Taylor-Pula5

Rovinj, Croatia during sunset

One of the most beautiful areas of Croatia is the Istria Peninsula. Located on the Adriatic Sea, Istria is situated in Northern Croatia near the Slovenian and Italian border. It is a region known for its culinary scene, wine, pristine beaches, gorgeous hilltop cities, Roman history and more. During an Istria Vacation, it is best that you visit the cities of Pula and Rovinj.

In August 2021, I did a memorable Balkans trip with Ashley of World to Wander. We started our journey in Venice, Italy before making our way to spend a weekend in Slovenia. From there, we made our way back to Trieste, Italy before heading into Croatia where we spent two nights in Pula, two nights in Split, one night in Hvar and four nights in Dubrovnik.

A woman walking the waterfront in Rovinj, Croatia

Ashley and I also did a day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park from Pula to Split (it was a little out of the way) as well as day trips to Mostar (from Split) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kotor (from Dubrovnik) in Montenegro. We also enjoyed a lovely day on the island of Korčula from Hvar to Dubrovnik. All these destinations in the Balkans were amazing in their own special ways.

Croatia is in the Balkans region of Europe. It is a predominately Roman Catholic country and it was part of the former Yugoslavia. The country of Croatia has 1246 islands; boasts stunning beaches; has 11 nature parks, eight National Parks and two nature reserves.  

A woman enjoying her Istria vacation

During our Balkans trip, we spent the most of our time in Croatia. Our first Croatian destination on our vacation was to Pula and Rovinj in the Istria region. There is so much charm, history and culture to be discovered in Istria, Croatia.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


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Istria Vacation in Pula & Rovinj, Croatia

Traveling to Istria for Vacation:

The main square in Pula, Croatia

The best ways to get to Croatia is by flying, renting a car or taking public transportation. The main airport in Istria to get to Pula and Rovinj is Pula Airport. The airport is around a 10-minute drive east from the heart of Pula town and it is an estimated 40-minute drive southeast from the heart of Rovinj. You can find affordable flights through Skyscanner.

Since we traveled to the Istria Peninsula from Trieste, Italy, we took the bus to Pula. Overall, the bus is the best way to get to both Pula and Rovinj and you can purchase tickets on GetbyBus.

The drive from the Trieste bus station to the Pula bus station is over an hour and a half, but since Croatia is not part of the European Union, you will need to go through customs and border patrol. The line to enter Croatia can take up to a few minutes to a few hours. Thankfully, the line wasn’t long for us, and it took around two hours to get from Trieste to Pula.

Strolling the streets of Rovinj

(If you have never traveled around Europe before, it is important to know that you don’t have to go through customs and border protection if you are traveling from one EU country to the next. It only applies to countries outside of the European Union.)

Once we were in Pula, we rented a car from the airport since we would be exploring around Croatia moving forward and it was easiest for us to have our own vehicle that way. If you are looking to explore everything that Pula and Rovinj has to offer during your Istria vacation, I recommend renting a car.

Another way to get to Istria, if you fly into Venice or start your trip there, is to take the ferry from Venice to Rovinj or vice versa.

Best Place to Stay in Istria – Pula or Rovinj?

Beautiful buildings in Rovinj, Croatia

When it comes to choosing where to stay during an Istria vacation, most people decide between Pula or Rovinj. For Ashley and me, we chose Pula because it is a tad larger than Rovinj and less touristy.

The accessibility in Pula is better than Rovinj because it is closer to the airport and has a bus station. In addition, Pula is a little more affordable than Rovinj.

Rovinj, on the other hand, is one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia and it draws a lot of international visitors. Because the city is a little smaller than Pula, it does draw more crowds.

No matter where you choose to stay between Pula or Rovinj, you will fall in love with both cities’ beauty, architecture and history!

The Pula Arena in Croatia

Ashley and I stayed in an Airbnb in Pula. We absolutely loved it because it included two separate bedrooms, a full kitchen, living room and bathroom. The best part of it was that the apartment faced the Pula Arena. There was nothing cooler than waking up to views of the ancient Roman amphitheater! Click here to book this Airbnb. You can also choose from a variety of Vrbo options as well.

