Pula is one of the largest cities in Croatia, located on the southern tip of Istrian peninsula as the main city of Istria region. The city is known for its buildings dating back to the days of the Roman Empire of which the most famous one is a well preserved Pula Arena. There are nearly 60 000 residents in Pula, making it the 8th biggest city in Croatia and its population density places it on the 5th place. The language spoken in Pula is Croatian, but due to its history it is not unusual to hear Italian language on the streets.
Fishing, along with shipbuilding and wine making makes a long tradition in Pula thanks to its position on the Adriatic coast and humid subtropical climate with the highest average temperatures of 24°C and lowest of 6°C. Summers in Pula are warm with slightly cooler evenings while winters are mild with a lot of humidity. The city has a very protected port where the sea is tame, however there are still two winds – bura which brings the cold from the north and clear weather, and maestral, a summer breeze blowing from the inland towards the sea.
Pula is a well-recognized tourist destination thanks to its rich history and culture, incredible beauty and amazing cuisine. If visiting Pula is on your schedule for this season, here are all the necessary information to help you plan your trip.
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Getting to Pula
Getting to Pula by plane:
It is possible to get to Pula by plane since the city has its own airport. Pula Airport (PUY) is an international airport located in Liznjan, approximately 6 kilometers outside of the city. From the airport, it is easy to get to several small towns in Istria such as Medulin, Liznjan or Premantura, but the airport also serves as an alternative for certain parts of Slovenia and Italy. Pula Airport has one terminal offering flights to both domestic and international destinations. Among the airlines flying to Pula are Jet2, easyJet, British Airways, Ryanair, Lufthansa and more. As an alternative to get to Pula by plane, the nearest airport is in Rijeka, a little bit more than an hour and a half from Pula.
Getting from Pula Airport to the city center can be done either by taking a taxi, which can be found outside the building next to the bus terminal, or by taking an airport bus which meets all the incoming passengers taking them to Pula, but there are also connections to Medulin, Verudela, Fazana or Rovinj. The airport is also connected via public bus line 23, you can check the schedule and stations here. Of course, if none of these options suit you, door-to-door private transfers can be pre-ordered, and those who prefer exploring the area on their own, can use some of the rent-a-car options.
Getting to Pula by bus:
Main Pula bus station is located less than 20 minute walk from the city center with numerous intercity and international routes. Pula is connected to Rovinj, Venice, Trieste, Rijeka and many more. Check the details of the suggested routes in the table below:
Getting to Pula by train:
Trains in Croatia are operated by Croatian Railways (Hrvatske željeznice) which connect all major cities and towns, as well as most small towns and villages. Pula train station is located near the waterfront, with both domestic and international routes. There are daily trains to Zagreb and Ljubljana via Rijeka, also, the route connects Pula to Maribor and several other towns and places within Croatia. You can check the stations and departures here.
Getting to Pula by ferry:
Pula port is located right in the center of town and all the catamarans are departing from there. Pula is connected to Croatian islands as well as with certain parts of Italy and Slovenia. Currently, there are 4 companies operating to and from Pula: TriesteLines, Venezia Lines, Catamaran Line d.o.o. and Adriatic Lines. During the season, especially in July and August, there are more routes than during the winter time with several departures per day. NOTE: There are no car ferries operating any route.
Here is the list of ferries and catamarans departing from Pula harbour.
Venice (IT) – Umag – Poreč – Rovinj – Pula
Catamaran: Zadar – Silba – Ilovik – Mali Lošinj – Unije – Pula
Trieste (IT) – Piran (SLO) – Porec – Rovinj – Pula
Getting to Pula by car:
If arriving with your private car, driving to Pula from Trieste or Koper lasts no more than 2 hours. If arriving from the direction of Zagreb, the ride using the highway lasts around 3 hours from the capital. In case of arrival from the South of Croatia, you can choose between the highway or the coastal road which lets you see the beauty of Adriatic coast and small towns on your way.
