A charming old town with cultural-historical sights, narrow streets with nice galleries, shops and cafés, as well as a picturesque waterfront promenade make Šibenik a worthwhile holiday destination on the Croatian coast.
The Croatian coastal town of Šibenik was first mentioned in a document in 1066, making it the oldest town in Croatia. Together with Zadar, it is one of the major cities in the north of Dalmatia. Both are also on our list of the 10 most beautiful cities in Croatia.
The old town of Šibenik, which is well worth seeing, is located in the west, where narrow, winding streets branch out from the harbour and where most of the cultural and historical sights can be found. In the north and southeast of the town is modern Šibenik with holiday homes and hotels. By the way, free wi-fi is available throughout the centre of Šibenik.
Table of contents
Cathedral of St. James
A tour of the old town starts with the Cathedral of St. James, the first of Šibenik's top sights. The impressive church made of marble and snow-white limestone is considered one of the most important buildings in Dalmatia and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. The cathedral can be visited from the inside for a small fee, but is also worth seeing from the outside.
The Šibenik Cathedral was built entirely of stone from the island of Brac over a period of more than 100 years, starting in 1431 with the financial help of the Venetians, but completely without the use of mortar or similar materials. The ornate head sculptures on the façade of the apse, 74 in all, were also created by the famous Croatian master builder Juraj Dalmatinac.
The church, which was consecrated in 1555, was to be larger, more beautiful and also more expensive than its model, the church in Trogir. In the lovingly carved choir stalls and the ornate high altar, it also succeeded!
The ceiling vault of the baptistery is also remarkable with its detailed floral decoration - it was hewn from a single stone!
Accommodation and hotels: Sibenik
Main Square Trg Republice and City Loggia
Republic Square is located just east of the famous Šibenik Cathedral and is therefore also called Cathedral Square. With its carefully cut stones and magnificent facades, the square is one of the most important sights of Šibenik. Juraj Dalmatinac, the builder of the cathedral, is immortalised as a statue on Trg Republice.
Opposite the church is the city loggia, built from 1533 to 1542 and once the seat of the city government. Important messages were once proclaimed to the people from the balcony that runs along above the nine arcaded arches.
The magnificent Renaissance building was completely destroyed during the Second World War, but has been reconstructed true to detail. Today, cosy cafés invite you to chat and relax on its ground floor.
Bishop's Palace and Rector's Palace (City Museum)
Through the famous sea gate, which today looks literally crammed between a façade and the historic city wall, we walk from the waterfront promenade to the old town of Šibenik.
The visitor is greeted here immediately by two palaces representing the secular and ecclesiastical government of Šibenik. Two gates, Renaissance and late Gothic, lead into the premises and the inner courtyard of the bishop's palace with the palace chapel.
The Prince's Palace was once the residence of the Venetian city rulers and today houses the City Museum. It presents both the history of the city on the basis of archaeological finds and the former lifestyle of the rulers of Šibenik.
Barbara Church with Church Museum
Behind the two palaces is St Barbara's Church with its typical Mediterranean bell tower, which is no longer used as a place of worship but as a museum. On its stone façade, a statue of St. Nicholas from 1430 can be admired, and inside there are late Gothic altars, paintings and carvings.
Church of the Assumption
Continue east along Ulica kralja Tomislawa to the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, whose bell tower draws attention to it from afar. Often called the most beautiful tower in the Adriatic region, it is indeed one of the best works by master builder Ivan Skoko. It was built in 1390 on the remains of an old Templar church and today belongs to an Orthodox monastery.
Continue straight along Ulica kralja Tomislawa to the best-preserved part of the historic city wall at the eastern end of the old town of Šibenik. If you turn south here towards the sea, you will reach a monastery founded by Franciscan monks in the 14th century.
The monastery church, which is well worth seeing, impresses with a striking sundial and its Venetian interior, which also includes four baroque altars from the 17th century and an elaborately carved coffered ceiling made of lark wood. The Gothic cross on the main altar probably even dates from before the monastery was founded.
