Nordic Walking in Croatia’s Paklencia National Park
Written by Lindsay Cannon
23 February 2016
Croatia's stunning Paklenica National Park
Croatia’s Paklenica Riviera, a 20km stretch of coastline where the mountains meet the sea, provides a beautiful setting for our next Nordic Walking break in partnership with Sam Armstrong from Core Concept and Danijela Bucić of Mountain Traveller Croatia. The Paklenica Riviera is part of the Velebit Nature Park, which because of its specific relief, vegetative, and landscape features was placed by UNESCO in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. We’ll stay in Starigrad-Paklenica, a relaxing small port on the coast of the Velebit channel built on the foundations of the ancient settlement of Argiyruntuma. Our accommodation in Starigrad Paklenica is the well-appointed 3-star Hotel Alan, which was completely renovated in 2004 with a cutting-edge wellness centre being added a year later.
Alongside the riviera the Paklenica National Park provides an impressive backdrop with its two canyons, Velika and Mala Paklenica (Grand and Small Paklenica), and high peaks that provide stunning views, deep gorges and beech and pine forests for our walks. The Park’s highest peak is Vaganski vrh at 1,757m. The park is renowned for its wild flowers, diverse fauna and interesting geomorphological phenomena and forms. The protected status of the park has ensured that the area remains unspoilt, with the preserve representing one of European’s last remaining true wildernesses. The region is rightly celebrated for the its heritage and diversity of attractions - on each day our Nordic walks will explore the history of this unique area: you’ll discover the stunning beauty of the Paklenica National Park and sample its local culture, cuisine and fine produce, and learn of its crafts and traditions. During our stay we’ve scheduled visits to discover Paklenica’s ancient villages and hamlets, a renovated flour mill, forts, taverns and an organic vineyard.
The Paklenica National Park, situated south of the Velebit range of mountains (the largest in Croatia) and covering an area of just under 100 square kilometres, is found slightly inland from the coast of northern Dalmatia just north of the vibrant city of Zadar, which we shall visit at the end of our week-long stay in the area. Zadar, set on a small peninsula, is an intriguing city with its old town of Roman and Venetian ruins, medieval churches and cosmopolitan cafes. The old town, which features beautiful Venetian gates in the city walls, also boasts a Roman-era Forum, the impressive 11th-century St. Mary’s Convent with its religious art dating to the 8th century; the 12th-century St. Anastasia’s Cathedral; and its oldest place of worship, the 9th-century pre-Romanesque Church of St. Donat. Despite all these attractions Zadar remains uncrowded and, with the help of a local guide, you’ll get to experience the best museums, shops and cafés the city has to offer.