Croatia

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14 Best Things To Do in Pula, Croatia

14 Best Things To Do in Pula, Croatia

Exploring the vibrant city of Pula, Croatia? Discover the best things to do in Pula that blend rich history, stunning landscapes, and coastal relaxation.

From ancient Roman amphitheaters to hidden beaches, this guide highlights diverse activities catering to every traveler’s interests. Join us in uncovering the gems that make Pula a must-visit destination, seamlessly combining culture, history, and coastal allure for a memorable experience.

Pula Arena is the highlight in the city of Pula, Croatia

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Why You Need To Visit Croatia If you're not already convinced!

Pula Tourist Card

If you are spending some time in the city to see the historical sites, look into getting a ‘Pula+ Card‘ for access to 6 attractions and sights.

The card grants access to the Arena, Zerostrasse, Temple of Augustus, Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria, Sacred Hearts Museum, and Museum of Contemporary Art of Istria!

Swing by the local Tourism Office to get your card when you arrive!

€14 for adults, €6 for students and children under 5 to see the top sites in Pula!

Roman Ruins

Like every town and city in Croatia, the ‘Old Town’ has ancient architecture dating back to the days of the Romans and before. The history that has walked these streets is breathtaking, and the region has done so well to preserve the structures and atmosphere of its rich past. 

The following are some paid and unpaid attractions to get a taste of the city’s history. 

Pula Arena

Pula, Croatia is home to one of the most well-preserved Roman Arenas in the world, and arguably one of the best things to do in Pula! Built in 1 AD, this arena has seen centuries of bloodshed and battles and is still used today where it hosts concerts, the Pula Film Festival, sporting events, and more! 

The magnificence of this arena can be experienced from the outside, with the ability to walk 360 degrees around the perimeter. Seated right near the main harbor, this is a must-see destination in Pula!

Cost: €10 for adults, €5 for students and children
* Included in Pula Tourist Card

Aerial view of the Pula Area, an ancient colosseum from the Roman Empire
Source - History Hit

Fortress Kastel (Pula Castle)

Built on top of a hill in the old town, the Pula Castle has a great vantage point for travelers to explore the city views and rich history that lies within the walls. 

The fortress was constructed by the Venetians in the 17th century, and today it is home to the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria. The fortress can be walked around the outside, where you’ll also get a glimpse of the Roman Amphitheater, and still get a taste of its impressive size and unique shape. 

On your winding walk down from the castle, stop by Jupiter Pizza for what I can personally confirm as the best pizza in town!

Cost: €2.70 entry tickets
* Included in Pula Tourist Card

Zerostrasse

Directly under Fortress Kastel, there is a series of tunnels that were used as a bomb shelter during the First World War. 

Constructed by the Austro-Hungarian empire, these tunnels have 4 entrances that link the city into this underground 2.5 miles of tunnels. Today the tunnels host signs walking you through the history of this underground world, and occasionally there are some other events held inside!

* Included in Pula Tourist Card

Check out @PulaNightLife on social media for any events or music shows happening inside the Zerostrasse tunnels! 

Roman Mosaic

The Roman Mosaic isn’t an excursion per se, but it’s definitely a fun thing to seek out in the city as you explore the weaving streets, alleys, and staircases that connect the Old Town.

Explore the city streets and find the authentic remnants of the rule of the Roman Empire. They’re a bit tricky to find, but amazing to see the craftsmanship that has lasted centuries.

The mosaic is totally free to see and a fun thing to add to your day of exploration!

Roman Mosaic hidden in the streets of Pula, Croatia
Roman Mosaic in Pula

City Bike Ride

Around the city, you’ll see Tier-branded electric bikes and scooters available for rent for a crazy good price! 

West of the Old Town, there is a network of paved, dirt, and gravel paths that will lead you to abandoned forts, coastline access, and incredible views in every direction. You can also see the well-known Galebijana Cave, but to fully explore it you’ll need to get into the water!

We loved that the bikes were electric because we felt we could ride around all day. 

To rent them, you need to download the Tier Bike and Scooter apps, where you can track down their locations, the battery levels, your ride history, and pay for use. 

