Sitting on Croatia’s Adriatic coast between Split and Zadar, the still-sleepy old town of Sibenik is huddled along a glorious coastline of island archipelagos, bays, coves and sandy beaches. As with so many Croatian towns, it is surrounded by imposing stone fortresses built in the Middle Ages for military protection; the most eye-catching of these is the fortress of St Nicholas, built by the Venetians in the 16th century, overlooking the sea and topped by battlements. The star attraction among the steep, meandering alleyways and piazzas of the historic Old Town is the UNESCO-listed St James Cathedral (Sveti Jakov); built in Renaissance style between 1434 and 1535, it is clad in soft butter-colored stone and its façade is adorned with rose windows. A liberal scattering of bars in Sibenik offer wines grown in vineyards coating the inland hills, while local cuisine encompasses seafood, fish, slow-cooked meats and sheep’s cheese.
Sibenik is also the springboard into the Croatian countryside for canyoning, cycling and hiking adventures among the spectacular waterfalls of Krka National Park; sailing around the hump-backed Kornati Islands; or exploring Murther, carpeted in olive groves and connected to the mainland by bridge. For late-night-party-types, the neighboring town of Vodice – which can be reached by ferry as well as road – is Croatia’s answer to dance-loving Ibiza.