Come to Pula
Located next to the sparkling Adriatic Sea, Pula boasts world-class festivals, fresh and affordable cuisine, and the complete Roman amphitheatre. Discover why Pula is a must-visit destination.
Pula, an important provincial centre during the later period of the Roman empire, boasts the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. Its legacy of public buildings from that time is among the most impressive in Europe. The star attraction is the Arena, one of Croatia’s architectural gems. It was constructed between 27 BC and 68 AD and is the only Roman theatre in the world with a complete circle wall. It was built to hold 20,000 spectators and is still used today as an outdoor cinema and for hosting events such as ice hockey, foodie markets, and even Tom Jones concerts. The Temple of Augustus, located in the city’s old Forum, is also a must-see. Although it was bombed during the Second World War, it was painstakingly rebuilt and now houses the Pula Museum of Archaeology. Other Roman relics worth discovering include the Arch of Sergius and an impressive mosaic floor. The mosaic was discovered by chance after the buildings near the Chapel of St. Maria Formosa were destroyed during WWII.
Istria was a part of Italy until 1947, and the influence of Italian cuisine is still evident in Pula. Pizzas, pasta and gelatos are the staple foods in Pula. Sometimes, it feels like you are dining in a far-flung corner of Tuscany. Additionally, Pula is a significant fishing port, so you can expect excellent seafood there. The restaurants along the Limski Canal offer the freshest oysters and mussels.
Istria is also known for its white truffles, which are grated onto fuži pasta (small rolled pasta sheets with veal sauce), providing a rare treat for your taste buds. If you are a truffle lover, you can head to Restaurant Zigante to indulge in a wide range of truffle-inspired dishes or go on one of Pula’s unique truffle tours in the Motovun Forest to hunt for your own.
In summer, Pula becomes a vibrant city of festivals, with numerous international concerts, plays, and films in public spaces. You can watch a movie in the old Austro-Hungarian Kastel, attend a classical concert in the Forum, or choose from various cultural events in the Arena. Additionally, several modern music festivals are hosted in and around the city that cater to different genres, from reggae to drum and bass.
The Lighting Giants installation in Uljanik shipyard is a popular attraction in Pula. Every night between 9 p.m. and midnight, a light show is held where a series of cranes are illuminated. Each show lasts 15 minutes, and the performance starts at the hour.
Another noteworthy festival in Pula is the annual Visualia festival. It features innovative performances that showcase the Lighting Giants installation in new and exciting ways. Over three days, you can enjoy a range of 3D video mappings visual, and audiovisual installations.
With its perfect climate and soil, Istria is known for producing some of the world’s best wines. Wine is integral to the region’s culture, and locals take pride in their top-quality muscats, merlots, and cabernet sauvignons. If you want to experience the authentic taste of Istria, try a white wine made from indigenous Malvasia grapes. It has a full, rounded, and harmonious flavour with notes of the local acacia flowers, making it the perfect accompaniment to seafood dishes. For heartier meals, the Coronica Malvazija is an excellent option. Additionally, you should try the local rakija, which comes in honey and mistletoe varieties, known for its sweet flavour and yellow-brown tint. It is a popular aperitif and makes for a perfect souvenir of your trip to Pula.
The area surrounding Pula, the largest city in Istria, is blessed with abundant natural beauty. To the north of the town lies Brijuni National Park, a stunning collection of densely wooded islands. Here, you can enjoy the sparkling seas and white beaches and explore Roman villas, a Knights Templar church and dinosaur footprints from the Cretaceous Period. Boats regularly depart from Fazana to the islands.
If you head south, you’ll come across the rugged headland of Cape Kamenjak, marking the southernmost tip of the Istrian peninsula. In contrast to the polished resorts found elsewhere on the Adriatic, this place offers you a chance to find a rocky cove or shingle beach all to yourself. You can jump off the cliffs just like the locals if you dare.