Find the best base for vacation in Puglia

Alberobello is Puglia’s undisputed trulli capital, but it is also Puglia’s most touristic destination | Puglia city guides - discover Puglia’s best bars, restaurants and what to do | Photo © the Puglia Guys.
Where is the best base for vacation in Puglia?

Our most frequently asked question from visitors coming to Puglia is “where is the best base for…?”.

The answer is surprisingly simple. It all depends on what you want from your vacation.

Do you want to soak up the sun or a lively atmosphere, maybe both? Perhaps you want to experience the slow rhythm of a southern Italian summer in a small Salento town. Some mindful quiet solitude and off the beaten track wilderness?

We weigh up the pros and cons of some of Puglia’s better known destinations and then some more general considerations that you need to factor in.

Punta della Suina, Gallipoli | Photo © the Puglia Guys

Once you have decided on a base, we have another guide to help plan the perfect Puglia vacation: Essential Puglia, Day Trip Planning and Puglia’s Best Road Trips. This companion guide suggests how you might want to plan day trips and excursions to other popular Puglia destinations from where you chose to stay. How to make the most economical use of time and distance. We will include another link at the end of this article so you can review it after, or later.

Alberobello

Alberobello, Puglia | Photo copyright © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia
Trulli are not unique to Alberobello but you will find them in their greatest density here.

We wouldn’t suggest Alberobello as a home base. With tourism left, right and centre accommodation is overpriced and the town overcrowded. Trulli aren’t unique to Alberobello. They are found throughout the Valle d’Itria. For a truly magical experience nothing beats a trullo surrounded by olive groves and fruit trees, especially under the stars at night.

Pros | easy access around the Valle d’Itria and beyond (with your own transport); Locorotondo, Cisternino, Martina Franca, Ceglie Messapica, Ostuni, Monopoli, Polignano a Mare and Matera | iconic destination in Puglia, no trip to Puglia would be complete without a visit.

Cons | overcrowded and overpriced – trulli in the countryside around the Valle d’Itria offer better value and more comfort with more outside space and sometimes a swimming pool | if you want to stay in a town, try Locorotondo or Cisternino instead.

More | read the Puglia Guys’ Big Guide to Alberobello.

Bari

Ricci di mare caught and served by fishermen on Bari’s porto vecchio. Sea urchins are now protected for the next 3 years and cannot be harvested off Puglia’s coast.
Enjoy a freshly caught raw seafood lunch served up by the fisherman returning to Bari’s Porto Vecchio.

Of itself Bari is a decent destination for a mini-break. As a base, in addition to the usual destinations in the Valle d’Itria, Monopoli, Polignano a Mare etc., make efficient use of your time to explore nearby towns with outstanding cultural and historical heritage which are very easy to reach by train; Barletta, Trani, Bitonto, Andria or the lesser known but no less lovely towns such as Ruvo di Puglia and Giovinazzo.

Matera is only 64km from Bari, easily accessible by road (and usually by train), en route you can visit Altamura famed for its bread. The Castel del Monte “a unique masterpiece of medieval military architecture” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and another easily managed detour.

Pros | good public transport links | Bari vecchia and the old port | spaghetti all’assassina.

Cons | Bari’s lack of “wow” factor beyond Bari vecchia.

More | read the Puglia Guys’ Big Guide to Bari | our eating out in Bari guide | Puglia’s must eat dish, spaghetti all’assassina from Bari.

Carovigno

Carovigno punches well above its weight with an excellent selection of bars and restaurants.

With a treasure trove of excellent bars and restaurants Carovovigno punches well above its weight given its modest size. Located only 8 kilometres away, Carovigno emerges as a better-value alternative compared with accommodation costs commanded by Ostuni. It is has a less busy main piazza of an evening out, but is no less vibrant for it.

Known for great food the town boasts a Michelin starred restaurant on its main piazza but it’s the restaurants serving simple home cooked dishes in Puglia’s cucina povera tradition that sparkle.

Pros | central location | nearby beaches | charming centro storico with a great choice of bars and restaurants | less expensive accommodation choices compared with Ostuni.

Cons | if using public transport the train station is 5km from the town centre.

More | read the Puglia Guys guide to Carovigno.

Cisternino | Locorotondo

Looking out over the Valle d’Itria from the alleyways of Cisternino’s old town.
Cisternino is known for one of Puglia’s favorite street foods, bombette and fantastic views over the Valle d’Itria.

It is hard to pick a favorite. Both are picturesque charming towns, surrounded by beautiful countryside, peppered with trulli. Both offer excellent bases for exploring the Valle d’Itria. Little separates them other than the 9km lying in between.

There is shortage of bars, caffès and restaurants in the centro storico of each.

Pros | in the heart of the Valle d’Itria | less crowded and more intimate than Ostuni | the bombette pugliesi served in the macellerie (butcher shop restaurants) in Cisternino.

Cons | Ostuni is closer to the coast, and to the Valle d’Itria’s most popular beaches | Ostuni has more impressive winding alleyways and steps knotted around its centro storico.

More | read the Puglia Guy’s Top 10 Puglia Destinations.

Gallipoli

Gallipoli’s Punta della Suina recognised as one of Europe’s top 40 beaches in 2022. It regularly tops Italy’s best beach listings.

Far from the sleepy old fishing port you find during the off-season months, Gallipoli is where the beautiful and glamorous party after a hard day under the hot Salento sun. Especially at one of the nearby lido beach clubs. The old town is a network of narrow streets and alleys, shops and restaurants. Look out for fishermen weaving their fishing baskets. Nice restaurants – especially good for seafood. A decent sandy old town beach with popular lidos and a naturist beach nearby

Pros | the old town extending out like an island | the town beach | seafood | the liveliest nightlife in Puglia | great lido beach clubs at nearby Bia Verde | amazing crystal clear waters off Spiaggia della Innamorati and Punta della Suina | the sun set  coast from Spiagga Punta della Suina – Spiaggia degli Innamorati | watching the sun set 

Cons | it was trying to be the new Ibiza a few years back | an extremely popular destination for Italian visitors, accommodation can get expensive during peak season.

More | the Puglia Guys Gallipoli city guide.

Lecce

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Via Umberto I, 1) has one of the finest and most intricate Baroque facades in Italy, taking over 200 years to complete, its detail exquisite.
The Basilica di Santa Croce has one of the finest and most intricate Baroque facades in Italy, taking over 200 years to complete, its detail exquisite.