If you’ve decided for a car hire in Pula, almost all major international car rental companies, as well as a few local ones have their offices at Pula Airport. If you want to avoid queues and use the most out of your vacation, we recommend booking your car online.
Parking in Pula should not be a problem if looking for a designated parking lot since the city has many of them. Pulaparking d.o.o. is in charge of parking lots in Pula. There are 3 parking zones, and although it may look like the zones are intertwined, have in mind that Zone 3 is the most expensive one, while Zone 2 is the cheapest. SMS payment is available and you can find the information on parking machines located next to the parking lots. Looking for a free parking space can be a challenge but it is not impossible. Anyhow, always look for the parking signs and don’t park where it is forbidden because your vehicle will be towed and you will have to pay a fine to get it back.
Pula is widely known for its Roman ruins that have successfully survived for the last 2000 years. The city’s sights and monuments reveal its long history of Roman, later Venetian rule. If planning to visit this city, here are the most famous sights in Pula:
Pula Arena – The most recognized symbol of Pula and a ‘’must see’’ Pula attraction is Pula Arena, an entirely preserved Roman amphitheatre. It was constructed nearly 2000 years ago, and it is among 6 biggest surviving Roman arenas in the world. Of course, Pula Coliseum was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and besides being a great historical monument, it serves as a venue for many great concerts of various local and international artists.
Pula Kastel – Situated on a hill in the center of Pula, Kastel is a Venetian fortress built for the purpose of being the Venetian’s main stronghold in order to defend the harbour and maintain the control over the Adriatic. The fortress was built in the 17th century in the shape of a flower, and it is definitely among the things to see in Pula. Tourists can climb the walls and explore its cannons and a watchtower. Today, Pula fort contains Historical Museum of Istria which displays a collection of more than 75000 objects of cultural, historical, political, military and ethnographic significance.
Pula Forum – Forum is the main square in the center of Pula, a very popular gathering spot for both locals and tourists. Also, the square is a place where many concerts and other events take place. Forum is the ultimate representation of Roman influence, also surrounded by splendid Roman monuments.
Temple of Augustus – Roman ruins simply prevail in the center of Pula, and one worth the attention lies right on the Forum. Temple of Augustus is a well-preserved temple dedicated to Augustus, the first Roman emperor. The temple was built during the reign of Augustus over 2 000 years ago. After Romans embraced Christianity, the temple was converted into a church. In the 19th century, it turned into its present role of lapidarium.
Aquarium Pula – Those interested in animal life can spend hours in the only zoo in Pula, Aquarium, housing hundreds of fish species from the northern and southern parts of Adriatic, as well as several species from the Croatian rivers and lakes. The aquarium is located in a 130 years old fort Verudela, a former defense complex of Austro-Hungary, a part of Pula fortress.
Beaches in Pula
As the largest and most popular city on the peninsula, Pula also has its share of beaches which attract visitors every summer. Thanks to the mild climate, the sea temperature can reach 28°C in August, while in winter months it rarely goes below 9°C. Therefore, Pula is among favorite Croatian summer destinations. Check out the best Pula beaches to relax next to the breathtaking Adriatic.
Ambrela Beach – One of the most attractive beaches is located at the entrance into the popular tourist zone, Verudela. Ambrela is a sandy beach with an easy access to the sea, making it suitable for families with children. The beach, as some others in Pula, is awarded a Blue Flag because of its exceptional water quality. There are beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent, as well as changing rooms and showers.
Havajka Beach – Havajka or Hawaii beach is also located in the zone of Verudela, right in front of Park Plaza Arena hotel. It is a pebble beach ideal for families with small children because of the shallow waters. The beach is a bit away from the parking lot or a bus station, so walking for a few minutes to reach it is necessary. High cliffs surrounding the beach provide calm sea, and those seeking adventure can try jumping off them.
