Zvonimir Peran

2019-02-23 · 7 min read

Zvonimir Peran - blog author
View of Sibenik town
View of Sibenik town
If you find yourself somewhere in Croatia, you should not miss a visit to Sibenik, a small coastal town located in middle Dalmatia, in the bay of river Krka.
Sibenik is popular tourist destination with two UNESCO protected monuments, imposing fortresses, preserved nature, and nice beaches.
All of these beauties attract hundreds of thousands of visitors who come in Sibenik every year, mostly during the summer season.

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Sibenik
Sibenik

The best accommodation option in Sibenik in 2019 is Hotel Bellevue.
It features an attractive location on Sibenik Riva, luxury rooms with a panoramic view of Sibenik, and the vicinity of all the attractions in the old town.

Hotel Bellevue Sibenik
Hotel Bellevue Sibenik

The second best option is accommodation in two hotels located outside of the city: Solaris and D-Resort Sibenik in Mandalina. Solaris offers a variety of options, for example accommodation in Camping Mobile Homes.

Solaris
Solaris

The alternative to hotels is accommodation in private apartments. Many of them are located close to the city centre, which is a great choice if you want to visit cultural attractions of the city and get cheaper price than in hotels.

Affordable place to stay in the old town is apartments Sv. Frane, featuring great location and nicely decorated rooms in Mediterranean style

Apartments Sv Frane
Apartments Sv Frane

The map below displays accommodation options near the centre of Sibenik, offered by our partner, hotel listing site booking.com


If the beauty of the sea and sunbathing is a more important part of your vacation than sightseeing, then you should consider staying in places outside of the old town like Zaboric, Grebastica, and Sparadici. These places are 5-20 kilometres away from the city but have a cleaner sea and more beautiful beaches.

Main attractions in Sibenik include amazing old town and two national parks.
Sibenik is the only city in Croatia, and one of the rare in the world, with two UNESCO protected monuments: Cathedral of St. James and St. Nicholas Fortress.

St Anthony channel sunset
St Anthony channel sunset
When you come in Sibenik prepare yourself for a walk through old town. There is interesting stuff to see there.
Šibenik was first mentioned in 1066., so some of the attractions are almost millennium old. But most of them were built during the Venetian rule of Šibenik which began with the Venetian conquest of Šibenik in 1412. and ended with the dissolution of the Venetian state in 1797.
St. James Cathedral is a beautiful masterpiece of Christian art built in the 15th century. Various architects had been working on its construction for more than 100 years. That's why it is an example of combining different artistic styles of sculpture, painting and architecture.
The Cathedral is unique among all other Reinnesance buildings since it was entirely built of stone. An interesting fact is that a part of an episode of the Game of Thrones series was recorded just near the Cathedral.
Sibenik Cathedral
Sibenik Cathedral
Sibenik is sometimes called the city of fortresses because they are its most recognizable symbol. There are four fortresses in Sibenik.


St. John's fortress (sometimes called Tanaja) was built in 1646, together with fortress Barone. Its main purpose was the defence of Turkish attacks that occurred in 1647. After a monthly siege, the Turkish army was forced to retreat, with the big loss.

The fortress is currently not available for a visit due to the process of reconstruction which is financed by the European Union. The planned completion of the work is 2021 when the fortress will be opened.

St John's fortress
St John's fortress

Fortress Barone is located only a few hundred meters away from St. John's fortress. It was completely renovated and opened for visitors in 2016. The interesting attraction of this fortress is a high tech museum which features the technology of augmented reality used to provide an experience of the battle of Sibenik that took place in 1647.

The fortress features a coffee bar with affordable prices and a small park for children. There is a panoramic view of Sibenik and St. Anthony's channel.
Educational boards are all over the fortress, so you can explore it by yourself.
Ticket price is 50 kunas (around 7 euros) for an adult person. The same ticket is valid for visiting St. Michael's fortress (no need to buy two tickets).

View of Sibenik from Barone fortress
View of Sibenik from Barone fortress

St. Michael's fortress is the oldest and most famous fortress in Sibenik built in the 13th century. It was opened for visitors in 2014. when the last reconstruction was finished.
The fortress features architectural elements of various artistic style since it was reconstructed and upgraded a few times during history.
The same ticket which is valid for Barone fortress is valid for St. Michael's fortress.
During summer months there is a stage on the fortress where Croatian and foreign singers have performance. Various festivals have been held there as well.

