11 must-do things to do in Pula

Visiter Pula

Visiting Pula: what are the best things to do and see in this pearl of the Adriatic and the beautiful Istria region that surrounds it?

Located at the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula, overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Pula has always been a strategic place for the region’s powerful people, from the Romans to the present day. Enjoying a natural, protected harbor, the city was developed by the Romans, which is why it is home to breathtaking ancient monuments, such as its amphitheater, marvelously well-preserved after 2000 years!

Later, the Venetians and Austro-Hungarians occupied the city to assert their domination of the Adriatic. These successive occupations enriched the city’s military and architectural heritage. If you’re planning a visit to Pula in the near future, we’ve listed the must-see things to do in Pula.

1. Roman Amphitheatre

Visiter l’amphithéâtre de Pula

Photo credit: Flickr- James Stringer

It’s the emblematic monument to visit in Pula and one of the most complete Roman amphitheaters in the world. Built during the reign of Emperor Augustus, the monument is impressive for its height: the three levels of its outer ring are perfectly preserved, as is its interior. The underground passages used by the gladiators are still visible. The reason for its preservation lies in its use by medieval knights for tournaments, almost 1000 years after its construction in the 1st century.

2. Forum

Forum de Pula

Photo credit: Flickr- Janko Hoener

What to do in Pula? Visit the Forum, of course! As in Roman times, Pula’s Forum is the city’s main square. You can be sure that whenever there’s a big event, there’ll be entertainment in the Forum, just as there was two millennia ago! Every summer, concerts and other cultural events are held in the main square. A must-see

3. Temple of Augustus

Temple d'Auguste à Pula

Photo credit: Flickr- Christoph Sammer

Also unmissable on the Forum is this breathtaking Roman temple built in the early 1st century, perfectly preserved thanks to its conversion into a church by the Byzantines – which prevented its destruction in the course of history. Today, Pula’s Temple of Augustus is used as a lapidary museum, with Roman bronze and stone sculptures on display inside. It’s one of the best things you can do in Pula.

4. Arc de Triomphe des Serges

Arc de triomphe des Serges, Pula

Photo credit: Flickr- James Stringer

Also known as the Golden Gate, it was built by the Serges family to commemorate their participation in the Battle of Actium. Built in 30 A.D., it was the city’s gateway to the port. It’s an 8-metre-high arch dating from the end of the 1st century BC, between the years 29 and 27.

5. Istrian Archaeological Museum

Musée d'archéologie de Pula

Photo credit: Flickr- orientalizing

While the Temple of Augustus became the city’s museum in the 18th century, it’s in this archaeological museum that all the wonders of the Istrian peninsula’s history are on display: artifacts from the Stone Age, mosaics from Roman times and relics from Byzantine times. A must-see in Pula if you’re a history buff.

6. Saint Francis Church and Monastery

Eglise franciscaine de Pula

Photo credit: Flickr- A.Currell

Located on the side of Pula’s central hill leading to the Forum, the Franciscan Church of Pula dates back to the 13th century. The huge late-Roman monastery was built in the century that followed. We recommend a visit to the cloister and courtyard, as well as the gardens, which boast a small oasis of statues and palm trees at their center. You can even admire small turtles sunning themselves in summer.

7. Kastel

Kastel, forteresse de Pula

Photo credit: Flickr- Alistair Young

A 16th-century Venetian fortress built right in the heart of Pula, the Kastel offers a breathtaking view of the city, its port and its surroundings. Shaped like a star to resist artillery fire, it was built to defend both the port and the Adriatic – a testament to Venetian power at the time.

8. Cape Kamenjak

Cap Kamenjak, Pula

Photo credit: Flickr- Kiss Tibor Noé

Located at the southernmost tip of the Istrian peninsula, this natural park is characterized by an irregularly indented coastline, offering more than 20 picturesque coves surrounded by crystal-clear waters. What’s more, the archipelago around the cape is made up of eleven uninhabited islands, waiting to be discovered. A great way to get away from it all once you’ve visited Pula.

9. Brijuni National Park

The only way to reach this magnificent natural park from the mainland is by boat from the town of Fazana, a few kilometers north of Pula. Brijuni Park is simply breathtaking, with densely wooded islands surrounded by white sandy beaches. It’s also a place of history, with the site of Veliki Brijun, where 200 dinosaur footprints dating from the Cretaceous period have been discovered.

10. Taste Pula’s local produce

Marché spécialités gastronomiques de Pula

Photo credit: Flickr- Kiss MRB

What else is there to do in Pula? While you’re in Pula, take the opportunity to discover local food and drink – like Rakija, an aperitif common to all the Balkans, but with local peculiarities. Istria’s Rakija has varieties with honey, for example. Don’t hesitate to visit the Pula market to discover local products and buy truffle oil, for example!

11. A boat trip

Visiter et louer un bateau à Pula

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Phant

If you’re visiting Croatia’s Adriatic coast, there’s one step you shouldn’t miss: chartering a boat in Pula.

In fact, there are many beautiful places to visit nearby, including Krk, Rovinj and the Mali Bok nature reserve. It would be a shame not to rent a boat and miss out on these heavenly spots.

Find a boat to rent in Pula

How to get to Pula

By far the best way to get to Pula is by plane. It’s also possible to take a bus from Zagreb, the Croatian capital (journey time between 4h and 5h), Zadar in Croatia (6h) or Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital (4H30) – if you want to include the destination in a road-trip, for example.

There are a few direct flights from France to Pula (from Nantes, for example), but you’ll need to plan at least one stopover if you’re flying from Paris or another French city. To find a cheap flight to Pula, you can search on the website of our partner Ulysses.

If Pula is part of the starting point for a road trip in Croatia, it may be worthwhile renting a car there. To find attractive prices for a rental car in Pula, you can use the Rentalcars comparator.

Where to stay in Pula?

Pula is above all a small town, where it’s very easy to get around without public transport. Lodging in the historic center is therefore not a necessity, but rather a comfort and a pleasure. You can also find homestay accommodation in Pula’s surrounding areas. In any case, you can read our article on where to stay in Pula to help you decide. You can find a cheap hotel in Pula by searching on this hotel comparator.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Pula,hr