If you are visiting Pula Croatia, then this Pula travel guide will help you discover things to do, the best places to stay, eat and drink as well as provide all necessary travel information about Pula.
Pula is located at the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula. Pula is the largest town in Istria, and it has some of the best beaches in all of the region. The town also boasts a wealth of historical sites, and lovely examples of Roman architecture, while the town's market, constructed in the late 19th century, is a beautiful example of the Vienna Secession architecture. Tourist infrastructure is excellent with a myriad of accommodations, good restaurants, bars, cafes, beaches, and walking and cycling trails.
Pula Colosseum, also called Arena, a Roman amphitheater dating back to the 1st century AD is Pula's most popular attraction. It is well-preserved, and today it also serves as a venue for summer festivals and concerts.
Pula is a completely different town than all other towns in Istria, including Rovinj, Porec, and Novigrad. With its long shipbuilding and navy tradition, Pula has always had more of an industrial, urban vibe than the touristy, dolce vita style other towns in Istria have.
It's a mishmash of styles with its Roman, Venetian, Austro-Hungarian, and socialist architecture. It's rough around the edges, and it takes time to love and appreciate Pula. However, once you do, you will realize that this town has so much to offer, so many places to discover, and so many things to do.
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Where is Pula Croatia?
As we have already mentioned, Pula is the largest town in Istria and the region’s economic and administrative center.
The town is a bit rough around the edges, not as polished as Rovinj or Porec, but Pula is a bigger town where shipbuilding, fishing, and navy have always been more in the DNA of its citizens than tourism.
However, the town hides wonderful historical sites, as well as myriads of beaches in the southern neighborhoods.
The town is also less touristy than other Istrian coastal towns, and thus cheaper to stay in.
Below you’ll find the location of Pula on the map.
Best time to visit Pula
The best time to visit Pula is from June through September. Months of July and August are considered the top season in Croatia, and Pula isn’t different. June and September offer equal opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and other experiences as July and August, but also fewer crowds, and more affordable accommodation prices.
Is Pula worth visiting?
Pula is a very interesting town and it is definitely worth visiting if you are already in Istria. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to visit Pula. But if you are already visiting Istria, then yes, make sure you also visit Pula.
The town's main attraction is a well-preserved Roman arena and some other ancient remains. However, Pula is not as picture-perfect as Dubrovnik, or as charming as Rovinj. Pula is a shipbuilding town that's becoming more and more touristy as the shipbuilding industry is declining. Pula has lovely beaches, good tourist infrastructure, good restaurants, and cheaper rates than other destinations in Istria like Porec or Rovinj.
Is Pula safe?
Croatia is generally a very safe country with a low crime rate. Actually, in 2020, research conducted by Global Finance magazine proclaimed Croatia the 22nd safest country in the world.
And Pula is a safe town too. In a survey conducted in 2018, Pula had 4 criminal offenses per 1000 residents. This is a very low score on a worldwide scale. So, you don't need to worry much about theft, violence, or walking alone at night.
However, like everywhere, try to be mindful and careful in everyday situations. Don't leave your car or accommodation unlocked. Hide your valuables from sight. Perhaps get yourself a travel purse where you can keep safely your money, credit cards, and documents.
The Pula weather in June, July, August, and September is normally hot and dry with the daily temperatures ranging from the mid-20°C (low 70°F) to low 30°C (mid 80°F). This is perfect weather for chilling by the beach. Not so much for exploring the town.
However, weather in early June and mid-September, with somewhat cooler days compared with the rest of the summer, is ideal for both: exploring the town, and the surroundings and enjoying the beaches.
April, May, and October normally offer mild daily temperatures, around low 20°C (mid 60°F). At this time of the year, the sea temperatures are low for swimming, but the weather is perfect for sightseeing.
April and May often show changeable weather conditions, where before you know it, the sunny and warm days can turn into cold and rainy. In any case, it never happens for the entire month. You should have nice weather for at least 50% of the time in these months.
Winters are mild and rainy. Temperatures in winter are above 0°C. It almost never snows.
Reasons to visit Pula
Since you are already considering visiting Pula, I don't think you need much convincing. However below you'll find a few reasons to visit Pula.
You don’t need to be a history aficionado to enjoy Pula’s historical sites. From the Roman Colosseum and Theatre, Temple of Augustus, and Arch of Sergii to Venetian palaces, and an extensive number of civil and military buildings constructed during Austria-Hungarian rule, Pula’s history is showcased in numerous monuments that can be seen throughout the town.