Below are my hotel recommendations for Pula:

Luxury Accommodation: Park Plaza Histria Pula

Boutique Accommodation: Boutique Hotel Valsabbion

Mid-Budget Accommodation: Milan Hotel

Budget Accommodation: Hostel Pipistrelo Pula

Apartments in Pula, Croatia
Below are my hotel recommendations for Rovinj:

Luxury Accommodation: Grand Park Hotel Rovinj

Boutique Accommodation: Hotel Spirito Santo Palazzo Storico

Mid-Budget Accommodation: Hotel Adriatic

Budget Accommodation: Roundabout Hostel

No matter where you choose to stay during your Istria vacation, you will be happy because both Pula and Rovinj are breathtaking and the entire area in general is the best location to stay in if you’re coming from Italy, Slovenia or Central Europe.

Pula and Rovinj Itinerary:

Things to do in Pula:

A woman exploring the Istria town of Pula, Croatia

Explore the Town of Pula, Croatia:

Also known as the ‘Little Rome’ of Croatia, Istria was once under Italian rule. As you make your way to both Pula and Rovinj, you will find that a lot of the architecture, cuisine and ancient sites resemble those of Italy.

Overall, Pula is an amazing city to stroll through and explore. Pula was a Roman colony for over 500 years and you must check out its epic ruins during your Istria vacation!

Even though you can find Roman ruins all around Pula, Croatia, below are what you must see: (Click here to book a Roman heritage walking tour.)

A woman enjoying the Roman ruins

Pula Arena: Known as one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters that is still used today, Pula Arena was constructed between 27 BC and 68 AD. It was used to accommodate gladiatorial fights. It is now recognized as one of the world’s six largest surviving Roman arenas.

Arch of the Sergii

Arch of the Sergii: Located in downtown Pula, the Arch of Sergii stands to commemorate the powerful Sergii family. The Arch of Sergii dates to 30 BC and it was built as a city gate that leads up from the naval port.

Augustus Temple and the Roman Forum

Augustus Temple and the Roman Forum: Back in Roman times, the city forum would be situated in the city’s main square. It was a place where a lot of important gatherings would happen.

Pula’s Roman Forum was built during the 1st Century BC. Right next to it were temples. Only one of them is still visible and standing today, which is the Temple of Augustus. This temple was built between 2 BC and 14 AD and was originally dedicated to the Goddess of Roma and Emperor of Augustus.  

Exploring the Roman Twin Gate

The Twin Gate: As you make your way around Pula, you will find The Twin Gate. This beautiful piece of Roman architecture was part of the former fortified walls. During the medieval period, the gates were buried underground and were recently dug out and conserved within the past few years. It is a cool landmark to check out!

Other great places to visit in Pula:
Pula Cathedral in Istria, Croatia

Fortress Kaštel: Also known as Pula Castle, Fortress Kaštel was built by the Venetians on a hill in the city between 1630 and 1633. It was designed by a French military engineer and is a must-visit during your Istria vacation.

Zerostrasse – Pula’s Underground Tunnels: Under the city of Pula are underground tunnels. They were established during World War I to provide a safe shelter for residents. During a tour of the tunnel system, you can see shelters, trenches, galleries, passages, storages and more.

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Also known as Pula Cathedral, this beautiful Roman Catholic church has been a sacred place of worship in Pula since ancient Roman times. It features Gothic architecture and should definitely be visited during your time in Pula.

Savor Seafood in Pula:

Fritto misto from Pula, Croatia

Since the Istria Peninsula is located on the Adriatic Coast, you will find the best seafood in both Pula and Rovinj.

A popular dish to savor in Pula is fritto misto. It is an Italian-inspired fried seafood platter made up of fried calamari, fried prawns and fried sardines. Fritto misto is usually served with lemon and French fries and it is delicious! In Croatia, fritto misto will also be served with tzatziki sauce.

During our first evening in Pula, Ashley and I had dinner at Hook & Cook in Pula town. It is a thriving local restaurant that serves mouthwatering street food and craft beer. Our Airbnb host recommended this restaurant and it totally did not disappoint.

Click here to discover more restaurants in Pula.

Tour the Pula Arena:

A woman exploring Pula

One of the best things to do in Pula is tour the Pula Arena. It is considered and recognized as the most famous and important monument in Pula and it is a must to do a tour around the amphitheater.

