Croatia or Italy? Let’s be honest: When you see the gigantic amphitheater in Pula, this question is not unjustified. Pula actually exudes Italian flair in some corners.
Pula is the largest city in Istria and one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Croatian peninsula. Although we have to be honest: Compared to other places in Croatia, Pula didn’t knock us off our feet as much as we expected or hoped for. (More on that in a moment.)
Nevertheless, the port town with its impressive sights is of course worth a visit. South of Pula there are also some of the most beautiful beaches in Istria at Cape Kamenjak .
In this article on our travel blog, we will tell you what to expect on a holiday in Pula. Of course, as always, there are our personal tips and recommendations.
1. What awaits you in Pula and at Cape Kamenjak: First travel tips & FAQs Where is Pula or Cape Kamenjak & how do I get there? We jump on the map to the peninsula of Istria in the north of Croatia. The port city of Pula is located in the very south of Istria. Only a few kilometers away, at the extreme southern tip of the peninsula, you reach Cape Kamenjak – a protected natural landscape with countless bays and beaches.
Pula has the largest airport in Istria. So if you come from northern Germany, for example, you can travel comfortably by plane and then (if desired) rent a car on site. You can find cheap flights on Skyscanner, for example. We always book our rental car through Sunny Cars.
If you don’t have it that far, we recommend arriving by car. From Vienna or Munich you can reach Pula in around six hours – not including traffic jams at the border, of course. Important: A vignette is required to drive through Slovenia (available in front of the border). The toll in Croatia, on the other hand, is simply paid at the counter.
What can I look forward to during a holiday in Pula? City holidays & culture: Pula is with over 80. inhabitants the largest city in Istria. So anyone who expects seclusion is wrong in Pula. Pula is very urban. And: There are quite a few sights in Pula. Italian flair: The Italian heritage in Istria can be particularly felt in Pula . Roman buildings are enthroned on some street corners, so that one could almost believe one has landed in Italy. We really liked this exciting mix of culture and architecture. Beaches: Not far from Pula you will find some fantastic beaches, including of course all of them the picturesque bays in the Cape Kamenjak Nature Park. Pula is therefore a good travel destination for combining beach and city holidays. What we don’t want to leave unmentioned: between Pula and us it’s not like that very “clicked” like it was the case in other Croatian cities. Why is that? Good question, we’re not so sure about that ourselves.
Despite the really impressive sights, we found Pula’s old town less charming than, for example, that of Rovinj. But that may be different with you. So if you have had a different experience, please let us know in the comments below this article.
How many days should I spend for Pula and that Plan Cape Kamenjak? The first question you should ask yourself is: Do you want to stay overnight in Pula or “only “ Take a trip there? We personally tend towards the latter (because we find Rovinj, for example, more appealing) – but that’s a matter of taste.
In principle, you can explore the region (i.e. Pula and Cape Kamenjak) as part of a day trip: In the morning you visit the most important sights and highlights in the Center of Pula, afternoon excursion to the beaches of Cape Kamenjak. And in the evening you can even stop for a sunset stroll including dinner in Pula.
But of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with staying a few nights in Pula or even spending your entire Istrian vacation there. Although Pula is located in the very south of Istria, thanks to the short travel times within the peninsula, you can reach practically all places worth seeing in Istria in less than an hour by car.
What is the best time to travel to Pula? As for all places in Istria, our recommendation is: If possible not in the high season. Croatia is simply an incredibly popular holiday destination and Istria in particular, it is extremely busy in the summer months.
We are of course aware that it is not possible otherwise, especially for families with children, so don’t worry: Of course you can also July or August travel to Pula. However, be prepared for quite crowded beaches, well-booked hotels and reserved restaurants.
If it is possible, we recommend a trip ideally in spring or autumn. We were in Pula at the beginning of June, but we set ourselves an example also very nice for September.
2. Pula: The most beautiful sights & tips Amphitheater in Pula Let’s start this chapter right away with the highlight in Pula, the landmark of the city and undoubtedly the most important building: the gigantic Roman amphitheater in Pula.
The amphitheater sits enthroned in the heart of the city centre. The huge dimensions do not deceive: the amphitheater is actually the sixth largest in antiquity and one of the best preserved.
You can visit the amphitheater from the inside, but in principle you can also see everything important from the outside, as the building is easily accessible from practically all sides.
Castle of Pula We experienced a positive surprise at the Castle of Pula. We didn’t expect too much, but in fact you will be rewarded with a beautiful view from a bird’s eye view over Pula to the amphitheater.
The castle is located near the center on the highest hill in Pula. You reach it after a short climb. Since we were there after the opening hours, it was no longer possible to visit the fort. But that didn’t bother us at all, because the highlight here should be the view anyway and you can experience it around the clock completely free of charge.
Our tip: At sunset it is particularly atmospheric up here. Just pack a well-chilled drink from the old town and do the same as the local youngsters – but please don’t forget to take your rubbish with you!
Temple of Augustus & former forum On the Forum, the former main square, another important sight of Pula is enthroned: The Temple of Augustus. Incredible 2. years is this monumental building old.
Although the temple is not even that big, we find it very impressive to look at. On the one hand, it looks so well-proportioned and, on the other hand, it bears witness to the eventful history of this place. Together with the neighboring town hall , the temple makes a great photo motif.
A few cafes and restaurants are located on the edge of the forum itself. Especially in the evening before sunset, the atmosphere in this busy square is really nice.
