Pula, located on the southwestern tip of the Istria peninsula, is a blend of rich history, stunning beaches, and a vibrant cultural ambiance. With the clear waters of the Adriatic Sea lapping its shores, Pula strikes a perfect balance between ancient allure and modern comforts.
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Colorful Roman buildings in the old town of Pula
Holidays in Pula
Pula, a city perched on the Istrian peninsula of Croatia, boasts a deep history that merges with the vibrancy of modern life. Every journey through Pula reveals a tapestry of cultures, from Roman and Byzantine to Venetian and Austro-Hungarian.
Wander through the city’s old town, and you’ll find the stories of civilizations etched into its stones. Stop by Pula's famous Arena, and let your imagination roam to a time of fierce gladiatorial battles.
However, it’s not all about the past. Pula is a lively city, filled with music festivals, art galleries, and gastronomic delights that celebrate both its rich history and its present-day charm. Whether you're watching a film under the stars in its ancient amphitheater, sipping on Istrian wines, or dancing the night away at a seafront club, there's always a new experience waiting around the corner.
Whether you are a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or just looking to bask in the warm Croatian sun, Pula won’t disappoint you! It's a city that promises not just a trip, but an adventure through time and sensation.
How to get to Pula
You can get to Pula by plane, car or ferry. Pula’s international airport connects the city to major European destinations. Alternatively, you can land at larger Croatian airports, such as Zagreb or Split, and then you can take the ferry to Pula. For more information about ferries to Pula, check our relevant section!
What to do in Pula
Dominated by its incredibly well-preserved Roman amphitheater, the city has a distinct Roman heritage that will leave you spellbound. Here, you can wander beneath the arches of the imposing Pula Arena, imagining the roar of the crowds from millennia past. Where there were once fierce battles of gladiators now are concerts, festivals, and film screenings.
Venture deeper into the city and discover a maze of charming narrow streets. The Arch of the Sergii stands as a testament to the city's Roman lineage, while the Temple of Augustus in the Forum flaunts its classical beauty.
Allow yourself to get lost in Pula's alleys, stumbling upon hidden gems like intimate art galleries, or perhaps the aroma of a local trattoria serving fresh Istrian truffles.
Beyond the confines of the city, Pula’s coastline beckons with promises of azure waters and pristine beaches. The Cape of Kamenjak, a short drive away is perfect for windsurfing, cliff-diving, or simply sunbathing.
As the sun dips, ascend to the hilltop fortress of Kaštel for a panoramic view. With a glass of local Malvazija wine in hand, embrace the city's rich tapestry of history, culture, and nature.
Beaches in Pula
Pula's coastline offers a mesmerizing ensemble of white-pebbled bays and crystalline azure waters. Here are the 5 best beaches in Pula:
- Gortans: also known as Gortanova Uvala, this picturesque bay on the Lungomare promenade is family-friendly with shallow clear waters. The nearby beach bar ensures refreshments are always at hand.
- Batana: this pebble beach blends tranquility with a lively atmosphere. There is a beach bar offering refreshing soft drinks and snacks.
- Hawaii: if you want to experience Croatia in its raw beauty with astonishing rock formations and turquoise waters, this beach is for you. However, if you’re planning to spend the day to the rocky cove, you should bring a towel, an umbrella, some bottles of water, and snacks.
- Svjetionik: offering a different vibe, this stone beach is loved for its cliffs and unique setting. The adjacent Bonaca cocktail bar enhances the allure.
- Plaza Histria: on the Verudela peninsula, this beach stands out with its pristine environment and sports facilities so it is also ideal for families with children and teenagers.
The white-pebbled beach of Verudela in Pula
Sightseeing and activities in Pula
Delving deep into Pula means uncovering a tapestry of historical landmarks and exciting activities, all woven together to form an unforgettable experience. Here are the top 10 sightseeing in Pula:
- The Roman Amphitheatre, an iconic structure standing in Pula for nearly two millennia
- The Temple of Augustus, an imposing Roman temple dedicated to the goddess Roma and Emperor Augustus
- The Arch of the Sergii, an ancient Roman arch built in the 1st century BCE
- The Forum, once the central square during Roman times surrounded by several historic buildings
- The Twin Gates (Porta Gemina), a well-preserved piece of ancient architecture served as one of the main entrances into the city during Roman times.
- The Pula Castle (Kastel Pula), a Venetian fortress overlooking the city from a hill.
