- 1 Map for this guide
- 2 Where to Stay in Šibenik
- 3 Where to Eat in Šibenik
- 4 Things to do in Šibenik
- 4.1 Walk around the Old Town of Šibenik
- 4.2 See over 70 heads on the Cathedral of St. James
- 4.3 Check out the artwork inside the Church Museum of St. Barbara
- 4.4 Stroll along the Riva
- 4.5 Relax on the beaches
- 4.6 Walk the promenade along St. Anthony Channel
- 4.7 Explore the city’s four fortresses
- 4.8 Learn about the city’s history at Muzej Grada Šibenika
- 4.9 Enjoy the Mediterranean Monastery Garden of St. Lawrence
- 4.10 Visit the Church Museum of St. Francis
- 4.11 Take a moment in Perivoj Roberta Visianija
- 4.12 Head inside the Aquarium Terrarium
- 4.13 Visit the Museum of Victory and Liberation of Dalmatia
- 4.14 Take part in the International Children’s Festival
- 4.15 Catch a performance at the Croatian National Theatre in Šibenik
- 4.16 Discover all the filming sites on a Game of Thrones walking tour
- 4.17 Take a historical walking tour of the city
- 5 Things to do near Šibenik
- 6 Day Trips from Šibenik
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Resting on the Adriatic coast of Croatia between two bigger cities, Zadar and Split, lies another beautiful town called Šibenik.
Part of Split-Dalmatia County, Šibenik, Croatia, is the oldest native Croatian city. Šibenik was originally founded by the Croats and even served as the home of the Croatian king before being occupied by the Venetians, Byzantines, and Hungarians.
Fun Fact: Šibenik was the first city in the world to install street lamps powered by alternating electric currents.
Even though it’s the third-largest city in Dalmatia County, this beautiful city built of stone is an excellent alternative to larger cities in Croatia, like Split. It’s off the usual tourist routes through Croatia, so it offers a more local experience. When you’re thinking of things to do in Šibenik, you need to see a few of its most notable sites. It’s also a great home base if you want to take day trips to see several of the incredible waterfalls in Croatia.
When I visited Šibenik, I spent about two weeks exploring the charming town and its surroundings with lifelong residents. It was incredible to experience the city with them! Here are some of the best things to do in Šibenik, Croatia.
Map for this guide
Where to Stay in Šibenik
- Budget and Hostels: Hostel Sv. Lovre is located in Šibenik old town, just steps away from the Cathedral and City Hall. It’s actually connected to the Mediterranean Monastery Garden of St. Lawrence, which means you’ll get to enjoy the genuinely unique garden and its restaurant throughout your whole stay. The hostel even offers Croatian language classes on-site with qualified instructors. Their rooms are rented per bed, with 6 to 8 guests per room, and you can add breakfast to your stay for a nominal fee.
- Apartment-style living: Apartment Camping Resort Solaris at Solaris Camping Beach Resort have beautiful apartment stays. Each private apartment suite comes with a kitchen, as well as a private terrace attached. During your stay, you can also enjoy the resort’s amenities, like their pool, beachfront access, and an on-site gym.
- Luxury hotel: Found in the city center, Heritage Hotel Life Palace (Booking | Hotels) is housed in a former Renaissance palace. Enjoy your stay in the elegantly furnished, spacious rooms, or relax outside on their terrace, but the best part is spending some time enjoying their spa amenities. They offer a hot tub and sauna at no additional charge, while scheduling massages will incur an extra fee.
- Resort accommodation: Sitting on the tip of its own peninsula in Šibenik’s bay, D-Resort (Booking | Hotels) has all the major amenities. Right next to the yacht marina, it boasts a top-floor restaurant with beautiful views, a state-of-the-art spa, fitness center, swimming pool, and even a Turkish Hammam. Every room even comes with its own private terrace! Although it’s a little further out from the city center, you feel like you’re really on a retreat.
Where to Eat in Šibenik
If you’re interested in relaxing at a coffee shop, sit outside the historic town hall in the Square of the Republic of Croatia at Gradska Vijećnica, or perfectly pair a confection with your coffee at Moderato Coffee & Cakes.
