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15 Things to Do in Pula Croatia (Local’s Guide)

Searching for the best things to do in Pula Croatia? I’ve got you covered!

I’ve been living in Croatia since 2014 and have been traveling to the country my entire life – that’s nearly 30 years of Croatia travel experience combined! During my years of exploration, I’ve gotten to visit Pula many times.

Located at the souther tip of the Istrian Peninsula (my favorite region of Croatia), Pula is a beautiful city steeped in ancient history and culture. This impressive coastal town is home to some of the most well-preserved Roman ruins in the world, including the famous Pula Arena.

But this landmark isn’t all what Pula has got to offer. The city also boasts incredible Roman architecture, interesting museums, gorgeous parks and beaches, and charming cafes and restaurants serving up delicious local cuisine.

So in this travel guide, I’ll be sharing all the best things to do in Pula so that you can get straight to the good stuff.

Let’s dive in!

Things to Do in Pula

1. Visit the Pula Arena

The ancient Roman Pula Arena is captured under a clear sky, its arches standing tall amidst the surrounding greenery, with a stone path leading up to the historic amphitheater in Pula, Istria, Croatia.

The Pula Arena is an absolute must see in Pula Croatia, and one of the most well-known landmarks in the entire country.

Dating back to 27 BC when construction first started, this stunning piece of architecture we now know as the Arena of Pula is one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. Once used for gladiator fights that drew in up to 23,000 spectators (!!), the arena is now used today for concerts, events, and even the annual Pula Film Festival.

If you really want to make the most out of your visit to the arena and surrounding area, you’ll want to join a guided walking tour. I recommend this because there aren’t many signs with explanations inside the arena itself, so having a guide to explain the history can be really helpful.

2. Arch of the Sergii

A stylish woman in a checkered blazer and a red crossbody bag poses with a smile in front of the Arch of the Sergii in Pula, Croatia, an ancient Roman monument, as people walk by in the lively city square.

Also known as the Golden Gate, this ancient Roman triumphal arch is one of the most iconic pieces of architecture you’ll come across when visiting Pula.

Dating back to the 1st century BC, this stone archway is the main entrance to Pula’s pedestrian road, Sergijevaca Shopping Street, so there’s no way you can miss it! The arch was once part of the stone gate and Old Town walls, which were destroyed in the 19th century in order to expand the city.

The Arch of the Sergii will likely be a short stop on your tour of Pula, Croatia, but it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the elaborate Corinthian columns and detailed carvings depicting scenes from Roman mythology and military victories.

This awesome boutique hotel in Pula has a balcony view of the arch 🤩

3. Temple of Augustus

The Temple of Augustus in Pula, Croatia, with its ancient Roman columns and pediment, stands majestically under a clear blue sky, flanked by modern street lamps and set against the backdrop of pale contemporary buildings.
A woman in casual chic attire sits on the ancient steps of the Temple of Augustus in Pula, Croatia, her relaxed posture complementing the timeless beauty of the Roman architecture surrounding her.

Located on Forum Square, the Temple of Augustus is one of the main attractions in Pula Croatia. This well-preserved Roman temple is 1 of 3 temples that used to grace the square, and it’s the only one that survived!

There is a small museum inside the temple that is free to visit, but if you want to do as the locals do, grab an ice cream from the nearby aRoma Gelato and plop yourself down on the steps for some people-watching.

If you prefer sitting at a cafe and partaking in Croatia’s famous coffee scene, have a seat at Art Cafe Cvajner where you’ll have a lovely view of the temple.

📍 Find all these locations and more in my free Croatia Google Map!

4. Church and Monastery of St. Francis

Pula can get pretty busy, especially in the summertime, so if you crave a peaceful break away from the crowds, head over to the Church and Monastery of St. Francis.

This tranquil, 14th century oasis is tucked right between the Pula Castle and the Roman Forum, making it the perfect location to visit after the Temple of Augustus. While the exterior of the Romanesque-style church is fairly simple, the real beauty is revealed when you enter inside to see the monastery garden.

The atmosphere here is magical and calm, with rays of sunshine filtering through the Gothic cloisters and illuminating the polished stone floors.

5. Wander around the Old Town

A serene street scene in Pula, Croatia, showcasing the charming blend of historic architecture and casual urban life, with pedestrians strolling and resting along the paved road flanked by tall green trees and pastel-colored buildings.

After you’ve hit the main highlights of the Pula Amphitheater, Temple of Augustus, and Arch of the Sergii, take some time to just get lost in the streets of the Old Town.

Pula may not be as picturesque as some of the other fairy-tale towns in Istria, but it has its own unique charm and historical significance. As you stroll down Sergijevaca Shopping Street, be sure to turn onto one of the many side streets, some of which will lead you to hidden corners and beautiful views.

