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Are you looking for the very best places to visit during a holiday in Puglia, Italy? Then you’ve come to the right place!
If you’ve read other blog posts of mine you know that I am a very efficient traveler and that I love to see as many places as possible in the short time that I sometimes have to visit a region.
Puglia is located in the South of Italy, in its famous heel, and is a region that gets visited more often every single year. It became incredibly famous due to an Instagrammable restaurant in one of its towns. But save yourself a huge disappointment and a lot of money by skipping said place. 😉
Instead I will list our favorite places to eat or have an Aperol Spritz that we personally experienced.
In this article you’ll find the best places to visit in Puglia and some insider tips to help plan your holiday even better!
📖 READ MORE – THE VERY BEST PUGLIA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
The 11 Very Best Places To Visit In Puglia, Italy
Among the best places to visit in Puglia you’ll find all of what the region has to offer. From harbor towns next to the crystal clear turquoise water to rocky cliffs and hilltop towns.
It truly is no surprise that Puglia has become one of the trending destinations to visit in southern Italy. There are so many incredible places to visit and no matter what type of traveler you are, Puglia will have something for you.
Wether you’re a history buff who can’t get enough of visiting stunning churches or a bon vivant who loves to discover unique restaurants, this article will give you some incredible ideas to plan the perfect Puglia itinerary.
And as you might know I also don’t shy away from the truth. In this article you’ll find all of my brutally honest opinions. Even on places that everyone else gushes about online :p.
The best time to visit Puglia
Considering a sun-soaked holiday in Puglia? Well, you’re in for a treat because the weather in this Italian gem is pretty mild almost all year round. In fact, there’s hardly a bad time to drop by!
Let’s break it down by seasons:
- Summer (June to August): These months are the hottest, with temperatures soaring up to 28°C in July and August. If you’re a sun worshipper, this is your time to bask on Puglia’s pristine beaches. The sea is invitingly warm, especially after soaking up the summer heat.
- Autumn (September to November): As summer crowds thin out, the landscape truly shines. September, in particular, is a special month. It’s harvest time, and one of the most cherished harvests is the Vendemmia, or grape harvest. The weather remains sunny and hot, beaches become less crowded, and the sea retains its warmth from the summer months.
- Winter (December to February): While the site didn’t provide specific details for winter, based on the temperature chart, it gets cooler with temperatures ranging from 12°C to 14°C. It’s a quieter time to visit, perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle.
- Spring (March to May): As winter fades away, Puglia welcomes spring with open arms, and the region starts to bask in warm and sunny weather. Temperatures usually hover around 18 – 20°C, making it a delightful time for outdoor activities. Imagine hiking through the picturesque Pugliese landscapes or leisurely strolling through charming towns like Alberobello, Ostuni, or Lecce.
So, whether you’re planning to indulge in Puglia’s rich history, its mouth-watering cuisine, or simply want to relax by the sea, there’s a perfect season waiting for you!
How to get around in Puglia
The best way to get around Puglia is to simply rent a car.
🚘 I always use SunnyCars when booking a rental car cause their company policy makes me feel the most at ease.
There’s never any hidden costs with them and free cancellation up to 1 hour before rental start. Their price is transparent and everything is included. So no worries about any extra costs when you pick up your rental. You won’t need any extra insurance cause its all covered in the original price.
💡 TIP – The following parking rules in Italy are a must to know if you don’t want to risk getting fined:
- Blue lines – You can park your car here but need to pay.
- White lines – Free parking where you’re allowed to park.
- Yellow lines – Only locals can park here.
📖 READ MORE – TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR AND DRIVING IN PUGLIA
How to reach Puglia
The most straightforward way to reach Puglia is by air.
You can fly directly into the region’s popular airports: Bari International Airport (BRI) or Salento Airport in Brindisi (BDS). These might be considered “minor international” airports, but they’re well-connected, especially from major international airports in the U.S and Europe.
Depending on where you’re headed in Puglia, choose your airport wisely. For instance, if you’re eyeing towns like Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, or Alberobello, Bari might be your best bet. But if you’re leaning towards the southern charm of Lecce, Brindisi is the way to go.
Where to stay in Puglia as a base
We stayed in the beautiful town of Monopoli and we would make the same decision all over. It’s the perfect place to stay when visiting other places in Puglia. In the early morning you can wander through the beautiful streets and in the evening the centro storico comes alive and you’ll be in for a gastronomical treat.