The Pula Arena is one of the best examples of Roman architecture in Croatia and it is still used to this day! Obviously, it is used for less brutal gladiatorial events in current times. Nowadays, the arena is used for concerts, public meetings and other events.

Pula Arena was originally built with timber and replaced with stone later on. It truly is a magnificent wonder in Istria and should be explored during your trip to Pula and Rovinj.

A woman at Pula Arena during sunset in Istria

One of the best times to visit Pula Arena is during sunset. You can see the sea from the amphitheater and it makes for a wonderful view!

It costs 70 Croatian Kuna for adults to enter Pula Arena and 35 Kuna for children. The amphitheater also has access to underground passages that were once used by the gladiators. Nowadays, the passages boast an exhibit that educates visitors on olive growing in Istria during ancient times.

Have Fun in Pula at Night:

Pula has some of the best nightlife in the Istria region and you should experience it at least once during your vacation.

Whether you are someone who loves dancing the night away at a nightclub; enjoying laughs and drinks with friends at a local bar or simply likes socializing at a chill wine bar, Pula has it all.

Ashley and I enjoyed a fun night on the town during our first evening in Pula and we loved how the streets were thriving. We enjoyed our drinks and had a great time at Boca Bar. Click here to discover the best bars in Pula.

Malvasia, orange and amber Croatian wine

Taste Croatian Orange Wine:

An Istria vacation is not complete without tasting Malvasia, which is orange or amber wine. Istria’s wine region is beautiful and you should do a tasting at a local vineyard if you have the time. (Unfortunately, we were in Pula and Rovinj for only two nights, so we didn’t have time to visit a vineyard. It gives a us a reason to come back!)

Now, the more orange the wine looks, the higher quality it is. Overall, orange or amber wine has a distinct taste that is unique and incredible! What is interesting about Malvasia wine is that it is extremely difficult to find in other parts of the world and even in Croatia itself.

Malvasia is a white wine made from the same methods as red wine. The skins are left on, which produces tannins and gives the wine a spicier and drier taste than most white wines. No matter where you are, if orange wine is on the menu, try it! You will not be disappointed.

Discover must-visit wineries in Istria.

Relax at Pula’s Best Beach – Hawaiian Cove Beach Verudela:

Hawaiian Cove Beach in Pula, Croatia

An Istria vacation to Pula and Rovinj is not complete until you visit a beach. One of the best beaches to relax at in Pula is Hawaiian Cove Beach. It is in Principina Cove at Verudela Peninsula.

Overall, Hawaiian Beach is a rock beach that features clear and turquoise waters, rocky boulders to sunbathe on, cliffs to jump off of and small caves to check out. Hawaiian Beach is a great spot for families and friend groups too.

A woman exploring the Pula caves

One thing to note is that when you’re visiting Croatia during the summertime, you will experience heavy crowds in Verudela and if you want to sit in a lounge chair, you need pay in advance. A lifeguard is on site from 11am to 7pm to help lend you a chair.

In addition, to get to the beach by car, there is a parking lot onsite. The lot does fill up quickly during the heart of summer, so you will want to arrive early.

Another great way to get to Hawaiian Cove Beach in Verudela is by taking Pula’s public city bus. It is managed by the Pulapromet and you can take lines 2 and 3 to get from the city center to Verudela.

A great place to grab lunch in Verudela is Da Bruno Pizza and Grill.

Day in Rovinj Itinerary:

A woman enjoying her Istria vacation in Pula and Rovinj

Stroll around Rovinj Old Town:

Known as Istria’s Pearl, Rovinj is one of Croatia’s most beautiful and romantic towns. Rovinj features colorful buildings, stunning waterfronts, beautiful churches, wonderful boutique shops, wine stores and more.

Rovinj (or Rovigno) was once under Venetian rule, so a lot of people consider it Croatia’s ‘Little Venice’. As you stroll through the charming streets and alleyways in Rovinj, you will feel like you were brought into Italy. It is a city you cannot miss on an Istria vacation!

