Šibenik – Croatian Hidden Gem


When flicking through a travel guide centring on Croatia, the idyllic images of Dubrovnik and Split may grace the front and back covers but you should be looking for the city that can offer something different to the usual and maybe a lot more to expect from a one or two week break.

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Credit: Foto iz zraka

Šibenik a must see on Croatia route

Šibenik is located in the hotbed of tourist locations on the Adriatic Coast, north of Dubrovnik and Makarska and situated between Split and Zadar.

Many people flock to the tourist-popular cities in the summer season with tourist income vital for their economies, with their attractiveness also being vital for the nation’s finances.

Šibenik is slowly learning the value of the tourist industry while not succumbing to the demands of their international visitors, maintaining their character and attractiveness while offering something unique.

That uniqueness is presented in Šibenik’s main historic buildings of the 14th and 15th century.

Šibenik Cathedral, Prince’s Palace, Saint Nicholas’ and Saint Michael’s fortresses have maintained a level of gracefulness that continues to attract visitors and maintain their importance to the city and its local people.

St. James Cathedral – UNESCO World Heritage Site

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PHOTO Željko Željkov

Starting with The Cathedral of St. James (Katedrala sv. Jakova) which is located in the north of the city and can be found a short distance away from the coast, providing the perfect picture amongst the water backdrop.

The stone walls allow the cathedral to stand out with the sheer size and beauty of the building being worth the visit alone. It’s triple-nave basilica with three apses and a dome joined the UNESCO World Heritage List in the 21st century due to its importance back in the Renaissance period following the completion back in 1536.

The famous Italian architect, Giorgio da Sebenico, added beauty and decorative elements to the original limestone walls of that period; a sense of exuberance to the cathedral at a time when religious sites gained importance and significance for their beauty in Croatia. On the main portals, you can find Adam and Eve riding on top of two lions, Christ and the twelve apostles and the statues of King David and the prophet Simon.

The detail of one of the portal credits the amazing work done by Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino demonstrating the level of detail that Renaissance architecture in that period credited the vital significance that Catholic Church had amongst the population across Europe.

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PHOTO Foto iz zraka

Even if religion is not your thing then the views inside and continued level of detail centred on the sculptures and high altar. You can feel at peace within the cathedral whether you are surrounded by groups of tourists or simply solely looking for the light that may never come around. 

St. Michael’s Fortress

Going from one site to the other, the St. Michael’s Fortress has become a vital attraction that should be visited. The medieval fort situated on a steep hill brings a favourable and dominant position creating the central part of Šibenik fortification system in times gone by.

St. michael fortress Šibenik

The views are breathtaking and you may find yourself spending most of the day taking in the views of the day-to-day life that is unrelenting beneath your ground. The importance to previous populations is evident especially in a time when armies and nations swept across Europe to mark their territory and plant the flag of their choice in new soil.

Prince’s Palace – Town Museum (Kneževa Palaca)

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PHOTO Muzej Grada Šibenika

It is worth stopping at the Prince’s Palace and spending a couple of hours looking at the exhibits that adorn the walls, relating to Croatian history and a greater appreciation of the town.

The 14th-century building houses the city museum but in historic terms, the building served in greater significance as it seated the highest representative of the state authority. Also, the site formed part of the coastal defence system of the city with the predominant south wing situated in a prime position along the coast from the quadrilateral to the polygonal towers. The four-storey tower also serves a more meaningful defence rather than its purpose today.

The ground floor contains interesting information on the history of the town, while the upper two floors give you a better appreciation of what the town was like under the multiple different periods and also gives information on notable inhabitants of Šibenik.

Streets of Šibenik

There are many more things you can find out about Šibenik’s culture and history just by walking around the city, taking in the splendour of the architecture, the fortresses, historic sites and the general atmosphere within the city.

Roland Parnaud
Streets of Šibenik PHOTO Roland Parnaud

Should the culture of Šibenik not appeal to you then there is the aspect of modern tourism. The city is continually appealing to more people of the younger generation, distracting them from the common thought of going to Dubrovnik or Split and attracting them to take a visit to the city.

