Pula is Istria County’s largest city and sits in the southern part of the peninsula. It’s one of the largest Croatian cities, vibrant and lively, combining rich Roman history with urban style. The most famous monument is Pula Arena, which has a well-preserved Roman heritage.
Pula has a mild climate because of its location on the Adriatic Coast, making it a perfect holiday destination throughout the year. Besides rich culture, it has excellent cuisine, wine and olive oil. Here are the best things to do in Pula.
- Pula, Croatia
- Top Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Pula
- 1- Visit The Pula Amphitheater
- 2- Taste Istrian Olive Oil
- 3- Cycle The Parenzana Railway Trail
- 4- Explore Cape Kamenjak
- 5- Cycle Through The City
- 6- See The Augustus Temple
- 7- Admire The Triumphal Arch of the Sergi
- 8- See The Gate Of Hercules
- 9- Step Back In History At Pulski Kaštel
- 10- See Marine Life In Pula Aquarium
- 11- Visit The Communal Palace
- 12- Visit The Fort Centre
- 13- Visit The Church and Monastery of St. Francis
- 14- Explore Zerostrasse
- 15- Admire Art At Gallery Makina
- 16- Explore Brijuni National Park
- 17- See The Lighting Giants
- 18- Sip Istrian Wine
- 19- Taste Istrian food
- 20- Take A Trip To Motovun
- Pula Arena Entrance Ticket – Skip the line and prebook your tickets to the city’s top attraction.
- Pula Electric Bike Tour – Discover the top sights on an e-bike tour.
- Dolphin Watching Cruise with Dinner – Spot dolphins and dine in style on the water.
20 Things To Do In Pula
1- Visit The Pula Amphitheater
Pula’s amphitheatre is one of the world’s six largest Roman amphitheatres.
Built in an elliptical shape, with four side towers and three levels, the Arena was where gladiators fought during Roman times.
It was a place where the audience was amused by the spilled blood between the men, animals, or combined.
The Istrian limestone walls are well preserved and 30m of outer walls protect the arena, along with two rows of 72 arches.
As the arena can accommodate around 20,000 people, it’s commonly used for concerts, various performances and even imitation gladiatorial fights.
Skip the line and buy your tickets online for the opportunity to discover oil and wine production in the underground area once used by gladiators.
2- Taste Istrian Olive Oil
Pula is on the Istria peninsula, the largest in the northern Adriatic Sea.
Like other regions in Croatia, it has unique traditions and culture, including gastronomy.
In Pula, you can try locally made olive oil, which is very different to Dalmatian olive oil.
Learn the process of making olive oil and how to recognise a high-quality oil from a low-quality one.
Check out this tour, which includes tasting olive oil paired with sweet desserts.
3- Cycle The Parenzana Railway Trail
Parenzana is an old railway, which is has been turned into a walking path, surrounded by the stunning nature of green hills, vineyards, and olive trees.
The railway was in operation from 1902 until 1935, but due to high cost and slow speed, it was decommissioned.
It has nine tunnels, six bridges, and many viaducts and stations.
You can either walk or bike along the Parenzana route to discover beautiful views of Istria, the cultural heritage of tiny, medieval towns and enjoy rich gastronomy along the way. Check out this tour.
4- Explore Cape Kamenjak
Driving an e-scooter along the trails of Istria, exploring the Cape Kamenjak, swimming in the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, and chilling in a Safari bar are some of the experiences to enjoy around the cape.
This off-road, eco-friendly experience takes you to Premantura, a small village located 10 km south of Pula.
Explore its rich cultural heritage and beautiful nature.
One of the gems hidden there is Cape Kamenjak, a small peninsula with many caves and stunning pebble beaches.
5- Cycle Through The City
A two-hour electric bike tour offers an overview of Pula’s major sightseeing points.
On the journey, you’ll explore Roman cultural heritage, including the amphitheatre, cathedral and temples.
You’ll enjoy a leisurely cycle along the promenade and fabulous views. If this sounds interesting, check this tour out.
6- See The Augustus Temple
Pula’s Forum is the main square where events, live performances, concerts and public gatherings occur.
It’s full of colour, life and remarkable pieces of Roman architecture, such as the Augustus Temple.
The temple is dedicated to the Capitoline triad and is a beautiful piece of Roman architecture built during the early years of the Roman Empire.
Along with the temple, you will see the city hall, built in the Renaissance style and if you get tired of walking, the Forum has many bars and restaurants where you can sit and take a break.
7- Admire The Triumphal Arch of the Sergi
Named after the Sergi family, a powerful Roman family, this monument represents Late Hellenistic Roman architecture.
It’s also called the Golden Gate because of the rich decorations on the arch.
Along with the walls, the gate was destroyed in the 19th century due to the town’s expansion.
Today you can see its remains in Portarata Square, along with a stage where many cultural events and performances are held.
8- See The Gate Of Hercules
This moderate piece of architecture sits between two medieval towers, holding the barely visible Hercules head on the top.
The stone is engraved with two names of Roman officials, Lucius Calpurnius Piso and Gaius Cassius Longinus.
It’s believed that the Roman Senate gave them authority to make Pula a Roman colony.
The gates are plain and built from stone.
9- Step Back In History At Pulski Kaštel
Pulski Kaštel is a Venetian fortress, a well-preserved stone building used to defend against enemies.
The Fort was built in Baroque style on the top of Pula hill and proudly stands on the remains of Rome.
As Pula was a strategic defence point during the 17th century, the Fort was rectangular, with 24 cannons, a trench and military equipment.
Today, this spot is where you will find one of the most beautiful views of Pula.