There are plenty of parking areas in this area, which allows you to ditch the bike or scooter whenever you want to keep exploring! 

Cost: €1.50 / 30 minutes

They have to be returned to a proper parking area shown on the map of the app, otherwise, you could incur a €26 fee!

Galebijana Sea Cave

Pula has an incredible sea cave that is so easy to get to, and when you go in the off-season you’re guaranteed to have the cave all to yourself! This was by far one of the best things to do in Pula.

The best ways to get there are by bike rental or sea kayak! Even in the off-season, sea kayaking is very comfortable and fun (maybe less so if you plan to get into the water)!

The Galebijana Sea Cave is easy to get to, and a must-see for anyone in Pula no matter the time of year. 

We took a sea kayak, which cost €50 for a 2-person kayak and was worth every penny. In the off-season, contact Istria Kayak Tours via email at istriakayaktours@gmail.com, or by calling +385 098 802 349. 

A kayak floating in a sea cave in Croatia, one of the best things to do outside!
Pula Sea Cave

Beaches

Although you won’t find any white sand beaches around Pula, or any of Croatia for that matter, the beaches here offer a much different experience!

The rocky coast and limestone sea caves offer a more adventurous type of exploration. Be ready to dive into the water (safely, of course) to see what is waiting for you along the Istrian coast!

Lookout for 'FKK', a German word - Freikörperkultur (don't ask me how to pronounce it). This essentially translates to Free Body Culture, AKA, Nude Beach! These are common all around Europe!

Kamenjak

While not directly in Pula, the beaches on the Kamenjak Peninsula, including Safari Bar Kamenjak, are renowned for their natural beauty and unique features.

The Kamenjak Peninsula and Premantura Nature Park offer a variety of beaches with rocky cliffs, hidden coves, and crystal-clear waters.

The surrounding natural reserve provides opportunities for exploration, and the diverse beaches cater to different preferences, making Kamenjak a favorite for those seeking adventure and a connection with nature.

Prementura Beach during sunset in Pula, Croatia
Image from Prementura.net

Havajsko Beach (Hawaii Beach)

Havajsko Beach offers a blend of pebbles and rocks, creating a picturesque setting closely resembling Hawaii, as the name suggests.

The clear waters are perfect for snorkeling, or just taking in the breathtaking views. The beach is relatively secluded, offering a more intimate experience away from the bustling crowds.

Be sure to explore around the Verudela area, and you can’t miss the Verudela Canyon, a favorite swimming spot!

A view of the Verudela Canyon is one of the best things to do in Pula, Croatia!
Image from PulaCroatia.net

Pula Market

Exploring the Pula Market is a much when exploring the city. See how locals shop, sell, and purchase what they need from local vendors, one of the best things to do in Pula for a local experience.

Here, you will find fresh produce, meat, cheese, and items like clothing, and gifts. This is a bustling marketplace and a perfect spot to people-watch!

Even better is the building the market is located in. Although typically these types of markets are located outdoors, the Pula Market is in a 3-story century-old building, filled with local art, and natural light, and always busy with shoppers!

Open daily from 7 am – 2 pm, closed on Sunday, and always free to walk around!

Check out a full one-month budget in Croatia for travelers, so you can do more with your wallet.

Check out a full one-month budget in Croatia for travelers, so you can do more with your wallet.

Pula Aquarium

The Pula Aquarium is a great way to experience the diverse aquatic life of the Adriatic Sea and inland freshwater ecosystems. It is located in the 130-year-old Austro-Hungarian Verudella Fort on the coast just south of Pula.

The Pula Aquarium is committed to the rich biodiversity of its natural heritage and is persistently working to rehabilitate and release endangered and at-risk species.

Normally I wouldn’t recommend animals in captivity, but the Pula Aquarium doubles as a wildlife rehabilitation location!

Cost: Entry is €17 for adults, and €13 for students and seniors.
**Check out their website to find current discounts!

Brijuni National Park

Brijuni National Park is just off the northwest coast of Pula and hosts intriguing features and activities that will interest any traveler who passes through! The park is a bustling place to visit in the summer months with hotels on the island, a golf course, and many land and water tours. 

