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9th Jan 2013 3:07pm | By Editor
Pula, on Croatia's perfect Adriatic coast, is famous for its winemaking and incredible Roman ruins.
10:00 | Croatia is the sun-seekers’ paradise of eastern Europe, most famous for beaches, bars and bygone times. Serving up all this and more is Pula, a seaside city dotted with archaic quirks on the southern coast of the Istria peninsula. Make the most of your first day by heading off early to the City Farmers’ Market (on the corner of Smareglina Ulica and Narodni Trg) for some fresh bread and fruit. Then wander over to Giardini Square (on the corner of Giardini and Zagrebacka Uli) to sit on the grass and enjoy your purchases while indulging in a little people-watching.
11:00 | Head to the Pula Arena (Flavijevska City Centre; tel. 00 385 52 219 028; entrance £2.15), a large Roman amphitheatre in the centre of the city, very similar to the colosseum in Rome, and the Pula’s most famous landmark. Built in the first century AD, it held 20,000 spectators in its heyday, who came to see bloody gladiatorial battles.
13:00 | Once you’ve had enough of imagining you’re Russell Crowe in Gladiator, head for lunch at Gina (Stoja 23, 52100; tel. 00 385 52 387 943; mains from £5.40) and sample some fresh fish and octopus close to the harbour.
14:00 | Stuffed full of Croatian cuisine? Walk it off along the seafront back towards the Twin Gates (corner of Carrarina Ulica and Ulica Castropola). In medieval times, the city was surrounded by walls and these gates were the main entrances into the city. They were built between the second and third centuries, but still look mighty impressive today.
15:00 | By now you’ll be feeling the heat. Meander through the streets towards the air-conditioned Archaeological Museum of Istria (ami-pula.hr/en/home; entrance £2.15) and ogle objects from prehistoric, Roman and medieval periods.
17:00 | Pula’s most recently opened tourist attraction is the Underground Galleries (entrance £1.60), next door to the Archaeological Museum. These subterranean tunnels were dug at the behest of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy for strategic purposes during the Great War. The temperature never rises above 20°C, which may sound hot to a Londoner, but makes a cool change to the scorching Croatian sun outside.
19:00 | Re-emerge from the tunnels and reward your bravery at Jupiter (Castropola Ulica 38, 52100, tel. 00 385 52 214 333; mains under £10). Located in the centre of Pula, on a quiet side street, this little pizzeria is popular with locals and tourists alike, and also serves up awesome calamari.
21:00 | Most bars in Pula close by midnight. But there are a number of nightspots just outside Pula itself, which stay open until the early hours. Club Ulanjik (clubuljanik.hr; free entry; drinks for under £2) has a huge outdoor courtyard with plenty of seating, as well as a number of indoor bars and dancefloors for a good old boogie. The club is open until 6am, but when you feel ready to drag yourself away, there are cheap beds at Riva Hostel (Riva 2, 52100; tel. 00 385 95 827 0243; dorm beds from about £10.50pn), in the heart of Pula’s historic town and close to the waterfront.