Histria Beach – Another beach on Verudela peninsula is Histria Beach, half rocky, half of concrete. It is located right in front of the Hotel Park Plaza Histria and its entrance is suitable for everyone including children and seniors. On the beach you will find bars and restaurants, as well as many additional facilities such as a beach volleyball court, tennis court, squash court and more. Also, it is possible to rent sunbeds and parasols and other equipment.
Gortanova Uvala Beach – the long promenade Lungomare, hidden in the pine trees, hides the most beautiful beaches in Pula. One of them is Gortanova Uvala, pebble and rocky beach with accessible entrance, making it a great choice for families with children. A nearby pine forest provides deep shade so it is perfect for a full day stay. After the end of the gravel beach, there is a rocky part ideal for lovers of diving. In the vicinity, you will find a beach bar where you can refresh yourselves.
Kamenjak Cape beaches – Premantura peninsula hides one of the most beautiful beaches near Pula. Kamenjak Cape beach, situated in the southernmost tip of Istrian peninsula, is a protected natural park with unusual landscape. The 30-kilometre-long coast has many beautiful small bays, beaches and islands and it’s perfect for those who seek relaxation and tend to avoid crowds. There are few sandy beaches, however the coast is mostly rocky with flat rocks. The area is also a very popular for scuba diving because of its rich underwater world.
Day trips from Pula
Istria hides plenty of charming small towns, and its position makes it easy to reach some of the most attractive tourist places. If staying in Pula for a longer period of time, we suggest exploring the wider area and meeting this wonderful region. Here are the best options for a day trip from Pula.
Brijuni – The Brijuni islands are among 8 national parks in Croatia, the closest one to Pula. It is widely famous for its Safari park with wild animals, but also as a holiday resort of the former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito. Visit its museum, once a holiday house, and meet his parrot Koki. Besides, you will get the chance to see probably the oldest olive tree on Earth, around 1700 years old!
Getting from Pula to Brijuni:
- The most common way to get to Brijuni is by taking an excursion boat from Pula that takes you to Veliki Brijun Island. The other option is taking a bus line 21 from Pula to Fazana from where you can continue by taking a catamaran to Veliki Brijun.
Venice – Magnificent Venice is just a bit more than 3 hours drive, so definitely try not to miss the chance to visit one of the top tourist destinations of Italy. Venice is known for its Carnival festival and romantic gondola boats but that isn’t all. Did you know that Venice has one of the narrowest streets in the world, only 52 cm wide? If you don’t get stuck in Calletta, visit Piazza San Marco, the central public square with the famous Doge’s Palace.
Getting from Pula to Venice:
- There is a catamaran line from Pula that operates through July and August twice a day, as well as from Venice. The other option is to take a bus from Pula to Venice.
Hum – Get the chance to visit the smallest town in the world! With only 20 habitants, Hum holds that title, but that doesn’t stop him from attracting tourists, each year there is the tradition of ‘electing the county prefect’ when all the men from the parish elect the head of the village by carving their votes into a wooden stick.
Getting from Pula to Hum:
- Pula-Buzet train departs several times a day from Pula train station to Hum.
Porec – Historically and culturally rich town of Porec might not be big in size but definitely offers the charm of a small town with some interesting sights. The town’s main attraction is Euphrasian basilica, dedicated to the bishop from the 6th century. Also take a chance to visit Gothic and Roman house, and the remains of Neptune’s Temple which is believed to be one of the greatest ancient temples in Istria.
Getting from Pula to Porec:
- Several bus companies provide the transportation from Pula to Porec which usually lasts around 1 and a half hours. The journey with a car can last less than an hour, unless if it’s the season and the traffic gets jammed up.
Rovinj – Picturesque Rovinj is a peaceful small town, ideal for a relaxing holiday, away from the crowd. Visit the Old Town, full with old houses dating to the 1700s. Rovinj was once a very important port and the town of fishermen and sailors, but today it is one of the top destinations on the Mediterranean. Due to the mild climate and favorable weather conditions, many people decide to visit Rovinj during the winter as well.
