Sibenik is a beautiful, uncrowded city on the Adriatic sea. As one of Croatia’s oldest cities, Sibenik has an abundance of historic sites.
Explore the four fortresses that protected the city from attacks. The most impressive fort, St. Michael’s, stands tall over this medieval city. Navigate the narrow stone backstreets and explore the well preserved Old Town. Don’t miss the towering Saint James Cathedral in Town Square.
With so many great historical and cultural sites, including two UNESCO listed sites, Sibenik has plenty to offer.
Things to do in Sibenik
Wondering what to do in Sibenik? This Sibenik itinerary lets you explore all of the Old Town sites in just one day.
- St. Michael’s Fortress
- Saint James Cathedral
Sibenik Old Town
- Old Town Square
- Town Hall
- St. Anna Cemetery
- Garden of Monastery of St. Lawrence
- Cave of Our Lady of Lourdes
- St. Lawrence Church
- Church of All Saints
- Museum of St. Barbara Church
- Church of Saint Francis
- Sibenik Aquarium
- Robert Visiani’s Park
- Sibenik City Museum
- Sibenik Marina and the Waterfront Promenade
Sibenik Croatia Map
St. Michael’s Fortress
The fort sits on a steep, rocky hill overlooking the mouth of the Krka River. It served for centuries as the central point of the city’s defence system.
A visit to the fort is a must for the first-time visitor. Any lane in the city center will lead up the hillside to the fort. The view from the top of the walls of beautiful medieval Sibenik below and the surrounding St. Anthony Channel is worth the climb.
After years of neglect, the restored fort opened 2014 with a new 1,000 seat outdoor summer concert venue. There are a number of exhibits about life in the fort and the weaponry used. The fort is one of the most-visited sites in Croatia.
It is named for St. Michael’s Church known to have been located inside its walls in the 12th century. Most of the structure visible today dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The oldest part of the fort is the 13th century southeast square tower but it is believed there has been a fort here for much longer than that.
A gunpowder depot explosion in 1663 resulted in heavy damage to the fort, including the destruction of the church. In 1752, lightning caused another gunpowder explosion, resulting in even more damage. Stones were said to have flown all the way to the sea.
Saint James Cathedral
Begin your visit to the Old Town at the enormous Sibenik Cathedral. This impressive stone church is constructed without any bonding material between the stones. It was built in three phases over 100 years (1431 to 1536) as funding became available.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the church demonstrates the transition in church architecture from the Gothic style to the Renaissance style. The cathedral shows elements of both.
On the church’s exterior, there are 71 carved heads partway up the wall. Each head is sculpted from a single block of stone. It is believed they were Sibenik residents known by the sculptor but no one is absolutely sure. Inside the church note the stunning carved ceiling of the baptistery.
Now that you’ve hit Sibenik’s must-see locations, it’s time to explore Old Town. The cathedral sits on the south side of the Town Square.
Sibenik Old Town Square
Relax and people watch in the town square, formally called the Square of the Republic of Croatia. This picturesque square becomes even more beautiful lit up at night. With nightly entertainment and several restaurants nearby, the square is a great place to visit.
It has always been the town’s center for public gatherings and political events. Under the arches on the east side of the square, legal disputes were settled, sentences passed and punishments administered.
The former Civic Loggia is on the north side of the square.
Sibenik Town Hall
This renaissance building, built between 1533 and 1546, has beautiful columns and arches. It is flanked by two carved stone staircases. Allied bombing during WWII almost totally destroyed the hall. Thankfully, it was rebuilt to look the same as it did originally. Today a restaurant occupies the ground level and cultural events take place in the upper hall.
Game of Thrones – Braavos
Sibenik was a Game of Thrones filming location. Many scenes of the ‘Free City of Braavos’ were filmed here. Town Square was used with the walls of Saint James Cathedral standing in as the fictional Iron Bank. This epic setting didn’t require any additional set designs for its filming.
Sibenik Old Town
Meander through the narrow smooth stone streets for many great photo opportunities. Old Town has many churches and old buildings to discover and explore.
St. Anna Cemetery
The cemetery is a quiet place to stroll. Here you can look straight up at St. Michael’s Fortress and look outward to get panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea.
Garden of Monastery of St. Lawrence
After being forgotten for almost a hundred years, this garden was restored and reopened to the public in 2007.
A fountain stands in the center of the stone-walled garden surrounded by crops of medicinal and Mediterranean herbs. This design is similar to the way the Franciscan monks would have planted it.
Retreat from touring the town for a rest at the cafe on the terrace. Enjoy the peaceful views of the garden and the beautiful church belfry.
Cave of Our Lady of Lourdes
Built in the 1920s, this interesting grotto is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.
