Best places to visit in Puglia
Let’s step together into a land where time seems to stand still, where sun-drenched olive groves stretch as far as the eye can see, and where history whispers from every corner. This is Puglia, Italy’s hidden treasure and we are going to explore the best places to visit there.
Picture yourself strolling through narrow alleys, the scent of freshly baked focaccia lingering in the air. Imagine wandering through whitewashed towns, their labyrinthine streets adorned with vibrant flowers. In April, as the mild spring weather embraces the region, Puglia unveils its true essence, offering a captivating blend of ancient traditions and natural wonders. From the mesmerizing trulli houses of Alberobello to the cliffside charm of Polignano a Mare, this enchanting corner of Italy promises an unforgettable journey through time.
When exploring the stunning region of Puglia, traveling by car offers a fantastic way to fully immerse yourself in its diverse landscapes and charming towns. A car provides the freedom to navigate the region’s winding coastal roads and relish the beauty of the rolling countryside, olive groves, and vineyards that dot the landscape.
If you don’t have access to a car, traveling by train is an excellent alternative for exploring Puglia. The region is well-connected by a reliable train network, making it convenient to reach major cities and towns. Bari, the capital of Puglia, serves as a central hub, offering connections to various destinations within the region.
General information regarding Bari Centrale train station and tickets
- Catch buses and regional trains to various destinations across Puglia.
- Purchase intercity bus tickets online in advance to save time and energy.
- For train tickets, buy them on-site at the ticket office or machines inside the station.
- Validate train tickets using the machines on the platform.
- Follow the arrow marks on the back of the ticket to insert it into the validation machine.
- Online train tickets with a specific date and time do not require validation.
- E-tickets save time, especially during peak season when station queues are long.
- In other towns, you can buy tickets from machines on the platform or purchase round-trip tickets in Bari.
Map with the best places to visit
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Nestled in the picturesque Itria Valley, Alberobello is home to over 1500 of these cone-shaped, dry-stone huts, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating back to the 14th-17th centuries, these unique dwellings were originally constructed without mortar, allowing for easy dismantling and evading taxes imposed by the Kingdom of Naples. Today, as you wander through the streets, take note of the respectful coexistence of Trulli homes, accommodations, souvenir shops, and restaurants. Be sure to explore the charming Trulli districts of Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola, marvel at the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian and the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua, and visit the remarkable Trullo Sovrano.
While Bari may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of picturesque destinations in the region, it is certainly worth exploring. Delve into the enchanting old town, Bari Vecchia, where medieval basilicas and maze-like streets await. Explore the Civic Museum and Archeological Museum, soak up the atmosphere at Piazza Mercantile, and stroll along Via Venezia to the picturesque Teatro Margherita. Take a leisurely walk along Lungomare Nazario Sauro and then relax at Pane e Pomodoro beach. In the newer neighborhood of Murat, find photogenic buildings, trendy cafes, and stylish shops. Immerse yourself in local vibes at Strada Palazzo di Città and marvel at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas.
Bari’s strategic location along the Adriatic Sea means you’re just moments away from sandy shores and sparkling waters. While the city itself doesn’t offer extensive beachfront options due to its ferry port and ancient port, pristine beaches can be reached within a short drive.
3. Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare is a captivating coastal town perched on a limestone cliff along the Valle d’Itria. Wind your way through the narrow streets of the old town, where whitewashed buildings and ancient churches like the Chiesa Matrice paint a picture of the past. Make pauses to the panoramic terraces, as there are so many different breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea and coastline. Immerse yourself in the iconic beauty of Cala Porto, a pebble beach embraced by limestone cliffs. Stroll to the Blue Flag beach, a beloved spot for the locals. It is embraced by cliffs on both sides, creating an inviting environment for children and teenagers who spend their days diving from these cliffs until the sun sets. Do not miss the chance to taste the delectable ice cream of Polignano a Mare!
Monopoli is a historic port town in Puglia which has been influenced by various civilizations throughout history, including the Messapians, Romans, Normans, and Venetians. Despite its proximity to Polignano a Mare, the two towns have their own distinct characteristics. Monopoli captivates visitors with its old town, composed of numerous flower-adorned alleys that create a charming atmosphere. Some of the main notable attractions include the colorful boats of the old port, the imposing 16th-century Castle of Charles V, and the Monopoli Cathedral.