For a lovely evening out, Galbiani is a nice rooftop wine bar and restaurant with amazing views of St. Anthony Channel. Or, visit Pelegrini–their Croatian cuisine has been ranked the top in the region several years in a row.
If you need a fast or late-night meal, LaLa Food is a small quick-service spot that serves a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and wraps, and it keeps the offerings fresh and affordable.
For restaurants on the beach, Zlatna Ribica is a fantastic white cloth restaurant right on the water, and Sahara Beach Bar is great for a casual bite.
Things to do in Šibenik
Walk around the Old Town of Šibenik
Walking through the Old Town truly feels like you’re transported to another time. There are enough staircases and twisting streets to rival Dubrovnik in the south. However, there are significantly fewer people to contend with as you lose yourself wandering through its streets.
The historic center of the city is called the Square of the Republic of Croatia. There are no cars allowed to drive through this space. It’s also where many of the essential municipal buildings are still standing, built in the Baroque period.
On the square is the city’s town hall. It was built in the 16th Century and is now occupied by Gradska Vijecnica, a Mediterranean cafe.
See over 70 heads on the Cathedral of St. James
Standing by the center of town at the top of an impressive stairwell is the Cathedral of St. James. This gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage site was built entirely with stone–nothing else. The limestone used in its construction was quarried and shipped in from the nearby island Brač.
While it was initially planned as a simple church, it had far surpassed that plan by the time it was completed in 1536. It’s now considered Croatia’s architectural gem from the Renaissance period.
One of the many unique features of the Cathedral is its outside. More than 70 heads wrap around the outside of the structure, each representing someone who lived in town at the time of its construction.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a creation or landmark chosen for conservation by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) due to its cultural, historical, scientific or natural significance. It must meet a minimum of one of ten selection criteria to be considered for the World Heritage List, and once chosen, it becomes protected for preservation by various international treaties.
Check out the artwork inside the Church Museum of St. Barbara
Close to the Cathedral, the Church Museum of St. Barbara is home to a triptych–three painted tablets held together with hinges–featuring St. Nicholas and St. Gregory with St. Barbara. There are also statues of St. Peter and St. Jakov depicted in stone dating back to the Renaissance. There is also artwork from the master goldsmith Oration Fortezza featured in the museum.
Stroll along the Riva
The coastline of Šibenik, called the Riva, is a beautiful area to take a walk. Gelato shops, coffee shops, and restaurants line the walkway across from the water’s edge.
However, the Riva truly comes alive at night. The sunset views are picture-perfect, and you might happen across residents sprawled out on the grass, listening to an evening coffeehouse performance.
Relax on the beaches
If you’re willing to venture off the mainland, there are absolutely incredible beaches on the islands off the coast and right outside the city center of Šibenik! You can read my recommendations for the best beaches in Šibenik here. However, my two favorite beaches are Banj Beach and Jadrija Beach.
Banj Beach is a small pebble beach located at the end of the city’s Riva, just a 15-minute walk from Šibenik Old Town center. It is free to access and has free showers as well as lounge chairs for rent. You’ll be at the base of the city while you’re on the beach, which means you’ll have spectacular views of the Barone Fortress, St. Michael’s Fortress, and St. James’ Cathedral.
Jadrija Beach is situated on a peninsula outside the city center. Instead of driving, the city provides a convenient boat service that operates often throughout the day from the Riva in Šibenik to the Jadrija port. When you land, it’s only a few minutes’ walk from the dock to the beach area, where you may lounge down on the large stone coast or swim in the sea.
Insider Tip: While you’re at Jadrija Beach, make sure to stop at Slastičarnica Jadrija for a krafne, a Croatian donut with delicious cream or jelly in the center.
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Walk the promenade along St. Anthony Channel
At more than 2,000 meters long, the St. Anthony Channel is a strait that leads from the bay of Šibenik out into the open waters of the Adriatic (it’s also how you access the city’s archipelago.) Along the Channel, you’ll find St. Anthony Cave, which was home to a small Catholic church, and other caves carved into the rock by German forces to hide their military and torpedo boats.
While I love the stunning views from being on the water riding through the Channel, you can also enjoy the gorgeous landscape from on land.
