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A Digital Nomad’s Guide to Living in Pula, Croatia

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As part of our time traveling the Balkans while working remotely, we settled down in Pula, Croatia for just over a month. We popped into Croatia after living in Sarajevo for 6 months and before spending a month living in Bihać.

This city is actually where my now husband and I reunited after a casual fling while working in Panama wouldn't die out. After both leaving Panama and going our own ways, we met back up in Pula since we couldn't quite get over each other.

That trip led us to roadtripping through all the best places to visit in Croatia and eventually took us all around the world as a married couple.

As you can imagine, Pula held a special place for us and we were eager to get back to it all those years later to reminisce on the start of our relationship. This time though, instead of being completely broke backpackers, we're digital nomads with remote jobs that can support a slightly better lifestyle.

Putting those mushy memories aside, here's what it was like living in Pula as remote workers.

Short on time? Here’s the cheat sheet:

📅To fully embrace living on the coast, plan your stay during the summer. For the best weather and minimal crowds, go for shoulder season (May-June, Sept-Oct). 

🏥Accidents happen so come prepared with nomad insurance, just in case!

🛂Croatia is now part of the Schengen Area which means most nationalities get 90 days every 180 days to spend in the entire area visa free. They also offer a digital nomad visa for longer stays. 

💰The cost of living will vary based on your lifestyle. We splurged on accommodation but the average cost of living for 2 would be closer to $1,200/month. Earn travel rewards on all expenses with a Capital One Venture Card.

🛜Wifi is pretty stable but just in case, buy a local SIM card when you arrive or come ready with an eSIM.

🛏️We recommend staying at this apartment Directly Overlooking the Square for something central or Apartment Villa Jadranka if you want to follow our footsteps to Štinjan instead.

Getting to Know the Istrian Peninsula

A view of the bright port in Rovinj, Croatia, one of the best towns on the Istrian Peninsula
Lovely Rovinj, another town in the Istrian Peninsula

Pula is located in Northern Croatia in the Istrian Peninsula. Most people overlook this region when planning their trip to Croatia but I urge you to reconsider.

Since I've been from north to south in this country, I can say that this region is unique. Throughout its history, Pula has been part of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. You'll see the influences of both in the architecture of Old Town, the Roman arena in the center of town, and in the brightly painted seaside towns that certainly don't look the way Southern Croatian cities like Split does.

This region is home to plenty of fantastic gems but I'll get more into the best day trips from Pula farther down when I highlight the best things to do in the area after you close your laptop for the weekend.

Is it my favorite city in Croatia? No. But do I recommend it as a budget-friendly spot on a larger Balkan trip? Yes.

Where to Live in Pula

A view of the interior of the Pula Arena on a clear blue sky day.
Even from outside the Arena, you can get great views of the interior

There are a few different areas to live in Pula but controversially enough, my favorite area to live is outside the city center in Štinjan. But, if you're craving less serenity and more things to do, living in the center of Old Town will be preferable.

There are of course other neighborhoods in Pula but these are the two I know best and can recommend from experience.

By the way, you'll notice the places I recommend you rent to get a feel for each neighborhood are on Vrbo, not Airbnb. Personally, I like Vrbo because you're able to cashback on each stay that you can then use on your next trip. Whereas with Airbnb, there are no rewards for users. But if you still prefer that platform, most rentals are on both Airbnb and Vrbo.

Old Town

Pula's Old Town is small but certainly adorable. It can get busy with tourists during the high season but if you avoid summer (more on when to visit Pula in just a bit), you'll enjoy stunning architecture and great bars and restaurants without the crowds.

The views from the ocean here aren't always the best because Pula is a port city which means sometimes the sea views are blocked by industrial bits and bobs and big boats. If it is a view you're after (I'm a sucker for one, too), I suggest aiming your sights on the Roman arena instead.

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living in Pula is a good choice for you.

  • Budget Stay: Brand New Centre Apartment: This pet-friendly apartment is small but has everything you'll need for a great stay in a central location.
  • Mid-Tier Stay: Directly Overlooking the Square: With a perfect view of the Roman Forum right outside the window, you can enjoy your morning coffee with a big dose of history.
  • Luxury Stay: Luxury Residence Overlooking the Arena: Want to make the view from the last apartment even better? This one has views of the arena and the sea, giving you the ultimate Pula experience.


