Affordability - 9
Romance - 6.4
Food - 7
Adventure - 5.8
- His Top Tips
2. The Roman arena in Pula is one of the most well preserved in the world, and definitely worth a visit.
3. The “Double Gate” or Roman arch is located at the center of town and the large square is used for public events. We watched the Croatian football team play Spain here and it was insane.
Pula is a small port city in the northern tip of Croatia and works as a perfect base camp if you are looking to treck around Istria, which I would highly recommend as the region is gorgeous and considerably cheaper than popular southern destinations such as Dubrovnik. If you only have time for one day trip during your stay in Pula, you’d be best to check out the beautifully romantic seaside town of Rovinj, only a 45 minute bus ride away.
The Roman arena, located a few minutes from the bus station, dominates the city’s skyline and is one of the most impressive that I have seen throughout all of Europe, and surely one of the most well preserved. A stroll from the arena westward to the rocky shoreline will take you past the hospital and winding through streets that offer a glimpse in to the terror that was the Yugoslavian War. It really is a surreal contrast… the colosseum, attracting countless tourists to stand in awe of its grandeur, played host to extreme violence that occurred so long ago that the human elements can’t quite shine through. The sandbag ridden bunkers, on the other hand, are much too recent.
Of all of our time spent in Croatia, Pula offered up one of my most lasting memories. On the night that Jamie and I arrived, Croatia was playing Spain in the round robin of the Euro Cup. The plaza in front of the Roman arch was jam packed with Croatian football fans who were drinking, chanting, lighting off roman candles, and happy to have anyone from other parts of the world join in on the celebration. From rowdy twenty somethings to young families, it seemed as if there was not one resident of the town who wasn’t in attendance that night.
After the game, Jamie and I were walking back to our hostel when we heard deafening chants and music coming from the main floor of a building whose blinds were shut and wreaked of tobacco. Curious, we opened the door and were immediately greeted by a swarm of Croatian football fans. Of all of the countries that I have been, I don’t know if I have ever met a people as friendly and welcoming as Croatians. We chatted with what seemed like everyone in the bar, and when we revealed that we were from Canada, half of the bar started chanting, “GO LEAFS GO.” That was enough to win me over for life. The Croatian football chants were a bit harder to learn, but I gave it my best shot. Jamie and I were served countless free shots simply for being there, partied until we could barely stand, and ultimately left Pula with permanent smiles.
Although Jamie and I had phenomenal time in Pula, I wouldn’t suggest staying there for too long. As I mentioned previously, it’s a port town. There are more relaxing, more beautiful, more cultural places to visit in Croatia. A good base for visiting other spots, but not somewhere you’d want to spend too much time. You can probably experience all that Pula has to offer in a day or so. However, if you are taking a couple of weeks to visit the entire country, I would recommend flying in to Pula as opposed to Zagreb. The coast is what makes Croatia a must see destination, and I’d advise to sticking as close to it as possible throughout the duration of your stay. In addtion, if you start in Zagreb and work your way down, you are likely to skip Istria entirely which would be a crime. The value for your money is absolutely outrageous… to Canadians like us, at least. To get a better understanding of what I mean, check out Jamie and my takes on Rovinj.Her Take