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Matera is a city with a long and fascinating history. A complex of cave dwellings, stone buildings, and churches sit on the rolling hillsides, creating one of the most photogenic cities in Italy. Matera has recently been featured in numerous films, increasing its popularity.

Strolling the picturesque streets, sleeping in a cave hotel, trying traditional foods, and getting a history lesson top the list of the best things to do in Matera.

This is one of our favorite cities in Italy. It’s a beautiful place day and night, the food is fantastic, there is a wonderful mix of historical sites and unique walking trails, and it’s not quite as crowded as other places in Italy (not yet).

In this guide, we want to help you plan the perfect visit to Matera. We cover the best things to do in Matera with helpful tips and practical planning information.

Get ready to explore one of Italy’s most beautiful cities.

Interesting Facts about Matera

Matera, which is located in the Basilicata region of Italy, is one of the oldest continually inhabited places in Italy, and possibly even the world. The first people here date back to the Paleolithic, maybe as far back as the 10th century BC.

The terrain in this part of Italy is made of calcareous rock, which is very porous and forms natural caves. The first people here, cave dwellers that are also called troglodytes, lived in these caves.

Over the millennia, the caves were enlarged and stone structures were added to the city. Matera has been occupied by Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Aragonese, and Bourbons.

By the late 19th century, many people in Matera were living in poverty, with poor sanitation. They were relocated to a new area and for a time, Matera was abandoned. After the 1980’s, Matera was renovated, hotels and restaurants were added, and this has become one of Italy’s most rapidly growing tourist spots.

You may have also seen Matera pop up in a few recent films, the most popular being No Time to Die, the James Bond film in 2021, Wonder Woman (2017), and The Passion of the Christ (2004).

Matera has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list since 1993.

Geography of Matera

“Sassi di Matera” is the old town of Matera. On a visit here, this is where you will spend most of your time, but there are a few sites that sit just outside of the sassi.

Matera is built on the rolling hillsides. It is a hilly walk but along these streets, you also get beautiful views of the town. Strolling these streets to viewpoints and quiet cafes are one of the best things to do in Matera.

The Gravina di Matera (the Matera Ravine) is a gorge that was carved by the river Torrente Gravina. Sitting on the opposite side of this ravine is Parco della Murgia Materana, where you can explore some caves and get one of the best views of Matera.

Best Things to Do in Matera

In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Matera. At the end of this list, you can see all of them on a map.

1. Church of Saint Mary of Idris

Matera is filled with churches and the Church of Saint Mary of Idris, also called the Rock Church and Chiesa Rupestre di Santa Maria di Idris (in Italian) is one of the most unique.

Matera Rock Church | Best Things to Do in Matera

Church of Saint Mary of Idris | Best Things to Do in Matera

This cave church sits on Monterrone, a cliffside in Sassi Matera. On a visit to this church, there are two things to do: see the interior and walk up the viewpoints on the outside of the church.

Inside, you can see what remains of the frescoes. It’s not very large inside so it only takes a few minutes. Photography inside of the church is not permitted and you do have to spend a small fee to enter, so this may not be worth it for some people. Get hours and pricing on the official website.

Not to be missed are the viewpoints from the Rock Church. There are two of them.

The first viewpoint is from the terrace that sits next to the entrance into the church. From here, you get an awesome view of Sassi di Matera.

The second viewpoint is located behind the church. Facing the entrance into the Rock Church, walk around the right side of the church. There will be a sidewalk and steps that wrap around the backside of the Rock Church. From this terrace, you look down onto San Pietro Caveoso and the ravine. Here is the view:

Matera Rock Church View | Best Things to Do in Matera

View from the terrace behind the Rock Church

 

Rock Church View

Looking down at San Pietro Caveoso

2. San Pietro Caveoso

San Pietro Caveoso (aka Chiesa di San Pietro Caveoso) sits next to the Church of Saint Mary of Idris. It is also perched on the edge of a cliff and from the piazza that sits in front of it, Piazza San Pietro Caveoso, you also get a great view of the Matera ravine and old town.

This church is free to enter. Inside you will see original frescoes, which are hundreds of years old, and an elaborately painted ceiling.

