Julie Italy 12 Comments

Puglia, with its limestone cliffs, golden beaches, karst caves, vineyards, enormous groves of olive trees, and beautiful collection of coastal and hill towns, is one of Italy’s best road trip destinations.

If you want to go off the beaten path and explore a quieter corner of Italy, put Puglia on your list. With some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in the country, Puglia is perfect for those who like the idea of combining beaches, boat rides, a few small towns, and really good food, into one wonderful holiday.

In this guide, we list 15 beautiful places to visit in Puglia, including some of the most popular towns and coastal sights in this region of Italy.

What is Puglia?

Puglia is a region in southern Italy. Puglia is the Italian name for this region and Apulia is the English name.

To correctly pronounce Puglia, say poo lee uh (the g is silent).

If you look at Italy on a map, it looks like a boot. Puglia is the heel of this boot and the Gargano (a subregion within Puglia) is the spur in the heel of the boot.

With its hundreds of kilometers of coastline, visiting the beaches and taking boat tours to see the limestone cliffs and sea caves is one of the best things to do in Puglia. This region is a popular summertime destination, with its stunning beaches attracting many visitors.

In some ways, visiting Puglia is like visiting Tuscany. You can hop from town to town, exploring the small historic city centers, trying Italian foods typical for this region, wine tasting, and shopping for olive oil and pastas. If you have already been to Tuscany, and you like visiting the beach, you will love Puglia, since it is a wonderful mix of both of these experiences.

We enjoyed our time here. Some places, like Alberobello and Polignano a Mare, are very touristy and busy, but overall, Puglia has an off the beaten track feel to it. Spending a week or two is a great option for those who have already either seen a lot of Italy or those who want to explore a region that is not overwhelmed with tourists.

Best Places to Visit in Puglia

1. The Gargano

With its white limestone cliffs, picturesque towns, beaches, groves of olive trees, and forest-covered interior, this small corner of Italy is a beautiful place to explore.

The Gargano peninsula is the spur that sits on the heel of Italy. This promontory of land is home to several charming towns, a national park, and some of the most dramatic coastal landscapes in Puglia.

For the best experience, plan on spending at least two to three days in the Gargano. This gives you enough time to visit the towns, take a boat trip along the coastal cliffs to explore the sea caves, and visit the national park, Gargano National Park.

Top Experiences in the Gargano:

  • Explore the lovely town of Vieste
  • Visit Peschici and the nearby beaches
  • Spend some time in Monte Sant’Angelo
  • Take a boat tour of the sea caves
  • Visit the Umbra Forest
  • Day Trip to the Tremiti Islands

Gargano Peninsula | Places to Visit in Puglia

The Gargano Peninsula | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Gargano National Park

Sea arch on the Gargano coastline

Plan Your Visit: For more information, read our article Best Things to Do in the Gargano, which also has information on how to plan your time and where to stay.

2. Vieste

Stretching across a small, narrow peninsula of limestone sits the old town of Vieste, Italy. This whitewashed coastal town is a joy to explore, with its labyrinth of narrow streets, views of the Adriatic Sea, and long list of restaurants, wine bars, and gelaterias. It is located on the Gargano Peninsula.

Vieste Italy | Places to Visit in Puglia

Vieste | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Vieste Street

The Vieste old town

With one day in Vieste, explore the old town, visit the beach, and take a boat trip for views of the beautiful, brilliantly white limestone cliffs and sea caves along the Gargano peninsula.

This is one of our favorite towns in Puglia. We loved the coastal setting and wandering the streets of the old town. It makes a great home base for exploring the Gargano peninsula and this is the spot to hire boat to tour the the sea caves.

Top Experiences in Vieste:

Plan Your Visit:  In our article Best Things to do in Vieste, we cover the top experiences and have a walking tour of the old town, which takes you to the must-see sights and best viewpoints in town.

3. Monte Sant’Angelo

Located on one of the highest mountains on the Gargano peninsula is the hill town of Monte Sant’Angelo.

The main attraction here is the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo. You can also tour a fortress, explore the maze of city streets, go shopping for olive oil, focaccia bread, and local pasta, or people watch from an outdoor café.

A visit to Monte Sant’Angelo is more than just a visit to a lovely town. To get here, it is a beautiful scenic drive along winding roads with beautiful coastal views. Cows and goats graze on the stone terraces and hundreds of olive trees grow on the hilly slopes.