The promenade is a beautiful, 4.4-kilometer path that winds along the water, from Panikovac Cove to the islet by St. Nicholas’s Fortress. It’ll take you about 2 hours to walk your way through, or a little faster if you decide to bike. It was built with the intention of not disrupting the protected nature of the area, so you’ll experience these panoramic views along with Šibenik’s natural beauty. Make sure you don’t miss the lookout, located at the highest point along the path!
Explore the city’s four fortresses
The first in our three Šibenik fortresses, Barone Fortress, was built in the 15th Century and played a large part in protecting the city from Ottoman forces during the Cretan War in 1647.
Since its restoration, Barone Fortress now offers some of the most interactive things to do in Šibenik. It features a museum on the city’s history, and you can even virtually watch this battle using Augmented Reality technology. There’s also a bistro and coffee shop where you can sample many of the region’s specialties.
St. John’s Fortress
Adjacent to Barone Fortress, St. John’s Fortress also served an essential role in the Cretan War. Named after a Medieval church dedicated to St. John that stood on the site for centuries prior, the fort was built by locals in 1646 and was war-ready after only 58 days. Its nickname “Tanaja” comes from its tenaille design, a plier-shaped fortification.
After years of neglect, St. John’s is the latest Šibenik fortress to undergo restoration and is currently closed for visitors.
St. Michael’s Fortress
Standing above the city on the opposite hill as Barone Fortress, St. Michael’s Fortress is a Medieval fort that dates back to the first mentions of Šibenik. Today, it’s a beautiful place to see the city from above. Since it was renovated and reopened in 2014, it also hosts many outdoor performances in the summer.
If you’re interested in visiting a few of the Šibenik fortresses, you can receive a discount if you combine your entrance fees for St. Michael’s Fortress and Barone Fortress.
St. Nicholas’s Fortress
For our final fortress, floating on an island just outside Šibenik’s harbor, St. Nicholas’s Fortress sits on an island in St. Anthony Channel that had initially been home to the Benedictine Monastery of St. Nicholas. It was built in the 16th Century by the Venetians to protect the city from invaders. Today, it’s considered one of the best relics of defense architecture in the county. Even though it was heavily fortified with more than 30 cannons, it was so imposing that no enemy ever attacked it.
After undergoing extensive renovations, St. Nicholas’s Fortress is finally reopened to visitors. You access the island by walking, biking, boating, or taking a guided kayaking tour from Šibenik.
Learn about the city’s history at Muzej Grada Šibenika
Located in a former Count’s Palace dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, the Šibenik City Museum opened in 1925–on the 1,000th anniversary of the Croatian kingdom–to tell the story of the Šibenik region.
With more than 150,000 different artifacts in its collection, the museum is organized by eras and artifact type. So if you’re interested in learning about the area from its prehistoric time through the present day, you need to spend a few hours wandering through this museum.
Enjoy the Mediterranean Monastery Garden of St. Lawrence
After being left to grow wild for more than 100 years, the Medieval gardens adjacent to the St. Lawrence Monastery has been restored to its former glory.
Fully revitalized in 2007, the configuration is rare to find in Europe and one-of-a-kind in Croatia. With award-winning landscape architect Dragutin Kiš at the helm, the Mediterranean garden follows a path in the shape of a cross, with medicinal herbs and plants growing along its edges.
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Visit the Church Museum of St. Francis
Overlooking Gradski Park and Perivoj Roberta Visianija, the Church Museum of St. Francis is a and shrine to the first Croatian saint, St. Nikola Tavilić. The Gothic church was made over in the Baroque style by one of the foremost painters of the time, Matej Pončun, in the 17th Century, featuring Venetian Baroque paintings and brilliant frescos on the wooden ceiling. The Franciscan monastery now also houses a museum dedicated to its history.
Take a moment in Perivoj Roberta Visianija
Sitting on the end of the Riva, Perivoj Roberta Visianija was designed in 1895 by Roberto de Visiani, a famous researcher who studied the plant life of the Šibenik area.
Connected to Gradski Park by a pathway, Perivoj Roberta Visianija was renovated in 1995 and features a statue of Croatian King Petar Krešimir IV.
Fun Fact: If you’ve ever been to Padua, Italy, you might recognize de Visiani’s restoration work on the oldest botanical garden in Europe, the Orto Botanico di Padova.
