Pula: top 5 things to do in Croatia’s ancient beach town

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The town of Pula is over three millennia old, and the history of the place is evident everywhere you look. From the wonderfully preserved Roman Amphitheater and Temple of Augustus to the Arch of the Sergii and 17th-century baroque castle, the old town is the perfect place for a lazy stroll.

As Pula is also a coastal town, there are beautiful swimming spots nearby. In summer this means the town becomes incredibly busy with tourists, so I’d definitely recommend visiting in shoulder season (late April to May) when the weather is lovely and the crowds are yet to arrive.

 

Here are five unmissable things to do in Pula

 

1. Swim at Uvala Valovine and Cyclon’s Beach

Perfectly clear blue/green water accessed by large rocks or pebble beaches. There’s also a camping ground here and shops with ice cream, bakery items and a seafood restaurant.

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2. Sunset Drinks at the Amphitheater

There’s a perfect little local bar on the northern side of the amphitheater that serves local Istra Bitters for 1.5€ and has outdoor seats looking out to the ruins and sea beyond.

3. Walk the Foreshore and Explore Abandoned Areas

To the north-west of the train station a patchwork bridge leads over the river to a path along the foreshore where abandoned buildings, jetties and boats abound. My favourite kind of place to explore.

4. Enjoy a Seafood Dinner in the Old Town

For 20€ at one of the many restaurants near the Forum area of the old town you can get a whole grilled fish with vegetables, a glass of wine, delicious tiramisu and espresso to finish off the meal.

5. Take a Day Trip or Evening Cruise to Brijun National Park

In the end I didn’t visit this island but it’s something I’d love to do on a return trip. You can take a local bus to Fazana for around 2€ and then a boat to the island (around 20€ for the boat and entrance fee) or take one of the many excursion boats directly from Pula. I saw a 3 hour evening cruise around the national park from 5-8pm where they point out the main sites and hope to see dolphins. The cruise is around 25€ including all the wine and beer you can drink in 3 hours.

Travel Budgeting: Croatia- Zagreb, Pula & Rovinji

Coming from Vienna, Croatia was a welcome return to budget travel. Here is what you can expect to pay in shoulder season (late April/early May).

City: Zagreb, Pula and Rovinj

Travel Style: Budget

Currency: Croatian Kuna (Kn): 1€ = 7.5Kn

Daily Spend: 43.5€ / 320Kn

 

Cost Breakdown

Accommodation:

11 nights = 145€

12€ per night for one nights a 8 bed dorm at World Wide Hostel. This place is amazing if you’re in your early 20s and still love to play beer pong every night. If not then head to Swanky Mint or similar.

15€ per night for three nights a 8 bed dorm at the Swanky Mint in Zagreb. This hostel is touted as the best in Croatia and while the bar, common areas and bedroom facilities definitely lived up to that, I had the worst night sleep during my stay because of noise out the courtyard window and squeaky wooden beds.

11€ per night for six nights a 6 bed dorm room at Riva Hostel in Pula. This hostel is in a great location, a little run down but good value for money and run by a local with a big heart. Romano has recently bought the place and plans to renovate it soon.

22€ for one night in a 4 bed dorm at Roubdabout Hostel in Rovinji. This was the cheapest option I could find but also highly recommended.

Transport:

11 days = 63.5€ 

-Flexibus from Vienna to Zagreb: 15€

-Tram to the centre: a ticket is cheap but in Zagreb tourists can often get away with not having one- unlike Budapest!!

-Walking around Zagreb- it’s small and manageable by foot

-Flixbus from Zagreb to Pula: 21€

-Pula is also small and you can walk. To get to the beach is around an hour walk from the old town, bikes can be rented for around 13€ a day. A local bus in the region costs around 2€.

-Flixbus from Pula to Rovinj: 4.5€

-Again walking around Rovinj is the way to go.

-Flixbus from Rovinj to Venice: 23€

Food & Drink:

11 days = 260€ / 23.6 day

Breakfast: 15kn (2€) for a cappuccino and large savory pastry at a local bakery

Lunch: 10Kn (1.3€) for a huge salad roll

Ice cream: 8kn (1€)

Dinner: 130Kn (18€) for whole grilled fish with vegetables, glass of white wine, amazing tiramisu and espresso at a restaurant near the Forum.

Aperitif: 10kn (1.3€) for the local Istra Bitters at the outdoor bar overlooking the Amphitheater

Activities:

11€

7€ (50kn) entrance to the amphitheater

4€ ticket to the local cinema

 

Total spent:

497.5€ / 11 nights = 43.5€ per day