🏨 We stayed at a unique boutique hotel called Le Contrade di San Salvatore. We loved its location right by the waterfront and that it was situated in the heart of the centro storico and only 5 minutes walking from a public parking.
Other hotels you might like in Monopoli:
- Borgo Albergo 35 Relax & Spa: Built in an ancient building these rooms offer a unique and romantic experience.
- Al Chiasso 12 – Another beautiful gem to stay in the heart of Monopoli.
Is Puglia worth visiting?
Puglia, located in Italy, is a treasure trove for anyone who adores everything Italian. Imagine wandering through ancient towns with rich histories, marveling at the grandeur of extravagant churches, and getting lost in vast seas of olive trees.
Not to mention, the region boasts olive-green seas that are as captivating as they sound. And if you’re a foodie, Puglia promises culinary delights that can rival any other region in Italy.
From mysterious geometric castles like Castel del Monte to unique cathedrals and mesmerizing limestone caves, there’s no shortage of attractions to explore. So, if you’re craving an authentic Italian experience, Puglia should definitely be on your list! 🇮🇹🍝🌊
Where to go in Puglia
1. Monopoli – One of the best places to see in Puglia
The picturesque town of Monopoli is the perfect place to base yourself when visiting Puglia.
This beautiful town by the sea has the perfect size to stroll around for a couple of hours and has some incredible hidden gems when it comes to restaurants and hotels.
The town of Monopoli is less known among tourists and I honestly have no idea why. It definitely was one of my favorite places to visit in Puglia.
Its centro storico consists of the typical maze of narrow streets that make walking around so special. You’ll come across picturesque squares, ornate churches and one inviting terrace after another.
TOP EXPERIENCES IN MONOPOLI
- Stroll Through the Old Town: Cobbled streets, quaint piazzas, and whitewashed buildings await you. Don’t forget to join a walking tour to uncover the city’s secrets!
- Indulge in Local Delicacies: From fresh seafood to traditional Puglian dishes, there’s something for every palate. And oh, the gelato at Gasperini is a must-try!
- Visit Castello Carlo V: This 16th-century castle, once a jail and fortress, now stands as a museum offering panoramic views of the city and the sea.
- Beach Time: Relax at Cala Pora Vecchia or explore other beautiful sandy beaches like Porto Rosso and Cala Cozze.
- Marvel at Cattedrale Maria Santissima della Madia: A stunning 12th-century cathedral with a fascinating history and breathtaking interiors.
- Hang Out at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II: A lively square surrounded by cafes and shops, perfect for some people-watching.
💡 TIP – Have dinner at La Locanda sul Porto and order their Locanda Mixed Appetizers. You’ll thank me later!
🚘 PARKING – Park you car here and you’ll only be 5 minutes walking from the centro storico.
📖 CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT ALL THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN MONOPOLI
2. San Vito
San Vito is still a hidden gem in Puglia Italy and only 20 minutes driving from Monopoli.
San Vito is a romantic natural port where you’ll have a stunning view of the imposing Benedictine abbey.
The picturesque and colorful fisherman boats only add to the dramatic flair. San Vito was one of my favorite discoveries and since it’s very small you’ll only need a couple of minutes to take it all in.
🚘 PARKING – There are free parking spots when you drive down the road to San Vito.
3. Polignano a Mare – The most overrated place to visit in Puglia
Polignano a Mare is at the top of everyone’s list when visiting Puglia but I honestly didn’t get the hype. The entire town felt overly touristic and a lot of construction was going on all over the place.
When it comes to restaurants or bars I don’t really have a recommendation here. We only had 1 Aperol Spritz and then drove off to the next place to end the day on a more positive note.
Polignano a Mare became especially famous because of Grotta Palazzese, a restaurant built inside a cave. But do yourself a favor and don’t waste your money here. Their menu is as expensive as a Michelin restaurant but the food has become terrible ever since a new chef took over.
Polignano a Mare does however come with one of the best beaches in Puglia. Do know that during the summer months it can get very crowded.
TOP EXPERIENCES IN POLIGNANO A MARE
- Lama Monachile Beach: Dive into the crystal-clear waters of this iconic beach, nestled between dramatic cliffs. It’s the perfect spot for sunbathing and taking in the breathtaking views.
- Stroll Through the Old Town: Wander through the narrow alleys of Polignano’s historic center, where charming white-washed buildings and quaint piazzas await.
