The best things to do in Šibenik, Croatia

Šibenik is one of those places to visit in Croatia that people often skip in favour of nearby Krka Waterfalls, Split of Zadar. But don’t make the mistake of skipping Šibenik on your itinerary - there are so many things to do in Šibenik, whether you visit for the evening after a trip to Krka or stay for a couple of days on your trip along the Dalmatian coast.

Despite being overshadowed by the much larger cities of Split and Zadar, Šibenik is actually Croatia’s oldest city founded by the Croats.

Although the city was first documented in 1066, it likely was founded even earlier, meaning a visit to the city gives you 1000 years of history to explore.

Despite being founded by the Croats, the city was fought over by the Venetians, the Hungarians and the Byzantines, but despite its tumultuous history, this stone city stands as strong as ever.

In fact, you’ll see that the city is home to not one, not two but FOUR fortresses and its strategic position where the Krka river flows into the Adriatic and protected by the St Anthony’s Canal means it was always in a strong position.

Sibenik is one of my favourite places in Croatia and I actually considered living there over Split, so if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you visit Sibenik and see everything it has to offer.

old town Sibenik on a hill which looks like an island, blue sea surrounding it with blue skies and boat anchored in the foreground

View of Sibenik Old Town

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How to get to Šibenik

The easiest way to reach Šibenik is by car from either Split or Zadar if you have a vehicle and are planning a coastal road trip in Croatia.

Alternatively, there are regular direct buses from Split Bus Station to Šibenik throughout the day. The bus journey takes 1.5 hours and tickets cost less than 10 euros.

If you’re planning a day trip from Split to Krka Waterfalls National Park, you could also pick a tour that includes a stop in Šibenik as the city is just 10 minutes from the entrance to Krka.

 

Best things to do in Sibenik: sightseeing, attractions and food

See the stone faces on the Cathedral of St. James

image of sweeping white stone steps with a cathedral at the top

Cathedral of St James

Šibenik is the only city in Croatia to be home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, in fact only five cities in the world hold that title. In Šibenik, one is the Cathedral of St. James, the other is St Nicholas Fort which we’ll get to later.

There are a couple of unique things to do know about this Cathedral. The first is that it’s the world’s largest building made only of stone - no bricks or timber are present. The Cathedral was ahead of its time, using interconnecting stones to solidify the structure, a technique that didn’t become popular until centuries later worldwide.

The second unique thing about the Cathedral is the 71 faces carved into its exterior. You will see the faces of men, women and children. They were intended to be accurate representations of the townspeople in the 15th century.

Locally the Cathedral is more well-known as St Jacob’s Cathedral as the name Jacob is used interchangeably with James in the Croatian language.

The Sibenik Cathedral also features in three episodes of Game of Thrones season 5.

 

Learn about the city’s history at the City Museum

image in the town square o Sibenik with old stone buildings and a street down the righthand side with a church at the bottom

Sibenik Old Town Square

Located in the former Prince’s Palace, right by the Cathedral, the City Museum is the place to go to learn more about this city’s fascinating history.

There you’ll find archaeological artefacts, cultural and historic exhibitions detailing Šibenik’s long and fascinating history.

A Šibenik must see attraction and great for a rainy day or to escape the sun for an hour or two!

 

Visit St Michael’s Fortress

long distance view of a fortress on a hill, surrounded by rooftops and the sea behind

View of St Michael’s Fortress from Barone Fortress

One of my favourite views of the city is from St Michael’s Fortress, situated at the top of the Old Town and it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular Šibenik attractions!

You can follow the signage in the Old Town to get here and the ticket is 75kn, or you can get a combined ticket for St Michael’s Fortress, St John’s Fortress and Barone Fortress for 110 kn.

St Michael’s Fortress was the most important strategic defence of this section of the coast for many years, it’s easy to see why from its position above the bay and close to the mouth of the Krka River.

There’s the chance to learn more about the fortress inside as well as enjoy the amazing views of the Old Town and beyond.

The Fortress is now also home to an open air stage which hosts events regularly for the public.

 

Visit Barone Fortress

Located further behind and above the newer parts of the city, Barone offers a vantage point of the Old Town, St Michael’s Fortress and the bay beyond.

