Sibenik is a beautiful city that every traveler should see on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Although it often flies under the radar compared to the surrounding destinations, Šibenik holds natural beauty and history that can compete! Here’s what to know about Sibenik Old Town, the three fortresses, and more of the best things to do.
How to Get to Sibenik Croatia
Šibenik sits at the mouth of the Krka River where it flows into the Adriatic Sea. Its location is perfect as it’s both an hour from the major cities of Split and Zadar.
On our visit to Sibenik, we took the stunning coastal road from Split. There is a large parking lot down by the port and market area which was just a short walk from the city center.
You can also take advantage of Croatia’s public transportation which has bus and train routes to Sibenik. The city is also the perfect place to include in your day trip itinerary if you’re heading to the nearby Krka National Park.
Don’t be thrown off by the old concrete apartment buildings when entering Sibenik. The true beauty lies within the colorful Old Town!
Quick History of Sibenik
While the first mention in historical documents of Šibenik was in 1066, you should know that humans have inhabited this area since the Neolithic period.
In the 11th century was when a settlement started to develop on the hill where St. Michael’s fortress sits today. This makes it the oldest city on the Dalmatian Coast!
The Venetian years brought great change to this entire region including the development of three major fortresses. Two of which were built to defend against the Ottomans during the Cretan War.
Following the collapse of Venice, Sibenik would fall under the Habsburg Monarchy and then the Italians following both World Wars.
Since Croatia’s independence in 1991, Šibenik has become an attractive city for tourists. It is one of the few cities in the world to have 2 sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list if you include the island site of St. Nicholas Fortress.
5 Tips for Exploring Sibenik Old Town
Wander the Streets: The best way to experience the history of this amazing coastal city is to simply walk through Sibenik Old Town. The beautiful stone streets are surrounded by colorful apartment buildings. Strolling through Sibenik is truly like taking a walk back in time!
Cathedral of St. James: The heart and soul of Sibenik is its incredible church. Construction on St James Cathedral took over 100 years and was officially completed in 1536. Its architect known as George the Dalmatian is honored with a statue standing adjacent from the cathedral. This impressive example of Gothic and Renaissance style architecture was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000.
Stop at the Oldest Cafe: You’ll see plenty of bakeries, ice cream spots, and coffee shops on your walk around Sibenik Old Town. When you’re ready for a drink head to Medulic Cafe which has been in business since 1926. The square is such a nice place to sit and enjoy the ambience of this amazing Croatian city.
Jump in the Adriatic Sea: Ready for a swim?? Right on the edge of Old Town is the stunning Adriatic Sea! We loved walking along the water and jumping right in near the boats. It’s so incredible to swim in the clear blue water underneath St. Michael’s Fortress.
View from Above: Speaking of the Fortresses… For the best views you’ll want to get to higher ground! All three have stunning views of Šibenik Old Town, and are just a short walk from town.
Three Amazing Fortresses of Šibenik
Once you’ve thoroughly explored Old Town it’s time to experience the guardians of Sibenik! These fortresses have been watching over the city since the Middle Ages. They’re not only an amazing part of history to see, but also where you’ll get the best views.
We recommend purchasing the combo ticket which gets you access to all three castles. At the time of our visit, it was just 11.50 Euros for all three as opposed to 10 Euros for just St. Michael’s Fortress. It is possible to walk to all of them from town, or you can drive up to Barone and St. Johns and park.
St. Michael’s Fortress: The first of the three built is where you’ll have magnificent views of Sibenik Old Town, Adriatic Sea, and the mouth of the Krka River. It gets its name from the church which once stood inside its ancient walls. Historical records date back to the 12th century and you can learn all about it inside St. Michael’s Fortress.
Barone Fortress: Looking inland you’ll see the Barone Fortress just on the other side of town. It was built in 1646 during the Creten War. The story goes that when the Ottoman army was gaining ground, the people of Šibenik built the Barone Fortress in just 58 days. This helped them fight off the great attack of 1647 in which 25,000 soldiers descended on Sibenik!
St. Johns Fortress: Right next door there is one more fortress to discover. This one was built at the same time as Barone and offers more stunning views out towards town. Atop the fortress you’ll see old cannons facing out to the sea and a fun cafe to grab a drink at.
Sibenik Beaches & Kornati Islands
Still not impressed with all the fun things to do in Sibenik? Well, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of beautiful beaches nearby as well! As we mentioned, the easiest way to go for a swim is find a spot to hop in the water right from promenade.
Banj Beach is a 10 minute walk from Sibenik Old Town and Rezalište and Jadrija are just a short drive away.
You should also know that Sibenik is the gateway to the Kornati Islands and one of Croatia’s best national parks. You can jump on a boat tour and explore the 89 different islands from the coast.
This is known as a paradise for snorkelers, divers, and swimmers alike. The Kornati Islands have hiking trails, old forts, and some of the best beaches around!
Krka National Park & Primosten
With its great location, there are so many awesome places to see within reach of Sibenik Croatia. One attraction close by that we highly recommend is the world-famous Krka National Park.
If you are staying in Split or Zadar then combining Sibenik and Krka makes for a fun day trip. After all, from Sibenik Old Town to Krka National Park is only a 30 minute drive!
If you’re heading back to Split from Sibenik then make sure to drive the coastal road. You can stop for a meal and a swim in the small town of Primosten. This beautiful seaside village may be tiny, but it’s the perfect place to end after a full day of adventure.
Have any questions about this article or want to share your favorite things to do in Sibenik Croatia? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
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Croatia Travel Planning
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to rent vehicles on our travels. In Croatia, you can even take your car on the ferries so you have wheels for the different islands!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities around the country. You can book a blue cave 5 islands tour from Split, go sea kayaking in Dubrovnik, or take a day trip to the famous Krka National Park.
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
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