Visiting Sibenik, Croatia
The small and charming Sibenik lies only an hour north of Split, making it the perfect destination for a (half)day trip on your Croatia itinerary. The town’s especially known for its beautiful car-free old town built on a hill. With more than 2.800 steps, it’s famously nicknamed the ‘City of Stairs’, with beautiful stone staircases that lead up between the ancient buildings.
Though it’s not as busy as Split, the town has an incredible local feeling, with many people out on the lively terraces. With a small harbor, promenade, and some galleries, it’s the perfect place to unwind for a day. Soak up the peacefulness before continuing to other gems in the country, like Krka National Park.
Things to do in Sibenik, Croatia
From exploring the quaint old town and stunning beaches to delicious restaurants and a few iconic Game of Thrones locations, there are some great things to do in Šibenik, Croatia.
1. Explore the Old Town Streets
Step into Sibenik’s old town, a labyrinth of vibrant doors, narrow streets, and endless alleys. No map is needed – getting lost is part of the fun and one of the best things to do in Sibenik! Eventually, every path leads back down to the waters anyways. Explore stairs galore (even more than in Dubrovnik!) as you walk through narrow pathways and along the incredible waterfront.
Just like many other locations in Croatia, Sibenik inspired the filmmakers of Game of Thrones with its beauty, featuring the town as the mythical city of Braavos in the show. Visit the Museum, explore the Mediterranean Garden at the St. Lawrence Monastery, or go shopping. There are many incredible clothing shops tucked between the streets selling breezy linen items!
End the day with a summer-evening stroll along the postcard-perfect Riva promenade, and enjoy a cocktail or two at one of the lively terraces.
2. Medieval Buildings
Perched along the beautiful cobbled streets of Sibenik’s old town, you’ll find some of the finest remains of history. From 4 Venetian fortresses to churches, monasteries, and cathedrals, there are plenty of stone structures to marvel at.
Start your walk up at the famous St. Michael’s Fortress, from where you can meander down the steps. This route takes you past beautiful courtyards, tiny chapels, and many homes that have stood for centuries.
St. Michael’s Fortress & The Cathedral of St. James
The forts offer some of the most incredible panoramic vistas of the city and the neighboring sea. Barone Fortress up top is the highest, but central St. Michael’s is the most worthy to visit for the views. The fortress is open daily from 9 AM to 9 PM and costs 10 EUR (10.90 USD) to enter.
3. Spend Time at the Beach
As it lies on the shimmering coastline of the Adriatic Sea, Šibenik has a few neighboring beaches perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Think clear and cool water, shaded cabanas, and refreshing summer drinks with music playing in the background.
There are some nice beaches around Sibenik, with most only a short walk or drive out of town. Banj Beach is the one closest, with a small stretch of pebbled beach perfect for just a dip. However, If you’re looking for a relaxing day out, head to En Vogue Beach Club or Shark. Both are only a few minutes drive out of town, making for a lovely yet relaxed beach experience.
4. Explore the Adriatic Islands
With 78 islands off the coast of Croatia, there is plenty to explore on your Croatia itinerary. From Sibenik, hop on a water taxi and uncover some of the country’s hidden treasures in the sea. Be it the car-free islands such as Zlarin, Zirje, or Prvi or the enchanting Kornati National Park, known for its incredible scenery and crystalline waters.
Glide through crystal-clear waters to mesmerizing caves and distant isles while the wind blows through your hair. Whether it’s on a Jadrolinija ferry or a guided tour, these peaceful islands offer a refreshing escape from the mainland. Head out, and spend your day snorkeling, swimming, and taking in all the beautiful sights!
5. Visit Neighboring Treasures
It’s safe to say that Croatia holds some of the most incredible sights. From century-old cities and peaceful coastal towns to breathtaking islands and natural treasures like the Plitvice Lakes, there’s much to discover. If the central town of Sibenik is your base in the country, you can easily travel to some of the other highlights of Croatia.
The quaint coastal town of Trogir is a quiet alternative to bustling Split. With cobbled streets, a beautiful promenade, and many palm trees, it makes a stunning location to visit. Like Šibenik, it’s steeped in history and is known as one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones, with many beautiful castles and houses along the waterfront.
Explore the little streets, indulge in delicious fresh cuisine near the water, and go shopping. As most of the things to do are in the tiny old town, wedged between the mainland and Ciovo Island, Trogir makes a great stop for half a day before continuing to other highlights of Croatia.
