Pula, Croatia – Our Home Away From Home

Rick Steves recommends no more than 1 day in Pula, Croatia.

The Travel Medley, in the spirit of a slow, relaxing summer, stayed there for 1 month.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
This was the view from our balcony! We totally felt like locals. It was awesome.

 

For the most part, we worked. (Which is kind of a weird way to spend an entire month when we had JUST quit our jobs to travel the world.)

But we both had side projects we loved and were excited to work on. I was blogging my little tail off for The Travel Medley and practicing my hand lettering. Michael was creating an iPhone game from scratch.

And so we stayed in Pula for 1 month. It was beautiful, cheap, and the perfect home away from home.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
(And my desk was messy, with random stuff taped to the wall, just like at home.)

 

Soooo if you find yourself in Pula, Croatia (whether for one day or one month), here are some things you can do.

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
(That are better than taking a picture next to the Pula sign at the TI office…)

 

1) Learn some of the language.

Honestly, I feel like this should ALWAYS be the first thing you do – any time you travel, anywhere in the world. It’s only polite.

The Croatians walking along the street are not Disney World characters. You shouldn’t just grab somebody and start speaking English to them or snapping pictures.

Plus, Croatian is awesome.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
“Hvala” is thank you, and it rhymes with “balla.” (So have fun singing Lil Troy all day.)

 

 

Okay, fine. This was kind of a cheap shot. I promise all of the other things on this “12 Things To Do” list are more legit than this.

BUT SERIOUSLY. Learn the language. Please. Do it.

Your interactions with the locals will be so much richer, and you will enjoy your time in Croatia so much more.

 

2) Go to the Pula Arena

This is the one of the most well preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. (Click for a lil geography refresher, to see how ridiculously close Croatia and Italy are.)

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
Woooo mostly still intact Roman ruins! Cool.

 

The Pula Arena was completed around the same time as the Colosseum (ya know, the big one in Rome), but it’s in much better shape and has approximately 100% fewer crowds.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
It was amazing. We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.

 

The Pula Arena is huge, and it’s remarkably intact for being built from 27-68 AD. It’s also remarkably intact for occasionally being used as a filming location, and regularly hosting music concerts.

Whatever. Everyone just hangs out on the ancient Roman ruins in Croatia. Apparently this is fine.

 

3) See more ruins!

Pula’s Old Town has more Roman ruins. And more people hanging out on them.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
So go ahead and grab a seat! It’s great for people-watching.

 

The above picture is the Temple of Augustus. You can also see the Arch of Sergius, the Twin Gates, an old Roman theatre, and part of another temple – which has been incorporated into the Town Hall building.

Essentially, just wander around and you’re sure to see more ancient Roman treasures.

 

4) Go to the beach

I’m pretty sure Americans still don’t know about Croatia’s crystal clear, turquoise beaches. Because every time I told someone we were going to Croatia, they would ask “why???” and I would tell them to search Croatia on Google Images, and then they would suddenly understand.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
To reiterate: no, I wasn’t even remotely upset that we stayed in Pula for a full month.

 

There are several great beaches located at the end of the #2 or #3 bus route from downtown Pula. (A bus ticket is roughly $1.50 USD, so this is an amazingly cheap and awesome way to spend a day or two… or an entire month.)

 

 

 

The beaches are pretty rocky, so you can either 1) tough it out on your towel, 2) rent a chair, or 3) take a float & lay in the water.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
To me, it was a pretty obvious choice.

 

Ahhhhhh y’all. These beaches are my happy place. I could lay out on the water for hours. But if you need more of an activity

 

5) Go stand up paddleboarding!!!

Admittedly, if you’ve never done this before, the beach is a tricky place to try it. Because there are waves, and boats, and wind.

But there were plenty of people SUP-ing for the first time, and if you fall in the water, it’s just a nice refreshing dip in that gloriously clear water.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
YASSS. I love paddleboarding so much!

 

Metta Float is located right off the Verudela resort, and you can either book a paddle tour with them, or rent paddleboards by the hour and do your own thing.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
#Obsessed

 

Either way, DO ITTTT. SUP is the best.

 

6) Visit the harbor

Okay, I won’t lie. This isn’t super exciting unless you’re really into boats.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
But if you are, there are lots of them.

 

Pula is right along the Adriatic Sea, and it was under control of several different empires throughout history. At one point, this harbor was Austria’s main naval base and shipbuilding center. So when you think about this shipyard being open since 1856, that’s pretty cool, I guess.

