Puglia is a small region located at the heel of Italy’s boot. Along with the birthplace of Renaissance Tuscany, Puglia is one of the most beautiful destinations of Italy with picturesque towns and villages, the Italy’s most beautiful beaches. It is also famous for the two tree and plant that have become iconic: Olives and grapes at highest quality. Many Puglia specialties come from them. However, not only famous for its olive production and famous premium wines, Puglia also has many more reasons to urge visitors to come. So, is Puglia Italy worth visiting, what to do in Puglia and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Puglia for the first-time? Let’s check out our Puglia travel blog (Puglia blog, Puglia Italy travel blog) with the fullest Puglia travel guide (how to get to Puglia, Puglia guide, Puglia Italy travel guide, Puglia tourist guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat and top things to do in Puglia as well as suggested Puglia itinerary to find out the answer!
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When it comes to Italy, surely in your head will immediately appear cliché names like Venice, Rome or Milan. But the boot-shaped country has much more to offer than that. Have you ever heard of the land of Apulia or Puglia, located at the “heel” of the Italian peninsula? To many tourists, this name may not really widely know, but in Italy, Puglia is the most desirable place to visit. Surely, after reading this sharing of Puglia travel blog, you will want to pack your suitcase and explore this wonderful remote land.
Puglia is a “heel” region of the southern peninsular section of Italy and is home to historic towns that are thousands of years old, diverse landscapes, great food, and owns some of the best beaches in the south of the country.
Puglia travel blog: Overview of Puglia
Where is the Puglia region?
As I shared in the article sharing my experience of visiting Bari, Puglia is the geographical region located in the southeasternmost tip of Italy. In the past, along with Venice, Puglia was located on Italy’s sea trade route with Eastern European countries and the Balkans. Today, when economic development is more concentrated in the northern regions, the name Puglia is somewhat less well known, many liken Puglia to the Italian Far East, a name that evokes remoteness and mystery.
Located in Southern Italy and right at the heel of the boot-shaped country, the Puglia region has a true Mediterranean beauty with blue sea water, immense olive groves interspersed with Trulli mushroom houses and pretty little white towns. Therefore, Puglia is a very hot tourist destination in the summer in Italy.
This is also one of my favorite regions in Italy. In total I went to Puglia 2 times. Once 6 years ago only used public transport and mainly sightseeing. As for the August trip this year, I went by car from Rome, mainly going to the beach for 7 days and combining with 3 more days of sightseeing around the region.
Although there are a few villages that I have been to twice, but every time I go, I also like it because it is so beautiful. I highly recommend that you go to Puglia once if you can.
Puglia can be divided into 3 parts: North, Central and South. Puglia’s famous attractions are mostly concentrated in the South and Central, from Bari stretching down to Lecce and divided into 2 areas: Valle d’Itria and Salento.
Puglia travel blog: Valle d’Itria (Itria Valley)
The Itria Valley, located between the provinces of Bari, Taranto and Brindisi, is characterized by beautiful white villages, irresistible delicious food and especially “trulli”, a very typical conical stone house. That is why this area is also known as the valley of trulli.
Dotted with trulli houses along both sides of the road are olive trees and the stone walls are arranged ingeniously without the use of any adhesive. In Italian this type of wall is called “muro a secco”.
The most famous villages in Itria Valley are Alberobello, Ostuni and Locorotondo. Because it is located near Bari – the capital of Puglia, so you can combine visiting Bari and Polignano a Mare. There are also Zoosafari and Castellana caves, so it is very suitable for families traveling with children.
The Salento Peninsula is also known as the heel of the Italian boot. Stretching from the southern province of Taranto to the entire province of Lecce. The western Salento is bordered the Ionian Sea and to the east by the Adriatic Sea. The two seas meet and intersect at Santa Maria di Leuca, the southernmost point of the peninsula.
It is because of this very unique topography that Salento has many of the most beautiful beaches in the region. Quite a few beaches are called very beautiful names such as Maldive del Salento, Caraibi del Salento… because of the clear blue water.
In addition to the beaches, Salento also has no shortage of beautiful attractions such as: Lecce, a city characterized by baroque architecture, or small coastal towns like Otranto, Gallipoli, Santa Maria di Leuca.
