Planning your holidays to Puglia and looking for the best places to visit in Puglia? Then look no further than this comprehensive guide, outlining several gorgeous Puglia cities and towns you shouldn’t miss out on!
Located in the ‘heel of the boot’ when looking at a map of Italy, this southern region is known for it’s charming villages, gorgeous beaches, and not to mention the delicious food in Puglia! Coupled with the incredible history and architecture makes Puglia a must visit region when planning an Italian odyssey.
In this guide I’ve asked some fellow travel bloggers to tell me about their favourite and best towns in Puglia that you should most certainly add to your Italy travel itinerary. From the best beaches in Puglia, to the prettiest towns and cities, hopefully this guide will provide you a good dose of inspiration for visiting gorgeous Apulia!
How To Get To Puglia
The two main airports in Puglia, Italy, are Bari and Brindisi. Both offering flights to Puglia from both domestic and international destinations. This undoubtedly the most popular way of getting to the region for most visitors.
If you’re already in Italy then you could also make use of the country’s extensive rail network that offer train connections to many of the towns and cities listed below.
Alternatively, if planning a road trip through Puglia, you could also rent a car for the duration of your stay in Italy too!
Best Time To Visit Puglia, Italy
Similar to much of Europe, the months of July and August are without a doubt the busiest season throughout Italy, attracting streams of eager holiday makers.
To make the most of the weather and to also steer away from the maddeding crowds, the best time to visit Puglia would be from mid-May through June, or September through October.
Apart from having fewer tourists, you’re also likely to find prices that much more affordable during these slightly quieter months.
Map of Puglia Italy
11 Best Places Puglia, Italy
Wondering what to see in Puglia? Then look no further! To help you decide how best to explore this amazing region of Italy, here is a breakdown of 11 best places in Puglia, Italy!
By: Ophelie, Limitless Secrets
Alberobello is a quaint and charming town in Puglia. Located in the Valle d’Itria, this town has existed since the 17th century. Alberobello is famous for its unique Trullo buildings, a traditional Apulian styel. The Trulli are simply built with dry limestone walls and no mortar. They have a round form and a self-supporting domed roof topped with decorative pinnacles. They look like fairy tale houses!
Here are a few of the top things to do in Alberobello. Firstly, you will enjoy wandering through the streets of this pretty town. Strolling in the middle of the Trulli is enchanting! You will see that they are well preserved and still inhabited today. The neighbourhood of Monti is the most touristic one with more than 1000 Trulli.
Then you can take a look at the church of Sant’Antonio. This church is also built in the Trullo style and dates from the beginning of the 20th century. It’s rather simple inside but the outside architecture is picturesque!
If you’re after breath-taking views of Alberobello, you can go to the belvedere close to piazza Giangirolamo. Also, if you want to learn more about the regional history, culture, and architecture, you can visit the Museo del Territorio. This museum is housed in the Trulli complex of Casa Pezzolla.
The best way to visit a Trullo is to actually stay in one! Many of them are welcoming guests as beds and breakfasts. In fact, spending the night in a Trullo is an unforgettable experience! Book an unforgettable stay at the gorgeous Trulli Holiday Albergo Diffuso.
By: Claudia Tavani, My Adventures Across The World
Easily one of the most underrated cities in Italy, Bari is often overlooked for more famous towns and beach destinations on the coast of Puglia, or in the Valle d’Itria. It’s a real pity, because this lively city is charming, packed with interesting sights and deserves to be discovered.
Among the unmissable things to do in Bari, there’s exploring its Old Town, aka Bari Vecchia. It’s a maze of narrow alleys with colourful buildings and white pavements. This is where San Nicholas Basilica – dedicated to the saint patron of the city – as well as the cathedral are located. Piazza Mercantile is at the edge of Bari Vecchia and leads to Lungomare Nazario Sauro, which is a perfect place for a walk, especially at sunrise.
Other interesting sights include the Castello Normanno-Svevo, Teatro Petruzzelli, and Borgo Murattiano thought to be the commercial heart of the city with many boutiques and several Liberty style buildings.
Finally, indulge in the delicious food in Puglia, when in Bari. Focaccia Barese – which is usually topped with tomatoes and oregano – is the perfect snack and street food. Orecchiette is the local pasta – you can see how it is made in Via di Arco Basso, where local women usually sit outside their door, busy making fresh pasta.
For a truly unique experience, why not immerse yourself in the flavours of Bari by booking this 3-hour Food Tour of Bari by Bike and savour the tastes of Puglia!
By: Ania James, The Travelling Twins
Gallipoli is a small town located in the Apulia region (Puglia) almost at the end of Italy, on the “high heel”. It consists of two parts – the more modern and less charming, as well as the old one – The Old Gallipoli.
Old Gallipoli is full of narrow streets which surprise you with beautiful views of the turquoise water. Even if the town is full of tourists, you can always find an empty alley and bond with the city. If you come in winter as we did, the town seems to be asleep and let you get lost in the meander of the old town’s small streets.
Old Gallipoli is located on a small island connected to the mainland by a bridge built in the 16th century – though I must admit that I never thought of it as an island, rather as a peninsula connected to the mainland.