Monte Sant’Angelo | Places to Visit in Puglia

Monte Sant’Angelo | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo

Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo | Places to Visit in Puglia

Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo

On the outside, the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo looks a typical church, but inside, you will descend into underground world to visit one of the most sacred cave churches in the world.

The cave church dates back to 460 AD. During the Middle Ages, the sanctuary was one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world and a long list of popes have visited this cave church. In 2011, the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

This cave church is a wondrous sight to see. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed (and this is strictly enforced) so you’ll have to wait and see it with your own eyes, once here.

How to Visit Monte Sant’Angelo:  Monte Sant’Angelo can be visited on a day trip from Vieste or while road tripping from the Gargano Peninsula to another town in Puglia. Plan on spending about 2 to 3 hours here, which gives you enough time to tour the fortress, church, and have lunch or dinner.
 
For more information about Mont Saint Angelo, check out our guide to the Best Things to Do on the Gargano Peninsula.

4. Trani

This coastal town, located on the Adriatic Sea, roughly halfway between the Gargano peninsula and Bari, is well worth at least a quick stop on a road trip through Puglia. The main things to see and do in Trani are clustered together, around the harbor.

Trani Puglia | Places to Visit in Puglia

Trani | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Castello di Trani | Places to Visit in Puglia

Castello di Trani | Places to Visit in Puglia

 Trani Cathedral

Trani Cathedral

If you want to spend just an hour in town, start at the Trani Cathedral, also called the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, and if it is open, step inside and visit the crypt. The cathedral was closed during our visit for renovation.

After the basilica, walk down to the harbor. Morning and midday, fishermen sell their fresh catch right from small stands set up along the waterfront.

As you walk to the central area of the harbor, you will see small cafes set up along the waterfront, selling coffee and small snacks in the morning and fresh seafood dishes later in the day.

Continue the walk to the park (Villa Comunale), walk up to Il Fortino Fortress for a view over the harbor, and then work your way back to the cathedral. Once at the cathedral, it’s just a short walk to the castle, Castello di Trani.

PARKING: We parked at the parking lot next to the castle (labeled Parcheggio Piazza Castello on Google Maps). Pay to park in one of the automated machines. When did this, it only cost a few euros for two to three hours, coins only.

Italy Travel Guide Rome

5. Polignano al Mare

This gorgeous coastal town is perched along a dramatic line of coastal cliffs. The to-do list here is short and sweet. Go to the beach, take a boat tour to see the cliffs and sea caves, stroll through the old town, and dine in a cave.

We visited Polignano a Mare while road tripping along the coast. Most of our time here was spent at the Grotta Palazzese restaurant. Despite its mixed reviews, we loved the idea of dining in a cave with views of the sea.

Polignano a Mare | Places to Visit in Puglia

Grotta Palazzese | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Grotta Palazzese

Grotta Palazzese

This restaurant has an amazing setting and beautiful views. However, the food is very overpriced. You are paying for gourmet food but you get average food, at best. Overall, we enjoyed the experience. We were here for lunch in early October, had a seat up against the railing, and there were only a few other guests. The service was great and the food was good, but again, we think it is overpriced for what you get.

Part of what you are paying for is the view and the overall experience of dining in a cave. If the idea of spending a fortune on lunch or dinner for average food, despite the beautiful setting, sounds crazy, then skip this experience. But if the price doesn’t deter you, make your reservation and request a seat up against the railing for the best experience.

We spent the rest of our time exploring the old town. Sections of the old town, and one of the best viewpoints of Polignano a Mare (Mirador al Bastion de Santo Stefano) were closed for a renovation project.

More things to do in Polignano a Mare:

  • Spend some time on the beach (Lama Monachile)
  • Take a boat tour
  • Stroll through the old town
  • Go cliff diving
  • Enjoy the view from Belvedere su Lama Monachile and Pietra Piatta
  • Visit a swimming hole (Grottone)
  • Look for poetry on the old town walls

Polignano a Mare Photo | Places to Visit in Puglia

Polignano a Mare | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Puglia Italy

Lama Monachile | Places to Visit in Puglia

6. Alberobello

Famous for its trulli, small round buildings with conical roofs made of stone, Alberobello is one of the most popular places to visit in Puglia. Strolling through Alberobello is like visiting something out of a fairytale and this small town is a delight to explore.

