Are you short on time or, for some other reason, find yourself torn between Zadar and Sibenik? We’d hate to be in your shoes because choosing between two such beautiful cities is as good as being between a rock and a hard place. We would certainly recommend making time for both. Nonetheless, if a choice must be made, here’s a showdown to help nudge you off that fence:
1) Zadar is more popular
Sibenik plays second fiddle to Zadar in the popularity charts, as many people consider the latter to be more “touristy” in comparison, accruing close to 500,000 visitors in 2019, which is a lot more than the former’s tally. It comes alive with festivals all summer long, some of which make it all the way to the Christmas festivities, which present another attraction altogether. It has better transport connections and more intriguing destinations, but that doesn’t mean that Sibenik has nothing to offer. From famous fortresses to Old Town buildings and cathedrals, the scenic town has its charm as well.
2) Sibenik offers more privacy and affordability
The fame proves a double-edged sword for Zadar, as although popularity brings in more traffic, it also results in more competition. The latter houses a population in the region of 46,000, with Zadar averaging four times as much. Consequently, you can expect accommodation and the general cost of living to be higher compared to Sibenik, where the crowds are much more forgiving, affording more peace and seclusion.
3) Zadar hides secret islands while Sibenik is the door to the Kornati
Island hopping is a strong selling point for cities across Croatia, and this pair isn’t any different; however, they offer contrasting islands with varying personalities. Sibenik puts you on a course to the generous Kornati archipelago, which serves up more than 124 square miles of blissful fun. A yacht charter Zadar, on the other hand, is synonymous with more private and lesser-known (hence more tranquil) islands such as Pasman, Ugljan, and Dugi Otok, all perfect for that intimate escapade away from invading eyes.
4) Zadar has that modern vibe while Sibenik has a simplistic beauty
White sandy beaches are a recurring theme for both thanks to their coastal positions, but Zadar mixes past and present charmingly with jaw-dropping modern constructions and futuristic feats of humanity such as the “Salutation to the Sun” and the “Sea Organ.” These two tap into the power of the elements, harnessing the sun and sea respectively to conjure a colorful night time kaleidoscope accompanied by soothing tunes from the depths. Sibenik is not too far behind from a modernity perspective, but its charm lies in its rural simplicity, which ensures no shortage of romantic picnicking spots.
It’s crunch-decision time. So what will it be: Zadar or Sibenik, have you made up your mind because we haven’t? If you’d like our advice, we recommend you split the time for both. If you were to spend six days in Zadar, spare half the days for Sibenik and vice versa. Both are glorious cities in their own rights, offering lots in terms of culture, UNESCO treasures, Roman ruins, arousing nature, idyllic islands, and Dalmatian cuisine.