If you are not a fan of hot summer days and crowded beaches and are an adventurous person in good physical shape Northern Velebit National Park might be the right place for you. Located in Lika-Senj County in Croatia, the whole of Velebit mountain is a nature park. Another famous on Velebit is Paklenica National Park on its southern side. According to a number of mountaineers, the most beautiful mountain in Croatia, Velebit is a natural border between the Mediterranean and Continental climate. It is the home to many animal species among which we should not forget to mention the bear that has chosen Velebit as its habitat. Beauty and diversity of the plant life don’t fall behind. There are more endemic species of plants, such as Degenia Velebitica, on Velebit than on the entire surface of England! Northern Velebit is the youngest national park in Croatia, open since 1999.
What to do at national park Velebit?
The main activity what visitors do at Velebit national park is Hiking, the park has over 30 marked trails, majority of the running to mountain tops with magnificent view on the Adriatic Sea. Around the park the are info boards informing about the trails and the approximate time it take to hike a given trail.
One of the most popular hiking trail is the Premužić trail, which is a 57 km long trail with almost no steep sections, 16 km of the trail are located within the national park, the rest in nature park Velebit.
Other popular hiking destinations at Velebit, are the Zavižan weather station, located 1594 meters above sea level, the botanical garden, located 1480 meters about Sea level, the garden has around 500 plant species.
If you are newbie to hiking, you should hike in a group, as Velebit can be quite a challenge, the park offers both a half and full day hiking program with a guide, which is reasonable priced, so even if you are a small group, hiring a guide from the National park is recommendable.
Although there are no marked cycling tracks within the national park, forest and public roads are quite popular for bike trips. As these roads are used by regular traffic and especially forest vehicles, it is advisable to take extra care when driving on the narrow curvy macadam routes. If you are not an experiences mountain bike rider, Velebit is probably not the best place for you to practice.
Regardless if weather you plan to visit Velebit for Hiking, trekking or mountain biking it is advisable that you consult the park administration before starting your trip.
How to get to Northern Velebit National Park
Northern Velebit National park still remains unexplored and less popular compared to the others and a person who wants to visit it will face some difficulties while looking for suitable transportation.
By car: Still remains the best option while visiting this national park as you can choose your own starting point. The most frequently used path is the one from the town of Otočac. You can reach Otočac by using the Zagreb-Split highway, or the old road Josipdol-Senj, over the Kapela mountain pass. When you get off the highway, take the road to Krasno, where the park’s administration building is.
The other way is the asphalt road to Štirovača, which is in the south-eastern part of the park. The park can be also accessed from the coast, using the road from Jablanac, but that path is not recommended because of the road’s narrowness. If you use it anyway, you’ll enter the park from the south-west, at the Alan mountain hut.
Except of these access roads, park can be reached by macadam roads from the directions of Mrkvište, Ledena draga, Begovača and Štirovača. You can also enter the park by using mountain trails from the coastal side – direction of Brisnice and Gornja Klada.
By bus: Unfortunately there are no public buses that will take you directly to Northern Velebit National Park. As a main point you should choose the city of Senj which can be reached from all the major cities in Croatia such as Zagreb, Rijeka, Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik.
Bus from Zagreb to Senj: There are several buses that travel from Zagreb to Senj. Travel time is between 2 hours and 30 minutes and 3 hours. Tickets can be bought here.
Bus from Rijeka to Senj: Senj and Rijeka are very well connected. The trip lasts for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Tickets can be bought here.
Bus from Split to Senj: There are around 10 buses daily that will take you to Senj. Travel time is between 6 hours and 6 hours and 30 minutes Tickets can be bought here.
Bus from Zadar to Senj : You don’t have to worry since there are 10 buses daily that will get you to Senj. Travel time by bus is between 3 hours and 3 hours and 30 minutes.Tickets can be bought here.
When you get to Senj you should take a local bus to Krasno or Oltari. The bus drives from Senj over Oltari to Krasno twice daily. Still, to get to Zavižan which is the start of Velebit hiking trail you are going to have to walk (3-4 h) through the woods. You can also get off in Gornja Klada and start climbing to Zavižan (5 h). There is always the option of taxies or organized minivans.
Good to know when visiting Northern Velebit National Park
- The Northern Velebit National Park is open from from May to October or November, depeding on the weather conditions. During these months everyone who wants can be the witness of the magnificent view on the Adriatic Sea which the numerous peaks in the surroundings offer you. Working hours of entrances depend on weather conditions so you should follow the official website. Opening hours are usually from 8-9 h and closing from 16-17 h.
- The only food store on entire Velebit is the one in Krasno village on North Velebit and it is quite far from usual hiking routes on North Velebit. Be sure to stock on food and beverages before hiking. The Zavižan mountain hut offers coffee, tea, beer and similar beverages.
- Dress for the occasion and be prepared for variable weather conditions. This includes wind-jackets, long-sleaved sweaters, warm trousers and high boots.
- Dogs are allowed but should be kept on a leash.
- Be sure to make enough noise while going through the park in order to chase away snakes and other wild animals, giving them enough time to get out of your way.
- In National park North Velebit it is not allowed to pick plants, leave garbage, walk dogs with no leash, hunt, paraglide, camp (allowed only in marked areas) or light a fire.
Staying overnight at National park Velebit
There are no hotels, restaurants or similar objects inside the park. The National Park Sjeverni Velebit offers you accommodation in mountain huts. In Krasno you can find hotel and private accommodation. At the website of the national park they have listed the various options http://www.np-sjeverni-velebit.hr/posjeti/smjestaj/
Address of Velebit National park:
- Krasno 96
- HR-53274 Krasno
- Phone: + 385-53-665 380
- Fax: + 385-53-665 390
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Website: www.np-sjeverni-velebit.hr
Photos are property of National park Velebit!