Why Pula, Croatia, should be your next city break

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 19.03.2024

Wondering where to head for your next European city break? Been there, done that in London, Venice, Paris and Rome? Already seen the sights of Split and Dubrovnik? Then you might be in the market to make Pula your next city break. Laidback and cosmopolitan, Pula is home to some impressive Roman ruins, and retains a refreshing sense of authenticity. It's also the ideal base from which to explore Istria — an awe-inspiring area of Venetian towns, olive groves and forests. Read on to find out more.

The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Croatia, your essential guide for visiting Croatia.

What to see in Pula, Croatia

Pula’s hands-down highlight is its first-century Roman amphitheatre. Boasting imposing outer walls that are second only to Rome’s Colosseum, it plays host to a huge range of events through the summer months.

Beyond the ampitheatre, Pula's old-town streets present a fascinating mix of styles. Here Byzantine chapels sit shoulder to shoulder with elegant Venetian townhouses and handsome Hapsburg palaces.

Meanwhile, graceful Roman ruins stand in the Forum. Pula’s main square for over 2000 years, this is one of several ancient sites involved in Pula's annual Spectacvla Antiqva. Look out for the tall Corinthian columns, and the Temple of Augustus. 

Editor's tip: new to this part of the world? Read our tips for first-timers to Croatia.

Amphitheatre, Pula, Croatia

Pula Croatia is strewn with ancient Roman ruins / CC0

Where are the best beaches in Pula?

Done the antiquities? Hire a bike and head to the forested Verudela peninsula. It's just five kilometres south of Pula. 

Here you'll find a series of white-pebble Adriatic beaches that are just as popular with locals as tourists. 

Look for the Holy Rock at the peninsula’s western tip. It's a dreamy vantage point for sunsets, and great for dolphin spotting, too.

Longing for a beach break? Be inspired by Croatia's best

What to do in Pula, Croatia

Need a stretch of beach all to yourself? Hop a ferry at nearby Fažana and sail to Veli Brijun. This is the Brijuni archipelago's main island. Protected as a national park, it's ringed by a pristine coastline and boasts blissfully clear waters.

History buffs, note that the Brijuni islands have links to Josip Broz Tito, former President of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. There's even a "Tito on Brijuni" photo exhibition at Veli Brijun’s ferry dock, with images of Tito entertaining everyone from Fidel Castro to Sophia Loren.

Beyond its beach and Tito connections, Veli Brijun also has Roman ruins, and splendid cycling routes and forest trails. 

Want more Croatia inspiration? Browse our customisable Croatia itineraries,or talk to a local expert.


Fazana, one of the pretty villages on the outskirts of Pula © Marko Vesel/Shutterstock

What to eat and drink in Pula

Istrian food

If you're into food, there's pretty much no question that Pula should be your next city break. Great local produce and a strong Venetian influence make eating in Pula an utter joy.

First up, Istrian truffles are famously rich and moreish — try them simply grated over pasta.

Secondly, Istria is the top olive oil producer in the world, with the oil created here noted for having a warm, spicy kick. Long-living locals swear by enjoying a daily spoonful of the stuff.

In addition, local chefs claim Istrian waters are home to Croatia's densest concentration of seafood.

Typical dishes around these parts include brodet sa palentom (fish stew with polenta) and stuffed squid and crni rižoto (risotto with cuttlefish ink).

Crazy about uncovering cuisine on your travels? Discover Croatia's best foodie experiences.

Istrian wines 

Istrian wines range from crisp Malvazija whites to rich Terrano reds. We recommend pulling up a stool at Brajda wine bar and working your way through the 40 plus tasting menu. 

Love your grub? You'll find tasty food for thought in our customisable Culinary Secrets of Croatia trip, and our multi-country Gourmet Tour.


Istrian black truffles © Shutterstock

Best areas to stay in Pula

To find luxury hotels and apartments head for Verudela peninsula. Being close to Havajka beach, Park Plaza Arena is a good choice. .

Menwhile, arty Pipistrelo has a prime central location, while Boutique Suites Joyce is a top choice for literature lovers. Occupying a language school where Joyce once taught English, it also has great views of the Arch of the Sergians.

Browse places to stay around Croatia.

Istria, Croatia

Istrian coast, Croatia © Shutterstock

Convinced Pula should be your next city break, and ready to start planning your trip? Read up on the best time to go to Croatia, the best places to visit, and best things to do in Croatia

Or, if you'd prefer to leave planning and booking someone else (namely, Rough Guides' travel experts), browse our customisable Croatia itineraries.

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this does not influence our editorial standards - we only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 19.03.2024

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