Is Puglia italy worth visiting: Why should you visit Puglia?
The north of Puglia is associated with the wine-producing culture, while the south has a strong connection with traditional Roman-Greek culture. Thanks to those factors, it has created a special land, attracting tourists from all over the world. It can be said that in terms of history, poetic aspects, peace or bold Italian culture, there is no land that can overcome Puglia. Here are some reasons why you should visit Puliga.
Rich history and architecture
Puglia was once the gateway to Greece and the East. Therefore, this is the ideal land for those who want to learn about culture and history. The region also retains many ancient vestiges of history, culture, tradition and spirituality.
Coming to Puglia you can satisfy all your curiosity and discovery interests. From ancient history to the Medieval and Baroque eras. From castles along the coast to small art villages. Where craft masterpieces begin, stunning views and old quarters. Here like creating the door to enter different civilizations.
Beautiful limestone houses with conical roofs, called Trulli. Very common here, and dates back to the 15th century. Roman, Greco and Messapian remains are also found side by side here. Lecce city with beautiful baroque architecture and considered as an art treasure.
Friendly, generous locals
Although not many people in Puglia can speak English, they are always smiling and ready to help visitors as much as possible. They can guide you on how to get around, places to visit and absolutely do not disturb or cheat. A little friendly Italian words like “ciao” or “bello”, “gustoso” is definitely not difficult for you but makes them happier when welcoming strangers from far away. Who knows, you might learn how to make pizza from an Italian?
If the streets of Puglia were peaceful, the countryside is also absolute peace. There is nothing more enjoyable than cycling through unnamed small dirt roads, flanked by grape fields or weeds, breathing in the countryside fresh air. Even if you scream, it will only startle the birds.
Slow living pace
Puglia is exactly the place for tourists to live slowly. No one is in a hurry here, of course you have to blend in with that atmosphere. Restaurants, coffee shops, restaurants are almost only heard whispering and many places are closed for lunch break. Sipping a cup of coffee and gazing at the streets is perhaps more than enough to slow down after days of hurrying.
Food is the reason that you cannot miss when coming to Puglia. This land is developed for agriculture so it is an ideal place for fresh meals from local produce. The food here is not expensive, they are reasonably priced. In particular, your meal cannot be without olives and wine – the prides of the Puglia people.
Dreamy alleys and cobbled streets
Most of the streets in Puglia are a maze, small and super winding alleys but not making visitors feel tired and annoyed. They enjoy wandering the cobbled nooks and crannies to discover a forgotten world.
Puglia is the land with the longest coastline in Italy, along with a tradition of maritime trade, so Apulia has many ancient towns, villages and beautiful Mediterranean-style ports.
Puglia shares the Adriatic Sea with Greece and is not far from North Africa, so the architectural style here is influenced by Eastern Europe and Greece very strongly.
Southern Italy’s warm, sunny climate creates a generous, open-minded and not as touristy as northern Italian cities.
Referring to Apulia, people immediately think of unique cultural heritages such as the ancient town of Alberobello, the white city of Ostuni, the open-air architecture museum of Lecce or the once-resounding Bari capital.
When to visit and how long should you travel to Puglia?
The not good time to avoid traveling to Puglia is 2 weeks in mid-August, because this is extremely crowded with tourists due to the Ferragosto holiday season. If you like the hustle and bustle, no problem. However, the other problems that come with it are: difficulties in finding a beach spot or a seat at restaurant, and the cost of room renting or sun loungers at the beach is also higher.
Except August, it’s ok to come to Puglia every other month. If you want to go to the beach but avoid crowds, you should go around June and July.
The ideal travel time in Puglia in my opinion is 7 days. The more time you have, the better you will experience, because there are indeed plenty of places to go. The first time I went for about 4 or 5 days, but almost only to visit the main places but did not deeply explore. This time going for 10 days, I feel a lot better.
Puglia travel guide: How to get to Puglia?
Taking a plane is the most convenient way to get to Puglia. The region’s two main airports are located in Bari and Brindisi. Cheap airlines like Ryanair or Easyjet all operate flight routes here, so you just have to work hard to find cheap prices on Google Flights, Skyscanner or Kayak. There was a time when I found a ticket with only… €9 from Rome.
