If you are planning a vacation in Dalmatia and heading along the Adriatic Highway towards northern Dalmatia, between Sibenik and Zadar, and in the immediate vicinity of Pakostane - you will see a beautiful a natural phenomenon of different blues which leave no one indifferent. When you see the indented Adriatic coast on one side, and on the other the largest natural lake in Croatia - you will know that you have reached the area of the Vrana Lake Nature Park, and here are all the interesting things you will discover there.
Lake Vrana is the largest natural lake in Croatia. The northwestern part of the lake has been declared a special ornithological reserve of almost untouched natural habitats of waterfowl, a rare wetland system, great biodiversity, and exceptional scientific and ecological value. As such it is included in list of important ornithological areas in Europe, and since 2013 protected wetland.
Lake, sea - or both?
A special experience of the Vrana Lake Nature Park is the combination of blue that alternates there, providing the most beautiful view of the natural beauty of this phenomenon. The sea by the lake? Or a lake right by the sea? You have a view of both, and you choose which blue you prefer.
There is a lake and the sea in the immediate vicinity, although this is the largest natural lake in Croatia and the natural phenomenon of the submerged karst field is not great depth (from two to a maximum of five meters). The water level fluctuates a maximum of two meters per year, and an average of one meter.
It's about the natural phenomenon of cryptodepression which creates a single lake. It is a geographical phenomenon in which the water surface of the lake is above sea level and the bottom is below it. Beneath the large accumulation of silt, which in some places exceeds 20 meters, there is an impermeable flysch layer of rocks. It is impermeable barrier and the water cannot flow into the karst bottom. The narrow karst reef is a natural barrier between the lake and the sea, but due to its porosity, the sea enters the lake waters and salinizes it.
The park is 57 km2, and the largest part of 30,02 km2 refers to Vrana Lake, located in the northwest-southeast direction and stretching parallel to the sea coast from which it is in places less than a mile away.
As one of the rare, almost untouched natural habitats of waterfowl, with sources of drinking water and an area of distinctive specifics and biodiversity 21.07.1999. The Vrana Lake with the surrounding area it was declared a Nature Park.
Vrana Lake - a special ornithological reserve
About 235 species of birds have been recorded in the area of Lake Vrana so far, of which 102 are nesting birds, while the rest of the lake serves as a resting place during migration or as a wintering ground. It is estimated that between 20.000 and 200.000 birds live there daily during the autumn migration.
The northwestern part of the lake has been declared special ornithological reserve as early as 1983 and was included in the list of important ornithological areas in Europe (Important Bird Areas in Europe) and is an area of natural habitats of waterfowl, rare wetland system, high biodiversity, and outstanding scientific and ecological value. Also, this area is on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
Among the nesting birds, in the Vrana Lake Nature Park there are four endangered (risky) species at the European level and seven endangered species at the national level. For some of these birds, the Park is the only nesting place in the Mediterranean part of Croatia, and the area of the Vrana Lake Nature Park is also a very important resting and feeding ground for the whole a number of European endangered species.
Here from the hiding place one can observe the whole life cycle of birds, nesting and caring for the young. Vrana Lake is therefore an ideal location for bird watching or popularly called Bird-watching. For a complete experience of the richness of the bird world, bring binoculars or a telescope.
Attractive location for anglers
Lake Vrana is rich in fish and attracts many fishermen who come there for carp, catfish and pike. There is also the eel, which along with the river midwife is the only indigenous fish species and it is strictly protected in the area of the Vrana Lake Nature Park, and spawns in the Sargasso or North Atlantic Sargasso Sea. Young eels from these places then travel through the warm Gulf Stream to our shores and reach Lake Vrana, and then the sexually mature ones return to the northern waters, where they die after spawning.
Take a walk or a ride and explore the rich history
The position of Vrana Lake, located by the sea, is the source of all its attractions and richness of biodiversity. In the immediate vicinity is the Kosovac hill, towards the sea there is a reef up to 110 meters high, and in the wider environment is Velebit, which has an impact on the hydrology of the Nature Park. You can explore the nature park by walking along educational and hiking trails, but also with your favorite pet on two wheels - for many, cycling is the first choice for visiting Vrana Lake.
There are remains near Vrana Lake The old town of Vrana from the Middle Ages (mentioned as early as the 9th century). In Vrana was the first Benedictine monastery where the crown of Croatian kings was kept.
The town of Vrana is a significant historical site, as evidenced by the fortress and monastery of the Knights Templar from the 12th century, better known as the Old Town of Vrana, which is a very valuable historical and cultural site.
Photo: Facebook Vrana Lake Nature Park
Enriched offer of the Vrana Lake Nature Park
How is it published earlier this year, the public institution Vrana Lake Nature Park has completed the implementation of the project "Revitalization and connecting the attractions of the Vrana Lake Nature Park". The project worth close to HRK 30 million was co-financed by the European Union with close to HRK 19 million, and the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency with more than HRK 600.
First electric tourist train in Croatia, which connects Pakoštane with Vrana Lake Nature Park, solar boat, arrangement of the port of Crkvine and an adrenaline park in a pine forest close to the info center of the Church, are some of the novelties that the Vrana Lake Nature Park offers to its visitors.
In addition to the mentioned contents, a number of promotional materials were made, landscape atlas and a new tourist-mountaineering map in 11 languages, a promotional film about the Park was made, visitor counters, live-stream cameras were procured, the existing wooden educational trail was extended and macadam roads were arranged. at four locations and so on the tourist infrastructure of the Park has been improved.
So, if you haven’t already, explore all the news and attractions and embark on a journey of natural beauty and attraction.
Photo: archive of the Vrana Lake Nature Park
Looking for an even stronger dose of adrenaline?
If you want to further spice up your trip, venture on a Quad adventure through the Vrana Lake Nature Park. Quad safari in the Vrana Lake Nature Park with the guidance of a guide is a great opportunity to get to know the sea coast but also to drive around the largest natural lake in Croatia.
The guide will meet you in Biograd and give you the necessary equipment and instructions on how to drive safely, and then your adventure begins.
You will enjoy an exciting quad ride on the unpaved road, and once you reach Vrana, you will set out to explore the area. The guide will guide you through all the interesting facts and historical facts of the area you will visit, and there will be a few breaks to create the most beautiful photos to remember.
Panorama view that knocks you off your feet
Kamenjak Lookout is located on the northern side of Lake Vrana at 283 meters above sea level, and as soon as you pass the info center and chapel, it immediately opens a fascinating view of the Kornati archipelago, Murter, Pirovac, Pakostane, Biograd and Drage.
PS There, do not miss to visit the tasting room where you can try homemade brandies, cheeses and cured meats.
Cover photo: Archive of the Vrana Lake Nature Park