San Pietro Caveoso | Best Things to Do in Matera

San Pietro Caveoso | Best Things to Do in Matera

 San Pietro Caveoso Chapel

Inside of San Pietro Caveoso

 

San Pietro Caveoso View

The view from the terrace in front of San Pietro Caveoso

3. Fontana dell’Amore Statues & Viewpoint

These statues tell the story of how young people would fall in love in Matera. The young men would wait at a fountain for a girl to approach and then he would start a conversation with her.

Fontana dell’Amore Statues | Best Things to Do in Matera

Fontana dell’Amore Statues | Best Things to Do in Matera

 

Matera Churches | Best Things to Do in Matera

View from the statues | Best Things to Do in Matera

This is a popular photo spot in Matera, not only to see the statues, but to also get a great view of the Rock Church and San Pietro Caveoso.

The Fountain of Love statues are located at the intersection of Via Muro and Via San Giacomo.

4. Murgia Materana Park

Exploring Murgia Materana Park (aka Parco della Murgina Materana) is one of the best things to do in Matera. With caves to visit, unique viewpoints of Matera, and a few more churches to see, this experience is not to be missed.

You will do some hiking to get here. From Sassi di Matera, it’s a downhill hike to the ravine followed by a short but steep uphill hike to get the trails that lead to the caves.

Murgia Materana Park

The view of Murgia Materana Park from Sassi di Matera

Here is an overview of the hike and what you will see along the way.

Hiking Murgia Materana Park

The trailhead, or starting point for this experience, is on Via Madonna delle Virtu, next to the large parking lot on this road. The trailhead is marked on Google Maps as Ponte Tibetano della Gravina, it’s marked on our Matera map, and here are the GPS coordinates: 40°39’58.1″N 16°36’48.5″E

From this point, it is a downhill walk on a rocky trail until you get to the bottom of the ravine (a 5 to 10-minute walk). Once at the bottom of the ravine, cross the river on the suspension bridge.

Matera Tibetan Bridge | Best Things to Do in Matera

The suspension bridge and the ravine | Best Things to Do in Matera

 Matera Suspension Bridge

The starting point for this walk is on top of the hill in this photo, so this gives you an idea of how far down into the ravine you will have to walk.

Once on the other side, the narrow trail swiftly climbs up the hillside, making a few switchbacks. The higher you go, the better the view of Sassi di Matera on the opposite side of the ravine.

The trail eventually levels out and then there will be offshoots to the caves. Have fun exploring, taking photos, and enjoying those awesome views of Matera.

Best Matera Views

Sassi di Matera from Murgia Materana Park

 

Matera Basilicata Italy

Another view of Sassi di Matera

 Matera Cave View | Best Things to Do in Matera

Matera Cave

There are numerous caves to explore, some with very cool views of Matera

 

Murgia Materana Park Trail

The trail through Murgia Materana Park | Best Things to Do in Matera

To return to the old town, you will repeat that hike but in the opposite direction. But before you go, there are a few notable places to visit while you are on this side of the ravine. These are also marked on our Matera map.

Places to Visit in Murgia Materana Park

Chiesa Sant’Agnes is a small stone church that is over 1000 years old. Inside are frescoes and an altar. You cannot enter this church but you can look through the gate into the interior.

Chiesa Sant’Agnes

Overlooking the hiking trail and the entrance into Chiesa Sant’Agnes

Madonna Tre Porta (Chiesa Rupestre di Madonna delle Tre Porte) is a rock church with the remains of frescoes, an altar, and historical graffiti.

Madonna Tre Porta | Best Things to Do in Matera

Madonna Tre Porta | Best Things to Do in Matera

 

Madonna Tre Porta Matera

Madonna Tre Porta

Belvedere Murgi Timone gives you one of the best panoramic views of Matera. It is located on top of the hill, sitting higher than the caves you hiked past. This was also the location of the crucifixion of Christ in the movie The Passion of Christ. There is a parking lot here, so if you have a car, it is possible to drive to this viewpoint, skipping the hike.

Belvedere Murgi Timone | Best Things to Do in Matera

Belvedere Murgi Timone | Best Things to Do in Matera

 

Belvedere Murgi Timone View

The view from Belvedere Murgi Timone

PLANNING YOUR VISIT: The entire park is open 24 hours and free to visit. Allow about 2 to 3 hours to hike the trail, visit the caves, and walk to Belvedere Murgi Timone.