Head inside the Aquarium Terrarium
If you’re stumped trying to find what to do in Šibenik, which is family-friendly and an inside activity, head to Aquarium Terrarium, the city’s small aquarium. Right in the heart of Šibenik old town, you’ll find a variety of local and exotic fish and sea animals.
Visit the Museum of Victory and Liberation of Dalmatia
During World War II, Partisan resistance fighters led by Josip Broz Tito fought alongside Allied powers to clear Dalmatia of fascist troops in 1944. Opened in 2016, the Museum of Victory and Liberation of Dalmatia is the first to celebrate these brave Croatian fighters. Wind your way through these exhibits, which showcase original documents, maps, and multimedia.
Take part in the International Children’s Festival
Every year for two weeks, the International Children’s Festival takes over the city from June to July. For more than 60 years, troupes have come in from all over the world to participate in the Festival’s three main tenets–performances by local and international children’s ensembles, workshops for kids to create, and symposiums on children’s education. Come enjoy and be part of this celebration of children’s creativity!
Catch a performance at the Croatian National Theatre in Šibenik
Founded in 1870 as the Teatro Sociale da Sibeniko, the city’s citizens took on the responsibility to fully fund its construction and named it the Social Theatre due to their contribution. However, the theater (which seats about 500 people) was renamed two years later to Mazzoleni Theater after Šibenik’s own famous singer, Fran Mazzoleni.
Today, you can catch productions performed by the theatre’s own in-house ensemble, as well as a full schedule of concerts. You can find the Croatian National Theatre in Šibenik’s upcoming calendar of events on their website.
Fun Fact: The design for the Croatian National Theatre in Šibenik was inspired by the Teatro Fenice in Venice, Italy.
Discover all the filming sites on a Game of Thrones walking tour
While the HBO series famously filmed in Dubrovnik, the production used gorgeous locations all over Croatia to bring its world to life. If you’re a major GoT fan, the city might feel familiar to you as you’re exploring the old city streets. Šibenik was notably featured in three episodes from Season 5 to bring the town of Braavos to life. Take a Game of Thrones-themed walking tour to get an in-depth look at filming sites while learning a little bit of the city’s history along the way.
Take a historical walking tour of the city
If Game of Thrones isn’t your thing, no worries, there are other walking tours of the historic city! You can choose between a morning or evening private history walking tour, or opt for a private food and historical tour.
As a tour guide, the first thing I do when I arrive at a new place is to schedule a walking tour to learn the history behind the significant sites, which is definitely something I recommend you do when planning your list of things to do in Šibenik.
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Things to do near Šibenik
Find something for the whole family at Solaris Camping Beach Resort
The Solaris Camping Beach Resort provides its guests with five differently-themed beaches along its shoreline, with hotel choices ranging from three to five stars. Every one of the five beaches has its own distinct set of amenities, such as sunbathing areas, play areas for kids, cafés, and restaurants.
Within the resort, you’ll find several other family-friendly things to do in Šibenik. For a total shift from the city’s history, Aquapark Dalmatia is Croatia’s first themed water park. It has a Kids Zone, a lazy river, slides, jacuzzis, and waterfalls to enjoy in the warmer weather.
In addition to the Aquapark, there’s also the Pirate Adventure Mini Golf, a completely pirate-themed mini-golf course, and traditional foods at the Dalmatian Ethno Village, which is located inside the resort’s Amadria Park.
You can go for a day or stay overnight at one of the many hotels in the area or stay at the Amadria Park Jakov on the park’s property.
Go back in time at Etnoland Dalmati
Like Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, Etnoland Dalmati is a living history museum dedicated to celebrating the region. The family-owned-and-operated site sits right next to Krka National Park, just outside the city. Take a tour of the grounds with a village family member, who weaves together the history of the area along with traditional storytelling. You can also indulge in a family-style “peka” meal, traditional recipes made with local ingredients.
Watch a falconry demonstration at the Sokolarski Centar
Have you ever imagined seeing the art of falconry up close? Just a 10-minute drive from the city center is the Sokolarski Centar, located in Dubrava. The rescue and educational center rehabilitates hundreds of these beautiful birds of prey every year with an expert team of falconers. Go for the day and watch the masters working with the falcons, or sign up for a course and learn the ancient practice for yourself.