Port of Šibenik
The harbour of Šibenik looks particularly magical at blue hour. Numerous yachts, sailing ships and fishing boats anchor at Marina Mandalina, giving the waterfront promenade its picturesque atmosphere and inviting you to take a stroll.
St. Nicholas Church
Walking along the waterfront promenade, you pass nice cafés and restaurants as well as boats bobbing on the clear water and finally reach St. Nicholas Church, which towers directly on the sea. Fitting, as the Renaissance church once served to protect sailors and their families.
Seafaring also plays a role in the interior of the church, because instead of silver, gold and jewels, the church treasure of St. Nicholas Church consists of ship models that were donated by seafaring families as a request or thanks for a safe return home.
In addition to the churches already mentioned, Šibenik has numerous others, 24 in total. Some of them are no longer used as places of worship, but as museum art galleries.
Šibenik was once built as a fort at the foot of the fortress hill on which the fortress of St. Michael or St. Anna still towers today. Three other fortifications, which have been preserved to this day, bear witness to the importance of the coastal town at that time.
Šibenik's defence was also completed by a double city wall, some parts of which are still preserved around the old town.
Accommodation and hotels: Sibenik
Fortress Sveti Mihovil or Sveti Ana
The fortress of Sveti Mihovil or Sveti Ana is enthroned on a 70m high hill in the interior. A visit to this bastion not only allows you to walk in historical footsteps, but also reveals the panorama of Šibenik and the Mediterranean coast with its offshore islands in all its glory.
Carefully renovated, it is considered the most beautiful fortress in Šibenik and serves as an open-air stage for cultural events in summer - unique in Dalmatia.
Sveti Ivan Fortress
Also on a hill is the Sveti Ivan fortress. The fortress of St. John dates from the 16th century and, at around 115 metres above sea level, also offers a fantastic view over the coast of Croatia.
Sveti Nikola Fortress
With the fortress of Sveti Nikola, Šibenik also had a defensive fortress right by the sea. Its imposing walls and cannons were intended to deter enemies who wanted to attack the city from the sea.
The last fortress in the group is the star-shaped Subicevac Fortress in the east of the city. It dates from the 17th century and was considered the most important defence against the Turks.
Banj city beach
If you want to swim in Šibenik, the best place is the city beach Banj. The public pebble beach offers shallow, crystal-clear water, which has already been awarded the blue flag several times, and a variety of leisure activities with a view of the old town. Volleyball and basketball courts as well as a fitness park ensure that sports are not neglected during your holiday in Croatia.
Jadrija beach, about 15 minutes by car from Šibenik, is also open to the public. At the end of the Sveti Anton canal, it is mainly the locals who meet to swim, swim and relax. Infrastructure with snack bars, changing rooms and sports facilities is also sufficiently available here. The neighbouring village of Rezaliste also has a picturesque pebble beach with a wide range of leisure activities.
Sandy beach of the Solaris Beach Resort
The sandy beach of the Solaris Beach Resort isnot open to the public, but it is absolutely fantastic. On the 4km long coastline, which belongs to the hotel, you will find not only sand but also rocky bays with clean, turquoise-blue water. Sunshades and sunbeds can be rented.
Tip: There are numerous small islands in the sea at the mouth of the Krka River. Zlarin, Obonja, Koprije, Zirje and all their names are partly completely uninhabited and offer a dreamlike backdrop for relaxed bathing days off Croatia's coast.
Šibenik - Arrival and day trips
The approach to Šibenik is via the E65, which crosses the Krka River from the north via the impressive Kura Bridge (Šibenski most). The impressive bridge cannot be missed and is extremely popular with bungee jumpers.
Krka National Park
Šibenik is located directly at the mouth of the Krka River into the sea. The drive to the picturesque Krka National Park takes only about 15 minutes. The landscape characterised by rivers and lakes is one of the most beautiful regions in Croatia. Among other things, it is home to the largest bat colony in Europe and an impressive waterfall with 17 steps.
Kornati National Park
Equally scenic is the Kornati National Park off the coast. The hardly populated islands form one of the most beautiful sailing areas in Europe and impress with sparsely overgrown cliffs, deserted bays and fantastic viewpoints.