The colour of Lecce is astonishing. The cream of Lecce’s baroque architecture set against the azzurro sky and the faded colours accessorising the palazzi of the centro storico never fail to impress us. The Basilica di Santa Croce has one of the finest and most intricate Baroque facades in Italy, in exquisite detail. A large centro storico buzzing with bars and restaurants and great boutique shops.

Where better to enjoy a caffè leccese and pasticciotto?

Pros | the baroque and roll colours of Lecce | the Basilica di Santa Croce | the best pizza in Puglia | puccia to grab and go | a great base for day trips around Salento.

Cons | tell us if you discover any.

More | read the Puglia Guys’ Big Guide to Lecce.

Monopoli

Fishermen dry their nets at Monopoli’s old fishing port.
Fishermen dry their nets at Monopoli’s old fishing port.

Polignano a Mare’s near neighbour is less visited, but is becoming ever more popular as a less costly alternative. The centro storico is much smaller, but feels a little more “lived-in”, a little less manicured. It has a wonderful old port where you can watch the fishermen land their catch and repair their nets. A walk around the sea wall is just the thing to build up an appetite (or work off a lazy lunch). If you have your own transport it is easy to cover the rest of the Valle d’Itria from here.

Pros | easy access by public transport via the Bari-Lecce train line | we love eating fresh seafood and taking an aperitivo on the Piazza Garibaldi adjacent to the old port | quieter than Polignano a Mare | popular town beaches, but these are popular with locals too and fill up quickly during summer – mainly rocks, with small stretches of sand, but these are at a premium.

Cons | if you are looking for a quiet or sandy beach Monopoli is not for you | small and compact – unless you form habits quickly after a couple of nights you would probably crave some variety elsewhere.

More | read the Puglia Guys’ Big Guide to Monopoli.

Ostuni

Ostuni, Puglia. La città bianca - the white city.
Ostuni. La città bianca – the white city.

The White City rises up from the Valle d’Itria. The old town gleams from the distance. It has a vibrant centro storico in summer, with restaurants and bars to be discovered in every alleyway twisting around and up and down the hilltop upon which the duomo sits. Ostuni’s nooks and crannies are worth taking two or three days to explore, at a gentle pace. It is perfectly positioned as a base to explore the Valle d’Itria and to get to its best beaches.

Pros | very central, not just for the Valle d’Itria but also for Bari, Lecce, Matera and beyond | a fine selection of bars and restaurants in the old town | well positioned for getting to the beach.

Cons | Cisternino and Locorotondo also with enclosed white walled old towns are more intimate for dinner | visitors to Ostuni grow year on year | the most expensive regular coffee that we have had to date was in Ostuni.

More | read the Puglia Guys’ Ostuni eating out guide | Ostuni 2024 Guide.

Otranto

Otranto’s main beach – clear azure sea without leaving the city.

There are two beaches just a few minutes walk from the centre. The main beach runs along the centro storico below the defensive sea wall; the smaller Via Punta is nearby. During the summer months the population of this small town swells – Otranto is a very well-known holiday destination. The lighthouse Otranto Punta Palascia is the easternmost point on Italy’s mainland.

Pros | long, sandy beach – one of the cleanest city beaches in Italy | easy walk from town | vibrant nightlife | a beautiful historic centre overlooking the sea | a good base for exploring Salento if you have your own transport.

Cons | Train connections from Lecce can be cumbersome, involving a change (or two).

Peschici

Al Trabucco da Mimì, Peschici. A fishing station and restaurant.

Peschici – good from June until the 2nd week of September. Gargano has some of the best beaches and most diverse landscape in Puglia.

Some of the most stunning and unique accommodation we have stayed at was here at Al Trabucco (which also has a must-visit restaurant).

Pros | excellent beach | easy walk from town | beautiful sunsets | a good base for exploring Gargano if you have your own transport.

Cons | the season ends early, bars and restaurants start closing after the 2nd week of September | from Bari its a 2-hour drive traffic permitting.

Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare’s iconic Lama Monachile beach.
Polignano a Mare’s iconic Lama Monachile beach.

One of Puglia’s most iconic destinations. Indeed, no trip would be complete without visiting Polignano a Mare. It gets extremely busy in summer. Accommodation can be a little more expensive that elsewhere. There is no shortage of places to eat and drink and it has a lovely, compact centro storico where you can find space to sit and have an aperitivo. One of our favourite eateries is here, and Polignano is also known as the ice cream town.

Pros | iconic Puglia | great variety of places to eat and drink – including some of our favourite street food | good public transport links; it lies on the main line between Bari and Lecce; the train station is no more than a 10-minute walk from the centro storico | if you have your own transport it is easy to cover the rest of the Valle d’Itria from here.

Cons | if you are looking for a sandy beach this is not the place to come – rocky shelves and pebble beaches here |  the main town beach, Lama Monachile, gets crowded and stays that way for most of the day.

More | read the Puglia Guy’s Big Guide to Polignano a Mare.

Santa Maria di Leuca

Santa Maria di Leuca at the tip of the heel of Italy’s boot.
Santa Maria di Leuca at the tip of the heel of Italy’s boot.

Lidos sit on wooden platforms along Leuca’s lungomare. Be sure to take some ciabatte – rubber soled shoes – for swimming. These are a necessity for taking to the crystal clear waters lapping over jagged rocks peppered with sea urchins. Watch local teenagers snorkelling for urchin and polpo to be served at the next meal. One of the best places to kick-back and relax. When we have visited, as we often do over summer, the beaches and lidos are never full.

Pros | peace and quiet | a perfect base to get to Pescoluse for the “Maldives of Salento” (16km by road) without the crowds staying in Pescoluse | a perfect base to get to Marina Serra, Porto Tricase, Tricase and the Adriatic coast beyond to Santa Cesarea Terme | surrounded by the most dramatic landscape south of Polignano a Mare.

Cons | you are almost 200km from Alberobello if your purpose is to see the most visited destinations in the Valle d’Itria.

More | we recommend a favorite Salento road trip | read World’s End: Santa Maria di Finibus Terrae.

Taranto

Taranto is a much neglected city having been condemned to a long decay. There is also the massive ILVA steelworks sitting across the Mar Piccolo. But the borgo antico is stunningly authentic, with a raw and gritty edge. In truth we wouldn’t suggest Taranto as a base but you should consider staying in the borgo antico for one or two nights.