A coastline in and around Pula hides some truly lovely beaches. Whether you like pebbly beaches within tourist resorts that also come with lots of amenities, wild beaches of nearby Cape Kamenjak nature park, or sandy beaches so rare to find in Croatia, Pula has you covered.
And Pula beaches are just a quick hop from the center of the town and the port.
Great local produce
Chiavalon and Brist Olive Oil, Trapan Wines, and Kumparicka Cheese are just some of the many great local products you can find in Pula and its surroundings.
Affordable Pula accommodation
If you are planning your holidays in Pula, you will like to know that accommodation in Pula, Croatia tends to be cheaper than in other tourist destinations in Istria, like Rovinj or Porec.
So if you are trying to save some money, consider staying in Pula and making day trips to other Istrian towns and villages.
Things to do in Pula, Croatia
There are many things to do during your Pula holidays, and lazing at the beach with a cocktail in hand isn't the only one.
Explore Pula amphitheater
A great example of Roman architecture, the Pula Coliseum is a must-visit site during your stay in Pula. Roam this ancient Pula amphitheater and don’t miss visiting the underground section with permanent exhibitions of olive oil production and amphorae.
Shop at Pula’s green market
First opened in 1903, Pula green market consists of two parts: the closed part where you’ll find a fish market, butcheries, bars, and like, and the open market where you’ll find stands with fruits and veggies. The market building is beautiful, made of steel and glass, and thoroughly renovated in 1997.
Have a drink at the art café Cvajner
This unique café bar is located at Pula’s main square – Forum. The interior is beautiful, with retro furniture and interesting art on the walls. The outside terrace is a perfect spot to enjoy Pula’s past and present, watching Augustus’ Temple and the world go by. If you like beer, they have a good choice of local and international craft beers.
This is the only real aquarium worth visiting in all of Istria. It’s located in a former military fortress dating back to 1886 on the Verudela peninsula. The aquarium has over 100 fish tanks featuring over 250 species. The Pula Aquarium also houses a sea turtle rescue center.
In the vicinity of Pula, you’ll find some of the best restaurants showcasing the traditional cuisine of south Istria, above all amazing seafood. We highly recommend visiting Batelina in Banjole, Lanterna in Pjescana Uvala, Vodnjanka in Pula, and Alla Beccaccia in Valbandon.
There are many things to see in Pula that are worth seeking out. And you should definitely take a day out to explore obvious and less obvious Pula sights.
Constructed in the 1st century AD, Pula’s Arena was once a place of gladiator fights. The unique feature of the arena, compared to other colosseums, is that it has 4 rectangular towers. It had four floors and could accommodate more than 20.000 spectators.
Arch of Triumph (Golden Gate)
Constructed in the 1st century BC by a wealthy Sergii family, the Arch of Triumph was incorporated within the town walls and the town gate. However, both walls and gates came down in the 19th century and today only the Arch remains in place.
Located in the western part of the town, Pula Forum has been the central town's square since Roman times. Constructed in the 1st century BC, it had all elements of a typical Roman Forum: temples dedicated to Roman gods, in Pula's case Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva but also a temple dedicated to Roman emperor Augustus, and a Temple of Diana. The Temple of Augustus is the only one of five that's fully preserved.
Some of the things to see in Pula aren't that obvious, and it takes some effort to find them. One such Pula sight is “The Punishment of Dirce” floor mosaic hidden next to a car park, in the middle of an unassuming residential building. However, the mosaic is well-preserved, almost intact, and well worth finding.
While almost everybody who decides to visit Pula Croatia knows about its 3.000-year-old history and roman heritage, very few people have such an in-depth knowledge of Pula's more recent history, particularly during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This era, from 1816 to 1920, has actually seen Pula develop into a large naval port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The entire town with its surroundings has been fortified featuring as many as 26 forts, underground tunnels, and artillery batteries. Many of them are still perfectly preserved and although serving different purposes they are still in use. Fort Verudela today houses Pula's Aquarium, Fort Punta Christo is a venue for many music festivals, and so is Fort Monteparadiso.
Food and Restaurants in Pula
Food in Pula is similar to other places in Istria and along the Croatian coast. Therefore, you'll notice many restaurants offer typical Croatian restaurant fare: pizza, pasta, risotto, and grilled meat or fish. These restaurants are mostly aimed at tourists. Here, you can have a light lunch for as little as 10 € per person. However, don't expect a great gastronomical experience.
But, you can also find some top-notch restaurants in and around town, if you are after a delightful feast. Central European and Venetian tastes influenced the food in Istria through the centuries. Today, the result is a sublime mix of hearty dishes from the land and delicate plates from the sea.
