One of my favorite hikes I have done in Croatia is Premuzic Trail. Croatia has a lot of wonderful hikes, but Velebit has a special place in my heart. This mountain will, for sure, steal your heart with its stunning and diverse landscape.
Premuzic Trail takes you through the most inaccessible part of Velebit. The trail is built of drystone and goes through the most impressive karst formation I have ever seen. But, it’s not just this what makes Premuzic Trail spectacular. There are also amazing views of the Adriatic Sea and Croatian islands. I love the view and smell of the sea while hiking.
So far, I had the luck to hike twice almost whole Premuzic Trail. Therefore, I have decided in addition to my first article about Velebit in general and Premuzic Trail, to write a guide for a 3-day hike.
This guide covers a big part of the Premuzic mountain trail, broken up into day hikes. Each hike is showing Velebit’s diversity in terrain and plants. The only part I didn’t have an opportunity so far to walk is from Visibaba Peak to Kugina Kuca Hut, and from Dabarska Kosa to Mountain Hut Prpa.
Note: I went twice on this 3-day hike through Velebit and along Premuzic Trail as a tour leader (working for Green Visions) of the Highlights of the Via Dinarica tour for women, and with a local guide from Croatia Vlasta Herak (working for VMD ).
Facts about a 3-day hike on Premuzic Trail Croatia
Distance: 44 km / 27.3 miles
Entrance Ticket: 45 HRK, valid for 3 days (there are also group and family tickets). Check prices here! You will be 2 days in the Northern Velebit National Park.
Transportation: There is no direct bus from Zagreb to the national park. Rent a car or book a van (8 plus 1) transportation with a family-run, small business Dragec. We have used this transportation service on both tours.
Dragec is a great and fun guy, with whom you will feel safe. He lives on the northern slopes of Velebit in Krasno Village, so he knows Velebit very well. Supporting locals is the core of responsible travel and sustainable tourism!
Gear list: Check our blog post to help you deciding what to pack here
When to go: Officially the Northern Velebit National Park is open from May until mid of November. Best time to hike from June to October.
Map: Interactive map (but only can be used online, it can not be download), Wikiloc, Outdooractive
Highest point: 1630 meters, NP Northern Velebit
Lowest point: 920 meters, Baske Ostarije, central Velebit
This 3-day hike is following Via Dinarica long-distance trail.
Day 1: Zavizan to Alan
Distance: 16 km / 10 miles
Elevation: 553 meters ascent / 474 meters descent
Length of time: 6-7 hours
Trailhead: parking lot of Zavizan Mountain Hut
Overnight: Alan Mountain Hut (45 HRK for mountaineers, you need to have a card of membership to some mountain club as proof, if you don’t have a card then the price is 90 HRK) or newly built cottages (check here price list for accommodation in shepherd’s huts).
This is the most popular hike in the Northern Velebit National Park and the most popular section of the Premuzic Trail. It’s a great weekend trip from Zagreb. In around 2 an half to 3 hours you can be on the parking lot of the Zavizan Mountain Hut.
On your way to Zavizan, you will pass a turn for Kuterevo Village where is situated a sanctuary for orphan brown bears. In 2016 I have spent 10 days there participating in the youth exchange. More about it you can read in my blog post, or at the site of volunteers.
If you are a cheese lover then make sure to stop in Krasno and get different types of cheese produced in this village by Tomaic family. The shop Sirana Runolist is beside the road. The family also has a guest house if you need overnight.
The tickets for the Northern Velebit National Park you can buy in Velebit House, just a few hundreds of meters before the cheese shop. Velebit House is a great place to visit if you have kids. It explains the nature of Velebit in a very interesting way. There is even a machine that is producing bora wind. This way you can experience how strong can bora wind be. The entrance tickets for the national park it’s possible to buy also at the entrance ramp before arriving at Zavizan, or in Alan Mountain Hut.
On the trail
Once at Zavizan, the hike can begin. From the parking lot, you can climb toward the Zavizan Mountain Hut to enjoy the first view of the Adriatic Sea in the distance. Then continue down the road and make a turn into Velebit Botanical Garden to see the names of the plants you will have a chance to see along the trail.
The botanical garden is situated close to the entrance to the Premuzic Trail. Croatia, especially Velebit is home to a big number of endemic plants. As you pass the sign Premuzic Trail, you’re immediately entering into the ’empire of karst’ and its stunning formation. Each time I would step on this trail, in my mind would pop the same question: ‘How is possible that stonecutters built a trail through this kind of terrain? When you look around yourself, everywhere you see sharp karst rock formation. The Premuzic mountain trail is truly a masterpiece of trail building!
The trail is not going over any of the peaks, but you can choose to climb to some peaks and return to the trail same way. When I was for the first time at Premuzic, I have climbed to Gromovaca Peak (1676 m). It is an additional 20 minutes on the entire hike for day 1.
In the heart of karst-rocky-landscape, in the area of Rozanski Kukovi, where rock formations can be up to 200 meters high, stands Rossi Shelter. It is some 2 hours away from Zavizan, and a great place for a picnic lunch.
Coming to Alan Mountain Hut
After passing the area of Rozanski Kukovi, we came to the part of the trail that is going through a forest and across vast and lush green meadows. Meadows are colored with different wildflowers. Serious wildflower lovers visit Velebit in May or June to see this mountain blazing in full technicolor glory.
