In this post, I’ll introduce you to some of the best places to visit in Puglia. I spent time in Puglia earlier this year, and can confidently call it one of my favorite regions to travel to in Italy.
Table of Contents
- Best Places to Visit in Puglia
- 1. Alberobello
- 2. Ostuni
- 3. Lecce
- 4. Gallipoli
- 5. Otranto
- 6. Polignano a Mare
- 7. Monopoli
- 8. Fasano
- 9. Cisternino
- 10. Taranto
- 11. Brindisi
- 12. Bari
- 13. Trani
- 14. Castel del Monte
- 15. Matera
- Getting Around Puglia
- Quick Itineraries for Puglia
- Best Beaches in Puglia
- Must-Try Foods in Puglia
- FAQs About Visiting Puglia, Italy
- In Conclusion
Making up the “heel” of the country’s boot-shaped mainland, this sun-baked corner of Europe is home to some of the best beaches in Italy. In addition, Puglia is home to many beautifully atmospheric towns and villages, a range of incredibly tasty local dishes, and some excellent wine.
Best Places to Visit in Puglia
Despite having loads of amazing things to see and do, many of the most beautiful places in Puglia receive far fewer tourists than those in other better-known regions (such as Tuscany, Liguria, and Rome), and with roughly 300 sunny days each year, it’s a wonderful place to explore any time of year.
Here’s my pick of the best places to visit in the Puglia region.
When visiting Puglia, a trip to Alberobello is a must. This small town, located in the province of Bari, is best known for its unique trulli houses. These conical-roofed homes are made entirely of stone and date back to the 14th century.
Today, the town’s trulli houses are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Puglia. I visited at the end of the day and was there for sunset, which was truly magical.
While in Alberobello, be sure to visit the Trullo Sovrano, the largest and most impressive of all the trulli houses. Allow yourself enough time to just wander through the town’s picturesque streets, exploring the hidden corners of this beautifully unique place. See our full post: 15 Best Things To Do in Alberobello.
Location: Alberobello is located in the province of Bari, about 55 kilometers southeast of the region’s capital. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: From Bari, you can either drive (1 hour) or take the bus from Via Giuseppe Capruzzi (the road that runs next to Bari Central Station). Alternatively, you could take this tour from Bari (which takes you to both Alberobello and Matera on the same day).
Where to Stay: Experience staying in a traditional trulli! Have a look at this unique trulli accommodation – you won’t be disappointed. Click here for details.
Things To Do: Visit the Trullo Sovrano; explore the maze-like Rione Monti district; visit the Museo del Territorio Casa Pezzolla.
Entrance Fee: €1.50 for Trullo Sovrano; €4 for Museo del Territorio Casa Pezzolla.
☞ SEE ALSO: Best Time to Visit Italy (Weather and Costs)
The “White City” of Ostuni is one of the most beautiful towns in Puglia. Perched atop a hill, this medieval town is a maze of narrow, winding streets and whitewashed buildings.
The best way to explore Ostuni is simply to get lost in its atmospheric streets and alleyways. To best orient yourself, head to the Piazza della Libertà, the town’s main square, and climb to the top of the bell tower for some stunning views.
The nearby Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta is made up of an interesting mixture of Gothic, Romanesque, and Byzantine architecture and is also worth a visit. If you’re visiting Puglia in October, Ostuni is a great place to experience the region’s traditional olive harvest festival. See our full post: 15 Top Things To Do in Ostuni.
Location: Ostuni is located in the province of Brindisi, about 30 kilometers northwest of the city of the same name. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: The easiest way to get to Ostuni is by rental car (35 minutes from Brindisi or 1 hour and 15 minutes from Bari). You can also take the bus from either Brindisi or Fasano.
Where to Stay: Masseria Cervarolo offers unique accommodation – both in its main building and in the traditional trulli stone buildings. This farm property is stunning. Click here for details.
Things To Do: Climb the bell tower in Piazza della Libertà; explore the town’s atmospheric streets and alleyways; visit the Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta; join a walking tour.
Entrance Fee: €5 for Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta.
Lecce is often referred to as the “Florence of the South” because of its wealth of baroque architecture. This beautiful city is best known for its ornate churches and buildings, as well as some well-preserved Roman ruins.
