Things To Do in Pula: A Complete Guide to Pula, Croatia by JetSettingFools.com

Things To Do In Pula: A Complete Guide To Pula, Croatia

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Pula, Croatia is one of the top destinations on the Istrian Peninsula. Located near the southern tip of the tear drop-shaped peninsula, Pula is both industrially important and historically charming.

Large cranes loom over the massive shipyard, while Roman ruins are scattered throughout Old Town Pula. Unlike some historic Croatia towns, Pula is not only a tourist destination, but a real working city.

Although it was mainly the historic aspects that prompted our visit to Pula, we discovered that there are many things to do in Pula, Croatia.

 

Pula, Croatia: Why Visit?

Pula (and the Istrian Peninsula) is one of the best places to visit in Croatia. Distinctly different from cities on the Dalmatian Coast and in the country’s interior, Pula and the region feature an Italian flair.

On our Istria Trip, we based ourselves in nearby Rovinj. We spent weeks exploring the region and traveled to Pula on a day trip, although we quickly realized that we could have stayed much longer. 

While the top sights can be seen with one day in Pula, there are numerous activities that can fill week-long holidays to Pula, Croatia, too!

 

What To Do in Pula For A Day

Visitors on a day trip to Pula can easily see the highlights on foot. 

We recommend using our list of things to see in Pula to create your own free Pula Walking Tour. The order of the Pula sights listed create a loop – from the Pula Arena around the city to the hill-topping fort. Use this link to a map of directions for your Pula free walking tour. 

Travelers who would rather let a guide lead the way through Grad Pula can join a City Pula Walking Tour. Book a highly rated tour with a local guide online – Read Reviews!

 

Plan a Longer Pula Vacation

In addition to our top recommendations of what to do in Pula, Croatia in a single day, we include suggestions for longer stays, as well.

At the end of the post, we have provided a useful Pula map of attractions, tips for visiting Pula and pertinent information like where to stay in Pula and how to get there.

 

Planning a Trip to Pula, Croatia

Whether you are planning a Pula day trip or a multiday vacation, you can use our list of the best things to do and see in the city. 

Travelers coming from abroad, however, should first read our Top Tips for the Best Croatian Vacation. Additionally, visitors looking for a little direction on how to best plan their route through the country should take a look at our 2-Week Croatia Itinerary for ideas. 

As you plan your trip, staying organized is key! You can stay on top of all the essential trip details with our printable Travel Planner

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Pula, Croatia History

Pula, Croatia Arena

Before we dive into our list of what to see in Pula, it helps to have a basic understanding of the city’s past. The history of Pula can be traced to ancient times.

Evidence of human settlements in the region date to the Neolithic Period – and there is proof that both the Illyrians and Greeks at one time occupied the land. However, it was in the year 177 BC that the Romans took control. Under the reign of Julius Caesar, the town flourished as a prominent trading port.

 

Pula 1st Century AD

In the 1st century AD, the Pula Amphitheater was built – which still stands today. Fortifications were erected and a few of the town gates remain in the city, even though the walls have long been torn down. During the 1st century, the Pula population was about 30,000 residents – and it flourished into the 2nd century. 

 

Medieval Times In Pula

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Pula was overseen by many different rulers – each one leaving their own mark on the city. Pula remained an important port, however, by the mid-1700s, it had been left in ruins. In the beginning of the 1800s, Pula town again shuffled hands a few times until coming under power of the Austro-Hungarians.

 

Pula, Croatia Today

By the 1900s, the town was thriving again and became a base for Austria’s navy and a center for ship building. The battered town was resurrected as a major industrial city.

In 1918, Pula became part of Italy (called Pola) and was then occupied by Germans during the end of World War II (which resulted in it being heavily bombed).

After the war, it became part of Yugoslavia (even though a majority of Italians lived in there); then – at the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991 – Pula became part of The Republic of Croatia.

Today, Pula ranks as the largest city in Istria and the 8th largest in Croatia. 

 

9 Things To Do in Pula, Croatia

View of Pula, Croatia

The top Pula attractions are remains from the city’s historic past. Our day of Pula sightseeing revolved around seeking out the still standing and unearthed Roman ruins, as well as gazing at more ‘recent’ architectural gems. We feature the top places to get a peek at the fascinating Pula history. 

