Just the sight of Šibenik awakens the greatest holiday feeling: The pastel-coloured houses are nestled tightly against the hill on which the fortress is enthroned. Directly in front of it: The azure blue sea. Šibenik is a Croatian coastal town straight out of a picture book.
You definitely should not skip a stop off in Šibenik while on a round trip through Dalmatia. We have been guests in Šibenik many times now. Therefore, in this travel guide we let you in on our very best tips for your stay.
From the main attractions to the best destinations for day trips, right up to our favourite culinary discoveries – you will find all this and much more on our travel blog.
1. Šibenik in Croatia: Overview of useful info & FAQs
What should I expect while on holiday in Šibenik?
Šibenik is a city to fall in love with! In the historical centre of the coastal town there is a labyrinth of winding, romantic alleyways waiting for you where one stone house pushes up against the next. Sometimes the dark alleyways seem to get smaller and smaller until you end up in a spacious, imposing square again.
The special thing about Šibenik: The town is built on a slope. Therefore, you can let yourself enjoy a spectacular view over the city, the sea and the offshore islands while walking around. Šibenik is the third largest city in Dalmatia. Nevertheless, the centre is comparatively manageable and within just a short time you will have seen most of the spots at least twice.
If you like historical buildings, you will enjoy Šibenik: Not only because the Cathedral of St. James, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, awaits you here, there is something to marvel at on practically every corner. And then of course there is also the imposing fortress high above the city – St. Michael’s Fortress. The climb is worthwhile just for magnificent view alone.
Also good to know: Šibenik is THE starting point for a visit to the world famous Krka National Park. You can drive there in around 20 minutes from the centre of town.
Is one day enough to see all the important sights of Šibenik?
Even though we definitely wouldn’t recommend it, you can easily cover all of Šibenik’s important highlights in just a few hours. The historical centre is really quite manageable. Which sights (in our opinion) should definitely not be missed: (We will provide detailed info for each sight further down)
- A visit to the cathedral in the brilliantly beautiful main square
- The climb to St. Michael’s Fortress with a lovely panorama over Šibenik
- A walk (ca. 10 minutes) to the viewing platform close to Banj beach for the most excellent postcard picture
- A drink on the promenade – ideally at sunset
But as always: The more time the better. Šibenik really has an unbelievable amount of flair and there are also so many great destinations for excursions in the surrounding area – above all the world-famous Krka National Park, for which you will need at least half a day.
So, if you would like to take it easy, then plan to stay at least two, or better yet three or more nights in Šibenik. You will definitely not regret it – promise!
Is Šibenik a good destination for a beach holiday in Croatia?
Yes and no. Šibenik is surrounded by some pretty beaches – some of these are even located in the township. However, Šibenik probably wouldn’t be our first choice when it comes to beach holidays. There are simply so many other destinations in Dalmatia that are better for this. We are thinking of places such as the Brač island, the island of Korčula or the Makarska Riviera on the mainland.
Šibenik is much more of a destination for those interested in culture and enjoying the flair of the coastal town. So, if you like strolls through historic streets, dining in the evening with a view of the sea and maybe taking one or two trips away (gladly also to the beach), then Šibenik is the right place for you.
2. The Most Beautiful Sights in Šibenik: Top Things to See
Cathedral of St. James
What a monumental structure! The Cathedral of St. James is the main attraction of the city and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You definitely shouldn’t miss a visit to the cathedral during your stay in Šibenik.
The gigantic sacred building made of marble and limestone literally glistens in the sun. The distinctive dome of the cathedral is also visible from many viewing points in Šibenik.
You can either marvel at the cathedral from the outside or also, of course, take a visit inside (for a few euros entrance fee). You will find it right in the main square of Šibenik, the Trg Republike Hrvatske, and is hard to miss.
The historic old town of Šibenik
The cathedral is a wonderful starting point from which to explore the old town of Šibenik. It is best to just let yourself roam a little. We promise: You will be left with a sense of awe. Cobbled streets, romantic courtyards, balconies decorated with flowers – the historic centre of Šibenik is really magical.
If you want to go to specific places, then here are our tips for the most beautiful sights and our favourite places in the old town. Don’t worry – they are all located just a stone’s throw away from one another. You can find a map with all the highlights at the end of this blog article.
- Cathedral of St. James: The city’s main attraction. You can find info about this in the chapter above.
- Main square (Trg Republike Hrvatske): The cathedral is located right in the (very impressive) main square, therefore you will be here anyway. You can find some buildings worth seeing in the main square including the Civic Loggia (now the town hall) and the small Loggia.
- Church of St. Barbara: You can find this pretty church just a small skip away from the main square. It is currently being used as a museum, therefore the official name is also ‘Crkveni muzej’.
- Garden of St. Lawrence: You will find an oasis of peace in this hidden garden of the St. Lawrence Monastery. Entry is free, however when you are there it seems as though you should consume something in the adjoining café. You can find the garden on the way to St. Michael’s Fortress (more about this soon).
