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Overview

Introduction

Pula is something of an enigma, full of surprises too. Here, magnificent ancient ruins stand close to a a declining (and once famous) industrial port, named Uljanik. There was even a top rock club named after it.

It is an eclectic mix. It is a real city, the 7th largest in Croatia and not just a tourist resort. The administrative and economic centre of the Istria region, yet it also has two excellent marinas, a vibrant waterfront, several parks and squares, the gorgeous tree shaded Giardini (Gardens Square) like an open-air coffee lounge, a serious fishing fleet (meaning good fish restaurants), some great boutique shopping together with a sparkling new mall – and, surprisingly, some very good beaches with cool beach bars near the centre.

And then there is the legacy of the Romans. As a mark of just how important the city was to the Romans (who called it Pola), they built their sixth largest amphitheatre here with a capacity of 22,000 way beyond the city’s population at that time. Someone showing off perhaps? It was constructed between 27BC and AD68 under the reign of a number of different emperors.

The Arch of the Sergians or Golden Gate was built in 30BC, a massive pale gold arch which looks in incredibly good condition. The inner façade shows reliefs of winged victories. Just inside the arch is a statue of James Joyce, the Irish writer who taught English here in 1904-1905. Once inside, the pedestrianised street leads to the heart of Pula, the Forum and the Temple of Augustus. Enjoy coffee on one of the café terraces on Forum Square, look down and consider that many archaeologists have stated that there are certainly millions of Roman artifacts under this very ground, if only it could all be dug up.

We feature the boutique style Hotel Amfiteatar just a few steps away from the amphitheatre and with just 18 rooms, early booking is essential. Our other hotels Park Plaza Histria and Park Plaza Arena are situated on the green Verudela peninsula just 15 mins away by bus.

Pula is a great choice for a few days or longer and a boat trip from nearby Fazana to Brijuni islands, one of Croatia’s National Parks – is a must do.

Did you know?

  • There are many events held in the wondrous amphitheatre each year. Past concerts have featured Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, Leonard Cohen, Tom Jones (who, in 2012 said he loved the venue and that he would be back – he was a few years later), Joe Cocker and more
  • A great way to get your bearings in Pula is to take the open-air bus tour. Double decker open top like a London bus and it’s hop-on, hop-off. Starts from near the amphitheatre
  • For lovers of twin centre holidays, a regular catamaran service connects Pula with the Dalmatian town of Zadar stopping at Mali Losinj Island in the Kvarner region on the way.
  • Pula with Venice? There is a catamaran service several times a week from April to October
  • For a step back in time experience, take the train from Pula directly north through the middle of the Istria region. Stations are more or less peoples’s back gardens sometimes and this is the line that was built to bring workers from the countryside into Pula to work in the Uljanik shipyard. We suggest going as far north as possible (Lupoglav), have a walk and lunch then return the other way. Train journey approximately 1 hour 30 (one way fare under £5)
  • Pula’s market was built in 1903 as a covered market and such a structure built in iron and glass was revolutionary at the time. Fish and meat still inside while fruit and vegetables are outside in the shade of a magnificent row of chestnut trees – locals swear they keep away flies.
  • Olive oil from the Vodnjan area, 7 miles and under 15 minutes away from Pula wins top awards worldwide as “the best”. There are tours and proper authentic tastings. We like Chiavalon, owned by two brothers who started picking olives as teenagers in the family’s olive groves – now among the best in the world. (Bookable at hotels Park Plaza Histria and Park Plaza Arena)
Read more

Getting There

Getting There

Flights from the UK to Pula Airport are operated by British Airways from London Heathrow, easyJet from London Gatwick and Bristol and by Ryanair from London Stansted.

Events

Events

May - Sept Istrian Handmade Fair. Evenings in Forum Square. Produce and crafts from all over the region of Istria

June - Sept - Gladiator Nights. On a number of dates during summer, local actors wearing authentic costume and using replica weapons recreate the activities of gladiators in Roman times – in the amphitheatre

July - Pula Film Festival. A month of mainly new or award-winning films, shown in the amphitheatre and at other historic venues. First three days international films, the rest Croatian films

July - Aug - Wine Town. From 7pm, wines from all over Croatia are on display and there are tastings. Free tastings, you just have to pay to “borrow” a glass on entry. Usually in Tito’s Park

July - Sept - Pula Food Tour. Lasting three hours, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, this is a sampling of traditional Istrian food and wines. With a guide, 8 sightseeing stops and 7 Istrian traditional dishes, 3 wines, aperitif, olive oil tasting in various locations. Around £60 per person. Departs at 7pm from the amphitheatre, lasts around 3.5 hours

Aug -  Theatre Ulysses. Something unforgettable. Theatre, concerts, summer cinema in the open air on one of the Brijuni islands, the creation of top actors and performers and led by Rade Serbedjzija (one of Croatia’s most famous actors and who was chosen by Angela Jolie to star in the film In the Land of Blood and Honey which she directed). A wonderful evening and the ticket (around £13) includes return boat trip. Departs from dock in Fazana (7 kms way)

Useful information

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Located at the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula, Pula is nestled beneath seven picturesque hills. Ancient Roman ruins, such as the first-century amphitheater and the Temple of Augustus, are happily interwoven with modern bars, pavement cafes, and boutiques that dot the town. If you're seeking a tranquil retreat, Pula Bay boasts a horseshoe shape bay where you can escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy the serene turquoise waters and beach.

Rosanna Melaragni
Rosanna Melaragni
Best time to go
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC
Time Difference

GMT + 1 hour

Currency

Euro

Language

Croatian

Average flight times

2 hours 30 minutes

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Note: Map is for guidance purposes only.

Talk to our Pula expert

Rosanna Melaragni
Rosanna Melaragni

Located at the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula, Pula is nestled beneath seven picturesque hills. Ancient Roman ruins, such as the first-century amphitheater and the Temple of Augustus, are happily interwoven with modern bars, pavement cafes, and boutiques that dot the town. If you're seeking a tranquil retreat, Pula Bay boasts a horseshoe shape bay where you can escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy the serene turquoise waters and beach.

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Pula

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774
  • Marketing: 020 8758 4731

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