Italian architecture in Rovinj, Croatia

Like I mention above, Rovinj is around a 40-minute drive north of Pula and if you are taking a car there like we did, you will need to find a parking lot outside of the Old Town. Please note that if you are traveling to Istria during the summer, Rovinj will be fairly crowded with both locals and tourists. We had to search around for an empty parking spot for a bit, but ended up finding a paid lot with availability. If you don’t have your own car, you can take the Brioni Pula bus or a FlixBus to Rovinj. You can even take a taxi as well.

During a day in Rovinj, you must stroll around Rovinj’s Old Town. It features a picturesque harbor that is filled with fishing boats and small ferries. Next, as you make your way through the colorful alleyways and streets, grab a delicious gelato or coffee and enjoy a live street performance in Tito Square.

Another great thing to do in Rovinj Old Town is to shop at the farmer’s market and make your way to Atelier Charm, which is a lovely waterfront women’s boutique that is popular for silk clothing and accessories. The owner of this lovely store has a beautiful display in an alleyway that is great for photos. (I recommend purchasing something from her store if you’re going to take photos.)

Climb up St. Euphemia Church:

If you’re looking for a fun activity to do during your day in Rovinj, I recommend climbing the bell tower of the Church of St. Euphemia. Please make sure you have on comfortable shoes to do this climb! Plus, the church itself is situated on top of a hill, so you’re going to want ensure you’re comfortable.

Whenever I have the opportunity to climb to a bell tower, I always do it because there is a sense of achievement afterwards. I got to climb a bell tower during my time in Segovia, Spain as well as in Bruges, Belgium.

The climb up to the bell tower of St. Euphemia Church includes 192 steps. Once you are at the top, the views are breathtaking!

Have a Sunset Dinner in Rovinj:

Seafood pasta from Rovinj

During my Croatia trip, I experienced one of the best sunsets in Pula and Rovinj, Istria. One of the top things to do during a day in Rovinj is to grab a nice meal or drink on the water and watch the sunset.

Rovinj is known for its seafood and Italian restaurants. Ashley and I tried getting into Restoran Giannino, but unfortunately, you need to make reservations way in advance. It is known as one of the best Italian restaurants in Rovinj! Instead, we ended up getting dinner at Restaurant Atlas near the waterfront and Tito Square. The seafood spaghetti was delicious.

A great spot to grab drinks in Rovinj is Mediterraneo Bar that is situated right on the water’s edge. Just like at Buza Bar in Dubrovnik, you can also go swimming at this spot! (It overlooks the nearby St. Catherine’s Island as well.)

If you are just looking for a great spot to enjoy a sunset with an iconic view, head to La Boca on the waterfront and you will be amazed!

Click here to discover more restaurants in Rovinj.

Enjoy Rovinj Beaches:

Rovinj beach

Just like in Pula, there are also incredible beaches in Rovinj that you must enjoy during an Istria vacation. Even though I didn’t have the time to visit a beach in Rovinj, I will be back in the future to enjoy one of them.

Below is a list of the best beaches to enjoy on a beautiful day in Rovinj, Croatia:

  • Amarin Beach
  • Valdaliso Beach
  • Borik Beach
  • Porton Biondi Beach
  • Baluota Beach
  • Katarina Island Beach
  • Mulini Beach
  • Lone Bay Beach
  • Zlatni Beach
  • Cuvi Beach

Pula Arena during sunset

I hope you all enjoyed discovering the best things to do in Pula and Rovinj during an Istria vacation. If you have any questions about my time in Croatia, please email me at [email protected]

Basic Facts of Croatia:

Currency: Croatian Kuna, Capital: Zagreb, Time Zone: Central European Standard Time

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*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

Shop my Istria Look:

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2 Comments

  1. Kim Deer on October 6, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    Pula and Rovinj are absolutely beautiful cities ~ it does remind me a lot of Rome ~ Such gorgeous architecture and beautiful landscapes. Love reading your blogs because you bring them to life and I feel like I am actually there! Great blog and definitely another place I will put on my bucket list! I love all the fabulous photos of you and all the food photos!

    Glad you had an amazing time there ~ Thank you for sharing your awesome adventure in those 2 beautiful cities of Croatia.

    Love you,
    Mom xoxo

    • Taylor Deer on October 6, 2021 at 9:28 pm

      It really is such a beautiful region of Croatia that fascinated me! Thank you mom, love you too!