And nearby, you can also…

 

7) Visit Pula’s WWII monument

This is a monument to fallen fighters and victims of fascism (as roughly translated from the inscription on the front of the statue).

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
There are several rows of freedom fighters, standing behind Tito, a former guerilla leader.

 

In 1941, Yugoslavia was pretty quickly conquered by the Axis forces, but there was still plenty of local opposition. There were about 600,000 Yugoslavian casualties in WWII. This monument immortalizes some of those people that died fighting for what they believe in.

 

8) Go to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Istria

If you’re looking for art, this museum is located inside the old printing house, also near the harbor.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
This is what it looks like from the outside. (It’s pretty easy to miss.)

 

If you wander in and are confused by the giant open room without any people, just go up a few flights of empty stairs, and then you’ll see the reception desk. Admission is $1.50 USD.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
These were some of my favorite pieces. (And for the record, I too, recommend vodka.)

 

Everything is from the 20th century, with rotating art and artists. While we were there, it featured paintings by Paulina Jazvić.

(Plus, the museum had fun toilets!)

 

9) Wander around and look at street art

There’s also plenty of non-museum art to be seen.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
Like giant one eyeball alien guys.

 

I love random art murals. Whether they’re just street graffiti or something slightly more legit.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
Like this mural with Herman Potočnik, a Slovene rocket engineer and pioneer of astronautics.

 

Hey, Herman. I see you!

So you should totally walk around and see some random art. It’s everywhere.

 

10) Go to the market hall

There’s a marketplace in downtown Pula, open every day. It has a fish stall, fresh fruits and veggies, and of course, PASTRIES.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
I know this is a horrible picture. I don’t care. JUST BE SURE TO GET SOME PASTRIES.

 

There are also various souvenirs, like postcards, towels, shot glasses, etc. And sunglasses.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
If you need a cheap pair because you’re the kind of person who breaks yours constantly.

 

And if you’re really lucky, you might also stumble upon a random local market that’s more like a giant street garage sale.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
I don’t know how else to describe it.

 

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know when or how often this happens. (And I couldn’t find it anywhere on the internet.) But I can tell you that we accidentally stumbled upon it on Flanatička Street, on the second Saturday of July, around 3:00 in the afternoon.

There were lots of antiques, trinkets, and war artifacts. (And to me, it was about a million times more interesting than the other, more touristy market.)

 

11) Eat delicious food

Okay, I already briefly touched on this point with the pastries (THERE ARE BAKERIES EVERYWHERE – PLEASE EAT ALL THE PASTRIES)… but y’all, there’s even more delicious food to be had. So don’t stop there!

Our favorite restaurant was Kantina Pula, at Flanatička 16. It has traditional Istrian and Mediterranean food, with a focus on local products and fish straight from the Adriatic Sea.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
Mmmmmmm.

 

I got pljukanci (spindle-shaped homemade pasta) with ox meat. Also, that white wine is Istrian Malvasia, and it is ON POINT. (If anyone knows where I can get some in Texas, pls let me know.)

We also found fun things at the Billa – which was the grocery store we lived near for a month.

Like little iced coffee juice boxes! And 35 cent chocolate bars!

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
Why is this not a thing everywhere? Is Pula heaven??

 

We also found “guacamole kits” – a little container of all the produce you need to make (phenomenal) guacamole.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
UMM YES. People, always say yes to guacamole.

 

So if you want to be a temporary local, totally check out the grocery store! It’s always interesting to see what kinds of foods are available in other countries.

Quick recap: A) ALL THE BAKERIES, B) Istrian restaurants with local food, C) Random, amazing grocery store finds, D) Eat all the delicious food

 

12) Take a day trip!

Is it cheating to make one of my “things to do in Pula” going somewhere else?

Ummm, I don’t care.

 

Because Rovinj is less than an hour away and IT IS ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia – Go to Rovinj | The Travel Medley
Yes, this is a real place. AND YOU MUST GO THERE.

 

If you can’t tell, I have very strong feelings about Rovinj. They can be summarized as follows:

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia – Go to Rovinj | The Travel Medley

 

I’m serious, y’all. Don’t miss out. YOU MUST GO THERE OR I WILL YELL AT YOU IN ALL CAPS. (Unless you’re an American, in which case, stay away.)

And now I’m starting to get feisty, so let’s wrap this post up…

 

WOOOOO okay, so that was my 12 things for you to do!

