Located on the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula, Pula and Cape Kamenjak can be combined into a perfect day trip. Pula is a sprawling, urban city that has an impressive collection of ancient Roman monuments in its compact old town. Cape Kamenjak is an outdoor paradise, with beaches, cliff diving, and one of the most unique bars we have been to yet, the Safari Bar. If you are already planning to spend one day in Pula, consider adding on the side trip to Cape Kamenjak.
This day trip is the perfect blend of history, sightseeing, and outdoor fun. Spend the morning touring the must-see sights in Pula and then the real fun begins with the visit to Cape Kamenjak. Pack your swimsuit, your beach towel, and your camera for this awesome Istrian day trip.
About Our Visit
On our most recent trip to Croatia, we visited Istria in late July. Daytime temperatures hovered around 35°C (95°F) with a heat index over 38°C (100°F). It felt miserable walking around the cities midday, so escaping to the beach was the perfect afternoon activity.
We were based near Porec. In the morning, we drove down to Pula and spent the morning touring the must-see sites. Then we spent the afternoon swimming, paddle boarding, and exploring Cape Kamenjak.
For us, one day to tour Pula and Cape Kamenjak didn’t feel too rushed. In fact, this was the perfect day trip for us. During the cooler morning hours, we could explore Pula, have lunch, and then spend the hotter part of the day on the water.
Spend the Morning in Pula
Pula is a small coastal town near the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula. With just a few key sites to see, it’s entirely possible to see the best of Pula in just a few hours.
The Roman Arena is the big draw, but the old town is fun to explore and there are a few more Roman sites to visit.
We recommend getting to Pula between 8 and 9 am. Start at the arena and then stroll through town, visiting the other sites. After lunch, say goodbye to Pula and drive down to Cape Kamenjak, where you will spend the rest of the day.
Best Things to do in Pula
1. Visit the Pula Arena
Why visit the Pula Arena? This arena is one of the best-preserved Roman ampitheaters in the world. It may not be as large as the mighty Colosseum, but it is still massive. The Pula arena is the sixth largest surviving Roman arena in the world.
Two thousand years ago in this very arena, 25,000 spectators would be on the edge of their stone seats, watching gladiators fight each other and exotic animals to the death.
Nowadays, visitors can tour the arena or watch a theater or musical performance. Luciano Pavarotti, Sinead O’Connor, Elton John, Sting, and Alanis Morissette have all performed here.
To visit the arena, you pay a small entrance fee and then you are free to explore the arena on your own. It does not take long to walk through the arena.
Descend down into the subterranean halls, where the gladiators and animals were kept. Surprisingly, there is a museum here about the production and storage of olive oil and wine.
Unless you linger long at the museum, a visit here is quick, taking an hour or less.
During the summer hours, the arena opens at 8 am and does not close until 9 pm or later. During the winter hours, the arena is open from 9 am to 5 pm. Performances usually take place during the afternoon and evening hours, so during the summer months, your best chance to tour the arena is before noon.
Pro Travel Tip: Parking in Pula can be a challenge. You will have to park on the edge of the old town and then walk into town from here. On Google maps, search “Pula Parking” and “Parking Karolina” for parking lots that are located near the Pula Arena and the old town.
2. See the Temple of Augustus
This is another one of Pula’s ancient Roman monuments. Construction was completed in 14 AD and since that time it has been used as a temple, a church, and a granary. It was almost completely destroyed at the end of World War II when it was hit in an Allied air raid. In the late 1940’s it was pieced back together.
The Temple of Augustus is located in the Roman Forum, the main square of the old town of Pula.
3. Stroll through the Arch of Sergius
Built around the same time as the Temple of Augustus and the Arena, this triumphal arch is another one of Pula’s Roman monuments.
4. Enjoy the View from Fort Kastel
Fort Kastel is a Venetian fortress that is located on top of the hill in the center of the old town. If you want the best view over the city, climb to the top of the lighthouse.
If you have an interest in history, you can visit the Historical Museum of Istria (we skipped this because we read it was boring). There is also a second, smaller Roman amphitheater here that you can visit. However, this is rather underwhelming in comparison to the Pula Arena.
5. Wander the Old Town
Running in a semicircle between Fort Kastel and the coastline are cobblestoned streets lined with colorful buildings. Have fun exploring the old streets and shops that line them.
Popular things for sale in Pula include olive oil, wine, sachets of lavender, and your typical touristy souvenirs. We went olive oil tasting at Nature Croatia and brought home some Istrian olive oil.
A Few More Ideas
Those are the main things to do in Pula. If you have more time, here are a few more ideas.
The Cathedral of Pula, built in the 5th century, is worth a quick visit if you happen to stroll through this part of the old town.
In the late 1940’s, while locals were cleaning up the city after the air raids, a third-century mosaic floor was discovered. This Roman Floor Mosaic was excavated and put on display for visitors to see.
Lunch in Pula
It’s a good idea to have lunch before leaving town. There are not a lot of options on Cape Kamenjak and it’s much more convenient to grab a bite while you are in Pula.
