When you think of Croatia, you think beaches, blue seas, blue skies, Split or Dubrovnik. The ultimate holiday getaway in Europe. We decided to change from the typical city life destination and opted for the seaside. Pula was the city we decided to visit. A cheaper alternative to bigger touristy cities like Split or Dubrovnik. But is Pula worth it? Or should you go to those cities instead or just avoid Croatia as a whole? Let’s dive in.
Small city, a lot of history
Pula is the largest city in the Istria County of Croatia and the eighth largest city in the country. It’s situated at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula, north of Croatia. With a population of 57,460, Pula is Istria’s most populous city. It’s situated in the valley of seven hills, with extraordinary Adriatic views. It’s pretty awesome to walk around and experience. You’ve got narrow cobbled streets, magnificent Roman buildings – including, a huge, spectacular amphitheater in the center that stands out.
When you’re there you’ll notice that while Pula is a big city in Croatia it isn’t a big city in person. You could even go as far as calling it a town. You can easily get to places by foot or get an Uber or the public bus to visit magnificent landmarks in the suburban areas. What makes Pula, Pula and not your average small city is the Roman influence and history as well as the beautiful blue seaside. That’s what Pula is really all about when you want to break down the overall experience in the city. Being in Pula makes it easy to take day trips to other gorgeous towns and cities in Istria. This makes Pula a perfect destination if you’re planning to visit other places too and don’t want to stay in one city.
Things to do
The Pula Arena
The Pula Arena is the 6th largest amphitheater in the world. It is also the only remaining Roman amphitheater to have a four-sided tower. It was constructed in 27 BC – 68 AD and was an arena of gladiator fights as the famous Colosseum in Rome. You can walk around the monument or go inside it and see the caverns beneath. It’s a really amazing sight to see, especially if you haven’t been to Rome yet and seen the Colosseum over there, the Pula arena is the next best thing.
Arch of the Sergii
A slightly older Roman monument is this triumphal arch that was built to commemorate the powerful Sergii family’s participation in the pivotal Battle of Actium in France. It dates to about 30 BC and still in great shape after all these years. When it was built the arch was a city gate leading up from the naval port. You’ll notice that carved into the stone are friezes depicting cupids and garlands, and just beneath this, you can still make out a relief of a horse-drawn battle chariot.
Pula hop on-hop off bus tour
The Pula hop on hop off bus tour is a quick way to see awesome landmarks in the city from the comfort of a double-decker bus while getting to choose when to get off seeing them at your own pace. It was my first hop on hop off bus tour in a city and it was pretty awesome. You get onboard commentary that’s available in 13 languages, as well as visiting 7 of the famous locations across Pula. Makes the whole exploration of the city easier.
The House of Istrian Olive Oil
The House of Istrian Olive Oil is a museum pretty much about olive oil. It gives you a detailed insight into how olives grew in Istria in the past up until the present day. You also find out how the ancient Romans processed olive oil and how it is produced today. You learn all the aromas and tastes of olive oil, as well as the chemical composition of Istrian extra virgin olive oil and learn how olive oil, combined with the Mediterranean diet affects our health. When you visit, you’re taught from an expert how to recognize top-quality extra virgin olive oil. The House of Istrian Olive Oil gives you an unforgettable experience and knowledge that you won’t forget (believe me).
Walk along the sea/harbor
The seaside along Pula is very beautiful and peaceful. Pula is right along the Adriatic Sea. It never gets crowded or busy which really lets you take in and appreciate the views. if you really want to get the most out of walking along the sea, go during sunset. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
Cinema Visit to Kino Valli
The Kino Valli cinema is located in the city center and it dates back to the early 20th century. It has 209 seats, and a yearly record of 80,000 viewers. The cinema itself is spacious with comfortable seats, decent legroom, great sound, and a great screen. If you’re in Pula and want to watch a movie that’s just been released with family or partner this is a great place to check out.
Pula is a small quiet city. It’s not flocked with tourists or polluted with city noise. You can walk around the city with peace of mind and not have to worry about your safety. It’s quite peaceful there. The city has different atmospheres depending on where you go. The center is a lot more rugged rich with history and old buildings and ruins of a civilization that once lived there. Then you have the seaside a vibrant, gorgeous side of the city that will immediately capture your attention and take your breath away.
Who is Pula for?
Pula is for those who are not expecting much. Those who just want a nice simple place to go too without the flock of tourists and people around the summer time. A cheaper alternative to stay in as opposed to the touristy expensive seaside cities in Croatia. There isn’t a lot to do compared to bigger cities on the seaside. If you love shopping you may be disappointed. There is a shopping center on the outskirts of the city center but certain shops like Zara are missing. If you love shopping at Zara that’s a bummer.
Is Pula worth it?
Apart from the gorgeous seaside and the historic Roman heritage scattered around the city, there isn’t much that will blow your mind. But whatever your idea of a good time is Pula gives you what other bigger cities near the seaside give you for a cheaper price and fewer distractions. You’re also put in a unique spot that allows you to take day trips and check out other nearby towns in Istria that are also gorgeous. For us, Pula is worth it.