Some of the best places in Puglia to see baroque architecture include Lecce’s Duomo, the Church of Santa Croce, and the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli.
Check out the Piazza Sant’Oronzo in the center of the old town, which is home to an ancient Roman column with a bronze statue and a partially excavated Roman amphitheater.
Lecce is also a great place to try some of Puglia’s best-known foodie specialties, including orecchiette pasta and polpette (a kind of Italian meatball). See our full post on the 15 Best Things To Do in Lecce.
Location: Lecce is located inland, about 40 kilometers southeast of Brindisi. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: You can take a direct train to Lecce from Bari, Brindisi, and a number of other towns and cities throughout Puglia. Renting a car is another great option.
Where to Stay: The stunning Palazzo Lecce offers modern accommodations with an authentic feel. There’s an onsite pool and a wellness area. Rooms have balconies, breakfast is included, and the property is within walking distance to all the main attractions. Click here for details.
Things To Do: See the baroque architecture; visit the various churches in the old town; see the ancient Roman ruins; learn how to make orecchiette pasta by hand in this class.
Entrance Fee: €9 combined ticket grants access to the main churches; €3 for the Roman amphitheater.
Gallipoli is a picturesque seaside town located on the west coast of southern Puglia (i.e. the inside of the “heel” of Italy). The town’s historical center is situated on an island connected to the mainland by a narrow land bridge.
Be sure to visit the Castello Angioino, a medieval fortress located on the island, and the baroque 17th-century Cathedral of Sant’Agata, which contains a number of intricate paintings and frescoes.
Gallipoli is also one of the best towns to visit in Puglia for foodies. Given its long history as a fishing port, you can find some really excellent seafood here. Try eating at Trattoria Santa Monaca, in the historical center, which is very reasonably priced given the quality. See our full list of the best things to do in Gallipoli.
Location: Gallipoli is located on the west (“inside”) coast of Puglia, in the province of Lecce, around 40 kilometers southwest of Lecce itself. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: The best way to get to Gallipoli is by car. It’s roughly 40 minutes from Lecce or just over an hour from Brindisi. There’s also a bus and a (very slow) regional train connecting Gallipoli with Lecce. Click here to search for the best rental car price.
Where to Stay: The highly-rated Xilhotel offers guests a rooftop bar and sundeck with expansive views of the sea. Rooms in the historic building are well-decorated and clean and some have balconies. Learn more here.
Things To Do: Visit the Castello Angioino; see the Cathedral of Sant’Agata; go on an informative walking tour, wander around the old fishing harbor; take a fun rickshaw tour.
Entrance Fee: €7 for Castello Angioino.
Otranto is an attractive coastal town located on the other side of the “heel” from Gallipoli. It’s one of the closest points in Italy to Albania and the Balkans.
Perhaps the town’s best-known attraction is its imposing Norman cathedral, which overlooks the ancient harbor and contains a series of ornate mosaics and colorful frescoes.
Another place that’s worth checking out in Otranto is the 15th-century Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle that today houses various exhibitions. The view from the top of the tower out across the old town and the turquoise waters of the harbor is stunning. See our full post: 15 Best Things To Do in Otranto.
Location: Otranto is located 50 kilometers east of Gallipoli and 40 kilometers southeast of Lecce, (in the province of Lecce). Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: The best way to get to Otranto is by car, which takes about 40 minutes if traveling from Lecce, although there is also a bus. From Gallipoli, it’s about an hour by car, and there isn’t any direct public transport connection (you have to go via a little place called Maglie). Search for the best rental car price here.
Where to Stay: The Bellavista Boutique Hotel has an unbeatable location, just a few steps from the historic center. Learn more about this top property, here.
Things To Do: Visit the Cathedral of Otranto; join a fun walking tour of the city, see the Castello Aragonese; join a cooking class; visit the Church of San Pietro; swim in the clean, warm waters of the harbor.
Entrance Fee: €12 for Castello Aragonese.
6. Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare is one of the prettiest towns in Puglia, on the coast just down from Bari. Its location and convenient public transport connections make this a popular day trip from the Puglian capital.
Polignano a Mare is principally known for its dramatic cliffs and picture postcard white pebble beaches, as well as the Roman bridge that spans a narrow gorge and offers gorgeous views of the Adriatic Sea.