The Market Hall is one of Pula’s best spots for lunch. Take your pick from a number of cheap eateries for a quick, budget meal.
How to Get to Cape Kamenjak
If you look at the Istrian Peninsula on a map, Cape Kamenjak is the southernmost tip of the peninsula. From Pula, you will drive 20 minutes south to the town of Premantura.
Once in Premantura, follow the signs for “Kap Kamenjak.” At the ticket booth, you will have to pay to enter the park. A one-day ticket costs 80 Kn per car, 150 Kn per camper van.
Once in the park, it takes about 15 minutes to drive to the southernmost point. The entire drive will be on gravel roads so don’t expect to drive fast here. As you head down the main gravel road, you will see turn-offs (marked with wooden signs) to beaches, cliffs, water sports, hiking trails, and more.
Click here to see a map of Cape Kamenjak.
Best Things to do on Cape Kamenjak
Go Cliff Jumping
The southern coast of the Cape Kamenjak is a rugged, rocky coastline. This is a very popular swimming spot. For those who want an adrenaline rush, you can take the plunge into the crystal clear water from the top of the cliffs.
The Safari Bar
Located right next to the cliffs is the Safari Bar. This “bar” is nestled in among the tall grasses and trees that grow at the edge of the cliffs.
As you walk through the dimly lit tunnels, it feels more like you are jungle in Africa than at the beach in Croatia. Seating areas have been carved out from these tall grasses, creating semi-private rooms.
The Safari Bar perfect for all ages. There are swings, a ping pong table, and sandboxes for kids. At the bar, you can order food and drinks, so find a quiet spot and spend all day here if you like.
If you want to get the best view of the coastline, climb to the top of the lookout tower.
Where to Park: There is a very large parking lot located right next to the Safari Bar. This is the best place to park for the bar and for cliff jumping.
Pro Travel Tip: The roads on Cape Kamenjak are made of gravel. Your car will get covered in a fine layer of white dust. You would think that the dust would blow off within the next few days as you drive around, but it doesn’t. After touring the Istrian peninsula, we spent three more weeks road tripping through Europe, in rain and sun, and at the end of the trip we still had Cape Kamenjak dust on our car. You may want to visit a car wash after your trip to Cape Kamenjak.
Go Paddle Boarding or Windsurfing
There are several spots on Cape Kamenjak to go paddle boarding and windsurfing. We went paddle boarding at Skoljic Beach and it was the highlight of the day for our family.
Skoljic Beach is located on the eastern side of the Kamenjak peninsula. There is also a beach bar here, where you can order drinks and food. Hang out on the beach or in the shade under the pine trees.
More Things To Do on Cape Kamenjak
Here is a list of more things you can do on Cape Kamenjak.
- Explore the hidden coves by swimming or kayaking
- Go scuba diving
- Visit an Istrian family farm
- Explore the biking trails on the peninsula
- Spend the day on the beach
For a full list of things to do, plus more information to help you plan your trip, visit the official Kamenjak website.
Spend the afternoon and early evening on Cape Kamenjak. I have heard that this is a great spot to watch the sunset, if you feel like hanging out that long. We left Cape Kamenjak in the late afternoon and were back at our hotel in time for dinner.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Aparthotel Adeo. This small hotel is located just a few miles south of Porec. We picked this hotel because it had a pool and because it was conveniently located on highway 75. We chose not to stay in a town like Porec or Rovinj because we went road tripping every day and did not want the hassle of parking in a city every night.
The Aparthotel Adeo is nice, but we didn’t love it here. We really liked the small size (we did not want to stay in a big resort), the pool, and the included breakfast. Our room was huge, we had a washing machine, and the A/C and the Wi-Fi worked great. However, this hotel is not as nice as it looks in photos. Plus, it’s loud. We could hear the people in neighboring rooms and every time someone shut their door, it echoed down the hallway.
This is a good pick if you want a small hotel with a pool, but next time, we would stay at a different hotel. If we did it again, we would stay in Rovinj and deal with the hassle of parking. We loved Rovinj!
When to go to Pula and Cape Kamenjak
This day trip works best during the months of May through September, when the weather is warm and sunny. The shoulder season months, April and October, are also a nice time to visit, but for some people it may be a bit too chilly to get in the water. However, crowds will also be low. During the off-season months of November through March, you can visit Cape Kamenjak but don’t expect to go swimming. You can still visit Pula, although some restaurants and hotels may be closed.
More Information for Your Trip to Croatia:
- Plitvice Lakes: Plitvice Lakes Travel Guide: How to Have the Best Experience
- Rovinj: Rovinj, Our Favorite Town on the Istrian Peninsula
- Split: Top Ten Things to do in Split
- Dubrovnik: 11 Must-Have Experiences in Dubrovnik
- Dubrovnik Walls: Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik in 20 Photos
- Itinerary: 11-Day Balkan Peninsula Itinerary: Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia & Herzegovina
Are you planning a trip to Croatia? Read all of our articles about Croatia in our Croatia Destination Guide.
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