Pros | the experience is unique, as if stepping back in time | the world class national archaeological museum of Taranto and the stunning marble of the Cattedrale San Cataldo | the old port and borgo antico are raw, gritty and authentic | eat the best seafood in Puglia.

Cons | Taranto’s landscape is still dominated by the smokestacks that push up from the industrial expanse, billowing black fumes and white plumes of condensed steam, and by huge hangar-like buildings that house the ash and steel particles from the neighbouring steel processing plant, a testament to Taranto’s troubled recent history | the modern city is busy and far less interesting.

More | we eat at Ristorante Al Canale | read the Puglia Guy’s Big Guide to Taranto.

Vieste

Pizzomunno beach, Vieste, Gargano | © the Puglia Guys
The legend of Pizzomunno is one of Puglia’s most romantic.

Vieste sits on the furthest tip of the Gargano peninsula making it the perfect base to explore one of the most scenic and the most overlooked parts of our region. Vieste’s two beaches, either side of the centro storico, are long stretches of soft white and golden sand. Both are within a 5 minute walk from the town centre. Vieste’s old town is a complex knot of winding alleyways and staircases. There is no shortage of nice bars and good restaurants.

Pros | the most overlooked part of our region is also the most beautiful and the most diverse | a perfect base to explore Gargano | bragging rights – you will be away from the main footfall of foreign visitors, so you have every right to feel yours is a more exclusive holiday | no need to drive to the beach or to bars and restaurants.

Cons | if you plan to visit Polignano a Mare or Alberobello take a detour on your way here, or your way home if possible or choose a second base – these are an ambitious day trips to make from Vieste.

More | our road trip to Gargano | read the Puglia Guy’s Big Guide to Vieste.

Other considerations

Many of the Valle d’Itria’s seaside towns, with chic bars and a bustling evening life, don’t have sandy beaches. A trullo in a secluded olive grove is not likely to be accessible by public transport. Using local trains and buses can be cumbersome and time consuming…

The basics

To help you find the best base that suits your needs, here is some useful information about our region.

Beaches | Puglia has a diverse and dramatic coast. White limestone cliffs give way to rocky plateau and shelves. In between are long, sandy beaches. Some are fine and white, others golden and coarser. The water is always somewhere between crystal clear and turquoise.

The best beaches and the most dramatic coastline can be found in Gargano and Salento. The Valle d’Itria lacks the same drama. Its best sandy beaches are found around Savelletri and Torre Canne, Specchiolla and at Torre Guaceto. Unless you are staying at a camping village or holiday resort these are unlikely to be within walking distance.

Public transport | Travelling from town to town inland – even neighbouring towns – is not always easy. Frequent changes and slow journey times are not unusual. Weekend services are less frequent or even non-existent, especially between mid-September to May. In some towns and cities the train stations are some distance away. Ostuni’s train station is located 3 km from the city centre. The bus connection is infrequent – even in summer – and taxis to and from there are best booked in advance. But it is possible with planning. This guide to exploring Puglia by public transport has helpful and comprehensive information and links to the train and bus companies operating in the Puglia region (and beyond).

Beyond the Valle d’Itria | The Valle d’Itria is the most visited part of our region, with the greatest footfall of visitors. Most visitors then recommend the wonderful destinations they discovered, encouraging more visitors to them. Following the footfall doesn’t necessarily take you to the best parts of Puglia.  Be open to less popular – and more exclusive – destinations.

Northern Italians have been coming to Puglia for their summer holiday for many years. Their priority – sun and sea. They tend to avoid the destinations favoured by most international visitors; they prefer the award winning beaches in Salento – Torre dell’Orso, Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle, Pescoluse, Porto Cesareo – and Gargano.

Instead of Polignano a Mare, try Santa Cesarea Terme south of Otranto. The coast plunges suddenly into the sea. It is much quieter and more exclusive yet every bit as spectacular.  From there one of the best parts of our region opens up – the coastal route down to Santa Maria di Leuca – taking you to some wonderful and much less well known spots; many among our favourite places to visit in Puglia.

When to visit | August is the busiest time. Most Italians go back to work in September. June is cooler; the heat builds up in July and August. From mid-September public transport services are often less frequent. Many buses from towns and cities to popular beach destinations cease.

Food | good food is always just around the corner. While certain towns have a particular culinary reputation – Ceglie Messapica and Cisternino for example – you will eat well wherever you base yourself. Look out for the sagre food festivals that happen throughout the region all year long.

How long is your holiday?

When planning a visit to Puglia think of our region in three parts;  Gargano to the north, Salento to the south and in between the Valle d’Itria. Then there is Bari. An arrival point for onward travel or a base for Bari Vecchia and beyond. The Valle d’Itria, “Imperial Puglia” and Matera in the neighbouring region of Basilicata are easy day trips from there.

A week in Puglia probably means that you want to stay put, spending your days on the beach and evenings having dinner in nearby towns, maybe fitting in a few day trips. Base yourself centrally – Ostuni is ideal – and day-trip to beaches on both coasts and to must-see towns across the Valle d’Itria and beyond.

But it is long enough to choose a couple of bases if you want a change of scenery to explore the diversity our region offers: Monopoli and Lecce or Ostuni and Gallipoli make sound, contrasting choices. One beach base, the other city, both vibrant and sufficiently spread apart to make more efficient use of day-trip travel time.

A longer stay allows more flexibility. You won’t need to change accommodation every night of your stay to cover all of Puglia. Three to four nights per destination will provide ample opportunity to explore the extensive pine and vast oak forests and the rolling olive groves that are found inland, with time leftover to enjoy our coastline of white limestone cliffs, secret sea caves and the spectacular sea stacks.

Tips and Suggestions

Minimum Stay | Some of the more popular places to stay have a minimum stay requirement of at least 3 nights. Moving every couple of nights might mean you miss out better accommodation. Last year we met a couple who spent two nights in Monopoli, two in Cisternino and two in Ostuni, before driving on to Lecce. As the drive from Ostuni to Monopoli is approximately 30 minutes and the drive from Ostuni to Cisternino only 20 minutes, one base would have been perfect to cover all three destinations. That would also avoid packing up each time and having to leave one place by the check-out time and wait for the next until after check-in time. Many accommodations have back-to-back visitors during high season, with less flexibility for late and early out and in.

Think small | Puglia has yet to experience the surfeit of tourism of other Italian destinations. Whilst it is no longer the off-the-beaten-track destination it was even 5-years ago, it is still a long way off from the Amalfi and Sorrento over on the other side of Italy. The majority of visitors to Puglia are Italian – so Puglia still feels authentic. Even more so away from the beach resorts and destinations preferred by Italians.