The town gets fairly busy in the summer months, and its popularity means that the prices have become a little inflated compared with other places in the region. I’d recommend visiting as a day trip rather than staying here overnight.
Location: Polignano a Mare is located around 40 kilometers southeast of Bari. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: The train from Bari Centrale to Polignano a Mare only takes 35 minutes and runs fairly frequently, making this a great option for those traveling without a car.
Where to Stay: If you choose to stay in Polignano a Mare, FonteBlu B&B offers spectacular views, an onsite bar and bicycle rental. Click here for details.
Things To Do: Walk across the Roman bridge; visit Lama Monachile (one of the most photographed beaches in Italy); head to the panoramic Mirador al Bastión de Santo Stefano viewpoint for the best views in town; discover amazing sea caves on this boat trip.
Monopoli is one of my favorite cities in southern Italy and one of the top places to visit in Puglia. Its beautiful historical center (centro storico) is a maze of narrow cobbled streets, whitewashed old buildings, and atmospheric piazzas and little courtyards.
There’s a pedestrianized walkway that runs along the edge of the old town, next to the seafront, and connects the ancient harbor to the beaches which lie a little further south.
In the evenings, the place comes to life with locals who gather here to meet friends, do a spot of fishing, or just sit and watch the sunset. See Also: 15 Best Things To Do in Monopoli.
If you’re keen on some beach time, head to Cala Porta Vecchia, which is one of the nicest urban beaches I’ve ever seen and is located just south of the main old town.
Location: Monopoli is located in the province of Bari, about 30 kilometers southeast of the city of the same name. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: The fast train from Bari to Monopoli takes 30 minutes. From Polignano a Mare, the journey takes just 12 minutes. You could also rent a car to explore the region.
Where to Stay: The small apartments at Terrademare are a great self-catering option, or if you’re just looking for a bit more space. Located close to the beach and offering sea views and balconies, this is a good accommodation option.
Things To Do: Get lost wandering the streets of the centro storico; spend time on the beach at Cala Porta Vecchia; visit the Cattedrale Maria Santissima della Madia; discover the Castello Carlo V; watch local fishermen land their catch in the ancient harbor (porto antico), and make sure to check out this interesting walking tour.
Entrance Fee: €10 for Castello Carlo V.
Fasano is a beautiful town best known for its network of cave dwellings and churches carved into the rock.
The area around Fasano is covered with olive trees and other Mediterranean vegetation that thrives in its hot and arid climate.
Fasano is one of the best-hidden gems in Puglia. It’s much quieter than many of the other towns and cities in this post, making it one of the best places to see in Puglia if you’re looking to escape the crowds, especially during the busy summer months.
Location: Fasano is located in the province of Brindisi, and is about 50 kilometers from Bari, Brindisi, and Taranto. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: Fasano has a train station on the main high-speed railway line that links cities like Bari, Brindisi, and Lecce. The station is located around 3 kilometers outside of the main part of the town; you can either take the bus into the center or walk.
Where to Stay: the Masseriola Antiche Fogge offers a swimming pool, a garden and a terrace. It’s close to everything, yet offers a relaxing vibe. Click here for details.
Things To Do: Explore the cave dwellings and churches (Parco Rupestre Lama D’Antico); visit the Scavi D’Egnazia ancient Roman ruins & necropolis, and the adjoining museum. Don’t miss this market tour and meal with local chef, or this fun cooking class.
Entrance Fee: €6 for Parco Rupestre Lama D’Antico caves; €3 for Scavi D’Egnazia Roman ruins.
Cisternino is a tiny town (or a large village, depending on how you look at it) in Brindisi province. It was built by Byzantine monks in the 14th century and has an attractive historical center that’s remained remarkably intact for hundreds of years.
The town has several panoramic viewpoints where you can enjoy stunning views out over the surrounding area. From these lookouts, you can see various little clusters of conical trulli houses, gently rolling hills, and traditional farms.
Cisternino doesn’t have many “sights” per se, but it’s an incredibly peaceful and atmospheric place to spend time.
One notable feature of the old town is its “barbecuing butchers”. You pick a selection of meat and other goods, which the butchers then proceed to cook perfectly for you over charcoal while you wait. You can either eat them there and then with a glass of local wine, or take them home to enjoy later.
