Pag do list

20 great things to do on Pag island

Discover the best things to do on Pag island with our insider’s tips on nightlife, dining and the great outdoors

By Lara Rasin
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Moon-like Pag is Croatia’s best-known party island, home to the Ibiza-like phenomenon of Zrće, a stretch of beach nightspots. The island is much more than just Zrće, however - it's full of rich history and cuisine just waiting to be discovered. The quieter Pag Town is the place to shop and sightsee in peace while discovering the island's rich history - including its production of three of Croatia's best delicaciesPag cheese, Pag lamb and Pag salt.

RECOMMENDED: where to eat, party and sleep on Pag Island.

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You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the 50 best things to do in the world right now.

Homemade Braised Lamb Shanks
© Brent Hofacker

1. Tuck into Pag lamb

The salty air and rocky terrain across Pag island together create unique local delicacies best enjoyed in situ. One such specialty is Pag lamb. Said to be at its most succulent in the earlier months of the year, Pag lamb (paška janjetina) is a spit-roasted delight usually served with potatoes. It can also be grilled but most kitchens cook it on the spit, then carve out the finest cuts. As you travel around Pag, you may even see it spit-roasted in front of family homes as an authentic, as seen from the side of the road experience.

Hideout
© Hideout

2. Chill in a cabana at Aquarius

Long-established within the nightlife hub of Zrće, beachfront club Aquarius keeps ahead of the game every summer by booking big-name DJs and co-hosting festivals like Hideout and Sonus. By day, its cabanas slash tiny thatched huts provide the perfect relief from bright Mediterranean sunshine. Privacy, an all too rare commodity amid the party hordes of Zrće, is another boon. The abodes, which can be reserved ahead of time, are dotted throughouts the club's popular VIP area.

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Pag, aqueduct
© Turist Total

3. See how the Romans lived

A key historic sight in the town of Novalja is an original Roman aqueduct, known locally as Talijanova buža - Italian hole. The aqueduct, which stretches for more than a kilometre, once supplyed the town with water from surrounding fields. While walks down its mysterious passageways need to be arranged through the Novalja tourist office, its entrance is easily found within the Town Museum on Kralja Zvonimira street. This feat of engineering dates back to the 1st century AD.

Bosnian Rainbows at Big Yellow House
© Big Yellow House

4. Catch a live act

As the Zrće clubbing scene and summer-long festival programme bring ever more planeloads of visitors to Pag, the nightlife at the nearby town of Novalja also continues to blossom. One venue in particular is doing its utmost to keep partygoers in town and not jump into taxis to Zrće: the Big Yellow House. Part hostel, part lively bar open to non-guests during the summer, this seafront spot stages live music regularly, including both Croatian and foreign artists.

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Sign to Pag Triangle
© Visit Pag

5. Discover Pag’s Bermuda Triangle

On a deserted hill off of Pag's road 106, a bizarre phenomenon was discovered in 1999: a three-sided formation of unusual stone patterns stretching 30 metres across. Attracting UFO investigators, seekers of alternative forms of energy and curious tourists is this so-called Pag Bermuda Triangle. Its stones differ significantly in shape and character to the millions of rocks strewn across the Pag landscape, but how they got there is a mysteryVisitors will need a sturdy pair of boots and an intrepid sense of adventure because Pag's Bermuda Triangle is a fair trek from the signposted turn-off.

Fish paprikash
© Na Tale

6. Taste the catch of the day at Na Tale

Commonly acknowledged as one of the top tables in Pag town, restaurant Na Tale overlooks the bay that provides it with freshly caught seafood daily. Na Tale's seafood dishes are usually lightly prepared with top-quality olive oil produced and bottled locally. Meat-lovers may opt for the famous Pag lamb, as succulent as any you'll find hereabouts. The restaurant also features an onsite shaded courtyard to escape the blazing sun in high season. 

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DJ's hands control the remote control close-up
© johnalexandr

7. Raise a glass at Kalypso

The most enduring of the many nightspots of Zrće is Kalypso, which as been functioning for over 30 years. It’s hard to believe now, but when it opened, serving a few beers near the beach, there was no such thing as the Croatian Ibiza. Now, throughout summer, hundreds of thousands of partygoers fly into Zadar or Rijeka to catch the Zrće vibe. Later megaclubs such as Noa have Kalypso to thanks for much of this phenomenon. Kalypso co-hosts major international events such as Sonus, Hideout and Black Sheep, but never thinks itself too important to give a chance to domestic DJs when it can.

A mother heron with her babies
© Natura Jader

8. Observe rare birds

At the southernmost end of Pag, where the island stretches into a nearly deserted no-man’s-land, the reeds and marshland of Veliko Blato provide shelter for almost 150 varieties of birdlife. This protected and designated ornithological reserve offers observation huts and instructive signboards, and it's busiest during nesting and migration seasons. Endangered species that inhabit the reserve include the gadwall and the calandra lark, but you’re most likely to see herons, great crested grebes and spoonbills. 

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Pag
© Pag Tourist Board

9. Let loose at Pag Carnival

Like many famous carnivals around the world (the most famous in Croatia probably being Rijeka's), the Pag Carnival is a special spectacle enjoyed yearly by locals and off-season tourists. The event runs every Saturday from early January and culminates in three days of non-stop, costumed festivities before Ash Wednesday. The carnival fills the main square of Pag town, spilling into the surrounding streets as well. You can go all out and dress in full costume, or enjoy the fun as is.

Pag
© Lara Rasin

10. See Pag by quad bike

Driving a quad bike is one of the best, and most fun, ways to experience Pag's moon-like terrain. Local tour agency Sunturist organises various tours that start out from the city of Novalja. Their entry-level excursion heads towards Zaglave, taking an hour to trundle along flat roads, stopping at times to take in the prime views of the surrounding islands from above. Those keen to explore more can also venture as far as the mysterious Pag Triangle - with a real rocky ride that puts any quad bike through its paces. Swimming breaks can also be combined with any quad jaunt.

