Sibenik Croatia is the next tourist hotspot. And it's thanks to a new luxury hotel. Richard Mellor explores the city. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Croatia, your essential guide for visiting Croatia.
Faust Vrančić was born in Šibenik. He invented the parachute. And that seems appropriate for this Croatian city. Because Šibenik has its feet firmly on the ground.
Where is Šibenik Croatia? It's only 40 minutes north of Split on the Dalmatian coast. The beaches are great. It has good inland hiking and lovely waterfalls. It's also known for cool music festivals and restaurants. Plus the old town contains a World Heritage cathedral. And its local fortresses appeared in Game of Thrones.
But a lack of good accommodation has long let Šibenik down. Now D-Resort Šibenik is changing all that. And it's exactly the exceptional hotel Šibenik Croatia deserves.
To one side is a super-yacht stuffed new marina.. At the other side, motorboats sail to Šibenik’s harbour. A treelined corniche trims the waterfront. Glinting red roofs sprawl uphill. And ancient St Michael’s Fortress watches the city from above.
St Michael’s is one of four Šibenik fortresses. It was once a seat for the Croatian king. And more recently provided shelter during the Croatian War of Independence. Today, an ongoing restoration programme attracts tourists instead.
Head southeast to visit Barone Fortress. Here an audio-visual display reveals the life of 17th century soldiers.
Opposite is St John Fortress, a Game of Thrones set in 2014.
And to the west, is St Nicholas sea castle. It was built by Venetians to guard the channel into Šibenik. Take the castle's island-hopping path. Raised above the sea, it offers impressive Adriatic views.
As for St Michael’s, bands have replaced bullets here. And the 11th century walls now house a 1077-capacity venue. This restoration project cost £1.2 million. And to date the venue's hosted bands like The National, Lambchop and Nouvelle Vague. And it's also popular during August's Terraneo Summer Break Festival.
Šibenik’s true gem is 15th century St James’s Cathedral. Now a World Heritage site it was designed by Juraj Dalmatinac. Dalmanatinac was responsible for much of the Dalmatian Coast’s finest architecture. However, St James's is considered his masterpiece. Entirely-stone-built in Gothic Renaissance style the cathedral was completed in 1536.
Look out for the stunning silvery dome. And don't miss the 71-head frieze containing caricatures of 15th century locals. Adam and Eve are in there too, self-consciously naked.
Want to do a self-guided tour? English-language brochures are available. . The highlight's a small baptistry. Look at the carved roof to see why.
Dine afterwards at Pelegrini. The restaurant majors in extraordinary local produce and seafood.
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Kralja Tomislava AKA Kalelarga, is the city's main street. Here you'll find fancy stores beside standard tourist shops.
Head off Kalelarga into a jumble of stairways and narrow lanes. The maze of the Old Town is a drowsy place. Occasional Vespas interrupt the peace. And its elegant houses Dalmatian-style houses are uniformly, dark green with red shutters.
Old Town Šibenik feels genuinely lived-in. Certain alleys are shaded by clothes lines and cables. Locals sit in the sun outside their homes. Rosemary grows wild. Wafts of home cooking tease nostrils. And inside phone boxes, religious stickers promise salvation.
Think about staying in an Old Town apartment in the authentic heart of Šibenik.
Don't miss a tour of Krka National Park. It's only 20 minutes' drive northeast of Šibenik. A stunning natural attraction, the park's bisected by River Krka. Hiking trails criss-cross all over it. But the showstopper is Skradinski Buk. This series of 17 successive waterfalls sits at the park's southern end. Under the last cascade, there's a wide basin. And come warm weather it's a popular local swim spot. Go on summer weekends for the almost party atmosphere.
If that's not enough water. Take a Kornati National Park boat tour from Šibenik.
Or hop on ferries in Šibenik and sail to the islands of Zlarin and Prvić. Great day trips. Both are known for bistros, fig trees and pebble beaches.
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