If you depart from Rome or southern Italy you can consider taking the train to Bari. But if you come from cities in the North or Central Italy, you should… forget this option, because the time on the train can be nearly half a day.
As I shared in the previous article to visit Bari, you can take the train or plane to Bari, then stay one night and the next day visit other cities in Puglia. Another less common way is to take a bus. One bus company that is mentioned a lot is Onbus but I have not experienced it because I see Puglia as a rather remote area, so the bus ride is quite long and not as comfortable as a train or plane. Unless you are in cities near Bari, use this vehicle.
Puglia Italy travel guide: Getting around Puglia
If possible, you should rent a car or self-drive to Puglia to be more flexible about the itinerary and save time. Self-driving also helps you to visit more closely the Itria valley or beautiful beaches that are difficult to reach by bus.
Taking public transport in Puglia is still fine, because a few years ago when I was a student, I only took buses and trains. However, your travel time and schedule will not be very flexible.
Puglia blog: Getting from Bari to Ostuni, Polignano al Mare and Alberobello
From Bari to other places like Polignano a Mare, Alberobello, Locorotondo, Ostuni, Lecce you can check train timetable and tickets on Omio or Trenitalia. And from Lecce to the towns and beaches there are buses of STP, especially the summer service called Salentoinbus will have more trips.
From Bari to Ostuni you can take the regional train, you can look up the departure time and buy tickets online here. Travel time is about 2 hours 30 minutes.
From Ostuni to Polignano a Mare is the same, but you should note that Polignano a Mare is located in the middle of the road from Bari to Ostuni, so it is common for you to visit Ostuni first and then on the way back to visit Polignano. It takes about 30 minutes by train from Ostuni via Polignano. From Bari to Alberobello also take the train, travel time is 2 hours.
Puglia blog: Where to stay?
If you want to live like a local in Puglia, you have to experience the form of tourism at the farms, also known as Masserie in Italian. Guests will stay in houses with Mediterranean-style gardens with olive trees, rooms painted with white walls with minimalist décor and luxurious swimming pools just like hotels. You can check it out on Agoda or Booking or Airbnb.
In addition, in Alberobello you also have the opportunity to spend the night in trulli mushroom houses, the type of traditional conical stone houses with spires only found in this town.
To avoid moving and changing accommodation too much, you should only choose a maximum of 2 places to book your hotel: One in the Bari and Itria valley, one in the Salento. The distance between attractions in the same area is not far, so you only need to book in one place to be able to easily travel to other places.
In agricultural areas such as the Itria valley there are many masserias, i.e. farms whose dwellings have been converted into hotels or B&Bs.
Bari and Valle d’Itria (Puglia Italy travel blog)
If you travel by public transport, it is best to book a hotel in Bari. If you have a car, you can choose a hotel or B&B in the trulli area like the villages near Fasano.
My family booked 3 nights at B&B Salita delle Pere. The feeling of sleeping in a trulli in the quiet country atmosphere is really relaxing and unforgettable. The breakfast cakes are all handmade by the lady owner, and the cow’s milk is also from her farm. After spending 3 nights here, I feel relaxed after 7 days of jostling with tons of people at the sea. In short, very good value for money.
Some good hotels in Bari you can refer to
- The Nicolaus Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
- Hi Hotel Bari (Agoda, Booking)
- Mercure Villa Romanazzi Carducci Bari (Agoda, Booking)
- Parco Dei Principi Hotel Congress & Spa (Booking)
- iH Hotels Bari Oriente (Agoda, Booking)
- Zodiacus (Agoda, Booking)
- iH Hotels Bari Grande Albergo delle Nazioni (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotel City Bari (Agoda, Booking)
Lecce is the largest city in the area and has a very busy nightlife, so you should book a hotel here (Agoda, Booking). Those who have a car should stay outside the old downtown area with a bit ride or check the hotel’s parking carefully, but finding parking in the center is quite difficult.
Distance from Lecce to other places:
- Lecce – Gallipoli and nearby beaches (Porto Cesareo, Punta Prosciutto, Punta della Suina..): 35-40 minutes.