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Sonus Festival
© Kidkutsmedia

11. Support local musicians at Sonus

Outlook, Fresh Island, Spring Break, Barrakuda... How many festivals can fit onto one island? Scheduled over five days and nights in August, Sonus is one Pag music event with a difference. Putting Croatian talent to the fore, either by giving artists the chance to play in the same space as festival headliners, or dedicating whole stages for Croatian label showcases, Sonus attracts a discerning and knowledgeable crowd. At the same time, the festival doesn’t lose its sense of fun or boat-party hedonism - this is, after all, Zrće.

Traditional home made brandy tape fruit drink, called grozdova (grape) rakia, in crystal bottle and two glasses on a wooden table, white and black grapes around
© Miroslava

12. Sip Pag brandy

It wasn't so long ago that recipes for this aromatic herbal spirit were kept within families and mostly used for medicinal purposes. Any signs of rheumatism or gum inflammation, and a bottle of rakija would be produced and its strong contents judiciously applied. Produced with grape remains and up to 20 types of plants growing wild around Pag, travarica (a type of rakija) is today readily available at most bars and restaurants - and you might just be offered a complimentary nip at the end of your meal. Handle with care and sip slowly to taste the strong herbal elements within.

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Girl takes useful procedures in the active mud volcano
© sergeychayko

13. Get a bit muddy

Get muddy - and get smelly, in fact, for the curative soil in the shallow waters of Lokunja beach stinks to high heaven. Wallowing in these muddy layers for an hour or so is more than worth it, as they're touted for healing skin and rheumatoid ailments. Sadly, you can’t cheat and fill a few plastic bottles with the mud then lather yourself later, as the mud will oxidise and turn white. Find the beach through a short walk southwest of Pag town.

Pag cheese
© Carly Calhoun / Time Out

14. Nibble Pag cheese

Before the recent nightlife boom at Zrće, Pag was best-known for one essential thing: its cheese. The famous Paški sir, meaning Pag cheese, is a mainstay on traditional menus across Croatia. It comes from the local breed of small sheep whose milk has the salty flavour typical for island produce. Matured for several months, and sometimes years, the cheese is hard, flaky and best served with olive oil and a glass of dry white Žutica. One place to sample these delicacies is Trapula Wine & Cheese Bar, with an alfresco setting in historic Pag town.

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Pag Bay

15. Cruise Pag Bay

A picturesque boat ride from Novalja, Pag Bay is equal parts beautiful and historic. In this sheltered enclave, the Romans established their city of Cissa, thought to be the forerunner of today’s Novalja. Buried under a mass of mud, seawood and sand is the sunken Roman city, not visible to the naked eye but able to elicit a sense of wonder from those aboard the open-air boats that sail out from Novalja on regular excursions. Today, it's believed that an earthquake left the town in ruins and sent residents scattering west. 

Boškinac
© Boškinac / Picasa

16. Dine on Pag delights at Boškinac

Boškinac is a first-class hotel, restaurant and wine cellar where local produce comes to the fore. Championed by Anthony Bourdain and featured on his travel show, Boškinac's co-owner Boris Šuljić understands the culinary heritage of his native Pag and puts it to full creative use, including lamb, fish, prosciutto and fresh seasonal vegetables - not to mention, of course, famed local cheeses. Diners, non-hotel guests included, may choose à la carte or go for a tasting menu. The huge wine selection isn't limited to Pag alone, but you won't go wrong with a white Gegić or a red Burin.

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© dreamer4787

17. Visit a ghost town

The island capital of Pag town was not always the centre of religious activities and local rule. About a kilometre south stands Stari grad Pag, meaning Pag Old Town, whose ex-residents did very well from the salt trade. Gradually, it became deserted (partly because of droughts) and inhabitants moved to the current site of Pag town. During the Middle Ages, Stari grad Pag contained a church, monastery and various channels used to connect with salt pans. Today, it houses ghostly, uninhabited remains, which you can find a short walk away from the centre of Pag town.

Noa Beach Club
© Noa Beach Club

18. Party then swim, swim then party…

Zrće's Noa Beach Club offers partying both on land and on sea. Its dancefloor pokes out into the Adriatic with a ladder leading down into the water for those who want to take a dip while getting their groove on. This much more than beach bar with a few beats thrown in - it's a mini festival site in one nightspot, with 11 bars, a food court, a spa and even its own cash machine onsite. Yachts often dock alongside it and up to 4000 revellers can be catered to on any one night.

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Just-bloomed springtime vineyards across the Slavonia region
© deymos

19. Sample Pag wines

Whether the long-established, golden Žutica or the lighter Gegić, Pag wines gain their dry character from the sandy soil and provide the ideal accompaniment to another other celebrated local delicacy, Pag cheese. The Gegić brand was revived some 15 years ago and is now a familiar sight on many restaurant tables. Pro tip: it's high in alcohol, so go easy as you pour. Another revived favourite, this one ruby red, is Burin, also championed across Pag at the island's shops and eateries.

Pag
© Ivo Pervan / Croatian National Tourist Board

20. Scale the crags of Stogaj

Given Pag’s moon-like appearance, much of it made up by barren, karst rock face, it’s no surprise that the island is a popular destination for climbers. A short drive from Novalja, seafront Stogaj is the island's best-known climbing spot, offering nearly 20 marked routes. Absolute beginners can attempt short, easy ascents no more than ten metres in height, while experienced climbers can attempt the so-called Skorpion or Spyder climbs. Take plenty of water with you and a towel - reward yourself with a swim after your exertions.  

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