It’s true. Pula is small. It has a population of 60,000 people, and we could walk across the entire city in about 45 minutes.

It’s not really on people’s radars.

And this is the airport.

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
Not a joke.

 

But I give you permission to ignore Rick Steves when he says to spend, “two or three hours” in Pula, and “there’s no reason to spend the night.”

Because after a month here, Pula was like a second home to me. And it has plenty to offer for those willing to explore.

Also…

 

What to do in Pula, Croatia | The Travel Medley
THIS.

 

Do I really need to say more?

 

 

HEY. Did you enjoy this post? Are you traveling to Croatia soon?

Check out my other blog posts on this beautiful country!

 

 

        

Comments

  1. Reply

    Is rick steeve relly some reference to US tourists? I read somewhere that he give advice for cheap travel, but then I saw group of americans coming with RS agency on their “east european tour” and what’s best that tour cost what a fucking fuck 4500$ Per person WITHOUT flights to/from europe for fucking 16 days. Really cheap.

  2. Reply

    Hi Bri,
    I’ve lived in Istra, Porec my whole life, and I am very surprised you enjoyed Pula that much. Comparing to Rovinj, Porec, Vrsar, Novigrad… Pula is really not a very preety city, but you definitely took the best out of it. Glad you liked it Istra this much! If you ever come again, consider spending your time in other cityies, plus take a roadtrip to Groznjan, Motovun(Google it, you will understand) 🙂
    And very admirable that you took the time to learn some croatian, you girl are not a tipical american, bravo for you! 🙂 plus you know whats good! Malvazija all day every day!
    But since you have an airport in Pula, Rt Kamenjak is a must see there. And Opatija as a city also!

  3. Reply

    Hi Bri,

    I’m actually moving to Pula next week so it was nice to read your post.

    Although I know quite a few locals and I’m sure they have the inside scoop, when you go to a place you always look at it differently than locals do (at least I did the last 9 times I moved to another country 😀 ).

    So (as we have a saying in dutch that translates to:”forward/cheeky people own half the world), any must do/must know tips for daily living that aren’t in here?

    1. Reply

      Hi Walter!

      Thanks for your comments, and kudos on not choosing Zadar as your new home (haha, JK!)

      That’s exciting that you’re moving to Pula! I thought it was a fun city. It’s a great hub for exploring Istria, and of course, the proximity to Rovinj is awesome.

      I’m sure you will get plenty of tips from the locals and learn a lot by just wandering around on your own! The Lighting Giants (cranes lit up at night) are cool – I wouldn’t call them a “must see,” but if you’re going to live there, might as well meander down to the harbor at night sometime. Since I grew up in Texas, I also appreciated El Pulari Parasol for some “Mexican” food in Croatia! (Not super authentic, but very different from the other restaurants in town.)

      Most of my favorite things are already in this post! I’m a big fan of wandering around and popping into random bakeries and bars. (None of them disappointed me in Pula!) Enjoy your new home & have a glass of malvazija for me. Živjeli! 🙂

  4. Reply

    Hi Bri, your info is brilliant, thank you very much for posting this. Can you please tell me where the inflatables on the water are and do you have to book in advance to go on them?

    1. Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the post! The inflatables are on the beach right by the Metta Float SUP rentals and Verudela resort. I don’t think they require an advance reservation, but it’s possible things may have changed since I was there! Hope you have fun on the beach 🙂

  5. Reply

    Hey,

    Nice post which is very helpful for my trip to Pula in september!
    The idea with a daytrip to Rovinj is very nice, but can you tell, where the place exactly is, where the picture with the small chair and table at the water was taken?

    Greetings from Germany!

    1. Reply

      I’m glad you found this post helpful. And YES, please go to Rovinj!!! The picture of the table and chair is taken right outside of a clothing boutique – down some stairs on a tiny back street almost directly across from Hotel Angelo d’Oro <3

  6. Reply

    I’m really glad to read this nice text about the town where I was born. It is always quite interesting to read what people from other parts of the world think about our city, us and our customs. If I may, i would like to add one important detail to your sentence “Pula is a small town”: “… where at least 50 bands actively plays at every moment”. Pula is strongly connected with one certain type of music. In fact, it is popularly known as Pula Rock City – and this Pula travel guide explaines the reason why. In other words, when it comes to “what to do in Pula”, music-related things represent a great variety of possibilities 🙂

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