- Lecce – Otranto and nearby beaches (Torre dell’Orso, Alimini, Baia dei Turchi..): 35-40 minutes.
- Lecce – Santa Maria di Leuca and nearby beaches (Maldive del Salento, Lido Marini..): 1 hour.
Puglia italy travel blog: Where to go, what to do in Puglia?
If you are a history enthusiast, Puglia is the paradise for you to indulge in that pleasure. The city of Bari, the capital of Puglia, is also home to many Baroque mansions. The Old Quarter is located on a peninsula jutting into the sea, mainly built of white limestone. Small alleys, alleys and ancient domes. Standing from any corner of Bari, you can easily see churches and monasteries.
More interested, you can go to Otranto to admire the church of Santa Maria Annunziata – the most important Catholic cathedral of the city. The floor of the church is completely covered with mosaics dating from the 11th century, fully reproducing the images from the Bible. On the right wing of the hall is a place to remember those who died in the massacre by the Turks in 1480. Today, the skulls of the victims are placed in a glass cabinet right at the church pedestal, making many people feel creepy.
The White City of Ostuni
Ostuni is called La Citta Bianca (the white city) because of its white houses. Strolling these streets is one of the relaxing moments. The city is full of cute cafes, ice cream parlor, pastry shops and shops with local products. Pottery shops sell pumo di fiore (ornamental ceramics) with all kinds of colors and sizes. You will see this egg-shaped flower bud all over Puglia, acting as a symbol of prosperity and fertility.
In Ostuni, there is a town that fascinates visitors with its Greek beauty: whitewashed houses, scattered from the plains to the hills. Even hotels in this area are painted white to blend in with the surrounding residential area. The most famous accommodation is La Sommita hotel, built in the 16th century, which was originally a castle of the indigenous people. From here you can look out over the sea and enjoy meals right under the castle dome as a guest. During the day, walking on the labyrinthine streets of the city, don’t forget to stop by the bar to sip some real Puglia wine to be alert enough to find your way home.
Ostuni located on the Adriatic coast, famous for its white paint color of the whole city. If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the Greek island of Santorini, Ostuni will surely fascinate you. In the past, the trade of Italy and Greece was very active, the Greek community used to live in Puglia and their mark was the characteristic white painted towns. Under the golden sun like honey, the deep blue sky no less the color of the sea in the distance, Ostuni appeared proud but very simple. To exalt that pride white color, houses and streets also seem to be decorated as minimally as possible. Ostuni is still not very crowded, so we feel even more small in the space of the city. We stopped for lunch at the fairy-tale Trattoria Fave e Fogghje restaurant/pub and inhaled the distant scent of Greece across the Adriatic.
Polignano a Mare
The town of Polignano a Mare is one of the beautiful towns in Puglia known for its stunning beach with clear blue water, craggy white buildings and a charming beach, Polignano a Mare is one of the towns. you must visit when visiting Puglia Italy.
Perched on a craggy cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea, looking even more blue from above, Polignano a Mare is just a small town but steals your soul in a jiffy by lovely streets and houses decorated as if its owners were all poets, or at least artists. This is where Italians come to watch the sea, swimming and enjoy the pleasant atmosphere of a Mediterranean afternoon. Polignano is like a short poem, but ecstatically beautiful.
Heading to the square in Polignano al Mare, stop at Il Super Mago del Gelo for a special coffee – their unique concoction with lemon, liqueur and espresso. If not, you can also try others as they also serve traditional coffee, gelato and pastries.
Alberobello is a super cute town in Puglia, home to tiny houses called trulli that have been listed as a UNESCO heritage site. Trulli are small hut-like houses whose cones look like cute mushrooms. Layers of “mushrooms” lining the small slopes of Alberobello attract the footsteps of any visitor. Shops, restaurants or even churches here are also shaped like mushrooms. The secret to a beautiful photo of trulli is to go to the high hill in the afternoon, when the whole cute city is bathed in the extremely romantic sunset.
The houses were built of stone to be easily disassembled to pay less taxes in the 19th century and are now protected by UNESCO law. You can see them scattered throughout the countryside, but you will see these houses one after another in Alberobello.
