Uncovering the best places to visit in Puglia: a Traveler’s Guide

Uncovering the best places to visit in Puglia: a Traveler’s Guide

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If Italy is a boot, then the region of Puglia is its heel. This southern region is known for its year-round sunshine, breathtaking scenery and fascinating ancient ruins. It also has more coastline than any other part of Italy —and yes, that does mean it has more beaches! We absolutely love Puglia, and we’re sure you will, too. If you haven’t been yet, check out this list of our favourite places to visit, and you’ll be booking a flight before you know it.


Alberobello is also known as Trulli Town, thanks to its unique and charming architecture. What are trulli? They’re drywall limestone houses —with the kind of whitewashed walls you can see all over southern Europe— but they also have a very special touch: a cute conical roof. Alberobello is full of these remarkable houses, and they make the perfect backdrop for some evocative holiday snaps. If you want your friends back home to be jealous of your time spent enjoying your getaway, this is the place to go!

As well as these wonderful houses, which we have to say, make Alberobello look rather like the Italian version of Hobbiton, the town has an abundance of gorgeous scenery to admire. It’s nestled among some rolling olive groves, typical of this part of Italy, making it one of our favourite places in Puglia for any traveller who wants to take a stroll and enjoy some fresh air.

A picturesque view of Alberobello, Puglia, Italy
A picturesque view of Alberobello, Puglia, Italy


Italians call Lecce the Florence of the south, and it’s easy to see why. This city is packed with mind-blowing baroque architecture, all elaborate curlicues and intricate carvings. To make it even more special, most of the impressive buildings here are made from the local Leccese stone, which has a distinctive golden hue. It looks absolutely stunning when lit up by the warm Puglian sun. No wonder travellers consider this to be one of the best places to visit in Puglia.

Lecce is also one of those destinations that seems to have it all. Yes, you’ll have beautiful architecture in the city centre, but there are also gorgeous beaches on the edge of town and wonderful food. Try the classic rustico leccese, the most popular street food in the area. It’s a round puff pastry stuffed with tomato and oozing with mozzarella. It is kind of like a classic savoury pie but with a distinctly Italian touch, and it’s perfect for eating on the go. Keep one in your hand as you stroll around this very walkable city, finding something exciting on every corner.

A view of the ancient Roman amphitheater in Lecce
A view of the ancient Roman amphitheater in Lecce


Bari is the capital of Puglia, but many visitors dismiss it as just a transport hub and don’t see anything more than the airport. We’re here to tell you that they’re making a big mistake. Take the time to lose yourself in the maze of streets that makes up Bari Vecchia, the old town, and you’ll soon agree with us.

We have to admit that Bari has a rather claustrophobic feel, but in a way, that adds to its charm. It’s built on a narrow peninsula that juts out over the sea, so there’s literally no room for expansion. As a result, it’s a very crowded place, with some of the liveliest streets in Italy. You’ll find street vendors selling local fruit and veg almost everywhere you turn, and most of the bars and restaurants spill out onto the street, too. Don’t be surprised to see local residents set up tables and chairs just in front of their houses to do their morning chores — it’s all part of the chaotic charm of southern Italy.

A sunny day at Piazza del Sedile in Bari
A sunny day at Piazza del Sedile in Bari


Don’t panic when Bari gets too chaotic for you, as another of the best places to visit in Puglia is just down the road. Trani is a delightful seaside town that boasts an unexpectedly grand cathedral and an intriguing Jewish quarter, a rare sight in this part of Italy.

We like going for walks around the harbour, which still has that old-fashioned fishing village-style charm, but we also love the beaches around Trani. Around the Cristoforo Colombo promenade, you’ll find a large sandy beach, which absolutely teems with life. This is where the locals go to catch the sun, and it’s always busy in peak season. If you prefer something a little wilder, then head towards Boccadoro. All the beaches around here have clear and calm waters, making them suitable for visitors of all ages.

The picturesque harbor of Trani
The picturesque harbor of Trani

Polignano a Mare

How’s this for drama? We have no idea who thought it was a good idea to build a town on a big, craggy slab of rock jutting out over the sea, but whoever it was, we’re grateful to them. Polignano, as it’s usually known, might just be the most dramatic-looking town in southern Italy, and we’re definitely here for it. Your holiday pics have never looked this good!

Polignano is not just about the photo ops, though. Bring your walking shoes, because the streets here are narrow and steep, but you’ll definitely want to do some walking. Wander around the street, enjoying the amazing mixture of architecture that reveals some of the area’s past. There are buildings here that date back to different periods: Arab, Byzantine, Spanish and even Norman. Oh, and don’t miss Cala Porto, a delightful pebble beach right beneath the old town, surrounded by impressive cliffs.

The stunning coastal town of Polignano a Mare
The picturesque harbor of Trani


Whisper it, but we may be cheating a bit with this entry. Salento isn’t just one singular place. It’s actually an entire peninsula. This is where you’ll find so many of the best places to visit in Puglia, including Lecce, Gallipoli and Santa Maria di Leuca.