- The Gate of Hercules, featuring an inscription dedicated to Hercules
- The Pula Aquarium, located in a 130-year-old Austro-Hungarian fortress and home to various species of marine life from the Adriatic Sea
- The Zerostrasse, an underground network of tunnels built during World War I for shelter and defense
- The Monastery and Church of St. Francis, a historic complex dating back to the 14th century
Here you can also find some activities to do in Pula:
- Visit the Pula Arena: this ancient Roman amphitheater is the most famous and impressive monument in Pula. Attend concerts, festivals, or gladiator games reenactments during the summer.
- Explore the Old Town: wander through narrow cobblestone streets, discovering Roman architecture, charming squares, and local markets.
- Dive into Pula’s Underwater World: Pula and its surrounding areas offer excellent diving spots with clear waters, shipwrecks, underwater caves, and diverse marine life.
- Attend the Pula Film Festival: held in the Pula Arena during the summer, it's the oldest annual film festival in Croatia.
- Visit the House of Istrian olive oil: indulge in the Istrian cuisine, learn about the history and significance of olive oil production and taste some local oils with freshly baked bread slices.
The imposing Arena and the bustling city of Pula
Nightlife in Pula
While Pula offers a more relaxed evening experience compared to Croatia’s party islands such as the non-stop partying of Hvar, it still has a selection of beach bars, clubs, and restaurants.
The areas of Stoja, Verudela, Kandlerova Ulica, and Kaštel are some of the most vibrant neighborhoods for a drink.
Pula's coastline is sprinkled with beach bars that provide a fantastic backdrop for evening relaxation. Bars like Lungomare and Hawaii beach bar are especially popular during the summer months for cocktails and lively beats. If you want to dance the night away, Pula has a couple of clubs that cater to different musical tastes.
Also, every summer, Pula Film Festival is held in Pula transforming the city into the hub of the Croatian film scene. The city's historic amphitheater, Pula Arena, transforms into an open-air cinema. So, this is not only an opportunity to watch international and Croatian films but also a chance to experience the festive atmosphere, with many pop-up bars and stalls appearing around the city.
The Arch of the Sergii in the bustling city of Pula at night
Food in Pula
Experience the flavors of Istria in Pula. From fresh seafood to Istrian prosciutto and truffle-flavored dishes, Pula offers a gastronomic delight.
Without further ado, here are the top must-try dishes in Pula:
- brodet (fish stew made from a mix of fish varieties, simmered with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and wine)
- istarski pršut (a dry-cured ham paired with local cheese and wine)
- maneštra (soup or stew with beans, sausages, cured meats, and truffles)
- fuži s tartufima (handmade pasta tossed in a creamy sauce and Istrian truffle)
- crni rižot (black risotto made from cuttlefish ink)
- biska (traditional brandy infused with mistletoe and herbs)
- kroštule (a sweet, deep-fried pastry sprinkled with powdered sugar)
Pair these dishes with a glass of local Malvasia or Teran wine to complement the flavors of Istrian cuisine. Explore Pula's food scene and taste the Istrian olive oil so you can have a better insight into Croatia’s rich culture.
The traditional dish of brodet with fresh fish and herbs
Here are 8 useful tips for your trip to Pula:
- Time your visit to coincide with the Pula Film Festival held in the Roman Amphitheatre during the summer. This is Croatia's oldest and most popular film festival.
- Visit Pula's central market early in the morning for fresh produce, seafood, and local delicacies. It's also a great place to sample local cheeses and olive oil.
- Although Croatia is a member of the European Union, it still uses its own currency, the Croatian Kuna. Always have some cash on hand, especially when visiting smaller establishments or rural areas.
- Consider taking a guided walking tour of the city to understand its rich history better. Many guides share anecdotes and stories that you won't find in guidebooks.
- Istria is renowned for its wines, especially Malvasia and Teran so during your stay in Pula you can visit local wine cellars for tastings.
- If possible, visit in the shoulder seasons (spring and early fall) for milder weather and fewer tourists.
- Use Pula as a base to explore other parts of Istria like Rovinj, Motovun, and Grožnjan.
- When visiting religious sites, dress modestly by covering your shoulders and knees.
Useful information for Pula
Pula, as the largest city in Istria, exudes a blend of ancient Roman charm and a modern Mediterranean vibe. For accommodations, Pula offers a diverse range. From backpacker-friendly hostels to high-end hotels, and charming B&Bs (bed and breakfasts), there's something for every budget.
