Sibenik in Croatia: Best Attractions & Beaches
Sibenik in Croatia is a true jewel on the Croatian Adriatic and one of the most interesting cities on the coast of Dalmatia. During a holiday, there are so many things to do and you will enjoy the indescribably beautiful ambience of the medieval old town. You walk through winding stone streets and discover wonderful attractions, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Sibenik Cathedral of St. James. Above the 44,000-inhabitant city, there are old fortresses which offer visitors a wonderful view over the sheltered bay. But also having a nice swim is possible in Sibenik, and so you can find some beautiful beaches for swimming and relaxing around the city. Perfect for a memorable holiday or short city tour.
This post is a complete travel guide for Sibenik in Croatia. Here we show why you have to visit Sibenik, what are the best things to do and where are the best beaches. Additionally, we give plenty of information, recommendations and insider tips about how many days to stay, parking and the best accommodations.
General information about Sibenik
The approximately 46,000-inhabitant city of Sibenik is located in the Sibenik-Knin County, and is located only about 30 kilometers from Primosten and 15 kilometers from Vodice. Not far from the city flows the Krka River, an impressive river that is most famous for its Krka National Park. In addition, Sibenik is considered one of the best starting points for boat trips to the amazing islands of the Kornati National Park.
Sibenik is especially known for its charming, car-free old town, which was built up a hill and with more than 2,800 steps is also known as the City of Stairs. Among the most important attractions of Sibenik are the Cathedral of St. Jacob and the 4 fortresses of the Venetian defense system, which have even been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sibenik has also become really popular as a vacation resort in summer. Thanks to the beautiful Amadria Park resort, the many fantastic hotels, apartments and campsites, more and more visitors are drawn to this wonderful region. Perfect for those who want to combine sightseeing and beach vacation.
Best Things to do in Sibenik
Sibenik offers, as the oldest city on the Adriatic, many amazing things to do and places to see. Many of them are located directly inside the picturesque old town, but there are also many places to visit in the surrounding area. So that you won`t lose track during your holidays, here the best attractions and activities of Sibenik at a glance:
Sibenik Cathedral (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Since 2000, the Sibenik Cathedral of St. James has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also the most famous attraction in Sibenik. This white masterpiece shines with hundreds of details and is beautiful both from the outside and inside. The entire cathedral was built over nearly one hundred years, from 1431 to 1535, and is completely made of stone, including limestone and marble from the island of Brac. Especially worth seeing are the numerous magnificent sculptures on the outer facade, and according to legend, architects have also immortalized themselves in some of the stone bourgeois heads.
The cathedral is the heart of the historic old town and a visit to this wonderful attraction is a must do of every trip to Sibenik.
Main Square Trg Republice & Town Loggia
Other highlights of the city and probably one of the most important sights of Sibenik are the Republic Square, the Trg Republice, and the City Loggia. These attractions are right next to the famous Sibenik Cathedral and for sure you will be amazed by its magnificent façade and many details. The builder of the cathedral, Mr. Juraj Damatinac, is immortalized in the form of the statue on Trg Republice.
The city loggia itself was built from 1533 to 1542 and was once the seat of the city government. Today you can sit in one of the cozy cafés and enjoy the delightful ambience of the old town.
Church Sveti Barbara
Just behind the cathedral hides the Church Sveti Barbara, another interesting place to visit in Sibenik. This Gothic church is currently no longer used as a church but now as a city museum. Particularly beautiful is the outer facade with the big clock and the Statue of St. Nicholas, which is back from the year 1430.
Explore the Old Town & the Narrow Streets
A walk through the narrow streets is one of the best things to do in Sibenik. No wonder that many of the famous Game of Thrones scenes where filmed there. Just get lost and explore the most beautiful corners and squares of the city on your own. The old town is not overly large, and so you can hardly get lost. If you like, you can shop in the many small boutiques and treat yourself to a delicious Croatian coffee in one of the many beautiful coffee houses. As a small highlight you will discover the beautiful St. Mary in Cave– a small cave under the Lawrence Church & Monastery on the way up to the fortress St. Michael. Furthermore, there are many interesting galleries and museums in the old town, and even a small aquarium hides in one of the many side streets.