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Taylor-Pula5

Rovinj, Croatia during sunset

One of the most beautiful areas of Croatia is the Istria Peninsula. Located on the Adriatic Sea, Istria is situated in Northern Croatia near the Slovenian and Italian border. It is a region known for its culinary scene, wine, pristine beaches, gorgeous hilltop cities, Roman history and more. During an Istria Vacation, it is best that you visit the cities of Pula and Rovinj.

In August 2021, I did a memorable Balkans trip with Ashley of World to Wander. We started our journey in Venice, Italy before making our way to spend a weekend in Slovenia. From there, we made our way back to Trieste, Italy before heading into Croatia where we spent two nights in Pula, two nights in Split, one night in Hvar and four nights in Dubrovnik.

A woman walking the waterfront in Rovinj, Croatia

Ashley and I also did a day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park from Pula to Split (it was a little out of the way) as well as day trips to Mostar (from Split) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kotor (from Dubrovnik) in Montenegro. We also enjoyed a lovely day on the island of Korčula from Hvar to Dubrovnik. All these destinations in the Balkans were amazing in their own special ways.

Croatia is in the Balkans region of Europe. It is a predominately Roman Catholic country and it was part of the former Yugoslavia. The country of Croatia has 1246 islands; boasts stunning beaches; has 11 nature parks, eight National Parks and two nature reserves.  

A woman enjoying her Istria vacation

During our Balkans trip, we spent the most of our time in Croatia. Our first Croatian destination on our vacation was to Pula and Rovinj in the Istria region. There is so much charm, history and culture to be discovered in Istria, Croatia.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


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Istria Vacation in Pula & Rovinj, Croatia

Traveling to Istria for Vacation:

The main square in Pula, Croatia

The best ways to get to Croatia is by flying, renting a car or taking public transportation. The main airport in Istria to get to Pula and Rovinj is Pula Airport. The airport is around a 10-minute drive east from the heart of Pula town and it is an estimated 40-minute drive southeast from the heart of Rovinj. You can find affordable flights through Skyscanner.

Since we traveled to the Istria Peninsula from Trieste, Italy, we took the bus to Pula. Overall, the bus is the best way to get to both Pula and Rovinj and you can purchase tickets on GetbyBus.

The drive from the Trieste bus station to the Pula bus station is over an hour and a half, but since Croatia is not part of the European Union, you will need to go through customs and border patrol. The line to enter Croatia can take up to a few minutes to a few hours. Thankfully, the line wasn’t long for us, and it took around two hours to get from Trieste to Pula.

Strolling the streets of Rovinj

(If you have never traveled around Europe before, it is important to know that you don’t have to go through customs and border protection if you are traveling from one EU country to the next. It only applies to countries outside of the European Union.)

Once we were in Pula, we rented a car from the airport since we would be exploring around Croatia moving forward and it was easiest for us to have our own vehicle that way. If you are looking to explore everything that Pula and Rovinj has to offer during your Istria vacation, I recommend renting a car.

Another way to get to Istria, if you fly into Venice or start your trip there, is to take the ferry from Venice to Rovinj or vice versa.

Best Place to Stay in Istria – Pula or Rovinj?

Beautiful buildings in Rovinj, Croatia

When it comes to choosing where to stay during an Istria vacation, most people decide between Pula or Rovinj. For Ashley and me, we chose Pula because it is a tad larger than Rovinj and less touristy.

The accessibility in Pula is better than Rovinj because it is closer to the airport and has a bus station. In addition, Pula is a little more affordable than Rovinj.

Rovinj, on the other hand, is one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia and it draws a lot of international visitors. Because the city is a little smaller than Pula, it does draw more crowds.

No matter where you choose to stay between Pula or Rovinj, you will fall in love with both cities’ beauty, architecture and history!

The Pula Arena in Croatia

Ashley and I stayed in an Airbnb in Pula. We absolutely loved it because it included two separate bedrooms, a full kitchen, living room and bathroom. The best part of it was that the apartment faced the Pula Arena. There was nothing cooler than waking up to views of the ancient Roman amphitheater! Click here to book this Airbnb. You can also choose from a variety of Vrbo options as well.