This second time around in Pula we decided to stay in Štinjan instead of in Old Town like we did before. Štinjan is only about a 20-minute bus ride from Old Town meaning we could get into the city whenever we wanted but could enjoy quiet, pristine beaches and ocean views cheaply.

We also travel full-time with our cat and dog so giving them a place where they can run freely and enjoy nature with us is always top of our accommodation must-haves.

We heard from locals in Štinjan that it can get really busy in the summer since it has such a great coast but in April-May we could enjoy having the place nearly to ourselves. The trade off though was frigid water that while I could look at, I never actually swam in.

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living in Štinjan is a good choice for you.

  • Budget Stay: Apartment for 2 pers: Just a 10 minute walk to Štinjan Beach, this quaint apartment has a small garden and ocean views.
  • Mid-Tier Stay: Apartment Villa Jadranka: This is where we stayed while living in Pula and loved it. This small complex has an outdoor area, a swimming pool, and if you book an apartment on the top floor like we did, you'll enjoy fantastic sunset views.
  • Luxury Stay: Villa Lungera: Why share a place when you can have all the amenities to yourself? This villa has its own private pool, garden, and comfortably sleeps 8 for those moving to Pula with a family.
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Best Time to Visit Pula

Old Town in Pula with a large group of people sitting outside at a cafe enjoying the sunshine surrounded by old stone buildings.
Old Town is best enjoyed under a sunny sky

As a digital nomad, you have some flexibility about when you visit Croatia, so I suggest you plan your trip wisely.

The best time to visit Croatia will certainly depend on what you're looking for in your Croatian getaway. Personally, after spending time in Croatia in both peak season and shoulder season, shoulder season has my vote.

Peak Season

Summer is peak season here and it lasts from June-August, with the climax in July and August. During peak season, Pula and the rest of Croatia gets incredibly crowded with tourists from all over the world flocking to the coast.

The perks of living in Pula during the summer is being able to enjoy the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea and spend all of your time outside in the sunshine.

The cons are that the cost of living will skyrocket during that time and you'll be rubbing elbows with loads of people.

Shoulder Season

Shoulder season in Croatia is both during the spring (March-May) and fall (September-November). The crowds are less and the weather is much cooler, with chilly nights to look forward to.

If you're eager to spend plenty of time outside but don't necessarily need to be able to go swimming, you'll love spending the shoulder season in Croatia.

Low Season

Winter (December-February) is low season in Croatia which means hardly any tourists to share the views with but along with that means that most restaurants and attractions close down and locals practically hibernate to prepare for the incredibly busy summer season.

If you're worried about the cost of living though, you can't beat the prices in winter.

If though, you want sunny skies and don't want to deal with the frigid wind and rainy days, the low season won't be much fun for you.

Cost of Living in Pula

A traditional Orthodox Catholic church in Pula, Croatia that is white stone with light orange stripes.
Traditional architecture from an Orthodox Catholic church in Pula

The cost of living in Pula is much cheaper than in other cities in the country. This is mainly because other than the Roman arena, Pula is relatively unknown outside of Europe.

While the cost of living will greatly change based on your lifestyle, the average costs can be broken down like this:

  • Lunch out at a decent restaurant: €10
  • Month of groceries for 2: €300
  • Rent: €500-€1,000 (depends greatly on area, size, and amenities)
  • Bus ticket: €1.50

These are estimated monthly costs based on my experience in Croatia but it's best to budget in some wiggle room, just in case!

Long-Term Visa Options in Croatia

A view over a small bay of a small town built on a hill in coastal Croatia
Šibenik, a cute town located farther south in Croatia

You have a handful of long-term visa options in Croatia to choose from but as a digital nomad, your choice will come down to 1 of 2 options.

Now that Croatia is part of the EU, EU citizens don't have to worry so much about this but for non-EU residents, visas are something you'll need to understand before moving to Pula. The option you choose will be based on your nationality and how long you'd like to stay in the country.

Tourist Visa

Croatia joined the Schengen Area in January 2023 so that means most nationalities can get 90 days visa-free every 180 days, combined with all Schengen countries.