SEE ALSO: Top 7 Things To Do In Šibenik

Located close to the coast overlooking Zlarin, you can’t wrong when looking for fun, enjoyment and memorable experiences for all the family at the Solaris Aquapark. Located in the family section of the Amadria Park Šibenik, next to Kids Hotel Andrija and Family Hotel Jakov, the location has its vast area dominated by adrenaline seeking waterslides and fun activities for all.

The extremely popular ‘lazy river’ is only one of the things in the variety of activities and attractions that extends to over eight thousand metres in the park’s entirety, with the rain fortress and kids zone proving popular for the locals and tourists.

The waterpark is often considered the water-attraction on the Adriatic Coast, so surely that means a visit to all tourists that have fun on their mind.

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Aquapark Dalmatia at Amadria park

The Amadria Park Šibenik, located in the same resort, is a unique tourist complex offering something for the adults. It’s widely popular and known for their five thematic beaches that stretch over four kilometres long coast and has some of the best accommodation and amenities to international tourists. Surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean vegetation that dominates Croatia, the site provides breathtaking views in a great location, many attractions and modern interior.

The Rezalište or the beach in Jadrija are the other locations that play host to the sun worshippers dreaming of that olive skin tan. Although there are more pebbles than Solaris Beach Resort, sport activity lovers, kids are all welcome with the required basic amenities available for a tourist.

If all that sunbathing has quenched your thirst or made your stomach rumble, then you are in the right location to grab a bite to eat or rehydrate. There are an abundance of cafes and restaurants in prime locations on the coast or within the city centre.

Places to eat

Every region of Croatia has its own distinct culinary tradition, with its roots dating back to ancient times. Šibenik and other coastal regions have similarities to the ancient Greek and Roman times while taking advantage of resource within the Adriatic Sea. Squid and octopus are popular choices in more traditional cuisine hotspots, with Goulash and stews also proving popular among Croatians.

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Michelin star awarded restaurant Pelegrini

Konoba Nostalgija, Pelegrini and Buffet Šimun are well received by the visitors and are popular amongst the locals for there reasonable and high-quality food. Restaurant Uzorita and Pjat are also other restaurants that have great reviews that specialise in Mediterranean cooking but offers a wide range of other cuisines to set your taste buds alight.

SEE ALSO: Top 5 Places To Eat In Šibenik

If you are stuck on where to go, it is best to ask your hotel reception or local people as they will know the restaurants that are producing the best food and have a special atmosphere. 

Places to stay

Like the frequency of restaurants in the city centre streets, there are a number of hotels that meets the demand of the international tourist season. As previously mentioned, the Amadria Park Šibenik is a highly rated hotel with a lot of facilities available to the guest but closer to the city, there are many more sites.

Although 5-star luxury may not be widely available, there are a number of highly rated hotels and accommodation.

Heritage hotel King Krešimir

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Heritage hotel King Krešimir – A place where luxury and comfort combine and history lives will leave you feeling like a king. Elements of the Divnic palace are perfectly incorporated into a unique interior of this two times award-winning family hotel, where every detail honors the golden age of rich social life, financial, intellectual cultural history of Sibenik.

Heritage Hotel Life Palace

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The beautiful Heritage Hotel Life Palace is one of the highly rated hotels and the property is the epitome of charm. This welcoming heritage hotel, occupies a carefully renovated 15th-century stone building in Šibenik’s car-free Old Town.

Hotel Bellevue

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Hotel Bellevue is a stylish hotel in the center of Šibenik providing exquisite accommodation and a unique experience. It offers spectacular view on the Šibenik’s old town as the St. Anthony channel.

There are other alternatives if you wish to stay closer to the city centre at a cheaper price with a number of houses and accommodation sites listing good viable options for tourists.

Whether you want to stay in a hotel or have the freedom of a private accommodation, the choice won’t dampen an excellent holiday in Šibenik.

The city that allows the architectural beauty to shine through, fun to last from sunrise past sunset and things to do for all ages, Šibenik justifies a selection on the holiday wishlist. The city has not lost any appeal from the Romans era and continues to grow as an influencer in the tourist market.

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