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    6. Pula Citadel

    Also called Pula Castle, or “Kaštel” in the Croatian language, this old fortress was built by the Venetians in the 1600s. Perched on top of a hill overlooking the Old Town, the citadel is one of the best places to visit in Pula if you want to witness some seriously good views.

    The castle’s watchtower has a spiral ladder and staircase leading you to the narrow opening at the top from which you can get a bird’s eye view of the Pula harbor, arena, and surrounding area. It’s even more magnificent during sunset!

    7. Explore the underground war tunnels

    An underground tunnel illuminated with lanterns. Along the walls of the stone tunnel are displays with photos and information about the history of the tunnel.

    Located just past the twin gate, and right underneath the castle, are a series of underground WWII tunnels that connected the fortress to 5 different parts of the town. The tunnels, known as Zerostrasse, were constructed as shelters so that citizens would have a place to hide in the event of an attack.

    Today, you can visit part of the tunnel complex, which stretches for about 400 meters and can hold up to 6,000 people. Inside the tunnel are displays showcasing photos and information about the history of the tunnel network, and part of it is even used for various cultural and social events!

    8. Visit the museums

    A woman in a blue and white patterned dress smiles as she holds a glass of olive oil, standing at a tasting table with an array of olive oil bottles and informational materials at BRIST Olive Oil Tasting Room in Vodnjan, Istria.

    The weather in Istria is notoriously unpredictable, which means that it could rain at any moment even in the summertime. If you’re wondering what to do in Pula Croatia on a rainy day (or maybe you just want to escape the heat for a bit), head to one of the city’s museums!

    • Istrian Olive Oil Museum: Learn about the culture and history of olive growing through history to the present day. Guided tours and tastings available.
    • MEMO: The Musuem of Good Memories is an interactive and multimedia museum that portrays what life was like for the citizens of Pula from the 1950s to the 1980s.
    • Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria: Located inside of the Pula Citadel, this museum is dedicated to the occupation of Croatia, and the city of Pula, during WWII.
    • Archeological Museum of Istria: A collection of stone monuments and historic artifacts from prehistoric, ancient, and medieval times.

    9. Pula Aquarium

    Situated on the Verudela Peninsula, just a short drive away from Pula Old Town, the aquarium is one of the most fun things to do in Pula Croatia for kids.

    There are 211 Mediterranean and exotic species to see in the aquarium, including jellyfish, corals, reptiles, and even some Croatian sharks! On top of the aquarium is an amazing lookout point with views of the open sea.

    On-site, you can also check out a historic exhibition about the naval history of Istria and Kvarner as well as lear more about the aquarium’s turtle rehabilitation program.

    10. Sunset Cruise

    After you’ve explored Pula by land, it’s time to take to the sea! A sunset cruise with dinner and drinks is the perfect way to end the day. You’ll get to see the stunning coastline from a different perspective and enjoy a delicious meal while watching the sun dip below the horizon.

    The cruise will depart from Pula’s harbor and take you on a journey along the Istrian coast to the nearby Brijuni archipelago (where the dolphins hang out). As you sail, your captain will share interesting facts about the area as well as the local dolphins and their habits.

    As you return back to Pula, you’ll get to see the city illuminated, which is extra magical because the arena will be all aglow.

    11. Verudela Peninsula

    View of Hawaii Beach from the entrance to the beach

    Pula Old Town doesn’t have any beaches, so if you want to spend some time by the sea, head to nearby Verudela Beach. This area is where you’ll find the best beaches in Pula with crystal clear waters, pebbled shores, and plenty of spots to soak up the sun.

    Hawaii Beach is one of my favorite beaches and well-worth checking out.

    It’s also located right next to Verudela Canyon which is a spectacular natural gorge that can be accessed via a pretty dangerous hike from land. For this reason, a kayak tour of the canyon is best (and this tour has transparent kayaks!).

    There are lots of amazing Pula hotels in this area too!

    12. Spend the day at Kamenjak Nature Park

    The serene coastline of Premantura Kamenjak Nature Park near Pula, Croatia, with clear, calm waters in shades of blue and green, bordered by smooth, weathered rocks and patches of Mediterranean greenery.

    One of the best things to do near Pula is to spend the day exploring Kamenjak Nature Park. Located at the very southern tip of the Istrian peninsula in Premantura, this nature park is a gorgeous protected area covered in fragrant pine trees and surrounded by wild and rocky beaches.

    Here is where you’ll find the famous Seagull’s Rocks (Galebove Stijene) where you can go cliff jumping and enjoy breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea. This area is also full of sea caves that can only be accessed from the sea, so going on a kayak tour is an absolute must!

    13. Day trip to Rovinj

    A charming view of Rovinj Old Town in spring, with the iconic church tower rising above terracotta-roofed houses, framed by vibrant pink blossoms in the foreground, under a clear blue sky.

    Rovinj is a darling little seaside town that I first visited in 2017. I fell so in love with it that I’ve been back every year since!

