The 5th largest island in Croatia is less than an hour away from my home in Zadar, Island of Pag. My first experience with Pag was 11 years ago when I visited Zrce Beach, a few years before it became world-famous. My memories back then were of unheard of three day long beach parties featuring Tiesto till dawn and too many jumbo-sized cocktails resulting in deathly hangovers. Back then I didn’t care about what to do and see in Pag, all I wanted to do was a party by the sea at Croatia’s (almost famous) party destination, Zrce Beach. These days I visit Pag for the Paski sir (Pag cheese) and Pag lamb, the gorgeous photos of the land, sea, views of Velebit and the people. Local people in Pag are so nice! They also have a very strong online community in Pag and they are extremely passionate about their beautiful island, who can blame them?
Pag is gorgeous!
Pag island is easily recognisable due to it’s “moon-like” features, something I also noticed 11 years ago as I took the bus back to the mainland after my partying stint at Zrce Beach. It wasn’t until my husband and I took a day trip to Pag last summer where he mentioned why. “Those Venetians, they stripped all the trees from Pag to build Venice!” Everything explained.
Here are six things you need to do and see in Town Pag on the Island of Pag in Croatia’s Zadar Region
The beauty of Town Pag is that everything you need to see is within walking distance. The Pag Riva is a small harbour that has recently been renovated where you’ll find numerous cafes, restaurants and alleyways that lead to the main square. Pag Town was designed by Architect and Venetian Sculptor, Juraj Dalmatinac (George the Dalmatian) in 1450 who was the God Father of Renaissance style throughout the Dalmatian coastline. Once upon a time, Pag Town was surrounded by walls to protect it from invasion.
Pag Town Bridge
Katine Bridge was renovated in 2010 and is a pedestrian bridge that is only 30m in length that connects Town Pag to Prosika. It is a modern replica of the old Venetian bridge built in 1737.
Town Pag main square
As you head towards Town Pag from Katine Bridge, you’ll notice a wide street that will lead you to the main square. This main square, like most main squares in Croatia, still operate as community gathering grounds for local events. Here you’ll also find The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Rector’s Palace and a cheese and wine restaurant to sample the finest local cheese, Pag Cheese.
Halfway down the path that will lead you to the main square, you’ll also come across a store selling all types of Pag Cheese from the local producers.
Visit Paška Sirana
While travelling around Croatia at some point you would have come across Paški sir (Pag Cheese), a world famous and award winning cheese native to the island of Pag, actually, in the Zadar Region of Pag. What makes Pag Cheese so good? Well, the local sheep that they milk in order to get the milk. Pag sheep are smaller than your usual sheep but produces the best milk due to natural vegetation on the island. There are currently 35-40,000 sheep on the island of Pag, 3,000 of those belong to Paska Sirana who employ 20 herders to look after them. While driving around the Island of Pag you may notice the sheep hanging out on cliffs.
I meet with Martina Pernar, daughter of one of the co-founders of Paška Sirana which first opened it’s door in 1946. It was the first cheese factory to produce Pag cheese on the island. Walking through the hallways leading up to the “backstage” arena, Martina points out images of her father, a hallmark of the heritage that you’ll feel while on the premises.
Forgot to mention that if you decide to take a guided tour of Pag Cheese, you too will be wearing these outfits.
Welcome to cheese heaven!
Paska Sirana offers various types of Pag cheese including my favourite, Truffle Pag Cheese. Truffles are sourced from Istrian Truffle farm, Zigante.
A special thank you to Martina Pernar for showing us around Paska Sirana and giving us a guided tour of Town Pag!
Never heard of baškotini? Well, same. Not before this visit to Pag at least. The nuns at the Benedictine Monastery of Saint Margaret have been making baškotini for 300 years and have managed to keep the recipe a secret still to this day. Baškotini is a toast like, sweet bread that is commonly used to dip in your coffee (or just milk) during breakfast and you’ll never attend a celebration in Pag without it present.
Martina rings a bell softly and a nun greets her at the window, “Hvaljen Isus i Marija (blessed by Jesus and Mary),” she says handing over some money. The nun then hands over a bag of baškotini and shuts the window. The exchange happens so quickly, if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss it in a split second.
The Gallery of Pag Lace
“Lace follows the people of Pag throughout their lives, and like a single thread it symbolises the beauty and hardship of life on an island of stone and salt.” Pag Tourist Board.
Pag’s longstanding tradition of lace making entered the UNESCO World Heritage in 2009, due it the special technique required by needle-point. Visit the gallery at the Rector’s Palace at the main square to see how Pag lace is made and learn about the it’s rich history. Pag lace is truly one of the trademarks of the Island of Pag.
Address Ul. Marka Laura Ruića 30, 23250, Pag
Museum of Salt
We now know that Pag is known for its cheese and lace but it’s also known for its salt. Pag has a history is salt production and it was once used as a medium of exchange for goods until paper money. Paper money was first introduced in Pag by local lawyers in 1778.
You’ll find Pag’s Museum of Salt across the Katina Bridge, heading into the opposite direction of the town. While there are nine Magazin “warehouses” (one of them being a popular nightclub called ), the one closest to the carpark is home to the Museum of Salt which introduces you to the history of Pag Salt. Our tour guide also informs us that Pag salt is the highest quality salt in Dalmatia, he sells it so well that we end up purchasing some “salt flower,” the highest graded salt on offer on the island.
Just a few hundred meters from Town Pag you’ll come across the town beach, Prosika, perfect for swimming and sunbathing, there’s even a little children’s playground nearby and a couple of beach bars. While Prosika Beach is naturally beautiful and in an ideal location, during the summer season is known to get crowded by tourists. So what do the locals do? They simply get into their boats and spend the day at one of Pag’s many hidden secret beaches.
Do Not Miss
Fortica (Fort at Pag Bridge)
For the ultimate views of Velebit & Pag Bridge, you must visit Fortica on the Island of Pag. The ruins are unmissable as you cross Pag Bridge (Paski Most) and have been there since the Middle Ages protecting the straight between Pag and the mainland from invasion. Fortica is located across from Pag Bridge, you’ll just need to look out for a sign that will direct you to turn left when you’re driving from Zadar.
Where To Have Lunch
We’re not done with all the Pag is famous for. I haven’t even mentioned the Pag lamb yet. Young lamb is another one of the delicacies of the Island of Pag. Due to the natural vegetation on the island, the lamb is filled with flavour and Pag lamb is considered among the best in Croatia.
We had Pag lamb at Restoran Na Tale for the second time this past year. Restoran Na Tale is known to have the best Pag lamb.
Followed by over baked pancakes with Paška ovčja skuta, Pag’s very own version of ricotta cheese.
Restoran Na Tale
Now, I’m not an expert on Pag, it’s a part of Croatia that fascinates me due to its long history and heritage that is visibly preserved to this day but I am open to learning more each time I visit. If you’re thinking about doing a day trip to the Island of Pag from Zadar, I highly recommend it but you’ll need a car to see all the spots that will be on your to-do list. Island Pag is split by two counties in Croatia, Zadar Region (southern part) and the Lika/Senj County (northern part). This may not mean anything to you but here’s a fun little fact. Noa Beach Club at Zrce Beach is located in the Zadar County which is literally on the border, whereas the rest of the clubs fall under the Lika/Senj County. This also means two different council rules and Noa Beach Club under Zadar County has permission to stay open longer than it’s neighbouring beach clubs.