Located in Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, the quaint small town of Pula is an emerging travel destination. It is especially popular to those who wish to go somewhere less touristy but still has the old world charm of cities like Dubrovnik and Split. Pula definitely has a lot – from an old amphitheater to ancient city gates and a Roman Forum. Here’s a list of best things to do in Pula, Croatia to help you navigate the city.
10 Fun Things To Do in Pula, Croatia
1. Pula Amphitheater is one of the top things to do in Pula
Pula’s very own Colosseum is one of the largest in the world, a well-preserved structure that was constructed around the 1st century AD. It was completed 80 years later and was used in gladiator battles until the 5th century.
Today, only a shell of what was once an imposing structure remains, but still enough for visitors to have an idea of how massive it was and how grand those gruesome battles were.
The Arena is now one of the best things to see in Pula, one of the many structures in the city that tells a lot about its rich history. This amphitheater is situated on a hillside near the water, making it, even more, picture-perfect.
Pula Arena is open all year round and has audio guides available in English.
June 1 to September 30 from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm
October 1 to May 31 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
adults – 50kn (€6.76)
Students and children pay a discounted rate of 25kn (€3.38)
Address: Dalmatinova 4 52100 Pula
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +385 (0)52 880 088
2. Peruse the Archaeological Museum of Istria
One of the best, and easiest ways to get to know any city or town is through its museums, and in Pula, a must-visit is the Archaeological Museum of Istria. It houses some interesting Illyrian, Roman, and medieval items, but the museum has its own history, too.
It was first built in the 1800s as a Museum of Antiquities, then transferred from place to place before finally settling in Pula. Among its most famous collections are the Amphitheatre era glass, pottery and sculptures, artifacts from the Bronze era and beautiful medieval calligraphy. It also has an impressive prehistoric department that you must visit.
Open 24 Hours
Address: Carrara Street 3, 52100 Pula, Croatia
Email: [email protected]
3. Pula Cathedral
Located in Pula’s Old Town, this church is officially the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Known to many as simply Pula Cathedral, this is one of the two churches in the district. Standing on the site where a Jupiter temple and Roman bath once stood, the cathedral dates back to the 5th century.
It has gone through many renovation and expansions over the past centuries, including the addition of a bell tower made of stones from the arena. The Pula Cathedral houses a collection of precious relics discovered during the 1600s and continues to be one of the best places to visit in Pula.
Daily 10:00 AMto 6:00 PM except during service
Address:Trg SvetogTome 2, 52100, Pula,Croatia
Phone: +385 52 222 538
4. Shop at Pula Market
Unlike most markets in other cities in Croatia, that’s either located on a town square or in an open area, Pula Market is located inside a historic building with unique architecture. The Pula Market building was built out of wrought irons and was opened to the public in 1903.
Chestnut trees are also planted around the market building to provide shade for outdoor stalls. A visit to the Market is one of the best things to do in Pula, where you can sample local goodies and pick up some items to bring home like cheese, wines, and oils.
5. Learn history at Pula Forum and Temple of Augustus
Ancient structures always give that feeling of being back in the early times, especially if it’s as massive as the Pula Forum. From the time it was probably built 2,000 years ago until today, this forum serves as the main square, gathering place and political center.
The impressive and well preserved Temple of Augustus is the oldest structure in the forum and was built in the 1st century. It’s a fascinating structure that’s said to be dedicated to the triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.
Beside the temple is the Town Hall or communal place which is an interesting mix of different architectural styles, including parts of the original temple. One of the best attractions in Pula, a visit to the Forum is a must.
Monday to Friday – 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Saturday to Sunday 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
(€1.35) 10kn for all guests.
Address: Forum b.b., 52100, Pula Croatia
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +385 (0)52 351 300
6. Sip coffee at Cvajner
Take part in their fascinating coffee culture anywhere in Croatia, and in Pula, have a sip at Cvajner. Located in the Roman Forum, it is housed in a former bank. The interiors are retro, from the décor to the furniture which complements its stately high ceilings.
Also known as Kunstcafe, Cvajner is sid to have the best coffee in town, as well as a great selection of beers from Belgium, Germany and beyond.
They also offer refreshing fruity cocktails during summer but what’s special about Cvajner is the opportunity to experience Croatian coffee culture in such a magnificent setting – besides a 2,000-year-old temple and a Renaissance-era city hall. It’s like having coffee hundreds, or even thousands of years ago.
7. Kastel Fort
Built by the Venetians in the 1630s, the Kastel Fortress was an important part of Pula’s defense system. Strategically located on a hill atop the city center which makes it easier to spot possible attacks at an advantageous angle.
Additions to the original fort were done over the past centuries, the fort is one of the best places to visit in Pula especially during sunset as it provides a spectacular view of the cityscapes against the setting sun. The fort is now home to the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria, which is another must-see.
Monday to Sunday – 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
Address: Pula Castle Kaštel, Pula
8. Check out Enoteca Istriana – one of the fun things to do in Pula
Another place that you should check out at the Forum is the Enoteca Istriana, a wine bar that’s exclusive to local and regional wines. It’s literally getting a taste of Croatia as you sample a variety of wines. Make sure you try their white wine or malvasia, aa well as their red wine or Teran. Both have a distinct flavor that’s unique to Croatia.
Enoteca Istriana is also a good place to try the Italian prosciutto and olives, which you can pair with your newly discovered Croatian wine.
Monday to Sunday – 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Address: Forum 11 Pula, Croatia
Phone: +385 (0)52 567
9. Hit the water at Medulin
Located in the southern part of the Istrian peninsula in Croatia and just 10 kilometers from Pula, Medulin is known as a watersports hub. One of the best things to do in Pula on weekends, Medulin different activities on and off the water.
You can rent a boat, learn how to sail, dive, surf, windsurf, waterski or simply ride a banana boat. It’s a wonderful change of scenery that also lets you see another side of Pula which is not just about old ruins and ancient history.
10. The “Lighting Giants”
The best way to end any day in Pula is to watch it liberally light up, in a burst of magical color and sounds. Relatively new in Pula, the amazing display called the “Lighting Giants” is a brainchild of world-famous lighting designer, Dean Skira.
The unique lights display is made up of 16,000 lights attached to more than a dozen industrial cranes along the waterfront of Pula. Lights go on according to a dramatic sequence accompanied by music, which changes frequently and they even have special displays during the holidays.
The “Lighting Giants” illuminate the Pula waterfront every night starting at 9 pm, and every hour and each lights show lasts for 15 minutes. Make sure you head on to the waterfront after you’ve had sine hearty Croatian dinner and enjoy one of the best things to do in Pula during the night.