St. Michael's fortress
St. Michael's fortress

St. Nicholas fortress was built in 1525. at the entrance of St. Anthony's channel, for the purpose of defence from the seaside. It's a truly unique architectural masterpiece of art recognised by UNESCO, which put it on its world heritage list in 2017.
The fortress was never attacked, so it's defence capabilities were never tested. It seems that its appearance was so frightening to the enemies that they were discouraged to attack Sibenik from the seaside.

The fortress was officially opened on June 2019. The only way to reach the fortress is the official boat tour from Sibenik Riva. Duration of the tour is 2 hours and it includes a boat ride through St. Anthony's channel, and sightseeing of the fortress with a guide. Ticket price for an adult is 130 kunas.
During the next few years, land entrance is expected to be built.

Amazing St. Nicholas Fortress
Amazing St. Nicholas Fortress

St.Francis Church and Monastery are located near the main square called Poljana. Within the church there is a museum featuring Šibenik Prayer, one of the first documents in Croatian literature.

Water supply system consisting of 4 wells was built in the 15th century. The reason for its construction was the lack of water in Šibenik area. The construction process was supervised by well-known architect Juraj Dalmatinac, who was the chief architect of St. James's Cathedral as well.
The facility is located near the cathedral and can be viewed for free.

There are other numerous interesting Renaissance and Baroque churches, palaces, squares, and streets located in the old town. The famous Pelegrini palace nowadays is a place of the popular restaurant in Sibenik.
Around a few hundred meters away from the cathedral there are the churches of the Holy Cross, St. Dominic, and Holy Spirit.
The prince's palace, another building in the old town, is converted into a city museum. Šibenik's library and theatre are located near the main square called "Poljana", which is currently under reconstruction.

The Renaissance Church of the Holy Spirit
The Renaissance Church of the Holy Spirit
St Anthony's channel divides Šibenik from the Adriatic sea. The channel features exceptional natural beauty. It gained importance a few years ago when the walking trail right next to the channel was built. A trail, which is 4.4 kilometres long, is a great place for recreationists and bikers. At the end of the trail, you can see UNESCO masterpiece of art, Fortress of st Nicholas.
St Anthony channel
St Anthony channel
Kornati is an island archipelago located north of Sibenik. It has a status of a national park since it features exceptional beauty.
Numerous tourist agencies organize one-day excursions to Kornati from Murter or Zadar
Kornati
Kornati
(© Nikater / CC-BY-SA-3.0)
Krka National Park is one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Croatia. It features extreme beauty and preserved nature alongside river Krka.
The national park consists of multiple locations. The most visited ones are: Skradinski Buk, Roški Slap and Visovac.
Visiting the park during the summer season is much more expensive than during the other seasons. If you want to visit Krka during January, February or March, you will pay less than 5 euros for a ticket which is valid for all terrestrial locations. By contrast, if you decide to buy the same ticket during July, you will pay around 28 euros.  Furthermore, all Krka locations are pretty much crowded during summer.
Skradinski Buk
Skradinski Buk
(© © Silverije / CC-BY-SA-3.0)

If your time in Šibenik is limited, and you are wondering which places to visit and which not, then I recommend spending at least one morning (or evening) in the old town. Must-see attractions include Cathedral of St. James and fortresses Barone and St. Michael.
What I would still recommend is just to walk through the old town and take a coffee on the coast.

It would be a good idea to spend one day visiting Krka National Park because it is really fantastic. That is true especially for the winter season when the ticket is cheap.

For those more courageous, activity of a bungee jumping from Šibenik Bridge is organized during the summer season.


There are two beaches located in Sibenik town. The first one is Banj, located in the vicinity of the old town. Another one, beach Jadrija, is located at the entrance to St. Anthony's channel.

The other beaches are located outside the city. The most featured are Rezalište and Solaris

Beach Banj is a great place for enjoying the sun and the sea in the old town. It is located just 1 kilometre away from the town centre.
The beach features all necessary tourist facilities: volleyball playground, free showers, deck chairs, and exercise equipment.
An interesting event that is held every year on Banj is New Year's day swimming. Many people arrive at the beach to watch the most courageous guys from Sibenik entering pretty much cold water.
Beach Banj traditional New Year's Day swimming
Beach Banj traditional New Year's Day swimming
Jadrija is a city beach of a long tradition. A few decades ago Jadrija meant much more for people in Sibenik than it means today. It was a gathering place for young people, a place of growing up of many generations, the place of first loves, fun, and sports. If you talk with the older native citizens from Sibenik, they will for sure talk about their memories from Jadrija.

