It’s been a few months since we returned from our travels in Croatia and I’ve been looking back over some of our photos. There are so many great places to visit in the area of Istria where we stayed and here are 5 of our favourites to go with kids.
Overlooking the harbour at Pula is the impressive Pula Arena. It’s the 6th largest Roman amphitheatre in the world and the largest outside Italy. The arena was built in the 1st century and could seat 23,000 spectators. Several iron gates were used to separate the arena field from the spectators, where gladiators would fight among each other and occasionally animals.
Th amphitheatre still has the full circle of walls, although a lot of the stone has been removed for building purposes around Pula and even in the foundations of the cathedral. We hired audio guides and listened to the history whilst walking around the oval arena. The children enjoyed the space to run in as well as listening to the history, plus the remaining seating area is a good spot to take in the atmosphere and for a quick snack.
During the summer there are actors dressed up, who you can pay to get a photo taken with the kids and they can even hold a sword or wear the gladiator helmet.
You can’t beat a good aquarium and Pula’s is certainly a great one! Aside the numerous tanks of smaller jellyfish, fish, seahorses etc., they also have a sea turtle rehabilitation programme.
Any turtles found in distress are taken to the aquarium to recover from their ordeals, from wounds due to fishing to cold water shock. Once recovered the turtles are released back into the wild to lead a normal life.
There’s a surprising amount of rooms and levels to the aquarium, which is built in an old fort. My eldest was rather interested in the boards showing the construction of the aquarium and youngest loved seeing all the different animals. The rays and sharks were rather impressive, although we did spend a surprising amount of time watching the terrapins knock each other off a rock in the outdoor area!
We spent half a day at the aquarium and it’s not too far from a variety of beaches in the Pula area.
I’ve already written about Brijuni Islands in a dedicated post here. But this is one of our highlights and somewhere I wish we had spent another day exploring. I highly recommend renting a golf buggy or hiring bikes to explore the island and particularly taking the time to find the dinosaur prints on the coast. Definitely great to inspire future palaeontologists.
Plus, you can’t beat the fun of driving around an island on golf buggys! Ha ha!
Dinopark at Funtana is an old fashioned theme park with the main event being a show with several different acts. Although the park is dated and I probably wouldn’t take any child older than around nine years old, the slightly run down park does make for a fun day out with the kids! Just don’t go for thrill seeking rides!
Favourites here included hunting down the dinosaurs in the forest, a never ending spinning ride, rides that any parent can press the button to stop or go (try not to press go when a child is half on the ride..) and the acrobats at the show.
Rovinj boat trips
Rovinj is a beautiful city with colourful buildings and plenty of tourist’y’ eateries and shops. The colourful buildings are perfect for Instagram, but we wish we had more time to go on one of the boat trips around the coast.
There are plenty of wildlife sightings from the boat, as well as the time to take in the beauty of this area of Istria from the sea. Check the harbour for times of boat sailings, although if you drive and park in the town make sure you have enough time on your ticket.
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