    Made up of pastel-colored houses crowded onto a pedestrian-only peninsula, Rovinj is one of the most romantic towns in Croatia. Quaint cobblestone streets and Italian-style piazzas make up the town’s core, with local boutiques, art galleries, and award-winning restaurants sprinkled throughout.

    There are so many things to do in Rovinj that you could easily spend the entire day getting lost in its maze of charming streets and picturesque buildings. Plus, it’s only 40-minutes away from Pula, making it the ideal choice for a day trip.

    14. Visit Brijuni National Park

    A woman walks along a pine needle-strewn path flanked by tall, slender pine trees in Brijuni National Park, creating a peaceful and secluded atmosphere.

    Another great day trip option from Pula is visiting Brijuni (Brioni) National Park, a beautiful archipelago situated just off the west coast of the Istrian peninsula. This string of islands is verdant, lush, and completely uninhabited – other than the exotic animals that live on Veliki Brijun!

    The island has maintained its untouched beauty and charm since it was frequented by elite members of society in the 19th century when Istria was part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

    Today, the island is houses to a museum, safari park, ancient Roman ruins, and some of the most pristine beaches in the area. You can easily reach the park by taking a ferry from the nearby village of Fazana or, even better, go on a boat tour of the Brijuni Islands complete with swim stops, lunch, and dolphin watching!

    15. Visit Vodnjan

    A woman in a blue patterned dress and white sneakers smiles while walking her fluffy white dog on a leash down a picturesque cobblestone street in Vodnjan, Istria, Croatia, surrounded by historic orange and cream-colored buildings under a clear blue sky.

    Just 15-minutes outside of Pula, the small town of Vodnjan is a unique place to visit while in Pula. At first, it may appear to be just another charming Croatian town, but Vodnjan has an interesting past and is home to mummies!

    One of the main attractions in Vodnjan is the Church of St. Blaise, which houses ancient relics and the mummified remains of several saints. It’s worth a stop if you’re driving by or are on your way to Brijuni.

    In addition to its religious significance, Vodnjan is also known for its high-quality olive oil production. Right in the heart of town, you’ll find the headquarters of my favorite olive oil in all of Croatia, BRIST Extra Virgin Olive Oil Shop. Stop in for a complimentary tasting and grab a bottle of olive oil to take home with you!

    📍 Find the exact location of BRIST and more in my free Croatia Google Map!

    How to Get to Pula

    There are several ways to reach Pula, depending on where you are coming from:

    • By Car: The best way to reach Pula is to rent a car and drive to Pula. This will allow you the freedom and flexibility to easily visit the beaches around Pula and go on day trips to nearby towns.
    • By Bus: You can reach Pula by bus from most major Croatian cities, including Zagreb. I like to use Flixbus as they usually have direct routes and they have wifi onboard.
    • By Plane: Pula is home to one of the many airports in Croatia, and the Pula airport is located just 8km outside of the city. If you are flying in from somewhere in Europe, you may be able to find good deals on flights to Pula.
    • By Ferry: If you’re combining a trip to Italy with Croatia, you can take the ferry from Venice to Pula with Venezia Lines. I like to use FerryHopper because it lets you track your ferry!

    Visiting Croatia’s islands? Download the Croatia Island Hopping Guidebook!

    How to Get around Pula

    All of Pula’s main attractions are located in the city center and are within walking distance of each other, so it’s easy to explore on foot!

    However, if you want to visit the beaches of Verudela or explore Cape Kamenjak Nature Park, you’ll need your own vehicle. Alternatively, you can reach Verudela by local bus or taking an Uber from Pula.

    Where to Stay in Pula

    There are lots of wonderful accommodation options in Pula. Here are my top picks:

    FAQs About Pula Things to Do

    Is Pula worth visiting?

    Yes! Pula is definitely worth visiting for its impressive Roman ruins and truly spectacular beaches that are totally different from the ones you find in southern Croatia.

    How many days do you need in Pula?

    3-4 days in Pula is ideal if you thoroughly want to enjoy the city’s historical sites, beaches, and explore the coastline and nearby islands.

    Is one day enough in Pula?

    One day in Pula is enough to explore the Old Town and see the city’s highlights. If you want to spend any time at the beach, then you’ll want to spend a few extra days in Pula.

    What is Pula famous for?

    Pula is famous for its well-preserved Roman architecture, especially the Pula Arena, one of the best-preserved ancient Roman amphitheaters in the world.

    Final Thoughts

    Hopefully this post has given you some good ideas for what to do in Pula Croatia!

    While Pula isn’t necessarily my favorite city in Istria, it has some pretty interesting and significant historic sites. Plus, the landscapes in the nearby Verudela Peninsula and Kamenjak Nature park are breathtaking and certainly worth spending a few days exploring.

    If you’re planning to visit the region of Istria, then Pula is worth a stop even just for visiting the incredibly impressive arena!

    Before you go, check out these Croatia road trip itinerary ideas.

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