Some of our favorite restaurants in and around Pula Croatia include Batelina in Banjole, one of the best seafood restaurants in all of Croatia where simple, oily fish and other underrated Adriatic delicacies are the stars of the menu; then, Vodnjanka in Pula, a hidden gem where locals like to go for marenda (a mid-day meal).
Run by two fishermen (hence, the name!), the Hook and Cook attracts locals and tourists alike with its simple but tasty seafood like battered calamari, fried mixed fish and seafood, tuna burgers, and alike. Contrary, if you feel like having a light, healthy and affordable lunch, head to Kutak in Pula's Veruda neighborhood. Whether you feel for an elaborate seafood dinner or just a couple of tapas, you'll find them all in a restaurant and wine bar Lanterna in Pjescana Uvala, just 5 km south of Pula. For hearty meat dishes and yummy stews head to Valbandon to the restaurant Alla Beccaccia.
Accommodation in Pula
You will find various accommodations in Pula: from large hotels and resorts to small family-run boutique hotels, private apartments, campsites, and even glamping.
While you can find private apartments all over the town, Pula’s neighborhoods of Stoja and Verudela are home to large hotels, resorts, and campsites.
Arena Pula is the largest hotel company owning and managing the majority of hotels, resorts, and campsites in Pula. Some of Arena’s properties feature the Park Plaza brand.
The best place to search, compare and book accommodation in Pula is Booking.com. Here you will find the vast majority of all Pula accommodation. The website is easy to use, and it offers the most competitive prices and booking conditions. No prepayment and 48h cancelation policy are just some of them.
If you are looking for private apartments, and you don’t find anything suitable on Booking, then you might also consider using Airbnb.
If you prefer to stay by the beach, consider the hotel Park Plaza Arena. It is a recently-renovated 3-star property that offers good value for money.
Here is our full post on the Best accommodation in Pula!
When you mention Pula, perhaps beaches aren’t exactly the first image that comes to mind. But funnily enough, Pula beaches are some of the best beaches in Istria. The majority of beaches in Pula are located in the southern part of the city, in Stoja, Zlatne stijene, and Verudela neighborhoods.
Just like other Istrian beaches, beaches in Pula are either rocky, pebbly, or cemented. Nearby Medulin has a sandy beach if you are after that kind of Pula beach.
The most popular beaches include Ambrela Beach, Saccorgiana Beach, and Hawaii Beach on the Verudela peninsula. Then, Valkane Beach, Gortan’s Bay, and Valsaline Beach along the Lungomare, a seaside promenade.
Other popular swimming spots for tourists and locals alike are beaches of the Cape Kamenjak Park, Fratarski Island, and beaches in and around the campsite Brioni (ex. Puntizela).
Bars, Clubs & Nightlife in Pula
If great nightlife is important for you when choosing your next travel destination, then you perhaps won’t come to Pula in the first place. That said, here are a few tips on where to find Pula nightlife.
Teens like to hang out in Titov Park while the older crowd prefers various bars in the town. Later on, the party crowds head to some of the nightclubs in Pula. Unfortunately, Uljanik, the oldest and most popular club in Pula, closed permanently in 2021, but Club Kotac took over some of the program, vibe, and crowd that once was part of Uljanik. It often features various live music events and concerts. Other clubs include Cargo and Pietas Julia. Cargo tends to play a lot of Balkan folk music.
We like to have a glass of wine and a few tapas in the Wine & Tapas Bar Lanterna in nearby Pjescana Uvala. If you are into craft beer, check out Shipyard Pub in Pula. For a day of swimming and chilling head to the Safari Bar in Cape Kamenjak Park, or Zeppelin Beach Bar in Saccorgiana Bay.
Events in Pula
Pula hosts many cultural, musical, and gastronomical events throughout the summer.
Arena and Kastel are especially popular venues for concerts, plays, shows, and various performances.
A fair of Istrian handmade souvenirs is held at the Pula Forum starting at 8 pm every Friday and Saturday from mid-June through August.
At Pula green market, on certain Saturdays (in June and July every second Saturday) you can attend a fair of Istrian homemade and homegrown foods and drinks.
Traveling to Pula
Pula serves as a main regional hub for a variety of public transit options. The airport is only 5 km from the city center. This is a small regional airport that gets busy only during the summer.
Many companies flying into Pula airport are charter companies. However, during the summer Ryan Air flies into Pula from Brussels, Dusseldorf, Katowice, London, Poznan, and Vienna.