Location: Cisternino is located about 30 kilometers south of Monopoli and 60 kilometers northwest of Brindisi. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: The best way to get to Cisternino is by car. There is a bus from Brindisi, but it’s not particularly frequent and takes quite a long time. Search for car rentals here.
Where to Stay: If you’re looking for a property with a pool, Borgo Canonica is a great option! The rooms here are lovely and there’s an onsite restaurant as well. Click here for details.
Things To Do: Explore the old town; visit the 13th-century Church of San Nicola; check out the attractive Torre dell’Orologio clock tower; eat freshly cooked local meat from the barbecuing butchers. Also, have a look at this informative walking tour.
Taranto is one of the larger cities in Puglia and is located on a peninsula that juts out into the Gulf of Taranto, on the region’s west coast. The city has a long history, dating back to ancient Greek and Roman times.
The old town of Taranto is located on an island, connected to the mainland by two bridges. The island is home to a number of interesting sights, including the 15th-century Aragonese Castle, and the baroque Cathedral of San Cataldo.
Taranto is one of the best cities in Puglia for fans of history. Check out the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto-Marta (“MArTa”), which contains artifacts and exhibits on the history of the city, from Paleolithic times to the Middle Ages.
If you’re in Taranto on a Sunday, don’t miss the excellent Spartan Museum of Taranto (sadly this is only open one day a week), which includes a guided tour of an impressive historical underground chamber close to the waterfront.
Location: Taranto is located on the west coast of Puglia, 90 kilometers west of Lecce. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: There’s a direct train from both Bari and Brindisi to Taranto. It takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes from either place.
Where to Stay: With more than 1,000 superb reviews, the Hotel L’Arcangelo Boutique Hotel is an excellent option. Located right in the historic center, the hotel has original frescos, wood-beamed ceilings, and gorgeous stone floors. Learn more here.
Things To Do: Walk across the bridges connecting the historical center to the mainland; visit the Aragonese Castle; see the Cathedral of San Cataldo; visit the museums, and join this historical walking tour.
Entrance Fee: €4 for Spartan Museum of Taranto; €8 for MArTa museum (€2 if you’re aged 18-25 years).
Brindisi is another major port city in Puglia, in the southeastern part of the region. The city has a long and eventful history, much of which is evident in its architecture.
The famous Roman Columns of Brindisi are a symbol of the city and appear on its coat of arms. These are found close to the port, alongside a grand staircase that descends to the waterfront.
Other notable sights in Brindisi include the Swabian Castle of Brindisi (currently closed to the public but still impressive from the outside) and the beautiful church of San Giovanni al Sepolcro, which was built in 1743.
Brindisi is also a great place to try some deliciously fresh Puglian seafood, including spaghetti ai frutti di mare, and fritto misto. I enjoyed my dining experience at Secca 48, an excellent seafood restaurant in town. There are many things to do in Brindisi to keep you busy. See our full list of activities in Brindisi.
Location: Brindisi is located in southeastern Puglia, on the coast. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: The best way to get to Brindisi is by train. There are direct trains from both Bari and Lecce, and the journeys take between 1-2 hours.
Where to Stay: The beautiful rooms and small apartments at Filia Solis Old Town Suites & SPA are modern and beautifully decorated. A hot tub, sauna and wellness center only add to the appeal. Click here for details.
Things To Do: Stroll along the seafront promenade to discover the Roman ruins on this walking tour; see the Swabian Castle of Brindisi; look around the church of San Giovanni al Sepolcro; enjoy fresh seafood.
Entrance Fee: €3 for San Giovanni al Sepolcro church.
The capital of the region, Bari is a large, vibrant city on the Adriatic Sea and is one of the best cities to visit in Puglia.
Bari’s most famous feature is its old town (known as Citta Vecchia) which is sandwiched between the modern center of the city and the busy Port of Bari.
Citta Vecchia is a maze of narrow alleyways and side streets, with beautiful old buildings, medieval churches, hidden piazzas, and attractive little cafes and restaurants. Laundry hangs overhead and women make pasta by hand on the street – it’s wonderfully atmospheric.
Bari is also home to some of the tastiest food and best restaurants in all of Puglia and is something of a gastronomic hub. Three excellent restaurants that I’d recommend are Al Pescatore, Assaporando le Delizie Pugliesi, and Per Bacco. Read more in our post on the best things to see and do in Bari.
