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Pula is one of Istria's most authentic and complex cities known for its impressive Roman ruins and a verdant coastline. Unlike other Istrian destinations however, Pula has a flourishing life apart from the tourist business. It's an important shipbuilding centre, an industry that dates back to the days when it was an important naval port under the Austro-Hungarian empire. Even the Romans liked Pula's position and made it their administrative headquarters.
As Pula is well-connected by road with everywhere in Istria, there are a wealth of interesting day trips. Visitors may want to make Pula their headquarters for their Istrian holiday.
Pula's historical centre of town is mainly devoted to business, government and commerce which take place in and about the city's celebrated Roman ruins. When the locals want to dine or party however, they head to Verudela peninsula (only a few kilometres away). During the day they play on the beach and at night, they head to one of the restaurants or nightspots that are scattered across the peninsula. There's not a lot going on in the town centre unless there's an event at the amphitheatre.
Most of the hotels in Pula are also on Verudela peninsula. Even though the bus system is excellent, the oddly bifurcated nature of life in Pula makes it helpful to have a car. Fortunately most agencies have offices in downtown Pula or in Pula Airport.
The town centre is dotted with Roman ruins, the most impressive of which is the spectacular Roman amphitheatre. Try to catch an open-air performance there in the busy summer season. Note also the 1st century Triumphal Arch of Sergius. Artists and architects from Michelangelo to Robert Adam studied and sketched this exceptionally well-preserved monument. In the centre of town is the Roman Forum containing the Temple of Augustus.
The waters of Istria have a lot to interest scuba divers. Pula based Orca Diving offers a wealth of diving possibilities including wreck diving and boat diving. They are based at the Park Plaza Histria Hotel in Verudela. Or, book a complete PADI scuba certification course.
Never taken the plunge? Try a special scuba introductory course. It's perfect for families!
Historical Walking Tour
Take a two-hour guided walking tour that covers Pula's most important historical monuments.
The flat coastline and rolling interior offer wonderfully relaxing opportunities for cyclists of all levels.
Take a cycling tour and wine tasting through Kamenjak nature park, a protected habitat that stretches along the coast.
Or cycle Cape Kamenjak from Premantura exploring secluded bays and sandy beaches.
If beach fever grabs you, head out to Verudela peninsula 2km south of the town centre where you'll find many rocky beaches. Pula beaches go in and out of fashion but Valkana Beach, Hawaii Beach, Kolumbarica Beach and sandy Debeljak Beach are usually the most popular with the locals.
The Brijuni Islands National Park , off the coast of Pula makes a lovely day trip that combines Roman ruins with reminders of ex-Yugslavia within a stunning natural landscape.
In Pula you have a choice between a resort experience on the Verudela peninsula or an urban experience in the town center. To truly soak up the Roman era, stay in the town center. For sun and pampering, stay in Verudela. To get a taste of both, transport and beach access make it more convenient to stay in Verudela and visit the town center than vice versa.
The Pula tourist office (tel 052-219 197) is at Forum 1 in the town centre and distributes many helpful brochures.
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