Visit one of the nearby national parks
The most popular day trips from Šibenik are to the city’s surrounding national parks–Krka National Park, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and Kornati National Park and Archipelago. Make sure you spend time exploring at least one of these nearby national parks!
Krka National Park
Krka National Park was established in 1985 as a nature conservation area. With seven different waterfalls and more than 860 different types of plants identified throughout its territory of 109 square kilometers, the waterfalls in Krka are home to the second-highest density of lavender in Europe. It’s also a popular tourist destination for hikers, with trails throughout the park.
Spend your day like I did–standing in awe of these powerful waterfalls, swimming, walking, and enjoying the abundance of wildlife at this gorgeous national park. Several tours will take you from Šibenik to Krka, and I promise you won’t be disappointed with the excursion!
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park should also be on your list of things to do in Šibenik. This stunning park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features crystal-clear lakes, cascading waterfalls, lush forests, and a plethora of wildlife. The park is home to more than 320 different types of butterflies and over 150 species of birds. Many tours will take you to Plitvice Lakes National Park if you don’t want to make the trip on your own.
Kornati National Park and Archipelago
If you’re interested in visiting yet another one of Croatia’s national parks, the Kornati National Park and Archipelago are easily accessible from Šibenik. There are more than 150 islands that make up this park, most famous for its unique geomorphological feature of high vertical cliffs called “crowns.”
The best way to explore the Kornati islands is by boat tour. I took a full day-long tour with Tureta-Tours.hr, which included an incredible lunch of fresh fish and stopping for swims on several of the islands.
Island hop through the Šibenik archipelago
Just beyond St. Anthony Channel, Šibenik has its own archipelago of islands, each more beautiful than the next. The further out the island is, the more crystal clear and bright blue the water becomes. And since many of these islands don’t allow cars–and they’re only accessible by boat–you’ll truly feel like you’re someplace far, far away.
Of the seven largest islands in the Šibenik archipelago, my two favorites are the closest, Zlarin–for its peaceful coastline and walkable town–and the farthest, Žirje–for its gorgeous hills and the cleanest, bluest water I’ve ever seen. You can either opt for a Jadrolinija ferry to take you to these two islands, or you can rent a private boat and sail throughout all of the islands at your leisure.
Go ziplining over Čikola Canyon
Less than 30 kilometers from the city center, Čikola Canyon is considered one of the most impressive canyons in Croatia. The 14-kilometer gorge was formed by the River Čikola and is over 170 meters deep in its deepest parts. When water fills the canyon, it’s the perfect place for outdoor activities.
While you can walk or hike the area, the most thrilling way to experience the site is by zipline. You’ll start at the top of three steel cables connected to three different platforms suspended at more than 230 meters up in the air, reaching speeds of more than 70 km/h as you traverse above the treetops, with incredible views of the canyon and the River Čikola below.
Experience the Čikola Zipline only, or add even more adventure to your day with a zipline and kayaking combo, or take a Cetina jeep safari to explore the local wildlife before your time on the zipline.
Day Trips from Šibenik
If you want to stay in a city but outside of a major tourist center, Šibenik is a perfect place to serve as your home base.
As the second-largest city in Croatia, Split is one of the perfect day trips from Šibenik. It’s the kind of place where you can easily wander a day away. Split Old Town today is centered around Diocletian’s Palace, built in the 4th Century by the Roman Emperor Diocletian as his retirement home. You’re surrounded by life, old and new, throughout the city’s charming plazas, restaurants, and shops. You can read my guides to the best things to do in Split, Croatia, the best day trips from Split, and my 3 days in Split itinerary.
The ancient Greeks established the small island city of Trogir, but it was then occupied by the Venetians throughout much of its history. Visit the Town Loggia in the city center, then climb the Town Clock Tower at the Cathedral of St. Lawrence for a stunning panoramic perspective.
In the evening, stroll along the harbor’s promenade and enjoy a different picturesque view from the tower of Kamerlengo Castle, the city’s historic fortification. The majority of the major sites are free to access or observe, perfect if you only have one day! You can read my guide to one day in Trogir here.
Since the city is relatively untouched by substantial tourism traffic, the area feels like a treasure just waiting to be uncovered. Which of the best things to do in Šibenik would you like to explore?