A small charming town located in Dalmatia, called Sibenik, will be a top tourist spot in 2023.
Sibenik features two UNESCO heritage sites, Game of Thrones locations, nice beaches and preserved nature.
Table of Contents
- What to see in Sibenik
- St. James Cathedral
- Sibenik fortresses
- St. John's fortress
- Fortress Barone
- St. Michael's fortress
- St. Nicholas fortress
- St. Francis Church and Monastery
- Four wells
- St Anthony's channel
- Krka National Park
- Sibenik in one day
- Day trips from Sibenik
- Sibenik beaches
- Beach Banj
- Beach Jadrija
- Beach Rezaliste
- Interesting historical facts related to Sibenik
- Cultural and musical events in Sibenik
- People in Sibenik
- Nightlife in Sibenik
- Climate in Sibenik
- Sibenik location
- Accommodation in Sibenik
- How to get to Sibenik
- Prices in Sibenik
- Safety in Sibenik
What to see in Sibenik
When you come to Sibenik prepare yourself for a walk through the old town. There is interesting stuff to see there.
Sibenik was first mentioned in 1066., so some attractions are almost a millennium old. But most of them were built during the Venetian rule in the period between 1412. and 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 were 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 the filming location of Game of Thrones.
Sibenik is sometimes called the city of fortresses, which are the key symbol of the town and a memory of the efforts of the domestic people to defend their city through various historical periods.
There are four fortresses in the town, and all of them were built to defend the city against Turkish invasion.
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 against Turkish attacks that occurred in 1647. After a monthly siege, the Turkish army was forced to retreat, with a big loss.
The fortress reconstruction has been finished recently, and now it is a must-see spot for all visitors who arrive in Sibenik.
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.
There are educational boards explaining various aspects of the fortress's construction and history.
The ticket price is 40 kuna (around 5.5 euros) for an adult person. You can buy a single ticket for two fortresses (Barone and St. Michael) at the price of 70 kuna (9.50 euros).
St. Michael's fortress
St. Michael's fortress is the oldest and most famous. It has architectural elements of various artistic styles since it was reconstructed multiple times during history.
There is a stage featuring performances and festivals in July and August.
Visitors can enjoy a favourite drink in the bar located in the fortress, with a panoramic view of the nearby area.
The ticket price for visiting the fortress is 60 kuna (8 euros).
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 its 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 2023 is the official boat tour from Riva. The 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. The ticket price for an adult is 130 kunas.
The landing entrance is currently under construction.
St. Nicholas fortress should not be missed by Game of Thrones supporters.
St. Francis Church and Monastery
St. Francis Church and Monastery are located near the main square called Poljana. Within the church, there is a museum featuring Sibenik Prayer, an important historical document from the early Croatian state.
A 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 visited 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.
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 is a gateway of Sibenik 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 a 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.
More info about attractions in Sibenik and current events can be found on Sibenik tourist board page
Sibenik in one day
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 looking for adventures, the activity of bungee jumping from Sibenik Bridge is organized during summer.
Day trips from Sibenik
If you decide to stay in Sibenik for a week or longer, you may decide to go for day trips.
The first one we would recommend is visiting the already mentioned Krka National Park. If you arrived in the town in your own car, drive to the Lozovac entrance and explore Skradinski Buk. From there, you can take a boat tour to Visovac and Roški Slap. All three destinations of the National Park feature preserved nature and beauty.
Another destination worth visiting for a day trip is Trogir, a beautiful town featuring monuments from the period of the rule of Venice. There you can see the monumental Romanesque Cathedral of St. Lawrence, which is part of the UNESCO heritage list.
A magnificent town of Split is an hour and a half of driving away from Sibenik. There you can explore Diocletian's Palace, featuring architecture from the Roman age. While in Split, you can climb hill Marjan, or play picigin on the beach Bacvice.
Zadar is worth visiting as well. Featuring fortification walls that are part of the UNESCO heritage list, a beautiful sunset, and the sea organ, Zadar is one of the top Adriatic destinations.