A few hours are all you need to wander the city streets, visit the clusters of trulli, and do a little shopping, but for the best experience, plan to spend at least one night here. Sleeping in trullo is one of the best things to do in Puglia and morning (before 9 am) is the best time to be here, if you want to explore the picturesque streets before they get crowded.

Alberobello | Places to Visit in Puglia

Alberobello | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Alberobello Puglia Italy

Rione Monti

Top Experiences in Alberobello:

  • Explore Rione Monti, the main group of trulli
  • Stroll through Riona Aia Piccola, a smaller but less touristy area of trulli
  • Enjoy the view from a panoramic terrace
  • Visit the historic homes and churches
  • Sleep in a trullo

While in Alberobello, try a Pasqualino. This sandwich is a local dish and contains tuna, capers, salami, and cheese. La Lira Focacceria is one of the best places in Alberobello serving these tasty treats.

Plan Your Visit:  For more information, read our article Best Things to Do in Alberobello and learn how to visit the best places in our Alberobello Walking Tour.

7. Ostuni

With its white-washed buildings and stunning hillside location, this is one of the most beautiful towns in Puglia.

Also called “the White City,” Ostuni is located in a region called Valle d’Itria. This hilly region is located within the central portion of Puglia and it is here that you will also find Alberobello, Locorotondo, Cisternino, and Martina Franca.

Ostuni Italy

Ostuni | Places to Visit in Puglia

Like many historic towns in Italy, the city center is a delight to explore, with its maze of hilly streets. This was one of our favorite towns in Puglia to go shopping. Sure, you will find the kitschy souvenir shops along the streets, but you can also shop for artwork, clothing and jewelry, and unique, hand-crafted home goods made locally.

To visit Ostuni, park outside of the historic city center (we parked at Parcheggio Ostuni Al Giardino, which is here on Google Maps) and walk into town.

Top Experiences in Ostuni:

  • Enjoy the view of Ostuni from Aussichtspunkt Ostuni Altstadt
  • Visit the Ostuni Cathedral (Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta)
  • Stroll along Via Cattedrale
  • Take a photo of the Blue Door (La Casa con la Porta Blu)
  • Wander the city streets
  • Go shopping
  • Take a photograph of Arco Scoppa

Ostuni Puglia | Places to Visit in Puglia

Ostuni | Places to Visit in Puglia

 Ostuni Blue Door

The Blue Door

 

Ostuni Street

Ostuni street

 

Ostuni Shop

Typicus Puglia Prodotti Tipici di Qualitá

 Ostuni Artwork

Bottega D’arte

Shopping in Ostuni

If you want to shop for local olive oil, wine, gin, and local foods, put Typicus Puglia Prodotti Tipici di Qualitá on your list. We loved this small shop and it was one of our favorite places to go shopping in all of Puglia. Tim and I tasted olive oil, limoncello, gin, and amaro (and bought quite a bit, mailing it home).

For local artwork, pay a visit to Bottega D’arte. Street scenes of Ostuni are sketched onto pieces of local limestone. Some are black and white and others have small splashes of color. This artwork makes a beautiful souvenir from your trip to Puglia.

Eating in Ostuni

We had lunch at Osteria Piazzetta Cattedral, a Michelin-starred restaurant that is located in the historic city center. We ate orecchiette pasta with turnip greens and a seafood dish, making this a great way to try the local foods.

8. Locorotondo

Located in Valle d’Itria, just a short drive from Alberobello and Ostuni, is another hilltop town that is a joy to explore. Rather than running through a checklist of sights to see, the best way to spend your time here is to explore the very small, compact old town, have an espresso, or have a leisurely lunch.

We visited Locorotondo while driving from Alberobello to Ostuni, spending about 45 minutes wandering the city streets.

Locorotondo Puglia

Locorotondo | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Locorotondo Photo

Locorotondo

9. Lecce

Dotted with ornate Baroque churches, located near the southern tip of the Salento peninsula, is Lecce, the capital city of Puglia.

Lecce is different from the other towns on this list in that it is a larger city with a more urban vibe. The historic old town sits in the city center and for visitors, this is where you will spend your time.

With one busy day, you can visit the long list of Baroque churches, a few historical sites, and explore the city streets.

Lecce was our home base for exploring the southern tip of Puglia. It has a great location for getting to Gallipoli, Otranto, and the Cave of Poetry, all mentioned later in this guide.

