10 Top Tourist Attractions in Sibenik & Easy Day Trips
While the Croatian city of Šibenik has a rich recorded history dating back to the 11th century, much of what has been preserved in its historic Old Town district was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. Although not often regarded as one of Croatia's leading tourist destinations, this medieval city with its many historical attractions is well worth including on your travel itinerary and makes a good base for exploring nearby areas such as the Krka and Kornati National Parks. Particular sites of interest within the city itself are its superb 16th-century Renaissance cathedral, many fine old churches, and two ancient fortresses.
See also: Where to Stay in Šibenik
1 Šibenik Cathedral
Šibenik's Cathedral of St. James (Katedrala Sv Jakova), now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the architectural highlights of the Dalmatian Coast. Started in the early 15th century, this grand cathedral took more than 100 years to complete under the initial direction of Venetian architect Antonio Dalle, a responsibility later passed to sculptor Jurac Dalmatinac and then to Nikola Firentinac. During the course of construction, a variety of styles were incorporated, including the Gothic lower level and the Renaissance upper level. One of the most noteworthy features is the exquisite frieze on the outside of the apse with its more than 70 unique faces representing ordinary townsfolk from the 15th century. Also of interest are the old manuscripts of Bishop Šižgorić, the Gift of the Wise Men by Ricciardi, and the Lion's Portal with its fine figures of Adam and Eve by Dalmatina and Bonino Milano.
Address: 22000, Šibenik
2 The Count's Palace (Civic Museum)
Just a short stroll from Šibenik Cathedral is the late Renaissance Rector's Palace, also known as the Count's Palace (Knezeva Palaca). Originally built to serve as the governor's residence during the time of Venetian rule, the building took its name from Count Niccolo Marcello, the Venetian who ordered the construction of the site in the early 1600s. Today, the Palace houses the city's Civic Museum (Muzej Grada Šibenika) with its many local archeological artifacts dating from Neolithic to Roman times, including sculptures (some from the 7th century), a coin collection, and other miscellaneous items from the surrounding region.
Address: Gradska Vrata 3
3 St. Anne's Fortress
St. Anne's Fortress (Tvrđava sv ana) is Šibenik's oldest defensive structure and dates back as far as medieval times. While the original structure was largely destroyed after a chance lightning strike on the munitions storeroom sparked a devastating fire, it was rebuilt later in the 16th century. Although the fort today is largely in ruins, it's worth visiting its crumbling old ramparts for its spectacular views over the city and the Adriatic Sea. Accessible via a steep walk up the winding narrow streets of the old medieval section of town known as Gradina, it's a particularly worthwhile place to visit at sunset.
4 The Old Town Hall
The splendid old two-story Šibenik Town Hall (Gradska vijećnica), just across the square from the cathedral, is well worth a visit. Famous for its beautiful large columns, arches, and balustrade, this superb example of Renaissance architecture dates from the middle of the 16th century and was built by well-known architect Michele Sanmicheli. Although largely destroyed during an Allied air raid on Šibenik during WWII, the building was completely rebuilt following the original plans after the war.
Address: Trg Republike Hrvatske 3, 22000, Šibenik
5 The Church of St. Barbara
Just behind Šibenik Cathedral stands the pretty little Church of St. Barbara (Sv. Barbara), home to a small but noteworthy collection of sculptures and paintings dating from the 14th to 18th centuries. Built in the mid-1600s on the site of an earlier building, this single nave church is notable for its unique façade with its irregular shaped openings, and a 15th-century statue of St. Nicholas by Bonino of Milan. The interior boasts two unique altars: one from the original church and one that was built later but designed to compliment the first.
6 The Dalmatian Ethno Village
One of the newer attractions in Croatia, the Dalmatian Ethno Village provides a first-rate insight into the lives of the area's local people through the centuries. Part of the Solaris Beach Resort complex just a few kilometers south of Šibenik, this collection of traditional stone houses makes for a pleasant day trip. A particular highlight is the chance to watch traditional foods and baked goods being prepared, and then sample them afterwards as you wander the narrow cobbled streets while being entertained by staff dressed in period costume. Other highlights include visiting a 100-year-old, still operational watermill, craft fairs, weaving workshops, and an original olive oil press.
