Travel: Discover the unspoiled secrets of the new Tuscany

Pula Arena
I am looking to book my summer holiday and would love to go somewhere in Europe that has good weather, lots to do and is near the sea. I have been to Spain, Italy and Greece before and would like to try somewhere a little different; can you suggest somewhere new to try?

I am looking to book my summer holiday and would love to go somewhere in Europe that has good weather, lots to do and is near the sea. I have been to Spain, Italy and Greece before and would like to try somewhere a little different; can you suggest somewhere new to try?

The Mediterranean coastlines of Europe have long been offering holidaymakers great sun getaways. There are many parts of the world that are relatively unspoiled and make for ideal holiday destinations and Pula is one of them.

One of the better kept secrets of Croatia, this small city situated on the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula has come to be known as ‘the new Tuscany’. Pula has all that you could need for a holiday in the sun: beautiful beaches, stunning scenery, rich history and plenty to do.

Pula’s meandering coastline means that there are lots of white sand beaches just waiting to be explored. With the crystal blue Adriatic Sea lapping against the coast, it is a perfect destination for soaking up the sun. If you can tear yourself away from the city beaches, however, a trip to the Brijuni Islands National Park is an absolute must. This group of 14 islands is home to some of the most beautiful scenery and beaches in the country. It can be accessed by a short boat ride from nearby Fazana.

Pula has a lot more to offer than charming natural scenery. It has a rich history and vibrant cultural scene too. The city centres on the sixth largest surviving Roman amphitheatre in the world - the Pula Arena - a huge structure that towers above the town buildings. History buffs are encouraged to take the audio tour which offers an extensive review of Pula’s 3,000-year-old past. If you are thinking of visiting in July, be sure to check out the Film Festival which takes place in the Arena from July 12th to 26th, which is worth it for the setting under the stars alone.

The city has a long tradition of winemaking and fishing so if you’re a foodie, you’re in luck! I recommend experiencing one of Pula’s cuisine delights, a fish picnic along the marina. A full meal usually costs around €30 person, but it is worth it for the delicious fresh fish caught straight from the sea and the picturesque views from the marina. The city is surrounded by vineyards on very fertile land so the wine has a distinct flavor that is unique to this region. A wine tour is a fantastic way to see the countryside and sample some homegrown Istrian flavours.

From April 19th onwards there will be a direct flight from Dublin to Pula international airport with Aer Lingus- just in time for your summer getaway. Enjoy!

Where to stay:

Park Plaza Histria Pula (****)

Prices start from €113 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time

This stunning luxury resort is situated right on the sea shore in Pula. Boasting indoor and outdoor pools, free buffet breakfast, a nightclub and free WiFi throughout, this hotel has all you could need for your holiday.

Maistra Istra Hotel Rovinij (****)

Prices start from €226 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time

A wonderfully romantic hotel nestled on St. Andrew’s Island; the Maistra Istra boasts its very own private beach. The hotel has a full spa, indoor and outdoor pools and a free ferry terminal to shuttle you to the mainland.

Villa Stefanija (****)

Prices start from €108 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time

This boutique villa hotel has just six rooms so is ideal for a family or group of friends. It offers traditional cuisine in the restaurant, has full spa facilities and an outdoor swimming pool. It is a 30 minute drive from central Pula, but is worth it for the stunning surroundings.

For more information and travel tips on planning your holiday visit www.Hotels.com or call 1800 55 3338 to wake up happy on your holiday!