Below are my hotel recommendations for Pula:

Luxury Accommodation: Park Plaza Histria Pula

Boutique Accommodation: Boutique Hotel Valsabbion

Mid-Budget Accommodation: Milan Hotel

Budget Accommodation: Hostel Pipistrelo Pula

Apartments in Pula, Croatia
Below are my hotel recommendations for Rovinj:

Luxury Accommodation: Grand Park Hotel Rovinj

Boutique Accommodation: Hotel Spirito Santo Palazzo Storico

Mid-Budget Accommodation: Hotel Adriatic

Budget Accommodation: Roundabout Hostel

No matter where you choose to stay during your Istria vacation, you will be happy because both Pula and Rovinj are breathtaking and the entire area in general is the best location to stay in if you’re coming from Italy, Slovenia or Central Europe.

Pula and Rovinj Itinerary:

Things to do in Pula:

A woman exploring the Istria town of Pula, Croatia

Explore the Town of Pula, Croatia:

Also known as the ‘Little Rome’ of Croatia, Istria was once under Italian rule. As you make your way to both Pula and Rovinj, you will find that a lot of the architecture, cuisine and ancient sites resemble those of Italy.

Overall, Pula is an amazing city to stroll through and explore. Pula was a Roman colony for over 500 years and you must check out its epic ruins during your Istria vacation!

Even though you can find Roman ruins all around Pula, Croatia, below are what you must see: (Click here to book a Roman heritage walking tour.)

A woman enjoying the Roman ruins

Pula Arena: Known as one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters that is still used today, Pula Arena was constructed between 27 BC and 68 AD. It was used to accommodate gladiatorial fights. It is now recognized as one of the world’s six largest surviving Roman arenas.

Arch of the Sergii

Arch of the Sergii: Located in downtown Pula, the Arch of Sergii stands to commemorate the powerful Sergii family. The Arch of Sergii dates to 30 BC and it was built as a city gate that leads up from the naval port.

Augustus Temple and the Roman Forum

Augustus Temple and the Roman Forum: Back in Roman times, the city forum would be situated in the city’s main square. It was a place where a lot of important gatherings would happen.

Pula’s Roman Forum was built during the 1st Century BC. Right next to it were temples. Only one of them is still visible and standing today, which is the Temple of Augustus. This temple was built between 2 BC and 14 AD and was originally dedicated to the Goddess of Roma and Emperor of Augustus.  

Exploring the Roman Twin Gate

The Twin Gate: As you make your way around Pula, you will find The Twin Gate. This beautiful piece of Roman architecture was part of the former fortified walls. During the medieval period, the gates were buried underground and were recently dug out and conserved within the past few years. It is a cool landmark to check out!

Other great places to visit in Pula:
Pula Cathedral in Istria, Croatia

Fortress Kaštel: Also known as Pula Castle, Fortress Kaštel was built by the Venetians on a hill in the city between 1630 and 1633. It was designed by a French military engineer and is a must-visit during your Istria vacation.

Zerostrasse – Pula’s Underground Tunnels: Under the city of Pula are underground tunnels. They were established during World War I to provide a safe shelter for residents. During a tour of the tunnel system, you can see shelters, trenches, galleries, passages, storages and more.

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Also known as Pula Cathedral, this beautiful Roman Catholic church has been a sacred place of worship in Pula since ancient Roman times. It features Gothic architecture and should definitely be visited during your time in Pula.

Savor Seafood in Pula:

Fritto misto from Pula, Croatia

Since the Istria Peninsula is located on the Adriatic Coast, you will find the best seafood in both Pula and Rovinj.

A popular dish to savor in Pula is fritto misto. It is an Italian-inspired fried seafood platter made up of fried calamari, fried prawns and fried sardines. Fritto misto is usually served with lemon and French fries and it is delicious! In Croatia, fritto misto will also be served with tzatziki sauce.

During our first evening in Pula, Ashley and I had dinner at Hook & Cook in Pula town. It is a thriving local restaurant that serves mouthwatering street food and craft beer. Our Airbnb host recommended this restaurant and it totally did not disappoint.

Click here to discover more restaurants in Pula.

Tour the Pula Arena:

A woman exploring Pula

One of the best things to do in Pula is tour the Pula Arena. It is considered and recognized as the most famous and important monument in Pula and it is a must to do a tour around the amphitheater.

