Sibenik on Croatia’s Adriatic Coast offers the perfect blend of historic charm and magnificent nature. This itinerary for 2 days in Sibenik includes the best of the old town, plus a day trip to Krka National Park and waterfalls.
This guest post comes courtesy of April from The Unending Journey. April has been hooked on travel since her first international trip at the age of 19. You can usually find her exploring a new country or out hiking – and she’s always urging people to go out and travel on their own.
Walking along the promenade, Sibenik (Šibenik) feels like many other coastal Croatian cities. It isn’t until you make your way up through the labyrinth of passages and streets in the historic centre that you truly start to appreciate the beauty of this place.
The historic centre is entirely made from stone. From medieval dwellings with colourful shutters to Venetian-inspired exteriors, Sibenik is a city that grabs you.
There’s no shortage of beautiful places to see along Croatia’s coast. But many towns are overrun with tourists in the season. Somehow, Sibenik remains largely overlooked, which only adds to the city’s charm.
You definitely need to visit Sibenik now before the rest of the world discovers it.
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- Croatia car hire: Use Discover Cars to compare rental car prices for Sibenik.
- Where to stay in Sibenik: Heritage Hotel Life Palace (boutique); B&B Stone Town (mid-range); Hostel Splendido (budget).
- Short on time? Consider an organised day tour to Sibenik and Krka Waterfalls from Split instead.
- 5 essentials to pack for Sibenik: A Universal travel adapter; swimming gear and a dry bag; Wine Wings (essential if you want to take a few bottles of Croatian wine home with you); a travel raincoat for wet weather; a copy of the latest Lonely Planet Pocket Guide to Croatia.
Best time to visit Sibenik
With its Mediterranean climate, there is no wrong time to visit Sibenik. June through August are the warmest month with longs days. But it’s also when the city is busiest. Visiting in the shoulder months of April/May and September/October means that you’ll still have pleasant temperatures (around 20° C) but without the crowds.
Though rainfall is expected throughout the year, the rainiest months are November and December. January is the coldest month with temperatures around 15° C or lower.
Where to stay in Sibenik
The best area to stay in Sibenik is along the promenade. Not only will you get stunning sunset views if you’re facing the water, but you’ll be staying on flat ground. Sibenik is built on a hill, so there are a lot of stairs and narrow walkways that can be difficult to navigate with luggage. Cars are prohibited in the historic centre, so taking a taxi to your accommodation is not an option.
As Croatia has an extremely good bus system, most people arrive in Sibenik via bus. The station is less than a 5-minute walk to the promenade, making it super easy for you to get to your hotel.
Heritage Hotel Life Palace is located right in the centre of the historic district. It features comfortable boutique rooms and a terrace with panoramic views of Sibenik. Check prices and availability on Booking.com.
For something mid-range B&B Stone Town is a bit further out but still walking distance from the centre. Rooms are bright and airy (some feature claw-foot bath tubs and hammocks), and breakfast is included in the nightly rate. Check prices and availability on Booking.com.
Budget travellers will find a range of affordable hostels in Sibenik. Hostel Splendido offers dorms and private doubles, all beautifully furnished and with access to a leafy outdoor terrace. Check prices and availability on Booking.com.
How many days do you need in Sibenik?
The old town can be explored at a leisurely pace in one day. But you should plan to spend at least 2 days in Sibenik so you can also take a day trip to nearby Krka National Park.
Things to do in Sibenik
Most of Sibenik’s charm can be found strolling around the historic center. Don’t bother with a map as the old town is compact.
There are so many inviting streets, you’ll find yourself walking down every single one! You’re guaranteed to stumble on the main attractions as you go. And to make sure you do, there are signs throughout the city pointing the way to each.
Visit a fortress
One of the first things to in Sibenik is head up. Perched on the hill tops above the town are three fortresses: St. Michael’s, Barone, and St. Johns.
St. Michael’s is unmissable. When approaching Sibenik by bus, it’s St. Michael’s that you first see, instantly catching your eye. Centred in the heart of Sibenik old town, St Michael’s has stood since the 12th century, protecting the city.
Though there’s not much to do inside the fortress itself (though in the summer, there are concerts in its open-air theater), it’s the views from the top that makes St. Michael’s a must see in Sibenik. Views extend over the red-tile roofs of the historic centre all the way to the Krka River.
On the other side, St. John’s Fortress dominates the view. Unfortunately, St. John’s is currently for extensive restorations.
On the fringe of the old town you’ll find Barone Fortress. It doesn’t look like much from the outside – but if you think the views from St. Michael’s are impressive, wait until you see the views from Barone! Trust me when I tell you the view is completely worth the short, steep climb up the hill.
If you’re visiting Sibenik during the summer, you can take a boat tour to visit the UNESCO World Heritage fortress of St. Nicholas. Built in the islet of Ljuljevac when the region was under Venetian rule, it’s the most beautiful of all Sibenik’s fortresses. Plus, the boat ride to get there is spectacular.
