I travelled to Sibenik this summer for the first Seasplash festival, happening on the nearby island of Martinska. In mixed minds about Croatia with the recent rise in tourism, I couldn’t have been more taken back and surprised by the stunning location and epic things to do in Sibenik. The historic coastal city boasts all the amazing things Croatia has to offer, but without the hustle and bustle of larger cities such as Split. Guarded by fortresses and home to some of the hottest parties of the summer, there was no doubt I was about to find some rad things to do.
You can see Martinska lying directly across Sibenik, around 2km away. There is a new initiative to restore Martinska to its old glory days back in the 90’s when it used to host these wicked underground punk festivals where everyone would camp out, bring their own food and beers and party for the weekend. The crew at Seasplash Festival had decided to move location from Pula further north in Croatia down to Sibenik; more specifically, Martinska. They have gone about clearing the grounds, bringing in electricity and making the venue come alive again in what can only be described as one of the most chilled out locations you could possibly hold a festival.
Seasplash, along with NOX Festival, Kanal Fest and a number of other events are part of a series of festivals being held at Martinska during the summer. I can’t wait to come back and see how far these festivals evolve next year, bringing in international and local acts for good vibes. No matter what your music taste, whether it’s Reggae, Dance, Punk, Metal or EDM; you name it and Martinska brings the party!
The guys at Leonitus Tours were taking care of the shuttle boat from Sibenik to Martinska for Seasplash Festival and a number of other festivals running on Martinska during the summer. We got chatting and they told me that they run speedboat tours around Sibenik. This I had to try! I met up with Pasco, one of the owners a few days later and we headed down to Solaris, where the boat was docked. If you want to get some air, wait until the wind picks up and the boat starts to fly!
There’s a reason that each seat has handlebars; something I was about to find out! As we set off from the calm waters of Solaris, the chop started to pick up and so did the boat. Going 50km/h, you feel like you are on a rollercoaster, except you need to bend your legs to absorb the impact from hitting the waves. The crew on the tour were all laughing and waiting for the next big set to get some air. With the boat comfortably fitting 12, this was definitely one way to grab the crew and scope out the islands surrounding Sibenik.
As soon as I arrived, it was straight from the airport into a cab and off to Sibenik for the opening concert of Seasplash, which was to be held in St Michael’s Fortress. Situated up a steep hill in the old town lies the medieval fortress of St Michael. In 2014, the fortress was renovated and re-opened, containing one of the most epic open-air stages I have ever seen!
St Michael’s Fortress holds a number of outdoor concerts throughout the year and getting to visit for the opening of Seasplash was insane. I couldn’t imagine a cooler spot to stage a concert. There were breathtaking views over the water and a killer acoustic bouncing across the fortress walls. This is one place you need to check out in Sibenik!
As soon as you arrive in town, you can smell the amazing bakeries on the street corners. Croatian bakeries are open early in the morning and throughout the evening and have a number of cheap snacks such as pizza and sandwiches to keep you going pre-party as well as when you get home.
The seafood in Sibenik is out of this world! Make sure to try the squid with rice and salad. The beef goulash with pasta and the cuttlefish risotto are also incredible!
Sibenik is a medieval fortress town dating back to the 14th century and one of the only towns built by the Croats that is still preserved in some of its original forms. Guarded by four fortresses, Sibenik has its fair share of history and is something that has to be seen. Here’s what to look out for.
Situated at the top of the hill in Sibenik, St Michael’s Fortress has been restored to include an outdoor amphitheatre and is not only one of the most unique venues to watch a concert in Croatia, but all of Europe!
Located in St Antony Channel, St Nicholas became a UNESCO protected site in 2017, and in July 2019, it was open up to the public. We booked in a boat trip from Sibenik Riva harbour to the Fortress. The tour comes with an audio guide and lets you roam around the 16th-century ruins at your own pace. It’s a wicked way to see the fortress approaching from the water and a place that is truly unique to the region.
Like St Michael’s Fortress, Barone Fortress has unbelievable views of the city. It is higher up the hill than St Michael’s and also holds events. This is the perfect spot to grab a glass of wine as the sun goes down over Sibenik and watch a performance.
Situated on a hilltop north of the Sibenik’s historical centre, St John’s Fortress dates back to the 16th century and has recently undergone a revitalization project. Here, you can find the remains of barrack blocks, powder stores and World War 2 gun positions, as well as breathtaking views of St Michael’s Fortress and the Sibenik Channel. St John’s is currently been renovated to be restored to it’s former glory.
Right in the heart of the old town, Blue Green bike tours has everything you need for the best riding experience. You can take your pick from e-bikes to cruisers and mountain bikes. I opted for a mountain bike with the aim to get to St Nicholas Fortress and witness it from another angle.
The cycle path leads from out of the old city along the waterfront, past the boats hugging the coast. It’s a stunning path that captures Sibenik perfectly. There are a couple of abandoned World War 2 shelters by the beach that you can’t miss. I cycled through the pine trees and across the boardwalk to get a view of Ljulkevac and the incredible St Nicholas Fortress.
Located along the Adriatic coast of Croatia, the city of Sibenik can be accessed by plane, ground transportation and even boat. Situated halfway between Zadar and Split, you can fly into either of these airports, which are located around 50 minutes from Sibenik.
Split Airport is the larger of the two airports and operates more frequent flights from most major airlines. Zadar Airport is generally the cheaper option and you can find a number of affordable flights with budget airlines flying into Zadar.
Upon arrival, you can take a taxi or shuttle into the city centre to the main bus station. Regular buses operate throughout both cities and offer long-distance coach services throughout Croatia and neighbouring cities and countries. If you are already in Croatia, you can more than likely find a bus that will travel to Sibenik from most major cities.
The city of Sibenik can be easily navigated on foot. The city centre is located in the old town along the water and features many hidden cobbled stone walkways. There are plenty of rental options ranging from city bikes to scooters that can be found along the water and offer a cheap way to get around.
Taxis are readily available and Uber can also be used throughout the city. Local buses can be found too around the city; however, it is easier to get around on foot.
There are a variety of accommodation options available throughout Sibenik. If you want to stay close to the action, it is recommended to stay near the old town. There are countless hotel, hostel and guesthouse options available throughout the city centre, within close proximity to the water, as well as restaurants, shops and more.
For a more relaxed visit, there are numerous options located along the water extending down either direction of the coast, which is perfect for a summer beach getaway. You can explore all the best accommodation options in Sibenik on the map below.
The waterfront city offers some of the best sunsets in the country; there’s no better place to catch it than from the top of a fortress. St Michael’s Fortress is one of the most popular sunset viewing points in Sibenik, offering panoramic views over the entire city. You can head up to the base of the fortress for free or purchase a ticket to the top. Tickets are also available in combination with tickets to Barone Fortress, so you can experience two incredible views.
Like most European countries, many restaurants, shops and vendors do not operate on Sundays; but this is especially apparent in Sibenik. Make sure to stock up on snacks, sunscreen and anything else you need ahead of the weekend, as most of the city will be closed until Monday.
With so much on offer, one of the best ways to see the surroundings of Sibenik is on a boat or bus. There are many local ferries that take you to the islands for little money as well as local busses that go to nearby attractions such as Krka National Park. Just check out the bus station and waterfront for the timetables.
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Rad's top 10 action sports, adventure events and music festivals in 2019 and 2020