- Visit the Statue of Domenico Modugno: Pay homage to the famous Italian singer and songwriter, best known for his hit “Volare,” with a statue overlooking the sea.
- Polignano a Mare Artisanal Shops: Shop for unique souvenirs, from handmade ceramics to local delicacies.
- Boat Tours: Explore the stunning coastline, caves, and grottoes with a guided boat tour.
- Museum Pino Pascali: Dive into the world of contemporary art at this museum dedicated to the famous artist Pino Pascali.
🚘 PARKING – We parked our car right outside of the town at a free public parking.
4. Locorotondo – One of the best cities to visit in Puglia
The Valle d’Itria offers countless places to explore in Puglia. One of them is the beautiful town of Locorotondo. Known for being among the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (which means one of the most beautiful villages in Italy), it definitely is one of the best places to visit in Puglia.
The Valle d’Itria is a stunning green expanse of countryside, far away from the aquamarine waters of the Mediterranean and the cute seaside towns.
The centro storico of Locorotondo, don’t you just love how that flows from your lips, can be found on top of the hill. It’s the epitome of a picturesque Italian town with narrow streets that you can get lost in for hours.
TOP EXPERIENCES IN LOCOROTONDO
- Wander the Circular Old Town: Explore the maze-like streets of Locorotondo’s historic center, characterized by its unique circular layout and whitewashed houses.
- Visit the Church of St. George: A beautiful church with a stunning facade and intricate interiors, showcasing the town’s rich religious heritage.
- Sip on Locorotondo DOC Wines: The region is renowned for its crisp white wines. Don’t miss out on a wine tasting session at one of the local wineries.
- Visit the Museo del Territorio: Dive into the town’s history and culture at this local museum.
- Attend the Carnival of Locorotondo: If you’re visiting in February, experience the vibrant carnival celebrations, complete with colorful costumes and parades.
- Relax in Villa Comunale: A serene park perfect for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing afternoon.
💡 TIP – Do a wine tasting at Vini & Affini or simply sit down on their terrace and enjoy a glass of red wine.
💡 TIP – One of the most beautiful viewpoints over Locorotondo can be found near the Cappella Votiva – Contrada Cerrosa
🚘 PARKING – We parked our rental car in one of the main streets of Locorotondo.
5. Martina Franca – A hidden gem to visit in Puglia
Martina Franca is another hidden gem in Puglia. Here you’ll find the whitewashed alleys, laundry drying in the breeze, cats napping in sun-drenched streets and the chatter of TVs and families reaching you from the open windows of the local homes.
But you’ll also find outstanding Baroque Architecture (Barocco Martinese) and lovely restaurants and wine bars. This style is somewhat reminiscent of the baroque of Val di Noto in Sicily and has elaborate church facades in light-colored stone.
TOP EXPERIENCES IN MARTINA FRANCA
- Visit Palazzo Ducale: This grand baroque palace, built in 1668, has served various purposes over the years. Today, it stands as a testament to Martina Franca’s rich history and architectural prowess.
- Stroll Through the Historic Center: Wander through the town’s maze of narrow streets, discovering hidden courtyards, baroque balconies, and ornate churches.
- Basilica di San Martino: Marvel at this stunning basilica, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, with its intricate facades and opulent interiors.
- Relax in Piazza Roma: This central square, surrounded by historic buildings, is the perfect spot to relax, people-watch, and soak in the town’s ambiance.
- Visit the Church of San Domenico: Another architectural gem, this church boasts a beautiful rose window and a richly decorated interior.
💡 TIP – Grab a drink at one of the bars on the Piazza Roma. It’s the perfect place for some people watching and to try some of the local wines.
🚘 PARKING – There’s a lot of hustle and bustle going on around the centro storico of Martina Franca. We got a little lucky here and found a parking spot after driving around for a little while. You’ll notice that a lot of Italians truly don’t give a damn when parking their car.
Cisternino is one of the smaller towns in Puglia and just like its sister towns it boasts a small, utterly charming old town centre that has remained virtually intact for centuries.
The historic center is a fascinating example of spontaneous architecture, where you will find wonderful trulli perfectly preserved and historical palaces, such as the palace of the Governor, the Episcopal Palace, the Capece tower.
🚘 PARKING – The centro storico is pretty much surrounded by streets where you can park your car. Just make sure you only park within the blue or white lines.
