Pula is sea-side city in Istria, a peninsula in NW Croatia. The main reason to come to Pula is for the well preserved roman architecture, food and wine
There was something I heard several times from locals that will tell you of Pula and most of Istria, “My grandparents were born in Austria, my parents Italy, I was born in Yugoslavia and my children were born in Croatia and we have never moved.” From this fascinating insight you can see the last 100 years and it’s influence on culture and food the area, for example Italian is widely spoken by locals and a hello is a simple Ciao!
Pula is often overlooked in Croatia as holiday-goers seek the bigger sights of Split or Dubrovnik, but giving Istria some time is worth it. It has a mild climate, amazing seafood, wine and lots of wine and an abundance of crystal blue water. Istria has enough to keep anyone busy for their holiday with important and beautiful cities of Rovinj, Poreč & Umag. Make Pula your arrival city (lots of airlines fly here from all of Europe) and rent a car and start exploring but 1st, here are the top 5 things to do in Pula.
Pula has a nice compact old town and is easily viewable in a morning of ambling. There is the arena, the 6th largest surviving Roman amphitheater and so well preserved, I thought it was fake. There is the forum, adjacent to the main square. Sit down and have a coffee with a full view of this magnificent building. A little further away is the arch of Sergius, a monument erected to honor the members of the Sergii family who fought and died in battle. Pus, head up and find the Kašte, that affords amazing view of the city and sea.
This park is actually a group of islands close to Pula, but coming to this part of Istria is not complete without visiting. They were also settlement in roman times and were part of Republic of Venice. Former president of Yugoslavia, Tito, made the Brijani Islands his personal State Summer Residence and after he died, it was turned into a national park. There are many boat tours of the islands leaving from Pula everyday.
Kamenjak National Park
Premantura is the area that leads to Kamenjak National Park and is about 8 km from Pula and is worth a day trip. This peninsula is southernmost point of Istria, and features stunning landscapes and protected nature. It is very popular both with locals and visitors as a destination for hiking, mountain-biking and swimming. It’s is also a party spot during the summer as bars pop up along it’s shores.
Croatia has some decent, well more than decent wine. If you imbue, it’s necessary to get out of Pula and get to Trapan Winery to sample some of their latest creations. It is located in the city of Šišan, about 20 minutes from Pula. Don’t forget RSVP for a wine tasting, especially in the high season. I tried a couple white offerings from their local grapes, malvazija istarka, one in a clear bottle and the other in a dark bottle and a 4 grape red blend (cabernet -merlot-syrah-teran) they call Revolution (Bruno the head wine guy has a fascination with Che Guevara). After the wine head to a nearby restaurant, Vela Nera for an amazing local meal.
Since Pula is on the water, it’s a no brainer to hit the water and explore the many small islands around the port. Many operators offer sunset cruises, snorkeling trips and trips to beaches. This is highly recommended but make sure you get a reservation if you go in high season when things book quickly.
Honorable Mention – Lungomare
This is a 4 km long promenade in Pula, which stretches from the beach Valkane until Gortanova bay continues to Valsaline. It is used mainly by locals and there are lots of little restaurants and cafes along the route. It’s a nice stroll nonetheless.