The 5 Most Underrated Cities Near Venice You Need to Visit Now

Venice surely has appeal, but other nearby cities should have a place in your heart, too. Here are the five most underrated cities near Venice

Pula Croatia amphitheater

Think of Venice, and gondoliers spring to mind, calmly steering their long, flat-bottomed boats through winding canals. Romantic footbridges pop up around every bend, so beautiful they could be from another world. And Gothic architecture catches your attention. No question, the Floating City brings something to the table, yet it’s not the only intriguing place in the region. Just nearby, you can find cobbled fishing ports, Roman amphitheaters, and gem-studded Byzantine mosaics. From Italy to Slovenia and Croatia, here are the five most underrated cities near Venice.

Pula, Croatia: For History Buffs

Pula Croatia colosseum

Pula, Croatia, a historically compelling city on the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula, is worth a few days of exploration. 

It dates back to prehistoric times and was a strategic location for Romans, Ostrogoths, Venetians, and the allied powers of WWII. Today, you can breathe the air of Roman antiquity peppered with urban grit.

Pula Arena is one of the largest and most well-preserved Roman amphitheaters globally. Unfortunately, the sails which once flew above the audience during gladiator events are no longer there. So, drop by in the morning, at dusk, or on cloudy days because there is no shade when the sun beats down mercilessly. However, it’s well worth a visit, given that you can almost hear the roaring spectators cheering for gladiators. 

The Roman arena is also an excellent venue for film and music festivals and rock and classical music concerts. 

Aside from summer shows, Pula’s draw is the burgeoning art scene. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Istria depicts works from local artists and those from elsewhere in the region. And the Museum and Gallery Sveta Srca, a restored former church, features impressive art exhibitions, too.

Complete with cafes providing outdoor tables, shopping malls and secluded shingle and rocky beaches, Pula is one of the best places to visit near Venice. 

The Roman wonderland in Istria is easily accessible via Venezia Lines’ catamaran ferry. It takes you from Venice to Pula in three-and-a-half hours.

Poreč, Croatia: For Architecture Enthusiasts

Porec Croatia coastline

Porec, another city near Venice, is a little further up on the Istrian coast. 

Poreč’s major appeal is its Roman relics and Episcopal Complex of Euphrasian Basilica. Today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the basilica features early Christian and Byzantine architecture, natural stone arches, plus jaw-dropping mosaics.

Aside from the remarkable complex with its baptistery, atrium, and the episcopal palace, Poreč offers plenty of other things to do. Walk around the Old Town and admire Venetian-style houses and Roman ruins in the Neptune Temple, erected in the first century. 

Just as eye-catching as the temple are the medieval fortresses and town walls. Additionally, the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque palaces that define the epochs perfectly.

While Poreč is an excellent place for families due to the good value for money, you can find a few clubs and bars here and there. And did you know Poreč has over 250 kilometers (155 miles) of cycling trails? Cycling tours make for memorable day trips, as do olive oil and wine tasting tours. And water babies will have fun on the 10 km (6 miles) coastline with pebble, rocky, concrete, and even sandy beaches.

Venezia Lines’ High-Speed Ferry takes two hours and 45 minutes to get from Venice to Poreč.

Rovinj, Croatia: For Romantic Travelers

Rovinj Croatia coastline

Perfectly walkable, the small town of Rovinj is one of the best places to visit near Venice, Italy. There’s a historic, car-free Old Town on a hilly peninsula. Rovinj’s primary draw is the St. Euphemia Church, constructed on the hilltop.

With cobblestone streets and alleys squeezed between brightly colored buildings, Rovinj is a charmer. Just as enchanting are the town squares and intriguing art galleries. 

Are you the romantic type of traveler? 

Saunter along the port and watch fishing boats gently bobbing on the Adriatic Sea. And if your stomach rumbles, take a seat in one of the numerous seaside restaurants and bars. 