5. Get a History Lesson in a Cave House

There are numerous cave houses you can visit and each gives you a slightly different glimpse of what life was like in Matera. There is no need to visit all of them because they do get to be a bit repetitive.

We visited all of these and will give you our recap here, plus which ones we think are the most worthwhile.

Casa Grotta “C’era una volta” Antica Matera

This cave house portrays a typical dwelling for a family and their most valued animals. The dwelling has traditional furnishings and there are sculptures of people, and a donkey, to help illustrate how people lived in these tight quarters. An audio recording plays on a speaker while you look around, just let them know your preferred language. Cash only (2 euros per person).

Casa Grotta “C’era una volta” Antica Matera | Best Things to Do in Matera

Casa Grotta “C’era una volta” Antica Matera | Best Things to Do in Matera

Casa Grotta is located on Via Fiorentini, near Sassi in Miniatura and the Laboratory Museum of Rural Life. This was one of our favorites, with its interesting audio recording and props.

Casa Grotta nei Sassi

Casa Grotta nei Sassi, also called Storica Casa Grotta, is another cave dwelling furnished with traditional furniture and tools. At this cave house, you are given a QR code and will listen to the audio guide on your phone. On a visit here, you also get to enter a cave church and snow storehouse.

It is conveniently located near the Rock Church.

Casa Grotta nei Sassi | Best Things to Do in Matera

Casa Grotta nei Sassi | Best Things to Do in Matera

 

Casa Grotta nei Sassi Cave Church

Casa Grotta nei Sassi Cave Church

Casa Grotta del Casalnuovo

This multi-level dwelling has furniture and tools for family and their animals. The house was abandoned in 1958 and it is filled with the original furnishings and artifacts. As you walk through the house, you will listen to a short audio recording.

Overall the experience is good but it is a bit out of the way. It is located on the outskirts of the old town, a short walk from the Matera Olive Oil Museum.

Casa Grotta del Casalnuovo | Best Things to Do in Matera

Casa Grotta del Casalnuovo | Best Things to Do in Matera

Casa Noha

This cave dwelling is different from the other cave houses in that it uses videos to tell the story of what it was like to live in these conditions. As you move from room to room, you watch a series of videos that shows the pitiful living conditions of these cave dwellings and the challenges that the Matera population faced.

There are a few different rooms in this particular dwelling and each of them were pretty bare. The focus is on the videos and not the dwelling itself. You are given a set of headphones programmed to your language of choice so you can listen to the audio while the video is playing.

From these videos, we got the best appreciation for the dreadful living conditions versus the other cave houses. Casa Noha is worth the visit. For the best experience, visit Casa Noha plus one more cave house, like Casa Grotta or Storica Casa Grotta, that has statues and furnishings to get a sense of what it was like to live in these houses.

We don’t have a photo of this one because Casa Noha is more about the videos and the rooms are rather barren.

HOW TO CHOOSE WHICH CAVE HOUSE TO VISIT: Casa Grotta “C’era una volta” Antica Matera, Storica Casa Grotta (Casa Grotta nei Sassi), and Casa Grotta del Casalnuovo are all very similar. Of these three, just pick one. As to which one, we recommend choosing the one that works best with your walking route through Matera. For the full experience, also consider visiting Casa Noha as well, since the videos give you more information and a deeper understanding to what life was like in these cave houses.

6. Laboratory Museum of Rural Life

This is located next to Casa Grotta, mentioned above, so you could do both together. The Laboratory Museum of Rural Life displays all types of tools that were used in Matera, including those used by blacksmiths, farmers, potters, knife-grinders, coppersmiths, tanners, and cobblers.

This museum is located inside of a restored 16th century building. There is a small fee to enter, cash only.

Laboratory Museum of Rural Life

Laboratory Museum of Rural Life | Best Things to Do in Matera

7. Stroll the City Streets

One of the best things to do in Matera is to put down the map and wander through the old town. Explore the side streets and you never know what you might find… quiet cafes, interesting viewpoints, and a lot less people.