Getting from Pula to Rovinj:
- Bus Pula-Rovinj has many departures, especially during the season and the journey lasts less than an hour. If travelling by car, the journey can last even less if there are no traffic jams in the peak season.
Zrce Beach – Probably the most famous beach in Croatia among partygoers is Zrce Beach in Novalja, on the island Pag. Although this destination is not that close to Pula to make it a day trip, many tourists arriving in Croatia during the summer will try to visit it at least for a day. Three main clubs Aquarius, Kalypso and Papaya along with other beach bars offer daily events hosting the best known DJs from around the world. Besides, this long pebbled beach has been awarded with a Blue Flag and offers various activities such as jet-skiing, bungee jumping and party boats.
Getting from Pula to Zrce Beach:
- The fastest way to get there is by car. Use the E751 road that leads to Rijeka, continue using the highway to get to Prizna from where you can take a ferry to Zigljen (island Pag). Follow D106 to Zrce Beach.
As an alternative option to exploring any of the aforementioned day trip destinations, as well as any other you desire to visit, renting a car lets you discover all the hidden places and stunning landscapes on the way. Also, visiting islands near Pula is possible anytime by organized boat trips, and those who would like to sail on their own can decide for a boat hire.
Pula outdoor activities
Pula offers many options for an active holiday, from water to adrenaline sports. Here are the suggestions of interesting things to do while in Pula and Istria in general.
Finding accommodation in Pula is easy, there are numerous hotels and Airbnb options, but staying overnight in the nature is a unique experience. Camping in Pula is possible in 4 larger campsites situated near the city – Bi-Village Fazana, Pineta Fazana, Puntizela Pula-Stinjan and Stoja Pula, and many more mini campsites in the area around. In the recent years, a new combination of nature and luxury happens to attract all those who enjoy camping in nature, but in a more glamorous way. Glamping in Pula is available in Arena One 99, Arena Stoja, Brioni Sunny Camping and more.
You can discover Pula’s seaside in many interesting ways. Kayaking lets you see the coast from an entirely different perspective, you can also explore hidden bays and sea caves. Adrenaline seekers have many options for cliff jumping such as those on Havajka Beach. Those who would like to see the marine life, there are snorkeling and scuba diving schools for beginners, introducing them slowly to the beautiful underwater life. All the mentioned activities can be found in the form of an organized tour offered by many agencies, so booking one can save you time. Families with small children can spend days in Pula waterparks.
Festival and events in Pula
Pula has a full schedule of events throughout the whole year, but summer is the real festival season. With its world-wide known amphitheater and crystal Adriatic coast, Pula easily became recognized as a great location for some of the best festivals and events in Croatia and the whole region. Here are the ones which you probably wouldn’t want to miss:
Outlook Festival – Late season brings the most popular bass and dubstep festival in the whole Europe. The festival takes place in the beginning of September, in Fort Punta Christo with nights reserved for DJs and lightshow, while the days are dedicated to beach parties.
Dimensions Festival – Another festival for lovers of electronic music, often referred to as sister of Outlook festival, is known for its underground music. Also placed in Fort Punta Christo, the festival takes place at the end of August.
Pula Film Festival – This oldest annual Croatian film festival held in Pula Arena since 1954 takes place in July or August. The screenings are open to the public and awards called Golden Arenas are presented at the festival.
Pula Summer Festival – Months of July and August are reserved for a series of concerts of various genres, presenting the best of both domestic and international artists. The festival is held in Pula Arena, and some may recognize it under the name Histria Festival.
International Pula Jazz Festival – Two nights in August are dedicated to all lovers of jazz and ethno music, great ambience and spectacular performances. The festival takes place on the summer terrace of Hrvatskih Branitelja House accompanied by amazing Istrian cuisine and wine.
Pula Marathon – If you find yourself in Pula in late September, join one of the best known sport events. The marathon goes through the city core and finishes in Pula Arena with refreshments. When the sun goes down, afterparty takes place in Arena.