Head inland to smaller, less well known towns: think Nardò, Galatone or Galatina instead of Gallipoli, or Carovigno instead of Ostuni, for example. Not only will you discover a slower pace of life that is typically Puglian, you will find much better value accommodation. Puglia still offers incredible value, even when it comes to accommodation if you know where to look and sometimes only a few kilometres from the bigger tourist cities.

Final thoughts…

Best base for…

Sandy beach and vibrant nightlife, by foot | Vieste | Otranto | Gallipoli.
Rocky beach and vibrant nightlife, by foot | Polignano a Mare | Monopoli | Santa Maria di Leuca.

Exploring the Valle d’Itria | Carovigno | Cisternino | Locorotondo | Ostuni | also consider Ceglie Messapica | Martina Franca.
Exploring the Valle d’Itria plus sea | Polignano a Mare (rocks) | Monopoli (mainly rocks) | Ostuni (for sandy beaches – especially Torre Guaceto’s main beach).

Exploring Salento | Lecce | Otranto | Santa Maria di Leuca | Gallipoli.

City life | Lecce | Bari.

Access to public transport | Bari | Polignano a Mare | Monopoli | Brindisi | Lecce.

Avoiding Puglia’s most visited destinations | Peschici | Santa Cesarea Terme | Castro | Santa Maria di Leuca.

When in Puglia

Once you are here, don’t miss out. For essential day trip planning to Puglia’s most popular destinations from the base you choose, and our favourite road trips:

Experience home cooking, see authentic Puglia and take part in local pizzica nights. These are Puglia’s 2024 Travel Trends. Our insider guide explains how to dig deeper for a more authentic #PugliaTravel holiday experience.

And wherever you base yourself, good food is always just around the corner. Our insider top Puglia travel tip is to eat where locals eat. Tripadvisor has its limits. The english language version has recommendations made by tourists for tourists, including many restaurants where locals would never go to eat. 

We eat where locals eat. That’s why many of the restaurants that regularly top Tripadvisor and similar lists are not included in the Puglia Guys’ guide to Puglia’s best restaurants. In our opinion there are better (and better value) options

88 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for writing this! My husband and I are trying to plan a trip to Puglia in the future, and we though Ostuni, Lecce, and Gallipoli would be good locations to base ourselves. Your pros and cons are very helpful and confirm that these 3 places would work for us. And you’ve introduced us to other great places to check out!

      1. Very detailed and illustrative explanation to each town. Now makes me regret of just having 4 days in puglia.

  2. Great information…thank you!
    My wife and I are senior citizens and have family in Puglia (San Giovanni Rotondo and Foggia). We will be in Puglia in December and we are hoping to base ourselves in 2, maybe 3 locations to see the rest of Puglia. Any suggestions / opinions for traveling during that time? We realize that many bars/restaurants may have limited hours of be completely closed. We are not “hang out at he beach” types, we have seen MANY churches and just trying to get a good sense of the rest of Puglia. From there, we will be spending a week in Calabria. Thanks for your thoughts and comments!

    1. Hi – we would focus on food and some of the main cities. Yes, many bars and restaurants cater for seasonal visitors, that season running from Easter to the end of April. But Bari Vecchia will be a good start – we’d make that a celebration of food (as per our Bari Assassina and Eating Out in Bari Guide). Beaches will only be good for a brisk outdoor walk only, it wont be the weather for sunbathing. We’d certainly recommend spending more time in the city of Bari than the city of Foggia. From there we strongly recommend Matera. We visited Matera in December – a nice time to visit. There is a fuller Matera guide at:

      https://www.gaypugliapodcast.com/matera/

      When the winter sun shines its beautiful. But December can be wet and without the sun the humidity cuts through to the bone making if feel much colder than it actually is, so warm and waterproof clothing a must!

      https://www.gaypugliapodcast.com/mainguides/puglia-weather-and-temperature/

      Alberobello and Polignano a Mare have interesting Christmas decorations that are best enjoyed in the dark.

      There’s an email button on the website. Send an a mail and we can put together more detailed thoughts.

  3. I am a travel agent and wish to bring a group to Puglia in September 2024, as I did in Tuscany in 2023. However I will need at least 12 rooms and don’t know which town would have enough rooms to book (4 star quality with “atmosphere”) Can you advise please? Stay would be min 5 nights.

  4. Hi, very helpful blog thank you for the tips,
    I am planning to visit Puglia January 5-9 or if possible to extend it to January 11

    So far my plans are to stay January 5-6 (one night in Foggia) for Fr Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo
    then after I have 3 or 5 nights (maybe) for a visit to the other areas (Bari, Alberobello, Polignani A Mare, MATERA, LECCE, ostuni)
    this is my first time in Puglia region and I know it will be winter time so there are Pros and Cons, I am ok just to see the Main sights
    and return back in the Future.

    I am open to renting a car if it will be more convenient and faster (Please reco a base if ever I will be renting a car).
    Will appreciate your opinions and inputs.

    Thank you so much,

    Arnold Chua

    1. Hi Arnold. We are happy to learn that you will be visiting Puglia. January is off-season. As such we would suggest it might be more interesting staying in Bari as your base. The reason for this is that it will be busier and more restaurants, bars and shops will be open than in other towns where many businesses are much more seasonal. Alternatively Monopoli. Both have easy access to public transport should you choose not to hire a car. From our brother website we suggest two articles:

      Where to base yourself|
      https://www.gaypugliapodcast.com/faq/where-to-stay/

      Puglia by public transport|
      https://www.gaypugliapodcast.com/publictransport/

      Take warm and waterproof clothing. It could be bright and sunny – but cold, or it could be very wet, damp – and cold. In winter the humidity means the chill cuts to the bone.

      Buone vacanze.

  5. Ciao Luigi/
    I am a senior, and planning to spend a few weeks in Puglia in April with Piccolina, my well-traveled little Italian dog. I will depend on public transportation and am thinking of Monopoli or Polignano al Mare as a base. On a previous trip , I stayed in Matera and Lecce and visited Alberbello and Ostuni. I will consider taking tours if needed, to see the places I missed. On my wish list: authentic people and experiences, a couple of nights each in a nice, but affordable trulli and a masseria, and visits to Locorotundo and other charming towns. What do you suggest?