Tip: If you want to stay right inside the old town, then we can recommend the Heritage Hotel King Kresimir, a wonderful boutique hotel in a unique location. For backpackers the Hostel Sv. Lovre is recommended for a cheap stay in the city center.
Monastery of St. Lawrence & Garden
Another must visit in Sibenik and a hidden gem is the beautiful garden of the Monastery of St. Lawrence. This Mediterranean oasis is tucked away in the middle of the old town, on the way to the St. Michael fortress. For almost 100 years, this magical place was forgotten and was just reopened in 2007. A walk through the medieval gardens reveals a magnificent flora, many medicinal plants and a beautiful fountain.
Tip: In the café next door you can enjoy this wonderful atmosphere with coffee and cake while listening to wonderful music.
St. Michael`s Fortress
The St. Michael`s Fortress is one of the highlights and major attractions of Sibenik’s Old Town. Built in the 11th century, it is the oldest fortress in the city. Due to the proximity to the city center, a visit can be optimally combined with a city walk. At the top of the castle is an outdoor stage, where a variety of cultural events take place during the season. Walking along the high walls is a must do, because from there are the best views of the old town.
Another important fortress in Sibenik is the Barone Fortress, the Tvrđava Barons. It is only a few minutes’ walk from the St. Johns`s Fort and is open for visits. From the top you have probably the best view of Sibenik, the deep blue sea and the fortress St. Michael. Also the St. John`s Fort (Tvrđava sv. Ivana) towers over the old town of Sibenik. It was built in the 16th century and is located about 110 meters above the city. A short walk leads from Barone Fortress to St. John Fortress. This fortress is currently being renovated and therefore it cannot be visited until further notice.
Sibenik Lookout Platform
Another highlight and a real insider tip for Sibenik is the viewing platform situated on the western coast. It is located at the promenade next to the Banj city beach, about 800 meters from the old town. From here you have almost magical views of the city. In addition, this spot is a popular meeting point to admire Sibenik at sunset and at night. Many make their best holiday pictures here.
Tip: Near the platform, just a short distance from Banj beach and the old town is the Apartment Ledunis. A really great place to stay with free parking, near to the beach and the old town.
Dalmatian Ethno Village
A bit outside of Sibenik, at the Amadria Park (Hotel Solaris) is the Dalmatian Ethno Village. As a kind of open-air museum with restaurants, it shows a local’s life from more than 100 years ago. You walk through a seemingly traditional Croatian village and get an insight into the regional cuisine. In each of the pretty stone houses various Croatian specialties are prepared. A lovely attraction, best to visit for lunch or for dinner.
Tip: The entrance to the Ethno village is free, but the food prices are in a higher segment.
St. Nicholas Fortress
The St. Nicholas Fortress (Tvrđava sv. Nikola) is one of the 4 famous fortresses in Sibenik. But this one is located directly in the sea. Built in the 16th century at the entrance to the St. Anthony’s Canal, it served to defend the city from the seaside. Since 2017, St. Nicholas Fortress has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Although it is connected by a small foot path to the mainland you won`t get inside the fort.
Tipp: To visit the fortress from the inside, you have to go by boat from Sibenik.
Canal Sveti Ante
The town of Sibenik is situated in a sheltered bay and connected to the open sea by the picturesque and narrowly winding Canal Sv. Ante. An absolute must do is a visit to the nature reserve and to hike the trail along the canal. During a walk you can enjoy a magnificent view of the old town of Sibenik, the deep blue sea and the high cliffs of the nature park. If you stay in Sibenik, you should not miss this lovely tour.
Pubs, Cafes & Nightlife
In Summer the nightlife in Sibenik takes place in the cafes and bars of the Old Town. Between the narrow streets and at the many squares there are plenty of cozy cafes and cool bars. Here locals and tourists alike cavort and enjoy the wonderful evenings. A really cool and very special bar for having a drink is the Azimut, located right on the harbor promenade. During the day you can sit outside on the promenade and enjoy the sun, in the evening you can party inside the iconic vaulted cellar.
Beaches in Sibenik
If you want to go for a swim, you will find some wonderful beaches in and around Sibenik. The most famous beaches are the City Beach Banj, a wonderful pebble beach with picturesque views of the old town, and the wonderful beaches of Amadria Park. Here are our tips for where to swim in Sibenik.
