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Šibenik Cruises

About Šibenik

Šibenik appeared on official records in 1066, chartered by Croatian King Peter Krešimir. He established his seat here, paving the way for Šibenik to become the oldest Croatian city on the Dalmatian Coast. Locals still acknowledge the founding of this seaside gem by affectionately calling their home “Krešimirov Grad” (“Krešimir’s City”).

Accessed through the narrow St. Anthony Channel, Šibenik is tucked into one of the most naturally protected harbors in the Adriatic. The city’s strategic position made it a target for invaders. From the 11th to 14th centuries, it was variously ruled by several empires, including Venice, Byzantium, and Hungary.

In 1412, the Republic of Venice took over Šibenik along with the rest of Dalmatia. This Venetian period was Šibenik’s longest and most influential. The town minted its own money, a rich culture flourished, and critical trade links were established. The Venetians deflected challenges by the Ottoman Empire and held possession until 1797, when the city fell to the Hapsburg monarchy.

After a brief Italian occupation following World War I, the 1921 Treaty of Rapallo handed the city to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. After World War II, during which Italians and Germans occupied it, Šibenik became part of Yugoslavia.

Croatia declared independence in 1991. During the four-year war that followed, Šibenik’s residents and the Croatian Army famously defended their city against Yugoslav and Serbian troops for six days in the “September War.”

Through the rise and fall of empires, this sloped picturesque city has preserved its timeless Dalmatian charm.

Šibenik Lifestyle and Culture

Resting at the mouth of the Krka River, the remarkable architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site spans the centuries. Ancient buildings huddle along a deep-blue bay. A labyrinth of stone streets and alleys climb gentle slopes, leading visitors into the town’s medieval heart. Shopkeepers and other vendors seem as much a part of the history and charm here as the buildings they call home.

Along these windings paths that lead past ancient cottages topped with red roofs, Dalmatian life is characterized by a relaxed mindset, or fjaka, the sweet art of doing nothing. Residents punctuate their exchange of pleasantries with pomalo, the Croatian equivalent of “take it easy.” You’re sure to savor the slow pace as you stroll this charming coastal city, where long coffee breaks and small talk are a way of life.

Šibenik, like much of Dalmatia, clings to a rich tradition of men’s klapa, a cappella groups who sometimes regale travelers in the city’s squares. Men from the nearby quarter of Dolac are reputed to be the best singers. During cultural celebrations in July and August, you can experience concerts of classical music and folk music in the fortress towers. During performances, you may spot men sporting traditional dress and the typical red embroidered cap.

Šibenik Sights and Landmarks

With its long history, Šibenik is a treasure trove of historic architecture. The imposing St. Nicholas Fortress, built on an island, seems to float like a waiting behemoth at the entrance of the city’s port. In the remarkably preserved Old Town, narrow cobblestone streets lead past medieval houses and churches. It’s all surrounded by a total of four historic fortresses.

The Gothic-Renaissance St. James Cathedral, built between 1431 and 1536 by the beloved local architect Juraj Dalmatinac and his pupil, is the most important Renaissance structure in Croatia. Marvel at the intricate Gothic portals, the Renaissance cupola and vaulted roof and the exterior frieze adorned with 74 faces depicting ordinary 15th-century citizens. Inside, admire its beloved tiny baptistery with its miniature stone carvings. City Hall, across the square from the cathedral, is another impressive high-Renaissance monument.

Three 11th-century kings brought their court to St. Michael’s Fortress, starting with Krešimir himself. From the top of its white stone walls, which dominate the cityscape, you’ll admire spectacular views over Šibenik, the Krka River, and Adriatic islands.

Šibenik Entertainment and Activities

At the Bunari Museum and Café, view the multimedia exhibit The Bunari Secrets of Šibenik. This award-winning interactive museum chronicles the story of the city and the four 15th-century wells upon which it once relied. Afterward, you can enjoy a Croatian vintage in the wine bar downstairs.

Take a scenic excursion to Krka National Park, where the Krka River flows through a deep canyon and spills into 17 waterfalls. Admire the quiet beauty of the picturesque cascades as you stroll along footpaths and wooden bridges through lush forest containing over 860 species of plants, 222 species of birds, and Cleopatra butterflies.

Offshore, the stark and scenic Kornati National Park is the largest archipelago in the Adriatic; its 147 mostly uninhabited islands are a dramatic and dreamy canvas of emerald and turquoise, dotted with reefs, grottoes and ivory-white vertical cliffs. Upon the inhabited islands, you may spot a vineyard or an orchard.

Šibenik Restaurants and Shopping

Indulge in the culinary traditions of a classical Dalmatian kitchen, where herbs, olives, fresh sheep cheese, smoked meats, fresh bread and red wine all play a part. Marenda is the Dalmatian version of brunch, and traditionally includes dried figs, almonds, cheese and grape brandy.

Opposite St. James Cathedral in a romantic 14th-century palazzo, Pelegrini gourmet restaurant serves Dalmatian cuisine with innovative twists. To taste a wide range of exquisite flavors, try the seven-course degustation menu. The sommelier can help you pair a wine to each course.

Located in a walled courtyard, Cantinetta is a family-owned restaurant renowned for its devotion to the slow-cooked skradinski rižot (risotto with veal). This eatery also serves high-quality shellfish and local wines.

For souvenirs, you may consider natural sponges, top-quality wines, Dalmatian delicacies such as sugared orange peel or dried figs, olive branches, olive oil, or lavender-based products.

Šibenik’s cobblestone lanes are dotted with stores and galleries selling unique Croatian-made goods such as shoes, jewelry, paintings and accessories. The Galerije Juraj Dalmatinac is a tastefully designed gallery and boutique-style shop. For a more mainstream shopping experience, the Dalmare shopping center hosts a range of well-known brands. Find more treasures at the little Antigua street market around the Church of St. Francis, an atmospheric place for a leisurely browse on Fridays and Saturdays, or most days in the summer.