Top Experiences in Lecce:

  • Visit the many churches in Lecce (the Lecce Cathedral, Church of Santa Chiara, Church of San Matteo, and Church of San Giovanni Battista, just to name a few)
  • Visit the Roman Theater and Roman Amphitheater
  • Enjoy the view from the bell tower in Piazza Duomo
  • Visit the Jewish Museum
  • Visit Museo Faggiano, an archaeological museum

Basilica of Santa Croce | Places to Visit in Puglia

Basilica of Santa Croce in Lecce | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Lecce Arena

The Roman Ampitheater | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Santuario di Sant'Antonio a Fulgenzio

Santuario di Sant’Antonio a Fulgenzio in Lecce

10. Gallipoli

Sitting on top of a rocky outcropping, the old town of Gallipoli was one of our favorite towns in Puglia to explore. With a very short list of must-see sights, a visit to Gallipoli is more about strolling the streets and city walls, with beach and coastal views, than running through a list of churches and historical sites.

Gallipoli Beach

Gallipoli | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Gallipoli Shop

We spent about two hours here. Our favorite experience in Gallipoli was walking the walls that surround the old town. Along this walk, you have ever changing views of the town and the coastline, as you look out over beaches and harbors.

Inside of the old town, a few streets are lined with souvenir shops and restaurants. Basilica Concattedrale di Sant’Agata sits near the center of the old town. Overlooking the harbor, on the east side of the Gallipoli old town, is Castello Angiono. From this ancient castle, the views of Gallipoli are beautiful.

PARKING: The best place to park is Parcheggio Porto Gallipoli. From here, it is just a short walk to the old town and the castle.

Gallipoli Harbor | Places to Visit in Puglia

Gallipoli Harbor

 

Gallipoli Fortress

Castello Angiono | Places to Visit in Puglia

11. Santa Maria di Leuca

The southernmost point of Puglia is located at Santa Maria di Leuca. On a map, it looks a bit out of the way from the other towns of Puglia, but it’s worth it to visit an off the beaten path location and for gorgeous coastal views.

To stand on the southernmost point, go to Punta Ristola Leuca. It is a very short walk out to the small peninsula that juts out into the sea. When we did this, there was plenty of free parking along Via Toma G.

Santa Maria di Leuca

The view from Punta Ristola Leuca | Places to Visit in Puglia

For a view of the coastline and the Punta Ristola Leuca, drive 5 minutes to the Church of the Annunciation of Saint Mary. This church sits on a hill overlooking the coastline and the very small town of Santa Maria di Leuca. There is a free parking lot here and the best viewpoint is from Belvedere Capo di Leuca.

Santa Maria di Leuca View

The view from Belvedere Capo di Leuca

 

Santa Maria di Leuca Belvedere

Faro di Santa Maria di Leuca | Places to Visit in Puglia

12. Otranto

Otranto is located on the east coast of Puglia. Go to the beach, dine on fresh seafood, tour the castle, and stroll along the promenade.

Otranto is quick to visit, just taking an hour or two to visit the main sights and wander the old town. With more time, you can visit the nearby beaches and grottoes.

Top Experiences in Otranto:

  • Tour Castle Aragonese
  • Explore the historic city center
  • Visit Cattedrale di Santa Maria Annunziata
  • Enjoy the view from Torre Matta
  • Visit Chiesa di San Pietro
  • Take a boat tour of the nearby grottoes and sea caves
  • Visit Cava di Bauxite

Otranto | Places to Visit in Puglia

Otranto | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Otranto Photo

Lungomare degli Eroi

 

Otranto Fortress

Castle Aragonese | Places to Visit in Puglia

13. Torre Sant’Andrea

Torre Sant’Andrea is one of the prettiest places to visit in Puglia. With its stacks of limestone pillars, coves, and arches, this is a place not to miss in Puglia.

Walking trails run along the cliffs, leading to beautiful viewpoints of the pillars and arches. In the summer months, this is a popular swimming spot. There are no beaches here, so you will have to walk down the rough rocks to get to the shoreline. If you are visiting with young kids, it’s best to enjoy the viewpoints from the trail, and then visit a nearby beach to go swimming.

Torre Sant Andrea Puglia | Places to Visit in Puglia

Torre Sant’Andrea | Places to Visit in Puglia

 

Places to Go in Puglia

We were here at the end of the day in October. This is the off season, so there are very few people here. But from what I have read, expect big crowds in the summer months.