Location: Bari is located about halfway down the eastern Adriatic coast of Puglia. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: Bari is a major transport hub for the region and is connected via high-speed rail to other major Italian cities. It also has an international airport with flights to various cities throughout Europe, including London, Paris, Dublin, and Frankfurt.
Where to Stay: There are numerous places to stay in Bari, with B&Z Luxury being a great option. The clean and spacious rooms are centrally located and offer breakfast. There’s also a beautiful terrace. Find out more here. See our full article: Where to Stay in Bari – Best Areas and Accommodations.
Things To Do: Explore the Citta Vecchia; take a historical walking tour; visit the Basilica Di San Nicola and Bari Cathedral; take a food tour; chill out at Pane e Pomodoro beach; visit the imposing Castello Svevo; eat as much incredible local food as you can.
Entrance Fee: €3 for Basilica Di San Nicola and Cathedral of San Nicola; €9 for Castello Svevo.
Trani is a medium-sized town and fishing port located 40 kilometers northwest of Bari. The town itself is quite small and can be explored easily on foot in a day.
It’s best known for its lovely Romanesque cathedral, which is built directly on the edge of the water and is an excellent place to get photos in Puglia.
Trani is also home to the medieval Scolanova Synagogue, which was built in the 13th century, subsequently confiscated by the church, and finally returned to its original use in 2006. It’s a fascinating place to visit.
Location: Trani is located 40 kilometers northwest of Bari. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: The easiest way to get to Trani is by train from Bari, which takes around 30 minutes on the fast train.
Where to Stay: Located in the historic center, Palazzo Filisio offers guests an onsite restaurant and beautiful views of the Duomo. The location is excellent and the rooms are lovely. Learn more here.
Things To Do: Visit Trani Cathedral and climb to the top of the bell tower for an amazing view of the city; learn about Trani’s Jewish history at the Scolanova Synagogue; wander along the edge of the old port; see the harborside Castello Svevo, which was built in 1233 and how houses a museum. Don’t miss this fun walking tour with olive oil tasting.
Entrance Fee: €5 to climb the Cathedral’s bell tower; €9 for Castello Svevo (€4.50 for visitors aged 18–25, or 65+).
14. Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte is an incredible 13th-century castle on top of a hill in central Puglia. It was built around 1240 by Emperor Frederick II and is one of the best-preserved Gothic castles in Italy. It’s definitely one of the most impressive things to see in Puglia.
The castle has a distinctive octagonal shape, with an unusual geometric design. It’s been the focus of extensive debate, and historians are still not certain whether it originally served as a defensive citadel or an opulent country retreat and hunting lodge for members of the nobility.
Today, the castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination. It’s one of the must-see places in Puglia for fans of history and architecture. Tickets must be purchased online in advance of your visit, here.
Location: Castel del Monte is located on the edge of the Alta Murgia National Park in central Puglia. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: The best way to get to Castel del Monte is by car. From Bari, the drive takes approximately 1 hour. You can also join a day trip from Bari.
Things To Do: Explore the castle; visit the gardens and courtyards; climb to the top of the towers; hike in the surrounding Alta Murgia National Park.
Entrance Fee: €7 for adults; €2 for EU citizens aged 18-25.
The ancient hilltop city of Matera is actually just across the border in the neighboring region of Basilicata. But it’s one of the most incredible places to visit in all of southern Italy, so I had to include it in this Puglia tourist guide.
Matera is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, and many historians believe people have lived here for at least 9,000 years. The oldest part of the city is the Sassi district, where you can find a number of prehistoric cave houses and churches carved out of the rock.
As well as a fascinating history, Matera’s location – perched on top of a rocky mountain – is really stunning.
During my most recent trip to southern Italy, I visited Matera and was blown away by this spectacular place. I’d highly recommend a visit if you get the chance. Learn more about the things to do in Matera in our article.
Location: Matera is located in the province of Basilicata, about 30 kilometers southeast of the city of Taranto. Click here for the location in Google Maps.
Getting There: The best way to get to Matera is by car. From Bari, the drive takes approximately 1 hour. Strangely, there is a bus from Bari airport to Matera, but not from the center of Bari itself. Click here to search for the best price on rental cars.
Where to Stay: Staying in a cave-turned-hotel is the best experience in Matera. Have a look at the chic Palazzotto Residence&Winery which is in an excellent location. Click here for details.