Easyjet flies to Pula from Berlin, Amsterdam, Glasgow, London, Bristol, Paris, Basel, Naples, and Paris. The Norwegian flies to Pula from Kopenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm, Eurowings flies between Pula and Stuttgart, Berlin, Düsseldorf, and Köln, and Aer Lingus connects Pula with Dublin.
Jet2 flies from a handful of UK destinations including Birmingham, Leeds, London, and Manchester. Other companies flying into Pula airport from April through September include TUI, Croatia Airlines, SAS, Lufthansa, etc. To check all flights in and out of Pula, consult the CheapOair website.
During the winter the only scheduled flight is from Pula to Zagreb.
Although Pula has a train station, traveling by train isn't very practical in Istria. Regional railroads run west to Slovenia, and not east to Croatia. Also, the trains are old, slow, and infrequent.
The town's main bus station is 15 minutes walk from the town center. Although there are some intercity bus connections, they are still too infrequent to travel conveniently by bus. However, you can check the bus schedule and book your tickets online through the Bookaway website or through the Get By Bus website.
You can also arrive in Pula by ferry from Venice, and vice versa, depart Pula to Venice. Pula to Venice ferry runs from April to October. In high season, it sails every day. Get more info at the Venezia Lines website or book your ticket directly through the Bookaway website.
The best way to travel in and around the region is still in your own car or renting one.
Getting from Pula airport to the city center
Pula airport is a small regional airport, located a short 5 km away from the city center. However, it's not always cheap or easy to reach the airport.
If you are looking for a Pula airport transfer, you have a few options: taking the Pula airport shuttle, or taxi from Pula airport to the city center. Pula airport bus is scheduled 30 minutes after the landing of any international flight. It connects the airport with the city center (station near the port authority building, in Ulica Svetog Petra), and a one-way ticket costs 6 €.
On the other hand, the cost of a taxi from Pula airport to Pula city center is around 10 €.
The shuttle also connects the airport with Verudela Peninsula, Fazana, Medulin, Rovinj, Porec, and Novigrad. This shuttle is run by different companies, and its schedule is adjusted to flight arrivals and departures.
The cost of a one-way shuttle ticket from Pula to Rovinj is 18 €, and the price of the ticket from Pula to Porec is a whopping 33 €. For this reason, if you are budget-conscious, rather take a shuttle bus from Pula airport to the Pula city center, and then just a regular bus from Pula to Rovinj, or Porec. You'll save a lot of money. A regular bus from Pula to Porec costs around 7 €, while a bus from Pula to Rovinj costs around 9 €.
Transport in Pula
With a population of 60.000 people, Pula isn’t a particularly big town. This means that a large part of the town can be explored on foot.
The part of the old town, around the main sights dating back to Roman times, is a pedestrian-only zone. The same goes for a few other downtown streets like Flanaticka Street which connects Giardini with Pula’s main farmer’s market.
From here you can easily explore the majority of Pula’s sights (like Pula Arena) by walking.
However, if you aren’t a fan of long walks in the summer heat, you can move around Pula using city buses. The city bus system in Pula is pretty good and reliable. It is divided into three zones. Zone 1 covers the entire town, including the outer suburbs of Puntizela, Veli Vrh, or Stinjan. The single-ride ticket costs 1.5 €. The majority of buses within Zone 1 run from 5.30 am to midnight, more or less every 20 minutes. Zone 2 covers neighboring villages and towns, including Fazana, Vodnjan, Premantura, and Medulin. The single-ride ticket costs 2 €. Zone 3 includes villages further away, like Barban, Barbariga, or Rakalj. A one-way ticket costs 2.70 €.
If you plan to use city buses extensively, you might consider buying prepaid cards. It costs 9.3 €, out of which 4 € is a cost of a card, while 5.3 € goes toward riding credit. The cost of a one-way ticket goes down to 0.9 € for Zone 1, 1.5 € for Zone 2, and 2.3 € for Zone 3.
Below you will find the map of Pula's urban lines. A detailed timetable and price list you can check at the Pula Promet website.
Car rental in Pula
If you plan to stay in Pula for at least 3 days, and you don't have your own car, we highly recommend that you rent one at least for a day or two in order to visit other sights in Istria.
Traveling in Istria by bus is doable, but not the best way to travel. In fact, if you would like to visit hilltop towns, you can't even do it by bus.
The majority of car rental companies in Pula have their offices at Pula airport, but many also have a branch office within one of the hotels on the Verudela peninsula.
We recommend renting a car through Rentalcars. Use the form below to check availability and prices.
Parking in Pula Croatia
Parking in Pula isn't that easy to find during the summer, especially if you try to find one that you don't need to pay for.
