The European summer season was drawing to a close, however, we were determined to pop into Croatia to enjoy a few more sunny summer days along the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula of Istria is in the far north of Croatia and although we didn't get further south into Croatia, our week spent there was enough of a taste for us to know that we will definitely return.
The first thing we noticed about camping in Istria is that there isn't much variety or choice when it comes to campsites. We were hoping for some small secluded spots along the coast, but most campsites in Istria seem to be resort-style with lots of amenities and with that lots of people and high prices! We found the best value at the Arena Campsites. You can find a wide variety of choice at Campsites from Valamar, from their Simple Sunny Campsites to Premium Resorts. Our favourite campsite was ArenaRunke campsite near the town of Premantura.
What To See And Do In Pula, Croatia
Pula has a distinct Italian influence with ancient Roman ruins now forming part of a contemporary city.
The Pula Arena is one of the most complete emblematic Roman Amphitheaters in the world. It’s not just that the three storey-high arched walls and four towers around the perimeter are still standing, Pula’s Arena displays the incredible inner-workings of a Roman amphitheatre in vivid detail and is well worth a peek. This was our favourite sight in Pula.
Pula's Fortress Kastel is a Venetian fortress from the 1600s. Set atop the rise in the middle of Pula, you’ll notice that the powerful-looking walls are in a star configuration, which was a state-of-the-art design to repel artillery after the arrival of gunpowder. We spent a few hours walking around the inside and outside of the Kastel.
The Istria Historical and Maritime Museum are housed in the star-shaped fortress built by the Venetians in the 1630s on the 34m hill at the centre of Pula's old town. It provides a moody backdrop to exhibitions on a range of historic themes but it's worth visiting for the views alone.
The Small Roman Theatre attracts far fewer tourists and that's what we liked about it! These evocative ruins on the hillside are described as small because Pula’s larger theatre is located outside the city walls.
The Temple of Augustus is small but perfectly proportioned. It was built sometime between 2 BC and AD 14. It miraculously survived the Christian era by being converted into a church, only for it to be destroyed by a WWII bomb during 1944. The stone-by-stone reconstruction has brought it back to something closely approaching its former glory, and it now houses a small archaeological display.
Fort Bourguignon thas a circular form, designed to help deflect artillery. The fort originates from Pula’s Austro-Hungarian era, during which it was the Empire’s main naval port and left the city with a striking set of coastal military defences.
Fear not, we'll return to Croatia soon to explore further south.