Zvonimir Peran

2019-02-23 · 7 min read

Sibenik is a small Croatian city located on the Adriatic coast, in the bay of the Krka river. It is popular tourist destination with two UNESCO protected monuments, imposing fortresses, preserved nature and beautiful beaches.
All of these beauties attract more than a million visitors who come in Sibenik every year, mostly during the summer season.

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View of Sibenik town
View of Sibenik town
(© Tomaž Demšar / CC-BY-SA-3.0)

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 Hotel Bellevue - luxury hotel in 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 (Amadria Park)

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.

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

See enlarged map

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 are four unique fortification buildings, Cathedral of St. James, St. Anthony's channel, and many gothic and renaissance buildings located in the old town.

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
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 famous Game of Thrones series was recorded just near the Cathedral.
Sibenik Cathedral
Sibenik Cathedral
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 neccessary facilities: volleyball playground, free showers, beach bar, restaurant, and deck chairs.
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Beach Banj traditional New Year's Day swimming
Beach Banj traditional New Year's Day swimming
Beach Jadrija is another city beach. It is an ideal place for windsurfing because it is often windy there during the summer season. Many apartments in Jadrija are located directly by the sea. If you are looking of that type of accommodation, Jadrija may be the place for you.
St Anthony's channel divides Šibenik from the Adriatic sea. The channel features exceptional natural beauty. It's a great place for recreationists and bikers because of a walking trail which is more than 4 kilometres long. At the end of the trail, you can see UNESCO masterpiece of art, Fortress of st Nicholas.
The fortress was built for a purpose of defence against Turkish invasion in the 16th century. Tourists are currently not allowed to enter the fortress from the land side. The only way of reaching the fortress in 2019. is official boat line from Sibenik Riva, with a ticket price of 130 kunas per person.
St Anthony channel
St Anthony channel
Sibenik is sometimes called the city of fortresses because they are its most recognizable symbol. There are four fortresses in Sibenik.

St. John fortress is in a process of revitalization which should end in 2019. Visitors are currently not allowed to enter inside the fortress for security reasons.

Fortress Barone features high-tech museum that gives the visitors a view of the old Sibenik and war with the Osman Empire by using the technology of Augmented reality. In 1647. Turkish army attacked Sibenik, but after a month siege, Turkish invaders were forced to retreat to the interior, towards Drniš. They never managed to conquer Šibenik.

St. Michael fortress is the oldest and the most famous in Sibenik. It was reconstructed a few times during history, so it features architectural elements of different artistic styles.

St. Nicholas fortress was opened for visitors in June 2019. Boat tours to the fortress depart from Sibenik Riva.
Amazing St. Nicholas Fortress
Amazing St. Nicholas Fortress

The old town of Sibenik features numerous buildings from the Baroque and Renaissance. Among them are churches of the Holy Cross, St. Dominic, St. Barbara, the Holy Spirit, and numerous palaces including the Palace of Knights, the Bishop's Palace, the Town Hall, the Palace of famous Sibenik's families Pelegrini and Rossini. In the Pelegrini Palace, there is a famous eponymous restaurant known for its high-quality home-made food.
The Renaissance Church of the Holy Spirit
The Renaissance Church of the Holy Spirit
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 waterfall
Skradinski buk waterfall
(© Nikater / 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.

St Michael fortress
St Michael fortress

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 famous Croatian musicians to have a performance there.

cannons on Barone Fortress
cannons on Barone Fortress

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. Bar Petrus organizes live music events and beach parties few times a week. The bar is located on the Beach Banj. Club Azimut is another popular nightclub located in the center of the city.

If you want more nightlife options, then you should consider going to Vodice or Primosten. Vodice is one of the most popular nightlife venues in whole Dalmatia. Taxi fare from Šibenik to Vodice is approximately 10 euros. If you choose to drink alcohol, it is certainly better to go by taxi than by car because of your own safety and frequent police check-ups during the night.
For more info, read our guide to nightlife in Sibenik.

exit from St Anthony channel with St Nicholas fortress
exit from St Anthony channel with St Nicholas fortress

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.

exit from St Anthony channel with St Nicholas fortress
exit from St Anthony channel with St Nicholas fortress

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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