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    Car Hire in Pula - A Treasure of Roman Artifacts

    The eighth-largest city in Croatia and the largest city in the Istrian Peninsula, Pula is a major port and industrial centre in western Croatia. It's home to some of the most well-preserved ancient Roman artefacts outside of Italy, as well as the only Roman Amphitheatre in the world with a complete circle wall: the Arena.

    Greek legends attribute the foundation of Pula to the Colchians, stating that following their failure to capture Jason after he stole the Golden Fleece and fled on his ship the "Argo", and for fear of repercussions after the death of their king's son, they sailed into the northern Adriatic and ended up settling in a place they called "Polai", meaning "city of refuge".

    Although the presence of human life in the area can be dated back one million years ago, Pula only started taking the shape of a city after the Romans conquered the peninsula in 177BC, after which the town was elevated to the colonial rank growing to a population of about 30,000 and becoming a significant Roman port. During this period, the greatest classical monuments in Croatia were built. The most magnificent and better-preserved one is the Arena, the 6th largest Amphitheatre in the world, used for fights and battles of men and animals, was built in the first century AD, during the rule of Emperor Vespasian. The Arena could once hold up over 20,000 spectators, today, however, it can seat close to 5000 people. The Romans supplied the city with sewage systems and a water supply, as well as fortified it by building a wall with ten gates, some of which still stand to this day: the triumphal Arch of Sergii, the Gate of Hercules and the Twin Gates. They opened a Forum, which was the commercial, religious and administrative centre of the city and housed temples, two theatres, richly ornamented houses with mosaics and marble and a large cemetery that was mentioned by Dante in his "Divine Comedy". The Forum was surrounded by arcades with reliefs and statues on three sides, and on the northern side by temples. Of those temples, the Temple of Augustus is still completely preserved to the present day.

    Walk down to the Market Hall, a centenary building that dates back to 1903. You can find fresh produce such as vegetables and fish from local farmers as well as many pop-up cafes and bakeries, ideal for a nice breakfast before starting to explore the city. At night during the summer, you can go down to the Uljanik Shipyard to see the Lighting Giants, a series of 100-meter-tall cranes illuminated with different coloured lights in an impressive light show that lasts about 15min and can create as many as 16,000 colour combinations that can sometimes be arranged to pay tribute to a national vacation in Pula or pay tribute to an icon.

    Since the Istrian peninsula was a part of Italy until 1947, it is still possible to taste the Italian influence in Pula's cuisine. Great gelatos, pasta and pizza can be found in every corner of the city with a Croatian twist. The peninsula is famous for its truffles, housing three different types of black truffles and one of the world’s best white truffles. It is possible to go truffle hunting in many estates in Panzin and Buze, north of Pula, where you'll often be accompanied by a truffle hunting dog and the estate owner. In the city, many markets offer truffle-infused products, and restaurants serve dishes made with the famous fungi. Being a major fishing port, Pula offers some excellent seafood and fresh fish every day, as well. Istria is also one of Croatia's most developed wine regions its climate and soil are great for producing delicious wines.

    Surrounded by nature, the blue waters of the Adriatic and sprawling countryside, Pula has slowly become a popular summer holiday destination. The long, unspoilt coastline offers numerous deserted beaches, wreck diving to WWI warships and Roman galleys, cliff diving, fishing and dozens of islands to visit.

    The best way to see most of the city and its stunning region is a car hire in Pula. Auto Europe has partnered with local and international suppliers in Croatia to bring you the best service and a large choice of vehicle categories. Visit our Pula car hire reviews page to see what other travellers thought of their recent Auto Europe car rental in the city.

    How is the traffic in Pula?

    Pula's road traffic gets congested during the rush hour and the city tends to be busier in summer months. Driving your car hire in Pula, however, should not bring about any major difficulties. The traffic is on the right-hand side, and you should pay attention to the pedestrian-only zones in the city centre. Pula is the largest city in Istria and is well connected to other cities on the peninsula. The picturesque port towns of Rovinj and Porec are within one hour drive north via the D21 road. The country's capital, Zagreb, is short 3-hour drives away and for amazing beaches and views, don’t skip over Zadar and Split. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, Dubrovnik, which is the filming location for King's Landing, is a seven-hour drive away. Take a look at Croatia driving information and learn more about local traffic regulations.

    Where can I park my car hire in Pula?

    There are many paid on-street parking possibilities for your car rental in Pula. Buy your ticket from a machine and place it behind the windscreen. There are also public and private car parks dotted around Pula which you can use where on-street parking is not available. There is a Garage at Giardini 13, the entrance is on Dobrićeva Street, and the average rate is 15KN/h or 150KN daily. Between the Arena and Riva you’ll find the Karolina Parking, with a daily rate of 200KN, and on Kralja Salamona Street 2, the daily rate is also 200KN. You can also use the free parking App: PayDo to pay for your parking faster, cheaper and more conveniently.

    Pula Airport

    Located 8 KM from the centre of Pula, Zracna Luka Airport serves well over half a million passengers per year and is the designated alternative airport for some parts of Slovenia and several cities in eastern Italy. Inside the single terminal that serves both domestic and international flights, it is possible to find a couple of café/snack bars, as well as duty-free shop. Due to the good weather and location, in low season, the airport is used for training flights by European airlines. It is served by major airlines that fly from the UK, like British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, TUI Airways and Ryanair. To reach it from Pula, you have to head to Rijeka via “Y” route and follow directions to “Zračna Luka Pula”.