How to Visit Torre Sant’Andrea: Park at Parcheggio dei Faraglioni and pay the small fee using the automated parking machine. From here, it is a one to two-minute walk to the best views of Torre Sant’Andrea. If you are here only to take photos, a visit will last 30 to 60 minutes. If you plan to go swimming, plan on spending a few hours here.

14. Cave of Poetry

The Cave of Poetry is another seaside swimming location in Puglia. Located just a short drive north of Torre Sant’Andrea, it’s possible to visit both in the same day.

To enter the Cave of Poetry, you will pay a small entrance fee. The Cave of Poetry is located inside of the much larger Roca Archaeological Area. During high season, it is open from 9 am to 7 pm with reduced hours during the low season. For pricing and updated hours, visit the official website.

The Cave of Poetry is an extremely popular place to visit, so expect big crowds during the summer months.

Cave of Poetry Puglia

Cave of Poetry | Places to Visit in Puglia

We were here at the end of the day in early October, which is why there were so few people in our photos. In October, the daily high is in the low 20’s (low 70’s), so for some people, that could be a bit chilly to go for a swim. But if you want to avoid the crowds, this is a great time of year to be here. We loved touring Puglia in October…cool weather and low crowds…it was wonderful.

15. Explore More Towns in Puglia

We had 9 full days in Puglia, and with that time we were able to do everything listed above. In our research, we came across more towns to visit, but with our limited time, knew we couldn’t get to everything. For completeness, I am going to list them next. We did not visit these towns due to our time constraints and chose the ones above because they seemed more interesting. Still, it is good for you to know about them.

Sant’Agata di Puglia. This hill town looks like a beautiful place to visit. However, it is located in northwestern Puglia, not near anything else on our list, so we never made it here due to its long drive and geographical location.

Monopoli. Monopoli is a very short drive from Polignano a Mare and has a small beach and beautiful setting on the coastline. If you want to add it onto your itinerary, plan on spending about an hour here on a very quick visit. One of our awesome readers recommends lunch at Gaia.

Martina Franca. With its Baroque gates and beautiful main square (Piazza Roma) this looks like a lovely town to add to the list. If you are looking for an itinerary idea, spend an extra night in Alberobello and take one full day to day trip to Locorotondo, Martina Franca, and Cisternino.

Cisternino. Cisternino is located in Valle d’Itria, very close to Locorotondo and Martina Franca. It has a tiny historic center and is less touristy than other towns on this list.

Bari and Brindisi. These two cities sit on the eastern coast of Puglia. For travelers arriving by boat, train, or plane, these are gateway cities into the region and worth at least a few hours of your time. We chose to visit the smaller towns, with the exception of Lecce.

If you are still looking for more places to visit, check out Ceglie Messapica, Massafra, and Taranto. On the Gargano Peninsula, we visited Vico di Gargano and Peschici, and although nice to visit, I would only recommend putting them on your list if you already plan to spend several days on the Gargano peninsula.

Peschici

Peschici | Places to Visit in Puglia

Our Favorite Places in Puglia

It takes 9 to 10 days to visit everything we listed above. If you don’t have that kind of time, or you want to add on another region of Italy (like Tuscany or the Amalfi Coast), here are our favorite places in Puglia:

  • Alberobello (plan to spend the night here)
  • Vieste & a boat tour of the sea caves
  • Polignano a Mare
  • Torre Sant’Andrea
  • Otranto
  • Ostuni

Best Places to Visit in Puglia: On a Map

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.

Best Time to Visit Puglia

The summer months, when the weather is hot and the skies are clear, are the best months to visit Puglia if you want to go swimming and go to the beaches. It is also the busiest time of year to be here. For warm weather and slightly less people, visit in May and September.

We toured Puglia in early October. Most days we had sunny skies or partly sunny skies. We had one day of rain while in Lecce. For the most part, the day high temperature ranged from 21 to 24°C (70 to 75°F) with cool nights. This is the start of the low season. A few restaurants and shops had already closed up for the year but most were still open.

Tim and I really liked visiting Puglia at this time, since the weather was perfect for sightseeing and crowds were low. We also aren’t big beach people so didn’t feel like we missed out on anything by not spending time at a beach.