10- See Marine Life In Pula Aquarium
Be amazed by the abundance of fascinating marine life in the Pula aquarium.
There you will have the chance to see hundreds of fish species from the Adriatic Sea, tropical, and fresh waters, including Croatian lakes and rivers.
Besides fish, the aquarium is home to sea turtles, jellyfish and sea horses.
It’s located in the 130-year-old Fort Verudela, which was once part of Pula Fortress and used for defence.
Pula Aquarium is at Verudela 33, 52100, Pula, Croatia.
11- Visit The Communal Palace
Communal Palace is the building in the centre of Pula, next to the Augustus Temple, and continues to function exactly as it did eight centuries ago.
The Town Hall dates back to the 13th century when Pula was a free municipality.
It was first the seat of dukes and later the seat of majors.
The Palace carries an architectural touch of Baroque, Romanesque, Renaissance, and Gothic styles.
12- Visit The Fort Centre
As Pula was a strategic defence point during the 17th century, it built a strong fortification system.
That structure was spread from the western to the eastern coast of Istria, along with the island Lošinj.
Today you can visit the centre to explore the history of all 28 fortresses and more than 200 military buildings.
Check out all the technology, military strategies, and hidden locations.
The Fort Centre is managed by the Historical Museum of Istria and is in Kaštel Fortress at Gradinski uspon 6, HR-52100 Pula.
13- Visit The Church and Monastery of St. Francis
Between the Forum and the medieval fortress is the church of St. Francis.
The church dates back to the 14th century and was built in the Romanesque-Gothic style by the Franciscan community.
Behind the church is a small, peaceful oasis with many monuments and palm trees, known as the Franciscan monastery.
14- Explore Zerostrasse
Zerostrasse is the underground system that lies under Pula.
These tunnels were built during World War I as a shelter in case of air attacks on the city.
Today it’s a tourist spot where you can explore the galleries, tunnels, artillery and shelters.
Every hill near the city centre has a tunnel that is connected to the other tunnels within other hills.
These connections form the underground system in Pula.
15- Admire Art At Gallery Makina
This small, unique gallery in the centre of Pula is an iconic place to visit.
Owned by the charismatic photographer and actor Hassan Abdelghani, this place is recognised for diverse artistic pieces, including video works.
Hassan became well-known for his exhibitions in Croatia and abroad, where he discovered he had as much of a talent for being in front of the camera as he did for being behind it.
The gallery has a unique story that Hassan created as one of the narratives of his life, so I’d recommend checking it out.
16- Explore Brijuni National Park
Situated in the southern part of Istria, with around 14 islands and islets, Brijuni National Park is a picturesque piece of nature.
It originated by separating from the mainland, filled with big trees of the holm oaks, laurels, and other plant ecosystems.
The national park has numerous things to see and explore.
A 13 km path will take you through the world of historical exhibitions, golf fields, Safari Park, Ethno Park, forests, rocky coast, and bays.
Brijuni has a rich history, dating back to the time of dinosaurs, and you will find around 200 preserved dinosaur footprints around Barban, Vrbanj.
An archeological tour of the longest and the densest populated areas, Bizantski Kastrum, will take you back to the Byzantium and the Venetian periods.
There is also a zoo, that is home to diverse species.
Explore the area by bike or check out the marine life by snorkelling and diving.
17- See The Lighting Giants
The Lighting Giants is a contemporary art installation that has transformed the giant cranes of Uljanik Shipyard into a symbolic landmark that takes inspiration from Istria’s legends of supernatural giants who once lived in the region.
Eight huge cranes in the centre of the town light up in many colours and dazzling special effects in the sky.
This famous attraction was created by the lighting designer Dean Skira.
The cranes are projected with over 16,000 colours in a show that lasts 15 minutes, with a special program during fiestas or world championships.
18- Sip Istrian Wine
Combined with a rich gastronomic culture and one of the healthiest, Mediterranean diets, Istria also offers red and white wines.
Cultivated on a special type of soil, under a certain angle, and sun-kissed most of the year, the grapes are used to make Malvasia, Muscat and an Istrian wine called Teran.
Teran is usually served in an Istrian bukaleta pitcher and consumed with Istrian Supa, a traditional dish with baked bread, pepper, sugar, and olive oil.
There are many wine roads in Istria, where you can wander off and find a cellar to visit.
19- Taste Istrian food
When it comes to Istrian food, the main ingredients are extra virgin olive oil, wine and truffles.
Delicious tasty meats, pasta and fish are prepared in the original Istrian way.
One of the symbols of Istria is Boškarin, the Croatian breed of cattle used as the main workforce back in the old days.
Due to industrialisation, the breed almost became extinct, so the government decided to protect it.
Today Boškarin meat is a common dish served at Istrian tables, usually prepared as a slow-cooked stew.
Other local food to try are a Boškarin tail soup, sauces, ox tagliata, or ox fillet. Fuži is an Istrian pasta, known as the poor man’s food that is served with meat, fish sauce or truffles.
Other famous dishes are Žgvacet, Istrian fish stew, stewed scampi, and omelette with wild asparagus.
20- Take A Trip To Motovun
70 km away from Pula, this charming medieval town on the top of the hill will leave you breathless.
Motovun is one of the most attractive towns in Istria due to its natural beauty, rich culture, and warm local hospitality.
The medieval buildings are Romanesque and Gothic in style, and the Mediterranean climate makes the winters mild and summers warm.
Autumn is the season made for long walks in the forest and truffle picking.
The main highlights are the Motovun movie festival and the Truffle festival.
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