What’s there to see in Gallipoli itself? First of all, the castle from the 13th century and the Cathedral of Saint Agatha from the 17th century. It has a beautiful facade and a clock tower. It’s even more fun to walk around and explore the town for yourself.
It’s great fun to explore the town and look for small trattoria and try some of the local dishes and wine. And later with a Gelato in hand, explore more or lean on the ramparts and admire the sea.
Interestingly, the name itself from Greek means Beautiful City, and Gallipoli before Christ belonged to the Greeks. Then various sides fought for the town, and finally, Italians made themselves at home here.
By: Anda Bartos, Travel For A While
There are so many beautiful places in Puglia, that it’s hard to pick a favourite, but if I had to choose one place to return to over and over again, that would be Lecce. I love this small city in the middle of Salento with its Baroque architecture and soft Lecce stone.
One of the best things to do in Lecce is to walk on its narrow streets and explore the old city centre. I promise you’ll never get tired of discovering something after each new corner. Start in the central square, Piazza Sant’Oronzo, and admire the column dedicated to the patron saint of the city. In the same square, you can visit the Roman amphitheatre partially uncovered and take a map from the tourist centre.
Make a point of visiting the Baroque churches in the city centre, the most noteworthy being the Lecce Cathedral in Piazza del Duomo. Now and then, you will get to one of the impressive old city gates. Another place you should see is the Roman Theater, close to Santa Chiara church.
But the main attraction for me is the rhythm of life in this southern city. If you want to have the city to yourself, get up early and take a walk before breakfast. In the evenings, the streets will be full of Italians taking a stroll before dinner, or having an ‘aperitivo‘. Find a place to have a glass of wine and soak up the atmosphere, you will feel very Italian for a bit.
By: Dani Ward, Diapers in Paradise
Locorotondo is a small hilltop town with a serious lack of tourist attractions… and that is what makes it so wonderful. The whitewashed town that takes its name from its shape (“Round Place”) is not somewhere that you visit for a specific attraction. You visit for the town itself.
The old town is a labyrinth of stunningly white buildings, each seamlessly flowing into the next. To break up the monochromatic vibe, nearly every side street is overflowing with colourful bursts of flowers, perfectly romantic for a stroll with your significant other, or exciting if you’re visiting Italy with a baby or kids.
There is really “nothing to do” in Locorotondo except to wander the streets, have a bite or a refreshment outside of a café, step into a boutique or two, and just admire the beauty of the town and its relaxed atmosphere.
Very few tourists are visible hanging around this town, which is shocking given that Locorotondo has earned the highly coveted title of ‘Borghi più belli d’Italia’ (one of the most beautiful villages in Italy).
If you make your way to the outer ring of the town, you will have a fantastic view out over the countryside, including over the many Trulli dotting the landscape in this region.
And if you are a lover of white wine, Locorotondo is known throughout Italy for its sparkling white wine. Have a glass while you admire the scenery of this quiet city. It really is one of the most beautiful towns you will see.
Margherita di Savoia
By: Amélie Gagné, Mostly Amelie
Margherita di Savoia is a little unknown gem in the Province of Barletta-Andria-Trani, about an hour away from Bari airport. It is home to the biggest salt flats in Europe (and the second largest in the world right after Bolivia), kilometres upon kilometres of pristine sandy beaches on the Adriatic coastline, amazing food, and fantastic wildlife, including a colony of pink flamingos.
What’s even more amazing, is that the salt pans in Margherita di Savoia are filled with tiny shrimps rich in beta-carotene on which the flamingos feed (the very reason why they are so colourful in the first place) which also give the basins a pink hue. That’s right — pink lakes and pink flamingos, right here in Puglia.
The beaches in Margherita di Savoia are mainly privately owned and will require a small fee to get in. But that’s actually a great thing. You’ll find well-manicured sand, sun-loungers and umbrellas, and a waiter ready to serve you a chilled cocktail always within arm’s reach.
If that’s not your thing, no need to worry: hop on a rental bike and ride north to Fenicottero Rosa Beach (look for Torre Pietra on Google map). It’s a lot less groomed, and also where the locals hang. Do bring your own snacks and drinks.
By: Megan, Megan Starr
One of the best places to visit in Puglia is most definitely Monopoli, a city south of Bari that is underrated and often overshadowed by other Puglia greats such as Polignano a Mare, Ostuni, and Alberobello.
Monopoli has a history that dates back to around 500BC as Via Traiana, one of the most important roads in the Roman Empire, was built through the town. Years later, the city is now renowned for its gorgeous fort, narrow streets, and turquoise waters.
Some of the most famous attractions in Monopoli are Porto Ghiacciolo, Cala Porto Vecchia, the Castle of Carlo V, Cattedrale Maria Santissima della Madia, and more.
The streets of Monopoli are easy to get lost in but you will most certainly stumble upon a gorgeous building or delicious restaurant as you try to make your way back. A fantastic seafood restaurant you should track down while in Monopoli is ‘Komera, Cucina Nostra’ in the old town. They have the freshest seafood and a light and airy atmosphere with great customer service.