From November through April, it is low season. Temperatures will be cool, clouds and rain are more likely (and even snow in some of the higher towns, like Alberobello…wouldn’t that be a sight to see!), and some restaurants, shops, and hotels will be closed.

Cala di Grotta Monaca

Cala di Grotta Monaca near Otranto | Places to Visit in Puglia

How to Get to Puglia

By Air

There are two main airports in Puglia, in Bari and in Brindisi. If you are flying into Italy for a road trip through Puglia, one of these two airports can be your starting and/or ending point.

Outside of Puglia, for major international airports, Naples is your next best option followed by Rome.

By Train

Many of the larger towns in Puglia have train stations. It is possible to tour the larger towns by train (Lecce, Bari, Brindisi and Alberobello) but if you want to explore the smaller towns and coastal sights, you will need to rent a car.

By Car

If your trip to Puglia is part of a bigger road trip through Italy, Puglia can easily a tour through Basilicata to visit Matera and Castelmezzano or the region of Calabria.

How to Get Around Puglia

The best way to get around Puglia is by car. The public transportation network is not as extensive in Puglia as it is in other parts of Italy, so a rental car will give you the flexibility to get to the smaller towns and coastal sights.

With that being said, it can be a hassle, driving and parking in the towns. The historic city centers are off limits to tourists; only residential traffic and local traffic can drive in the old town. That means that you will park outside of town and then walk in.

The majority of the time there is a parking fee, which you will pay using the automated pay machines in the parking lot. Some machines work better than others. Some take credit cards and others only take coins. It’s a good idea to always have at least 10 euros of coins in order to pay for parking.

If you will be here during the busy summer months, parking can fill up early in the day. It’s a good idea to mark a few parking lots for each town on your map (we use Google Maps) so you have a few backups, if your first choice is full.

Generally, it’s a one minute to five-minute walk into town from the lot.

We used Google Maps to get around Puglia. In all but a few places, we had cellular service so we could get driving routes and look up where to park. I recommend familiarizing yourself with the road signs in Italy before your road trip through Puglia.

How Much Time Do You Need in Puglia?

We spent nine busy days in Puglia, which gave us just enough time to do everything on this list. There are a lot more towns to visit in Puglia, and even though they each offer something unique to do, it starts to feel repetitive, hopping from town to town to town.

If you like the idea of doing everything we listed, you’ll need to plan at least a 10-day trip to Puglia, which gives you some travel time to and from the region.

With less time, you could visit fewer places. Alberobello is a must-visit and we loved Vieste and taking a boat tour of the coast. Otranto, Torre Sant’Andrea, Ostuni, Polignano a Mare, and Trani were also very nice. On a shorter trip, you could skip Lecce, Gallipoli, and Santa Maria di Leuca, which saves some travel time.

So, on a 7-day Puglia trip, visit the Gargano Peninsula, Alberobello, Ostuni, and the coast from Trani to Otranto.

I recommend leaving a little time for Matera. This hilltop town is one of our favorite places in Italy. It is located in Basilicata, which sits to the west of Puglia. Explore the hilly streets, take your pick from the very long list of stellar restaurants, and spend some time in one of the most picturesque towns of Italy.

Where to Stay in Puglia

Puglia is a large region and if you plan to visit everything listed above, you’ll need to stay in at least three places. There is no one central location that allows you to easily drive to everything.

Many of the roads in Puglia are two lane roads that run through smaller towns and are punctuated by tons of round abouts. Getting from town to town takes some time so this needs to be accounted for when deciding where to stay.

We spent three nights in Vieste (to explore the Gargano peninsula), two nights in Alberobello, and three nights in Lecce (to explore the southern portion of Puglia).

Vieste Sunset

Sunset in Vieste

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Puglia worth visiting?

For those that want to explore a quieter corner of Italy, spend some time on the beach and touring the sea caves, and visiting some of the most unique towns in Italy, such as Alberobello, Puglia is worth the visit. This part of Italy may not be as popular or well known as Tuscany or the Amalfi Coast, but with that comes fewer crowds and more hidden gems to explore.

Which airport do you fly to for Puglia?

In Puglia, the major airports are located in Bari and Brindisi. Outside of Puglia, the closest major international airports are located in Naples and Rome.

How many days do you need to visit Puglia?

Plan on spending at least one week in Puglia. This gives you just enough time to visit the top towns and coastal destinations. With more time, you can visit the smaller, off the beaten path towns and spend more time on the beach.

