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Sibenik, Croatia is an absolute gem! The historic hillside town is tucked along the Dalmatian Coast under the gaze of three fortresses. Many visitors breeze through the Old Town after visiting the Krka Waterfalls, but only long enough to see the St. Michael Fortress and Sibenik Cathedral. We, however, decided to spend an entire week in the city. During our stay, we discovered that there are many things to do in Sibenik – and could have actually stayed longer!
What To Do in Sibenik
On our first trip to the city, we spent one day in Sibenik – which is just long enough to see a few top attractions. On our return week-long stay, we discovered a multitude of Sibenik things to do – from island-hopping boat trips to coastal walks to hidden gems. Fellow travelers can use our guide of what to see in Sibenik to plan a perfect trip!
Before we dive into our list of top Sibenik, Croatia things to do, it helps to understand the history of the city. The area was first settled by Croats in the 7th century. Two centuries later, as the town’s importance increased due to its strategic port, a protective fort was constructed .
In the years that followed, the city fell under various control – Hungarian, Venetian, Ottoman, Austrian, French (under Napoleon) and Yugoslavian. The city was expanded, destroyed by both war and fire, and then rebuilt. The result is a charming, yet compact, hillside community with an astonishing number of churches and remnants of the fortifications.
The Best Things to Do in Sibenik, Croatia
Is Sibenik worth visiting? We think so! Use our list of Sibenik must-see sights to make the most of your holidays to Sibenik, Croatia. Pro Tip: At the end of the post, find other information like where to stay, what to eat and how to get there. Below, you will also find a Sibenik map of attractions.
Save, Pin or Bookmark this Sibenik blog post so that you can use it while planning (and during!) your trip!
#1 Sibenik Cathedral
The enormous and impressive St. James Cathedral Sibenik, Croatia is a must-see! The church – made completely from stone – was built over a 100-year period from 1431 to 1535. The cathedral is a Sibenik UNESCO Heritage site. The grand, towering dome can be seen from afar – and the up-close view is just as impressive. Standing on the steps, the intricately designed main facade of the church looms large overhead.
Visiting Sibenik St. James Cathedral
The interior of the St. James Cathedral Sibenik is open to visitors, but requires a ticket. During our visit, the fee was 30 HRK. Sibenik Cathedral opening hours vary by season. In high season, the Sibenik church should be open during the hours of 9:30am to 6:30pm.
What To See at St. James Cathedral Croatia
Inside the dark interior of the church are ornate side altars and an extraordinary main altar. However, the highlight of the church is the small baptistery, which is to the right of the main altar. The small room features incredibly detailed carvings.
On the cathedral exterior, look for the humorous statues of Adam and Eve on the north portico (facing the large square). Another interesting and notable feature of the Cathedral of St. James in Sibenik are the 71 stone-carved heads protruding from the rear of the church.
#2 St. Michael Fortress Sibenik
Once a heavily fortified city, there are four remaining fortresses in Sibenik. Three of the Sibenik fortresses (St. Michael’s Fort, Barone Fort and St. John’s Fort) sit on hills above the city and one is on the sea (St. Nicholas Fort). For many years, the city’s forts sat in various states of disrepair.
Visit Sibenik St. Michael Fortress
The St. Michael Fortress was the first to be restored in 2014. However, rather than recreating every historic detail of the Medieval Sibenik castle, the interior now hosts an open-air stage and 1,000+ seat auditorium (making it an extremely unique place to see a concert!).
Sitting above the town like a wedding cake topper, the St. Michael Fort is easily accessible. Visitors can simply follow the signs up the inclined lanes from the Sibenik center. Tickets are required to access St. Michael’s Fortress Sibenik.
Pro Tip: We discuss visiting the other Sibenik fortresses later in this blog post!
#3 Sibenik Beach
Some of the top things to see in Sibenik are not historic structures, but beaches! The closest beach to the city is Banj Beach Sibenik, which is just 1km north of the Old Town. The beach is comprised of small pebbles and there is a restaurant on-site as well.
While Banj is the closest beach to the city, there are other Sibenik, Croatia beaches outside of the channel. The best beaches near Sibenik, however, are in the neighboring town of Vodice (which we talk about later!).
#4 St. Ana Cemetery
When considering what to do in Sibenik, touring a cemetery might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, the St. Ana Cemetery, located next to the St. Michael Fortress, should be on every list of Sibenik things to do. One of the lesser-known Sibenik sights, the hillside graveyard has elevated gravesites and panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea. Views to the north of the cemetery fall on St. John’s Fortress.
#5 St. Lawrence Monastery Sibenik
While Sibenik sightseeing, another retreat from the narrow, old town lanes is the Medieval Monastery Garden of St. Lawrence. The colorful and fragrant garden, which is enclosed by walls, was opened to the public in 2007 as a Sibenik park. (Just walk past the cafe at the entrance into the main garden; it’s public space and free to enter.) The garden design replicates the type of garden that the monks would have planted.
Cave Grotto at St. Lawrence Monastery
The Church of St. Lawrence was built in the 17th century; the crumbling bell tower remains rise above the garden. Near the monastery entrance (below the garden) is the Lourdes Grotto. Inside the cave is a statue of Mary.
#6 Sibenik Game of Thrones Tour
Many of the scenes for the popular TV show, Game of Thrones, were filmed in Croatia – including in the town of Sibenik. Fans of Game of Thrones can easily create their own Sibenik tour to the sights that appeared in the show. The city was used as a film location for Season 5. The three Sibenik, Croatia Game of Thrones sights are the Cathedral of St. James, St. John’s Fortress and an overview of the city.
#7 Sibenik Old Town (and the Many Sibenik Churches)
Sibenik is a spectacular jumble of Old Town lanes. We were absolutely enamored by the streets that led to hidden cafes, tucked away playgrounds and a fascinating display of historic architecture. We often wandered aimlessly, allowing our senses to lead the way, but other visitors might want to join a Sibenik tour (find out more!).
On our walks, we never strolled far before stumbling onto yet another Sibenik church. Our Sibenik map (which we obtained from the Sibenik Tourist Information Office) identifies 17 churches, 14 of which are located within the Old Town. Unfortunately, many of the churches are closed to the public – but the ones that are open are well-worth a quick visit.
We recommend popping into the Church of St. Francis, which has an accompanying museum. If, by chance, the small Church of St. Nikole is open, go in to see the well-decorated interior.
Pro Tip: The best time to walk through the Old Town is in the morning, when there are few people and the light is soft.
#8 Sibenik Marina and Waterfront
One of the best reasons to visit Sibenik is for its seaside location. Benches line the pedestrian walkway bordering the Old Town – and several cafes are found along the walk, selling ice cream, coffee, beer and wine. Getting an ice cream cone and walking along the water is one of the top Sibenik, Croatia things to do!
Once you check off your list of what to see in Sibenik, walk the length of the town along the waterfront to the north toward Banj Beach. Along the way, pass small fishing boats and quaint cafes with tables spilling out to the water’s edge. Just before the beach, there is an elevated lookout point that offers stunning views of the cathedral, fortress and Old Town.
#9 Croatia Waterfalls: Day Trip from Sibenik to Krka National Park
A Sibenik waterfalls trip to Krka National Park is the most popular Sibenik tour. Skradin, which serves as the main entrance to the Krka Waterfall Park, is located just 11 miles from Sibenik – and there are a few options of how to get there.
Krka NP Tour from Sibenik
Visitors can book a private tour from Sibenik to Krka Waterfalls, which is a hassle-free way to see the natural wonder at your desired pace. Get the details!
DIY Sibenik Day Trip to Krka
Alternatively, visitors can organize their own day trip from Sibenik to Krka NP. Several buses depart from Sibenik to Skradin and from Sibenik to Lozovac (a second park entrance). Check the current bus schedules at the Sibenik Bus Station.
Sibenik to Krka by Boat
In the summertime, visitors can depart from Sibenik by boat for a tour of Krka. Find more details from the boat companies in the Sibenik harbor.
Pro Tip: Read our travel blog post for more information: Day Trip to Krka National Park.
#10 Sibenik Boat Tours to Kornati
The Kornati National Park and Archipelago is another top destination from Sibenik. Comprised of 89 islands, a boat tour through the Kornati National Park is an extraordinary adventure. Most of the Sibenik boat trips to Kornati Islands include swimming, snorkeling, hiking and dolphin spotting. Small-group boat trips from Sibenik – like this one! – get rave reviews.
#11 Sibenik Islands
While the Kornati Islands are preserved as a national park, there are several islands just off the coast of Sibenik where people live and work. The largest islands – Zlarin, Kaprije, Zirje and Prvic – are well-connected to the mainland with regular ferry service. However, the islands can also be explored by private boats and sailboat tours.
Ferry to Otok Kaprije
On our trip, we opted to take the ferry to Kaprije Island. While the island is long and slender, we were content exploring the south part of the island on foot. Top things to see on Kaprije are the Church of St. Peter and adjoining cemetery, Portic public beach and Mala Nozdra beach cove. We also trekked to the top of the hill (following the path from the church cemetery), which culminated in sweeping views of the sea.
Pro Tip: The Sibenik ferry Line 532 stops at Zlarin, Kaprije and Zirje, making it easy for passengers to catch a ride to one – or more! – islands in a day!
Sibenik Archipelago Boat Tours
While the public ferries in Sibenik are an affordable and efficient way to get around the Sibenik island archipelago, boat tours are, perhaps, a more enthralling way to experience island hopping in Sibenik. Visitors can book a Sibenik excursion on a private, skippered boat to explore the offshore islands – Find out more! Or, for a romantic cruise around the islands, guests can head out on a sunset sailboat trip – Book it now!
#12 Coastal Towns: Vodice and Primosten
Vodice, Croatia is another town along the Dalmatian Coast, just north of Sibenik. Although the city has a quaint Old Town complete with a church and cobblestone lanes, the city also has modern features. Top things to do in Vodice are visit the pristine beaches, nearby ruins and a vibrant nightlife.
Pro Tip: Visitors can get to Vodice by bus or boat. We prefer taking the ferry (because the scenery is simply stunning!). Sibenik ferries to Vodice also make stops at Zlarin and Prvic Islands. However, visitors who would rather take the Vodice-Sibenik Bus can find a schedule at the bus station
The town of Primosten is located to the south of Sibenik. Once an islet, the channel was filled in during the 1500s to connect the island to the mainland. The top things to do in Primosten are spending time at the beautiful beaches and feasting on local fare. Note: Primosten is also easily accessible from Split, Croatia, which is where we were staying when we visited.
Pro Tip: Zadar and Trogir are other cities that can be visited on a day trip from Sibenik. Zadar is about 90km from Sibenik and buses take a little more than an hour to cover the distance between the two cities. The distance from Trogir to Sibenik is about 50km and the Trogir-Sibenik Bus takes just over an hour.
#13 St. Nicholas Fortress Sibenik
The Sibenik St. Nicholas Fortress is the sea fort in Sibenik that sits on the west end of the narrow St. Anthony Canal. The Tvrdava Sv Nikole was built as part of the complete defensive system in the city. Constructed in the 16th century, the Sibenik St. Nicholas Fortress is another Sibenik UNESCO Heritage Site. Fort visits are only permitted by joining organized boat tours (which unfortunately only run in the summer season).
#14 St. Anthony Channel Walk
The St. Anthony Canal is located directly across the water from the Sibenik Old Town – with the St. Nicolas Fortress guarding the far end where the channel opens to the sea. Boat trips departing for the Sibenik Islands sail through the canal.
A newly constructed walking path lines the south side of the channel – from the St. Nicholas Fort all the way to the Mandalina Marina near the Sibenik city center.
The canal walk features impressive vistas and a few sights along the way. In addition to access to the exterior of the fort, visitors can also explore historic bunkers, an ancient church in a cave, an old military boat tunnel and get an up-close view of the Welcome to Sibenik sign.
Pro Tip: While the St. Anthony Channel Trail is one of our favorite things to do in Sibenik, it is a little difficult to get there without a car. We took the public bus to Zablace, then walked to the fort. From the St. Nicholas Fort, we walked along the canal…then all the way back to Sibenik (allow at least 4 hours for this walk).
#15 Sunset from a Fortress
Sunsets in Sibenik are spectacular. Watching the sunset from the shoreline is nice, but taking in the sunset from one of the elevated forts is even better. The restored Barone Fortress has a west-facing cafe that serves as an excellent spot to watch the sun go down. However, we preferred the sunset view from the slightly higher perch at St. John’s Fortress.
Pro Tip: St. John’s Fortress is currently undergoing restoration and is technically off limits, but there are ways to get inside. Alternatively, there is a small space in front of the fort that also offers impeccable views. In any event, bring a blanket to sit on (and maybe a bottle of wine…just take your trash with you!).
More Things To Do Sibenik
Our list of things to do in Sibenik kept us busy for an entire week! That said, there are a few more things to see in Sibenik that other visitors might want to add to their itinerary. Note: We have yet to personally partake in the following points of interest; these are recommendations by fellow travelers.
The small Sibenik Aquarium is situated in the heart of the Old Town. The aquarium-terrarium features fish and small reptiles that reside in the sea, rivers and nearby lakes.
Bungee Jumping Sibenik
Thrill-seekers might be interested in the Sibenik Bungee Jump from the Sibenik Bridge. The Sibenik Most straddles that Krka River north of the city.
Sibenik Travel Tips
Now that you know all of the best things to do in Sibenik, we have a few more tips for your trip!
Restaurant Sibenik: Where To Eat
There are numerous Sibenik, Croatia restaurants located in the Old Town. However, being that Sibenik is still a very seasonal city, many of the best restaurants in Sibenik were closed during our autumn visit. The following Sibenik restaurants are the places we look forward to trying on our next trip to the city!
The small family-run Konoba Nostalgija features a daily menu of traditional food at affordable prices.
Pluto’s Burger Bar
People rave about the burgers at Pluto’s Burger Bar – and we hear the fries are really good, too! For good, locally produced craft beer, Beer Store .33 is next door.
Ka Grom Ice Cream
There are ice cream shops all over Sibenik, but Ka Grom is consistently ranked as the best place to get ice cream in the city!
Pelegrini is one of the few Michelin Star restaurants in Croatia. While they do stay open year round (and offer superb al fresco tables with a view of the cathedral), their menu was a slightly out of our budget.
Visitors who want to pick up a few souvenirs will find numerous shops and art galleries throughout the Old Town.
On the south side of the center near the bus station, is the daily Sibenik Market, Pijaca. The outdoor produce market, which is only open in the morning, is a colorful place to pick up a few local specialties.
Pro Tip: Guests staying in the city longer than a day or two might want to stop by a Sibenik Supermarket. Our preferred grocery store in Sibenik is Tommy, but there is a Konzum up the street, too.
Shopping Center Sibenik
The Sibenik shopping center that is closest to the Old Town is City Life. However, the larger Dalmare mall is south of the Old Town.
Sibenik Map of Attractions
Use this link to Google Maps for our Sibenik, Croatia map online. Visitors can pick up a free Sibenik tourist map at the TI.
Where is Sibenik?
Sibenik, Croatia is located on the coast, about halfway between Split and Zadar. From Split, it takes about 1.5 hours by car (less if using toll roads), while buses from Split take closer to 2 hours.
Sibenik can be reached by car or bus.
For visitors driving their own car (or a rental car), there are two main lots and street parking in Sibenik; both options cost. Travelers staying overnight should inquire at their accommodations for the best overnight parking options.
Pro Tip: Travelers can take a taxi from Split to Sibenik, but it is pricey. Check fares and book private transfers online.
Bus Station Sibenik
The bus station in Sibenik is conveniently located right on the south end of the Old Town. There is a helpful information desk on the south end of the station where visitors can get schedules and bus information. Pro Tip: Flixbus is our favored bus company, but there are other bus companies in Croatia with more routes.
Flights to Sibenik
There is no Sibenik, Croatia airport. The closest airport to Sibenik is the Split Airport. The cheapest way to get from the airport to Sibenik is by bus. Taxis are expensive, but faster. Travelers arriving at the Split Airport can also organize private transfers to Sibenik online in advance.
Pro Tip: The Zadar Airport is also close to Sibenik. Travelers can book a shuttle from the Zadar Airport to Sibenik in advance online.
There is a train in Sibenik, but the railway only goes inland to small towns. There is no Split-Sibenik Train.
Where To Stay in Sibenik
During our visit to Sibenik, we stayed in an Airbnb Apartment. We have often found that holiday apartments are less expensive – yet more spacious and with benefits like a kitchen and local tips from the owner.
Hotels in Sibenik, Croatia
Guests who want to stay in traditional accommodations, however, have plenty of choices of Sibenik hotels. The Bellevue Superior City Hotel Sibenik offers modern sea-facing rooms at reasonable prices – check availability for your trip! The Heritage Sibenik Hotel King Kresimir, located in the historic Old Town, also gets rave reviews – Check current rates!
Start your search for the best hotel in Sibenik, Croatia on Booking.com!
Sibenik enjoys a Mediterranean climate – meaning the weather is pleasant year-round. The summertime is filled with sunshine, while the winters are cooler and sometimes rainy – but still enjoyable.
Sibenik Tourist Information
There is a Sibenik Tourism Office on the waterfront, just north of the stairs that lead up to the cathedral. They offer maps of Sibenik and other helpful information, too.
What To Pack for Sibenik, Croatia
We have a few final packing tips. For more detailed info, check out my complete Packing List.
The Sibenik city center is located on a hillside – and the lanes that weave through the historic city are paved with slick stones. Visitors should be sure to bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes. I like wearing these shoes by Columbia – and Kris prefers wearing Merrell shoes for city exploration.
Weather Appropriate Gear
Summer travelers will want to make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen! It is also a good idea to bring a wrap (to cover your shoulders if touring churches) that also doubles as a beach towel and picnic blanket. It gets hot in Croatia, so bring a refillable water bottle (the water is safe to drink!); this collapsible water bottle is ideal for traveling.
Sibenik is a beautiful city to photograph! We recommend upgrading to an actual camera for your trip to Croatia (rather than using your phone camera!). We use a Canon Rebel with everyday 18-135mm lens, which is a great beginner DSLR.
We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
Visiting other Croatia destinations? We have useful tips for Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Hvar Island, Korcula Island and other destinations, too! Find all of our guides to the top cities in Croatia on our Croatia Travel Guides Page. Looking for a Croatia Island Hopping Cruise? Read our review of Sailing Croatia!
We want to know: What are your favorite things to do in Sibenik? Did you visit on a day trip to Sibenik or did you stay longer? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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