Old meets new
Pula is nestled beneath 7 hills on the southern tip of Croatia’s Istrian peninsula. Here modern bars, pavement cafés and boutiques sit happily among ancient Roman ruins – the 1st-century amphitheatre and the Temple of Augustus are top sights. As for beach action, the town is set to the side of the horseshoe-shaped Pula Bay, where calm turquoise water is hugged by a rugged terrain.
About a kilometre south of Pula is the start of the Verudela Peninsula, where you’ll find 190 kilometres of mixed rocky, pebbly and shingle beaches. They shelve jaggedly into the crystal-clean Adriatic, and are backed by fragrant shady pine forest. The beaches and coves are great for snorkelling in the shallow waters. If you want to go diving or sea kayaking, the big hotels along the coast have watersports centres and scuba diving schools.
Daytrips to Rovinj
In less than an hour you can be in Rovinj. The Venetians built this place, as you’ll see from the way the town spills down to the sea. At its heart is the Cathedral of Saint Euphemia, with its 60-metre-high bell tower and fabulous pine forest views. Amble around the cobbled Italianate streets for shops and artists’ workshops, and stop at one of the many trattorias for a pasta and truffle lunch.