    Grazie mille,
    Rachelle Pachtman
    New York
    1-646-287-2952

    1. It certainly sounds like you know the area and are thinking of the right spots as a base for accessing public transport. Monopoli would be a good base. It has a little more to offer than nearby neighbour Polignano, and is probably a little better value for accommodation. However, the train station in Polignano is a little more convenient than Monopoli (depending where of course you stay, we are judging solely by proximity to old town areas of each). But both are convenient, unlike Ostuni and Carovigno, for example, where the station is a little more remote!

      A countryside trullo or masseria can be a little harder to manage if using public transport. Taxis are available, but may not suit your budget.

      The post here references making compromises when it comes to countryside masserie and trulli vs public transport (as well as city beach and a vibrant nightlife). Perhaps the solution is to choose Monopoli for the exploring part of your vacation, then transfer to a trullo or masseria nearby Locorotondo or Cisternino. There are many and here you can find much better value than Alberobello. A good host should certainly be able to arrange for transfers or taxis as and when you need them.

      Hope that helps. Have a great trip.

    2. Hi! Thank you so much for all the detailed pros and cons that you provided on each town! I found them to be so so helpful! Myself and my boyfriend will be traveling to Puglia this July with a couple of our friends and we are trying to figure out where would be the best areas for us to stay. We love exploring beautiful beaches and also want to explore some of the towns with good shopping and food. We will be in Puglia for about 10 days so what 2 towns within Puglia would you recommend we stay in? I was thinking Polignano a Mare/Ostiuni and Otranto? But I would love your suggestions as this is our first time visiting.

      1. Hi there – and thanks for getting in touch. It is really good to know our guides provide practical help. Your suggestions sound good. If you want to split between surf and turf, then we suggest contrasting an inland destination with a seaside one. On that basis a nice contrast would be Ostuni and Otranto. All your suggestions would tick your boxes however. If you decide two seaside towns than we might switch Monopoli for Polignano a Mare on the basis that it has slightly more to offer than Polignano, and its right next door. It has a few more points of interest and also might be a little cheaper. But if you want the contrast of countryside and seaside, Ostuni is a good choice. We spend a lot of time in Ostuni, and continue to enjoy what it has to offer and the convenience of being 20 minutes from Cisternino, a further 15 minutes from Locorotondo and another 15 minutes to Alberobello! Let us know how you get on and check our blog for updates – we just published a post about our 2024 travel trends. Also, if you use Tripadvisor forums, we’d certainly appreciate any recommendations for out guides! Grazie and buone vacanze!

  6. Hello,
    Love your information! I am planning on spending around 4 weeks (flexible) in Puglia from mid June to mid July. I will be renting a car and planning to see as much as possible with days off in between as to not get too fatigued. I want to see Gargano, Matera, Salento, and Valle d’Itria areas. I want to take each area as slow as possible to really enjoy. Is it best to move around and stay in different towns? Or is it better to have a few base towns, maybe one in each area, and take day trips? Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.
    Best regards,
    Fausta Romo

    1. Ciao – how perfect. With that amount of time we would certainly think about a base in Gargano, one in the Valle d’Itria and then in Salento. If you don’t mind moving too often, perhaps a couple of nights in Matera too.

      Ostuni is a fantastic base, but it’s not realistic to do day trips from there to Vieste. And whilst we often day trip from Ostuni to Leuca, you will want to explore Salento, which makes having a base there a good idea too.

      Certainly for the Valle d’Itria Ostuni does it all. Many people seem to move around there, with eg 3 nights in Monopoli, 3 in or near Alberobello and then 3 in Ostuni. However, we’d use Ostuni as our base for all of the Vale d’Itria.

      So, we think for your planned visit, a base in Gargano (in or around Vieste – the beaches there are fantastic and are easily accessible city beaches, though you can also visit beyond), in Ostuni and perhaps Otranto (or nearby). Mid June t o mid July is a good time too. Before the ferragosto holidays when the rest of Italy come to their favourite holiday hotspot.

      Have a great time, have fun planning and if you need any other thoughts just leave a comment!

  7. We are planning a trip to Italy the first week in March, and would like to explore Puglia. Will enough be open in the off season to enjoy the trip, or will we feel like we missed out?

    1. Ciao. March is a time for Bari (and a visit to Matera) and Lecce. City breaks in the larger cities still work. That’s great if you are here for the food (see our Eat Bari suggestions). Plenty of long lunches and dinners in cozy restaurants. Even in places like Ceglie and Carovigno some amazing local restaurants will still be serving their home style cooking.

      You can still see very authentic Puglia – Taranto’s old town would be perfect – with a visit to Grottaglie for the amazing ceramics. Shop like locals at small bakers, cheese shops… Alberobello might be even be better – far fewer people – a time to soak up the atmosphere without the crowds.

      Where you will notice a difference are places like Polignano a Mare and Monopoli, seaside towns where life revolves around the sea. Brisk walks on the shore, wrapped up warm, are fine. But although we are the south of Italy, it’s not swimming weather! The sea is a way of life and we live for summer – Salento is amazing. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy it when the weather is cooler. If the sun shines it can be perfect for spring walks. But there can be rain, the weather much less settled.

      You can still enjoy spritz on Ostuni’s main piazza, wrapped up warm – and although not everywhere will be open, some of our Ostuni favourites are. The scenery is still the same and certainly if the sun shines it’s still stunning, just be prepared to wrap up warm!

      If you want to come to Puglia and March is the best date for you, you can still make much of it, it’s just a different panning – and experience a more intimate and perhaps authentic experience. You won’t need to worry about crowded beaches. Hope that helps!

  8. Hello,
    Greatly appreciate the information you posted and reading through the replies to travelers seeking guidance! I will be attending a wedding in Ravello end of August and would like to visit Puglia prior to wedding (will land in Rome, take separate flight to Bari, rent car during my stay in Puglia, drive to Ravello for wedding-2 nights, then end my vacation in Rome-2 nights before returning to the states). I am planning about 7 days in the Puglia area and am traveling with my husband (in our 50’s), my mother (77) and 16 yr old. I definitely plan to spend a night or two in Matera (because I wanted to experience staying in a cave) but what other base do you recommend and how many days at that base if I want beautiful sandy beaches? I may be able to visit 2-3 towns during the day but am sure my son would prefer beach setting. Last year I was in northern Italy and spent 11 days in 5 different hotels and it was quiet tiring to pack and unpack every two days, which is why I am seeking guidance for a great base in Puglia in addition to Matera before heading east to Ravello. Thank you!