Our Pula blog post has everything you need to plan your trip! Save, Pin or Bookmark our Pula travel guide so that you can easily access it before and during your vacation to Croatia!


 

#1 Pula Amphitheater

Amphitheater, Pula, Croatia

{MAP} The well-preserved Pula Arena was built in the 1st century AD. The Roman structure was completed in the year 80 AD and used for Gladiator battles until the 5th century. Competitions of Man-versus-Man, Man-versus-Beast and Woman-versus-Woman entertained crowds of 25,000 people.

Although only a shell of what it once was, we can imagine the arena filled with people cheering on the gruesome and bloody battles.

The fall of Rome – and the outlawing of gladiator fights – led to the disuse of the amphitheater. Materials from the amphitheater – like the interior stones – were swiped by builders to use in construction elsewhere in the city.

However, the majority of the structure is marvelously intact. Its position on a hillside near the water make it an even more stunning sight.

Did you know you can go inside the Pula Arena?! In fact, it’s one of the top Pula, Croatia things to do! Buy your ticket in advance online to gain access inside the city’s most iconic attractions.

 

#2 Pula Cathedral

Pula, Croatia Bell tower

{MAP} From the amphitheater, a shop-lined street leads into the historic Pula Old Town, passing the stoic Pula Cathedral along the way.

Officially called the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the church is one of two cathedrals in the district (the other is the Euphrasian Basilica in Porec – which we visited on our Istria Day Trip).

The Pula, Croatia church dates to the 5th century AD and occupies the site of a former Jupiter temple and Roman bath.

Over the many centuries, the church was renovated and expanded. Graves containing precious relics were discovered in the church in the late 1600s. In 1707, the bell tower was built next to the church…using stones from the Arena. The interior was once decorated with stone tile mosaics, but now is rather unadorned.

 

#3 The Pula Forum and Temple of Augustus

{MAP} Stepping into the Pula Forum is like stepping back in time. The central Forum has been the city’s main square, gathering place and political center for 2,000 years. The oldest structure in the Forum is the Temple of Augustus – one of the most intriguing things to see in Pula, Croatia.

The fully preserved Temple of Augustus was built in the 1st century. The temple is dedicated to the Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva and once stood with other temples, which no longer exist.   

Next to the Temple of Augustus is the Town Hall – or Communal Palace – which is a mishmash of architecture (including portions of an original temple). Interestingly, there are five flags that fly from the Town Hall: one for Pula, Istria, Croatia, Italy and the European Union.

 

#4 Ancient Roman Floor Mosaic

Ancient Ruins, Pula, Croatia

{MAP} A wonderfully intact floor mosaic is located along an inconspicuous city lane (through a gate at a residential building…don’t worry, it’s open to the public). The 2000-year-old mosaic tells the story of Dirce, a Greek legend.

The tiled floor was discovered in the 1940s after the area was bombed during World War II. The work of art is believed to have been the central floor of a Roman House that dates to the 3rd century.

The mosaic is on display in its original setting. It lies several feet lower than street level today as the city of Pula has grown up around it.

 

#5 Chapel of St. Maria Formosa, Pula, Croatia

Pula, Croatia buildings

{MAP} Not far from the tiled mosaic are the remains of an early Basilica. All that is left standing is the Chapel, but an outline of the former Basilica can be seen in the field. It is believed that the Byzantine Basilica was built in the 6th or 7th century and that it was lavishly decorated.

The church was most likely built on the site of a former temple. Some of the stones from the Basilica were incorporated into the construction of the Communal Palace on the Forum in the late 1600s.

 

#6 Arch of Sergii, Pula

Pula, Croatia Roman Ruins

{MAP} Once a grand city gate into the fortified Old Town of Pula, the Arch of Sergii is a triumphal arch dedicated the three Sergii brothers. The Sergii family was one of the most powerful and influential families in Pula. Built in 29 BC, the arch specifically celebrates the victory at Actium and was funded by the brothers’ sister.

Decorated with statues, inscriptions and columns, the archway has long held the fascination of artists – including famous Michelangelo.

 

#7 Market Hall, Pula, Croatia

Pula, Croatia Food Market

{MAP} Built in the early 1900s, the expansive Pula Market Hall was a modern marvel in its time. It was built using contemporary materials of iron and glass.

The two-level indoor market accommodated both the fish market (ground level) and produce market (second level). It has been more than a hundred years (and a major renovation) later and the hall is still used as it was originally intended.