Don’t even think of skipping Istrian ice cream. It’s on par with Italy’s irresistible, full-flavored gelato.

While Rovinj’s Old Town is part romance, modern hotels and art galleries make for a cosmopolitan twist.

There are also several beaches like Golden Cape Forest and Lone Bay you should check out. They’re not endless sandy beaches—it’s mostly rocks—but the pine scent wafting on the breeze is lovely. 

Getting from Venice to Rovinj is easy. Hop on Venezia Lines’ high-speed ferry, and you’ll be there five hours later.

Piran, Slovenia: For Relaxation Seekers

Piran Slovenia overview

Piran, Slovenia is another place of interest near Venice you’ll want to visit. Aside from its quiet, crowd-free atmosphere, this coastal town scores with well-preserved fortification walls, a delightful marina, and heavenly waters along the rocky coastline. 

Keen to lap up the sun? Spread your towel on the city’s flagstone beaches with ladders leading into the Adriatic Sea. 

Or head to St. George’s Cathedral, perched on the hill overlooking Piran, Italy, and Croatia. Climbing the 146 steps to the top is worth it. With a pyramidal spire that caps the building under the vigilant eyes of Archangel Michael, the church’s 47.2 meter-high (157 feet) bell tower is a smaller version of Venice’s St. Mark’s Campanile. Given that Piran was influenced by Venice when the bell tower was completed, the striking resemblance is hardly surprising.

If you still have energy after the trip to the hilltop, conquering Piran’s town walls is another attraction worth the sweat. It corroborates the city’s medieval character. 

Or amble along the marina, find a cafe, and watch the world go by while sipping a cup of joe.

Venezia Lines’ high-speed ferry also takes you to this city near Venice. The ferry from Venice to Piran only takes two and a half hours.

Verona, Italy: For Culture Buffs

Verona Italy amphitheater

Out of these five cities, Verona is the nearest city to Venice, sitting 75 miles west of the Queen of the Adriatic, as Venice is called. So, the trip from Venice to Verona is very straightforward and only 1.5 hours. Verona is another romantic town and is the second-largest city in Veneto, a region in Northern Italy.

Walk under the city gates, and you’re transported to a bygone Roman era. Verona’s major highlight is the Arena di Verona, an amphitheater defying Rome’s colosseum, not just because it’s older. Its sheer size was big enough for up to 30,000 spectators who cheered for gladiators in Roman times. Today, the arena is a concert and opera venue.

You’ll also love Piazza Bra, lined with colorful shops and small pretty balconies. Likewise, terracotta roof tiles that characterize the buildings on Verona’s largest square are nothing short of amazing. 

If you’re a culture buff, the museum of Castle Vecchio will have you oohing and ahhing in admiration. As will the Old Town’s Piazza delle Erbe with its Baroque palace and natural stone houses. 

Verona is also known as the place where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet took place.  You can visit Via Capello and look up at the tiny balcony of the 14th-century building where the star-crossed lovers professed their devotion.

These cities near Venice, whether in Italy or on the Adriatic coast, ensure that you go beyond the gondoliers of the Grand Canal and delve deeper into all the charm the region holds.  


How many days should we spend in Venice?

Three days is ideal, but if you don’t have the luxury of that much time, read our Venice in a Day guide.

Are Croatian or Slovenian cities safe?

While we’re not saying you should leave your belongings out of sight when you go swimming in the crystal sea, both Croatia and Slovenia are pretty safe.

What about the WiFi in cities like Pula?

Most hotels, bars, and restaurants offer free WiFi with a stable internet connection. Just ask for the password.

Posted August 8, 2022
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Philipp Meier
Philipp Meier is a Phuket-based travel writer passionate about Thai culture and wandering off Thailand’s well-trodden tourist trail. His work has been published on the Nat Geo Traveller India, South China Morning Post, Culture Trip, BootsnAll, GoNOMAD, and elsewhere. You can find him at Writer Philipp Meier and LinkedIn.
image of blog writer Phil