Matera Italy

The view of Matera near the Church of Saint Peter Barisano

PRO TRAVEL TIP: As you walk through Matera, you will walk up and down lots of staircases. The “sidewalks” are cobblestoned, so the surface is very uneven. If it rains while you are here, it gets to be very slippery. Be sure to wear a pair of comfortable shoes with good traction.

8. The Matera Cathedral

The Matera Cathedral, also called Cattedrale di Santa Maria della Bruna, is the Duomo of Matera.

This Roman Catholic church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was completed in 1270 and it sits on the highest point of Matera. From throughout the city, you will see the bell tower of the cathedral and this forms the focal points for many photo spots throughout Matera.

Inside, admire the Baroque architecture and see the frescoes at Chapel of San Giuseppe. The interior of the cathedral recently underwent an extensive renovation project and it is a sight to see.

From Piazza Duomo, the terrace that sits in front of the cathedral, you also get a great view of the old town.

Matera Cathedral Interior | Best Things to Do in Matera

Inside the Matera Cathedral | Best Things to Do in Matera

 

Inside the Matera Duomo

Inside the Matera Cathedral

 

Chapel of San Giuseppe Matera

Chapel of San Giuseppe | Best Things to Do in Matera

9. Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli

This is one of the best viewpoints of Matera. From here, you get a panoramic view of Sassi di Matera. It’s free to visit and takes just a few minutes of your time. See our map for its location.

Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli | Best Things to Do in Matera

Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli | Best Things to Do in Matera

10. Church of Purgatory

This is another one of Matera’s more unique churches. The Church of Purgatory, also called Chiesa del Purgatorio, was completed in 1747 as a place for people to pray for the souls trapped in purgatory.

The exterior of the church is decorated with skeletons and skulls adorn the wooden doors and stonework. Inside, you will see more skulls and skeletons plus paintings that portray souls trapped in purgatory.

Matera Church of Purgatory

Church of Purgatory | Best Things to Do in Matera

 

Church of Purgatory Matera

Church of Purgatory

11. Piazza San Francesco

This open square is located in front of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. This church is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list and an important pilgrimage site for Christians.

Sitting on the square is sculpture that is modeled after a Salvador Dalí painting.

Piazza San Francesco Matera | Best Things to Do in Matera

Piazza San Francesco | Best Things to Do in Matera

12. Gradoni Sant’Antonio

This viewpoint of Matera is not so much about gazing out across the old town but getting a view up to the Matera cathedral. From this narrow, cobblestoned street, Via Tre Corone, you get a unique view of the cathedral.

Gradoni Sant’Antonio

Gradoni Sant’Antonio

13. Try Pane di Matera and Focaccia di Matera

Pane di Matera is a round loaf of bread with a hard, crusty exterior and a softer, golden interior. It is made from locally grown wheat and has a long fermentation process, so it tastes similar to sourdough.

Pane di Matera can only be made in the town of Matera and must be made the traditional way.

Focaccia di Matera is focaccia bread topped with a tomato sauce and it looks more like pizza.

The best place in town to get Pane di Matera and the focaccia is at Panificio Paoluccio, which is located on Via del Corso, just outside of Sassi di Matera.

Focaccia di Matera | Best Things to Do in Matera

Focaccia di Matera

14. Sleep in a Cave

While in Matera, you will tour cave churches, historical cave houses, and most likely dine in a cave, so why not sleep in one, too?

There are a lot of choices, but some of the more highly rated cave hotels include 5 Elementi Sassi Matera, La Dimora Delle 3 Zie, the Caveoso Hotel, Hotel Il Belvedere, and Palazzotto Residence & Winery.

We stayed at the Quarry Resort, which has both cave rooms and traditional hotel rooms. It’s just a 5-minute walk from the Matera Cathedral. From the hotel’s outdoor bar, you can look out over the Rock Church and Murgia Materana Park.

Matera Cave Hotel

Spa bath at the Quarry Resort

15. Rock Complex of Madonna della Virtù

This is one of our favorite experiences in Matera.

The Church of Madonna della Virtù is a rock church that dates back to the 12th century. In the 20th century, the church was restored and turned into an art gallery.