The town also offers scenic spots like Lungomare Santa Maria and Cala Porta Vecchia for relaxation. Monopoli’s east-facing position has shaped its history, evident in its fortified sea-front walls and castle. Exploring the town reveals a lived-in feel and glimpses into everyday life, such as fishermen returning to the photogenic harbor and locals gathering in the streets.
Ostuni is a picturesque hilltop town in Puglia, affectionately known as the White City. As you explore its streets, you will be greeted by charming white-washed buildings and ancient churches like the Gothic cathedral. Take a moment to savor the local flavors at the bars and restaurants that line the cobbled alleys. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the beautiful sunset views over the rooftops from a nearby viewpoint. Ostuni’s rich history, from ancient tribes to various conquerors, is evident in its architectural beauty. Enjoy getting lost in the maze-like layout, and be sure to visit the top of the town for panoramic vistas of olive groves and the Adriatic Sea. With its proximity to beautiful beaches and serene countryside, Ostuni is one of the must-visit destinations in Puglia and the last one in our guide.
Why visit Puglia
We visited Puglia as part of our 40 days trip including Italy. It was our first stop and visiting the beautiful places we described above was the perfect way to start our road trip. It is a region that offers a compelling blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Here are a few reasons why you should visit Puglia:
Charming Towns and Villages
Puglia is dotted with charming towns and villages, each with its own unique character. These towns offer a glimpse into traditional Italian life and provide a more authentic and intimate experience.
Puglia is known for its warm and welcoming locals who take pride in their traditions and culture. You can see and experience yourself the genuine hospitality of the people, either in a family-run trattoria or a local market or during a traditional festival.
Delectable cuisine, characterized by fresh ingredients, simple yet flavorful dishes, and a strong focus on local produce. Indulge in traditional dishes like orecchiette pasta, burrata cheese, olive oil, and seafood specialties. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of Primitivo or Negroamaro, two of the region’s excellent wines.
Crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches. There are countless spots to enjoy the sun, sea, and stunning views.
Where to stay in Puglia
There are so many options considering the best places to stay in Puglia, because every small town that we described before is the perfect place to stay for different reasons.
If you do not have a car
Bari, Lecce, and Monopoli are highly recommended areas to stay in Puglia if you don’t have a car, thanks to their excellent public transportation links to the nearby regions.
For sandy beaches and beautiful countryside
If you are seeking sandy beaches, the eastern part of Puglia around Savelettri or the western region near Gallipoli would be the ideal choices. Savelettri offers beautiful stretches of sand, while Gallipoli provides a charming coastal atmosphere.
If you are drawn to the allure of picturesque countryside and enchanting towns, the Valle d’Itria should be at the top of your list. This region is known for its captivating landscapes and quaint villages that will transport you to a different era.
For those interested in art and culture
If you are passionate about urban exploration, art, and culture, Lecce and Bari are the most captivating metropolitan areas in Puglia. Lecce showcases stunning architecture and a rich historical heritage, while Bari offers a vibrant city atmosphere and a gateway to the region.
For lovers of hiking and nature
If hiking and unspoiled nature are your preferences, the Gargano peninsula is a treasure trove. With its breathtaking trails and untouched landscapes, it promises unforgettable outdoor adventures. Additionally, the town of Altamura and the Parco Nazionale dell’Alta Murgia national park also offer ample opportunities for hiking and discovering the region’s pristine natural beauty.
When to visit Puglia
The most ideal period to plan a visit to Puglia is during the spring, early summer, and autumn seasons. While Puglia experiences hot temperatures during the high summer months of July and August, with temperatures soaring to the mid 30°Cs inland, it is also the busiest time of the year, resulting in inflated prices due to high demand.
For a more comfortable and enjoyable experience, consider visiting in May, June, or September. During these months, temperatures typically range in the pleasant 20°Cs, providing a delightful climate for various activities such as walking and cycling. The weather is generally favorable, allowing you to explore the region’s charming towns, countryside, and coastal areas without the sweltering heat and crowds. These shoulder seasons offer a more relaxed and authentic experience, with fewer tourists and a more reasonable pricing structure.