It was a two-day stopover for us during our visit to Northern Italy and more specifically to the city of Trieste! We went to Pula by car that we rented from Italy! On the way we also made a day stop in the village of Vodnjan.
There are so many unique things to do in Pula! An absolute highlight is the Roman amphitheatre, which is the landmark of this historically important port city. However, there are countless other fantastic sights to discover in Pula! A truly charming old town, ancient temples, ancient buildings and local markets are just some of the sights to admire. The nature and the beaches around the port are simply amazing and well worth a visit! In addition, there are many things to see around Pula and many possibilities for interesting day trips.
In this travel guide we will show you the absolute best things to do in Pula, Croatia. Plus, you’ll get lots of travel information about Pula, we’ll show you stunning photos and we will tell you where to find the best places to stay.
General information about Pula
With around 60,000 inhabitants, Pula is the largest city in Istria. It is located in the south of the Istrian peninsula and is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the region, along with Medulin , Premantura and Fazana . A charming old town, many interesting sights, good restaurants , a lively nightlife, the long shopping street and not to forget the big number of the beautiful beaches that makes Pula an absolute benchmark in Croatia. Especially in recent years, this town has become a really popular place for tourists from all over the world.
Moreover, this town is one of the oldest in Croatia! The history of Pula dates back to the Neolithic Age. The first settlement of the town by the Illyrians dates back to the 10th century BC. In 177 BC the Romans conquered the settlement and then under Emperor Augustus in the 1st century the amphitheatre was built. Today it is the most important attraction and landmark of Pula.
The Triumphal Arch of Sergius
One of the most important attractions of Pula is the 8-metre-high Arc de Triomphe , which is also known as the Triumphal Arch of Sergius. This historical structure dates back to antiquity and was built as early as 29-27 BC by the Roman family of the Sergia as a kind of monument. At that time the arches were richly decorated with gold, which gave this attraction the nickname “Golden Gate”. Today, just behind the Arc de Triomphe, begins the Pula promenade mile, where countless boutiques and shops make you want to go shopping.
Tip : Right next to the Arc de Triomphe of Sergius there is a cosy café with a lovely terrace from where you can enjoy the city.
The August Temple
One of the most important places to visit in Pula is the Temple of August. This imposing and also very well-preserved structure dates back to the 1st century BC and was built in the former forum of the Roman city, today’s Forum Square. Throughout history, the original function of the temple has changed. It was originally a Christian church then a granary and now serves as a small museum.
The interior of the Temple of Augustus is also worth seeing and can be visited for a small entrance fee of 10 Kuna. There is an interesting exhibition here where you can see valuable Roman stone and bronze statues and portrait busts.
Exploring the old town
The Old Town in Pula is a must-see in Croatia, as it is certainly one of the most beautiful historic city centres in the country. During a tour of the city, you can admire a wide variety of fantastic sights from different eras. In particular, the architectural mix of Roman, Venetian, Austrian and Italian monuments is very interesting. Also the countless alleys with ancient stone houses and beautiful squares invite you to stay and take pictures.
One of the most beautiful squares in Pula is definitely the Forum Square , the so-called Trg Forum or also known as Republic Square. It is the former main square and is located right in the centre of the ancient city. Around it, there are some of the oldest buildings of the port city. Especially in the evening , when the bars are full and good music can be heard, this square enchants everyone!
Pula Amphitheater, Croatia
Pula’s amphitheater is the landmark of the port city and certainly the most important attraction of Pula. This imposing arena is the 6th largest amphitheater since ancient times and a visit is almost a must on any tour of the city. It was built under Emperor Vespasian in the 1st century, at the same time as the Colosseum was built in Rome.
This huge arena could hold up to 26,000 spectators. In the past, gladiatorial contests, animal fights and naval battles were held here in front of a huge audience. Today, the well-preserved arena can be visited from the inside. It is also a popular location, especially in summer, for concerts with international stars , events such as the Pula Film Festival and the Spectacula Antiqua.
Pula, Croatia… An unknown for us but an amazing place to visit…!
Markets in Pula – Croatia
One of the best things to do in Pula is a visit to the old market. A visit to this 120 year old hall is a real experience! It is still today after so many years of operation, a truly authentic and a popular meeting point among the locals. More than 60 stalls sell local products such as fish, meat, fruit, dairy products and vegetables. But also Croatian delicacies , olive oils, nuts, cheese and honey are available here at a reasonable price. Downstairs there is also a really interesting fish market and upstairs there are some restaurants and cafes.
The market of Pula is open daily from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm. Especially on weekends countless outdoor stalls are open. A wonderful shopping experience not to be missed on any trip to Pula!
Tip : Furia restaurant serves delicious fish dishes at reasonable prices . A real secret tip that almost only the locals know!
The beautiful green Verudela peninsula with its fantastic swimming bays is a real attraction just outside the city centre. This is where you will find many of the most beautiful beaches in Pula. First and fore most there is the majestic Hawaiian beach, an absolute dream beach where you get a real Caribbean feel while sunbathing. Unique especially are the turquoise blue colors of the sea and the beautiful rock formations that surround this beach.
Just about 5 km from the old town, the holiday paradise of Verudela is accessible by car as well as cheaply by bus or taxi. Moreover, this peninsula is the perfect place if you want to spend your beach holiday in Pula, because here you can find some amazing hotels and apartments as well as a wide tourist variety of restaurants , cafes and sports facilities such as tennis courts, mini golf and water sports.
Tip : Just behind Hawaii beach, in the best location, is a beautifully renovated 3 star hotel Park Plaza Arena Pula.
Where to stay in Pula
In the old town of Pula, but also on the outskirts of the port, there is a wide range of accommodation. From beautiful holiday hotels to lovely holiday apartments and camping, it’s all there.
In short, we can safely say that Pula may not be such a well-known destination for Greeks but it is definitely an ideal solution to see something different from Croatia, beyond the well-known Dubrovnik! Wonderful beaches, Roman antiquities, Italian culture, polite attitude of the locals since they live from tourism like we do and of course the wonderful architecture will enchant you! It is a chance to discover something different in high quality!!!!