Everything is accessible on foot, but if you’re not interested in walking a few miles to see it all there are bikes and golf carts available to rent! In the off-season, you’ll have a massive island to explore at your pace with so many things to see. 

The park has so many things to do, including a Safari Park, exposed 130 million-year-old dinosaur footprints on the rocky beach, a 1,600-year-old Olive tree, picturesque ‘Pine Valley’, and miles of serene walking paths!

Cost: €22 for ferry to the island and National Park access
+
Additional €4 for the bus ride to Fažana

Getting to Brijuni National Park

To get there, first, you’ll need to take a 15-minute bus ride from Pula up to Fažana, a quaint coastal town just North of Pula. 

Near the main harbor area, you’ll find the Brijuni National Park information center where you can purchase ferry tickets to get across to the main island. The ferry ticket also grants access to the National Park and all of the free excursions offered. 

The ferry runs at specific times so be sure to check the timetable for the dates you wish to visit.

A woman standing in the Row of Pines at Brijuni National Park in Pula Croatia
A zebra standing in a field at the Brijuni Safari Park

Istrian Food

Nothing brings you closer to a culture’s roots than through food. Especially with a region as old as Istria, explore the ancient methods of processing and preparing their cultural offerings with the locals themselves!

Olive Oil Tour

Participate in an olive oil tasting tour to learn about Istria’s renowned olive oil production. Learn how to incorporate it into your diet, read the labels, and sample the varying aromas.

There is no better place to experience the history and importance of Istria’s olive oil than at the ‘House of Istrian Olive Oil‘. 

For only €15, get a tour of the process and an all-inclusive tasting. This tour lasts 50 minutes and can be longer for a more thorough experience!

Wine Tasting

Wine tasting anywhere is always a fun time, but when a region has been making wine for thousands of years, you can trust they know what they’re doing.

Wine tasting in Croatia is a must, especially in Istria where the majority of the country’s wine is made! Check around for any tastings and tours that suit your preferences, or include this as a day trip from Pula when you head further North into the heart of wine-country.

Cooking Class

There is no better way to experience the food of an area, than cooking it yourself! There are so many options for a cooking experience in Croatia, but it’s always best to find one that includes shopping for the local ingredients at the market, and always includes local wine 😉

Check out this 6-hour market tour and cooking class, which offers it all for only €210 per person!

 

A typical meal in Pula, Croatia

Check out this Ultimate Europe Packing List so you're ready for any adventure!

More Adventures in Pula

The fun doesn’t stop there! Although this is a curated list of my top 14 suggestions, so much waits for you in and around Pula!

Rent a car and take a day trip from Pula – the best way to see the rest of Istria! 

Or, check out some of the highest-rated tours in Pula.

Summary - Top 14 Things to Do In Pula, Croatia

Pula, Croatia is a must-visit for anyone visiting the coastal country on the Adriatic. The charming culture, cobble-stone streets, and Roman architecture leave you in awe. Not the mention the aqua-blue water with hidden gems tucked along the coast!

Pula is a must-see location, leaving the only question; what will you do first?!

Explore the other destinations waiting for you in Europe!

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Croatia, 0 comments
Things To Know Before Visiting Croatia

Things To Know Before Visiting Croatia

Croatia has been moving up on everyone’s travel lists thanks to its beautiful landscape and impressive architecture. Located on the Adriatic Sea with a Mediterranean climate, Croatia is rich in history and activities for every traveler! With over 1,000 islands, 8 national parks, and UNESCO World Heritage sites and traditions, you’ll also want to add Croatia to your list! Check out the top things you need to know before visiting Croatia to get the most out of your travel!

A stone doorway in Croatia leading to a sun-lit courtyard

Table of Contents

Not sure what Croatia has to offer? Check out Why You Need To Visit Croatia this year!

1. Is Croatia Safe For Travelers?

Just to clear your worries from the start, Croatia is very safe for travelers. Of course, crime can happen everywhere, but this is not a country where you will need to necessarily be on the lookout for someone following you or trying to pick-pocket you.  With that being said, always be aware of your surroundings, and don’t act in a way that will draw a lot of unwanted attention to yourself. 

