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10 Best Things to Do in Pula (Croatia) 2023: Guide

10 Best Things to Do in Pula (Croatia) 2023: Guide

10 Best Things to Do in Pula (Croatia) 2023: Guide

This list of the best places to see in Pula will help you get to know this historic Croatian city that impresses you with its ancient monuments from the Roman Empire.

Located at the southern end of the Istrian peninsula and bathed by the crystalline waters of the Adriatic Sea, this small city has become one of the most visited in Croatia thanks to its spectacular Amphitheatre, one of the largest and best preserved in the world.

In addition to not missing any detail of this marvel, it is worth spending a morning getting to know the other tourist attractions of Pula and enjoying its gastronomy based on fish, shellfish, and the famous Istrian truffle.

Based on our experience in this town during our trip to Croatia and Bosnia, we have made this list of the ten essential places to visit in Pula. Let’s start!

1. Amphitheatre, one of the places to see in Pula

Things to Do in Pula
Things to Do in Pula

After leaving the car in the parking lot of the Roman Amphitheatre, you can start your visit to the city by visiting the sixth largest theater in the world and the only one with four towers and three perfectly preserved classical architectural orders.

Going inside this theater, built between 27 B.C. C. and 81 d. C. during the reign of Caesar Augustus and with a capacity for more than 20,000 spectators, it is to feel like you are starring in the movie Gladiator and it is, without any doubt, one of the best things to do in Pula.

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Although the entire structure looks quite good from the outside, you can buy this ticket in advance or at the box office to enter the arena where the gladiators fought and see the underground galleries where the dungeons were formerly.

2. Arch of the Sergios

Leaving the theater, you can pass in front of the Hercules Gate, a simple stone arch from the 1st century A.D. C, until reaching the imposing Arco de los Sergios, another of the most important places to see in Pula.

This arch was built at the end of the 1st century B.C. C. in honor of several members of the Sergios family who helped Caesar Octavio’s fleet in the Battle of Actium against that of Marco Antonio and his ally Cleopatra, which brought them wealth and power, making Pula one of the most potent ports of the Roman Empire.

In addition, this arch, decorated with Corinthian columns and winged victories on the spandrels, was attached to the old wall surrounding the city, serving as a gateway.

3. Dirce’s Punishment

After crossing the Arch of Sergios, you can walk along the commercial Sergijevaca street until you find the precious Roman mosaic, “The Punishment of Dirce,” one of the best preserved Roman mosaics in Croatia.

This mosaic, which dates from the 3rd century and represents the scene from Greek mythology, the “Punishment of Dirce,” was discovered after the bombings of the Second World War and impressed with its size of 6 by 12 meters and its perfect state of preservation.

To find this mosaic (indicated its location on the map below), you must get to number 18 Sergijevaca street and enter through the back of a private house with free access and contemplate it behind bars.

4. Chapel of Santa Maria Formosa

Things to Do in Pula
Things to Do in Pula

Near the Roman mosaic are the Chapel of Santa Maria Formosa, the only remaining structure of an old Byzantine church from the 6th century and another of the places to visit in Pula.

This chapel, which was part of a Benedictine abbey and is the only building in Pula that remains from the Byzantine era, was decorated with precious mosaics that you can see of them in the Archaeological Museum of Istria.

5. Temple of Augustus

At the end of Sergijevaca street, you will reach the ancient Roman Forum, the city’s commercial, administrative, and religious center during Roman times and still the most crucial square to see in Pula today.

Presided over by the beautiful porticoed façade of the Town Hall, this square has the Temple of Augustus, built in the 1st century and dedicated to Augustus, the first Roman emperor, its central jewel.

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This temple, converted into a church during the Byzantine Empire and destroyed during World War II, is used as a museum and houses a collection of objects from Ancient Rome.

6. Pula Cathedral

Another of the best things to do in Pula is to stroll along the famous Kandlerova street until you come face to face with the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built in the 5th century. However, it was rebuilt in the 17th century, and only some original elements remain.

In addition to this church, we recommend you visit the 6th-century Orthodox Church of San Nicolás and the Church and Monastery of San Francisco, which preserves a beautiful cloister from medieval times.

7. Go up to the Castle, one of the things to do in Pula.

The Castle, built on top of a hill that dominated the historic center, is a Venetian-style fortress and another of the important places to see in Pula.

This Castle, or Kastel, was used to defend the city and the port from attacks by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and later by the French, thanks to its dominant location and excellent structure.

In addition to taking a walk through the city’s history through the small museum that it houses inside, from this fortress, you will have the best views of the city and enjoy a fantastic sunset on the most apparent days.

8. Archaeological Museum of Istria

Things to Do in Pula
Things to Do in Pula

Going down the castle hill, you will find the remains of a small Roman Theater and the curious Twin Gate that leads to the Archaeological Museum of Istria, another of the buildings to visit in Pula.

This museum has various objects in the Temple of Augustus, mosaics, and other pieces from the Roman period found in and around Pula.

9. Zerostrasse

Through the Twin Gates, you can access a network of passages and underground galleries known as Zerostrasse, extending under Pula hill.

These galleries were used as shelters during the aerial bombardments of World War II and could hold up to 50,000 people. Currently, there is a photographic exhibition that recalls those tragic years.

10. Pula Market

To finish this list of places to see in Pula, we suggest you enjoy the gastronomy and buy some of the local products of the Istrian Peninsula in its famous Market, which consists of a main building where there are fish, seafood and meat, and an outdoor space where fruits and vegetables are sold.

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 Also, restaurants on the second floor are perfect for trying typical Istrian Peninsula products such as olive oil, wine, cheese, or truffle.

Suppose you prefer to eat in one of the best restaurants in Pula. We recommend you book at Furia, Agrippina Street Food, Rendez-vous, Bistro Alighieri, or Pizzeria Jupiter, where you can try the truffle pizza.

Is Pula worth visiting?

Is Pula worth visiting? Pula is a very interesting town and it is definitely worth visiting if you are already in Istria. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to visit Pula. But if you are already visiting Istria, then yes, make sure you also visit Pula.

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How many days do you need in Pula?

If you’re planning to spend all of your time exploring the city and its surrounding natural areas, then 3 days in Pula is a perfect amount of time. However, if you plan on using Pula as your home base to take day trips to other Istrian cities, you’ll need to include an extra day or two on your Pula itinerary.

What is Pula Croatia known for?

It is known for its multitude of ancient Roman buildings, the most famous of which is the Pula Arena, one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters. The city has a long tradition of wine making, fishing, shipbuilding, and tourism.

Is it better to stay in Pula or Rovinj?

The accessibility in Pula is better than Rovinj because it is closer to the airport and has a bus station. In addition, Pula is a little more affordable than Rovinj. Rovinj, on the other hand, is one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia and it draws a lot of international visitors.

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