Jadrija is today an ideal place for windsurfing because it is often windy during the summer season. There are many apartments located just a few meters above the coast. Check accommodation options in Jadrija

If you want a more lively beach near Sibenik, then Rezaliste may be good for you. It is well-known beach in Brodarica, a small place located 6 kilometres away from the centre of Sibenik.
Rezaliste is nice and big pebble beach with crystal clear sea. There are many tourist facilities on the beach: renting chairs, fast foods, coffee bars, ice cream shops etc. Visitors especially like beach bar Fjaka, which features amazing summer atmosphere.

Solaris (Amadria Park) is big hotel resort located 6.3 kilometres away from Sibenik. Except for beautiful hotels, Solaris is famous for its beaches, which are favourite among all generations of visitors and locals.

Some of the facilities of Solaris, like swimming pools, are reserved only for hotel guests. However, many are available for other visitors. Those include beach bars, restaurants and fast food.

Solaris is known for its aqua park, the biggest one in Dalmatia. If you have small children, they may especially love this place.
Entrance to Solaris is free, but prices of all tourist facilities are a little bit more expensive than on the other beaches in Sibenik.

Solaris beach
Solaris beach

Šibenik was first mentioned in 1066 in the gift of the king of Croatia, Petar Krešimir, to the Benedictine Monastery of St. Mary in Zadar under the title SIBENIQUO. That is why it is often referred to as the Krešimir town. The monument to the king is at the entrance to the main city park located next to the city library.

Although Šibenik was mentioned for the first time in the 11th century, it is assumed that the first inhabitants arrived earlier. The first migratory waves originate from Bosnia and Dalmatia.

By the 19th century, Šibenik was considered a "dry place". The reason for this was the lack of a water network which was built late in the 19th century. Despite that fact, the location was interesting because of its strategic position. The problem of water shortages was solved by the construction of water wells. The place Bunari, located near the center of the city, was known as the main source of water.

The main economic activity in Šibenik during the first hundred years of existence was piracy. Subsequently, important economic activities become wine and olive growing, and livestock breeding. In addition, Šibenik was known for salt production in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the town itself and the surrounding area, there were several salt pans.

People in Šibenik had only a bit of a fishing experience until the 15th century when fishing became an important economic activity. The reason was the lack of knowledge about fishing tools. This knowledge was acquired in the 15th century thanks to Venetian fishermen and technology.

Venice generally had a great influence on the development of Šibenik and its culture, since Šibenik had been under Venetian rule for nearly 4oo years, until the fall of the Venetian state in 1797.

Thanks to fishery and salt production, Šibenik's economy grew rapidly until 1649 when it slowed down due to the plague that occurred in Šibenik in that time.
After recovering from the plague, Šibenik's economy was more based on industry and service activities. At the end of the 18th century, the first post office was opened, and in the late 19th century, Šibenik became one of the first cities in the world with electricity supply. In 1895 the first hydropower plant was opened on the river Krka and it was one of the first in Europe. For Šibenik it meant transformation from an agrarian to an industrial city.

In the twentieth century, Šibenik became the center of metallurgical processing industry in Croatia and whole Yugoslavia. Today, the most important activity is tourism.
The most important cultural monument in Šibenik, the cathedral, was built in the period from 1431 to 1536.

Monument to Croatian King Petar Kresimir
Monument to Croatian King Petar Kresimir

Most interesting events in Sibenik take place during the summer season. International Children's Festival is an event that has a tradition longer than 50 years. The festival is held every year in June in Sibenik. It lasts for about two weeks and consists of numerous events for children and young people.

Šibenik chanson festival is another honourable event of a long tradition that takes place in Šibenik in the second half of month August. The festival gathers the best musicians of Dalmatian music.

Concerts of Dalmatian Klapa Music are organised once a week in the city centre.

St. Michael's Fortress features summer stage, where various musical events of domestic and foreign performers are held. You can expect the most featured Croatian musicians to have a performance there.

The city and its people have predominantly the characteristics of Mediterranean culture and tradition. This means that people are emotionally linked to sea and sea activities. Children and youth are often engaged in water sports such as snorkelling and swimming. Many people enjoy traditional maritime activities such as fishing and shellfish farming. Some of them do it professionally, yet some as a hobby. The most common shell is mussel. Their largest breeding grounds are located near the Šibenik bridge, which connects the city with the northern part of Croatia.

Traditionally for Mediterranean culture, olive and grape vines are grown in the city and surrounding locations.

Each of the villages located outside the old city has its own tradition, culture, and speciality. Especially I would point out the settled islands that reflect the original Mediterranean spirit in many ways. The settled islands in the Šibenik archipelago are: Kaprije, Žirije, Prvić and Zlarin. The islands of Obonjan and Kornati are not inhabited all year long, but only during the summer season.

cannons on Barone Fortress
cannons on Barone Fortress

During summer season choice of nightclubs in Sibenik is far better than during winter season. Two well-known night venues in the old town are Bar Petrus, located on beach Banj, and club Azimut, located near Sibenik Cathedral.
However, if you want more options, you can go to Vodice, and visit clubs like Hacienda, Makina, and Exit. The alternative is Primosten and its popular nightclub Aurora.