Woman sitting on a stone wall at Klis Fortress in Split Croatia

2. Best Time To Visit Croatia

Croatia is almost always shown with the perfect turquoise water and beaches under the sun, but the summer months can be packed, and the winter can be not as ideal. The shoulder season is the best time to visit Croatia, which is May & June, or September & October. The attraction of Croatia as a holiday destination has made the summer months too populated to enjoy the scenery, and the winter gets quite cold and rainy!

The peak season is July & August, and tourism companies take advantage of this. Everything from ferry rides, national park entrance fees, rentals, etc. go up in price 2-5x what they are normally! This is another reason to avoid traveling to Croatia in the middle of summer.

Communities and infrastructure can be overburdened with tourists when so many people travel at once. Not only is it better to travel outside of peak season for you & your wallet, but also for the planet!

3. Currency

As of January 1, 2023, Croatia abandoned its’ currency of the Kuna (HRK) and adopted the Euro (EUR). With this change, Croatia also joined the Schengen region, a shared border visa so travelers can move freely throughout over 28 countries, but cannot stay within the Schengen region for more than 90 days in 180 days. Be sure to carefully follow the restrictions of the Schengen Visa!

Croatia has been a haven for backpackers in Europe to get out of the Schengen for 3 months until they can re-enter, so tourism may decrease a bit from travelers on this rotation. Although prices are rising, it is still much more affordable than its Mediterranean neighbors!

While traveling around Croatia, make sure to keep some cash on you! Not all places take cards, so cash is necessary for some purchases at a local market or small restaurant.

4. Weather & Climate

Croatia has a breezy Mediterranean climate, but it can vary based on location and time of year. Check the weather for your specific destination and pack accordingly, being sure to check out the ultimate Europe packing list!

Bring comfortable walking shoes for exploring historic sites and coastal areas. And plenty of swimwear to hit the beaches (although there are plenty of nude beaches “FKK”).

5. Croatian Food

Simply put, the food in Croatia is amazing. They have fresh seafood and an Italian influence in a lot of their traditional dishes. Croatian food is meat and dairy-heavy, so for all the vegetarians and vegans out there, be prepared! 

Not to mention, Croatia is a hotspot for harvesting truffles and wine! These are some of the best things to do near Pula, with tours available on a quick day trip in the Istrian Peninsula. Nothing pairs better than a truffle oil pizza with a glass of local wine! 

A typical meal in Pula, Croatia

6. Restaurants

Speaking of food, when you are eating out, most restaurants are more casual than what you may find in other parts of Europe and the US. Unless a table has a reserved sign, if it’s open you can seat yourself and a server will come to you. Once you get your food, don’t expect your server to come ‘check in’ like they do a dozen times in the US. If you need something, get their attention with eye contact or a simple gesture and they will be right over! 

Tipping culture is very relaxed in Croatia. Tips are never expected, but always appreciated! Many people will just round up their bill, but around 10%-15% is a great tip if you loved the meal! Remember, tips can only be paid in cash so keep a few extra euros on you!

See the expenses of a Croatian vacation with this One Month Budget in Croatia. 

7. Culture

Croatians are often viewed as reserved people with thick shells. They may not make eye contact on the sidewalk or say hello (don’t take it personally), but once you start to talk with a local and get to know them, they open up and make you feel the most welcome! 

The country has a strong Catholic influence, so be sure to be respectful of their religion, and dress modestly, especially in historic or religious spaces! 

8. Language

If you expect to go to Croatia and pick up the local language, good luck! Croatian is not easy, but props to you for whatever you do pick up, and it will go a long way with the locals. 

A friend shared the advice “When you speak in someone’s second language, you speak to their brain, but when you use their first language, you speak to their heart”. Some basic phrases to know include:

  • good day = dober dan
  • good morning = dobro jutro
  • thank you = hvala (pronounced “vala”)
  • please = molim

9. Getting Around Croatia

In general, the cities of Croatia are extremely walkable, especially since they were constructed centuries before cars were invented. If you’re looking to explore outside of the cities, you can either rent a car, go on a planned tour, or take public transport. 

The assumption that ‘you can get anywhere in Europe on a train’ does not apply here, but they do have reliable buses and ferries! Check out the Jadrolinija ferry line to take a ride along the Dalmatian Coast.