St. Lawrence Church
This beautiful church was part of the Monastery of St. Lawrence established in Sibenik in the 17th century. The church is only open to the public for its regular services. Look through the church windows and admire the beautiful doorway constructed in the Dalmatian Baroque style of the 17th Century.
The monks fled from the Turks to the Sibenik area during the Cretan War of the 17th century. They helped the town’s population during the plague of 1649. Town leaders showed their gratitude to the monks and assisted with the establishment of their monastery within the town.
Church of All Saints
This is a small, beautiful medieval church. Although the church wasn’t open when I visited there is a unique photo opportunity here. At the side is a small stairway. Take care as there are no handrails up the stairway. Perched on the tiny ledge, you can get a great photo of the town square below.
Museum of St. Barbara Church
This former 15th century church, just down the alley from St. James, is now a museum and art exhibition. See the large clock made of a round stone plate on its west side.
Church of Saint Francis
Completed in 1674, the unique painted, coffered wood-panel ceiling makes this church worth a visit. The organ was built in 1762. Outside the church there is a beautiful, quiet monastery courtyard to relax in.
The whole family will enjoy Aquarium Sibenik with 20 aquariums containing Adriatic and tropical fish and plants.
Robert Visiani’s Park
This is a beautiful park with Mediterranean plants. The park is named after Robert Visiani, a famous researcher of the region’s plants. Purchase food from the local vendors and relax by the fountain. Enjoy musical entertainment here on summer weekend evenings.
Sibenik City Museum
The museum has artifacts and exhibits about Sibenik, from prehistoric to current times. In the 17th century this was the Rector’s Palace. From here the representative from the Venetian Republic would watch over the city’s political affairs.
Sibenik Marina and the Waterfront Promenade
End your day on the waterfront. The wide promenade along the harbour is great for strolling. It’s not overcrowded with tourists. Admire the impressive sailboats and yachts berthed here.
With several restaurants along the Promenade, this is the perfect place to relax and watch the sunset.
More than One Day?
If you have more than one day, explore beyond Old Town. Here’s more Sibenik attractions.
To protect the city of Sibenik from Ottoman attack, a system of fortresses were built. Three of the fortresses overlook and protect the city from the hilltops (St. Michael’s, St. John’s and Barone) and one fort (St. Nicholas) is on an island.
St. Nicholas Fortress
Built in the 16th century, this sea fort is at the entrance to the Channel of St. Anthony on the island of Ljuljevac. The island was the site of a Benedictine monastery called St. Nicholas.
The fort’s lower part is built of stone and the upper part of brick, to defend against artillery fire from Ottoman naval attacks. It was granted a UNESCO designation as it demonstrates the “Defense Systems of the Republic of Venice of the 16th and 17th centuries”.
To visit, take a boat from the Sibenik waterfront.
St. John’s Fortress
This star-shaped fort was built in 1646 as war broke out. The Turks attacked this fort in 1647 and were defeated in their efforts to take over Sibenik.
This fort is the least restored of Sibenik’s four forts. You can still see the remains of barrack blocks and World War II gun positions.
This fort was built immediately after the completion of St. John’s Fortress in 1646. The local population quickly built it in just 58 days anticipating the Ottoman army’s eventual arrival. Sibenik soldiers repelled the great attack of 1647.
You can experience this history through augmented reality glasses that recreate the sounds and scenes of 17th century Sibenik.
After another day of exploring, it’s time to relax at a local beach. Banj Beach is the closest if you are staying in Sibenik. It is a small pleasant beach, just a 20-minute walk from downtown. With a car, there are other great beaches outside of downtown. Try these favourite Sibenik beaches:
- Banj Beach
- Sibenik Beach
- Slanica Beach
- Zaboric Beach
- Jazina Beach
- Plava Beach
Sibenik to Krka National Park – Day Trip
Krka National Park makes a great day trip from Sibenik.
At Krka you’ll discover several amazing waterfalls and colourful green lakes. You can even go swimming at Krka (unlike Plitvice Lakes National Park). There are several buses a day that will take you to the park entrances at either Skradin or Lozovac. Check the Sibenik Bus Station schedules to plan your Krka tour.
Know Before You Go
Can I fly to Sibenik?
No. Sibenik does not have an airport. The nearest airports are located in Split (to the southeast) and Zadar (to the northwest) with Split offering more flight options than Zadar.
Split to Sibenik. How far is it?
It is 58 km from Split airport to Sibenik. The bus journey takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Zadar to Sibenik. How far is it?
It is 76 km from Zadar airport to Sibenik. The bus journey takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Where is the Sibenik Bus Station?
The Sibenik bus station is conveniently located on the seafront, just east of Old Town. Sibenik lies along the main bus routes, so you’ll have no problem travelling from Sibenik to other areas of Croatia.
Can I take the ferry to islands near Sibenik?
Yes. Jadrolinija offers several service routes to Kaprije, Prvic Vodice, Zalarin and Zirje.
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