JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH ILKA STOEVA-CHANEVA FROM SIBENIK, CROATIA!
Ilka, originally from Sofia, Bulgaria but married to a Croatian, has been living in both Sofia and Sibenik for the past 11 years. She writes her own travel blog which is dedicated to Croatia and her travels around the world. She has explored Croatia for more than 10 years and have some awesome insider tips for you. Her goal is to inspire you to visit all those beautiful places that you dream of and have the best time of your life.
The Republic of Croatia is divided into four historical regions – Croatia proper, Slavonia, Istria and Dalmatia. Dalmatia is a narrow belt of the east shore of the Adriatic sea. The largest cities in this region are Split, Zadar, Dubrovnik and Sibenik.
The city of Sibenik is located in central Dalmatia where river Krka drains into the Adriatic sea. The same river on which Nikolas Tesla invented an electroenergetic system which distributed current using wooden lines to Sibenik. The medieval charm, high quality turquoise water and rich history makes this coastal town an ideal tourist destination.
What is the best time to visit Sibenik?
Sibenik is a great place to visit any time of the year, but since it is a coastal city, it is best to visit in the summer and enjoy the beaches and the sun. The summer around here gets very hot in the high season (mid-July until mid-August). Although it is the time of the year when most tourists come, I think it is better to come before or after that in order to avoid the crowds in the city center and the high temperatures, which sometimes reach up to 38/40 °C or around 100 °F.
September is my favorite month to be in Sibenik, because the weather is still excellent and it seems like the summer lasts longer. Sometimes even the first half of October is great for swimming and spending time at the beach.
Which is the most convenient and favored transport of Sibenik?
The nearest airports are in Zadar (84.8 km) and Split (59.7 km) or abour an hour drive from Sibenik.
Sibenik is a small city that is best to explore on foot. The train station is close to the city center and the bus station is right next to it. Thus, you can easily walk. The taxis in Sibenik are not that common, since it is a small city and the locals rarely use them. There are always taxis around the bus station. The public transport runs on schedule. Sibenik has no tram or subway, but several bus lines serve the city just fine. With intercity connections to 20 cities in Croatia and 8 European countries, Sibenik is quite popular among tourists. To know departures from Sibenik, click here.
The old town area is the most interesting and charming part of the town and it is actually a vehicle-free zone. If you are traveling by car, you’ll need to find a paid parking spot.
Many ferries to the nearby islands run on schedule daily. Just look for the Jadrolinija office in the city center – this is the name of the state owned ferry company that operates in Croatia. Recently the taxi boats got very popular. They are smaller, more comfortable and will bring you to the desired location faster, but at a higher price.
What are the top three must visit places in Sibenik?
The Saint James cathedral is the absolute must-see of Sibenik. It was named after St. James the Greater, who was one of the Twelve Apostles. Built in the 15th century and in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000, this beautiful cathedral is one of the most famous monuments in Croatia. This stone cathedral is decorated with 71 sculpted faces and is the same one where Arya Stark eavesdropped a conversation between Tyrell and Tycho. The cathedral was shown as an iron bank in the Game of Thrones episode.
The second must-see here is the Saint Mihovil Fortress, which offers a spectacular view over Sibenik and the Saint Anthony Channel that leads to the city. Keep in mind that Sibenik has three more beautiful fortresses worth visiting!
The third place that I consider a must visit place is actually my favorite one. It’s a sea-side resort located at the entrance of St Anthony channel leading to Sibenik. It is called Jadrija and is so called ‘city beach place’s of Sibenik. This is an old school beach area with small beach cabins, that locals own. It is a charming place that every local loves.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Sibenik?
Sibenik is lucky to be very close to two of Croatia’s beautiful national parks. National park Krka is 30 minutes away by car. Situated on river Krka, it’s marvellous natural beauty draws a number of tourists every year making it the second most visited national park in Croatia. There are three circular trails in the park – Skradinski buk (1900 m), Roški Slap (1360 m) and Krka Monastery (2100 m). Skradinski Buk waterfall is the largest of the seven waterfalls and the most famous spot in the park. Click here for a step by step tour of Skradinski waterfalls section – starting from Lozovac entrance.
