In the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia is medieval Pula, the region’s largest port and industrial center. Pula’s history is rich with gladiators and ancient temples. And for all you nature-lovers, Pula has you covered as well.
Additionally, do you really think we would write about somewhere that wasn’t incredibly interesting or lacking in activities? Of course not! Below we will fill you in on the top things to do in Pula in 3 days.
Day One: City life
AM: Take a walk through the city center
When arriving at a new place, the best thing to do is wander around. Get lost, explore and learn to navigate the city.
In Pula, start your walk at Giardini Promenade, one of the most popular areas. As you make your way toward the Arch of the Sergii, you’ll pass many restaurants and stores before arriving at Forum Square, the center of ancient and medieval Pula. There are two preserved temples there to admire.
Continuing on, head towards the Istrian olive oil museum. Istrian olive oil is considered some of the best in the world. Gain knowledge about why it was highly valued by the ancient Romans and learn secrets about creating an extra virgin olive oil of premium quality.
PM: Visit the famous Pula Arena
An image of this place may have you a little confused. Isn’t that the Colosseum in Rome?
This spectacular amphitheater was once a place where gladiators fought and dates back to the 1st century AD. Today it hosts various concerts, operas and sporting events.
If you are visiting during summer, don’t miss the gladiator fights in the evening, which are part of the historical and entertainment event Spectacvla Antiqva.
The Pula Arena is open daily from 8 am in the summer, and 9 am in the winter. Prices are around 70 kunas ($9.49) for adult tickets.
Day Two: Beach hopping and dolphin spotting
AM: Time to hit the beach
Pula beaches are some of the longest in Croatia and are unspoiled, unlike the busier southern parts of the country. There are many beaches to choose from so spend your second day exploring the best.
If you like pebble beaches, visit Gortans Beach, an eight-minute drive from the city center. Parking is free, which is a bonus. It’s a small cove area with a nice spot to sunbake and a shallow sea, making it perfect for families. Above the beach is a bar, which provides refreshments and snacks.
A little bit further along the coastline, you will come across Hawaii Beach. Similar to the beach above, it’s a pebble beach with rocky boulders on both sides. Ideal for some fun cliff jumping, it’s a popular spot to come, especially for younger people. The turquoise blue water makes it the perfect place to swim and snorkel.
If you prefer wild beaches, head to Cape Kamenjak nature park. Located just over six miles south of Pula, this protected zone has 15 miles of stunning beaches, coves and inlets. Expect clear-turquoise water and incredible animal life. The best spots to check out include Njive beach, Penizule Bay and Skoljic beach, where there is a windsurfing school.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to stop by the Safari Bar inside Cape Kamenjak. It’s an institution, and the walls and ceilings are made of live plants and bamboo canes.
PM: Go on a dolphin-watching sunset cruise
The waters off Pula are home to large bottlenose dolphins. Book a three-hour boat tour which leaves from Pula in the evening. While you learn about the only cetacean resident in the coastal area of the northern Adriatic, enjoy an all-inclusive experience with drinks and dinner.
While dolphin spotting is not guaranteed, it’s a lovely way to enjoy the Istrian coastline.
Day Three: Brijuni National Park and tasting local cuisine
AM: Take a trip to Brijuni National Park
It’s time for a day trip. And what better place than Brijuni National Park, an archipelago off the coast of Pula? From town, you can take the ferry to various islands to explore the trails, lounge on the pristine beaches, and admire the natural beauty.
The largest island, Veliki Brijun, is a good place to start.
But first, it’s time for a bit of a history lesson. The islands were actually part of Italy until 1943. After WWII in 1945, it became part of Yugoslavia, and the president made it his personal summer estate! Here’s something funny. The president used to get exotic animals as presents from his political visitors. Many are still on the island today. So, take a train ride on Veliki Brijun and spot zebras, elephants, llamas, turtles and peacocks.
PM: Enjoy your last afternoon and evening doing a food tour
It’s been a few busy days. Now it’s time to sit back, enjoy a beverage, and taste some local Istrian dishes. Whether you book a guided tour or explore some of the local restaurants in the old town on your own, there are a few dishes you must try.
Visit a family tavern serving up local recipes. You can’t miss the fresh seafood dishes such as octopus prepared under the iron lid covered with hot coals. If you are not a seafood lover, try krafi, a traditional Istrian pasta variety. It is similar to ravioli but is typically filled with a slightly more sweet combination such as cheese, walnuts and raisins.
Drink-wise, if you can handle spirits, you must try travarica, a type of rakija (fruit brandy) made with herbs depending on the season. Some common herbs include sage, fennel, mint, chamomile and rosemary.
Tasting and drinking your way through the city is one of the best things to do in Pula. The perfect way to end your 3-day itinerary.
How to get to Pula
Wondering how to get to Pula? If arriving by air, you will land at Pula Airport. It is only 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) from there to the city center (approximately 15 minutes in a taxi). Being a small airport with only one terminal and a handful of gates, it’s an easy airport to navigate.
Where to go after Pula
If your European adventures haven’t come to an end, there are some great places to explore nearby. Within easy reach is Rovinj, another beautiful city in Croatia. There you will find an incredible old town, picturesque beaches and an array of restaurants. From Pula to Rovinj, it will take you 45 minutes.
Alternatively, from Pula to Venice you can travel by ferry with Venezia Lines. Venice is one of those “must-see cities.” Fall in love with the stunning architecture, the canals and the piazzas. Also, who doesn’t love Italian food?
You can expect to pay more during the summer months. However, Croatia generally is more reasonably priced than some of its neighboring countries.
The currency of Croatia is the Croatian Kuna.
During June, July, and August, expect temperatures of 63.2 °F to 85.1 °F.