7. Ostuni – One of the best towns to visit in Puglia Italy
The city of Ostuni can be spotted from far away. Towering over the Valle d’Itria it is known as the ‘White City’ (La Città Bianca in Italian) thanks to the white painted old town which crowns the very top of the city.
Ostuni is most famous for its white painted old town which forms a maze of cobbled streets and narrow staircases.
A wander through Ostuni can feel reminiscent of a stroll through a Greek island settlement and this is no coincidence. In times gone by, Apulia was greatly influenced by Ancient Greek culture and the vestiges of this can still be felt to this day.
TOP EXPERIENCES IN OSTUNI
- Museo di Civiltà Preclassiche della Murgia: Located in the Convento delle Monacelle, this museum is home to Delia, a 25,000-year-old expectant mother. It’s a fascinating glimpse into ancient history and the lives of our distant ancestors.
- Cathedral: Ostuni’s dramatic 15th-century cathedral is a marvel of architecture, blending Gothic, Romanesque, and Byzantine styles. Its facade, adorned with intricate details, is a sight to behold.
- Visit the City Walls and Gates: Explore the remnants of Ostuni’s defensive walls and the historic gates that once protected this hilltop gem.
- Enjoy the Panoramic Views: Being a hilltop town, Ostuni offers breathtaking views of the surrounding olive groves, the Adriatic Sea, and the Itria Valley.
💡 TIP – Grab an Aperol Spritz and charcuterie board at Borgo Antico to enjoy one of the best views from Ostuni.
🚘 PARKING – There’s a decent parking lot at via Specchia.
8. Alberobello – The most touristic place to visit in Puglia
Alberobello is known as Puglia’s trulli town. But one thing you really have to know before your visit is that the trulli are very concentrated and only make up a very small part of the city. For the biggest part you’ll be driving through a very old and more industrial looking part of Puglia.
But these clustered conical-roofed whitewashed structures are an icon of the region and they’re also what drew me into this region as well at first.
But I will warn you. There’s only one way to have a nice experience here and that is to come super early in the morning. This is the only way that you’ll avoid the 1000’s of tourists that visit this small town every single day.
TOP EXPERIENCES IN ALBEROBELLO
- Trullo Sovrano: Dive into history at Alberobello’s only two-floor trullo. Dating back to the early 17th century, this unique structure was built by a wealthy priest’s family and now serves as a small museum.
- Rione Aia Piccola: Wander through this neighborhood on the eastern side of Via Indipendenza. With over 400 trulli, many of which are still inhabited, it offers a more authentic and less commercialized experience compared to other parts of the town.
- Rione Monti: Explore this old town quarter where more than 1000 trulli cascade down the hillside. While many have been transformed into souvenir shops, the charm and architectural wonder of the area remain intact.
- Photography Walk: The town, with its white-washed trulli and cobblestone streets, is a photographer’s dream. Capture the essence of Alberobello as you meander through its lanes.
- Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour to delve deeper into the history, architecture, and stories of this unique town.
💡 TIP – Across from the trulli located in the Rione Monti you’ll find a great vantage point that offers a view over the entire Trulli village.
💡 TIP – Head across to the Rione Aia Piccola district, which has 500 or so trulli and is less commercialized. Here you’ll catch a glimpse of how the locals actually live inside these gnome-like homes and you’ll get a taste of what this place used to be like before it got swarmed with tourists.
🚘 PARKING – There are plenty of parking lots where you can leave your rental car.
9. Gravina in Puglia – One of the top places to visit in Puglia
Gravina in Puglia is one of those places in Apulia that always gets overlooked! But that might change soon since it just got featured in the latest James Bond movie ‘No time to die’.
Often called the smaller Matera, Gravina in Puglia is also made up of ravines and cliffside built homes.
The town’s most famous attraction is its bridge. It was built in the 17th century, was then destroyed by an earthquake in 1722, and was later restored and repurposed as an aquaduct by the Orsini’s, a powerful family from Rome.
🚘 PARKING – You’ll have to park your car in one of the streets leading up to the bridge.
10. Matera – One of the most beautiful places in Puglia
Okay, okay, I know. Matera technically isn’t located in Puglia, but right across its border in Basilicata. But most people who visit Puglia will also go on a day trip to Matera. And rightfully so!