    Pula Airport (PUY) / Zracna Luka Pula
    Address: Ližnjan, Valtursko polje 210, 52100, Pula, Croatia
    Website: Pula Airport
    Telephone: +385 52 550 926

    What to do in Pula

    Pula is the eighth-largest city in Croatia and a virtually undiscovered jewel of the Adriatic Sea. Take a stroll down its life-filled streets and immerse yourself in centuries of history. Here are a few sites you cannot miss in Pula:

    • The Arena: Built during the 1st century AD, the Arena is the most magnificent and well-preserved ancient artefact in the area, as well as the 6th largest amphitheatre in the world, the only remaining one with a fully intact circular wall. It used to host 20,000 spectators watching gladiators fight to the death in a battle for survival. Nowadays, the Arena hosts modern events such as the Pula Film Festival, games, outdoor movie theatres, ballet, sports competitions, and concerts and during the summer months the Arena hosts gladiator fights every week, as part of "Spetacvla Antiqva" a historical and entertainment spectacle. The underground passages that were once used by the gladiators, currently host a regular exhibit of olive growing and viticulture that includes replicas of the machines once used for the production of wine and olive oil. The Arena has also featured in several Hollywood films such as the 1999 historical piece Titus.

    • Temple of Augustus: Located in the main square of the city where the Forum used to be the Temple of Augustus pays homage to the first emperor of Rome and the goddess Roma, and was erected during Emperor Augustus's lifetime. Its function changed throughout the years, it was used as a granary, a church, and a museum for stone monuments. It was rebuilt between the years of 1945 and 1947 after a bomb destroyed it during an Allied air raid.

    • Triumphal Arch of the Sergi - The Golden Gate: Constructed in Corinthian style with strong Hellenistic and Asia Minor influences, the arch was originally a city gate and was erected in commemoration of three members of the Sergii family by Salvia Postuma Sergia, the wife of one of them: Lepidus Sergius, and also honoured Lucius Sergius, a tribune of the 29th legion, and Gaius Sergius, the honouree’s father and uncle. It serves as a gateway to a square where various cultural, musical and theatrical performances are held.

    • Forum: The Forum was the centre of city life, the political, administrative, legislative, religious and commercial nucleus in Pula. It housed many temples dedicated to various Roman gods such as Jupiter, Minerva and Juno, Diana, as well as a temple honouring the first Roman emperor Augustus, this being the only temple still standing. Ancient remains of the Forum keep being were found during the construction of new buildings. Even today, the Forum still plays a part as the legislative and administrative centre of the city and is home for several cultural events during the summer months.

    • Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Built during the 5th century AD, it rose to fame in the 1600s after five sarcophagi were found underneath the main altar, containing the bones of Christian saints. The bones of Solomon, King of Hungary are also rumoured to have been found there. At the entrance of the church, there is a bell tower that was constructed in 1707 with stones from the Pula Arena.

    Best day trips with my car rental in Pula

    When you rent a car in Pula, you get the freedom to explore not only the city itself but all of the surrounding areas, beached, natural sites, and Auto Europe provide you with the best selection and competitive hire prices.

    Istrian Peninsula: From Pula, all of the wonders of the Istrian peninsula are just a short drive away with hundreds of unspoiled, deserted beaches and coastal towns where it is possible to find great food and fresh fish. As well as Ucka Nature Park, a vast protected area with several hiking routes that lead to historic sites, canyons and waterfalls.

    Brijuni National Park: Brijuni archipelago is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Croatia. It consists of fourteen small islands off the western coast of Istria that along with the waters surrounding them, were proclaimed a national park in 1983. 6km from Pula, the islands can be reached by boat on a 15min long boat ride from the small village of Fazana, north of Pula. There is a small safari park on the island where animals roam free. There are also several archaeological and cultural sites on the national park, as well as dinosaur footprints which can be traced back to the Cretaceous Period.

    Venice: From Pula, it is possible to catch a ferry to Venice, Italy. The trip is a little under three hours and takes you directly into the city, where you can start exploring straight away. It is however very important to note that suppliers in Pula will not allow you to take your rental car on the ferry to Venice without pre-approval, and that most supplier don’t allow this at all.

    How to get around Pula

    Bus

    Several bus companies serve the inner city and the surrounding areas, the Pula bus Terminal being the main hub for the Istrian Peninsula and located west of the Amphitheatre, on the edge of town. The buses run domestically and internationally, with one route even going directly to Trieste/Venice. Tickets can be bought online or locally at the bust station, depending on the bus company, you can check the ticket information on each company’s website.

    Taxi

    Pula is well served by Uber and Taxi services. There are two main taxi companies: Taxi Pula and Cammeo. The taxis are recognizable for being white with the sign “TAXI” on top. They can be hailed anywhere on the street, and you can find bigger clusters of taxis near the main bus station. Be sure to download the Uber and the Skini Cammeo apps, as these make hailing a taxi easier, because they come to you wherever you need a pick-up.

    Bicycle and Scooter

    There are several companies renting bicycles and scooters to get around Pula and the surrounding area. The companies “Pula Bike” and “Rentalcenter” both operate online and deliver the bicycle you requested directly to your door, at your hotel or Airbnb. “Parmula” is a bicycle and scooter rental company; you can rent them online and pick-up at their downtown location, near the Amphiteatre.

    Water

    To explore the vast coastline, the best way is by water taxi. It's possible to hail a ride online, by phone or even in person. “Water Taxi Pula” departs from Pula Harbour to several locations such as the Brijuni Islands, Porec, Cape Kamenjak or Rovinji.

    Useful links

    Pula Tourism Website