One of the wonderful things about Europe is that you can so easily travel from country to country the way you would states within the U.S. Croatia has become a popular travel destination in recent years, but most of the attention has been focused on Zagreb and Dubrovnik. Pula (also called “Pola”) is a Croatian city on the Istria Peninsula that is definitely worth a trip and it’s quite easy to get to if you’re already in Venice.
Take The Ferry
You can make the journey an adventure by taking the ferry across from Venice to Pula. Venizia Lines is the largest of the ferry companies to make this trip. Prices are quite reasonable and you can arrange to do it for the day or return on a different day if you’d like to stay in Pula. The trip takes about three hours and the ship has a snack bar that sells drinks, sandwiches and other food items. If you have a car, you may take it on the ship, but be sure you let the company know if it is a rental that you will be taking the car to another country.
Make It An Adventure
The ferry from Venice to Pula is seasonal, but you do have other options. You can also drive or take Fils bus service from Venice to Pula. Since you have to go around the water and make a lot of stops, this will take a full day. Pula does have an airport with flights from around Europe (including Venice), however, the schedule isn’t consistent so check when you have your dates to see if something is available. If you choose to stay overnight, accommodations in the area vary from hostels and private apartments (check out Villa Smrikve, where you will find a family-run place to stay among the olive trees and vineyards) to resorts on the beach.
Explore The History
Once in Pula, you can just enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Adriatic Sea or find plenty to explore. The Italian influence here is strong and goes back to ancient times, as demonstrated by the Roman Amphitheatre and the Triumphal Arch of the Sergi. For something a bit more modern, you can take a short boat ride on and around the Brijuni Islands, where you can hike for the views or swim in the sea. Italian is spoken throughout the area almost as much as Croatian.
Enjoy The Culture
Leave some time to stroll the cobblestone streets of Pula, where you will find shops and restaurants. The Istria Peninsula is as known for its food and wine as it is for its beauty so make sure you do some sampling. The cuisine is a mixture of Italian and Slovak, with plenty of fresh seafood and pasta. You will also find lots of delicious homemade olive oil in this area and wine from local vineyards.
If your travels don’t have you in Venice, or if you have some extra time to explore, you can also reach Pula by car through Trieste, Italy, if you drive through Slovenia. It’s less than a two hour drive and you can and yet another country to your passport before you get to Croatia.