    1. Hi – we cover this in our main where’s the best base guide. We set out the pros and cons of each destination and the compromises.

      Best beaches on the Adriatic side are north of Ostuni (see our beach guides, including Ostuni beach guide). From Ostuni we drive to the Ionian, but that might be too far for you to do, in which case Torre Lapillo, Porto Cesareo – but you start loosing the town hopping in and around the Valle d’Itria.

      Alternatively there’s Gallipoli and Otranto, great for Lecce and southern Salento, but taking you further away from the Valle d’Iria.

      Ostuni makes easy day trips to Alberobello, Polignano, Monopoli, Cisternino, Ceglie etc, and your son will have access to the nearby beaches.

      This guide might help if you hadn’t already found it:

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2023/12/28/ostuni-city-guide/

      Have a great time. Buone vacanze!

  9. Hi,
    I appreciate your article on where to home base in Pulgia! You provided a lot of great information. I am doing research and will do a deep dive into your suggestions. My husband and I plan to spend 4 weeks in Pulgia from mid-September to mid-October. We are thinking of one or two home bases and will rent a car. We can spend a few overnights in towns that warrant more than a day trip. I am thinking of a central location, but also would enjoy a town with enough going on to feel like we can settle in a bit, but not get bored. The plan is to spend the next 4 weeks in Sicily with a stop in Sorrento/Amalfi for a week or so, just to explore a bit and visit Pompeii/Herculaneum. Will there be enough open to visit at this time?

    1. That sounds like a great trip. The season in Puglia starts to slow down from mid-October (in Peschici and Vieste) and from the end of October elsewhere in Puglia. Some lido beach clubs and bars in Gallipoli stay open for as long as the weather is fine, and can go through to the end of November. We usually carry on swimming through October and well into November.

      With so long in Puglia, take a look at our Gargano (Vieste, Peschici) articles and features. It is really special but it feels a little less connected to the rest of the region, so staying in Gargano for 4-5 nights (or more if you want to relax as well) is recommended. There really is plenty to see – and some of the best beaches. We’d recommend Matera for 2-3 nights, but leave early on your last day to do Bari Vecchia. If you don’t mind too many changes of base, you could spend a night of two in Bari. Otherwise, have lunch and spend the afternoon in Bari Vecchia.

      Ostuni really is a great base for the reasons already written about. From there you can easily visit all the other places you would want to see. Monopoli, Polignano, Alberobello, Locorotondo, Cisternino, Geglie…even Lecce. It has enough to keep you going for a few days and we have also written much about eating in Ostuni (and where to avoid).

      On the subject of food, we only write about places we want to recommend- Plenty of options all around Puglia in out curated restaurant guide.

      From Ostuni then maybe Otranto or Gallipoli – or if you wanted a bigger city, Lecce. They open up the southern part of Salento.

      The rest of the trip we are sure you will enjoy. We don’t comment on much beyond our region, but only because we don’t live there and can’t give opinion on enjoying those destinations like a local.

      Have a great trip, and yes do deep dive through the guides. We try to be as thorough as possible to bring the best enjoyment for visitors.

      Oh, and on trend this summer, spaghetti all’assassina. You must have some in Bari. A pizzica night is a special way of experiencing local culture. There are plenty that aren’t for show for visitors, rather are local events for people living here.

      Enjoy. Buone vacanze!

    1. We eat where locals eat. We prefer “home cooked” meals at a local trattoria or osteria. Simple, delicious and inexpensive. In Puglia you do not need to spend a lot of money to eat well.

      Not sure where you are visiting, but we have a curated guide to our favourite restaurants across Puglia (we pay for all food and drink, and review anonymously):

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2023/11/24/best-puglia-restaurants/

      We also have specific guides for certain destinations: Carovigno, Ostuni and, here, Bari:

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2023/03/12/love-puglia-love-food-bari-eating-out-guide/

  10. Hey Luigi; I see you’re answering comments & that’s awesome. May I ask a couple?!
    My wife & I will have ~7-8 days in Puglia and have our own vehicle. Is doing Ostuni & surrounds, Lecce & surrounds (like Santa Cesarea Terme), and Matera too much for a week? We’ll arrive in Bari by night ferry from Albania Sat morning.. thinking of popping down to Salento for ~2 nights, ~3 nights in Valle d’Itria, then 2 nights/1 full day in Matera before moving on to Napoli area for 3 nights.
    It’s my first trip to Italy, so while we’re well-traveled I wanted to base the trip around a ‘typical’ tourist site like Vesuvius, Pompeii. We’ll be visiting Furore/San Michele in Amalfi for 2 nights followed by 2 nights closer to the Cilento coast before returning back to Bari for our overnight ferry home.
    We like food, wine, & value down-time so trying to make sure I’m not stretching us too thin here. I initially wasn’t planning Salento or Lecce but have heard so many good things and feel drawn to get down there..

    1. Ciao from Puglia. Spreading a vacation around like that means you can get a better ‘feel’ for our region. It also means that you have to check-in and check-out of accommodation more frequently, move those travel cases around a bit more. If you don’t mind that and having to work around check-in and out times, then it’s not a problem. On the plus side it means you have more time to spend at day trip destinations if you are visiting Valle d’Itria destinations from say Ostuni, and Salento from Lecce.

      You don’t say when you are visiting, and whether your down time means you enjoy relaxing on beaches, or prefer exploring sleep old towns.

      Ostuni is a great base for the Valle d’Itria. For us a perfect day trip from there – and we always do it when friends visit – is to leave for Alberobello in the morning (it takes us about an hour). We love the drive through that part of the Valle d’Itria countryside: Ostuni to Cisternino, Cisternino to Locorotondo, Locorotondo to Alberobello. Alberobello is easily done in a couple of hours. The reality is that its very touristic and most trulli in the main area are converted to shops and restaurants. It’s a must visit, but you can do it economically and only need to spend the morning there, before driving to Monopoli for lunch by the old port and a stroll around the battlements. Then hop across to Polignano a Mare for a special coffee (around 4pm) and a stroll round its old town, Lama Monachile beach and the views from the balcone. Click through to our Alberobello guide from the Puglia by Destination page.

      Ostuni has much to merit, but you can spend the time you need there when you head back (if you choose to do so) for dinner each evening. Our tips for Ostuni are avoid the most expensive spritz on the piazza at Casbah (we also have a guide about that from our Ostuni page) and Osteria del Tempo Perso is a restaurant only visitors eat at. Locals wouldn’t eat there! Instead try Casa San Giacomo or Osteria Monacelle.

