Our First Week in Pula

Arrival in Croatia

When we arrived in Croatia, we slowed down a bit. We took some off days to relax but we still did a ton of exploring during our first week. Since some of the days were a bit slower and less interesting, we are going to share our highlights from our first week in Pula!

Pula is a city on the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia with beautiful beaches and an interesting history. We decided to spend more time in Pula than our previous destinations. We did this not only to slow down, but also to explore the Istria region as a whole.

Pictured: Landscape of Pula along sea side.

Tours and Old Town

At the beginning of our stay, we arranged a…Free Walking Tour. Shocking right?Our tour was at 5:30 pm so we met at the park near the arena and waited for our guide. On our tour, we learned some history of Pula and the region. We walked through the old town, visiting some of the major sites, including the Arch of Sergii, the Temple of Augustus, and the Pula Arena.

Pictured: Temple of Augustus

Roman Ruins

Pula was a major port for every empire/ruler of the region including the Venetians and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Pula, you will find the most intact Roman monument left, the Pula Arena (pictured below). It looks similar to the Colosseum in Rome and was an amphitheatre used by the Romans for the same purposes.

The Austrians wanted to demolish the arena to use the materials for other buildings but someone prevented this. There is also a local Croatian legend about the arena, that it was actually built by fairies and giants.

Pictured: Pula Arena

While on the tour, we also stumbled upon a movie set. We watched a car chase scene and learned that David Hasselhoff was filming a German movie there! Not that we are David Hasselhoff fans, but the car chase scene was cool to see. We continued our tour through some streets of the Old Town and ended it at the Kastel fort.

Our tour guide gave us a ton of recommendations for our stay. We learned that there are a ton of abandoned forts along the coast to explore. We didn’t know this, so we were excited to check them out.

Trip to the Market

At the beginning of the week, we went to the farmer’s market in Pula called “Tržnica”. It is a huge market with produce and local goods stands outdoors, and an indoor fish market. We walked through it and bought some produce for the week.

At one of the stands, we tried paying with a 10 euro dollar (on accident, thinking it was Croatian currency). The lady at the stand said no and shook her head, then pointed next door and said something in Croatian. We had no clue why she wouldn’t take our money, so we just said oh okay… and walked away.

When Ty went to put it back in the wallet, he realized it was euro and not Croatian currency – kuna. We went back to the stand with the right currency (we had gotten from an ATM previously) and this time the transaction was a lot smoother. This market is open every day of the week. We wish we had a farmer’s market open every day back home!

Coastlines, Cliffs, and Cats

In our first week here, we explored the coastline and some abandoned forts from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Pictured: Ty holding water bottle and petting calico cat.

We rode our bikes to the Verudela Peninsula that holds the aquarium to walk along the coast. On our bike ride there we saw a ton of stray cats! At first, we saw one every so often down the road but then we came across TEN in one spot.

It was weird because there weren’t any homes close by and we didn’t see any food dishes. Ty tried to pet every cat we came across but was only able to win over a few. 

Pictured: Rocky beach next to dark blue ocean water.

Spooky Adventures

Pictured: Rocky cove with turquoise water inside.

The next day we walked to the Stoja Peninsula and walked along the rocky coast. The water here is SO pretty. It has such a bright turquoise blue color and you can see pretty far down, it’s so clear.

On this peninsula, we found Fort Ovine. It was dark inside but there was also a staircase that took you to the top. Although we know it’s not real, Ty used a ghost app and got some pretty creepy readings so Sam was a little freaked out. The place made us think of Ghost Adventures, the team definitely needs to come do an episode or 2 out here.

Pictured: Rocky cliff wall with clear water below.

One rocky beach we visited is known as Sea Gull Rocks. It is a popular place for cliff diving in the summer and is so beautiful. Our tour guide said the water was probably 19 degrees celsius, so no cliff diving for us! BRRRRRRR.

Pictured: Traditional istrian pasta with truffle shavings in Pula

Since we had a whole apartment, we had been cooking most of our meals at home. However, one of the nights, we did go out to dinner.