Top Tip: Sample local fare from the market – like burek (a savory and flaky pastry) from a bakery or fresh in-season produce.

 

#8 Pula Fort Kastel

Pula, Croatia Fortress

{MAP} The Kastel fortress – built by the Venetians in the 1630s – was an integral part of Pula’s system of defense. The location atop a hill provided an advantageous viewpoint over Pula and the Adriatic Sea.

The original structure – a French design – was expanded on several occasions. No longer used to protect the city, the castle now houses the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria. A fee is only required to enter the museum, the rest of the structure can be freely explored.

Top Tip: The Kastel Fort is one of the best places to visit in Pula at sunset! 

 

#9 Small Roman Theater, Pula

Remains of the Small Roman Theater in Pula, Croatia

{MAP} The final Pula must-see sight on our list is the Roman Theater. The 1st century AD theater was built directly into the slope of the hill (next to the fortress). Only a portion of the theater has been preserved – which in its day could accommodate 5,000 people.

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Pula, Croatia Map

Use this link to Google Maps for our Pula sightseeing map online. Looking for a paper tourist map of Pula, Croatia? Inquire at the tourist information office (located in the Forum).

Map of Pula, Croatia by JetSettingFools.com


 

More Things To Do in Pula, Croatia

Sights of Pula, Croatia

On our short Pula trip, we limited our sightseeing to the top historic sights. Visitors who are staying longer can check out more of the top Pula, Croatia attractions.

 

Pula, Croatia Beaches

The historic center lies near the shoreline on the bay, which is completely consumed by the Port. However, there are beaches in Pula, Croatia to the south of the city.

The southwest-facing coastline is punctuated by coves and bays – creating numerous Pula, Croatia beaches. Visitors will find the best beaches on the southern peninsula that dangles into the sea.

 

Best Beaches Pula, Croatia

Hawaiian Beach Pula: The secluded beach can get crowded, but it is perfect for sunbathing, swimming and Pula cliff jumping!

Zeppelin Beach and Lounge Bar: Relaxing beach bar with chill vibes for a fun day in the sun.

 

Boat Trips from Pula, Croatia

One of the best things to do in Pula is explore by sea! There are numerous Pula boat trips to choose from. Top-rated Pula boat excursions include visiting Venice, snorkeling, dolphin spotting and diving.

 

Boat: Venice to Pula

Depart from Pula and cross the Adriatic Sea to Venice, Italy on a one-day trip. Boats depart from Pula early in the morning and dock in Venice around 11:00am. Visitors have time to explore the fascinating city on their own before cruising back to Pula in the late afternoon. Find out more!

 

Pula Boat Tours to Cape Kamenjak Premantura

This southern Istria boat tour hosts a maximum of 12 guests and includes time for swimming, snorkeling and cliff jumping. Read Reviews!

 

Evening Dolphin Spotting Tour with Dinner

Dolphins are most active around the Brijuni National Park in the evening, which is the perfect time to see them in their natural habitat. Learn about the dolphins and marine life in the Adriatic Sea, then feast on a local meal and enjoy drinks from the open bar. Get the details!

 

Diving Pula

For serious exploration, go on a diving expedition in the Adriatic Sea! Geared toward beginners, this small-group diving tour includes diving instruction and two dives. Learn more!

 

Kayaking Adventure

Explore sea caves, hidden coves and secluded beaches on an exciting kayaking tour. Guests can snorkel inside a sea cave or jump from Pula’s highest cliffs. Book It Now!

 

Day Trips from Pula

Not every Pula tour heads out to sea – there are land adventures to be had, too! Check out these popular excursions from Pula.

 

Bike Tour from Pula on Kamenjak Peninsula

Explore the Kamenjak Peninsula on two wheels! Discover secluded nature reserves that can not be seen by car. Bicycle, helmets and transportation from Pula to the Peninsula are provided in this tour. Find out more!

 

Wine Tasting Pula, Croatia

One of the best things to do in Istria is taste the wine! Join a small-group tour to three wineries near Pula on the Istrian Wine Express. Book your spot!

 

Plitvice Lakes from Pula

Plitvice Lakes is one of Croatia’s most popular natural attractions. Visitors can see the lakes on a Pula day trip – either with their own transport or on a tour. 

