Famous for its unique shape and strange landscape, the island of Pag wasn´t always a tourist location. However, this stunning island has a long and rich history,
hiding many secrets going back for centuries.
The island was first inhabited during the Neolithic era, better known as the Stone age but its first known inhabitants were the Liburnians - the archeological remains from this period can still be found around the island today, you just need to know what you´re looking for. During the 1st century BC the Romas came to the island - the name Pag comes from the Latin word pagus, meaning village. Slavs first inhabited the island during the 6th and 7th century and started building churches and basilicas.
Like many of the neighbouring islands and a large part of Dalmatia in general, from 1409 Pag was under the rule of the Venetians. During the 15th century, the main town was moved from its previous location to where it is today. You can visit the old town, often spoken about as the town of ghosts, to get an idea of what life was like 6 centuries ago.
The 18th century was a time of prosperity under the Austro-Hungarian rule.
Pag still had a lot coming before becoming independent - the island was first occupied by Italy, then Germany and afterwards it was returned to Yugoslavia until 1991.
Due to its unusual topography, the economy of the island has always revolved around salt.
Up until the 20th century salt was extracted through panning and then allowing the sea water to dry in the sun. Nowadays, mostly dry salt is being transferred to Solana Pag (a salt factory) where steam is used to complete the evaporation process. The Pag salt has a unique taste and is recognised as one of the best Croatian products.
A unique product of the island is also lace,
which made it onto the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list
. It is assumed, that the tradition started during the Renaissance period as ornamentation for the traditional skirts that were worn on the island. In the early 20th century, the lace was even worn on courts, mostly by the archduchess Maria Josephine as well as queen Maria Theresa. Lace making requires a lot of time, skill and effort but the product is like no other, at the same time delicate, unique and durable.
Besides lace making and salt, Pag is also an excellent destination for foodies, that will undoubtably enjoy the famous Pag cheese
and the Pag lamb.
With many international awards, which guarantee its quality, Pag cheese is like nothing you have tried before. The cheese is hard and salty and gets its mild aroma from the flora growing on the island (mostly sage and helichrysum). You can try or buy it all over the island - do not miss this chance!
Also a protected product, Pag lamb
is a delight for all of you gourmets out there. Similar case as with the cheese, the lamb also has a unique taste and smell due to the flora of the island. Lambs from the island of Pag never live in a closed area and they spend their entire lifetime out in the open. Many say that the Pag lamb is the best lamb in Croatia so make sure to try it.
By now, Pag is probably on your bucket list for your next vacation. But where on the island should you stay? There are two larger towns (and many small villages) on the island: Novalja and Pag.
Novalja is very well known, mostly for its beach Zrce - a must see for all of those looking for parties and fun, non stop throughout the summer. However, if you like sightseeing, Novalja also has a lot to offer. The city museum contains many archeological findings of the region as well as hosts exhibitions from all over the world. You can also visit an ancient aqueduct or centuries old olive groves.
If you are looking for a peaceful, family vacation, there is the town of Pag. Shop for lace, visit the salt museum or enjoy the islands gastronomic specialties. And do not forget - beautiful beaches can be found all over the island!
What else can you do/see on the island? Join the Pag carnival, see how the Romans lived, observe rare birds, explore the island by quad bike - the choice is yours!