On display are about 200 works of art by Salvador Dalí. As you walk through the various cave rooms of this historic church, you will see Dali’s sculptures plus the ancient frescoes on the cave church walls. Some statues sit outside so you will also get sweeping views from Matera.

If you have an interest in art, particularly Salvador Dalí, this is not to be missed. Get hours, pricing, and important updates on the official website.

Madonna della Virtu Matera

Madonna della Virtù | Best Things to Do in Matera

 

Salvador Dali in Matera

Salvador Dalí exhibit in the museum

 Madonna della Virtu View | Best Things to Do in Matera

Part of the museum takes you outside for views like this one.

 

Rhinocerus Cosmique

Rhinocerus Cosmique

16. Visit the MUSMA

The MUSMA, Museo della Scultura Contemporanea Matera, is a small museum that is entirely dedicated to sculptures. On display are Italian and foreign sculptures from the 1800’s to today. This museum is located inside of Palazzo Pomarici, a 17th century palace.

MUSMA Matera | Best Things to Do in Matera

MUSMA | Best Things to Do in Matera

On a visit here, you can also see frescoes on the walls of some of the rooms.

We personally liked the Rock Complex of Madonna della Virtù more than the MUSMA, so if you only want to visit one art museum, Madonna della Virtu gets our vote.

For updated pricing and hours, visit the official website.

Italy Travel Guide

17. Palombaro Lungo

Journey underground for another history lesson in Matera.

In town, spring and rainwater was gathered into cisterns, some public and some private, which would be used for drinking water by the people who lived here.

Palombaro Lungo is the biggest cistern in Matera. It is not a natural cave. In the 16th century this large cavern was excavated and then enlarged over the centuries. It can hold 5 million liters of water.

Palombaro Lungo Matera

Palombaro Lungo | Best Things to Do in Matera

On a visit here, you will descend into the cavern on a series of staircases and metal boardwalks. This only takes 15 minutes and is another one of Matera’s unique things to do.

Get hours and pricing on the official website.

Palombaro Lungo Entrance

The entrance into Palombaro Lungo is on the lower level of Piazza Vittorio Veneto. This is also where to go for one of the two parts of the Tre Archi viewpoint, listed next.

18. Belvedere Luigi Guerricchio detto dei “Tre Archi”

This viewpoint is located just a few steps from Palombaro Lungo and Piazza Vittorio Veneto. There are two terraces here, both with similar viewpoints. The first viewpoint is on the main level of Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Walk through the triple archway (Tre Archi) to a terrace for this view:

Best Views of Matera Italy

View from the “upper Tre Archi viewpoint”

For the second view, walk down the steps like you are going to visit Palombaro Lungo and then walk through the triple archway here for this view:

Matera Tre Archi View

View from the “lower Tre Archi viewpoint”

19. Piazza Vittorio Veneto

On this wide piazza sits the entrance into Palombaro Lungo and the Tre Archi viewpoint. You can also see another Salvador Dalí sculpture, the Space Elephant.

Piazza Vittorio Veneto

Piazza Vittorio Veneto | Best Things to Do in Matera

If you are hungry and need a bite eat, we recommend Annunziata Ristorante Pizzeria. This pizza place is located on top of Palazzo dell’Annunziata and from here you get a panoramic view over Matera. The pizza is a little more expensive than other restaurants in town but part of what you are paying for is the view.

Piazza Vittorio Veneto Matera

The view from Annunziata Ristorante Pizzeria

20. Ipogeo Matersum

Ipogeo Matersum, also called Underground Matera, is an underground museum. These caves and tunnels were part of an underground city in Matera. People lived and worked here, and you can see the remains of homes, churches, a quarry, and where snow was stored.

First, you will watch a 5-minute video and then you can tour the museum with a guide or download the audioguide on your phone. We had trouble downloading the guide, since we were underground in a cave.

This is another interesting history lesson in Matera but we think it’s only worthwhile for those with an interest in history and/or caves and have more than one day in Matera. It has an off the beaten path feel and we were the only ones here during our visit.

Get more information, hours, and pricing on the official website.

Ipogeo Matersum

Ipogeo Matersum | Best Things to Do in Matera

21. Sassi in Miniatura

Want to see a miniature version of Matera? At Sassi in Miniatura, you can see a miniature recreation of Sassi di Matera. A visit here takes about 5 minutes, it is free to visit but donations are appreciated.