This is probably a city you must visit once in your life, because it is only one in the world and has become a new highlight of Italian tourism next to the familiar Rome and Venice. Alberobello is world famous for its mushroom-shaped stone houses (conical roofs). This is not a scene from a mythical movie, this is Southern Italy full of surprises for you. Alberobello for me is somewhat less emotional than the two cities above due to quite a lot of tourists. On Alberobello’s holiday, it is packed with tourists because Alberobello is beautiful and unique. You know how, sometimes we have to accept to share beautiful things with many people, not just keep them for ourselves.
Puglia on all three sides is surrounded by the sea, making it really attractive to tourists who love the sea. The sea water here has a beautiful blue color, the color that makes people stare endlessly. You can easily find great beaches for swimming, photography or simply looking at. No need to go too far, the capital Bari can meet the needs of most visitors. Here you can also shop, admire the large-scale shipyards under the blue sky.
The beaches have beach clubs offering loungers, lounges, sunbeds and umbrellas. Costs vary depending on the beach club’s amenities and time of year, but usually around 20 euros for two sun chairs and umbrellas. Most of these places will have a mini-bar and bathroom. Lido Morelli are huts and a casual bar while Coccaro Beach Club offers a more luxurious experience.
If you have time visit the south near Otranto, there is a sinkhole there called Grotto della Poesia. It is like a unique natural swimming pool.
Stay at Masseria or Trulli
You might be surprised at how many accommodation options you have in Puglia. From unforgettable masserias to charming airbnbs with terraces, there is something new for every preference and budget. Almapetra Trulli Resort offers 2-bedroom trulli houses with swimming pools and communal barbecue areas. Starting at around 100 euros a night, it’s a great value option for families.
Or choose Masseria San Francesco for an upscale accommodation with thoughtful interiors, a pool and a lively bar.
Souvenirs:Surely, pretty Alberobello Trulli made of porcelain or stone. Decorative ceramics with Fichi d’India cactus is also a beautiful choice for you.
Puglia travel blog: What to eat?
Puglia has both an agricultural area and a sea, so the cuisine is very rich. Therefore, there is no shortage of specialties from breakfast, street food, to meat and seafood, to suit everyone’s taste.
Delicious food in Puglia
- Pasticciotto: A day in Puglia will start with an energetic breakfast with pasticciotto and almond milk iced coffee. Pasticciotto is a very popular cream-filled cake in the region.
- Puccia: This is a round and flat bread, very suitable for a quick lunch. In addition, in Puglia, there are many other types of street food such as fried foods (pittule, pitta, panzerotti), or baked goods (rustico, frisa).
- Bombette: This is the most typical dish of the whole region, especially in the Itria valley. Bombette is pork slices rolled with salt, pepper, cheese then grilled in the oven or on a BBQ grill.
- Riso patate e cozze (tiella barese): Including rice, potatoes and mussels cooked together create the perfect taste. This dish is a specialty in Bari, so anyone who comes to Bari should not miss it.
- Orecchiette con broccoli o cime di rapa (orecchiette with broccoli): Orecchiette is a very popular pasta in Puglia. This dish can be found everywhere, but it is best eaten in Bari. In addition to broccoli tops, you can find orecchiettes with ketchup or meat sauce. Food in each region in Italy is different and each city will have its own specialties. Orecchiette is an ear-shaped pasta commonly found in Puglia. There are even variations of this delicious dish throughout the region. Eating a plate of Pasta Orecchiette is a must try experience when visiting this southern region.
- Burrata is a cheese from Puglia, it’s like a bag made of mozzarella with cream and soft cheese inside. You’ll find burrata on the menu, served with a green salad or with pasta. Burrata is delicious and you won’t find it as fresh unless you are in Puglia.
- Olive Oil: With a history of growing olive over 500 years, you can expect the region of Puglia to have an excellent olive oil. There are more than 60 million olive trees in the region that produce about 40% of the entire Italian olive oil production. Olive groves are an integral part of the Puglia landscape and one of the reasons you should travel here.
- Local wine: Primitivo di Manduria and Negroamaro are two of the many dialects you’ll find on menus in restaurants and eateries here. Red wine is really a staple of the Puglian diet and you can’t visit without trying it.
