Its history started about 3000 years ago when it was built by Illyrians. Romans occupied Istria in 177 BC. After the destruction of the Western Roman Empire, the Istrian peninsula was devastated by Ostrogoths. Slavs came in Istria during migration period in 7th century but mostly lived on countryside. At that time Pula was still inhabited mostly by Italians. Landlords in Pula changed quite frequently in the Middle Ages from the Republic of Venice to Genoa to Illyrian Provinces and Austria–Hungary. After the Second World War, it became part of Croatia. At that time, many Italians fled to Italy and Pula was settled by Croats. Although most of the population is Croatian, there are several large minority groups in Pula such as Serbs, Italians, Bosniaks and Slovenes.
Most tourists visit in the summer months, with most attractions and restaurants closing between October and May.
The climate of Pula is warm to hot during the summer months, and cool to cold during winter. Average temperatures during July, the hottest month range from 18° to 29°, while in January, the coldest month, temperatures range from an average low of 1° to 10° Spring and autumn are generally mild in comparison
- 1 Pula Airport (PUY IATA). Pula has its own international airport with daily flights to Zagreb, and direct services from many European cities including Amsterdam, Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Oslo, Vienna and Zurich. Ryanair operates direct flights from London three times a week. Many flights to Pula are charter rather than scheduled, while other flights are seasonal (summer only).
There is a scheduled bus service from the bus station in town to the airport. Buses are operated by Brioni and connect to most major flights. The cost of a one-way ticket is 25 kn. A taxi from the bus station to the city should be around 85 kn in the low season and much higher in the summer.
Shuttle buses from the Pula bus station to Pula airport leave at 5-10 times a day. The cost is 30 kn. (last updated 10-Jul-2022)
The large and modern bus station is on the edge of the 'old town' district and is the hub of local, domestic and international bus routes. There are direct buses from Zagreb, Rijeka, Split, Trieste, Ljubljana, Belgrade and Venice. Online timetables are listed at Brioni and Pula Info.
There is also a train station near the waterfront with services serving Istria and into Slovenia due to historical circumstance rather than back towards the rest of Croatia (though a connecting coach service operates for services to Rijeka and Zagreb). Ticket prices, timetables and other information are on the Croatian Railways website.
Hitchhiking from Zagreb works very well. In Zagreb start from the petrol station after the "Billa" supermarket on the southside of the Sava river. In Rijeka ask people to drop you off at the little SOS stop after a pretty sharp right bend of the motor way around Rijeka.
Hydrofoil services operate from the wharf both around the Croatian coastline, and across to Venice. These are pricey, though provide a quick journey and provide some great views.
Venezia Lines ferry connects Pula with Venice. It runs five times a week, travel time is around 3 hr.
- 2 Pula railway station (Željeznički kolodvor Pula).
For local transport you can use the taxi service. There's a company offering taxi services now for 15-20 kn/5 km. Search for Taxi Cammeo on every phonebook, or hail one of their vehicles down. Local, owner-operated taxis are more expensive.
Buses are expensive (11 kn per card, per person, per ride), however, if you plan on using the Pulapromet only, you should make yourself a BusCard. The BusCard is a electromagnetic ticket that you can fill with money and then use cheaper bus rides. The price of a buscard is 30 kn but they usually sell them for 70 kn which includes 40 kn credit you can use on the bus. The BusCard reduces drastically the price of the ride making it a 6 kn per hour on the city lines (lines 1 to 9). Also, up to 5 people can use the same BusCard at the same moment, for the same bus. Also, the money on the BusCard is forever, meaning you can save it for the next time you come to Pula without fearing money loss.
If you want to take a small backpack with you on an Autotrans bus, first ask the driver if this is OK before buying the ticket. Otherwise you might be refused entry on the bus and your ticket will not be refunded, even if you have bought it from the driver just 2 minutes earlier (the Brioni company seems OK -onboard small backpacks are allowed, but you have to insist.)