Sergian Arch (= Golden Gate) Another such Roman remnant that is really worth seeing is the so-called Sergian arch. It is also called the Triumphal Arch or the Golden Gate because it was once adorned with lavish gilding.
The Arch of the Sergians is located in the center of Pula, at the beginning of the pedestrian zone. Directly behind it you get so to speak in the shopping street with many boutiques and souvenir shops.
This over 2.000 (!) Years old, eight meter high jewel is worth seeing from both sides. The western side, facing the city, is ornately decorated in the Corinthian style.
Pula Market Hall The striking Art Nouveau market hall of Pula is quite an eye-catcher from an architectural point of view. It now houses the fish market. If you want to see the market hall from the inside, you have to be prepared for a corresponding odor backdrop.
Outside in front of the market hall, a kind of farmer’s market takes place. In addition to an incredible variety of fruit and vegetables, the stalls also sell cheese, honey and Croatian specialties. To be honest, we liked it better there than in the market hall, but that’s probably a matter of taste.
3. Cape Kamenjak: Excursion to the nature reserve The Cape Kamenjak on the southernmost tip of Istria is, so to speak, THE excursion destination around Pula. It’s just 000 by car from the center of Pula. Some of the most beautiful bays and beaches in Istria can be found along the rugged coast of Cape Kamenjak.
How can I explore Cape Kamenjak? The entrance gate to Cape Kamenjak is the small village Premantura. To the south, the road leads directly to the Kamenjak Nature Park. If you arrive by car, you pay Kuna entry – for pedestrians and cyclists entry is free.
You can see most of Kap Ka menjak drive by car. Now comes the big BUT. The roads or, more precisely, the gravel or sand tracks are really extremely bumpy in some sections. Or to put it another way: there were moments when we worried a little about the tires on our car. In addition, an incredible amount of dust is stirred up and at the end of the day you urgently need a car wash.
Would we go by car again? Might be. Because the alternative, namely jetting through the dust on a bicycle, we imagine to be even less pleasant. And on foot, in our opinion (if you want to see more than just the top part of Cape Kamenjak), the distances are just too far.
A pleasant, probably less stressful alternative to the land route could be a boat trip. Numerous tours are offered, starting in Pula, for example, and heading for various bays and caves. The disadvantage of such boat tours is, of course, that you are time-bound and not on your own.
You can book the tour here: Boat tour Cape Kamenjak from Pula
It also has to be a highlight be exploring the bays and caves along the coast by kayak. If that interests you, then there are also great tours that you can book through GetYourGuide, for example.
You can book the tour here: Kayak -Tour at Cape Kamenjak
What can I expect at Cape Kamenjak? Cape Kamenjak is primarily a destination for a bathing day. All those who want to explore the beaches around Pula can hardly avoid Cape Kamenjak.
The more scenic beaches are more on the west coast. For example, the bay called Pinižule (shown in the first photo) is beautiful.
The south of Cape Kamenjak is a paradise for cliff divers. On the beach called Mala Kolombarica (seen on the second photo) you can take the plunge. But please be careful and don’t overestimate yourself. Means: Jump from a low step first and pay attention to where there are rocks in the water.
Right next door is the legendary Safari Bar. It is considered one of the highlights at Cape Kamenjak. A spacious outdoor bar awaits you here, the flair of which is somewhat reminiscent of Jamaica. There are simpler dishes to eat, such as burgers, but of course you can also “just” have a drink. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one of the pitches with a sea view.
Is Cape Kamenjak overcrowded? Let’s put it this way: During our visit at the beginning of June there was a lot more going on than expected. That means: No sign of lonely bays, quite a lot of traffic on the gravel roads and a well-attended Safari Bar, where you hardly got a seat.
We could imagine that Cape Kamenjak will be even more crowded in midsummer. In this respect, we can certainly understand some of the opinions that speak of an “overcrowded” excursion destination, but we didn’t find it that bad during our visit.
Long story short: don’t get carried away by the wording Don’t be fooled by the “nature reserve” and especially in midsummer in the afternoon don’t expect any lonely stretches of land – especially not at the hotspots like around the Safari Bar. The Cape is quite a visitor -Magnet.
4. Accommodation in Pula: Hotel tips Option 1: On the Beach You should If you are looking for a wonderful beachfront accommodation, then we can warmly recommend the Boutique Hotel Valsabbion. This 4-star hotel is definitely one of the best in Pula.
Extremely quiet location right on private beach area is excellent. All around you will find numerous restaurants for dinner within walking distance.
The entire hotel is modern and furnished with a lot of attention to detail. There are only a few rooms – you can look forward to a very pleasant ambience. The breakfast is also said to be excellent.
You can book the hotel here: Boutique Hotel Valsabbion
Option 2: In town In In the center of Pula, the accommodation offer is more limited to apartments and less to classic hotels. The Apartments Forum and the associated Apartments Forum 2 are highly recommended.
As the name suggests, you stay here near the Forum, one of the most famous places in Pula, where the Augustus Temple, and thus right in the city center. The apartments are very tastefully and modernly furnished.
Our conclusion: The apartments are certainly not the first choice for a longer vacation. But if your focus is more on sightseeing in the center of Pula and you only stay one or two nights, you’ve come to the right place.
You can book accommodation here: Apartments Forum or Apartments Forum 2
Transparency: Affiliate Links 32639 This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!32641
Have you ever been to Pula and/or Cape Kamenjak? How did you like it? Do you have any other tips or experiences to add to this article? We look forward to your comment!