- The promenade: Here you will find one café after the next – perfect for a sundowner!
Šibenik’s 4 Fortresses
There are four historical fortresses in Šibenik:
- St. Michael: The most famous fortress, which you should absolutely visit.
- Baron: Located a little higher and also well worth a visit.
- St. Johannes: Currently under renovation (in June 2021).
- St. Nicholas: Out in the sea on an island in the St. Anthony Channel. We give you more info about this in the chapter on day trip destinations.
St. Michael’s Fortress
The most famous fortress, and also the one closest to the old town, is St. Michael’s Fortress (called ‘Tvrđava svetog Mihovila’ in Croatian). You can get to the south entrance (there is also a north entrance) from the main square (Trg Republike Hrvatske) in just a few minutes on foot. The path to get there is very well signposted, so the fortress is hard to miss.
Then there are a few stairs, and a few vertical metres to overcome, before you can enjoy the spectacular panorama view over Šibenik. There are always summer concerts playing on the gigantic outdoor stage there – what a great backdrop!
Inside the fortress you can find a nicely designed exhibition, but the highlight of the trip is definitely the view. You can take a walk along the old defence walls and enjoy views in all directions from there.
Our tip: It is especially beautiful up here at sunset when the sinking sun casts a beautiful light over Šibenik. However, be sure to keep an eye on the opening times.
You can find all the info for opening times and entrance fees on the official website: St. Michael’s Fortress
Do you have a little more time and would like to visit another fortress in Šibenik? Then we warmly recommend the Baron Fortress for you (called the ‘Tvrđava Barone’ in Croatian).
It is located close to the old town but a little higher, and therefore further away, than St. Michael’s Fortress. Plan around 15 minutes for the walk up to the entrance of the fortress. The effort is worth it: The panorama view over Šibenik is fantastic.
Our tip: The renovated fortress also has a café. You can recover from the strenuous walk up with a cold beverage and a brilliant view into the distance – wonderful!
You can find all the info for opening times and entrance fees on the official website: Baron Fortress
Viewing terrace: The postcard motif of Šibenik
Just a 10-minute stroll north from the city centre you can find Šibenik’s ‘home beach’, Banj beach. There you will find a viewing terrace from which you can get the classic postcard view of Šibenik.
The vantage point itself doesn’t provide much in terms of architecture, but the view looking back at the old town from there is really fantastic. The pretty coastal town presents itself completely differently depending on the time of day – be it at the break of day, at sunset or also at night. We highly recommend!
3. Day Trip Destinations from Šibenik: Our Tips
St. Anthony Channel (Sveti Ante)
Even though it doesn’t always look like it in the photos: The historical old town of Šibenik is not located on the open sea but connected to it through the St. Anthony Channel (Croatian: Sveti Ante). We warmly recommend a trip to this nature reserve on the two offshore peninsulas.
Here awaits you not only lovely landscape with magical bays but also most of all an unbelievably beautiful view of the sea as well as back in the direction of Šibenik’s city centre.
The most well-known hike is on the southernmost peninsula and goes along the coast. The trail is 4.4 kilometres long all together (one way, not a round trip). It’s best to start from the carpark close to St. Nicholas’ Fortress. (We have marked the exact spot on the map.)
We ourselves walked to both the most well-known viewing points (walking time: ca. one hour from the carpark). First you reach the lower lookout and some 10 minutes later the upper lookout. The view from both is fantastic! The way back follows the same trail again. Good to know: The path to get there is not too challenging, however is quite steep at the end – but nothing you can’t manage as a reasonably fit person, so don’t worry. Hiking boots are also not a necessity, gym shoes or sneakers are enough.
Our tip: There is a path that leads from the carpark in the other direction towards St. Nicholas’ Fortress. This little detour is also very recommendable. However: If you want to get to the fortress itself, this route is not recommended because the fortress is officially only accessible from the sea. (Theoretically you could walk through the water to the fortress for the last section).
Krka National Park
Krka National Park is without a doubt the most famous and most visited day trip destination around Šibenik. The natural gem is located about 20 minutes’ drive away from the centre of Šibenik and is therefore ideal for a (half) day trip.
What is there to see in Krka National Park?
The Krka National Part is huge (it extends of a section of the river of around 45 kilometres). One day is not really enough to visit the entire national park. Therefore, the classic day trip program is usually limited to what is probably the most spectacular section of the park, around the Skradinski waterfall (‘Skradinski Buk’).
There is an approximately 2km long loop track that goes around the Skradinski waterfall. The path mainly leads you along wooden walkways, also often up and down steps through the natural gem. You hear the sounds of the waterfall, frogs croaking, birds singing – the trail is at its breathtakingly beautiful best when the park is not so full. There are always spectacular views for you to enjoy.
