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, the city is both industrially important and historically charming. Large cranes loom over the massive shipyard, while Roman ruins are scattered throughout the Old Town. 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.

 

What To Do in Pula in a Day

On our Istria trip, we based ourselves in Rovinj. We spent weeks exploring the region and spent one day in Pula on a day trip. The top city sights can be seen with one day in Pula – but there are numerous activities that can fill week-long holidays to Pula, Croatia, too!

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 and how to get there.

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

A city map of Pula, Croatia

 

Pula History

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.

1st Century AD

In the 1st century AD, the Pula Amphitheater was built – which still stands today. City 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 population of the city was about 30,000 residents.

Medieval Times

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

Current

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 and was then occupied by Germans during the end of World War II (which resulted in it being heavily bombed). After the war, the city became part of Yugoslavia (even though a majority of Italians lived in the city); then – at the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991 – Pula became part of Croatia.

 

Things To Do in Pula

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.

Top Tip: Use 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.  Or, if you would rather join a Pula Walking Tour, book a highly rated tour with a local guide online – Read Reviews!

 

#1 Pula Amphitheater

The Roman Amphitheater in 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.

Arches of the Pula amphitheater in Croatia

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.

Roman Amphitheater in Pula Croatia with views out to the Adriatic Sea

 

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

The Pula Cathedral and Bell Tower in Croatia

{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 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 Forum and Temple of Augustus

The Temple of Augustus in the city center square, The Forum, in Pula, Croatia

{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.   

The Forum in Pula, Croatia

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

The Roman Mosaic Floor in Pula, Croatia is made of intricately laid tiles

{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 has grown up around it.

 

#5 Chapel of St. Maria Formosa

The chapel of St. Maria Formosa in Pula, Croatia

{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

The Arch of Sergii in Pula, Croatia

{MAP} Once a grand city gate into the fortified Old Town, 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 the city. 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

Historic Pula, Croatia Market Hall

{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

Fort Kastel in Pula, Croatia

{MAP} The Kastel fortress – built by the Venetians in the 1630s – was an integral part of the city’s system of defense. The location atop the city center hill provided an advantageous viewpoint over the city and 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 (which we did not do).Views of the Roman Amphitheater from Fort Kastel in Pula, Croatia

Top Tip: The fort is one of the best places to visit in Pula at sunset. The views over the sea are spectacular and the spot is ideal to watch the setting sun!

 

#9 Small Roman Theater

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.


 

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).

 

 


 

More Things To Do in Pula, Croatia

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

Pula Beaches

The historic center of the city 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

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 – like this highly rated tour. Read Reviews!

 

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!).

 

Looking for more of the best places to visit in Croatia? Use our Croatia destination guides for more information about what to see, do and eat in Croatia cities!

Croatia Travel Guides by JetSettingFools.com

 

Best Restaurants in Pula

Visitors who stay more than one day in the city will likely be eating 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.


 

Pula Croatia Forum

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 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 Paris, Milan 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

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, Croatia ferry). Get accurate ferry information at the Pula Port.

 

Driving to Pula

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. Inquire 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 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 south in the summer. Check the Pula forecast on Weather.com.

 

Accommodation in Pula

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 Hotels

Guests looking for hotels in Pula, Croatia will find luxury resorts, boutique hotels and guesthouses. Hotel Pula, Histria Hotel, Hotel Brioni and Flamingo Hotel Pula are just a few of the highly-rated hotels in the area. Start your search for the best hotels in Pula, Croatia on Booking.com!

 

Apartment Pula

There are many holiday apartments 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. Use this link to create your account and save money on your first stay!

 

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 and Hostel Antique both get 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.

 

We want to know: What are your favorite things to do in Pula, Croatia? Is there anything you would add to our list of Pula things to do? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!

 

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!

 

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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!!!

  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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