Salento is known for its incredible beaches, which some say are the best in Italy. That’s quite a claim, and we’ll leave it to you to make your mind up for yourself. While you’re visiting, don’t miss the Torre Guaceto nature reserve, which has to be one of our favourite snorkelling spots in all of Europe. Here, you can see the kind of marine life that’s usually just reserved for scuba divers, including octopuses, moray eels, sea turtles and even seahorses.

the pristine turquoise waters and the scenic coastal landscape at a rocky beach in Baia dell'Orte, Salento
Baia dell’Orte, Otranto – Salento

The Gargano Promontory

After a few days in Puglia, you think you’ve seen it all: rolling hills of olives, old towns with charming architecture, and lots of agricultural land. Well, come to Gargano and you’ll be in for a surprise. This is a totally different side of Puglia, known for its lush green mountains covered with a carpet of pine trees, its mysterious sea caves, and its sandy beaches.

Gargano is a tranquil, wild region of Puglia. Its location —a tiny piece of land jutting out into the Adriatic Sea— means it’s known as the spur in Italy’s boot. That location also makes it quite hard to get to, but we reckon it’s worth the effort, especially if you want to go off the beaten path. Most of the area is the Foresta Umbra National Park, which translates as the shadowy forest, and it’s just as magical and evocative as the name suggests.

the calm waters of a tranquil lake in Foresta Umbra National Park
Foresta Umbra National Park

Valle d’Itria

Say hello to a slower pace of life. The Valle d’Itria, or Itria Valley, is definitely one of the best places to visit in Puglia if you want a taste of Italian tradition. This is a sprawling, fertile region of olive groves, making it an absolute heaven for foodies. If you want to sample some of the regional cuisine, which Puglians will happily tell you is the best in the world, this is the place to be.

As well as top quality olive oil, the valley is famous for its white wine. Settle down with some local specialities like focaccia bread or rich burrata cheese and a glass of chilled white, and you’ll be living la dolce vita like never before!


Like Bari, Brindisi is one of the largest settlements in Puglia. Don’t worry, though — you’re not going to get any hectic big-city vibes here. This is a chilled-out port city that dates back to the days of ancient Rome. Stretch out on the sands of Torre Canne, the city’s most popular beach, and watch the world go by, or head to the Tempio di San Giovanni al Sepolcro. This ancient church, dating back to the eleventh century, is one of the most gorgeous buildings in the area and is great for seeking refuge from the hot sun.

One of our favourite ways to spend an evening in Brindisi is strolling down Corso Garibaldi, the city’s main street. Lined with palm trees, it’s a great place to go people-watching and pick up some street snacks, enjoying the smell of the sea as you get closer to the port.

A panoramic view of Brindisi, Italy
A beautiful, serene view of Brindisi


The question of where to find the best beaches in Puglia is hotly debated. Residents of so many different towns will happily claim that their particular stretch of coastline is unbeatable. We’re happy to sit on the fence and just say that many of these coastal towns are among the best places to visit in Puglia. Is there one that really stands out? Well, that might just be Gallipoli.

The difference between Gallipoli and the other seaside towns is that it is literally an island, although it connects to the mainland by a bridge. Today, there’s a modern area on the mainland, but the island remains the beating heart of Gallipoli. We love the castle, the cathedral and the Fontana Greca, a wonderful Renaissance fountain. Oh, and did we mention those fabulous beaches yet?

A picturesque view of the historic Gallipoli Castle
A picturesque view of the historic Gallipoli Castle


No, not the board game. The town of Monopoli has no fewer than nineteen mediaeval churches. If you like interesting architecture, you’ll be in heaven here! It seems that you’ll find a new church every time you wander down one of the town’s narrow, cobbled alleyways, and each one is prettier than the one before. However, there’s something even more exciting just a few kilometres away from the town centre: the Castellana Grotte.

These caves date back 90 million years, and they’re one of the most remarkable sights you’ll find anywhere in Italy. Take a walk inside and check out the stalagmites and stalactites that have been slowly forming for millions of years. It’s a humbling experience and one that you’ll never forget.

A stunning aerial view of Gallipoli
A stunning aerial view of Gallipoli

Santa Maria di Leuca

Another seaside town in Puglia? We just can’t get enough of them! Santa Maria di Leuca has two great attractions, both very different: beaches and caves. It’s the combination of the two that earns it a spot on our list of the best places to visit in Puglia.

The beaches here are great for kayaking, swimming and scuba diving. Some visitors even like to spend the day out on a local fishing boat, getting a taste of Leuca’s long-standing fishing industry. A boat is also the best way to explore the sea caves. There are a lot of caves in this area. You’ll feel like an ancient smuggler as you explore these fascinating hotspots, the kind of thing you can’t really find anywhere else in Italy.

A panoramic view of Santa Maria di Leuca
A panoramic view of Santa Maria di Leuca


Last, but not least, we think that Ostuni has to be one of the best places to visit in Puglia. It’s known as La Città Bianca, or the White City, thanks to its pure, snowy limestone architecture. Pack your sunglasses because on a sunny day, and most days in Puglia are sunny, all those white buildings are in danger of blinding you.

While you’re here, don’t miss the Italian masserias nearby. These ancient farmhouses were once a typical sight in the Italian countryside, but many were abandoned when industrialisation came. Today, some of them have been lovingly restored and are now luxurious hotels and restaurants.

An aerial view of Ostuni
An aerial view of Ostuni

Ready for a trip to Puglia? Join us for a five-day tour of this glorious region, but if you want to spend a little more time exploring the heel of Italy’s boot, we’ve also got an eight-day trip. Either way, you’ll be more than welcome to join us for sunshine, great scenery and a taste of la dolce vita. And for more inspiration on your Italian adventure, check out our guide to the Best places to visit in Italy.

WeRoad Team
Written by WeRoad Team