All buses have a luggage area. The service is charged separately from the ticket and it usually costs 7 kn. Every ticket can be refunded at the ticket office (a fee will be charged). There should be no problem taking a small backpack or a small suitcase on the bus as long as you can fit it in the overhead compartment (which is rather small) or under your seat/legs.
If you have a car, be aware that parking in the city center can be hard to come by and is rather expensive at 7 kn/hr. Parking tickets generally cost 100 kn and the attendants make the rounds frequently.
- 1 Arena (Roman amphitheatre). The 6th largest surviving Roman amphitheatre. Towering over the nearby buildings this huge structure was barely saved from destruction several times during its life, mostly by various Venetians with plans to take it to Venice stone by stone as demonstration of the might of the Venetian empire. Many stones were taken to build houses and other structures around Pula, but fortunately this practice was stopped before the whole structure was destroyed. Entry gives you access to wander the inside of the Colosseum and visit the caverns beneath. The audio tour is very worthwhile. 50 kn regular, 25 kn for pupils and students.
- 2 The Forum. The Forum is the main square in the centre of the city. The square is built on the site of the ancient Roman forum. On the square there is a city hall that was built in the 10th century (parts of an old temple were used for the building as it can be seen on the rear side of the hall) and the Temple of August, from the first century.
- 3 Archeological Museum of Istria, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Zlatna vrata (Triumphal arch, 1st century BC), Dvojna vrata (Twin gate, 2-3rd century), Herkulova vrata (Hercules gate, 1st century BC).
- St. Francis church and monastery, 14th century
- Orthodox church, 6th century
- Kaštel, a castle from the 17th century features Istrian history museum
- Malo rimsko kazalište, little Roman theatre behind the Archaeology museum
- Mornaričko groblje, Sailors' cemetery (1866), about 150,000 soldiers of Austro-Hungarian nations were buried there, and Mornarička crkva, Sailors' Church
- 4 Church of St. Blaze (St. Biagio church), Vodnjan (12 km N of centre on Vodnjan cesta). The biggest church in Istria has the remains of 6 mummified saints. It also has a reliquary with 380 relics.
- Visit Brijuni. Group of islands famous for their scenic beauty. They are a holiday resort and a Croatian National Park. They were also settled in Roman times and were part of Republic of Venice. There is also the famous residence of Josip Broz Tito (leader of former Yugoslavia). Boats go from small town near Pula named Fažana [dead link].
- Go on Fish picnic. You can take a walk through local marina and check out timetables and prices. Prices are usually around 250 kn per person.
- Walk down the Sergijevaca street where are many small shops, souvenir shops, bars and even sweet shops.
- Spend a whole day on beaches of Kamenjak , near Premantura (8 km from Pula). This peninsula is southernmost point of Istria, and features stunning landscapes and protected nature.
- Discover abandoned Austro-Hungarian fortresses [dead link], constructed just before World War I, when Pula was most fortified city in Europe. Some of those fortresses are hidden in the forests, and some are now occupied by Pula residents for different purposes, including Punta Christo, which operates as a summer club and music festival venue.
- Visit Pula Film Festival takes place yearly in the Arena in the second half of July.
- Truffles — Istria is famous for its truffles and various truffle products.
- Malvazija and Teran — Istrian wine varieties.
- Medica — a honey rakija.
- Biska — a rakija with mistletoe.
In the city centre
- 1 Restaurant Orfej, Ul. Porta Stovagnana 15. Great seafood in the centre, and cheaper than surrounding restaurants.
- 2 Popaj, Maksimijanova ul. 4. Temporarily closed as of May 2022
- 3 Furia, Narodni trg 9. Seafood
Near the city centre
- 4 Kod Kadre, Ul. Nikole Tesle 51.
Outside the centre
- 5 Pizzeria Asterix, Piranesijev prilaz 11. The best pizza in town. You should try the Asterix pizza, which means you can have a pizza divided into thirds, with a different toppings on each one.