Do you need a car for Puglia?

The best way to get around Puglia is by car. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to get to the smaller towns and coastal sights that are not accessible with public transportation.


If you have any questions about the best places to visit in Puglia, or if you have any recommendations, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Italy

PUGLIA: Read about the best things to do in Alberobello and check out our Alberobello Walking Tour. We also have a guide to the best things to do on the Gargano Peninsula, how to spend one day in Vieste, and about how to take a boat tour to visit the Gargano sea caves.

BASILICATA: Basilicata is a region in southern Italy. Read our guide on the best things to do in Matera and how to visit Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa and do the Angel’s Flight zipline.

ITALY ITINERARY: On this 10 day southern Italy itinerary, visit the Amalfi Coast, Castelmezzano, Matera, Alberobello, and more towns in Puglia.

AMALFI COAST: Pick out which towns you want to visit in our article about the best towns to visit on the Amalfi Coast. If you are active and adventurous, one of the best things to do on the Amalfi Coast is hike the Path of the Gods. We also have a 3-day Sorrento Itinerary, best things to do in Capri, and where to stay on the Amalfi Coast.

TUSCAN HILL TOWNS: Check out our detailed guides to Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, San Gimignano, Lucca, Volterra, Arezzo, and Cortona.

BEST OF ITALY: In our guide to the Best Places to Visit in Italy, we list 25 beautiful destinations to consider for your next trip to Italy.

 

We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, Basilicata, and Puglia.

 

Best Places to Visit in Puglia Italy

 

Header photo credit: Andrew Mayovskyy

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 12

  1. Avatar for Veranika
    Veranika

    Hi Julie,

    Thank you for your itineraries – they are the best! My husband and I spent our honeymoon last summer in Italy following one of your itineraries with small modification (Naples->Amalfi Coast->Rome->Venice), and it was the best vacation we’ve been on. This summer we are thinking of another epic Europe trip and can’t decide on destination – hoping you can help! We are open to any country really (thinking Portugal, Spain, maybe other parts of Italy we haven’t been to (Puglia, Cinque Terre, Sicily etc.), as long as it’s on the Mediteranea sea, ideally with the hotels that are in close proximity to the beach (either private or public), so we can spend some time on the beach, rent a private boat (that’s a must!), but also do some sightseeing. We are looking for something similar to our last year’s Amalfi Coast experience where we stayed in Sorrento, went to the beach, rented a boat, but also had plenty of day trips to Amalfi Coast, Capri etc. – we love a small coastal town experience! We are thinking 10-12 days and probable 3 cities max would be great! We won’t be driving, so it needs to be accessible by boat, trains or with an option to rent a car! Thank you so much for your help – looking forward to your response!

    Best,
    Veranika

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Veranika. If you want coastal scenery and a few cities, my vote would be Portugal. Just be aware that it will be hot and busy, but so will Puglia, Sicily, and Spain. Tim and I just did mainland Portugal last September into October and it was wonderful. I just published a 10 days in Portugal itinerary that has several options. I recommend picking one and then extending your time so you have about week in the Algarve. Basically, spend 3 days in Lisbon (using one to day trip to Sintra), 3 days in Porto (using 1 to day trip to the Douro Valley), and 6 days in the Algarve, for a total of 12 days. For the Algarve, make your hotel reservations now, since summer is busy here. Puglia is also very nice but we liked Portugal more and I think it would be nice to do a different country this year, and maybe next year do Sicily or Puglia. That’s just my opinion. We have tons more to write about Portugal but you can see what we have so far in our Portugal Travel Guide. And if you have questions about planning your itinerary (in Portugal or anywhere else) let me know. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Chantale
    Chantale

    WOW what an amazing Puglia itinerary sadly, I tried clicking on the star next to Google map title and I got error message: stating feature was no longer in function. We are planning your full trip plus extra cities as we have 3-weeks arriving at Rome airport from Montreal. Is it better to travel to Naples and rent a car there?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      We’ve had issues with people using the Google maps features and so far they’ve been short-lived, meaning a day or two later it starts working again. I’m not sure why this is but you could try again in a few days.
       
      If you are referring to our Southern Italy Itinerary, Naples is a better airport to fly into, as it is closer to all of the sites on the itinerary. However, it is usually easier to get flights into Rome, if arriving from outside of Europe, so you may find this is a better option. And with the amount of time you have, adding on the extra travel time between Rome and Sorrento/Amalfi Coast is not a big deal.
       
