Nth Reasons to Visit Šibenik

After a month in this pearl of a city, my time here is coming to an end. Leaving without paying tribute would be a crime.

The People

… the factor that makes it possible to live in a strange city for a month and never feel lonely. Whether it’s Luciana and Toni at Niko’s Café and Bar at the open air market, Seida at Argola Restaurant on the seaside promenade, Vanja the local guide and expert on the history past and present or Nino Nimac and Danijela Prpic, duo extraordinaire, their positive demeanour, excellent service, talent and open-heartedness is enough to draw you back.

Beautiful Luciana at Niko's Bar
Sassy Luciana at Niko’s Bar

The Old Town

… is the colour of a pearl, nestled neatly on the hillside overlooking the ageless channel that flows in from the Adriatic. St. James Cathedral is the most important Renaissance architectural monument in the whole of Croatia and the Baptistry will imprint itself on your memory forever for its beauty. St. Nicholas Fortress affords spectacular views over the city and the water. Catch a concert there if you can, the atmosphere is majestic. The Medieval Herb Garden of St. Lawrence maintained by pupils from the local high school is refreshing and fragrant in the summer heat, consisting of both culinary and medicinal plants. Strolling through the narrow, slippery (be careful!) alleys, frankly all you need to do is look up at the mix of Gothic, Romanesque, Medieval and Renaissance styles of the numerous churches and buildings. And if hunger pangs hit you or a thirst develops after climbing those stairs, there are plenty of food and drink spots around every corner.

Herb garden of St. Lawrence
Herb garden of St. Lawrence

The Food

… is local, produced close by and mostly a no-nonsense affair. Tinel in the Old Town uses only organic veg and their octopus salad is tender and juicy. Just out of town there’s an array of choices. The peka lamb is baked for hours under a lid at Torcida Restaurant in Vrpolje (10 minutes by car), the variety of mussels and clams is simmered in a unforgettable white wine sauce at Zlatna Riberica in Brodarica about 20 minutes by bus, and the olive-oil/garlic/parlsey drenched catch of the day is worth the wait at Konoba Kapelica on Krapanj Island, a swim away from Broderica but there is a ferry. Getting back to the city, there’s the real locals place called Buffet Simune on a side street very close to the open air market where the fried sardines and ćevapčići (mixed meat on a skewer) is served up in large portions at laughable prices.

Small portions at Torcida
Small portions at Torcida

The Wine and Other Stuff

While a cold Ožujsko or Karlovačko beer is just the thing after a swim in the sea, a glass of the Dalmatian white blend of Debit and Maraština is herbaceous and even ever so slightly salty and goes extremely well with seafood dishes. Babić is the red varietal of this area and this full, big-bodied wine is a must when eating pršut, the Croatian’s soft, non-stringy answer to Italian proscuitto. And don’t leave without giving rakije a go. It’s firewater but the local herbal blend Travarica is slightly green in colour and palatable. Psst, Vinoplod Winery on the outskirts of town as you enter from Split, has a wine shop at the gate where you can get all of these products except the beer of course, at a discount.

Big Babić
Big Babić

The Bars

So I’ve already mentioned Niko’s where the coffee is creamy and the froth is sprinkled with chocolate (€1,10/8 kuna). Even though there are plenty of bars to choose from down on the shoreline and in the Old Town, the place to be is Bono’s named after the U2 star of course, the owner being a huge fan. This joint is so unique that they’ve declared it a Republic with its own flag and its own mix of great music, none of this canned stuff, all CD’s hand chosen. And there’s live music every Friday.

And on my way home, there’s always Kula Bar  in Baldekin to drop into for a night cap of the famous rakije, called Travarice, a grassy, herbal hooch with a heady blend of 15 herbs.

The Size

…. is navigable, manageable and even at a slow plod you can walk from this side to the other side reaching Banj Beach in 30 minutes. Downtown becomes your town in a matter of less than a day. It’s all there, supermarkets, the open-air market, banks, boutiques, pharmacies and even cobblers in a shoe emergency. It’s got a cosy feel and I do believe this is attributable to its size.

The Proximity

…. to everywhere means that you never need to be bored. Krka National Park is a half an hour away even by bus, the islands are short ferry rides and even the furthest one in the archipelago Žirje is only 1 hour and 40 minutes away. Buses abound and you can get to Split Airport by taking a 1 hour bus ride to Trogir and then another one for around 15 minutes. Easy peasy. Zagreb, Split, Pula, Dubrovnik, you name it they’re all accessible.

Rushing waters at Skradin Buk, Krka National Park
Rushing waters at Skradin Buk, Krka National Park

The Islands and Beaches

… are all within a ferry ride or bike ride or bus ride away. So easy to reach. See my blog for details: Getting In and Around Šibenik.

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Next Bike 

Just ’cause you’re feeling lazy or just for fun, this is an excellent way of getting around the city and works like a charm. Enter your telephone number, credit card details and your personalised pin code and you’re all set. From then on it’s a breeze and at this point I have to say that the motorists are more than considerate. No hooting, no impatience, veering around you to make sure that you don’t damage their cars. Next Bike

The Diving

… impossible to beat for visibility – 25 m and more is what you’ll find in these turquoise waters and besides, the Dive Master is handsome. Mediteraneo operates from Hotel Spongiola on Krapanj Island, 20 minutes by bus to Brodarica and a short ferry ride from there.

Emil's the one on the right
Emil’s the one on the right, mind you the one on the left isn’t bad at all

 

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