Wine Tasting in Pula (A Must-Do Activity in Istria, Croatia)
Amongst the beaches, watersports and Roman ruins, there is another must-do activity in Pula: wine tasting! You might not have guessed it by the lack of international presence, but Istria (the county Pula is in), is one of the world’s best wine producers! Instead, almost all of the wine is consumed domestically. This makes wine tasting in Pula a low-cost activity that supports the local economy and businesses.
This complete guide has been written to provide you with everything you could need to know. From information on the wine itself to the best wineries in or near Pula, you’ll be booking a tasting experience before you’ve read the whole thing! Plus, there’s a bonus section on how to save money by avoiding tours and visiting wineries yourself.
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A Brief Introduction to Istrian Wine
Most people haven’t heard of Istria before visiting Pula or Rovinj. But, that’s not surprising given most people haven’t heard of Pula or Rovinj either before finding their way there either through cheap flights on low-cost airlines or within Croatia itself.
Istria – the peninsula on Croatia’s northwest coast – is one of the top wine-producing regions in the world. Perhaps the best wine producers you’ve never heard of. However, you won’t find Istrian wine on the shelves of supermarkets or on the menu at wine bars across Europe.
The region only produces a relatively small amount of wine each year compared with the larger regions across the world. As a result, almost all the wine is sold domestically either directly to consumers from the wineries’ cellars or to hotels and restaurants across the country. But, as the saying goes, it’s quality and not quantity that counts. And, what Istrian wine lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality.
The Istrian region has a unique mix of four soils, which, combine with the mild Mediterranean climate and sea breeze for very fertile land. White wine is the most commonly produced in Istria. But, most wine tasting experiences will offer at least one of a white, red and rose wine from their vineyards. In addition, most wineries in Istria also produce olive oil and tend to include at least one on their tasting menu.
Why You Have to Go on a Pula Wine Tasting Experience
Pula is a great place to go wine tasting for those who love wine, like wine, tolerate wine, those who are still on the fence and those travelling with someone who falls into the 4 previous categories!
1. Wine tasting in Pula is CHEAP!
Typically, the most basic tasting menu will include 5 wines and at least some form of snack. Snacks include meats, cheeses and/or bread(sticks). Tastings typically cost less than 100 Kuna (11 GBP) for the most basic options. Prices do rise with the addition of extra wines, olive oils and food but these are typically still of great value.
2. The wine tastes amazing!
I always drink white or rose wine, and typically, I find that these have a slightly harsh aftertaste – particularly, on the first few sips. But, none of the wines I tasted in Pula had this, they were very smooth. Plus, even as someone who normally turns their nose up at red wine because it always seems vinegary, I even managed to drink the reds in Pula!
3. Wine tasting is the perfect afternoon activity in sunny Pula!
Beach in the morning, wine tasting in the afternoon, pizza for dinner and ice cream for dessert – could there be a better day? Pula’s beaches and pizza (a local speciality from the time the region was part of the Venetian empire) are pretty incredible and combined with the amazing Istrian wines, Pula truly is a foodie’s paradise.
Where to go Wine Tasting in Pula
Red marker: Vina Benazić; Yellow marker: Wine Station Trapan; Black marker: Medea Winery; Purple marker: Boca Wine Bar
Vina Benazić (Pula Suburbs)
Vina Benazić is a family-owned winery offering tastings and workshops in the eastern Pula suburbs. Their ‘Tastes of Istria‘ experience includes 5 wines, cheese & bread, and an olive oil for 75 Kuna per person. Additional 100 mL glasses of each wine are available from 15 Kuna and they have an additional food menu too. For something different, Benazic Winery also offer a brandy tasting experience!
The winery caters to small groups, big groups and individuals. Booking is not required but is recommended, particularly for groups.
How to get there:
Walk from central Pula (30 minutes)
Taxi or Uber (7 to 10 minutes, approx 25-30 Kuna)
Monday to Saturday, 3pm to 10pm (End of June to End of September)
Wine Station Trapan (Sisan)
Located to the east of Pula, Trapan Winery is more suited to those with their own transportation (bicycles or designated drivers – no drink driving please!) or those basing themselves in Medulin. Although, with Uber and Cammeo in Pula – anyone can reach Sisan. For 100 Kuna you can enjoy 5 wines and a small snack plate.
Wine tasting is by appointment only with space for up to 30 people.
You can also extend your time in Sisan by checking out the small handful of local restaurants.
How to get there:
8-kilometre cycle or drive from central Pula
Taxi or Uber (15 minutes, approx 60 Kuna)
Tuesday to Saturday, 1pm to 11pm (booking required, staff speak English)
Medea Winery (Vodnjan)
To the north of Pula is the small town of Vodnjan, home to the Medea Winery. There are a number of tasting menus on offer ranging from 55 Kuna for 3 wines, 1 olive oil and breadsticks to 150 Kuna for 1 sparkling wine, 4 Medea wines, 2 premium wines, 4 olive oils, cheese, bread, sausages, and ice cream! Although, the two most expensive options do require a minimum group size of 5. And, booking is required for all tasting experiences, regardless of group size.