National park Kornati also known as Stomorski islands is a group of islands that you can check out by renting a boat or signing on a day trip boat excursion. Kornat is the main island and biggest part of the park. It’s coves and crystal blue water makes it a stunning day trip destination from Sibenik. Read this excellent guide before visiting the national Kornati park.
What is the most celebrated holiday/event in Sibenik?
Christmas is the most celebrated traditional holiday in Sibenik and in Croatia.
The 29th of September is the day of Saint Mihovil, the guardian of Sibenik, which is celebrated with numerous cultural events for several days.
The biggest local holiday, however, is the Sibenik Night (Šibenska Noć in Croatian), when there is a big party in the city center that lasts the whole night. There are live bands and shows, fireworks, lots of beer and food and every local, no matter how old, is outside celebrating. This night takes place on the 22nd of June.
What is the most loved local food, savory and sweet of Sibenik? Is it a vegetarian friendly city?
Fish is on the menu often here as there is plenty of fresh fish available. Locals love to add a mix of parsley, garlic and olive oil on the fish. It is pretty tasty! The local desserts include fritule and krostule, which are fried sweets that you can try in the city center.
I can recommend the Pelegrini restaurant, located right next to the cathedral of Sibenik for a nice and sophisticated meal in the city center. It is a bit expensive though and you must have a reservation in advance for sure. A nice and budget place to have some fish is the fast food restaurant Šešula.
My favorite beer is the locally produced Mihovil, which many locals prefer. This is the only beer produced in the city and it is available only in this region.
Vegetarianism is actually not that popular among the locals, especially the older generations, but all the restaurants have vegetarian options.
Where to head for shopping in Sibenik? Are there any popular markets which tourists must visit?
The central market of Sibenik is very popular among the locals and also a cool place to visit in order to feel the energy and rhythm of the city. The shopping for groceries starts pretty early here – the stands open at around 7:00AM and are already closed for the day at noon. This applies to all the butcher shops, too.
Dalmare center is the mall of the city. It is just outside Sibenik and easily reachable by car. There is a huge supermarket in addition to many clothing brands stores. There is also a cinema with several movie halls.
Which is the local craft or souvenir of Sibenik?
Producing olive oil is typical for the whole Dalmatian region of Croatia. Many locals have their own olive oil trees or even plantations and process the olives to get this precious golden liquid, which everybody around here loves. The olive oil consumption is really high in Croatia. There isn’t a Dalmatian household without olive oil reserves. Please, do tell if you find one !
A souvenir you can get from Sibenik is the traditional orange hat with black motives, which is part of the traditional Sibenik costume back in the day.
The Sibenik button is a very specific looking button, which is now a motive in many local jewelry designs. It is a traditional antique jewel from the 16th century and a symbol of the city of Sibenik. In the past it was a symbol of social status. You’ll see it in every jewelry store around here.
Which are the best streets of Sibenik worthy of taking a stroll on?
The two main streets of the old town are called Masna ulica and Kalelarga. Their official names are actually Zagrebačka and Kralja Tomislava, but all the locals call them Masna ulica and Kalelarga. Keep in mind that the whole old town area is worth exploring, not just these two streets.
Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of the city?
All the fortresses of Sibenik provide spectacular views. My favorite one is from Saint Mihovil’s fortress.
Would you suggest any shows in Sibenik to drama, music or art lovers?
Sibenik is famous for the International children’s festival organized in collaboration with UNESCO. It lasts for three weeks in June and July each year. This fun festival encourages kids and adults to participate in different art workshops, educational trainings and presentations. In 2019 we’ll be having the 59th edition of this event. Click here to know more about it.
There is also a jazz fest in August and a medieval festival at the beginning of September.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Sibenik?
Since Sibenik is a small city, there aren’t any local apps for food or transport. To know more about places to see and other activities in Sibenik, try these websites SibenikCroatia, DalmatiaSibenik and SibenikTourism
Do you want to give any suggestion/tip to tourists coming to Sibenik?
To feel the energy of Sibenik be sure to explore all the narrow streets in the old town and get lost there! You’ll find your way out, I promise 😉