Cathedral of St. James
Taking more than 100 years to finish, the Cathedral of St. James is the crown jewel of Sibenik and one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture in the entire country. The whole church complex is made from stone. Take your time walking around the outside of the cathedral as the many carvings are marvelous, especially the frieze of 71 sculpted heads located along the rear.
Inside the cathedral, don’t miss the Baptistery. This small room was created in the 1440s by Juraj Matejev Dalmatinac. The stunning lace work and sculptures (all meticulously carved from stone) are just masterful.
Sibenik Old Town
Seriously – and this cannot be stressed enough – you need to spend some time aimlessly strolling around the streets of Sibenik. So, make time for it!
There are stunning plazas (especially beside the Cathedral of St. James and in front of the Town Hall), quaint churches, courtyards, and lots of unique shops that are perfect for window shopping.
Sibenik City Museum
The entrance to the City Museum is located just behind the Cathedral of St. James. The museum is housed in a 17th century Rector’s Palace, which was the former residence of the Venetian Republic’s representative to the city.
Inside the museum, you’ll find artifacts that detail the city’s rich history from prehistory, antiquity, and the middle ages.
Medieval Monastery Mediterranean Garden of St. Lawrence
One of the newest attractions in Sibenik, the Medieval Monastery Mediterranean Garden of St. Lawrence, opened in 2007. It’s designed to perfectly replicate what a traditional medieval monastery garden would have looked like. It’s not huge, but it is a very charming green spot in the middle of the stone town.
Take a short stroll through the geometric beds of flowers herbs, then relax with a refreshment from the outdoor cafe. After climbing up to St. Michael’s Fortress, it’s a good place to stop and rest your feet.
If you’re visiting Sibenik during the warmer months, you can hit the beach. An easy walking distance from the Sibenik old town, Banj Beach may not be the biggest stretch of sand in Croatia, but it is convenient.
Besides relaxing on the beach or going for a swim, Banj offers an unforgettable view of historic Sibenik.
Planning a day trip from Sibenik to Krka National Park
With 2 days in Sibenik or more, you can visit nearby Krka waterfalls and National Park.
Croatia has some incredible waterfalls. Though the most famous are found at Plitvice National Park, the most spectacular is actually in Krka. Being only a 40-minute bus ride from Sibenik, Krka makes for a perfect day trip that you can easily do on your own.
Krka National Park features the most stunning stretches of landscape found along the Krka River, including canyons and tumbling waterfalls. But the main attraction is the Skradinski buk, which is comprised of 7 sets of rapids. These falls are at once delicate, forceful, jaw dropping, and inspiring.
A 2km walking path goes down and up around the falls, allowing you to see the cascades from every angle – up close, and even from above. During summer, it’s possible to go swimming near the falls. Many visitors do the quick walk around the falls, perhaps go for a swim, and then leave. But Skradinski buk is only the start of Krka National Park.
The Park actually extends up the Krka River, which can be seen via boat excursions. A separate ticket must be purchased for the boat, but it’s well worth it to see more of this magnificent landscape.
Not only is the boat ride tranquil, there are great opportunities for bird watching, and the scenery is gorgeous. Options include a boat ride to Visovac or to Roški slap.
Visovac is a tiny island with a monastery. Interestingly, the church on the island is one of only three in the world to have two main alters. Mass is still held here every Sunday, with locals taking their boats over to attend.
If you’re going to Roški slap, note that the boat does visit Viscovac. Further on, you pass through the gorgeous Među grede canyon before arriving at Roški slap, another stunning waterfall. The boat docks near the slap for some free time. Options include eating lunch, touring the historic mill buildings, doing a short hike, or climbing 517 steps to the Oziđana pećina cave.
There are two entrances to Krka National Park, Lozovac and Skradin. Lozovac gets you to the main falls very quickly, though you do need to take a shuttle bus down to the river.
Skradin is the most scenic entrance into the park as it requires a 4km boat ride along the Krka River. If you have the time, Skradin is the way to go. The ticket office is less than a 5-minute walk from the bus stop.
How to get to Krka National Park from Sibenik
Going from Sibenik to Krka National Park is very easy, so you don’t necessarily have to bother with a tour. To get to Krka National Park on your own, take one of the buses that regularly depart from Sibenik and drop passengers at both the Lozovac and Skradin entrances.
Bus schedules vary depending on the season and the day of the week. You can find the current bus schedule on display at the information desk at the bus station or at the Tourist Info Center near the Cathedral of St. James. It’s important to note that bus tickets can only be purchased with cash.
2 days in Sibenik: Final thoughts
If you’re enjoying a scenic trip along the Adriatic coast of Croatia, make sure to include 2 days in Sibenik. It’s a rare hidden gem in a country full of popular destinations. Take advantage of that, and be swept away by the charm.