I love the contrast. After rough, rocky section to walk across meadows and through the forest. A little bit of everything.
As we were exiting the forest, on its edge we saw a wooden cottage, our home for tonight. Alan Hut has a great location. The views of the Adriatic Sea open up and are some of the best of the day.
Asphalt road from Jadranska magistrala, the main road along the shore, takes you to the hut. Our luggage was waiting for us. Dragec, our driver, has transferred it from Zavizan, so we only had a day pack for a day hike with us.
Day 2: Alan - Satorina Peak - Kugina Kuca Hut
Distance: 19 km / 12 miles
Elevation: 572 m elevation gain / 740 m elevation loss
Length of time: 8 hours
Trailhead: Alan Mountain Hut
Overnight: Kugina Kuca Hut, Hostel Baske Ostarije, camp
After the first 3 km of today’s hike, Premuzic Trail is exiting borders of the Northern Velebit National Park. The rest of the trail is traversing the central Velebit. A big part of a walk has a great bird’s eye view of Croatian islands scattered in the Adriatic sea(Pag, Rab, Cres, Goli Otok). Some of them are completely or half barren. It’s interesting to see parts of islands without any tree or shrubs, just rock.
Ogradjenica Shelter & Satorina Peak
After 7 km of the Premuzic mountain trail from Alan hut, we have arrived at Ogradjenica shelter. The first section of the trail is slightly changing the altitude. And the final 800 meters before reaching the shelter were uphill, some 200 meters of altitude difference.
The landscape is changing. You will hit lookouts with views of Velebit where is much greener and covered with thick forest. After passing Ogradjenica shelter we turned our back to the Adriatic sea and took the trail toward Satorina (1623 m), the highest peak of central (middle) Velebit. It is said this peak covered with grass got the name after the wooden tent that was built here by road surveyors in the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There are many more routes over Velebit that are traced at that time. Others say it got the name because it has a shape that looks like a tent.
The highest peak of the central Velebit offers a great 360-degree panorama view. The view stretches over the heartland of Velebit. You can see karst valleys and a group of interesting rocky peaks of Rozanski, Hajducki Kukovi, and Dabarski Kukovi. It’s interesting to be able to see parts of yesterday’s hike (Rozanski Kukovi) and tomorrow’s hike (Dabarski Kukovi).
Kugina Kuca Hut
The most demanding part of today’s walk is a descent from Satorina to Kugina Kuca. Some parts are steeper downhill and can be tricky, especially if it’s wet. Having trekking poles is a must in this section!
It’s some 500 meters of altitude difference from Satorina Peak to Kugina Kuca. This part of the trail is winding through the thick forest. After some 2 hours of walk, we have arrived at Kugina Kuca Hut.
Last year this hut was under reconstruction and I received information that is now finished. There are few options for overnight. Either to stay in Kugina Kuca, which is situated on the dirt forest road or if you have someone to drive you for half an hour, you can go to Baske Ostarije. Here you have the option to stay in a hostel or camp.
Day 3: Loop Hike around Dabarski Kukovi
Distance: 9 km
Elevation: 355 m gain / 355 m loss
Length of time: 5 hours
Trailhead: Dabarska Kosa
Overnight: Ravni Dabar Hut, Hut Prpa, Hostel Baske Ostarije
This hike, like the previous one, starts with a walk along the Adriatic Sea. The first section along the sea to Visibaba Peak is following Premuzic Trail, and the rest of the hike is following Via Dinarica White Trail.
Today’s walk is all about admiring the Adriatic Sea and Dabarski Kukovi. From Visibaba Peak we enjoyed the stunning view of both. On the top, there is a long and wide meadow from where he had a bird’s eye view of Croatian islands and Dabarski Kukovi. In the area around Dabarski Kukovi used to exist few villages. Today, they are not inhabited, or at least not as they used to be.
Just a few meters before the final ascent to Visibaba there are remains of the small hospital for pulmonary diseases. What a great place for recovery! Place where mountain air and smell of sea join together.
Further, the trail is descending through the forest below Bacic Kuk (1304 m), the highest peak in the line of rocky peaks of Dabarski Kukovi. It’s interesting to see how in the valley covered with thick forest are rising Dabarski Kukovi, a line of steep and narrow rocky peaks. It’s impossible not to admire the art of nature.
At one point, the trail is exiting on the gravel road and you can either continue down the road to Dabarska Kosa or take a path that is going besides Ravni Dabar Hut, below the road. But, we wanted to go through small tunnels made in Dabarski Kukovi, and to admire more to these impressive rock formations.
Prices for accomodation
Zavizan Hut: 50 HRK if you have mountaineer card, 100 HRK if you don’t have it
Alan Mountain Hut: 45 HRK if you have a mountaineer card, 90 HRK if you don’t have it
Alan shepherd’s huts: check prices here Arrange your stay in front at headquarter of the national park Northern Velebit.
Hostel Baske Ostarije: 82 HRK
Kugina Kuca: 40 HRK, but you need to arrange you overnight with Miro Zdunić (contact number: +385 98 768 240), capacity 50 people
Camp Baske Ostarije: check their web site here