There’s an audio-video guide inside the small building and you can walk around the fortified walls at the top of the fort.

Worth a visit if you’ve bought the combined ticket and plan to visit all three fortresses. There is also free parking at Barone Fortress if you’d prefer to drive up the hill!

view from above, looking down on orange rooftops of the town below, with a fortress on a hill in the middle of them and the sea and islands in the distance

View of Sibenik from Barone Fortress

 

…and St John’s Fort

If you have bought the combined ticket then a visit to St. John’s is also on the cards!

It’s also located further along the same ridge as Barone Fortress and was instrumental in defending Šibenik against Ottoman attacks.

St John’s was closed for renovation when I visited, but if you’ve got the combined ticket, it’s also worth stopping by.

 

Explore the charming old town

Taking some time to just wander the Old Town here is so enjoyable.

I actually prefer the quiet, meandering Old Town streets in Šibenik much more than the Old Town of Split. You really feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, it feels more local and historic and there’s beautiful and surprising architecture around every corner.

Exploring the Old Town is a chance to enjoy the shade of the narrow cobbled streets, revel in a slower pace and stop at any cafe, gelato shop or bar that takes your fancy!

 

Stroll along the waterfront to Banj Beach for a view of the Old Town

girl sitting on a harbour wall with boats in the foreground, looking across to the old town of Sibenik on the hill, surrounded by sea

Waterfront walk in Sibenik

Although St Michael’s Fortress is one of my favourite views of the city, in my opinion, the best view in Šibenik is from the waterfront, if you walk along until you reach the Banje Beach.

From here you’ll see the stunning Old Town on the hill, almost looking like an island of patchwork houses tightly knitted together.

I love the walk here and you can reach this spot from the Riva in front of the Cathedral and just keep walking all the way along to the right until you get past the small harbour.

 

Do the St. Anthony’s Canal hiking route

view from a hill, looking down on the coastline of Sibenik

St Anthony’s Canal

One of the places to visit in Sibenik that often gets missed is the hiking route along the Sibenik canal itself.

The opening that connects Šibenik to the Adriatic sea is called St Anthony’s Canal and there’s a beautiful walking route along the inlet with incredible views.

You can easily make a day of this, with beaches to stop and swim in, amazing views and plenty of greenery, you’ll also see St Nichola’s Fortress in the bay as you reach the furthest point and St Nicholas Beach.

The route is steep in some places but it’s also paved the whole way, so doable for families or those who wouldn’t usually hike.

The route takes around 45 minutes - 1 hour in each direction.

 

See St Nicholas Fortress

Of course you’ll see the fortress if you do choose to do the walk along the inlet, but since the fortress is an island, you can’t actually visit it without taking a boat.

This strategic fortress as the mouth of the inlet was vital to the successful survival of Šibenik for so many centuries.

There are 2-4 boats to visit St Nicholas Fortress each day (depending on the time of year). They leave from the Šibenik waterfront and you can find all the details, timetables and prices here.

Due to the historic nature and preservation of the fortress, visitors have only been allowed since 2019 and you can only visit on an organised tour by the Šibenik-Knin county. The boat ride takes around 30 minutes and the guided tour of the fortress takes around 50 minutes.

 

Wander the Medieval Mediterranean Gardens at St Lawrence Monastery

For a real taste of the Mediterranean, the beautifully cultivated garden at the Monastery feels like a real oasis in the centre of the city.

It was lost for hundreds of years before being restored by architect, Dragutin Kiš, and it’s now the only garden of its kind in the whole of Croatia.

 

Enjoy the Solaris Aquapark Dalmatia for the whole family

If you’re looking for the top things to do in Sibenik for families, then look no further than the Solaris Aquapark.

This huge aquapark was the first to ever open in the Dalmatia region and it’s owned by the Amadria Park hotel, making it the only hotel in Croatia with its own waterpark.

You don’t have to stay at the hotel to visit though, day tickets cost 190kn for those over 120cm and 95kn for 90-120cm. Under 90cm is free.

Find out more here.

