Last autumn, my family and I travelled to Europe, as the kids had a school exchange in Italy (more on that in a future post). After spending a few days in South Africa, we spent 5 days travelling around Slovenia and Croatia before settling down in Italy for a few weeks. Today I will share with you the first part of our adventure: Izola and Pula – Slovenia and Croatia Guide.
We only had 5 nights before starting our Italian adventure, so we decided on a quick tour that wouldn’t take us too far south. We started our trip from the Italian city of Trieste and made our way first into Slovenia, stopping in Izola, and then on to Pula, in Croatia, where we spent the afternoon and night.
Unfortunately, that day the weather was really bad. We had planned on stopping along a few towns on our way to Pula (including the beautiful Piran). However, it was raining too much and we only made it to Izola.
This area has a very close connection to the bordering Italian regions. Many people still speak Italian and you can see the architecture and colours of the houses are very similar to the ones you would find in Venezia-Giulia and Veneto.
The small seaside town grew on a former island. Even today it reflects the close bond its people have with the sea. Izola does have a certain Venetian charm, together with a large marina and some narrow old winding streets.
We went all the way up the hill to St. Maurus Church. Its Baroque interior boasts ten altars, a pipe organ, and wonderful paintings, dating back as far as the 15th century.
The Gothic bell tower standing beside the church was built with Istrian stone in 1585 and is more than 30 meters high. There are 99 steps leading to the top of the tower. It definitely is the best viewing point in Izola!
On our way to Pula, we stopped for a quick lunch a coffee in the little town of Buje, in Croatia. It was pouring and we did not have any Kuna (the Croatian currency). Keep in mind that parking is paid only! So… make sure you have some local coins with you. A very nice café owner gave us the money to pay for parking without wanting Euros for it. So, we went to have a delicious coffee at his café.
For lunch, the girls had a toasted ham and cheese sandwich.
While we had a meat burek (yum!).
We arrived in Pula earlier than we had planned, so we were able to visit a few places, like the famous Roman arena.
Constructed between 27 BC-68 AD, it is the only Roman amphitheatre in the world with a complete circle wall and one of Croatia’s architectural gems.
It was built to hold 20,000 spectators and is still used today as an outdoor cinema and to host a variety of events.
The Temple of Augustus, in the city’s old Forum, is impressive too. Bombed during the Second World War, it was rebuilt and today houses the Pula Museum of Archaeology.
Other Roman relics worth seeking out include the Arch of Sergius and an impressive mosaic floor, discovered by chance after the buildings near Chapel of St. Maria Formosa were destroyed during WWII.
We also enjoyed a nice stroll around this charming town.
Narrow streets and nicely preserved ancient buildings.
This area is full of beautiful churches.
And went up to the Fortress area.
From here, you can see the whole city.
For dinner, we just had a quick pizza at Pizzeria Jupiter, as it was raining way too much.
The food was ok, but nothing like Italian pizza. 😉
In Pula, we booked an apartment on Booking.com called Sentimento. The owner is a really nice lady. Very friendly and very helpful.
The apartment has a living/kitchen area, 2 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms.
It is very clean and right in the centre of Pula, just a few metres away from the Arena and the Temple of Augustus. Highly recommended!
This is a really beautiful area of Europe. Besides, Izola and Pula, I would recommend you also visit Piran.
Highly recommended! If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will be happy to help out!
Don’t forget to pin this post!