      If you start in Rome, it could be more convenient to pick up the rental car from the Rome airport and head right to Sorrento. However, if you plan to spend a few days in Rome first, then on the day you travel to Sorrento, rent the car in Rome, OR travel to Naples by train and pick up the rental car here. You’d have to compare pricing and convenience at both of these locations to make a decision. On our most recent trip to Italy, we picked up the rental car right away from the Rome airport, for the convenience, even though we paid to have it parked in a garage for 2 days while touring Rome. It’s all a matter of convenience vs. price and what is worth it to you. I hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Maurice j Omar jr
  4. Avatar for ali richardson
  5. Avatar for Kimberly
    Kimberly

    Hi Julie!
    Your website and information is an amzaing help!!! Thank you so much for the wonderful information!
    We are planning our honeymoon to Italy and will have 4 nights to spend on the coast, including a stop in Matera. You definitely have us sold on a stop there!! We are torn between Puglia, the Gargano Coast (would like to do a private boat tour) and Positano. Any further advice to help us decide?
    Thank you in advance for your response and for all of the wonderful information you have already provided!
    Kim and Ted

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Kim and Ted. That’s a tough one to answer. I don’t know what your budget is, but Positano is a popular honeymoon spot because there are some hotels and villas with spectacular views. We stayed at the Villa Boheme in Positano, a 5 star property, and it is one of our favorite hotel stays of all time. Plus, while in Positano, you can take a boat tour of Amalfi, day trip to Capri, and visit the other coastal towns. If you are on a budget, your money will go a lot farther and Puglia and the Gargano Peninsula, so you can stay in some very nice places without spending a small fortune. We don’t have a favorite when comparing Puglia and the Amalfi Coast…I like them equally but for different reasons. I think the Amalfi Coast is prettier but it can be very expensive and very crowded. Puglia feels more off the beaten path, feels less touristy, more authentic, but doesn’t have quite the same drama as the Amalfi Coast cliffs and towns. Either way, it should be a wonderful experience. You can look at our posts on the Amalfi Coast, Ravello, and Positano, to help you decide. Let me know if you have any more questions. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for Connie Cox
    Connie Cox

    Hi Julie,
    Your blog is a great resource for planning our trip to Puglia in October. You have recommendations for places to stay in all of the places you stayed, except Lecce. Is there a certain part of the city that is best to stay and do you have any particular recommendations? We will also be going to Sardinia, which you recommend as a great place to go, I agree! I can’t find a blog on Sardinia and would love to see you suggestions for an itinerary there. Thank you for all of your detailed work in putting the itineraries and best of lists together, I love reading them!

    Kind regards,
    Connie

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Connie. Thank you for writing in. Where we stayed in Lecce, Living U Home Suites, was just OK and just outside of the historic city center. It was relatively easy to park here, which was great for day trips from Lecce, but not a very scenic part of town. If we did it again, we’d probably stay in the city center and deal with parking (although some hotels may offer parking). I plan to write up an article about Lecce but haven’t had time to get to it yet (that would have more hotel recommendations). We have not been to Sardinia yet (I had a friend go and she loved it…and her photos were amazing). But as of right now, we don’t know much about how to plan your time in Sardinia. I hope you have a great time on your trip! Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Traci Tasto
    Traci Tasto

    Hello and thank you for your incredibly detailed information on Italy. We are traveling to Italy in June and the very end of our trip I am flying to the boot of Italy. We have approximately 3 days to either spend in Positano or Puglia. I will be with my two teenage daughters (17 & 18 years). Looking at your photos Puglia seems to have much more beach options and cave diving compared to Positano. I would love to hear your recommendations. Thank you. Kindly, Traci

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Traci. At Positano, you have two beaches to choose from in town, plus a few very expensive beach clubs. It is a beautiful town but it is also very expensive. Puglia is roughly half the cost and half the crowds as the Amalfi Coast, and if you purely want beaches and caves, I think Puglia is the winner. Good spots for beachs, caves, and coastal scenery is Polignano a Mare, Otranto, Torre Sant’Andrea, and the Cave of Poetry. I think it is also worth adding in Alberobello (it can be done in half a day). The Gargano Peninsula is nice too, but I think the stretch along the coast I mentioned first is a little better and more dramatic. Cheers, Julie

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *