We spent 3 weeks visiting Pula, Croatia and explored this city along with the rest of Istria. During this time, we got to know the heart of the city and want to make sure you get to experience it too!
Pula is not everyone’s first go to as most tourists head to Rovinj or Porec first. However, we highly recommend that you DO NOT skip out on Pula because this city has so much to offer! In this post, we share with you all the details you need to have a great visit to Pula, Croatia.
Planning a trip to Pula? Read this post for 20+ Things to Do in Pula, Croatia
Is Pula Worth Visiting?
Not going to lie, Pula does not have as much of the Venetian Old Town influence as the region’s other cities further north like Rovinj. At first glance, you might not be able to truly see all that it holds. However, Pula offers so much history and adventure, you just can’t miss it.
In Pula, you can enjoy traditional Istrian cuisine, relax on one of the most gorgeous beaches, or take a more historical approach to your trip. There is something here for everyone whether you are a solo traveler or visiting Pula with family.
Where is Pula?
Pula is a coastal city on the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia. It is the largest city in Istria and well connected to the rest of the region. Pula has been an important city for every ruling empire/government of the region as it sits on a harbor that has been valuable for previous military strategy and used as a shipping port.
Located in the Istrian peninsula, Pula is influenced by Croatian culture and Italian culture as well, reflecting a common theme of the Istrian region.
Sitting on the edge of the Istrian peninsula, Pula has a wide variety of beach access and water excursions (more on these later). For the exact location, check out Pula on the map below:
How to Get to Pula:
Getting to Pula by car is one of the easiest ways to reach the city. From Zagreb, the car ride is roughly 3 hours. If you are coming from Italy, Pula is roughly 3.5 hours from Venice. There are routes with tolls and without. The toll roads are faster but for a more scenic drive take the route without tolls.
If you want to avoid the tolls, make sure you have this selected on your Google Maps. Using roads without tolls will most likely extend the length of your drive so keep this in mind! If you are renting a car in the region, we recommend Last Minute Rental Car because of the ease and budget prices they offer!
We arrived in Pula by bus and were happy with our decision. Flixbus has a route that heads to Pula which is often the cheapest option. Other bus companies that head to Pula include Arriva and Brioni. The Pula Bus Station, also known as Autobusni Kolodvor Pula, is located north of the Old Town region, and is just a, 8 minute walk from the Pula Arena.
Pula also has a great city bus system that includes buses to the Medulin, Premantura, and Verudella areas. This will be helpful to use if you do not have a car and plan to explore outside of the old town area. At the main bus terminal, you can get a map and chart of the bus timetables.
The Pula Airport is located 4.5 miles from the center of the Old Town. Most flights will be coming from Zagreb so if you are visiting the capital you can catch a flight to the Istria Peninsula by heading to Pula.
From the airport, you can catch a bus or a taxi, or you can even rent a car from companies like Last Minute Rental Car. We used Last Minute Rental Car and our experience with them was super friendly and easy!
We know that in Europe, travel by train is often the choice people make. Although it is an option in Pula, it is not highly recommended because of the time it takes. However, it is still an option to reach the city.
The train station is located near the waterfront of the harbor. You can get to Pula from Zagreb, Trieste, Ljubljana, Zadar, and a couple of other locations. To find out more information, check out this website here.
Planning to travel in 2022? Check out our Tips for Traveling this year + some helpful resources!
When to Visit Pula
Pula is honestly a great location to visit year round. Istria, although widely known, is still not as popular as other coastal Croatian destinations like Split or Dubrovnik. Because of this, the tourist levels still aren’t meeting those found further south.
In the summer, you can find many people hitting the beach, however, you may even be able to find this in the late autumn season too. In the winter, you can enjoy a mild Mediterranean climate and might even have nice enough weather to sit out by the water if you aren’t brave enough to jump in.
Summer: Pros to visiting Pula during summer include the warm weather and unlimited options for dining and excursions. Everything is open during the summer to meet the needs of the tourists. Cons: This is busy season, the city will be its busiest and it will be harder to find discounted rates.