I opted for the 100 Kuna tasting menu, which includes 6 Medea Istrian wines, 1 olive oil and a platter of cheese, sausages and bread. The tasting has a duration of 1 hour, but of course, you can stay for longer enjoying more wine if you wish.
How to get there:
Train from Pula Station to Vodnjan Station (15 minutes, 11 Kuna – Check Train Times Beforehand!)
Taxi or Uber (20 minutes, approx 80 Kuna)
Monday to Saturday, 8am to 6pm (booking required, staff speak English)
Boca Wine Bar (Pula Old Town)
Although not a winery, Boca Wine Bar is a great choice for those wanting a wine tasting experience in the very centre of Pula. Conveniently located in the pedestrian streets of the Old Town, the bar has a tasting menu, but you could also create a DIY tasting from their extensive local and national wine menu. Cash only and no booking required.
If you visit, consider having lunch or dinner at Pizzeria Jupiter just around the corner. It’s THE place for pizza in Pula and I can’t rate it highly enough!
How to get there:
Located in Pula’s Old Town and within a short walking distance of most accommodation in Pula
Monday to Sunday, 10am to late
Why you don’t need a Wine Tasting tour
Some travellers love tours, some do not. And, while I certainly believe there is a place for well-run, good-value tours in the world, I really think you do not need one to go wine tasting in Pula!
First of all, it’s cheap and easy to go yourself to any of these wineries. With tastings less than 100 Kuna per person and transport a lot less than this, for a couple, you’d only be spending around 250 to 350 Kuna total. Yet, most tours – which, still only offer one tasting, start at around 650 Kuna, EACH!
Second, most people in Istria – particularly those in the wine industry, speak English. In fact, if not a third language such as Italian or German. So again, the tour is not providing anything extra with an English-speaking guide.
And finally, with a tour, you’re on a set schedule – someone else’s schedule. By going to the wineries by yourself, you can stay for longer if you want to get another glass of wine or stay for food. To me, it’s a no-brainer!
However… I should weigh up both sides of the argument for fairness. If you want to visit multiple wineries or vineyards, or if you particularly want to get to the more remote wineries outside of Pula (in the north of Istria), then a day trip tour is probably more suitable. Especially, if you don’t have your own transport.
If you want to book a tour, be sure to shop around. Prices from tour operators on the ground in Pula are always going to be cheaper than through third-party sites such as TripAdvisor or Viator. Consider things such as free cancellation and bike tours or walking tours in the current climate.
Where to Stay in Pula
Most accommodation in central Pula is apartments, there are very few hotels around the Old Town. Rather, these are mostly located in the areas surrounding Pula. Additionally, there aren’t many super-low budget options but accommodation costs are reasonable for the proximity to the city centre and airport.
Perfect for Couples
- $ – Apartment Henna 2 Pula. Less than a mile from Pula’s Old Town, this apartment is ideal for those seeking a quieter stay slightly away from the city. The well-lit one-bedroom apartments are modern and well-designed.
- $$ – Apartments Nesatcium Pula. Centrally located in Pula, the one-bedroom apartments have everything you could need during your time in the city. If you want to be in the heart of Pula with everything on your doorstep, this is the place to be!
Perfect for families or small groups
- $ – Park Plaza Verudela Pula. Just a 10-minute drive from central Pula, the Verudela peninsula is a great place to base yourself for beaches and fun activities. With swimming pools, mini-golf and tennis courts, as well as being next to Pula Aquarium, this resort is perfect for families with children or groups looking for a fun break.
- $ – Valsabbion City Suite. Just to the north of central Pula, but right next to Pula train station for a trip to Medea Winery, this two-bed apartment is perfect for families or friend groups. With the Old Town and Roman ruins within walking distance, you won’t be short of things to do with your time here.
- $$ – Gallery Apartment. A stone’s throw from Pula Old Town, this two-bedroom apartment has everything you could need, including a full-kitted kitchen for when you want to eat in. Which, makes being super close to Pula market even handier!
- $$ – Ribarska Koliba – Stella Adria Villa. Located in the neighbourhood of Pješčana Uvala, staying here means you’re already almost half of the way from Pula to Cape Kamenjak Nature Park for stunning coastline and crystal clear seas. The apartment has an outdoor pool, BBQ and terrace and the 3-bedroom apartment can sleep up to 5 people.
Do have any questions or want any more information? If so, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
Information is correct as of August 2021 but is subject to change in future. Please check each establishment’s website for the most up-to-date information.
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