      On the next day you could do some beach time and have a lazy lunch: our Ostuni guide has suggestions for the nicer beaches around Savelletri where there are some excellent restaurants (though G7 are coming to Puglia mid-June and will be based there which might interfere with accessibility). Alternatively, a super place to go for lunch (in the opposite direction) is Miramare da Michele at Torre Santa Sabina. That leads into a 2nd night in Ostuni…

      For your 2nd base, we love Lecce. However if you are thinking of Ostuni, Lecce, Matera, perhaps you could think about variety with a seaside town as a Salento base instead? Otranto is beautiful. From there you can visit Gallipoli, Santa Cesarea Terme… BUT we would urge you to make our favourite trip from there. Drive the coastal route (Porto Badisco, Santa Cesarea Terme, Castro, Tricase Porto) to Santa Maria di Leuca. The drive is stunning. The road isn’t as busy as you might think. Stop off where you fancy: there are some stunning bathing spots. Porto Badisco, Calla dell’Acquaviva, Marina Serra, il Ciolo. Leuca has a very ‘fin di siecle’ feel, unlike anywhere else in Puglia. And almost always not busy. Hire a sunbed at Lido AlbaChiara and enjoy the rest of the day there. Their restaurant is great for lunch, and you can sometimes see the local youth fishing for the next service! The coast is rocky so you will need ciabatte for your feet, but it is wonderful. Spend a 2nd night in Otranto and the next day cross country over to Gallipoli. You can do the same from Lecce too if you do opt to have your base there.

      Matera is wonderful. Our Matera guide has suggestions for walking around, and where to eat. We don’t comment on other parts of Italy as we don’t live there and only know it as a tourist ourselves! But when coming back to Bari, try hardest to eat some spaghetti all’assassina in Barivecchia.

      Have a great time and enjoy Puglia. LuigiMax.

      1. Man I owe you a spritz for this reply!

        We are visiting 4-18 May, so we hope to enjoy both (old towns + beaches). Down time can be sitting at a nice cafe or spritz spot & reading, or doing the same at the beach or comfortable BnB. We are ok with colder water (kind of enjoy it actually), so no worries there. We plan to visit some vineyards, try to do a tour of Lecce or cooking class, and see how the food is made (my wife is a professional chef, from the US, I’m an avid home cook!). Got all your restaurants pinned from the various guides so thank you 🙂

        We figure it’s easier to see Salento and stay there two days vs driving back to Valle D’Itria two times, even if we have to check in/out.

        We are open to staying rural in Valle D’Itria and in Lecce during Salento time but will look for seaside options in Salento as well 🙂 I only mentioned Ostuni as a general area, my only concern is getting in/out of the cities for day trips. We have a nice bnb saved there but agree that we should split up the city with some non-city stays.

        Your advice is very illuminating and I’m mapping out the route you mentioned in Salento as we will do exactly that.

        1. Top. You can certainly enjoy warm sun on the beach, and the water is starting to heat at this time of year. Believe me, at that time of year you will have NO problems getting in and out of the cities (here in Puglia) for those day trips. The roads certainly won’t be busy at that time of year, and the trips we mentioned and hopping across the Valle d’Itria will not be challenging – even on the back roads. Staying in rural Valle d’Itria is nice, We recommend around Cisternino, Locorotondo, Ceglie Messapica. And as food lovers Ceglie is great (all towns are really, but Ceglie is known for food especially). Some of the trattorie and osterie there are fantastic, with Nonna still cooking in the kitchen. Enjoy.

          Ps for cookery school Lecce, try

          https://awaitingtable.com/

          Let them know we recommended them!

  11. Hi, we are thinking of splitting our trip into 2 locations, looking at Ostuni and Lecce. Do you think that is a solid choice. If so, do you have any lodging recommendations for either location? Thank you, I really like your guides!

    1. Hi. There’s a reply to a comment (6 Feb) below where we consider a similar question and cover off Ostuni and Lecce. The main guide above goes into balance between town, countryside or coast, and compromises when having a car vs using public transport.

      Check out our Ostuni guide here:

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2023/12/28/ostuni-city-guide/

      Our Lecce guide also has a reference to accommodation we stayed at (in that case a hotel). As we are based here, (and the team are based in Bari, Taranto, Ostuni) we only occasionally stay in paid for accommodation, and we only recommend accommodation we have visited. But you should start with deciding what type of accommodation you might like: private apartment, masseria (boutique hotel), trullo…

      One trend that we think will be popular this year – and can make a big difference to budget – is staying local. Head inland to smaller, less well known towns: think Nardò, Galatone or Galatina instead of Gallipoli or Maglie instead of Otranto, Carovigno for Ostuni etc.. You will find better value accommodation – Puglia still offers incredible value, even when it comes to accommodation – sometimes only a few kilometres from the bigger tourist cities.

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2024/01/02/puglia-2024-travel-trends/

      Hope that helps!
      LM

      1. Thank you! I read the other one. Sorry, I didnt see your response and reposted below LOL… We are looking masseria’s as it seems like they have that charm and good breakfast!

  12. Hi, we are thinking of splitting our trip into 3 locations, looking at Matera, Ostuni and Lecce. Going in early June for our honeymoon, we will have a car and would like to see both beaches and Countryside. We are also major foodies so would like to mix in a cooking class and some good food! We are visiting some of the Greek Islands after will be staying on the beach there so we don’t mind staying in the countryside/city and driving to the beaches during the day. Was thinking of other locations in Salento but everyone seems to love Lecce and I feel that is a good home base.. Do you think that is a solid plan or have other recommendations? If so, do you have any lodging recommendations for either location? Thank you, I really like your guides btw! You guys are the best! Grazie!!