Alternatively, if you're considering a diverse experience, Pula offers several heritage accommodations, including old villas transformed into boutique hotels. These places often blend the city’s Roman and Venetian histories, providing guests with a memorable experience.
However, If you're planning a short stay, consider basing yourself in the historic city center, where you'll be near most of the iconic landmarks. Another popular area is the Verudela Peninsula, known for its scenic beaches and resorts.
For medical emergencies or health needs, Pula has a well-equipped general hospital, "Opća Bolnica Pula", located conveniently for both locals and tourists. In addition to this main hospital, there are several pharmacies spread throughout the city, ensuring easy access to medical supplies.
Important phone numbers for your stay in Pula
Take a look at some phone numbers that may prove handy during your stay in Pula:
- Pula Port Authority: +38552534215
- Pula Police Authority: +38552211911
- General Hospital Pula: +38552213737
- Pula Airport: +38552530000
- Pula Bus Terminal (Kolodvor): +38552214208
- Pula Official Taxi Service: +38552391515
- European emergency number: 112
Remember to always check and verify phone numbers from an official source or website before traveling, as they can change over time. It's always a good idea to have these numbers saved in your phone or written down somewhere accessible in case of emergency.
Transportation in Pula
The historic center of the city is walkable and you can easily stroll around its alleys. However, there is always the option of renting a car or a bike. Alternatively, you can take a bus or a taxi if you want to explore the area around the city.
Pula boasts an efficient public bus network managed by Pula Promet. It serves connections to the inner city but also extends its bus routes to nearby areas, including Medulin, Pjescana Uvala, and Premantura.
Local rides within Pula cost around €1, while journeys to other areas come at a slightly higher fare ranging between €1.50 and €5. For ease, tickets can be purchased directly on the bus or from local kiosks called tisak.
Buses and taxis are readily available in Pula. However, renting a car or bike can provide more flexibility for exploring. So, if you prefer driving at your own pace, car rental services are widely available.
Tip: if you’re traveling by car, note that there are several parking lots and zones within Pula, with the ones closer to the city center being pricier.
Ports in Pula
The main port of Pula is located in the city center, providing both passenger and cargo services. This port mainly serves ferries and catamarans traveling to and from the nearby islands and cities along the Adriatic coast, including Venice.
The port is also a frequent docking point for cruise ships, which means it often becomes a gateway for international tourists entering the Istrian peninsula.
Buses and taxis are easily available from the main port, ensuring smooth transportation to different parts of the city and its outskirts. It's advisable to check the ferry schedule in advance, especially if traveling during the high season, as the ferries can get fully booked.
Pula ferry: schedules and tickets
Pula is connected to several ports including Venice in Italy, and other Croatian ports such as Ilovik, Mali Lošinj, Silba, Susak, Unije, and Zadar, thanks to the ferries operated by Kapetan Luka - Krilo, Venezia Lines, and Kompas (Adriatic Lines). Here are the detailed ferry schedules to Pula:
- Venice - Pula ferry: the ferry crossing from Venice to Pula is operated seasonally from June to the end of September with 4-6 weekly crossings by Venezia Lines and Kompas (Adriatic Lines). The route takes about 3 hr 30 min and its price ranges from €79 to €92.
- Ilovik - Pula ferry: the route to Pula from Ilovik runs all year round with 2 weekly crossings with ferries making the crossing in around 3 hours. Ilovik - Pula ferry tickets start at around €10-€11.
- Mali Lošinj - Pula ferry: ferries from Makarska travel all year round with up to 5 weekly crossings. The ferry duration is around 2.5 hours, with standard tickets costing around €11-€13.
- Silba - Pula ferry: there are weekly ferry connections from Silba to Pula throughout the year. The trip lasts 3.5 hours while tickets cost around €14.
- Susak - Pula ferry: this ferry route is normally operated all year round by Kapetan Luka - Krilo. However, ferry frequency and availability is higher during summer months. Crossings to Pula from Susak last just 1.5 hours and ferry tickets normally cost around €11.
- Unije - Pula ferry: the ferry route from Unije to Pula is active all year long, with increased ferry frequency in the summer, and is operated by the ferry company Kapetan Luka - Krilo. The ferry duration is 1 hour, with standard tickets costing around €10.
- Zadar - Pula ferry: the Zadar - Pula ferry trip is operated 5 times a week all year round by Kapetan Luka - Krilo. It takes around 4.5 hours to reach the port of Pula and the ferry ticket costs around €26.
Sailboats and ferries at the port of Pula
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