If you like a good comeback story, Pula, Croatia is a great summer holiday destination for you. This seaside city, located on the Istrian Peninsula, was first settled during prehistoric times, but has been taken over by multiple different conquering forces, destroyed by them, and then rebuilt again over and over. Today, you can still see influences from the Romans, Venetians, Ostrogoths, and even the Allied Forces who occupied it during World War II.
Let’s take a look at everything that makes this indefatigable city so great.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Pula, Croatia?
Like much of the rest of Croatia, the best time to visit Pula is during the summer months of June, July, and August. July is the ideal month in terms of dry weather, as there is typically not much chance of precipitation this month at all. It is also the warmest month, so you can spend your days swimming in the sea and lounging on the beach in the sunshine.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Pula, Croatia
Visit the Museum
In a place like Pula, full of so much history, it’s no surprise that a museum should be one of your first stops. While Pula’s Temple of Augustus was once considered to be the town’s museum, there were simply too many ancient artifacts to display there. So, the Archeological Museum of Istria was born. It began during the early 19th century as a collection of monuments from the Stone Age, then quickly grew to include other artifacts, not just from Pula, but from all over the Istrian Peninsula. New exhibits are being added all the time, thanks to all the historically significant pieces being found in the region on a near-constant basis.
Marvel at the Triumphal Arch of Sergius
The name is a mouthful, to be sure, but this stunning archway is definitely worth a visit. Built to honor the members of the local Sergii family, who died heroically fighting in a battle between their Emperor Octavian’s Roman army and Mark Antony’s Egyptian/Roman army, the Triumphal Arch of Sergius acts as a beautiful gateway into the old town center.
The deliciousness of Croatian wine is a not-so-well kept secret. While it isn’t usually exported to other countries (the wine is produced and consumed within Croatia itself), those in the know will tell you that its quality rivals that of Italy. To get a taste of Pula’s wine culture, you can go on a wine tasting in one of the lovely, sprawling vineyards on the countryside or take an organized wine tour, during which you can sample wine from multiple different wineries.
Some of the Best Attractions in Pula, Croatia
Think the only place you can see a real Roman Colosseum is in Rome itself? Think again! Pula has its own Roman Amphitheater that is among the most in-tact in the world. In some ways, it is actually more complete than the more-famous Colosseum in Rome, because you can still see almost all of its three-story-tall walls full of arched windows and the four towers standing around it. You can also still visit the passages used by Gladiators beneath it.
Built in the 17th century as the main stronghold of the Venetian forces in the area, Fortress Kastel looks out over the Adriatic Sea near Pula’s harbor, protecting the center of Pula from attacks coming from the bay, the port, or the city itself. The walls of this intimidating fortress are laid out in a star pattern which, historians say, was meant to help it avoid direct hits by enemy artillery after the invention of gunpowder. Today, the site acts as the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria, but around the front you can still see the canons left behind by the Venetians all those centuries ago.
You would never expect to find something so fun and innocent as an aquarium inside what was once a military complex, but that is exactly what you get with Aquarium Pula. Located inside Fort Verudela, this site combines the city’s rich military history and unique aquatic life to give you something you can’t see anywhere else. Aquarium Pula is the largest aquarium in Croatia, containing hundreds of species of fish from the Adriatic and beyond. Visitors can walk through a room devoted entirely to seahorses, see sharks swimming in what was once the fortress’ atrium, and visit a turtle rescue center, where injured turtles are nursed back to health.
These are just some of the best attractions in Croatia, so be sure to check our main guide for more.
Other Sights Worth a Visit in Pula, Croatia
While it may not look like much at first glance, The Gate of Hercules is also worth a look, because it is one of the oldest pieces of Roman architecture still standing in Pula. You can also see the “Small Roman Theater,” where Ancient Greeks and Romans once put on shows full of singing, music, and dancing.
In fact, Pula is so full of Roman architecture that it could almost be on par with Rome itself. Just don’t forget to visit all the sights from the other significant periods in its history as well!