the exceptional variety of karst phenomena, the diversity of the fauna and the natural beauty found in a relatively small area.
The park covers an area of 109km² and includes the Hajdučki and Rožanski nature reserves, which represent a specific geomorphologic phenomenon where over 150 pits have been discovered to date, the best-known of which is Lukina jama (Luka’s pit), one of the deepest in the world and discovered in 1999.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice Lakes are Croatia’s best-known national park and are considered to be among the most beautiful sights in Europe. Because of their natural diversity, UNESCO has included the lakes on the list of World Heritage Sites.
Plitvice Lakes consist of 16 interconnected lakes with numerous waterfalls and surrounded by dense forest. Visitors will find many walking trails with small wooden bridges across the lakes, just above the still water’s surface.
The town of Zadar is the centre of the region and was founded 3000 years ago. It is impressive for its architecture, museums and churches, as well as its rich cultural life and the entertainment it offers.
Ljubotić is one of the rare mountain settlements that is still active and has retained its ancient character. It is situated in a green oasis on the slopes of Mt. Velebit and yet so near to the coast (3km above the town of Tribanj-Kruščica).
It is possible to try simple local specialities, and to visit an ethnic house and a permanent exhibition on the development of beekeeping in Dalmatia and the Mediterranean (in preparation) at the rural homestead of Vrata Velebit (the Gates of Velebit).
Nearby, there is the Mirila educational trail, while experienced hikers will gladly head to more distant but attractive locations, like Stap, Kamena galerija (Stone Gallery) and Reljina Cave.
The Zrmanja River delights with its crystal clear waters wending their way through an imposing, 200-metre-deep canyon before merging with the waters of the sea at the town of Novigrad. The upper reaches of the river abound in travertine waterfalls, both large and small, among which the most attractive is the 11-metre-high Veliki buk, while Jankovića buk, bedecked with the striking remains of old mills, is a popular area for excursions. Sailing from Starigrad-Paklenica, Novigrad – an ancient fishing settlement situated at the very mouth of the river – is worth a visit, as are the fortifications of the Kurjaković princes above the town of Obrovac, which is also situated on the banks of the Zrmanja River.
The most interesting tributary of the Zrmanja River is the Krupa. The attractive locations on this stream, like, for example, Deveterac, a large, grass-covered travertine barrier, can be reached by road from Starigrad-Paklenica. The barrier takes its name from the nine travertine cascades that culminate in a 13-metre-high waterfall. Way back in the 19th century, an industrious craftsman constructed the well-known dry-stone Kudin Bridge here, with 12 arches built from travertine blocks placed on the same number of stone columns.
Velebit Jeep Safari
It is only possible to reach many of the attractive locations in the Velebit region by all-terrain vehicle. Hence, you can travel by jeep to Tulove Grede and the Zrmanja River canyon – the locations where the legendary Winnetou films were made, drive along the historical Velebit roads, and visit Krupa monastery.
We highly recommend a visit to the spring of the shortest river in Croatia - the Krnjeza. Its source is located at the bottom of a 60-metre-deep cave, decorated with calcite curtains and stalactites and stalagmites at the entrance, and it flows into the Zrmanja River after only 600m. Although short, in some places it is up to 45-metres deep, the water is ice cold and clear, perfect for drinking.