The Beach Banj is the city beach and at the same time most famous beach of Sibenik. It is located about one kilometer from the old town and is popular for both locals and tourists. While bathing in the crystal-clear sea you can always enjoy a wonderful ambience with the city as a backdrop. There is also a nice café for having drinks and coffee.
Beaches of Amadria Park & Solaris Hotel
The coves in the Amadria Park in Solaris are among the most beautiful beaches in Sibenik. On a length of about 4 kilometers one can expect several beautifully designed bathing places, partly as sandy beach, partly as a pebble beach. Although the beaches belong to the huge hotel complex, non-hotel guests can also come here for a swim.
In addition to the beautiful beaches, the Amadria Park near Sibenik offers a lot of entertainment options, such as the En Vogue Beach Club, the Galija Explorer pirate ship, the water park Dalmatia Aquapark, mini golf, cafes and restaurants.
Especially beautiful is the Solaris beach, also called White Beach, located at the beautiful Amadria Park Jure Hotel. It is the main beach of Amadria Park in Solaris. Here, the sand is really bright and fine and so the beach has been chosen several times as one of the most beautiful beaches in the region.
Another top beach is the Amadria Park Ivan beach, which is just a short distance from the main beach. Again, you can enjoy a wonderful beach atmosphere and crystal-clear sea water.
Excursions & Things to do around Sibenik
But also the area around has many attractions to offer and so is Sibenik the perfect spot for excursions. Due to the central location of the city you are within a short drive at some of the best highlights in Croatia. Not only the famous Krka waterfalls are nearby, but also the beautiful Kornati islands and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Trogir and Split, are not far from Sibenik. Here is a list of the most beautiful things to do near Sibenik:
- Trogir: The UNESCO World Heritage Site Trogir is a popular tourist destination in the area. This historic city is approximately 46 kilometers away and offers some really interesting sights in the old town.
- Primosten: Also beautiful is a trip from Sibenik to Primosten. The pretty town is only about 28 kilometers away and impresses with a beautiful old town and amazing beaches.
- Kornati Islands: A boat trip from Sibenik to the beautiful Kornati Islands, a national park of 89 islands and islets, is also highly recommended. On a boat tour you marvel at a beautiful island world and the intact ecosystem.
- Krka Waterfalls: Only 18 kilometers away is the Krka National Park with its spectacular Krka waterfalls. Here you can hike through an unique ecosystem and even have a swim at the rushing waterfall.
- Zadar: Another highlight in the area is the old town of Zadar. It is located about 90 kilometers away and impresses with the famous Sea Organ whose sounds are generated by the waves of the ocean.
- Split: Also worth a visit is the world famous old town of Split. The Diocletian’s Palace and the medieval Split are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the highlights of this port city. From Sibenik to Split it is about 90 kilometers.
Best places to stay in Sibenik
For a holiday in Sibenik great accommodations are waiting for you. Whether hotel on the beach, boutique hotel in the old town or private apartments or hostel for backpackers – here everyone will find their perfect place to stay. Here are the top recommendations for our the best accommodations in Sibenik:
- Heritage Hotel (Old Town): The Heritage Hotel King Kresimir – Adults only is the ultimate hotel for a very special stay in Sibenik. Here you sleep in a beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of the old town.
- Family Hotel (Beach): The Amadria Park Jakov is the perfect choice for families. Perfect to combine beach holidays with sightseeing. The hotel is located just outside the city and offers beautiful beaches and great entertainment.
- Apartment with parking (Beach&Old Town): Another top pic ist the beautiful Apartment Ledunis. The new apartments have free parking and the old town and Banj beach are reachable within walking distance.
- Hostel for backpackers (Old Town): The Hostel Sv. Lovre is one of the best hostels in the city.
Conclusion: Sibenik fascinates with wonderful things to do, an extremely authentic and picturesque old town, the pretty squares and churches, and a beautiful harbor front. In addition, there are plenty of attractions in the area of the city and so Sibenik is the perfect starting point to discover some of the most important highlights of Croatia. But also the beautiful beaches invite for a jump in the cool water.
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