Thinking about a trip to Italy and looking for the best places to visit in Puglia? I am here to help you discover the best of Puglia and put together your itinerary for an unforgettable trip.
Puglia is located in the South of Italy and it occupies most of the heel of the famous Italian boot. It has a long Mediterranean coastline and old characteristic towns that you don’t want to miss when visiting Puglia. Bari is the vibrant capital of the town, while Alberobello and Polignano a Mare steals the spotlight for most travelers.
However, I want to take you beyond the main attractions, so let’s discover the best places to visit in Puglia and create an ultimate Puglia itinerary for your next trip. I will share some useful travel tips and other important things that you should know before visiting Puglia, so let’s dive into it!
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Is Puglia worth visiting?
Puglia has something to offer to any kind of traveler, so I can already warn you that Puglia is worth visiting regardless of the type of trip that you are planning to make. It simply has it all!
If you like to relax in beautiful turquoise waters, beaches in Puglia will make you fall in love. Just like other regions of Italy, Puglia is a great destination for foodies. But unlike other places, it has a lot of vegetarian options. For all the culture and history lovers you have cities like Bari or Lecce or small towns like Alberobello to satisfy your need to discover beautiful sights.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, the prestigious National Geographic named Puglia The Best Value Travel Destination In The World Prize for 2 years in a row. And I am sure that after reading this article and discovering the best places to visit in Puglia, you will agree with me that it is certainly worth visiting.
Best time to visit Puglia
And here comes the more good news. There is really not a bad time to visit Puglia. Its privileged location in the south of Italy makes it a mild destination all year long.
Puglia in summer is a hot destination, literally. Not only for tourists but for Italians as well. The weather is fantastic and there are a lot of unique events during summer in Puglia. On the other hand, summer can get very crowded and expensive.
I think the best time to visit Puglia is in late spring and early fall. The weather is still fantastic, you can certainly enjoy the beach and there are fewer tourists around. If you are on a budget, winter is the best time to visit Puglia. You cannot really enjoy swimming and the beach, but you can still have a high chance of sun and warm weather. Especially compared to the rest of Europe.
Where to stay in Puglia as a base?
Bari is probably the best base you can choose if you want to visit Puglia. It is located in the middle of the region, so you can easily visit most of the places on this list. You also have a great public transport connection and access to some of the best beaches in Puglia. On top of that, Bari is a great place to visit in Puglia and it has a lot to offer for foodies, culture lovers, and history geeks.
Best hotels in Bari
It is essential to find the right accommodation for your trip, so I have prepared a list of the best hotels in Bari for every budget. Depending on your travel style, I am sure you will find something suitable, so take a look and decide where to stay in Bari.
LUXURY: B&Z LUXURY
B&Z Luxury lies in the heart of Bari, close to the central station, and offers the chance to their guests to park their cars a few meters away from the property. It has stylish and fully equipped rooms to make your stay as comfortable as possible and give a guest a luxury treatment.
If you are looking for something extravagant and stylish, Sisuites boasts delightful suites decorated with taste and character. It is strategically located a few steps away from the Bari central station and offers parking. Also, the guests love the delicious Italian breakfast.
MID-RANGE: B&B Murex
B&B Murex stands in the heart of Old Bari and you can reach the train station in approximately 15 minutes walk. It is located in a very typical house of Puglia with great charm and character. Some rooms even offer a wonderful view.
AFFORDABLE: Residence Hotel Moderno
Residence Hotel Moderno is an affordable yet great choice if you base yourself in Bari. All the rooms are decorated in a fantastic and modern style and the hotel is located just a few steps away from the Bari Centrale.
How to move around Puglia?
Public transport like trains and buses are a good way to move around Puglia within short distances, especially if you want to visit coastal towns. I suggest you check Trenitalia to see available routes.
On the other hand, in order to cover all the best places to visit in Puglia I strongly recommend you rent a car. Some of the most beautiful places are hidden away from the main routes and trust me, you don’t want to miss out.
I always use Rentalcars which is an international online car booking service. They match you with the best prices and have a flexible cancellation policy – you can cancel or change most bookings for free up to 48 hours before the pick-up. I only had the best experience with them, so I can recommend this company, but there are endless opportunities online or at the airport arrivals.
Best places to visit in Puglia
Bari is hands down one of the most beautiful cities in Puglia and it has to be added to your bucket list. As you already know, it is a great base to explore the rest of Puglia and it is a starting point for most of the tourists coming to Puglia.
Bari is a very livable city but the old town offers a lot of cool experiences for visitors. And if you ask me, it is the capital of food in Puglia, so perfect place for foodies. Make sure you read the best things to do in Bari to plan your time there.
Ostuni is one of the most popular and best places to visit in Puglia. Known as the white city, Ostuni is located on a top of a hill, a few kilometers away from the coast.
The medieval old town of Ostuni is one of the best preserved and most picturesque places in Puglia. The cathedral is the main attraction of the town, and all around you will find little churches. The soul of the town is the old boutiques, the shops with flower pots, and the traditional restaurants in picturesque little squares.