 

Green Garden Pula

Green Garden is an entertainment complex in the city offering fun Pula activities – like Go-Karts, Paintball and Quad rentals (so you can tour Pula by Buggy!).

 

Pula Museums

Not all attractions in Pula are day trip adventures. Some of the best things to see are the museums in Pula that are right in the city center! 

 

Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria

We already mentioned the Maritime Museum; it’s located at the Kastel Fort in Pula. The small museum covers a mishmash of topics and exhibits of historical artifacts – including items like maps, photographs and old postcards. 

 

Zerostrasse Underground Tunnels

A subterranean network of tunnels that date to the early 1900s, Zerostrasse is an intriguing place to visit. Historical artifacts and informative plaques line the underground tunnels detailing their use. 

 

MEMO Museum of Good Memories

A small museum dedicated to life in Pula during the Yugoslavia years. The collection includes everyday items from the time period – and how they would have looked inside the home. 

 

Istrian Olive Oil Museum

The Pula Olive Oil Museum is a fun place to learn about and taste the local olive oil from Istria. Tours – which are aided by an audio guide – include the history, production and science of olive oil in Croatia and culminates in a fun tasting experience. 

 

More Museums in Pula, Croatia

A few other museums that fellow travelers might be interested in visiting are the Contemporary Art Museum of Istria, the Sacred Heart Museum and Gallery Space and the Archaeological Museum of Istria. 

 

Best Restaurants in Pula, Croatia

Visitors who stay more than one day in the city will likely be dining out in Pula, Croatia. There are many restaurants that will appeal to a range of tastes.

Visitors can choose from traditional konobas, Italian eateries or local fast food. Being along the coast, seafood is offered at most restaurants (and a must-try while in the city, in our opinion!). Find a list of top-rated restaurants on TripAdvisor.

 

Best Bars in Pula

During our trip to Pula, we discovered a bar dedicated to serving Croatia craft beer. Unfortunately, however, the bar has since closed its doors. We have not yet been, but one of the top-rated Pula bars is The Shipyard Pub – which also specializes in burgers.


 

How To Get to Pula, Croatia

Getting to Pula, Croatia is fairly easy. Visitors can reach the city by plane, boat, car or bus.

 

Pula Airport

Want to fly to Pula? No problem (as long as it’s summer!). The airport in Pula is located about 10km northeast of the city center. The airport code for Pula is PUY.

Flights to Pula are seasonal, but in the summertime the city is serviced by numerous European carriers. There are Pula flights from top European destinations, like Berlin, Paris, Dublin and Amsterdam. There are even direct London to Pula flights.

Search for the best deal on a flight to Pula on SkyScanner.

 

Ferries to Pula, Croatia

Just like flights, ferries from Pula are very seasonal. Ferry lines connect Pula to the nearby islands, Italy and Zadar (unfortunately, there is no Split to Pula ferry).

Get the most accurate ferry information at the Pula Port.

 

Driving to Pula, Croatia

Although we don’t like to drive in foreign countries, getting a car hire in Croatia (check rates!) is a great way to explore…especially in Istria!

Unlike other coastal towns, there are parking lots in Pula, Croatia. The biggest parking area is near the amphitheater by the water.

 

Riding the Bus to Pula

Pula is well-connected to other Croatian destinations by bus. During our trip to Istria, we were based in Rovinj – and getting from Rovinj to Pula was as simple as hopping on a regional bus.

 

Bus Rovinj to Pula

The bus from Rovinj to Pula only takes about 40 minutes and there are numerous departures daily. It is best to get current and accurate information by inquiring at the bus station.

 

Bus Zagreb to Pula

The bus from Zagreb to Pula takes as little as 3.5 hours (but many routes take much longer) and there are several departure times (including one overnight bus).

 

Pula, Croatia Weather

Pula, Croatia weather tends to be mild, but can get hot and humid in the summertime. The winter Bura Wind comes from the north, while the Sirocco wind brings rain from the southeast in the summer. Check the Pula forecast on Weather.com.

 

Accommodation in Pula, Croatia

Guests have a wide range of options when it comes to places to stay in Pula, Croatia. Hotels, hostels, apartments and camping are all options for Pula accommodations.

 

Pula, Croatia Hotels

Guests looking for hotels in Pula, Croatia will find luxury resorts, boutique hotels and guesthouses. We are highlighting just a few of the top rated places to stay in Pula. 