These are just a few of the highlights, but the list is actually quite long. In Salento you can also find very delicious fresh seafood dishes.
Where to eat
Here are a few places I’ve eaten at and enjoyed very much:
- Martinucci coffee/cake shop. This is a very famous pastry chain in Puglia, almost everywhere. Pasticciotto here has a lot of flavors, not too sweet and the cream filling is so tasty.
- Macelleria e Salumeria di Olimpia di Nicola Semeraro (SP216, Lamie di Olimpia BA): This is a butcher with restaurant business near Alberobello and Locorotondo. Bombette here is soft but very tasty. In Puglia it is very common for a butcher to run its own restaurant. So if you want to eat right, you should choose these restaurants to eat bombette or barbecue.
- Gallipoli Seafood Market: At night, the market stalls have tables and chairs selling fresh seafood to enjoy like aperitivo. The atmosphere here is fun and the seafood looks fresh. If you have the opportunity to visit Gallipoli, you should definitely not miss it.
- La Pastasciutta (Via Vito Tamborrino, Ostuni, BR): The restaurant is located in the center of Ostuni, the pasta is delicious and the price is very cheap.
Puglia itinerary 7 days
We usually take at least 3 days and 2 nights to exploring this region. But it is not enough. A suitable Puglia itinerary is 7 days. The attractions in Puglia are mostly small and can be visited during the day. Even, there are many towns that only take 2 hours to explore it all. The travel distance between places is not far, so it is easy to schedule.
Here is the suggested Puglia travel itinerary for 7 days:
- DAY 1 – Arrive in Bari and visit Bari, the capital of the region.
- DAY 2 – Visit Polignano a Mare, a town built on a beautiful seaside cliff.
- DAY 3 – Visit the famous towns of Alberobello and Locorotondo. Alberobello is the most famous trulli town in the region. The evening in Alberobello is also very beautiful and sparkling. So if you are flexible about time, you can go to Locorotondo in the morning and then go to Alberobello in the afternoon.
- DAY 4 – Morning visit to the white city of Ostuni and after lunch depart for Lecce, the city known as the Southern Florence with beautiful Baroque architecture. At night in Lecce is very crowded and bustling, walking at night here is also very fun.
- DAY 5 – Lecce tour (Can be replaced by Gallipoli/Santa Maria di Leuca if day 4 can visit Lecce).
- DAY 6 – Sightseeing in Otranto (can be combined with the nearby beach and then visit in the evening).
- DAY 7 – Depart for Brindisi to catch the flight, ending the journey.
This is just a suggested Puglia travel itinerary with the main purpose of sightseeing. If you want, you can combine a visit to Matera in the nearby Basilicata region.
If you want to go to the beach more, you should add about 2-3 days. My family last went to August, it was very hot, so most of the day we only went to the beach, only went to visit in the evening to cool down. The last 3 days were just walking around the towns in Valle d’Itria.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Bari and Puglia you can refer to
- Private Bari Old City Guided Walking Tour
- Bari City Walk, by Bike or Segway
- Matera Tour from Bari
- Bari Street Food Walking, Bike, or Segway Tour
- Alberobello Walking Tour from Bari
- Castel del Monte Tour from Bari
- Bari City Walking, Bike, or Segway Tour with Pasta Making Experience
- Lecce: Baroque Architecture and Underground Walking Tour
- Polignano a Mare: Speedboat Cruise to Caves with Aperitif
- From Bari: Pasta Experience Walking Tour
- Alberobello: 2-Hour Guided Trulli Tour
- Ostuni: Olive Oil Tasting Tour
- Polignano a Mare: 1.5-Hour Boat Cave Tour
- Alberobello: History Walking Tour with Olive Oil Tasting
- Bari Walking Street Food Tour
- Apulia: Bike Tour through the Treasures of Bari
- Lecce: Walking Tour
- Lecce: Guided Rickshaw Tour
- Bari Rickshaw Street Food Tour
- Bari: Segway Tour & Gelato Tasting
- Bari Walking Tour
- Bari Street Food Tour by Bike
- Bari: Bike-Rickshaw City Tour
Read more Italy guide here.