Sibenik is unique amongst Croatia’s Adriatic towns and cities in that its history lies neither in Roman or Greek origins. Somewhat overlooked as a tourist destination and, although small (with a population of just over 50,000 people), the town still has some fantastic sights which exist from Venetian times.
Some travellers may well have already ‘seen’ Sibenik before visiting as – along with other locations in Croatia – the town was featured as a filming location for Game of Thrones; Sibenik ‘played’ Braavos in series five. Scenes were filmed at in and around sites such as the Cathedral of St James and St John’s Fortress.
The town’s top sight is The Cathedral of St James which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Getting to Sibenik
If flying to Croatia to get to Sibenik, you could actually fly to either Split Airport or Zadar Airport. The journey from either is roughly similar, time-wise, although Split is probably marginally closer. There are also more flights to Split from the UK and Europe, so you might find it easier to fly there.
From Split or Zadar Airports
If you’re arriving at Split Airport, take a bus from outside the terminal building to the main bus station in Split. Buses are scheduled to depart shortly after flight arrivals. Then, from Split Bus Station, take one of the numerous buses to Sibenik; journey time is about 1 hour 40 minutes.
For details of which airlines fly to Split from the UK and Europe, see our Getting to Split page.
From Zadar Airport, take a bus to the main bus station in Zadar; once again, bus departures coincide with flight arrivals. From Zadar bus station, take another bus to Sibenik – journey time is about 2 hours.
See our Getting to North Dalmatia page for information on flights to Zadar from the UK and Europe.
History of Sibenik
Sibenik is the oldest Slavic town on the Croatian coast, possibly dating from the 11th century, although Croats had reached the surrounding area a few centuries earlier.
The town intermittently switched between Croatian and Venetian rule over the following few centuries, with the longest period being under the Venetians from 1412 to 1797. During this time, the town grew in importance and for a while during the 16th century, it became the largest town in Dalmatia.
After the fall of Venice, Sibenik briefly became French for eight years, before becoming part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until its break up after World War I. At this point, Sibenik became part of newly-formed Yugoslavia.
During the war in Croatia in the early 1990s, Sibenik was shelled and a number of buildings were damaged, including some historic ones. All were subsequently repaired.
Sightseeing in Sibenik
One of the most important sights in Sibenik is the Cathedral of St. James (Katedrala sv. Jakova), which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The cathedral was built between 1431 and 1536 from limestone and marble. The early stages of the cathedral were designed and built by Italian masters, but between 1444 and 1447 construction work was under the direction of the famous Croatian sculptor Juraj Dalmatinac.
In the same square as the cathedral is a Memorial to Juraj Dalmatinac, created by the greatest Croatian sculptor of the 20th century, Ivan Mestrovic.
Just to the north of the Cathedral is the Loggia, built in typical Italian style between 1533 and 1542. Part of it now houses a restaurant.
Several other churches are worth visiting, such as the Church of St Barbara (Crkva sv Barbare) and the Church of St Nicholas.
St Nicholas Fortress is located on the islet of Ljuljevac at the entrance to the St Anthony’s Channel in the Adriatic. This fortress was built under Venetian rule in the 16th century as a defence to Sibenik port. The Fortress is another UNESCO World Heritage site in Sibenik, as one of the Venetian Works of Defence. You can visit the Fortress via scheduled boats from Sibenik’s waterfront.
Events in Sibenik
The International Children’s Festival is one of the town’s most famous events; first held in 1958, the streets and squares are given over the children’s entertainment including theatre performances, puppetry, music, book readings and more.
The Regius Festival is a 2-day music event featuring performers from Croatia and neighbouring countries that takes place in July.
Supertoon is an animation and comic book festival held every July.
Seasplash is a long-running reggae, dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass (and more!) music festival that takes place in Sibenik in July.
The town hosts a Medieval Fair each September – harking back to days long ago – at the same time that it celebrates its patron saint, St Michael.
Adventura is Sibenik’s Christmas fair held in December/January in Roberto Visiani Park, with live music, food and drink, homemade products to purchase and other festive features.
Eating and Drinking in Sibenik
One of the best-loved places in town is Pelegrini, a Michelin-starred restaurant (one of the few in Croatia!) that offers beautifully presented seafood, fish and meat dishes. Some wonderful tasting menus are available.
Pluto’s Burger Bar is the place to go if you’re hankering after tasty burgers and fries – they have a wide range of different burgers on their menu.
Restaurant Pjat is another top choice for excellent, lovingly presented Croatian and Mediterranean dishes, with friendly service and in a pretty location.
Konoba Marenda is a very reasonably priced place offering tasty local dishes.
Head to KaGrom Ice Cream Shop for a post-meal treat!
Accommodation in Sibenik
Please see our Accommodation in Sibenik page for details of hotels, apartments and private accommodation options in the town.
The area code is 022.
The Tourist Office in Sibenik is at Fausta Vrancica 18, 22000 Šibenik, Tel: 022 212 075, Fax: 022 219 073, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Buy a Sibenik Card which gives you free entrance to attractions such as the St James’ Cathedral and St Michael’s Fortress, plus discounts for tours, restaurants and bars and accommodation.
You can explore biking and hiking routes in Sibenik-Knin county on the Bike & Hike website.