Salsa Latina Istriana – This event is dedicated to all dance lovers. Free dance workshops promoting salsa and other caribbean dances lets everyone to try themselves in this fun activity under the supervision of known national and international dance instructors. The workshops are intended for all levels, from beginners to experienced dancers.
Food in Pula
If visiting Pula, then trying some traditional Istrian cuisine is “a must”. Istrian cuisine is based on Mediterranean cuisine which is generally similar to Italian one. You will find a lot of fresh ingredients prepared with olive oil and herbs like rosemary and sage, garlic and tomatoes in almost every sauce. Widely popular meal in Istria is fuži with truffles, a dish prepared with a Croatian type of pasta made of homemade dough and truffles, which are considered to be some of the most valued mushrooms. Combined with prosciutto, it is a harmony of taste very typical for Istria. Istrian prosciutto is a type of cured meat covered in a mixture of different herbs, exclusively produced within Istria, at least 12 kilometers from the coast. Another popular dish is maneštra stew, once the meal of peasants and today a true specialty. It consists of beans and potatoes prepared with seasonal vegetables.
To try some of these and other specialties the best option is to pick some of the best restaurants in Pula. Those looking for fine dining restaurants can check Restaurant Oasi with traditional Mediterranean options. Try some of the best local meals in Farabuto or Vodnjanka – Trattoria, TiVoli offers good prices and Konoba Batelina is said to serve the best fish in the region.
Pula restaurants offer various options for vegetarians and vegans. Restaurants such as TiVoli, Piazza Nove, Farabuto, Bistro Alighieri, Jupiter and Milan offer vegetarian and vegan menu, as well as gluten free options.
Great food goes hand in hand with some fine wine. While in Pula or Istria in general, don’t miss the chance to try some of the best wines in the world. Benazic Winery is a family owned business in Pula that offers homemade products such as brandy, cheese, olive oil and wine from regional vineyards. The winery is located just 2 kilometers from the city center and it has won numerous awards for its work. Still, making a reservation prior to your arrival is preferable. Trapan Winery is another one, located a few kilometers southeast of Pula, that offers a wide range of high quality wines coming from organically farmed vineyards. Wine-tasting is combined with some of the best Istrian products such as prosciutto and cheese.
Nightlife in Pula is definitely the best in Istria. Unlike other bigger cities in Croatia, like Split or Dubrovnik, downtown Pula has very little going on at night because most of the action takes place in Verudela or Premantura. Some of the most popular Pula bars and clubs to go are Aruba – popular both as a daily cafe bar and night-time disco zone, Uljanek which is the place to go if you enjoy rock music and Monte Serpente, a major disco with happenings almost every night. Fort Bourguignon plays mostly techno music, but during the summer it turns into a rave fest, whereas Cargo Bar becomes one of the top places to spend time in during the peak season as it abounds in concerts and other events.
Jazz lovers should visit Fiorin, and all indie fans will have the best time in Rojcnet. As you can see, Pula has something for every taste, so we guarantee you will have a good time.
Good to know when visiting Pula:
Safety in Pula – Croatia, in general, is a pretty safe country, crime and violence levels are low and there were no terrorist attacks; it is the same with Pula. According to SafeAround, Croatia’s index is 83 (0 indicates extremely dangerous and 100 indicates perfectly safe). The only thing you should be aware of is pickpocketing so take care of your belongings, especially while on the beach.
Currency exchange in Pula – The official currency in Pula is Croatian Kuna (KN). We suggest you always bring some cash in local currency since many places such as bars and restaurants, as well as various small shops, accept cash only. Still, credit card should be accepted in all supermarkets, bigger stores, hotels and some restaurants. Euro might be accepted at several tourist hubs but we suggest you stick to the local currency in all cases. ATM’s and exchange offices (“Mjenjačnica” in Croatian) can be easily found all over the city. For lower fees, check if your bank is in the same group as banks in Croatia.
Fire department: 193
Pharmacy working 24/7: Giardini 14, (+385) 052 22 25 51