Address: Hoteli Solaris 86, HR-22 000 Šibenik, Hrvatska
7 St. Nicholas Fortress
Built in the 16th century to defend the port of Šibenik from Turkish attack by sea, St. Nicholas Fortress (Tvrđava Sv. Nikole) is one of only three such forts still in existence in the Mediterranean (the others are in Venice and Malta). The fortress resembles an arrowhead and was built on the site of a former monastery, on a small island off the mainland. It was designed by the leading Venetian architect Hyeronimus di San Michaela and once boasted an impressive arsenal of 32 cannons. Now more than 500 years old, this brick and stone fortress remains relatively well-preserved despite its years and can best be seen as part of an organized tour of the city or by private charter.
8 Krka National Park
Established in 1985, the Krka National Park (Nacionalni Park Krka) protects the ecologically important area around the middle and lower sections of the River Krka. As the river flows down from the upper reaches, it meets a series of lakes and rapids, as well as the beautiful Roski Slap and Skradinski Buk waterfalls. At the center of the park is Lake Visovac, just below the Roski Slap waterfalls, and from here, the Krka River joins up with the River Cikola before flowing over Skradinski Buk and out to sea. A popular destination for birdwatchers, the park is home to some 200 different bird species, including herons and egrets. It also boasts a number of important cultural attractions including the Orthodox Krka Monastery (Arandjelovac), dating from the early 15th century, as well as Samostan Visovac, the island monastery on Lake Visova. Easily accessed from Lozovac and Miljevci, the waterfalls can also be reached by boat from Skradin for a particularly fun outing.
Address: Trg Ivana Pavla II. br.5, 22000 Šibenik, Hrvatska
9 Drnis and Ivan Meštrović's Burial Place
Just 30 kilometers inland from Šibenik is the delightful small town of Drnis. Once famous for its 15th-century fort built as a defense against invasion, the fort was eventually captured and Drnis fell to the Turks who built a number of important structures, including a mosque and Turkish baths. While much of these were later destroyed during fighting between the Ottomans and the Venetians in the middle of the 16th century, some elements of the occupation can still be seen, including in the church of St. Anthony, built from the remains of the old mosque. Also of interest is the nearby village of Otavice where sculptor Ivan Meštrović built a simple, stone-domed mausoleum for himself and his family where he was ultimately laid to rest.
10 The Church of St. Francis
As with many of the fine old buildings found in Šibenik, the Church of St. Francis (Sv. Frane) has been rebuilt and altered numerous times over the centuries. Originally founded in 1229, the church was largely destroyed the following century, although parts of the original cloisters survived and were incorporated into rebuilding that took place in the 16th century. In the 18th century, the church took on yet another look after being completely rebuilt in Baroque style, and the interior decorated with paintings. Of particular interest inside is a superbly preserved organ built by Petar Nakic in 1760s.
Address: Trg Nikole Tomaszea 1, Šibenik
Where to Stay in Šibenik for Sightseeing
We recommend these wonderful hotels and resorts near the beach or the attractions in Šibenik's old town:
- Heritage Hotel Life Palace: historic luxury, 15th-century palace, heart of the old town, frescoes, wellness area with hot tub and sauna, coffee shop.
- Solaris Hotel Ivan: mid-range beachfront resort, short drive from town, lovely pool area, spa treatments.
- Solaris Hotel Jure: affordable beach resort, bright and modern, seafront infinity pool, water park.
- Hostel Mare: budget hostel, steps to the old town, friendly owners, clean rooms.
Day Trips from Šibenik
Island Adventures: Primošten
About 20 kilometers southeast of Šibenik is the beautiful little town of Primošten, a picturesque and utterly unique community that spills over from its original island hub onto the mainland, which it's connected to by a causeway. Seen from a distance, the island itself is so full of splendid old architecture that its buildings seem to consume every available inch of land, which only heightens the pleasure of exploring its wonderful old medieval streets. Highlights of this fun day trip include visiting the historic town center, enjoying the views from the rocky shoreline over the Adriatic and the mainland, relaxing on its pebble beaches, and visiting the 15th-century Church of St. George, notable for its old graveyard and fine views.