 

Hotel Pula

Well situated close to the sea and the city, Hotel Pula features amenities, such as a pool, gym and sauna – but the rooms and hotel are quite dated. Check rates!

 

Histria Hotel

The Park Plaza Histria Hotel in Pula gets fabulous reviews! Located on the beachfront, Histria Hotel offers beach access, multiple pools, a spa and multiple on site restaurants. Check availability!

 

Hotel Brioni

The luxury Grand Hotel Bironi is a premier hotel in Pula offering exceptional service and amenities in a sublime atmosphere. The hotel features an indoor and outdoor pool, spa and restaurant offering local specialties. Check rates and availability!

 

Start your search for the best hotels in Pula, Croatia on Booking.com – but first, read our tips on How To Get the Best Hotels at the Best Price.

 

Holiday Apartments in Pula

There are many vacation rentals in Pula. We like staying in apartments in Croatia, as they are often spacious and include a kitchen (and more affordable price than hotels). When we want to find the perfect apartment, we look on Airbnb – but guests can find vacation apartments on Booking.com, as well.

 

Hostels in Pula, Croatia

Looking for a hostel in Pula? There are Pula hostels in the city center and near the beaches that offer private rooms and dormitory beds. Crazy House Hostel (check rates!) gets rave reviews. Find available hostels on Booking.com.

 

Camping Pula

Visitors who want to go camping in Pula, Croatia have several options of campgrounds along the coast. Two popular campsites are Stoja Camping and Brioni Sunny Camping.

 

What To Pack for your Pula, Croatia Trip

It’s time to start packing! We have a few specific tips for items you will want to pack for Croatia, but you can find all of our advice on our Travel Packing Tips blog page. You can also snag a Free Packing Checklist here!

 

Walking Shoes

The city is very walkable, but you will still need a good pair of comfortable shoes for sightseeing. I like to wear versatile sneakers and Kris wears Merrell shoes for city walks. You can find more tips for the Best Travel Shoes

Travelers headed to the Pula beaches will want to pack a pair of flip flops – and water shoes for the pebbly beaches, too!

 

Travel Camera

Pula, Croatia is home to incredible historic sights, beautiful architecture and scenic views. Be sure to pack a real camera to capture the beauty of the city. 

We use a Canon Rebel DSLR camera with an 18-135mm lens. The camera takes quality photos, is easy to use and is an excellent choice for a budget travel camera

 

Day Bag

Whether you are traveling to Pula on a day trip or staying in the city and spending long days on the beaches, you will want to make sure you pack a good travel day bag for your day time adventures. 

 

Croatia Travel Insurance

There is no question about it, trip insurance is essential! We use World Nomads, where they offer affordable rates for their robust coverage. 

 

Start planning your trip to Croatia! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!

 

More Croatia Travel Tips

Visiting Other Top Destinations in Croatia? Excellent! You can use our detailed guides and insider tips to get ready for your trip! 

Interested in Croatian Island Hopping? Great choice! Read up on our amazing adventures to Hvar, Korcula, Brac and Vis! Find more of our Guides to Croatia on our Croatia Travel Page

 

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Things To Do in Pula Complete Guide to Pula, Croatia by JetSettingFools.com

11 thoughts on “Things To Do In Pula: A Complete Guide To Pula, Croatia

  1. Ashley Brooks

    My husband and I are on a 3-month trip around the world. Your whole website has been so beneficial to almost every aspect of our trip. Currently, enjoying a day in Pula based largely on your recommendations. Thank you!!!

    • Hi Ashley –
      Thanks so much ~ we are stoked it is helping with your trip! Where are you traveling on your RTW journey? Wishing you the most amazing travels!
      Cheers ~ Sarah & Kris

  2. Pula is one of the places we want to visit when coming back to Croatia. We were in Piran and were just too far away to make it for a quick visit.
    But we’ve previously seen photos of the Amphitheatre and it looks awesome. Hard to believe the history…we were just watching Game of Thrones last week and now can’t wait for season 6.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Okay – I might have to get on board with Game of Thrones. I’ve never watched a single episode, but with my love for period pieces and beautiful places, I might have to dive in and watch! Pula was such an interesting city – so current, yet these relics are just spread about the town! The amphitheater seriously took my breath away. We could get lost in Croatia….and never return…

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