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Travel to Sibenik Croatia - the perfect guide


View of Sibenik

Šibenik is a historic city along the coast of the Adriatic sea in Croatia. It's located in central Dalmatia, positioned along one of the most indented Mediterranean shorelines between the mouths of the Krka River and Saint Anthony Channel. Founded over 1,000 years ago, Šibenik has a fascinating history stretching back to antiquity when it was first settled as a Croatian fort in 1066. It is the only city on the Dalmatian coast that was actually founded by Croats.The Old Town is especially well-preserved, with Renaissance-era stone architecture, marble streets, and four fortresses surrounding the city from its days as a military stronghold. It also has many beautiful day trips available that are easy to access. 


How much time to spend in Sibenik

Šibenik can be seen as a day trip from Split or as a stop on your way along the Dalmation coast. If you only have a day you will be able to see most of the town, along with a fortress or two. If you have more time, however, stay for two or three days. There is so much to see and do in the area you will have no trouble filling your time with amazing sites and experiences. 


Street in Sibenik

Getting to Šibenik: Transportations Options

Whether you're arriving by car, train, or bus, getting to this gem is straightforward thanks to Croatia's transportation infrastructure.


By Air

The closest airport to Sibinik is Split which is an hour away. This airport will have many options available for flights within Croatia as well as flights throughout Europe. 


By Car

Many visitors opt to drive to Šibenik as it allows maximum flexibility for exploring the region's charms. From Zagreb, take Highway A1 south toward Split, then exit onto Highway 8 and follow signs to Šibenik. The total drive time is around 3 hours and 15 minutes. From Split, head north on Highway 8 and you'll arrive in just 1 hour. From Plitvice Lakes National Park it is about 1.5h on the E71. You don't need to be worried about driving in Croatia. The roads are well maintained and the highway system is good.


Šibenik old town

By Train

Rail is another scenic way to access Šibenik, although this option is not the easiest. Croatia does not have a well connected train system and there are only a few routes out of the Sibinik main station. From Zagreb, for example trains depart Zagreb's Glavni kolodvor station multiple times daily for the 4-5 hour journey south. You'll need to transfer in either Knin or Perković to a train bound for Šibenik's central station. The train station is located about a ten minute walk from the city center and is located right next to the ferry port. If you don't want to walk with your luggage, from the train station you can get a taxi or hop on a bus at the Sibinik Market stop which is a two minute walk from the train station. 


By Bus

Buses are going to be a better option. Frequent bus service to Šibenik is available from major Croatian cities like Zagreb, Split, Zadar and more. Buses operated by Croatian companies like Flixbus and AP Vaganji make the 4-hour trip from Zagreb with fares around 20EURO. From Split, the 1.5 hour ride runs 10EURO.


By Ferry

You can reach Sibinik by Ferry from nine starting points. Split and Zadar are the most popular. The ride takes between 40 minutes and 2 hours depending on where you began. Some of the boats accept cars but not all. Most accept bicycles. 


Šibenik Cathedral door

Getting Around Šibenik

Once in Šibenik, the entire historic Old Town area is easily walkable with all major sites located within a compact radius. For reaching nearby beaches or attractions outside the city center there are taxis or buses. Šibenik's local Burakovac bus line has routes fanning across the city and to regional destinations like Solaris Beach. You can pay per ride or purchase a day pass. There is reduced services on Sundays so watch out for that. 


Sites

While Dubrovnik and Split tend to grab the spotlight, the historic coastal town of Šibenik offers an authentic slice of Dalmatian life without the tourist crowds. Packed with Gothic-Renaissance monuments and architecture, seaside delights, and proximity to incredible natural wonders, Šibenik deserves a prime spot on any Croatian itinerary. Here are the must-see highlights in and around this underrated gem.