If you want to make your time in Ostuni truly unforgettable, don’t miss the tour of an Apulian winery with traditional lunch or aperitivo. It was one of my highlights when visiting Puglia.
Alberobello is the city of Trulli and it is one of the most popular Puglia destinations for a good reason. Trulli is a traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof. Trulli can be found only in Alberobello and its surroundings, which makes it one of the most unique places to visit in Italy.
The legend says that if you’d remove a brick from the roof, the whole roof would collapse. This trick was used when the tax inspector would come to Alberobello claiming taxes on the houses. But based on a definition, the house has to have a roof.
Alberobello is quite small and can be visited in a half day. Nevertheless, you can try the experience of sleeping or having a romantic dinner inside a Trulli which is one of the best things to do in Puglia. It is located a short drive distance away from Bari and the drive can be very enjoyable as you will pass through olive trees and lovely nature views.
Looking for a place to stay in Alberobello? Spending a night in Trullo is a must and I can recommend Trulli Holiday Albergo Diffuso.
Gargano National Park
What to see in Puglia if you are a nature lover? Gargano National Park should be the next stop in your Puglia itinerary. In fact, it is a paradise for hikers seeking memorable views and there are several opportunities for camping.
The Gargano National Park includes some of the best beaches in Puglia like Cala Lunga or Baia delle Zagare, picturesque towns like Vico del Gargano, Peschici, and Vieste, and even the Tremiti Islands, which are among Puglia’s best places for admiring some unspoiled nature.
The Gargano National Park is also a shelter for a great number of plants and animals, like the Podolica cattle, roe deer, and wild boars. Birdwatchers will have the chance to spot the rare birds Lilford’s woodpecker and golden orioles, greater flamingos, red kites, osprey, and peregrine falcons.
Despite being one of the most beautiful places in Puglia, the park is the largest Natural Park in Puglia and it doesn’t get as crowded as other beautiful places in Puglia.
If you are looking for a unique experience, don’t miss organic wine tasting on the slopes of the Gargano promontory at Losito Winery.
Monopoli is a perfect destination where to go in Puglia if you are looking for a relaxing time, blue waters, and a great food scene. This lovely town is located a short ride away from Bari and it can be easily visited in a day.
What makes Monopoli one of the best places in Puglia is the splendid Baroque historical center and Duomo, the old port, the castle, and the old walls overlooking the sea. And here you can find some of the best Puglia beaches, like Porto Verde Beach. Finally, a short drive distance from Monopoli you will find the Grotte di Castellana, one of the best places to visit in Puglia.
Monopoli is also the perfect place to try sea urchins as there are a lot of fishermen, and you can’t leave Monopoli without trying some local specialties.
Known as the pearl of Adriatic, Trani lies in the north of Bari and is often left behind as most of the tourists prefer to head south in the region. For this reason, we can call Trani another hidden gem in Puglia.
The picturesque old town is the perfect place to breathe history and art, but the cathedral dominating the sea is one of the top sights in Puglia. The cathedral is beautiful from every angle you see, but the view from the wall near Duomo square is simply the most romantic spot you can find.
Trani is one of those Apulia destinations you don’t want to miss if you want to experience the real soul of the region.
Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare lies between Bari and Monopoli, perched on a cliff and dominating the turquoise water of the Adriatic Sea. It is a must-add destination for every trip to Puglia.
Polignano a Mare is famous for its dramatic view of the rocks and its white-pebble beaches called Lama Monachile. All around the town, there are a number of caves where you can swim. This is the place where you can find Grotta Palazzese – one of the most famous restaurants in Italy. It is also popular for its historical center where all the alleys lead you to the sea. All these reasons make Polignano a Mare one of the best places to visit in the Puglia region.
Looking for a great experience while visiting Polignano a Mare? Don’t miss the boat trip to the Polignano a Mare caves.
This town rises southeast of Bari and it can be easily reached by train or added to any Puglia road trip due to its convenient location. Casamassima is known as the blue town and it is one of the top sights in Puglia you don’t want to miss.
The old town of Casamassima is the main attraction of the town and one of the most Instagrammable places in Puglia. The local legend says that the town turned blue after it was safe and had successfully overcome the Black Plague.
Despite this growing popularity, Casamassima is still considered a hidden gem in Puglia since it is located away from the coast and tourists often miss it.
Molfetta is located 30 minutes away from Bari on the coast, and despite being one of the most beautiful places in Puglia, is still pretty undiscovered and authentic.
You can breathe these authentic vibes in the old town. Just sit down for a coffee, enjoy some of the best Italian hospitality and look at the locals passing by. In most of the Puglia towns, the churches are the main attraction and Molfetta is no exception. The cathedral and the Church of Saint Conrad are two wonderful examples of religious architecture.
The Sea Promenade is another place to breathe the best of Puglia while having beautiful views, and the skyline of the town from the water, especially at sunset.
Located a few kilometers away from the coast between Bari and Lecce, you will find Locorotondo. It is a true hidden gem of Puglia and it should be added to your Puglia itinerary.
Locorotondo is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy (I Borghi più belli d’Italia) and it has been awarded the Orange Flag of the Touring Club of Italy due to the harmony of its shapes and the accessibility of the old town. Since it is a very small town, you can easily take a visit in half a day and you can walk to all the main attractions.