Sam had a traditional pasta called pljukanci with truffles (pictured left) and Ty had some fried squid and fries. The pljukanci was interesting because they were like thick noodles but kind of had a wormy texture. 

More Exploring

Pictured: Interior of room with mosaic floor. Pattern of geometric shapes.

Later in the week, we rewalked the Old Town to see some of the sites again from our tour. We got gelato for lunch (because why not?) and strolled the pretty streets.

Left from the times of the Roman Empire, there is a floor mosaic still intact and it is now protected. It was hard to find because we had to go behind a restaurant and through a parking lot but the mosaic was super cool to see. Half of it depicts the Roman myth of the Punishment of Dirce.

We also went back to Peninsula Stoja because there were some forts we didn’t get to see. We followed what Google Maps told us and ended up at a gate to a military base (not an abandoned fort). Sadly, because it was a base, we couldn’t go further to see the forts at the end of the peninsula.

Pictured: Rocky cliff edge with turquoise water and a cloudy sky

We walked back to where we had explored a few days ago and sat near the water for a while. This was the first day in a long time that it felt HOT outside, like warm enough that swimming almost sounded nice.

We sat by the water, enjoying the sun, looking at (what we think are..) comb jellies! There were so many! 

An Adventurous Day

Pictured: Paved road with man on bike in front of camera. Trees line the road.

On the last day of our first week here in Pula, we had our most adventurous day. Overall we biked 10+ miles and hiked probably a few more on top of that.

We started by heading to the other side of the bay in Pula by bike. We took a path along the water riding through a lot of abandoned buildings. There was a sign at the entrance to one section that says although the area had been cleared of landmines, it was still possible for land mines to be found…yikes! Oh well, we figured we would be fine and went in.

Uh oh…

The ride was really interesting until we came up on what we thought was a military training. From far away, Ty spotted their cammies and what looked like machine guns. We thought we were in an area off-limits and Sam’s heart started racing, thinking that we were going to be arrested or ticketed or something. Turns out, they were just a group of guys playing airsoft, and the first guy radioed to the rest to stop to let us through, how nice.

Fort Munida

Shortly after this, we got to the trail to the first fort, Fort Munida. These forts are SO COOL. We love that they are free to explore and thankfully, these had a lot less graffiti than the first one we visited a few days ago. This fort, and the rest, were built during the 1800s under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

Fort Punta Christo

Our guide had told us there were a bunch of forts on this side of the bay. We weren’t sure where all of them were (apparently there’s at least 8), so we headed to the one at the end of the peninsula we saw on Google Maps, Fort Punta Christo.

Pictured: Hand with red berries in it

On our way, we saw some ladies picking berries from a tree and recognized them as ones we had seen before. We googled it and found out the tree is known as a strawberry tree (even though they don’t look anything like strawberries) and the fruit is edible. The next time we saw some, we picked a few and they were surprisingly tasty.

When we got to the fort, we found out this one is more strict and was closed so we could only look at it from the outside. We walked down by the water and found a few other structures on the bay. 

Picture: Fort Punta Christo in Pula

Fort Grosso and More

Pictured: Ty and Sam in front of an abandoned fort

As we started to head back, we found a fort that wasn’t too far off our path home. Lucky for us, there was actually two right next to each other so we got to see them both!

The first one, Fort Grosso, had a spiral staircase that took you to a viewpoint to see it from above!

The second one was down a dirt path and called Obalna bitnica Valmaggiore. This one had super dark tunnels that Sam was a little too nervous to go in to. Of course, Ty was brave enough and went exploring!

There was a lot of trash in the forts. Since they aren’t protected we aren’t sure if people camp in them or just party. But, even with the trash and graffiti, it was so cool to explore them! We are so glad our tour guide told us about them because we never would have known! 

By now it was 5:30 and we had 4-5 miles to bike back to our accommodation. As soon as we were on the pavement, Sam realized her back tire was flat. It was like riding with the brake on. Ugh. She tried to ride it as much as she could but honestly, it was just easier to walk.

This made our trek back take a bit longer, but lucky for us, the sunset over the bay was beautiful.

We had a great first week in Pula and can’t wait to share the rest of our time here with you!


Sam and Ty