The Pula Arena is one of the best examples of Roman architecture in Croatia and it is still used to this day! Obviously, it is used for less brutal gladiatorial events in current times. Nowadays, the arena is used for concerts, public meetings and other events.

Pula Arena was originally built with timber and replaced with stone later on. It truly is a magnificent wonder in Istria and should be explored during your trip to Pula and Rovinj.

A woman at Pula Arena during sunset in Istria

One of the best times to visit Pula Arena is during sunset. You can see the sea from the amphitheater and it makes for a wonderful view!

It costs 70 Croatian Kuna for adults to enter Pula Arena and 35 Kuna for children. The amphitheater also has access to underground passages that were once used by the gladiators. Nowadays, the passages boast an exhibit that educates visitors on olive growing in Istria during ancient times.

Have Fun in Pula at Night:

Pula has some of the best nightlife in the Istria region and you should experience it at least once during your vacation.

Whether you are someone who loves dancing the night away at a nightclub; enjoying laughs and drinks with friends at a local bar or simply likes socializing at a chill wine bar, Pula has it all.

Ashley and I enjoyed a fun night on the town during our first evening in Pula and we loved how the streets were thriving. We enjoyed our drinks and had a great time at Boca Bar. Click here to discover the best bars in Pula.

Malvasia, orange and amber Croatian wine

Taste Croatian Orange Wine:

An Istria vacation is not complete without tasting Malvasia, which is orange or amber wine. Istria’s wine region is beautiful and you should do a tasting at a local vineyard if you have the time. (Unfortunately, we were in Pula and Rovinj for only two nights, so we didn’t have time to visit a vineyard. It gives a us a reason to come back!)

Now, the more orange the wine looks, the higher quality it is. Overall, orange or amber wine has a distinct taste that is unique and incredible! What is interesting about Malvasia wine is that it is extremely difficult to find in other parts of the world and even in Croatia itself.

Malvasia is a white wine made from the same methods as red wine. The skins are left on, which produces tannins and gives the wine a spicier and drier taste than most white wines. No matter where you are, if orange wine is on the menu, try it! You will not be disappointed.

Discover must-visit wineries in Istria.

Relax at Pula’s Best Beach – Hawaiian Cove Beach Verudela:

Hawaiian Cove Beach in Pula, Croatia

An Istria vacation to Pula and Rovinj is not complete until you visit a beach. One of the best beaches to relax at in Pula is Hawaiian Cove Beach. It is in Principina Cove at Verudela Peninsula.

Overall, Hawaiian Beach is a rock beach that features clear and turquoise waters, rocky boulders to sunbathe on, cliffs to jump off of and small caves to check out. Hawaiian Beach is a great spot for families and friend groups too.

A woman exploring the Pula caves

One thing to note is that when you’re visiting Croatia during the summertime, you will experience heavy crowds in Verudela and if you want to sit in a lounge chair, you need pay in advance. A lifeguard is on site from 11am to 7pm to help lend you a chair.

In addition, to get to the beach by car, there is a parking lot onsite. The lot does fill up quickly during the heart of summer, so you will want to arrive early.

Another great way to get to Hawaiian Cove Beach in Verudela is by taking Pula’s public city bus. It is managed by the Pulapromet and you can take lines 2 and 3 to get from the city center to Verudela.

A great place to grab lunch in Verudela is Da Bruno Pizza and Grill.

Day in Rovinj Itinerary:

A woman enjoying her Istria vacation in Pula and Rovinj

Stroll around Rovinj Old Town:

Known as Istria’s Pearl, Rovinj is one of Croatia’s most beautiful and romantic towns. Rovinj features colorful buildings, stunning waterfronts, beautiful churches, wonderful boutique shops, wine stores and more.

Rovinj (or Rovigno) was once under Venetian rule, so a lot of people consider it Croatia’s ‘Little Venice’. As you stroll through the charming streets and alleyways in Rovinj, you will feel like you were brought into Italy. It is a city you cannot miss on an Istria vacation!

