I recently made my second trip to northern Croatia in two years. I feel it is a really underrated part of Croatia and would encourage people to go and check it out if they want to experience Croatia, rather than going to the heavily touristy areas such as Split and Dubrovnik.
This post will be focused on things to do in and around the village of Medulin, which is located less than 10km from Pula.
Where to stay
We stayed here in an AirBnB on the edge of the town, which was amazing. Our host was great and organised a driver to collect us from Pula airport, and recommended an excellent wine tasting! We had the whole villa to ourselves, which had parking if you needed it, decent kitchen facilities, a pool, a sauna and a jacuzzi, although it was bubbles only, no heat! Oh and it had a trampoline, ping pong table and BBQ area which we didn’t use really.
There was a really great selection of Villas available and I would definitely recommend staying in one, especially if you are in a group. Definitely felt more authentic than when we stayed in a beach hotel resort when we went to Pula last year.
There were a few hotels nearer the bay though if you prefer a hotel stay, and the place doesn’t have too much of a ‘holiday resort’ vibe, which is nice. The Park Plaza there is apparently recently refurbished and looks good! The Hotel Minerva seems fairly popular too for those after something a bit cheaper.
Wine tasting – Trapan Wine Station
I have to say this was definitely one of the best wine tastings I have ever done.
Our host had recommended the Trapan Wine Station for trying good local wine, so we booked it at £18 a head, which included 7 wines and some cheese and charcuterie.
The building was fairly unassuming, but you go round to the door and down the stairs and you are in a really nice tasting room with no more than 10 tables, with gorgeous displays of the wine and windows all along the wall so you can see down into the cellars.
The table was set out beautifully for us and our host was really knowledgable about the products. We were not rushed at all over the wines, which were all very tasty – one sparkling, a few whites, a rose and some reds. We ended up buying a few to take back to drink in the villa as well.
We also got to go down into the cellar, which was really cool and weirdly had a grand piano in it, where we learned about the fermentation process and how the delicious wine is made.
Added bonus for any animal lovers – there was the cutest little dog named bear, and a goat who live there at the winery!
As we went off season in mid-September, there only seemed to be one of the boat trip stands open when we walked past, which was Medulin Excursions. The tickets were pretty cheap as they did an off season price and I think we only paid about £12 each for a full afternoon boat trip, which included lunch and wine.
We assumed when we only saw that one stand it would be quite quiet, but actually the boat was really busy, loads of families and an entire class of German school children joined us. We enjoyed the free welcome schnapps and fanta (hint – sit next to the bar then you get extra!) and then bought some beers and some wine to have while we sailed to the first stop. The wine basically cost £1 and came from a tap and was pretty grim but its all part of the fun.
We went past a tiny island with a lighthouse on it, which you can actually stay in, which some people were doing and we dropped them off there, which was pretty cool!
Nearby here we saw quite a few people wind surfing, which is popular in the area, so if you are into that sort of thing you could check that out!
But the first proper stop was a cave where you could swim into. Most of us jumped in the water and went for a swim and climbed some rocks, Craig was the only one to brave the cave as he swam off way before us and we didn’t know he had gone there but he took some cool pictures anyway!
It was not too chilly in the sea despite it only being about 20 degrees which was nice. Some people were cliff diving here too, but we gave that a miss!
We then got back on the boat for lunch, which was chicken or fish or veggie. The chicken wasn’t exactly great quality, but apparently the fish was nice and the veggie option, which was a plate of med veg, looked good too.
Next you go to another island, which had a small bar, where we spent an hour an a half messing around in the sea with the GoPro and ordering more schnapps.
It was actually nice and sunny at this point which was fortunate as it had been a chilly start to the day and most people had turned up wearing coats!
It was a really fun afternoon out and completely worth the money – you are a bit packed in and the food and drink really wasn’t great but it was so cheap and the trip itself was fun. They advise you get there early, which we ignored, and I wouldn’t recommend doing that as we were lucky to fit 8 of us together – they really do pack you in there!
Day trip to Pula
It would be criminal to go all the way to North Croatia and not go and see the Roman ruins dotted about in Pula.
From the village, you can get the No 25 bus to Pula, or you can get a taxi for cheap, it is only an approx 8km drive.
There are three main Roman sites to visit, the Colosseum, the Temple of Augustus and the Arch of the Sergii. All of these are within the town and easily walkable in an afternoon.
The Colosseum has an entrance fee of around £10 but you can spend as long as you like exploring the walls, taking photos and sitting imagining what it would have been like to observe a gladiator battle down below. I would definitely recommend going and having some fun with photos, it is surprisingly quiet and so huge that you can find bits all to yourself which is nice and I assume not so much the case in Rome! (I have never been). It is a very impressive structure and most of it is still original.
The arch is located at the top of a main shopping street, and it gets lit up at night which is pretty cool.
The temple is located in the main square. You can pay to go in and look at the exhibitions, or you can sit in the square at one of the many cafes and enjoy food and drinks whilst taking it all in. We stopped at a place named Sirena, nearest to the temple.
There are plenty of places for ice cream, drinks, food and souvenir shopping, although the one I would strongly recommend is a pizza place called Jupiter Pizzeria. It does the most amazing pizza, at very reasonable prices, and has a really great atmosphere. You often have to queue at dinner time, but it is so worth it!
Walk around Vizula
Vizula is a small almost island that sits off the bay in Medulin. It contains an archeological site with a Roman Villa, and a big one at that.
It took us about an hour to walk round the island and we spent a while observing the surroundings and thinking how nice it would have been to have lived in such a tranquil place all those years ago. Again, there was hardly anyone else there, which was pretty cool.
You can also see the start of an old road made from piling stones up from ancient times which has now been submerged by the sea.
Eat and drink on the promenade
There are lots of bars, cafes and restaurants on the promenade, which mostly offer Italian cuisine and seafood, which is typical of the area.
There are also plenty of shops selling souvenirs, which is really the most touristy thing you see around the area.
Most of the restaurants are located here, though there are a few further up into the village. Some of those were closed off season however, so we ate here a few times.
It was a lovely place to sit out with a drink and watch the sun set over the harbour.
There aren’t loads of landmarks with it being a small village, however there is a cool windmill by the harbour.
St Agnes church is located in the middle of the town, which is a twin spired church and would have been very pretty if it wasn’t for the scaffolding around one of them when we were there!
It is a really lovely place to visit and if you are looking to go to Croatia and wanting to stay on the coast but avoid the mass tourist spots, there is no where better! It is easy to get to from the airport and hopefully I have demonstrated that there is plenty to do to experience the culture of the area!