Located in the heel of Italy between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, this beautiful awe-inspiring region is steeped in history and some of the most unspoiled landscapes in all of Italy. Its 250 mile long strip of land is dotted with the most beautiful sandy bays, coves, fishing villages, vineyards and stunning architecture, a trip to Puglia will entice and captivate you. Puglia is not traditionally one of Italy’s most popular tourist spot, however it is fast becoming one of the country’s most fashionable holiday destinations with visitors flocking to visit its charming baroque towns, traditional white washed trullo houses and take a dip in the beautiful turquoise seas.
Top Attractions in Puglia
Bari is one of the largest cities in Puglia. As the regions capital this bustling old port city offers visitors a historic centre that is well worth a visit. Wander the narrow winding labyrinth streets, explore Romanesque churches or sit back with a glass of wine in one of the many fashionable cafes and restaurants and soak up the Italian architecture or take a stroll alongside the promenade.
Possibly Puglia’s most famous tourist attraction, this small town called Alberobello is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its beautiful trulli houses. These small and simple dry stone walled buildings have a unique design with a doomed roof topped by a cone. Spend time wandering around this quaint, unique Italian town. Explore its pedestrianized streets, little shops and cute cafes. This town makes a perfect family day out for families with young children. The friendly family atmosphere will be sure to be a highlight of your trip to Puglia.
Although Puglia has many towns whose buildings are white washed like Alberobello, Ostuni is one of the largest and is nicknamed “The White City”. This beautiful hill top town can be dated back as far as 600 years before Christ although many of historic buildings visitors can see today date between 1400s and 1700s. Its white washed buildings that are beautifully contrasted by the blue clear sky was originally a practice of lightening up the dark labyrinth of medieval streets. If you spend time wandering around the narrow alleys you can imagine how dark and gloomy they would be if it wasn’t for the white reflective buildings. The town’s most impressive landmarks include the Bishop’s Palace, the Cathedral and the various palaces of Ostuni’s aristocracy. Spend time admiring the 360 degree panoramas of the surrounding countryside and stay until sunset to watch this white city turn to all the shades of the sunset.
Sometimes referred to as “The Florence of the South” Lecce is a beautiful baroque town with architectural wonders around every corner. Explore the restored Roman amphitheatre, wander the Piazza del Duomo and check out the Basilica Di Santa Croce with one of the finest and most intricate Baroque facades in all of Italy.
“Beautiful city”: that’s what Gallipoli means, and the town certainly lives up to its name. Located in the west of Puglia, Gallipoli has a delightful old historic town centre flanked by some superb beaches. Its old town sits on a tiny island connected to the mainland by a 17th Century Bridge. Almost completely surrounded by defensive walls, these fortifications date back to the 13th Century. There are numerous impressive baroque churches to explore and an aristocratic palazzo, testament to the town’s former wealth that is also worth a visit. An evening passeggiata (pre-prandial stroll) around the fortress walls is a great way to prepare for a delicious fresh fish dinner.
As one of the most beautiful seaside towns in the Mediterranean, Otranto is a town steeped in history. As Italy’s most easternmost town, Otranto is certainly one of Puglia’s most charming towns, boasting an interesting mix of history, architecture, and beautiful coastal views. Explore the town’s huge defensive walls, imposing castles and its delightful Romanesque cathedral dating back to 1088 with its extensive 12th century floor mosaics - definitely a highlight not to be missed.
In the evening stroll around the town’s sea front promenades and enjoy dinner in one of the excellent fish restaurants and watch the sunset on the town’s very own pristine white sandy beach.
Castel del Monte
Crowning an isolated hill 1,778 feet above sea level in the heart of the Alta Murgia national park, this enigmatic 13th century castle near Bari is a must see for anyone travelling in the area. Begun by Frederick in the 1240s, the castle is a high, isolated fortress built around an octagonal courtyard in two storeys of eight rooms. This unique fortress is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Southern Italy and is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This once sleepy fishing village is one of Puglia’s loveliest beach resorts. With its beach of soft golden sand and excellent spa and natural hot springs, this attractive seaside town has been attracting visitors to its shores for decades. Shallow clear waters and pristine beaches make this coastal town the ideal beach retreat for young families and those who wish to explore the town’s quaint laid back centre and lounge around in its beachfront restaurants. ZooSafari a wild animal park is also located nearby for those visiting with children. It makes for an excellent family day out.
Jutting out into the Adriatic Sea like the spur of Italy’s boot, the Gargano Peninsula is a remarkably diverse National Park boasting stunning beaches with crystal clear lagoons, medieval towns with picturesque historic centres, forest and mountainous areas that are full of hiking and cycling trails and the best thing is – most of it is unspoiled and quiet. The Gargano is quite large and one could easily spend a week or longer here exploring its many coastal towns.
Known for its quality olive oil, delicious wine and fantastic beaches, The Salento Peninsula is packed full of small sleepy towns that are completely off the mainstream tourist path and are well worth exploring. It is here that the landscapes and architecture take on a distinctive Greek characteristic and these small towns have preserved much of Salento’s strong historic ties with Greece that dates back thousands of years. The local dialect is “Grika” and many of the areas cuisines, religious traditions and culture heralds from the Greeks influence. However it is the area’s long and varied coastline that is the major attraction. Home to some of Italy's loveliest beaches and most dramatic rocky coastline, the Salento is a haven for sea lovers.
Best time to visit
Tourists visit Puglia from April to October
Puglia has a wonderful Mediterranean climate that makes this region a great place to visit all year round. Typically, like most places in Italy, the summer months of June to late August are hot and dry and temperatures often exceed 30 degrees. While the sea warms up wonderfully, the main cities, beaches and the roads get terribly congested. Try visiting in the autumn months of October and November or spring time in April May with mild climates in the mid-twenties and far less tourist. You’ll also benefit from lower airfares and hotel prices too!