Puglia is by far one of Italy’s most underrated regions. From stunning sandy beaches, rocky grottoes, quaint little towns, UNESCO hertiage sites and the tastiest food, this region has it all. Here are some of the top things to do in Puglia.
Bari is the capital of the region of Puglia and is situated on the Adriatic Sea. The old city center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With maze-like structure and narrow streets, the best way to explore the city is by getting lost in it.
Getting to Bari
The city of Bar is well connected by train, buses and flights. The international airport in the city connects the city directly with other Italian cities along with select European cities. You can also find buses and trains to Bari from most of the major Italian cities. Click here to find the most suitable option for you.
Top Things to do in Bari
The main thing to see in Bari is the old city center also known as Bari Vecchia. This part of the city has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bari Vecchia is filled with narrow winding streets in a maze like structure. You may also like to visit the Basilica di San Nicola which is a key pilgrim site in the center of Bari. In the 11th century Basilica you will find the remains of St. Nicholas.
While in Bari, you should also explore the port area. You will find various ferries from here going to many of the surrounding countries. The restaurants around this area of the city serve some of the freshest seafood.
The city is also the best base if you would like to explore the region of Puglia. You will find regular trains to most of the smaller towns of the region right from the city. This makes it very convenient for those who depend on public transportation to get around.
Polignano a Mare
If you’re visiting Puglia in the summer, Polignano a Mare should definitely be on your list. This quaint little sea-side town is a short train ride away from Bari and makes for a perfect day-trip from the city.
Getting to Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare is easily accessible by train from Bari. The train ride takes about half an hour. Tickets for the train ride cost about 2.50 euro each way. You could buy the tickets at the railway station right before the trip or book them online in advance.
Top Things to do in Polignano a Mare
The biggest attraction of the town for sure is the Cala Porto beach. The gorgeous little white pebbled beach boasts of emerald green waters. The beach is situated right in the city center just a short walk from the train station. Absolutely scenic! The beach is a walking distance from the train station and convenient to reach. You could spend your day lazing on the beach and swimming in the cool waters of the Adriatic Sea.
The other unique thing to do in this tiny town is that you can go have dinner or lunch at one of the most beautiful restaurants in Italy. The restaurant inside the cave! Grotta Palazzese is a 5 star Hotel whose in-house restaurant is the famous cave restaurant overlooking the sea. It surely is a unique experience if you have the budget for it.
And last but not the least, the city center of Polignano a Mare is absolutely charming. Whitewashed buildings, narrow cobbled streets and balconies filled with colorful flowers add to the charm. So make sure you take the time to take a relaxing walk through the city center before you leave.
Alberobello is a small town in the region of Puglia. The town is known for the typical whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs called Trulli. The construction of these Trulli are completely mortar-less. They are made of limestone blocks found in the region around. This ancient technique of construction is still in use today. Hence UNESCO has declared Alberobello as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Getting to Alberobello
The best way of getting to Alberobello is by car. The city is a 56 minute drive from Bari. You could also take the train from Bari Central to Alberobello. You can buy the train tickets from the Bari Sud Est section of Bari Central. The train ride takes less than two hours from Bari. You can check the timetable here.
Top Things to do in Alberobello
The city center of Alberobello is very different from the other Italian cities around. So exploring the city center is the most interesting thing to do in the city. The city center is filled with Trullis, the typical structure of construction in the region. So take your time to explore the little trullis and visit the unique trulli church in the city. You could also choose to enjoy a wine tasting at a local enoteca inside one of the trullis.
Puglia is also where the Burrata and Focaccia are originally from. The town has a local producer of the Burrata just a few minutes walk from the center. Find your way to the little store and try some of the freshest Burrata, Stracciatella (another kind of cheese) along with some of the local Focaccia straight from the oven. The local pasta is orecchiette and must not be missed while in the region.
Another beautiful and culture-rich Italian city in Puglia is Lecce. It is situated in the Salento sub-peninsula of the Italian Peninsula making it the perfect base while exploring the beautiful beaches around. The city is known for it’s baroque buildings and is filled with some gorgeous churches.
Getting to Lecce
Lecce is very accessible by flights, trains and buses. The international airport in the city has flights coming in from all over Europe. For those traveling in from other Italian cities, there are various train and bus options to get to Lecce. Flixbus is the one I recommend for budget travelers. You can also find flights from other Italian cities to Lecce at reasonable prices if booked in advance. Click here to see all your options.
Top Things to do in Lecce
The city center of Lecce is extremely pretty with it’s baroque style architecture. The Basilica di Santa Croce is one of the most beautiful churches in the city and definitely worth a visit. The 17th century church is known for it’s splendid Baroque architecture filled with intricate carvings and beautiful rose windows. The church is built using a typical stone of the region which gives it a creamy look.
Next, make sure to visit Piazza del Duomo, which houses the Lecce Baroque Cathedral of the city along with some other religious monuments. The Lecce Baroque Cathedral is stunning with it’s double facade and bell tower. The square is also one of the most charming in the city. You could choose to stop by for a drink or a meal at one of the restaurants around.
The city center of Lecce also has the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheater. It is believed to have been built in the second century AD with a capacity of about 25,000. It is possible to visit the Amphitheater to know more about the history.
While in the Salento region, make sure to try out the apperitivo with the local snacks of Salento like puccia, the fried panzerotti, Friselle and Taralli. You can find these at the various bars and restaurants dotted through the city center.
Roca and Grotta Della Poesia (Cave of Poetry)
The small town of Roca is perfect if you are looking for some beautiful places to swim. Roca is actually an archaeological sit located on the Adriatic Coast. It makes for a perfect day-trip from the town of Lecce.