Bar Petrus organizes live music events and beach parties a few times a week. The bar is located on the Beach Banj. You can check upcoming events on Petrus facebook site.

Azimut, nightclub with original interior design and slightly alternative music style, is located in Sibenik old town, just near the Cathedral. It is both indoor and outdoor nightclub. During the summer season, most of the performances are held outside.

Azimut is especially known for rock music concerts, which also include alternative music. If you like that style, Azimut is probably your best choice.

Aurora is widely known as one of the most famous Croatian summer nightlife venues. It is both inside and outside club that works during the summer season and on special occasions during other seasons.

Aurora hosts well-known European and Croatian DJs and singers. David Guetta, Fedde Le Grand and others have performance in Aurora almost every year.

Aurora club
Aurora club

Hacienda is popular disco club in Vodice, and one of the most famous summer nightclubs in Croatia. It hosts Croatian and European singers and DJs. The ticket price depends on performance, and it is in a range of 5 - 30 euros.
You can take a taxi or Uber to reach Hacienda. Uber price is less than 10 euros in one direction.

Hacienda
Hacienda

Makina and Exit are disco clubs located in the centre of Vodice.
Makina is usually an early night destination. People gather there at 11 pm and leave at 2 am when the club closes. Those who want to party more go to Exit or Hacienda.

Makina
Makina

The climate in Sibenik is moderately warm, with typical features of the Mediterranean climate. This means that the winters are mild. There are only a few days a year with air temperature below 0 Celsius. The summers are mostly hot with air temperature mostly above 30 degrees Celsius. The temperature of the sea in July and August is usually between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius, which is ideal for swimming. May, June, September, and October are also months with high temperatures of air and sea suitable for swimming and sunbathing.

Šibenik is located on east coast of Adriatic Sea (as you can see on the map). Its attractive location is the main reason for existence of many unique places worth visiting. The pin on the map points to Croatian national theatre, which is considered as the center of the city.

When considering means of transport, there are several options. The first and easiest one is to get to the city by car. A1 motorway leads all the way to the city.

Most apartments and hotels have parking places for their guests. Check it out before booking. Also, be aware of the fact that there are no many parking places in the centre of the city.

If your apartment is located under 2 kilometres from the centre of the city, I recommend going there on foot. You will save yourself the troubles of finding a parking place. And if you find one, it's not cheap. Prices for parking in the centre of the city are in the range of 1-2 euros per hour.

Other options for getting to Šibenik are a bus, train, plane, and ship. There are numerous bus lines from major European cities that drive directly to Šibenik or neighbouring Split or Zadar. From these places, buses to Šibenik depart every few hours.

The nearest airport is Split Airport, which is less than 60 km away from Šibenik. You can take a taxi or private transfer to Šibenik from the airport, or you can rent a car. A cheaper option is to take a bus to Split, and again take a bus from Split to Šibenik.

Railway lines are a worse option than a bus due to poor rail infrastructure and poor rail connections between Šibenik and other cities. If you want to come by train from Zagreb to Šibenik, you will need to change trains in Perković.

Another option is to come in Šibenik by ship. A few years ago, in place called Mandalina, a marina for yachts and ships of foreign and domestic guests was opened. There are cruisers with visitors from all over the world coming to the marina.

sunset in Sibenik
sunset in Sibenik

If you go in a typical bar in the center of the city and take coffee, you are likely to pay around 1-1.5 euros for it. If you take a beer, you are likely to pay 2-3 euros. If you want to take a small pizza in a restaurant, it may cost you 3-4 euros.

However, there are also bars that may charge you more for the same drinks and food. That's why I recommend exploring more than one bar before settling for a drink. Some places outside of Šibenik have significantly higher prices. For example, beach resort Solaris has around 30% more expensive prices than the center of the city.

View of Sibenik from Barone fortress
View of Sibenik from Barone fortress

Sibenik is considered as safe city with low crime rate. You can feel free to move anywhere you want.

Most of the people in Sibenik are hospitable and ready to help if needed. However, there are a few things to pay attention to.

Kuna (HRK) is the only way of payment in Croatia. Only a few companies and sellers have permission to sell in other currencies like euro. It would be best to convert your money in Croatian currency before arrival.

Feel free to request bill for each product or service you buy. That way you will make sure that you are paying the right price of the product.


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