Getting to Monopoli is fairly easy from Bari as it is a direct train ride away. The train ticket is around €3.20 and alternatively, you can leave on the same train if coming from Polignano a Mare south. It is a fantastic day trip and one of the best places to visit in Puglia.
By: Karen Warren, Bewitched By Italy
Monte Sant’Angelo is a hill town close to the Gargano National Park in Puglia. Tourists visit for its history, the quaint old town, and the many authentically Italian restaurants. It is also a place of pilgrimage, an important stop on the Via Francigena.
For both tourists and pilgrims, the main attraction is the Sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo, the grotto church that is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As you descend the steps to the cave you enter an ancient shrine to the Archangel Michael, a church with its origins in the 5th century. The Sanctuary also includes a 12th-century baptistery and the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore.
The other major sight in Monte Sant’Angelo is the Norman castle. This was once an important military fortress with a strategic hilltop position. Today’s visitors can explore the ruins and enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
You will want to spend at least a day in Monte Sant’Angelo, but there are plenty of places to stay if you want to extend your visit. Most visitors arrive by car, although buses are available. Alternatively, you might want to do as the pilgrims do, and climb the well-trodden path to the town!
By: Linda, La Dolce Fit Vita
Known as La Città Bianca, or “The White City,” Ostuni is that quintessential little Apulian town you’ve always imagined. Arriving by car, you can already spot it from a distance – this little white pearl suspended over the landscape, towering over the surrounding turquoise seas.
The city is a series of little narrow alleys and winding staircases and balconies that open up on to some of the most breathtaking views. The best way to visit the city is to just wander about, uncovering all those quaint little corners.
Cats will accompany you around your tour of the city as you get lost amongst the milky facades. White-washed everything, Ostuni was originally painted white so as to reflect as much sun as possible to illuminate all those narrow pathways. With time, the tradition continued but for sanitation purposes as it was discovered that limestone chalk was a very effective antiseptic. Today, the town remains an ivory jewel.
Time seems to slow down as you walk the streets of Ostuni. The fresh sea-breeze in your hair, the warm sun on your skin, the adorable little old ladies setting out their clothes to dry, the sounds of pots and pans from inside homes and an all too savoury scent of home-cooked meals just fills your soul.
As you discover the city, make sure you visit the Cattedrale dell’Assunta, a beautiful Roman-style cathedral right in the centre of town. You don’t need that much time to see everything, a half-day will do. Nearby, if you want to indulge in the culinary experience of your life, head over to Masseria del Frantoio for some mouth-watering food itineraries. For a luxury stay at an affordable price, definitely check out Relais del Grottone, it’s the ideal dream stay in Ostuni.
Polignano a Mare
By: Nadine Maffre, Le Long Weekend
A beach town on Puglia’s Adriatic Coast, Polignano a Mare stands out for its breathtaking scenery, incredible views and stunning old town.
The town is split in two by an ancient riverbed, and the famous beach of Lama Monachile sits at one end of a deep ravine. It sets the scene for summertime when the narrow but deep sandy cove is heaving with sun worshipers. It’s also the stage for the annual Red Bull cliff diving competition which draws in crowds from around the globe.
On one side of the ravine, the old town hangs precariously close to the edge of the cliff, its whitewashed buildings perched stoically side by side in a haphazard fashion. Wander into the cobbled streets of this historical centre and a wonderful world of shaded courtyards, cafe terraces and charming boutiques selling locally-made goodies awaits.
For a truly unique experience, book a meal at the Grotta Palazzese – a restaurant set within a sea cave. But if that’s outside your budget, you’ll find plenty of eateries serving up Apulian specialities at a more appetising price. Polignano a Mare makes an excellent place to stay in Puglia, as it’s within easy driving distance of both major airports (Bari & Brindisi), the Trulli town of Alberobello, and many more fascinating places to visit such as Ostuni and Martina Franca.
By: Marta Correale, Learning Escapes
If you want to experience one of the most beautiful towns in Puglia, with great architecture and stunning views, then you should look no further than the small city of Trani.
Located on a scenic stretch of coast, immediately to the north of Bari, Trani is a small centre with a very special landmark that makes it stand out from all other towns in the area: an ancient Duomo overlooking the sea!
Built in the plain Romanesque style, the duomo stands where you would usually expect a lighthouse, surrounded on three sides by water. Visually, this location is very powerful as it makes this church look like a vision, suspended between the blue of the sea and the sky!
As well as the Duomo, Trani has a lovely marina with many good restaurants with outdoor patios, a beautiful ‘Fortino’, an ancient structure now turned panoramic terrace and a wonderful castle dating back to the XIII century, made in the same cream-coloured stone of the Duomo, typical of this area.
The best way to visit Trani is by bike, either on your own or joining one of the bike tours available.
Trani can be visited in a few hours, however, it is worth staying a few days to soak in the atmosphere and also to stretch to nearby Castel del Monte, an important UNESCO site just outside the town. Pick accommodation close to the marina for the best experience.