You don't need to apply for a visa, you just need to show up and keep track of your allotted days. The 180 day period is a rolling one so you just need to count back 6 months from today to know how many days you have left each period.

Note that not all nationalities can enter the Schengen Area visa-free so double check based on your nationality before you book your flights.

Digital Nomad Visa

Croatia is one of the handful of European countries with a digital nomad visa. This means, remote workers can legally move to and work from Croatia for 1 year.

Requirements for Croatia's Digital Nomad Visa:

  • A completed application form (provided by the embassy)
  • Proof you work online
  • A background check from your home country or country of residency
  • A copy of your passport
  • Marriage certificate, if applicable
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient funds (income of around $550 USD per month)
  • Croatian address (usually a hotel will suffice until you can move to the country and find an apartment)

Best Things to Do In & Around Pula

The front view of the arena in Pula, a great place to live in Croatia, on a blue sky day
Looking at the Pula Arena never gets old

While as a remote worker you'll most likely spend most of your days working away, be sure to leave some time free to enjoy Pula and the rest of the Istrian Peninsula.

Get Out On the Water

Although I now live just over an hour north of Pula in Trieste, Italy, the water off the coast of Croatia is just so much better. It's incredibly clear and welcoming, especially on the hot summer days.

While boat trips are super popular to the islands in the southern half of the country, there are still plenty of things to do on the water in Pula.

There's kayaking, dolphin cruises, and even a boat ride to Venice for the day.

If the weather is warm enough, I'd recommend getting out on the water at least once while living in Pula.

Visit the Roman Arena

It's hard to overlook the Pula Arena. It's huge and largely still intact so even if you don't want to take a tour inside to learn all of the history, you can't avoid walking around it.

Honestly, my husband and I aren't big tour people. Instead, we preferred to walk slowly around the arena and stopped at bars along the way, enjoying the different vantage points offered.

If you'd like to go inside though, I recommend skipping the line and buying your ticket to the Pula Arena in advance.

Take Your Time in Old Town

As I mentioned above, Pula compared to other Croatian cities is small and the Old Town here reflects that. But, while it might be slight, the architecture and monuments are not. Most of the area is pedestrian only so you can keep your eyes pointed up at the buildings without much fear.

There are some small shops and plenty of bars and restaurants in this area. Just know that in winter, most of it might be closed. Even in shoulder season not everything was open. In the summer though this area is buzzing.

If you want some more context, go on a walking tour but otherwise the town is small and easy enough to navigate on your own.

Go Underground

For more history, head underground at Zerostrasse. This is a system of tunnels that was built back in the early 1900s as bomb shelters for residents. During this time, Pula was an important center for the Austro-Hungarian Empire so was fortified with the pending war approaching.

Today the 4 main tunnels are still open to the public so if you want to see underground Pula, add this to your things to do while here.

Take a Day Trip

Personally I'm never too pleased when one of the best things to do in a place is to leave but Pula is surrounded by some really great towns so I think it's a fair recommendation.

These are my favorite places nearby Pula that I'd recommend you visit:

  • Rovinj: Rovinj is my favorite town in Istria. The Italian architecture, stunning views, and picturesque atmosphere make it the perfect day trip destination.
  • Motovun: Motovun is a super small town located in the interior of the peninsula and is famous due to the plethora of truffles in the area. If you want to swap the sea views for valley ones and enjoy a fantastic meal with fresh truffles, head to Motovun.
  • Piran, Slovenia: Head a little bit farther north into Slovenia and you'll reach Piran. This resort town is similar to Rovinj but different enough that it's worth the trip.
  • Brijuni National Park: Here is where you'll want to go scuba diving or just enjoy nature outside of Pula. You can arrive by public ferry from Fažana, a small town just north of Štinjan. Actually, if you decided to base yourself in Štinjan like we did, you can walk on the sidewalk that goes along the coastline to Fažana.

Ready to Try Living in Pula, Croatia?

Want to live in Croatia but avoid the crazy cost of living places like Dubrovnik and Split bring? Set your sights on Pula instead.

Here, you'll be able to live comfortably at a fraction of the price while still enjoying the stunning Croatian coastline. Plus, you'll get to explore a region of the country that is highly underrated!

Living in Pula is a great home base for digital nomads that want to relax and hang around the Balkans for a bit.

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