Primosten is a small charming Mediterranean town located only half an hour of drive away from Sibenik. The wine Babic, which is produced in Primosten, is known to be among the top original Croatian products.
Additionally, Primosten features a charming Mediterranean atmosphere, nice beaches and restaurants where you can taste the wine and other specialities like olive oil.
Betina is a small village located on the island Murter featuring beautiful wooden ships created by domestic shipyards. It takes half an hour to reach the place by car.
There are two beaches located in the old town. The first one is Banj, located in the vicinity of the Cathedral. Another beach, Jadrija, is located at the entrance to the St. Anthony's channel.
The most featured beaches located outside the old town are Rezaliste and Solaris.
Banj is the top beach in the old town.
It is located less than 1 kilometre away from the centre.
The beach has all the necessary tourist facilities: a volleyball playground, free showers, deck chairs, and exercise equipment.
An interesting event that is held every year on the beach is New Year's Day swimming. Many people arrive at the beach to watch the most courageous guys from Sibenik enter 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 spot 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 destination 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 a well-known beach in Brodarica, a small village located 6 kilometres away from the city centre.
Rezaliste is a nice big pebble beach with a crystal clear sea. There are many tourist facilities on the beach: renting chairs, fast food, coffee bars, ice cream shops etc. Visitors especially like the summer atmosphere in the beach bar Fjaka.
Solaris (Amadria Park) is a big hotel resort located 6.3 kilometres away from the centre. Except for beautiful hotels, Solaris is famous for its beaches, which are a 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. These 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 the prices of all tourist facilities are a little bit more expensive than on the other beaches in Sibenik.
Interesting historical facts related to 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's 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 an 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 honourable event of a long tradition that takes place in the second half of the month of 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.
People in Sibenik
The city and its people have predominantly the characteristics of Mediterranean culture and tradition.
Traditionally for Mediterranean culture, olives and grapevines are grown in the city and surrounding villages.
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 the 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.
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, a nightclub with original interior design and a slightly alternative music style is located in Sibenik old town, just near the Cathedral. It is both an 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 features both inside and outside dancing areas. The club works during the summer season and on special occasions during other times of the year.
Aurora hosts well-known European and Croatian DJs and singers. David Guetta, Fedde Le Grand and others have performed in Aurora almost every year (not counting pandemic years).
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 temperatures 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. Its attractive location is the main reason for the existence of many tourist attractions worth visiting.
Accommodation in Sibenik
The best accommodation option in Sibenik in 2023 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 prices than in hotels.
Affordable place to stay in the old town is apartments Sv. Frane, which features a great location and nicely decorated rooms in Mediterranean style.
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If the beauty of the sea and sunbathing is a more important part of your vacation than sightseeing, I recommend staying in villages outside of the old town like Zaboric, Grebastica, and Sparadici. These places are 5-20 kilometres away from the town centre but have a cleaner sea and more beautiful beaches.
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 highway is the prefered way of arrival. You need to exit in Dubrava and drive to Sibenik via the local road. The other option is the coastal D8 road.
Many apartments and hotels have reserved parking spots for their guests.
If you come only for a day visit, you can leave your car in the large underground garage which was opened in 2020. The parking price during the summer season is 10 kuna (approximately 1.5 euros).
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 towns Split and Zadar.
The nearest airport is Split Airport, which is less than 60 km away from the town. You can take a taxi or private transfer from the airport, or rent a car. A cheaper option is to take a shuttle bus to Split, and then 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 to Šibenik by ship. A few years ago, in a village 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.
Prices 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 4 - 5 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 the town have significantly higher prices. For example, the beach resort Solaris is approximately 30% more expensive than the centre of the city.
Safety in Sibenik
Sibenik is considered a 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.
As of January 2023, the euro is the only official currency and a way of payment in Croatia.
Feel free to request a receipt for each product or service you buy. That way you will make sure that you are paying the right price for a product.