Make your way through the cobblestone streets, taking in the beautiful views across the squares and neighboring Adriatic Sea. Go cafe-hopping, taste all the gelato there is, and explore the many Roman remains in the old town before setting sail during sunset. The moment you get to Split, it’s easy to see why it’s such a renowned destination in Croatia!
Just outside Sibenik, about a 30-minute drive inland, lies a haven of natural artistry – welcome to Krka National Park. From world-renowned waterfalls Skradinski Buk and Roski Slap to many crystal-clear streams, colorful fish, and lush flora, Krka makes the perfect day trip destination from Sibenik.
Stroll or sail through the park’s tranquil beauty, with many trails and wooden boardwalks leading past the many falls. If you’ve got your own transportation, you can venture off to more remote gems inside the park. Alternatively, organizing a guided tour from Sibenik is a great option, including return transportation and entrance into the park.
6. Events in Šibenik
Join in on the lively beat of Sibenik, Croatia, by attending one of its vibrant events! The Sibenik International Children’s Festival is held in June, with many streets filled with colorful flags. In July and August, there’s the Sibenik Cultural Summer, offering a taste of local culture and entertainment with live music,
If you’re visiting outside the peak season in the shoulder months, don’t miss the captivating Medieval Fair in September. With cultural performances and even sword fighting, it’s a beautiful glimpse into the olden days of the stone town.
Best Restaurants in Sibenik
Savor some of the best traditional Croatian delights at one of Sibenik’s many eateries – from cozy cafes to vibrant konobas (small restaurants) and delicious gelato shops. Dive into the rich Mediterranean cuisine that comes to life with local ingredients such as fresh fish, meats, and veggies paired together with olive oil and different spices. Some of our favorite restaurants in Sibenik are:
- Peperoncino Kitchen & Bar
- St. Lawrence Church and Monastery
- Restoran No. 4
- Ayla Dalmatian Kitchen Lab
- Bava Dining & More
- Pizzeria The Spot
- Pluto’s Burger Bar
- KOKA Pizza
How to Visit Sibenik
Because of its central location, Šibenik is an easy destination to get to. There are multiple ways to get to the charming coastal town. The nearest airport is Split Airport, less than an hour away, from where you can drive or bus.
The easiest way to get to Sibenik once you’re in the country is to drive. Renting a car and driving in Croatia is an incredible experience as it offers much flexibility and allows you to explore more off-the-beaten-path. From popular neighboring locations such as Split or Zadar, it’s only an hour’s drive to get to the lovely town of Sibenik, Croatia.
By Public Transport
The town is very well connected to other bus stations around the country, making it easy to get around if you don’t have your own transportation. However, keep in mind that journeys take longer due to the many bus stops in between locations.
Exploring the beautiful stone alleys, staircases, and UNESCO buildings of Sibenik’s old town can all be done on foot as this part of town is car-free. Soak up the peaceful atmosphere as you browse past authentic little shops and many tavernas full of locals gathering.
However, we recommend renting a car if you plan to explore more of Sibenik’s surroundings, such as the beautiful nature at Krka National Park or nearby towns like Vodice.
Where to Stay
From charming waterfront hotels with breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea to cozy boutique accommodations nestled within the historic streets, the accommodation options in Sibenik are as captivating as the town itself. Because of this, it’s a great experience to stay in town for the night. This way, you also get a glimpse of real traditional life when all day trips have gone.
How Many Days in Šibenik?
Sibenik, Croatia, makes a beautiful destination to visit on a (half)day trip and is often paired with a visit to the iconic Krka National Park. Because of its size, you’ll easily explore all of the main highlights within a few hours.
However, Sibenik also makes a great base if you’re looking for a quieter central location on your Croatia itinerary. This way, you can also spend a bit longer soaking up the sun on neighboring beaches and get a good feel for the local town life.
Budget for Sibenik, Croatia
Costs vary based on your travel style and preferences, but traveling to Croatia is generally quite affordable. With great accommodation options, local transportation, meals at local tavernas, and fun activities, expect to spend about 50 – 100 USD per day in Sibenik, Croatia.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to explore Sibenik, Croatia, is between late spring and early fall when the weather is nice and warm and the skies clear. This is when the town’s views are the most stunning, and activities like sunbathing on the beach are the best.
Visiting during the peak summer months (June – August) is a great time, too. During this time, the town bustles with different festivals and events. However, keep in mind that this is also the busiest and most costly period to visit Croatia.