Sassi in Miniatura

Sassi in Miniatura | Best Things to Do in Matera

22. Church of Saint Peter Barisano

The Church of Saint Peter Barisano is the largest cave church in Matera. It is 800 years old and has been enlarged several times over the centuries.

On a visit here, you will walk through a maze of small caves and tunnels. Some of the walls are covered in colorful frescoes that are gorgeous. You will also get to see where corpses of the clergy were drained of their body fluids and then stored as they decomposed.

Photos are not allowed in the church. For pricing and hours, click here.

Church of Saint Peter Barisano

Church of Saint Peter Barisano | Best Things to Do in Matera

23. Church of Santa Lucia alle Malve

Located next to the Sasso Caveoso, this cave church is one of the oldest in Matera. It’s over 1000 years old and was first used by Benedictine monks as a place of worship.

On a visit here, you will see frescoes that were made between the 11th and 17th centuries, including a fresco of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding Saint Gregory. The frescoes are beautiful, which makes this church worth the visit. There is also another view over Matera from the rooftop terrace.

Photos are not allowed. For pricing and hours click here.

Church of Santa Lucia alle Malve Terrace

The terrace above Church of Santa Lucia alle Malve

24. MOOM Olive Oil Museum

At the Matera Olive Oil Museum, tour the underground olive oil mill. MOOM can only be visited on a guided tour, which lasts about 20 minutes. You must make your reservation at least 3 days in advance. Get more information, and the link to make your reservation, on the official website.

25. Watch the Sunset

Watching the sunset is one of the best things to do in Matera. This city glows in the evening, with lights sparkling throughout the old town.

For one of the best sunset spots in town, you can either have a drink and/or dinner at Crialoss, a bistro with breathtaking views of Matera (make your reservation in advance). For a similar view without paying for dinner or a drink, go to the terrace on top of the Church of San Pietro Barisano…it’s where we took the cover photo for this article (GPS coordinates: 40°40’07.7″N 16°36’33.3″E).

Crialoss

Crialoss | Best Things to Do in Matera

Bonus! Crypt of the Original Sin

The Crypt of the Original Sin is not located in Matera but since it is an important and popular site, it deserves a mention here.

This cave site sits a short distance outside of Matera. It’s too far to walk to but you can drive here if you have a car.

The Crypt of the Original Sin has the nickname “The Sistine Chapel of Rupestrian Art.” Rupestrian means cave, so it is one of the most elaborately decorated cave churches. Paintings on the walls and ceilings display Adam and Eve, the Apostles Peter, John, and Andrew, the Archangels, God, and Mary.

For more information, hours, and pricing, visit the official website.

Best Things to Do in Matera: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
 
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added 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 Things to Do in Matera: Our Recommendations

To narrow down the long list of things to do in Matera, here are the top 10 experiences to have while you are here:

  • Stroll the streets of Sassi de Matera
  • Visit Murgia Materana Park
  • Sleep in a cave
  • Visit a cave house
  • Church of Saint Mary of Idris (the Rock Church)
  • Visit the Matera Duomo
  • See the Salvador Dali statues at the Church of Madonna della Virtu
  • Viewpoints of Matera (Tre Archi, Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli, and from the Rock Church)
  • Watch the sunset
  • Have lunch and dinner at Matera’s fantastic restaurants

How Much Time Do You Need in Matera?

Plan on spending at least one day in Matera. This will give you enough time to stroll through town, visit a few of the top sights, including the cave churches and grottoes, explore Murgia Materana Park, and have lunch and dinner in town.

With more time, you can thoroughly explore Matera and visit some of the more off the beaten places.

We spent three days and three nights in Matera. This gave us some free time, which is good, because we had almost one solid day of rain while we were here. Our visit was in mid-October.

Matera at Night Photo

Matera at Night

Helpful Tips for Visiting Matera

Wear Comforable Shoes: As you walk through Matera, you will walk up and down lots of staircases. The “sidewalks” are cobblestoned, so the surface is very uneven. If it rains while you are here, it gets to be very slippery. Be sure to wear a pair of comfortable shoes with good traction.