Spring/Fall: These months are shoulder season for the area and honestly the perfect time to visit Pula, Croatia! There will still be a lot open when it comes to restaurants and tours. Yet, you will have better prices on accommodation and even some excursions. We visited during October and although Pula was much quieter than we expected, the weather was still so nice that there were always people on the beach and boat tours were still running.
Winter: Pros to visiting Pula in winter include having a mild climate to escape to from colder destinations and discounted accommodation. Cons include limited excursions off the coast like snorkeling and boat tours, however, some may still run. Some restaurants may be closed due to low season, but there will still be a lot open since Pula is the largest city in Istrian County.
How much time should I spend in Pula?
This is a tough question to answer because it depends on what you are looking for! You can spend 1 day in Pula and hit the main historical sites like the Arena and the Forum. However, if you are looking to see more, 3 days is perfect to get a taste of the history, cuisine, and coastal excursions.
We suggest reading our post about what to do in Pula and planning your trip around the things that interest you the most! Saying this, we do think that 3 days is the perfect amount to experience a little bit of everything the city has to offer. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the city for longer.
Where to Stay in Pula
We suggest staying near the city center / old town section of Pula. Because Pula is pretty large, make sure that your accommodation is a short distance from the Arena, this will ensure you are close to everything you want to see (or the bus stops to take you elsewhere).
Apartment Style Rentals
During our 3 week stay in Pula, we rented this apartment through AirBnb. We loved having a whole place to have a routine and make some of our meals. The hosts of our apartment were super friendly and helpful!
The apartment was just a short 10 minute walk to the city center. If you are looking for this type of accommodation, check them out on AirBnb here. Our apartment had everything we needed to cook at home and even had two bikes to use during our stay!
Many of the accommodation options in the city center of Pula are apartment style rentals. If you are looking for other options, check these out:
This apartment rental is located on the top floor of a building in the city center. It has a ton of character! This apartment includes a work center for any digital nomad needs!
This spacious apartment rental is located near the Kastel and in the city center of Pula. It is a well-equipped apartment for any length of stay.
Right next to a delicious plant-based cafe and yoga studio is the Hostel Pipistrelo. This hostel is located right near the coastline on the edge of the city center/old town region
Also on the edge of the old town region, not far from sights like the Arch of Sergii is Hostel Antique, another great hostel option located in Pula.
Located right by the Pula Arena is the Hotel Amfiteatar. Not only is this boutique hotel right in the center of everything, they also have a restaurant on site so you never have to worry about finding a good meal.
Getting Around Pula, Croatia
The best way to explore Pula is by foot, by bike or by bus. The city is made of many one way and/or narrow streets that can be hard to navigate if you aren’t comfortable with the city first. Along with this, parking is very limited. We highly suggest staying in an accommodation that is close to the city center and walking or taking the local bus.
Renting a bike can be a great way to get around Pula as well. Bicycle can be rented in town from places like Pula Bike Rental. Or, if you choose to stay in the accommodation we did they had bikes free to use during our stay, more on this below.
Information can be found for the local bus route here. However, some useful ones to remember include Line 2 to Verudella and Line 1 to Stoja. You can purchase tickets with cash on the bus or you can purchase them nearby some stops at small shops like Tisak or the main bus terminal.
Transportation Tip for Croatia: The small walk up convenient stores like Tisak sell bus (or other transportation) tickets for the local transport systems. If you need to catch the next bus and don’t have cash, these shops often accept card and can provide you with the information you need!
What to do in Pula
The main thing everyone is looking for: What can I do there? SO MUCH! There is something in Pula for everyone from the nature lover to the foodie, from the historian to the adventure seeker! Here is a list of some of the top things to do in Pula.
However, we go into much more detail in this post about all of the things to do in Pula!
The top things to do in Pula, Croatia include:
- Walk through the Pula Arena
- Visit the Museum of Olive Oil (and do a tasting!)
- See the Arch of Sergii, Forum, and Temple of Augustus
- Look out to the Lighting Giants
- Shop at Pula’s Green Market
Looking for more?
Make sure to check out our detailed post all about the things to do while visiting Pula, Croatia!
Need food recommendations? We wrote a post all about where to eat plant-based meals in the Istrian Peninsula! Click here for our delicious finds.