A small charming town located in Dalmatia, called Sibenik, has become top tourist hit in 2020.
Sibenik features two UNESCO heritage sites, Game of Thrones locations, nice beaches and preserved nature.
Accommodation in Sibenik
The best accommodation option in Sibenik in 2020 is Hotel Bellevue. It boasts an attractive location on Riva, luxury rooms with a panoramic view of Sibenik, and the vicinity of all the attractions in the old town.
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.
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
The map below is provided by our partner 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.
Sibenik old town
When you come in Sibenik prepare yourself for a walk through old town. There is interesting stuff to see there.
Sibenik was first mentioned in 1066., so some attractions are almost millennium old. But most of them were built during the Venetian rule in period 1412. - 1797.
No other city in Croatia has two UNESCO listed heritage sites, except Sibenik.
St. James Cathedral
St. James Cathedral is a beautiful masterpiece of Venetian art built in the 15th century. Various architects had been working on its construction for more than 100 years.
The Cathedral is an example of combining different artistic styles of sculpture, painting and architecture.
It is unique among other Renaissance buildings since it was entirely built of stone.
Area near the Cathedral is a GOT location.
Sibenik is sometimes called the city of fortresses. Fortresses are a key symbol of the town.
St. John's fortress
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.
The planned completion of the work is 2021.
Fortress Barone is located only a few hundred meters away from St. John's fortress.
The interesting attraction is a high tech museum with 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 the town and St. Anthony's channel.
Educational boards are all around.
Ticket price is 50 kunas (around 7 euros) for an adult person. The same ticket is valid for visiting St. Michael's fortress.
St. Michael's fortress
St. Michael's fortress is the oldest and most famous. It has architectural elements of various artistic style since it was reconstructed many times.
During summer months there is a stage featuring various performances and festivals.
St. Nicholas fortress
St. Nicholas fortress is another Venetian 16th century masterpiece of art located at the entrance to the St. Anthony's channel. It was built for the purpose of defence from the seaside.
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.
The only way to reach the fortress in 2020 is the official boat tour from 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.
Landing entrance is currently under construction.
St. Nicholas should not be missed by GOT supporters.
St. Francis Church and Monastery
Water supply system consisting of 4 wells was built in the 15th century. The reason for its construction was the lack of water in the 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 is the site of a popular restaurant.
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. The library and theatre are located near the main square called Poljana.
St Anthony's channel
St Anthony's channel connects the town to the Adriatic Sea. The channel boasts exceptional natural beauty. The walking trail, located just near the channel, is a great place for recreationists and bikers. At the end of the trail, there is UNESCO masterpiece of art, Fortress of st Nicholas.
Kornati is an island archipelago located north of Sibenik. It has a status of a national park.
Numerous tourist agencies organize one-day excursions to Kornati from Murter or Zadar
Krka National Park
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, Roski Slap and Visovac.
What to visit first
If your time in Sibenik 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.
For those more courageous, activity of a bungee jumping from Sibenik Bridge is organized during summer.
There are two beaches located in the old town. The first one is Banj, located in the vicinity of the Cathedral. 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 Rezaliste and Solaris
Banj is the top beach of the old town.
It is located less than 1 kilometre away from the centre.
The beach has all the 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.
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, they will for sure tell you 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 city centre.
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 summer atmosphere in beach bar Fjaka.
Solaris (Amadria Park) is big hotel resort located 6.3 kilometres away from the centre. 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.
History of Sibenik
Sibenik was first mentioned in 1066 in the gift of the king of Croatia, Petar Kresimir, to the Benedictine Monastery of St. Mary in Zadar under the title SIBENIQUO. That is why it is often referred to as the Kresimir town. The monument to the king is at the entrance to the main city park located next to the city library.
The main economic activity during the first hundred years of existence was piracy.
Venice generally had a great influence on the development of Sibenik and its culture, since the town had been under Venetian rule for nearly 4oo years, until the fall of the Venetian state in 1797.
Sibenik is known to be one of the first cities in Europe with electricity supply. In 1895 the first hydropower plant was opened on the river Krka.
Cultural and musical events in Sibenik
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. It lasts for about two weeks and consists of numerous events for children and young people.
Sibenik chanson festival is another honorable event of a long tradition that takes place 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.
There is a summer stage on St. Michael's Fortress, where various musical events of domestic and foreign performers are held.
Characteristics and customs of people
The city and its people have predominantly the characteristics of Mediterranean culture and tradition.
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 and speciality. Especially I would point out the settled islands that reflect the original Mediterranean spirit in many ways. Those are: Kaprije, Zirije, Prvic and Zlarin. The islands of Obonjan and Kornati are not inhabited all year long, but only during summer.
Nightlife in Sibenik
During summer season there are many clubs and nightlife options. Two well-known night venues in the old town are Bar Petrus, located on beach Banj, and club Azimut, located near the Cathedral.
Aurora and Hacienda are among the most famous clubs in Croatia.
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 in Primosten
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.
Hacienda in Vodice
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.
Makina and Exit
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.
Climate in Sibenik
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.
Sibenik map and location
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.
How to get to Sibenik
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.
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.
Money and safety
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.