The city becomes even more picturesque during Christmas time as it is wonderfully decorated. When visiting Puglia, Locorotondo is a perfect destination and it can be easily combined with Alberobello.
I know that people who want to explore Puglia can’t wait to get a nice tan on a wonderful beach, right? Well, then Gallipoli is the perfect place for that!
Gallipoli is on the coast of Salento and it is probably the best place to visit in Puglia in the summer. Here you will find not only some of the best sandy beaches in Puglia but also a number of events and parties that attracts visitors from all over Italy and not only.
July and August can be pretty crazy in the town and surroundings. Luckily, a short distance drive from the center of Gallipoli you will find 2 hot spot destinations for beach lovers that are e must see in Puglia: Punta Prosciutto and Porto Cesareo.
Another Puglia must-see is the coastal town of Otranto. Just like Gallipoli, Otranto is another pearl in the Salento area and the eastern town in Italy.
The history of Otranto dates back to Greek times, and it was an important center during the roman period. During the byzantine time, it was invaded by Ottomans. After one year the king of Naples annexed it to his kingdom and it flourished and the famous castle was built.
Otranto is a fortress on the water and its historical center is a picturesque labyrinth of hundreds of narrow streets. It is also part of the UNESCO heritage and certainly needs to go on your Puglia bucket list.
Lecce lies in the heart of Salento, on the south side of the region. Despite Salento being popular for having some of the best beaches in Puglia, Lecce is not located on the coast. It is one of the oldest cities in the country and thanks to its Baroque treasures it is part of the “Città d’Arte” (city of arts) of Italy.
The city’s main attraction is the Basilica di Santa Croce and its famous facade with dozens of intricate figures and a rosette window. Other important attractions in the city are the Duomo with its square, the roman amphitheater, and the castle.
Lecce is also popular for its street food specialties. When visiting Lecce, you must try classics of Puglia cuisine like Rustico, Puccia, and the sandwich with horse meat and tomato sauce or the octopus. If you want to know more about local food, I have to recommend this Street Food Tasting Tour. You will love it!
A few kilometers away from the border between Puglia and Basilicata rises the town of Altamura. The city is famous mostly for its bread, which is a unique product you can try only in this town. Another famous attraction is the Cathedral which dates back to the 13th century.
Altamura is also relevant for its archeological museum, which history lovers must see in Puglia. Here you can admire artifacts found in the area that is 2500 years old.
In 1993 a group of paleontologists discovered a fossil of a man inside the Lamalunga Cave. This represents the oldest sample of Neanderthal DNA to have been sequenced successfully.
Brindisi is another ancient location that deserves your attention and is one of the Puglia cities to visit. It is home to the second busiest airport in Puglia and it’s sometimes left behind by tourists who are impatient to visit the Salento area or towns like Ostuni.
For this reason, Brindisi is a very affordable destination in terms of accommodations and restaurants compared to other locations in Puglia. This is also a great place to have a real authentic experience and connect with locals.
The historical center of Brindisi offers a number of Romanic churches and historical sights like the castle and the walls. The natural port is another scenic spot in town.
Parco Naturale Regionale Terra delle Gravine
If you are wondering what to do in Puglia if you are passionate about nature, you should check the Parco Naturale Regionale Terra Delle Gravine. The park covers a wide area from the surrounding of Brindisi to Taranto and it’s a real gem for adventure seekers.
Here you will see dramatic ravines, with forests, wetlands, and an incredible variety of Flora and Fauna. This is another hot spot for the birdwatcher as you might meet species like lanner, and lesser kestrel, but also black kites, buzzards, Egyptian vultures, long-eared owls, eagle owls, and many more. In the area, you can also find a great number of mammals and reptiles.
Due to the natural environment, it is possible to try a great number of specialties like olive oil, oranges, and capocollo.
In the Parco Naturale Regionale Terra delle Gravine, you can find multiple hiking trails or grab a bike to discover the area.
Santa Maria di Leuca
If you are dreaming of a tropical destination this is a must-see in Puglia. Located at the extreme tip “heel of the boot”, Santa Maria di Leuca is known as the Maldives of Salento.
As you probably understood, this is home to some of the most incredible beaches in Italy, but hikers will also find a number of paths to discover some of the most epic views of Puglia. On the coast, you will find a great number of caves where you can take excursions.
The town was founded by some monks in the early 1st century AD, so the Santuario di Santa Maria de Finibus Terrae is one of Puglia’s best places for religious architecture.
Yes, I know, some of you are thinking “Matera is not part of the Puglia region”. Despite that, it is extremely easy to reach Matera from Bari and should be added to your itinerary when visiting Puglia.
Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world and one of the most beautiful places to visit in Italy for its uniqueness and history. It is part of the Unesco heritage and it was featured in famous movies like The Passion of Christ and James Bond’s No Time to Die.
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This is the end of the most beautiful places in Puglia and I believe by now you have a clear vision of what you want to visit next. Hopefully, this will help you plan an unforgettable trip and explore Puglia.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.