There’s a ton of things to do in Matera but make sure that you have plenty of time to walk around the old part, the sassi of Matera. Make sure you’re wearing proper shoes cause you’ll be doing a lot of stairs and the old cobblestones are very slippery.
TOP EXPERIENCES IN MATERA
- Chiesa San Pietro Barisano: Delve into history at this church, which dates back to the 12th century and stands as one of Matera’s most significant rupestrian churches.
- Palombaro Lungo: Marvel at this colossal cistern, reminiscent of a subterranean cathedral, lying beneath the city’s main square.
- Casa Noha: Begin your exploration of the sassi with this immersive 25-minute multimedia exhibit, set within a 16th-century home.
- Chiesa di Madonna delle Virtù & Chiesa di San Nicola del Greci: Explore this monastic complex, one of Matera’s most iconic monuments, carved into the tufa limestone.
- Belvedere: Capture the perfect photograph of the sassi from this vantage point, offering unparalleled views of the city.
- Cathedral: Visit the 13th-century Pugliese-Romanesque cathedral, perched high between the two natural bowls of the sassi.
- Casa-Grotta di Vico Solitario: Step back in time with a visit to this historic sasso, offering a glimpse into old Matera’s way of life.
💡 TIP – The sunset in Matera is exceptional, make sure to stick around for it if you’re visiting Matera on. a day trip.
🚘 PARKING – There’s a guarded parking at Via Lucana and it’s only 2 minutes walking until you reach the sassi of Matera.
📖 READ MORE – THE VERY BEST CAVE HOTELS IN MATERA
11. Bari – One of the best places to go in Puglia
Bari is the capital city of Puglia region and a charming Italian port city. But if you don’t have enough time to add one more place to your itinerary, this is the one I would skip. Although its centro storico is beautiful it can also get very crowded during the day. Especially since the town of Bari is a stopping port for a lot of cruise ships.
💡 TIP – Grab lunch at Ristorante Del Centro, far away from all the tourist traps and where all of the locals go.
🚘 PARKING – Try to park in the area of the above mentioned restaurant. From there its only 10 minutes walking until you reach Bari Vecchia.
My favorite places in Puglia
It took around 5 days to visit all of the above places but you can easily spend more time in this wonderful region in southern Italy. Or maybe add a visit to some other regions in Italy to your itinerary such as the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany or Umbria?
Below you can find a list of my favorite places in Puglia:
Map of the best places to visit in Puglia
🗺️ How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Puglia famous for?
Puglia, a region located in southern Italy, is famous for its stunning coastline, rich history, and unique cuisine. Known as the “heel of Italy’s boot,” Puglia boasts beautiful sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque towns like Polignano a Mare and Ostuni. With a history dating back thousands of years, the region is home to numerous archaeological sites and ancient landmarks, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello’s trulli houses. Additionally, Puglia is renowned for its delectable cuisine, which includes dishes like orecchiette pasta, seafood specialties, and a variety of olive oil, as the region is one of Italy’s largest producers.
How many days do you need in Puglia?
If you’re planning a trip to Puglia, Italy, the number of days you need depends on your interests and itinerary. To fully explore the region’s charming towns, stunning beaches, and indulge in its culinary delights, a minimum of 5-7 days is recommended. However, if you have limited time, 3-4 days may suffice to experience some of Puglia’s highlights.
What is the prettiest seaside town in Puglia?
Oh, Monopoli! Nestled in the heart of Puglia, this seaside town is the epitome of Italian coastal charm. With its maze of cobbled streets winding through historic whitewashed buildings, the allure of its ancient harbor dotted with colorful fishing boats, and the sun-kissed beaches that seem to embrace the crystal-clear Adriatic waters, Monopoli effortlessly captures the essence of a Mediterranean dream.
📚 More articles about Puglia
- Tips For Renting A Car & Driving In Puglia Italy
- The Perfect Puglia Road Trip Itinerary – 5 Days In The South Of Italy
- The 11 Very Best Places To Visit In Puglia (MAP Included)
- The 10 Very Best Things To Do In Monopoli, Italy
- The 8 Very Best Cave Hotels In Matera
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Charlotte Lint is the founder of Charlies Wanderings.
Charlotte has traveled all over the world and is based in Belgium where she also owns her very own dental practice.
She is an expert on writing efficient travel guides and finding unique places to stay.
Every month she helps over 134.000 people discover the most beautiful places in the world through her detailed travel guides.