Once you reach the waterfall you are no longer allowed to (!) enjoy a dip in the cool water. Swimming has been banned here since 2021 for ecology and nature conservation. In spite of this (or better said, because of it), the sight of the cascading waterfalls is incredibly impressive.
How do I get to the loop track in the Krka National Park?
There are two places you can reach the loop track from:
- From Lozovac: There is a ca. 15-minute walking track leaving from the carpark, which leads down a gravel trail towards the loop track. Alternatively, you can also take the bus.
- From Skradin: There are regular boats leaving from the carpark to the waterfall. If you prefer to be active, you can also walk approx. 4km along a walking track.
Important to know: The national park is one of the most visited sights in Croatia. Therefore, we recommend – especially during the summer months! – to get there as early as possible. Alternatively, it could also be fine to go late in the afternoon. Even when the photos of the waterfall suggest otherwise – you have to be prepared for it to be very busy.
The idyllic coastal town of Primošten is located about half an hour south of Šibenik. It is beautifully situated on a peninsula that is only connected to the mainland by a small dam. Therefore, Primošten is especially impressive from a bird’s eye view – we will of course let you know where the best views are in a moment.
What can you expect in Primošten? In short: A magical fishing town which, despite its growing tourist interest, has managed to maintain a relaxing flair.
You should allow around two to three hours’ time for a visit. The town is really small and quickly explored. If you need some inspiration for your plans, we let you know the main attractions and our personal highlights in Primošten below.
Sights & tips for Primošten
Walk to the Sveti Juraj church: The Sveti Juraj church is enthroned at the highest point in the old town. A stroll through the romantic streets up to the church is one of the must-dos while in Primošten. It takes around 10 to 15 minutes to reach, depending on where you leave from.
Coffee/lunch break: There are very nice konobas (taverns) and cafés in Primošten that are ideal for a break. For example, the idyllic Konoba Dvor or the Coffee Bar Vlaho are recommendable.
The best view of Primošten: You probably get the best panorama view over the peninsula from the viewpoint next to the statue ‘Our Lady of Loretto’. It sits on a hill high above Primošten. The downside: It takes around 10 minutes to reach the viewpoint from the junction of the main road. You can find the exact point on the map at the end of the article.
4. Food & Drinks: Culinary Tips and Recommendations
We still remember our first time staying in Šibenik very well, over ten years ago, when it was really difficult to find anything other than Ćevapčići. Those days are long gone and the gastro-scene in Šibenik has definitely become more hip since then.
Even though Šibenik can’t keep up with Split in terms of cuisine, there are some very recommendable restaurants and cafés. Of course, we don’t want to withhold our favourites from you.
Tips for cafés & restaurants in Šibenik
SHE Organic Bistro: Searching for the hippest café in all of Šibenik? Then look no further than this gem. Here you can not only enjoy a great breakfast/brunch but also lunch and dinner. They serve fusion cuisine such as bowls, salads or sandwiches. A small insider tip and also highly recommended is their rooftop bar!
Peperoncino: This little restaurant is situated in a tiny hidden spot. The big advantage: Everyone gets their money’s worth here because the small (but delicious) menu offers everything from meat to fish to vegetarian and also vegan dishes.
Pelegrini: If you really want to treat yourself, take a visit to the only Michelin-star restaurant in Šibenik. Here you can dine incredibly well, even if not for very cheap. Perfect for special occasions!
KaGrom Ice Cream: Apparently, they sell the best ice cream in Šibenik here. We cannot confirm whether or not this superlative is correct, but the ice cream was definitely great. In our opinion the waffle cone could still be improved upon.
5. Staying in Šibenik: Our Accommodation Tip
Such a dreamy city as Šibenik deserves an equally as dreamy place to stay – and we happen to have found it. We were in wonderful hands at the family run Villa Pergola and we really recommend it with all our heart.
Here you stay in a historical stone house, which has been incredibly carefully renovated with a lot of attention to detail, located right in the old town of Šibenik. The ambience is really something to fall in love with. The rooms exude a pure feel-good atmosphere. We chose the ‘Deluxe Studio’ category. If you would like to treat yourself, then choose the ‘Deluxe Apartment with Terrace’ – simply wonderful!
The location of the Villa Pergola couldn’t be better: You are just a hop and a skip away from all the sights. The owner is also so helpful and hospitable that we found it really hard to leave this place. All in all: Highly recommended!
You can book the accommodation here: Villa Pergola
6. Map: Overview of all Sights & Tips
You can find all of our highlights marked on this map so that you can better navigate each of the sights around the place. Small tip: Just click on the top right corner to open the map with the Google Maps App on your phone.
Disclaimer: Affiliate Links
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we receive a small commission. This does not change the price for you at all. A million thanks from the both of us!
We are curious: Have you already been to Šibenik? Did you like the coastal town as much as we did? Perhaps you have some additional tips for sights or restaurants that you would like to share? We look forward to your comments!