Italian architecture in Rovinj, Croatia

Like I mention above, Rovinj is around a 40-minute drive north of Pula and if you are taking a car there like we did, you will need to find a parking lot outside of the Old Town. Please note that if you are traveling to Istria during the summer, Rovinj will be fairly crowded with both locals and tourists. We had to search around for an empty parking spot for a bit, but ended up finding a paid lot with availability. If you don’t have your own car, you can take the Brioni Pula bus or a FlixBus to Rovinj. You can even take a taxi as well.

During a day in Rovinj, you must stroll around Rovinj’s Old Town. It features a picturesque harbor that is filled with fishing boats and small ferries. Next, as you make your way through the colorful alleyways and streets, grab a delicious gelato or coffee and enjoy a live street performance in Tito Square.

Another great thing to do in Rovinj Old Town is to shop at the farmer’s market and make your way to Atelier Charm, which is a lovely waterfront women’s boutique that is popular for silk clothing and accessories. The owner of this lovely store has a beautiful display in an alleyway that is great for photos. (I recommend purchasing something from her store if you’re going to take photos.)

Climb up St. Euphemia Church:

If you’re looking for a fun activity to do during your day in Rovinj, I recommend climbing the bell tower of the Church of St. Euphemia. Please make sure you have on comfortable shoes to do this climb! Plus, the church itself is situated on top of a hill, so you’re going to want ensure you’re comfortable.

Whenever I have the opportunity to climb to a bell tower, I always do it because there is a sense of achievement afterwards. I got to climb a bell tower during my time in Segovia, Spain as well as in Bruges, Belgium.

The climb up to the bell tower of St. Euphemia Church includes 192 steps. Once you are at the top, the views are breathtaking!

Have a Sunset Dinner in Rovinj:

Seafood pasta from Rovinj

During my Croatia trip, I experienced one of the best sunsets in Pula and Rovinj, Istria. One of the top things to do during a day in Rovinj is to grab a nice meal or drink on the water and watch the sunset.

Rovinj is known for its seafood and Italian restaurants. Ashley and I tried getting into Restoran Giannino, but unfortunately, you need to make reservations way in advance. It is known as one of the best Italian restaurants in Rovinj! Instead, we ended up getting dinner at Restaurant Atlas near the waterfront and Tito Square. The seafood spaghetti was delicious.

A great spot to grab drinks in Rovinj is Mediterraneo Bar that is situated right on the water’s edge. Just like at Buza Bar in Dubrovnik, you can also go swimming at this spot! (It overlooks the nearby St. Catherine’s Island as well.)

If you are just looking for a great spot to enjoy a sunset with an iconic view, head to La Boca on the waterfront and you will be amazed!

Click here to discover more restaurants in Rovinj.

Enjoy Rovinj Beaches:

Rovinj beach

Just like in Pula, there are also incredible beaches in Rovinj that you must enjoy during an Istria vacation. Even though I didn’t have the time to visit a beach in Rovinj, I will be back in the future to enjoy one of them.

Below is a list of the best beaches to enjoy on a beautiful day in Rovinj, Croatia:

  • Amarin Beach
  • Valdaliso Beach
  • Borik Beach
  • Porton Biondi Beach
  • Baluota Beach
  • Katarina Island Beach
  • Mulini Beach
  • Lone Bay Beach
  • Zlatni Beach
  • Cuvi Beach

Pula Arena during sunset

I hope you all enjoyed discovering the best things to do in Pula and Rovinj during an Istria vacation. If you have any questions about my time in Croatia, please email me at [email protected]

Basic Facts of Croatia:

Currency: Croatian Kuna, Capital: Zagreb, Time Zone: Central European Standard Time

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*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

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2 Comments

  1. Kim Deer on October 6, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    Pula and Rovinj are absolutely beautiful cities ~ it does remind me a lot of Rome ~ Such gorgeous architecture and beautiful landscapes. Love reading your blogs because you bring them to life and I feel like I am actually there! Great blog and definitely another place I will put on my bucket list! I love all the fabulous photos of you and all the food photos!

    Glad you had an amazing time there ~ Thank you for sharing your awesome adventure in those 2 beautiful cities of Croatia.

    Love you,
    Mom xoxo

    • Taylor Deer on October 6, 2021 at 9:28 pm

      It really is such a beautiful region of Croatia that fascinated me! Thank you mom, love you too!

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