At a Glance
Once upon a time, the Romans landed in Croatia and decided to do great things for this country of extraordinary beauty and wealth. And they started with Pula. What makes this working town stand out is the wealth of Roman architecture bequeathed by this great society - a civilisation that once stretched across most of Europe as we know it today. But there's more than just the history and the past here. Pula - once known as Polensium - boasts attractions that will appeal to every type of holidaymaker. The sporting enthusiast, the historian, the lover of all things different, the beach lover - you're certain to find exactly what you need to enjoy yourself on holiday. Read on to discover more about this incredible city.
Pula itself is situated in the south east of Croatia on the Istrian Peninsula. Pressed against the Adriatic Sea, it has easy to use transport links to Dubrovnik, nearby islands Krk and Cres and even neighbouring countries such as Italy and Slovenia. You'll find the centre is extremely well-connected to other parts of the city, and moving between neighbourhoods is a breeze. Meanwhile, the small airport makes it easy to get through security and baggage reclaim. Direct flights from the UK also simplify the process. Pula's extensive bus network also serves surrounding resorts, cities and towns, meaning it's easy to go off the beaten track a bit and head to somewhere such as Rovinj or Istarske Divizije. These locations offer a bit of variety on your holiday.
Eating and Drinking
Located as it is by the sea, Pula is renowned for its fish. Every day, the ships sail in with their precious cargo to be sold to restaurants across the city. As a result, the catch is extremely fresh and quite unlike anything you'll find inland. Croatia's proximity to a number of countries in eastern Europe has made it very easy for people to 'borrow' various dishes. So once you've found your ideal restaurant, be prepared to find pretty much anything from exotic salads to seafood risotto. A particularly renowned dish is the seafood stew, which can be found in many restaurants and contains a plethora of things that live in the nearby oceans. Restaurants Konoba Batelina and Konoba Istriana make it particularly well if you're seeking inspiration. If the younger family members are after something a little less fishy though, Villa Margherita in Pjescana Uvala does an incredible pizza.
Things to See and Do
We've already mentioned the extraordinary history that Pula possesses, and it's this that will likely provide much of your entertainment during the day. Make a start by visiting the gigantic Roman amphitheatre in the middle of the town centre. It's an impressive structure and you're sure to get some amazing photos while learning how the Romans put this working town on the map. Around this main attraction, you'll find a cluster of medieval churches, classical buildings and charismatic streets. The Temple of Augustus is particularly worth a visit - one of the remnants of the Roman era that can still claim to be relatively undamaged by time. Down by the crane-ringed harbour, you'll also find there is plenty to see and do, such as learn about how Pula played a vital role in trade and transport in ancient times at the Archaeological Museum.But before you start thinking all of Pula's attractions are based around education and history, it's worth remembering that there's an extensive coast of beaches to discover and sunworship on. The wide sandy stretch has enough room for many, and the further you venture along, the more interesting and charismatic the coast gets. At one turn, you might find sharp and jagged rocks, perfect for crab catching. At the next, a green and verdant forest stretches before you, shrouding the land in mystery and harbouring plenty of interesting wildlife.Alternatively, get the blood rushing by visiting the Marina and hiring a sailing boat or some surfing gear. There are also opportunities to go swimming, snorkelling or even diving between the azure blue waves. Or if you'd rather exercise without getting wet, you'll find indoor tennis courts, football fields, mini golf and athletic facilities aplenty. Pula is also very bicycle friendly, with special lanes for cyclists to use.
The issue with partying in central Pula is that local laws and regulations restrict opening hours, meaning that most venues tend to be closed by midnight. However, there's no need to despair if you like a bit of a wild night out on holiday. Just outside the downtown area, you'll find a plethora of music venues, bars and clubs that aren't subjected to these regulations, meaning you can keep going long into the small hours. Some of these places are aimed at a younger crowd, such as Club Uljanik, which offers numerous discounts for students. Others are great for those who would prefer to kick back with a drink rather than dance until they fall down, such as E&D Bistro-Lounge Bar. If you're feeling peckish, they also offer Mediterranean dishes.
In the way of festivals and events, there are a couple of experiences on the list that you simply have to experience if you want to see Pula at its best. One of the reasons festivals are so exciting here is because, more often than not, they take place in the middle of the amphitheatre itself. The Pula Summer Festival is one of these - it attracts amazing artists from all over the world. Similarly, the Pula International Theatre Festival promises a wealth of excellent creativity. Pula Film Festival and Istra Etno Jazz are also worth checking out if you're lucky to be in the city at the same time as them.