Things To Do: Explore the Sassi district; visit Santa Maria di Idris and the other cave churches; take a historical walking tour; admire the stunning views, and enjoy this dining experience.
Entrance Fee: €4 for Santa Maria di Idris cave church; or €8 for this and two other rock churches.
Getting Around Puglia
Many of the most popular Puglia tourist attractions are accessible by public transport, and Bari is a major transport hub for the region.
You can take the train between some of the major cities, such as Bari, Taranto, and Lecce. There’s also a regional bus service that runs between most towns. However, this can be quite slow and infrequent, so it’s not the best option if you’re short on time.
If you want to travel off the beaten track in Puglia, I recommend you organize your own rental car if your budget will allow it. Wherever you wish to visit in Puglia, having your own car will give you the flexibility to explore the different towns and attractions at your own pace.
Another option is to take a tour, which will take you to more than one place and include all transport. This would be an excellent option for those who don’t have much time and would rather not hire transport.
Quick Itineraries for Puglia
Here are a few simple itineraries to help you decide where to go in Puglia.
For each, I recommend hiring a car as this will reduce the amount of time you have to spend messing around with public transport, enabling you to see more of the region with whatever time you have to spend there. Search for the best prices on rental cars, here.
3 Days in Puglia
In 3 days, you’ll be able to enjoy the best of Puglia, but you’ll have to move fairly quickly.
Day 1: Start in the city of Bari and visit the old town, the castle, and the seafront. Then take a drive down the coast to Monopoli, where you can relax on one of the many beaches. In the evening, enjoy some fresh seafood at one of the restaurants overlooking the sea.
Day 2: Drive inland to Alberobello, home of the famous trulli houses. Explore the town and then continue on to the stunning city of Matera.
Day 3: Spend your final day exploring Lecce, Puglia’s baroque city. Stroll around the atmospheric old town, visit one of the many churches and then enjoy some lunch in one of the traditional pizzerias.
One Week in Puglia
Start as per the above 3-day itinerary. Then continue as follows.
Day 4: Drive down the coast to Gallipoli, where you can relax on the beach or explore the historic old town.
Day 5: Head across to Otranto, then make your way back up along the coast to Brindisi.
Day 6: Today is all about relaxing. Spend the day at one of Puglia’s many beaches, such as the ones found in Polignano a Mare or Monopoli. In the evening, enjoy a leisurely dinner and watch the sunset.
Day 7: Spend your final day exploring some of Puglia’s other towns, such as Fasano and Cisternino.
10+ Days in Puglia
With 10 days or more, you could probably visit most, if not all, of the destinations described in this post, and/or spend more time in each.
Here’s the order I recommend:
Day 1: Arrive in Bari and spend a day exploring the old town, castle, and seafront.
Days 2-3: Drive down the coast, spending time in Monopoli and Polignano a Mare.
Days 4-5: Head inland to explore Alberobello, and Matera.
Days 6-8: Visit Lecce, Gallipoli, and Ostuni.
Days 9-10: Spend time exploring some of the other places mentioned in this best of Puglia guide, such as Cisternino and Fasano. If you fancy some more beach time at the end of your Puglia sightseeing trip, you can make time for this too.
Best Beaches in Puglia
Puglia is home to some of the best beaches in Italy. While these are nowhere near as undiscovered or untouched as the beaches just across the Ionian Sea in southern Albania, they are still usually much quieter than those found in other parts of Italy.
Here are a few of my favorites. During fine weather and calm seas, you can safely swim at all of them.
Located in the pretty town of Polignano a Mare, Lama Monachile is probably the most famous beach in Puglia. The turquoise water is crystal clear and the small white pebble beach is located at the end of a dramatic rocky canyon, crossed by a Roman bridge.
This beach is really stunning, although it can get very busy during the peak summer season.
Another beautiful beach in Polignano a Mare, and usually (slightly) less busy than Lama Monachile, is Cala Paura. A small pebble beach located at the base of a rocky cliff.
My favorite way to reach it is by swimming (or paddleboarding) from Lama Monachile, although there is also a steep path that leads down from the main road.
Cala Porta Vecchia
In romantic Monopoli, Cala Porta Vecchia is a small, sheltered cove with crystal-clear water and a few restaurants and bars located next to the beach.