However, at least paid parking in Pula, isn't that badly organized, and from our experience, you should be able to find your spot no matter what.
Parking in Pula is organized in five zones, depending on the location and proximity to downtown and the town's main sights. In Zone 3 parking is limited to a max of 3 hours, and Zone 5 parking is for residents only. Parking includes parking lots and street parking. Pula Parking is in charge of parking lots.
From May, 1 to September, 30, the parking charges apply 7 days a week, from 7 am to 10 pm. For the rest of the year, parking charges apply from Monday to Saturday, from 7 am to 8 pm; while on Sunday and public holidays parking is free.
In the summer season, the parking costs from 1.2 € to 4 € per hour depending on the zone. At the majority of parking lots you can pay with coins, or by sending an SMS to the designated phone numbers. You send your full registration (without spaces) to the following phone numbers: 708521 for Zone 1, 708522 for Zone 2, 708523 for Zone 3, and 708624 for Zone 4.
Just below the town's amphitheater, at the waterfront, there is huge parking with 200 parking spaces. It is convenient to park your car there if you are visiting Pula for a couple of hours. The amphitheater is just above, a 2-minute walk, and other historical sites are within a 10-minute walk from the parking.
You can find all of Pula's parking lots on the following website.
Shopping in Pula Croatia
For locals, Pula is the center of shopping in Istria. Here you will find all large supermarkets, but also DIY, construction, car dealerships, furniture stores, and a few shopping malls with popular fashion retailers like H&M, Mango, Pull&Bear, Hervis, etc…
Downtown shopping in Pula
There are small grocery shops scattered all over the town. But Pula's green market is our favorite place to shop for food in Pula. The green market consists of a closed and open part. Here you can find a fish market, various butcheries, charcuterie and cheese shops, vegetable, and fruit stalls, and even stalls selling cheap clothes. There are also bakeries and bars around. The market is housed in a beautiful historical building dating back to 1903. Don't miss visiting a stand of the Kumparicka farm. They produce one of the finest goat cheeses in all of Istria.
The main downtown shopping streets are Ulica Sergijevaca, from Giardini to Forum Square; and Flanaticka Street which goes from Giardini to Pula's green market. Both streets are pedestrian-only.
Supermarkets in Pula
All large supermarkets are located along Sijanska and Vodnjanska Cesta, two main roads leading into Pula either from a highway or an old state road. Here you will find the most popular supermarkets: Konzum, Kaufland, Plodine, and Lidl. Interspar supermarkets can be found in both, MaxCity and City, shopping malls.
Pula shopping malls
Max City shopping mall in Pula is the largest shopping mall in Istria. Open in 2019, and built within the former quarry, Max City spreads over 30.000 m2, and features over 60 shops, bars, and restaurants. Popular shops include H&M, Skechers, Mass Shoes, Mango, Intersport, etc. The shopping mall is next to the popular beaches of Valkane and Stoja.
Pula City Mall is a smaller mall on the outskirt of Pula, in Ulica Prekomorskih Brigada. It features Interspar supermarket; Mueller store featuring various cosmetics, perfumery, fashion, specialty food, sweets, over-the-counter drugs, household products, toys, stationery, and books; fashion stores like New Yorker and C&A, etc…
Money and ATM
As of January 1st, 2023, the Croatian currency is Euro.
For 1 $ you should get around 0.93 €; for 1 CAD about 0.7 €, for 1 AUD you get 0.65 €, and for 1 £ around 1.13 €. You can exchange money in many places all over the town: exchange offices, banks, hotels' receptions.
ATM machines are scattered all over the town. In fact, there are too many of them in all Croatian towns, so the town officials started thinking of ways to limit the number of ATM machines, especially within old historical buildings as they ruin the look of the old towns.
ATM machines are operated by banks, but also by other money operators. We find that bank machines charge lower fees than the others. If you are budget conscious, avoid Euronet's, Auro Domus', and similar operators. Simply stick to the bank's ATM machines. If you don't mind a few euros here and there, go ahead and use any ATM machine. They are all safe to use, and some are located at more convenient locations than others.
Another thing to be aware of is the so-called dynamic currency exchange rate. When you pay with a credit card, you will be offered a choice to either pay in your currency, or in local currency. It's a tricky question, as it might seem logical to choose your own currency. But more often than not, you'll end up paying higher fees if you choose to pay in your own currency. So, we always choose to be charged in local currency.
Most of the hotels offer free WiFi connections, as well as many bars and restaurants. However, the connection is not open, and you'll need to ask for a password in order to connect.
If you have any questions regarding travel to and around Pula, Croatia, leave them in the comments section below.