For a coastal city in close proximity to Croatia’s famous Krka National Park I was surprised to see so few tourists in Sibenik. I understand that certain destinations are more popular and busy for a reason, take Dubrovnik for example, but other places are quiet yet still have a lot to offer.
Sibenik in June was peaceful and warm, the food is great, there are wonderful sunsets and the city is perfect for day tripping Krka Waterfall and the Kornati Islands. Sibenik is ideal for a quick visit and exploring the region.
My primary reason for visiting Sibenik, and why you might want to, was to use as a base to visit Krka Waterfall. I’d visited rival destination Plitvice Lakes a few years back and loved it but I’d heard Krka was even better.
On arriving in Sibenik I discovered there’s more to it than just easy access to Krka, it’s a bit of a foodie destination too.
Even though I like Croatian food I’ve had few memorable meals in Croatia so this looked promising.
Croatia’s top restaurant is located in Sibenik as well as some decent cafes, smoothie and raw food shops, organic ice cream and traditional konobas (small family run restaurants serving simple, classic dishes).
Sibenik Food Guide
I didn’t get to try everywhere on my list, I’ll need a return visit for that, but these are my recommendations and places recommended to me by locals.
May as well start with ice cream. Grom have some tasty classic flavours and ‘premium’ flavours well worth trying. This is the best ice cream in Sibenik.
SHE Bio Bistro
Excellent spot for fresh, local and organic food, especially great if you’re looking for healthy vegetarian or vegan options.
Pelegrini is repeatedly rated the best restaurant in Croatia. This was high on my list of places to try on this trip but looking at the menu you’ll see there isn’t much, or anything, for vegetarians. That’s not to say they wouldn’t prepare something, they probably do, but I’d prefer to be able to check the menu beforehand rather than having to ask. I didn’t go in the end but you can read this review if you’re interested.
This is a new place in the centre of the Old Town. It might be in a touristy location but the modern Croatian food was delicious. The food is light, healthy and not like I’d had elsewhere in Croatia. Definitely try the smoothies and raw desserts from their little shop next door plus they do a decent breakfast.
You’ll find a mix of modern and traditional at Konoba Nostalgija.
Vino & Ino
If you’re looking to try some local wines, snack on cheese and meat platters and people watch, this is the best wine bar in Sibenik.
How to Get to Krka National Park from Sibenik
To get to Krka National Park you first need to get to Skradin. You can either take the bus from Sibenik’s main bus station or if there are more than two of you, it might be worth getting an Uber like we did (Kn110 / €15).
In Skradin, buy your ticket from the new tourist office (the glass building) and wait for the next boat to take you to the entrance of the park. You can also buy tickets online or possibly at your hotel. See the official Krka NP website for more information and prices.
Once off the boat, you’re almost immediately greeted by the wide travertine Krka Waterfall, the main and most well-known attraction of the park. This is the only pool in the park where you can swim and it’s usually packed.
I feel like it doesn’t have the visual impact of some of the stunning waterfalls in Plitvice but it’s a beautiful spot for sure.
From there, take the trail to the right which leads you around the park in an anti-clockwise direction. The path is one-way only, a measure taken by the government to reduce congestion in the park caused by the every growing number of tourists.
The park will soon be introducing a quota to limit the number of visitors and damage to the unique ecosystem. There’s no word yet on how that is going to work but you might want to check online before you go.
There are many other waterfalls and pools to see, often brimming with flora and fauna, especially frogs and birds. The entire park is green and cool with some pretty picnic spots.
You can also visit the Roski Waterfall, Krka Monastery and Visovac Island. See here for details.
Krka National Park is pretty but not exactly peaceful. There are too many people for that but it’s worth a visit if you love the outdoors and haven’t visited Plitvice Lakes or anywhere like it.
If you have been to Plitvice I’m not sure a trip to Krka is needed. The parks are quite similar but Krka has smaller and fewer waterfalls. Personally I prefer Plitvice Lakes. There’s more to see and the waterfalls are more dramatic. Plus Plitvice opens earlier and with so many different trails it’s possible to avoid the larger crowds, a major concern at these popular attractions. There’s not much opportunity for a quiet moment in Krka.
If you have to choose between one park or the other, I’d say it probably comes down to location. If you’re in Zagreb or Zadar, head to Plitvice, if you’re in Sibenik or Split, head to Krka. Both are beautiful day trips and worth visiting.
What is there to see in Sibenik?
Sibenik itself doesn’t have a load of tourist attractions. The Old Town is situated on a bay, slightly inland from the main coastline, with the Kornati Islands (an archipelago of 140 islands) just off the coast.
In the centre of the Old Town is the UNESCO listed St James’s Cathedral and from there you can take the steep steps up through the town, towards the city’s fortresses, for the best views and sunset locations.
Surprisingly Sibenik has four fortresses. The most visited and easiest to get to is St Michael’s Fortress (great views) while St Nicholas’s Fortress is out to sea.
If you can find it, make a trip to St Laurence’s Medieval Monastery Garden, an apparently rare style of garden in Croatia. And if you dare (I hear the water in the bay is not that clean) swim at one of Sibenik’s quiet beaches.
Tour the Kornati Islands
For me, the best thing about Croatia are the islands. I’ve been to a handful, Korcula and Hvar are my favourites so far, but the Kornati Islands are quite different. The archipelago is made up of around 140 islands and reefs, most of which are uninhabited. The islands are quite unusual, mostly barren and low lying.
You can tour the Kornati Islands with your own boat or take one of the many organised tours. Check the Kornati National Park website for more information and to buy entry tickets.
Where to Stay in Sibenik
Apartments are your best bet for accommodation in Sibenik. I stayed at Medulic Palace Rooms & Apartments and recommend them for the great location and friendly former Sydney resident host. The apartments are located right in the centre of the Old Town, are very clean and reasonably priced. It’s a good option if you’re on a budget or are travelling slowly and need some space.
If you prefer a hotel you could try the very fancy D-Resort Sibenik or the more central Heritage Hotel Life Palace.