- Restaurant Farabuto. Excellent light and delicious slow food. (updated May 2022)
- Restaurant Galeb, Osječka 37, Monterizzi, Stoja. You won't find this one in any tourist guide, but everyone in the city knows the place: they serve best "chevapchichi" (minced meat, 5 cm x 1½ cm) in the city. (updated May 2022)
- Restaurant Gina [formerly dead link]. Temporarily closed as of May 2022. Excellent food in a unique setting that combines elegance with history.
- Pizzeria Jupiter. Near Arena, the Roman amphitheatre - very good pizza. (updated May 2022)
- Restaurant El Pulari. A Mexican restaurant. (updated May 2022)
Drinking is a pleasurable pastime in Croatia. Since Pula is a very popular place for tourists bars are easy to find.
Tourist information can provide you with a list of accommodation in Pula, although they will not make reservations for you.
- 1 Hostel Pipištrelo, Flaciusova 6 (na Rivi), ☏ , email@example.com. In the centre of Pula, close to the main town square forum. The rooms are individual mini art galleries and the whole hostel is a design project bursting with spirit. €17-23.50.
- 2 [dead link] Pula Art Hostel, Marulićeva 41, ☏ . Small, family-run, refurbished art hostel in the centre of Pula. This hostel offers 2 fully equipped kitchens and beds for couples; grill on terrace; free Wi-Fi; 24-hr access; cable TV. €17-27.
- 3 Youth Hostel, Zaljev Valsaline 4, ☏ . And youth camp. Not such a nice looking place, but it is 10 meters from the beach, so you can almost jump directly from your bedroom right into the sea. (To get there, take bus 2a from the city (3a to return) and get off at Zlatne Stijene then follow the signs.)
- Hotel Riviera (1-star). Fabulous looking hotel built in 1907 for the high-ranking officers in the Austro-Hungarian army. Never properly refurbished since then it is now showing its age, but structurally it is impressive and looks oh-so-grand from the outside. The rooms are decked out with 1960s/70s fittings (orange bed covers, brown wooden panelling, lime green phone), with the sparseness showing the lack of funds for upkeep. Having said all that, it's clean, tidy, and comfortable. No doubt within a few years someone will make the investment to bring it back to its former glory. Quite expensive for its facilities.
- Villa Mihaela. 3 apartments for 2-4 persons. Each of the apartments has a parking lot, and is equipped with air conditioner, SAT TV, and all other appliances that will make your stay pleasant.
- Apartments Alexandra & Erika, Kozada 12/a, Štinjan, Pula, ☏ . Attractive apartments in the proximity of the well-known Brijuni Islands national park. A quiet place in a family house, built in 2004. in Štinjan only a few kilometres away from the centre of Pula. Air-con, SAT TV, fridge with freezer, kitchen with all the accessories, cooking stove (electricity+gas), washing machine, balcony.
- [dead link] Apartments with Swimming pool Slivar (Apartments pool Pula), Samagher 17 (veli vrh, Pula North). Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. 3 modern fully equipped apartments for 2-6 persons in a calm part of Pula 150 m from the sea and 3 km from the beach. The spacious swimming pool in situated in the garden (over 1500 m²). The apartments feature: Satellite TV, microwave owen, coffee machine, and two apartments also offer a washing machine and air condition. Free use of grill, bikes and lockers.
- Amfiteatar Hotel, Amfiteatarska (100 m from the Roman Amfiteatar and the Marina), ☏ . Small modern hotel with en suite, flat screen TV, A/C, free Wi-Fi and a top class restaurant. Close to bus, rail and ferry, 12 minutes from the airport.
As of Sept 2021, Pula and the coastal highway have 4G from A1 and Tele2, and 5G from T-Mobile. Wifi is widely available in public places.
- National Park Brijuni - The beautiful Brijuni islands [dead link] (also referred to as Brioni) stretch alongside the south-west coast of the Istrian peninsula. The national park offers too many attractions for all of them to be described here (dinosaur footprints, archaeological finds and sites, a little zoo, extremely rich flora and fauna, beautiful beaches, a former resort for European royals) so visit their website [dead link] for more information.
- Rovinj, Rovigno
- Poreč, Parenzo
- Grožnjan, Grisignana
- Motovun, Montona