Dinner Reservations: If you plan to have dinner in Matera, make your reservation in advance. In our experience in Italy, you will need to have a reservation for dinner at the highly rated restaurants.

To check the weather forecast, we used Meteo Italy and the forecast was relatively accurate. There is also an app that you can download onto your phone.

How to Get to Matera

By Train

There is a train station in Matera. It sits outside of the old town, so to get into the old town you can either walk or hire a taxi (there is no bus into the old town).

Trains to Matera connect through Bari and Ferrandina-Pomarico-Miglionico.

By Car

If you are on a road trip through southern Italy, Matera is well worth the visit. We visited Matera when driving from Puglia to the Amalfi Coast.

Our hotel had designated parking outside of town and they set up a taxi to pick us up and drop us off at the parking area.

You are not permitted to drive in the old town. You will have to park outside of the historic district and then walk into Sassi di Matera. One of the largest parking lots is Parcheggio Matera but there are many smaller lots on the outskirts of town.

By Bus

The Matera bus station sits 1 km outside of the city. You can get to Matera by bus from many places in Italy, including Rome, Florence, and Naples. Learn more here.

Where to Eat in Matera

There is a long list of great restaurants in Matera. A few of our favorites are Rusticone (amazing sandwiches and one of the best places in Matera to get a cheap, fast lunch), Uacciardid Butcher (a tiny restaurant that sells a variety of traditional foods; it’s cheap and a place to put on your list if you want to dine with the locals and try new foods), Vitantonio Lombardo (one of the best Michelin-starred restaurants we have tried; the presentation is very creative and the tasting menu is phenomenal), and Regiacorte (beautiful restaurant with some tables that overlook the Rock Church).

Vitantonio Lombardo Matera

Vitantonio Lombardo | Best Things to Do in Matera

Where to Stay in Matera

If it fits in your budget, stay in a cave hotel. Prices in Matera are generally cheaper than what you will pay on the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Tuscany, etc. It’s possible to stay in an upscale property in Matera for the same price as a mid-range hotel in Rome.

LUXURY CAVE HOTEL: Quarry Resort. This is where we stayed in Matera. The Quarry Resort is located in Sassi di Matera and looks out over Murgia Materana Park. Some rooms are cave rooms and some rooms are traditional hotel rooms. From the Quarry Lounge Restaurant Terrace, you can have a cocktail and snacks as you look out over the ravine and the Rock Church (non-hotel guests can do this too).

UPSCALE CAVE HOTEL: Palazzotto Residence & Winery. Palazzotto Residence features large cave rooms, some of the most beautiful in Matera. This hotel sits at the bottom of the hill from the Matera Cathedral. To get almost anywhere in town, it will be an uphill walk from here, but a downhill walk to get back to the hotel at the end of the day.

UPSCALE CAVE HOTEL: La Dimora Delle 3 Zie. Getting exceptional reviews, this cave hotel is located in the heart of Sassi di Matera. Some rooms can accommodate up to four people, so this is a good choice for families.

MID-RANGE CAVE HOTEL: B&B Al Convento. This bed and breakfast gets near perfect reviews on Booking.com. Prior guests rave about the breakfast, the location, and the helpful staff. If you are a family, check out the Junior Suite with private pool.

MID-RANGE CAVE HOTEL: Il Belvedere. This is another property that gets exceptional reviews on Booking.com. It is located in the Castelnuovo district, so it is not in the heart of Sassi di Matera, but from the hotel, you do get a panoramic view of Matera. If you don’t mind the extra walk and want to stay in a beautiful cave hotel, this is a good pick.

BUDGET: Ostello dei Sassi. This property gets decent reviews but it is a good option for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a hotel in Matera. It is located in the Castelnuovo district, which is just outside Sassi di Matera.

Matera Rooftop Bar

The rooftop bar at the Quarry Resort

Tours of Matera

Take a walking tour of Matera, explore the cave churches in Murgia Park with a guide, or have lunch or dinner in a local’s home.