Main square of Sibenik

Explore the Old Town

Šibenik's pedestrian-friendly Old Town is an immaculately preserved treasure trove of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture left over from its days as a strategic maritime fortification. Packed with beautiful churches, impressive palaces, and many other gorgeous buildings, the old town is truly delightful to wander. The cobbled alleyways are a maze of cafes and cute shops. Everything, it seems, is made of stone, from the churches to the pavement of the streets to the stairways. 


Begin your exploration of town in the Square of the Republic of Croatia. This square, surrounded by St. James Cathedral, city hall, and the city guard has been the center for life in the city for centuries. It is a picturesque square and is sometimes covered with colorful flags for festivals and other celebrations. 


Šibenik City Hall

St. James Cathedral

The undisputed crown jewel of Šibenik's Old Town is the stunning Cathedral of St James, an iconic structure built entirely out of stone during the 15th and 16th centuries. It's considered one of Croatia's finest architectural masterpieces, blending Gothic and Renaissance styles in an innovative way that earned it UNESCO World Heritage Status. It can also be known as the Cathedral of St. Jacob as James and Jacob are the same name in Croatian. The iconic dome of the cathedral was damaged in the Croatian war of Independence and is now a symbol of the city. There is a small fee to enter (around 3 EURO). Opening times vary depending on the season but it usually opens at 8:30 and closes no earlier than 7:30. 


St. James Cathedral Sibenik

Close to the Cathedral is the former prince's palace. In 1975 it was converted to the home of the Sibinik city museum. It is closed on Sundays but is open between 8AM and 8PM every other day. Admission is 5 EURO. Between the prince's palace and the bishop's palace there is a preserved city gate dating to the 16th century.


Four Fortresses

In its golden age, Šibenik's strategic location led to the construction of four imposing fortresses that encircle the city – St Michael's fortress, St. John's fortress, Barone fortress and St. Nicholas' fortress. 


St. Michael's fortress is the oldest of the four dating back to the 11th century although the current building was built in the 18th century. Just a 10 minute walk from the cathedral, it is easy to visit. Climb the walls for panoramic seaside vistas, then descend into the buras or underground passages used for military defense. It now houses an open-air auditorium used for concerts and theater performances. It is open daily from 9 to 9 and costs 10 EURO to enter.

St. Miachael's fortress Sibenik

St. John's fortress is located on a hill in the city center. It is rumored to have been built in two months during Cretan war to protect the city from the Ottomans and did just that within a year of being built repelling the Ottomans after an attack. It's star shape helps to make it a popular destination and it was a filming location for Game of Thrones. 


View of fortress in Sibenik

The Barone fortress was built at the same time as St. John's fortress in the mid 17th century. In 2016 it underwent a massive renovation becoming a popular tourist attraction using AR to help to visitor experience life in the 17th century as well as the Ottoman invasions. In the summer Barone fortress becomes an outdoor cinema and jazz venue as it houses the Barone Jazz festival and movie screenings. There is a cafe located in the fortress as well. This fort is a spectacular place to watch sunsets and enjoy some beautiful views. Barone fortress is open daily from 8AM to 9PM. Ticket prices are around 11 EURO and includes entrance to St. John's fortress as well. You can include tickets to St. Michael's fortress for a few more EURO. The tickets include the use of the AR devices. You can use the tickets for the forts one time but you have 7 days to use them. There are also guided tours available in English. The guided tour for St. John's fortress is included in the price but a guided tour for Barone fortress is 20 EURO and one for both Barone fortress and St. Michael's fortress is 35 EURO. 


Šibenik sunset

St Nicholas Fortress is a mighty 16th-century fortress that sits on an offshore island in Šibenik's harbor and is a UNESCO world heritage site. This is the only one of Sibinik's forts that is located in the sea. The island originally housed the Benedictine monastery of St. Nicholas which had to be demolished to build the fort. It was built in 1525 to repel the Turks from reaching the harbor. Although it was armed with 32 canons, its ominous appearance alone dissuaded would be invaders from testing it. Due to ongoing extensive restoration works, to visit the fort by taking a boat ride organized by the Public Institution Nature of Sibenik-Knin County. The ride takes about 30 minutes. Times of the boat departures varies depending on the season. Tickets are about 15 EURO. If you don't care about going into the fortress, there is a bridge on the south side that will let you reach the outside of the building. 