Or book your stay at the Amadria Park here - they have luxury stays, self-catered apartments and camping available. With 4km of beachfront, the waterpark, pools and restaurants, you can easily spend your days here.

 

Eat at Antin Gust Restaurant

If you’re looking for fresh seafood and traditional cuisine at a great price, on the edge of the town is Antin Gust Restaurant.

It’s worth the quick drive or taxi trip here to enjoy their gorgeous outdoor seating under the pergola and outstanding dishes.

The range on the menu is huge and the portions are a really great size for such good prices. 

This is a great casual dining option for friends, couples and families.

 

Or enjoy fine dining and wine at Pelegrini

If you’re perhaps looking for a more unique take on local cuisine with high concept dishes, a tasting menu and an extensive wine list, then the Michelin star cuisine at Pelegrini is the place for you.

Their food is all Croatian and locally sourced, the restaurant sits in a stunning rustic courtyard with a modern twist on the konoba style.

This is not a cheap experience but absolutely worth it if you’re looking for a fine dining experience.

 

Things to do around Šibenik: top attractions and day trips

Eat and explore at the Dalmatian Ethno Village

Without a doubt, this is one of the must see Sibenik attractions if you’re planning what to do around Sibenik.

The Ethno Village is just a short 15 minute drive from central Šibenik, located close to the coast.

This unique experience is a true, garden-to-plate dining and museum experience where you can see an authentic, traditional Croatian village life, and learn about the cooking traditions, farming methods and crafts of the country’s past.

You’ll see and eat dishes from the rustic, seasonal menu, prepared by artisans and dine on a traditional menu of Croatian cuisine.

It’s an amazing chance to learn about the culinary history and heritage of the region whilst having a unique hands-on experience in a living museum.

The dining area is beautiful and the Ethno village is fascinating to explore, feeling like you’ve stepped back in time.

 

Krka National Park

Of course a day trip to Krka Waterfalls National Park is a must do, it’s one of the most popular Sibenik tourist attractions for a reason, even though it’s around 15 minutes outside the city.

For things to do near Sibenik, Croatia, you can’t miss a trip to this otherworldly natural paradise.

With the tumbling falls of the Krka river, flowing over Skradinski Buk, this is a must vist day trip from Šibenik.

If you’re already in Šibenik, you can take a taxi, or bus or drive to the Krka entrance at Lozovac. Or if you’re visiting Krka for a day, I highly recommend doing a Krka day tour which includes a stop in Šibenik.

The falls really are spectacular to see, the water is an unreal shade of turquoise and there’s the option to take a boat trip, follow the waterfall trails and see one of the top attractions in Croatia, just a short drive from Šibenik.

cascading waterfalls into a bright green lake and surrounded by lush greenery in Krka Waterfalls National Park near Sibenik in Croatia

Krka Waterfalls

 

Visit Rak Winery

The Dalmatia region is famous for its Zinfandel, so what could be more perfect than the opportunity to visit a winery in Šibenik?

The winery I recommend is just a short 10 minute drive from the city, run by a local family.

They offer a tasting session of 6 wines, 3 local grape varieties and all served with a platter of local delicacies. 

Find out more and book here.

 

Boat trip to the Kornati Islands

clear blue water with a boat cruising and islands in the distance

Sibenik is often called the gateway to the Kornati Islands as they sit outside the inlet, directly from the city.

The Kornati islands are uninhabited and cover an area of 300km2. They’re famous for the turquoise lagoons, dramatic cliff faces and wildlife.

The best way to get there is by speedboat, so you can really make the most of a day trip and see as much as possible.

This full day Kornati National Park tour will take you to Bavljenac - the famous ‘fingerprint’ island, the isle of Mana where you can swim, snorkel, cliff jump and see the island ruins. You’ll also swim in the Lojena lagoon and stop for lunch in a taverna on the island of Levrnaka.

Book your Kornati tour here.

 

Summary: Šibenik things to do

I hope this Sibenik travel guide has given you plenty of inspiration for things to see in Šibenik and things to do near Šibenik in the beautiful areas surrounding the city.

There’s so much history in Sibenik, places to visit and things to see, that I hope this guide gives you plenty of ideas whether you’re staying in the area for a week or just passing through for the day!

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