Pag is like something from a 1950s Italian film, perfect for a broody black-and-white Antonioni set – it’s barren, rocky, and sepia coloured, with vast, empty landscapes. The Adriatic is a steely blue around it and, when the sky is stormy, the island is the most dramatic-looking place in the whole of Croatia. Its karstic rock forms a moonscape defined by two mountain ridges, patches of shrubs, and a dozen or so villages and hamlets.
Modern Pag is an unusual mix. The island has long-standing traditions of cheese- and winemaking; paški sir (Pag cheese) is one of Croatia's most celebrated culinary exports, its source the otherwise unremarkable village of Kolan. The famous intricate Pag lace is framed on many a Croat’s wall. And yet Novalja is a party town and the island has become a clubbing mecca, with Zrće Beach a summer nightlife hot spot.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Pag Island.
Juraj Dalmatinac's Gothic church sits in perfect harmony with the modest structures surrounding it on the pretty main square. The lunette over the portal shows the Virgin with women of Pag in medieval blouses and headdresses, and there are two rows of unfinished sculptures of saints. Completed in the 16th century, the interior was renovated with baroque stucco ceiling decorations in the 18th century.
Housed in the spectacular restored Ducal Palace (Kneževa Palača), designed by Juraj Dalmatinac, this museum showcases some remarkably intricate designs. The history of lacemaking in Pag and its importance to the community is skilfully illustrated with photographs and information panels.
Over the bridge in what remains of ancient Stari Grad – which is very little – this exhibition (in a former salt warehouse) documents the production of salt in Pag with photography and artefacts.