 

 

Things to Do near Matera

Alberobello, a small town in Puglia, is famous for its trulli, small round buildings with conical roofs made of stone. Stroll the hilly maze of streets, shop for souvenirs, enjoy the view across the rooftop terraces, and fill your camera’s memory card with photos of this enchanting town. To get to Alberobello, it is a one-hour drive, so you can day trip to Alberobello from Matera.

Alberobello

Alberobello

Castelmezzano, also located in Basilicata, is a small, hilltop town. The best thing to do here is to zip line from Castelmezzano to the neighboring town of Pietrapertosa and back again. It’s a thrilling experience at an off-the-beaten-path location in Italy. From Matera, it is an hour and fifteen-minute drive to get here.

Castelmezzano Italy

Castelmezzano

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Matera worth it?

Absolutely. Matera is one of Italy’s most interesting cities to visit, with its long, rich history, beautiful streets to explore, cave hotels, and long list of restaurants. It is a bit out of the way from other popular places in Italy to visit, but that helps keep crowds low.

How much time do I need in Matera?

Plan on spending at least one day in Matera. This will give you enough time to stroll through town, visit a few of the top sights, including the cave churches and grottoes, explore Murgia Materana Park, and have lunch and dinner in town.

With more time, you can thoroughly explore Matera and visit some of the more off the beaten places.

What is the best way to spend one day in Matera?

With one day in Matera, spend the morning hiking across the Matera ravine to explore the cave churches and get a panoramic view of Sassi di Matera. Have lunch in town and spend the afternoon exploring the old town, visiting a historic cave house, and visiting one of the unique museums in Matera. End the day with sunset views and dinner.

Why is Matera famous?

Matera is famous for its old town, also called “Sassi di Matera.” With cave dwellings, churches, old stone buildings, and picturesque streets, Matera is a delight to explore. It’s one of Italy’s most photogenic and unique cities and recently has been featured in movies such as No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film.


If you have any questions about the best things to do in Matera, or if you would like to share your experience, you can do so in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Italy

PUGLIA: Alberobello is one of the most popular towns to visit in Puglia. Here’s a list of the best things to do in Alberobello. We also have a guide to the best things to do on the Gargano Peninsula and how to spend one day in Vieste.

AMALFI COAST: Check out our guide to the best towns on the Amalfi Coast, how to hike the Path of the Gods, things to do in Positano, and things to do in Ravello. And don’t miss our article about the best things to do in Capri.

BEST OF ITALY: In our guide to the Best Places to Visit in Italy, we list 20 beautiful destinations to consider for your next trip to Italy.

ROME: For a list of the top experiences in Rome, read our article Best Things to Do in Rome. Learn how to put these together in our 2 Day Rome Itinerary, where to eat in our Rome Restaurant Guide, how to visit the Colosseum, and where to stay in our Rome Hotel Guide. And don’t miss our guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in Rome.

FLORENCE: If you are planning your first visit to Florence, don’t miss our guide to the 10 Best Things to Do in Florence. We also have a guide to the best rooftop bars in Florence and the best viewpoints in Florence.

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, and Puglia.

 

Things to Do in Matera Basilicata Italy

 

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Comments 2

  1. Avatar for Günther Kosche
    Günther Kosche

    Admirable is this account of Matera, a City i really want to Visit. In Matera there is a Woman and her Brother, Bartolomeo Maria Francesca, who make Pasta. How can i get in touch with this Shop so that i can Order your delicious Pasta. I cant find an Email Adress or a Telephone Number… I saw that on Austrian TV …But maybe we’ll sea each other in Matera, in this beautiful City.
    Greetings from Austria from
    Günther Kosche

  2. Avatar for Günther Kosche
    Günther Kosche

    Bewundernswert ist dieser Bericht über Matera, eine Stadt, die ich unbedingt besuchen will. Es gibt in Matera eine Frau und Ihren Bruder, Bartolomeo Maria Francesca, die Teigwaren herstellen. Wie kann ich mit diesem Geschäft in Verbindung kommen, damit ich Ihre leckeren Teigwaren bestellen kann, Ich kann keine Mail Adresse finden, auch keine Telefon Nummer…Das habe ich im Österreichischen TV gesehen…
    Vielleicht aber sehen wir uns einmal in Matera, in dieser wunderschönen Stadt.
    Herzliche Grüße aus Österreich von
    Günther Kosche

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