St. Nicholas fortress Sibenik

The Promenade

The Promenade in Sibenik, or Riva, is a perfect place for a stroll. Running along the water, it has beautiful views of the Adriatic sea on one side with the gorgeous buildings of Sibenik on the other. You can find nice cafes and restaurants for a great meal as well. 


Beaches

There are a few beaches around Sibenik if you want to relax and enjoy a quiet day with the sun and the sea. Banj beach is the closest to the city center. It is a pebbly beach but has beautifully clear water. You can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas as well. It can be very busy in the summer so go early if you are looking for rentals. If you want more information on beaches in the area go onto beachsearcher.com and it will tell you lots of information about beaches all over the world.


Day trips

While Šibenik's historic Old Town and seaside charms are enough to fill several relaxing days, the city's prime location also makes it an ideal home base for incredible day trips. From national parks to islands to charming villages, there's no shortage of adventures within easy striking distance of this Dalmatian gem. Here are some of the best day trips to take from Šibenik.


Krka National Park

Just a short drive from Šibenik lies one of Croatia's most incredible natural wonders - Krka National Park. Only a 20 minute drive from Sibenik, this park is easily accessible from the city. You can also take a bus from Sibenik to Skradin. This is a really cheap option as the bus is only about 3 or 4 EURO. Make sure you check the bus times though as there are only a few departures a day. Once in Skradin you can go directly on the boat for a tour of the park or walk to the entrance to the park. If you would like to go on a guided tour from Sibenik there are many options available. 


Krka is known for its turquoise lakes and incredible waterfalls. There are trails and boardwalks for exploring the park. There are also boat rides on the lakes. Visovac Island, with its 15th century Franciscan Monastery is one must see visit while in the park. If you don't have a car you can easily catch a bus or go with an organized tour. You can buy tickets for all the land sites or a ticket which includes some of the main sites including one of the most popular waterfalls, the monastery and the well of life. Tickets for all the land sites range from 7 EURO to 40 EURO depending on the time of year. The tickets for the limited number of sites range from 7 EURO to 20 EURO depending on the season. 

Krka National park

Kornati Islands

The stunningly rugged and remote Kornati Islands are a sailor's paradise with countless secluded coves and villages to explore. Full-day boat tours depart from the city, allowing you to island hop to gems like Smokvica, Žut, and Kornat while swimming and snorkeling in sheltered coves. This remote chain earned national park status for its extraordinary landscapes and biodiversity.  


Kornati Islands

Primošten

A 30-minute drive south of Šibenik brings you to the enchanting seaside village of Primošten. Set on a small peninsula, the dreamy Old Town packs charm around every corner with stone houses, churches, and paved alleys clinging to the hills. Spend the day strolling along the waterfront promenade, enjoying fresh seafood at restaurants overlooking the Adriatic, and swimming off the beaches. There is a direct bus that goes from Sibenik main train station to Primosten and cost around 4 EURO. 

Primošten Croatia

Cikola Canyon

Cikola Canyon is located 20 minutes outside of Sibenik. This is a great spot for those seeking some adventure. There are a few ziplining tracks across the canyon. There is also hiking and climbing available. Zip lining cost around 50 EURO. Make sure to book ahead


These are just a few of the many day trips available from Sibenik. There are many more islands such as Murter, Prvic and Zlarin to explore as well as historic towns such a as Pirovac and Vodice. Of course, within an hour drive you also have Split and Zadar. 


Buildings in Sibenik

With world-class scenery at every turn, Šibenik's prime location affords endless opportunities to experience the best of Croatia within a short radius. So take advantage of these incredible day trips to round out your Croatian adventure. But be forewarned - you may not want to leave this idyllic corner of the Adriatic!


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