It’s the perfect place to relax with a good book and a cocktail.
Punta Prosciutto Beach
Punta Prosciutto Beach is one of the best beaches on the Puglian coast. It’s a long, sandy beach with crystal-clear water, located in a protected nature reserve.
There are very few amenities here, but it’s the perfect place to escape the crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Pane e Pomodoro beach
Pane e Pomodoro beach is a sandy beach 3 kilometers southeast of the center of Bari and is popular with locals of all ages. It’s not quite as picturesque as the ones above but is a perfect option if you want a bit of beach time without having to leave the city.
Must-Try Foods in Puglia
Like most Italian regions, Puglia has a rich culinary history, and eating out is one of the many highlights of Puglia. When you travel to Puglia, Italy, there are a few local specialties that I recommend you try. For a full list, see our post on the best foods to try in Puglia.
Orecchiette is a type of pasta that originates from Puglia. It’s made with semolina flour and water, and its name comes from its shape, which resembles a small ear.
Orecchiette is often served with a simple vegetable-based sauce. My favorite is one made from broccoli rabe (a bitter leafy green) and garlic – it’s really delicious!
An amazing little restaurant to try this dish is Assaporando le Delizie Pugliesi, in Bari’s old town.
Focaccia Barese is a type of flatbread that originates from the city of Bari. It’s a bit like other focaccia that you may have tasted, made with a simple dough of flour, water, salt, and yeast, but is also topped with tomatoes, onions, and olives.
The best focaccia Barese I’ve ever eaten is sold at a bakery called Magda, on Bari’s Via Prospero Petroni. Fresh out of the oven, it manages to be both incredibly rich and light at the same time, and isn’t greasy at all, unlike many other focaccias. Don’t miss it!
Polpette are fried dumplings made from stale bread, eggs, cheese, and parsley. They sometimes also contain meat, vegetables, and/or fish, and can be served either by themselves or in a tomato sauce.
You can find polpette on menus throughout Puglia. If you’re in Bari, an excellent place to try them is Per Bacco.
Tiella is a type of Puglian layered casserole made with potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. My favorite version of tiella also contains mussels (incredible), although you can also get a vegetarian variety made with eggplant and zucchini.
It’s usually baked in a wood-fired oven, which gives it a lovely smoky flavor. An amazing place to eat tiella is Ristorante Tiella in Bari.
“Fritto misto” translates literally as “mixed fried”. In Puglia, this essentially means a selection of deep-fried seafood, usually squid, octopus, and fish. It’s often served as an appetizer but can also be eaten as a main course.
The best fritto misto I’ve ever had was from a tiny food truck called Mare Chef, close to Cala Porta Vecchia beach in Monopoli. Super cheap, fresh, and juicy, this place is street food at its finest.
FAQs About Visiting Puglia, Italy
Answers to some commonly asked questions about visiting the beautiful places in Puglia.
Puglia is a region located in southeastern Italy, forming the “heel” of the country’s boot-shaped mainland.
Yes, Puglia is definitely worth visiting! It’s one of my favorite parts of Italy.
There are many popular places to visit in Puglia, but some of the most popular include the cities of Bari, Alberobello, and Polignano a Mare.
The best time to visit Puglia is in the spring (April-May) or autumn (September-October), when the weather is warm but not too hot, and there are fewer tourists.
This is somewhat subjective, but I think the prettiest part of Puglia is the region’s Adriatic Sea coastline. Some of the best places to go in Puglia, Italy are located along this stretch.
Bari, the capital of Puglia, is a great place to base yourself. There are loads of great things to do in the city itself, it’s conveniently located near the center of the region, and is a major transport hub which makes it easier to use this as a base to visit other places from.
Puglia is best known for its incredible food (think fresh pasta, seafood, and lots of olive oil), beautiful beaches, conical trulli houses, and unique picturesque towns.
Yes, Puglia is just as safe to visit as any other part of Italy (which is very safe overall). Provided you take the same sensible precautions that you would anywhere else, you’re unlikely to experience any problems.
Puglia is an incredibly beautiful and welcoming region of Italy, best known for its delicious food, stunning coastline, year-round sunshine, and unique towns and cities.
Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, enjoy delicious food, or explore some of Puglia’s fascinating history and culture, I’m certain you’ll love your visit to Puglia.