Getting to Roca Vecchia
Roca Vecchia can be reached from Lecce by road or by bus. The drive from Lecce to Roca Vecchia takes about 30 mins with minimum traffic. If driving isn’t an option, then you can always get the bus. The bus journey takes about and hour and costs about 3 euro each way starting from the Lecce Bus Station. The buses run at regular intervals and are pretty convenient. Make sure to confirm the timetable at the bus station since the timetable on google maps has not been updated to reflect the latest changes.
Top Things to do in Roca Vecchia
Roca is right by the Adriatic Sea. Just walk around the lungomare (road by the sea) and you should be able to find small secluded swimming spots with rocks to leave your belongings on. If you walk a little further along the coast, you will also come across the Grotta Della Poesia (Cave of Poetry) which is considered to be one of the most beautiful natural pools in the world. Visiting this natural pool is definitely one of the top things to do in Puglia and shouldn’t be missed.
The collapse of the cave ceiling created the natural pool which is today tone of the most beautiful natural pools in the world. Today, it is a popular spot for diving, swimming and snorkeling and is highly visited by Italians from all over the country during the summer months, with July and August being the months with the highest visitors.
Gallipoli is another coastal town in the Puglia region of Italy. If you’re looking around for some gorgeous sandy beaches with crystal clear waters to swim in, this is the place for you!
Getting to Gallipoli
Gallipoli makes for another perfect day-trip from Lecce. You will find regular trains and buses on the route. The bus journey takes about an hour with tickets costing between 3-5 euro. You can buy the tickets on board the . The train take about 1 hour 40 mins and costs around the same as the bus. You could also choose to drive down as it is just a 30 minute drive from Lecce.
Top Things to do in Gallipoli
Gallipoli is known for it’s beautiful sandy beaches. This makes it a popular summer destination for Italians from all over the country. There are various shacks and beach side bars that offer enticing apperitivos and organise various events to attract the youth.
If you’re looking for a happening atmosphere, make sure to head to Samsara Beach, a club-style beach attracting international artists and all the party lovers from the areas around. And there are parties every day of the week during the summers. For more information, you could check out the main website here.
Otranto is another small coastal town in the province of Lecce. The town makes a great base while exploring the beautiful beaches near by.
Getting to Otranto
Otranto can reached by bus from Lecce. The bus journey takes about 1 hour and costs about 3-7 euro one way. You can buy tickets on board the bus. Here you can find the updated timetable for the route. You could also take a train that takes an hour and a half and costs 9 euro for a round trip. You can book your train journey online in advance. The fastest route though is to drive to Otranto. The drive takes 35 minutes and could be scenic if you choose the coastal route.
Top Things to do in Otranto
The town of Otranto has some wonderful things to do around. Visit the Punta Palascia Lighthouse on a clear day and climb up to the top. You will be able to see over the Adriatic Sea and even glimpse at Albania which is about 50 miles away.
Make sure to stop by the Bauxite cave while you are in the city as it is absolutely one of the top things to do in Puglia. It is a popular hiking area with red dunes around the deep green waters of the lake. Hiking on these red dunes is an extremely cool experience as the unique landscape makes you feel like walking on Mars.
The old city center of Otranto is also very quaint. Take a stroll around the Italian streets and enjoy a typical aperitif. Make sure you stop by the Castle of Otranto which is right in the city center. The harbour area in the city is a nice place to relax.
Torre Del’Orso makes for a perfect day-trip from either Otranto or Lecce. This stretch of sandy beach makes for the perfect relaxing beach day.
Getting to Torre Del’Orso
You can reach this stretch of beautiful sandy beach easily by bus from Lecce or Otranto. The bus from Lecce takes about 1 hour and costs about 2-3 euro. The bus from Otranto takes 41 minutes and the journey costs 2 euro.
Top Things to do in Torre Del’Orso
Torre Del’Orso is a stretch of beautiful white sand beaches. You could spend the day relaxing in the sun and snorkeling in the clear blue waters of the sea. If you’re looking for some adventure, you could also hike to I Faraglioni di Sant’Andrea. After the 30 minute hike to The Faraglioni of Sant’Andrea, you could take a dip in the cool sea waters and swim around admiring the beautiful rock formations around.
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Wow those images really sell it! Awesome tips too. I had planned on going to Italy later this year which isn’t going to happen now, but when I go back, I’ll definitely try and get to Puglia!
Yesss! You absolutely must stop by Puglia. It’s gorgeous!
Wow this post has intrigued me to visit Puglia so much! I apparently underestimated this destination, since your photos and suggestions seem amazing! Thanks for sharing. I will definitely save this article!
Omg! Puglia is absolutely my favourite. There is so much to see in Italy and so people overlook this region. But I love it <3
You don’t ready many articles about this area of Italy. I have to admit that all of these towns look awesome. I love the small winding streets and alleys. I would stay away from Calo Porto Beach (too crowded for my liking) and continue to Roca to find one of those quiet beaches.
Omg! Definitely! I had the best afternoon at this rocky secluded beach at Roca! Highly recommend it!
I love Italy, but have never had the opportunity to visit Puglia. This is a very useful and comprehensive guide that I will absolutely safe for later. Thanks for all the great suggestions and the images are INCREDIBLE!!!
Thank you Michelle! You absolutely have to visit this region in Italy! It is amazing <3
I have to go back to Puglia and do a seriously long and slow road trip again!!!
Yess! I go back every year. Hope I can this year too <3
Your photos are lovely! Makes me really want to visit Italy and help them back up from their big pandemic hit in their tourism. Thanks for a great post!
Oh you absolutely must! I love this country <3 You would too!