    1. In Matera we stayed at Sant’Angelo Luxury resort. It was fabulous, right in the heart of the sassi and with fantastic views over the gravina. We had two rooms. One was with a terrace looking over the ravine, large and luxurious with a huge terrace. We also took a cave room. We haven’t put the pics on our Matera page as they are pre-travel blog and not so interesting. The cave is an experience, but has limited natural light. Service was top notch, and as you might expect from the name, it’s not cheap, but for a special occasion like honeymoon, well worth it and a lovely memory:

      https://www.santangeloresort.it/

      Our Matera guide is one we had the most fun writing by the way:

      https://www.gaypugliapodcast.com/matera/

      Another fantastic masseria to consider, just outside Ostuni is Masseria Moroseta. We have a review here:

      https://www.gaypugliapodcast.com/2021/10/15/masseria-moroseta/

      And some more photos of the grounds in this post:

      https://www.gaypugliapodcast.com/2023/05/21/puglia-masseria/

      Once again it is at the top end budget wise, but worth it. The food is amazing. We are great believers that in Puglia you don’t have to spend a lot to eat well, and we are not fans of fussy food. However the one place we get what we pay for, something sublime. Not to the extreme of being fussy food, but a different thinking of traditional dishes is Moroseta. If the masseria is full – it is very popular – they have private rental apartments in different locations that we think are serviced.

      In Ostuni there is Paragon700. It is luxurious, and if you want to be in town, it’s the most luxurious option. It is a hotel, but it has a large garden and a pool, so it feels like an urban masseria, even though its a boutique hotel. But we wouldn’t eat there. The food is great, but we don’t find it special like Moroseta to justify the price, and in this case you can eat just as well for a fraction of the price at Ostuni Bistrot, Casa San Giacomo.

      https://www.gaypugliapodcast.com/paragon700/

      For Lecce, you are on your own. We tend to stick to private apartments and like a trendy city hotel there. We’ll leave you to have the joy of exploring options there yourself!

      Have a fantastic honeymoon.

      Luigi.

      1. Thank you! I will look through your suggestions! I just booked PALAZZO DE NOHA Boutique Hotel in Lecce. It had great reviews and the rooms look nice!

        You guys are my shepherds through Puglia! Keep up the good work boys! You guys rock!

  13. Thank you for your terrific and informative website. We will be visiting Puglia for 10 days in April. We love the water but have no interest in beaches in April other than to admire the coast. We fly in to Bari and will spend the first night and day in Bari and then drive to Matera for two nights. We like your idea of using strategic bases to reduce checking in and out etc but you make all of the towns seem so attractive I am at a loss. Should we use Matera a 3rd day as a base or use Monopoli/Polinano as a base to visit the towns in the valley?
    Is Lecce a good location (or too far) to visit Gallipoli/Santa Maria di Leuca?
    Grazie
    Steve

    1. Ciao Steve. Travelling around the Valle d’Itria is possible from Matera (we have assumed you will be hiring a car and not using public transport). The cross country drive via Gioia del Colle is beautiful. But it’s probably not one you want to do for 2-3 days as you tour the Valle d’Itria each day from Matera.

      If I understand correctly you want to explore Salento too – and so you should. Our favourite roadtrip in all of Puglia is driving the coastal route from Otranto to Santa Maria di Leuca via Santa Cesarea Terme, Castro, Tricase Porto, Marina Serra.

      An option might be – if it is possible – to extend your stay in Bari by a couple of nights and use that as a base for visiting Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, Alberobello. Then head to Matera for your two nights and then you can head to somewhere in Salento. Bari is a busy city and the SS16 peripheral route is one of the busiest, BUT if you are staying in downtown Bari there is such an easy way in and out onto the highway that is much less busy and a really nice drive – along the lungomare all the way: along the lungomare, staying on that road following the sea heading south direction as it becomes Via Giovanni Di Cagno Abbrescia and then Via Alfredo Giovine. Coming out of Bari at Baia San Giorgio junction at the traffic lights you take right onto SP60 which takes you to the SS16 Adriatic Highway (signed for Brindisi). Coming back to Bari, just as you approach Bari (Villa Lagioia is the Google maps reference) there is an exit signed Lungomare. That takes you all the way back in. It really is an easy in and out – we use it every time we visit Bari. If you decide on this and need clarification if its not clear enough from Google maps just email us and we can send screencaps and map references.

      Again, assuming you have a car, Lecce to Gallipoli is a relatively short and easy drive, likewise Lecce to Otranto, where you can do that roadtrip. We love Leuca, it feels so different. But the coastal route rather than the highway through the centre of Salento, is the way to get there.

      Anyway, hope that makes sense. If you find our site useful and use travel forums, please mention the PugliaGuys guides to help people find us!

      Have a great time in Puglia. Happy eating too! Be sure to have some spaghetti all’assassina in Barivacchia!

      LuigiMax.

  14. Wow, I thought I narrowed our trip down until I luckily stumbled onto your website. My immediate family will be meeting with other relatives. Ages range from 15-78. I have always wanted to stay in a Trulli. There will be 8, possibly 9 of us. We will arrive July 11 or 13th and must leave the 17th. I will be traveling with three 15 year old girls that will want to have some village/cafe time, prefer to be able to walk from where we stay to restaurants etc. They will also want beach time too. I considered renting a car but I must say my anxiety driving on narrow hilly roads has become worse. Recent trips to Como and Tenerife have sealed the deal…also concerned about parking in July in town and the desire to enjoy an aperitif/wine. We will more than likely fly into and out of Bari. Do you have any suggestions for places to stay and your feelings on driving in the region? Much appreciated – Andrew

    1. Ciao Andrew. Thanks for getting in touch, here are our thoughts:

      1. Driving in Puglia. The best way of seeing our region is by car. That’s not to say it isn’t possible by public transport. But public transport won’t take you to those amazing, secret spots: out of the way beaches and quiet countryside. Puglia is not the Amalfi nor Napoli, the roads – even the narrow hilly ones – aren’t as problematic as the perception (and certainly the reality of other parts of Italy). We drive the coastal route from Otranto to Santa Maria di Leuca, a stunning drive, and even in August, peak season, it isn’t challenging, and certainly not white knuckle. Challenging is finding a car parking space in town (but more of that). Arriving in Bari could be something of a baptism of fire, but the exception to driving in Puglia. The Bari tangenziale (ring road) is the busiest stretch of road we come across, and as you approach it arriving from the airport heading south, it’s narrow with only two lanes either side with little central reserve and barriers on the outside, and a tight curve. But that is as bad as it gets, honest! The only difficulty you are likely to come across on the single track country roads is getting caught behind slow traffic like a tractor or an Ape 50 or Ape piaggio! But we say you are on vacation, the countryside is beautiful. What’s the rush?

      We should say the experience of flying to Brindisi is quite different coming out onto the highway. Much more pleasant and easier to manage, so perhaps that is a consideration? For info, if you are staying in Alberobello or south of Alberobello then your destination will be quicker from Brindisi airport. Alberobello is the cut off almost equidistant point for both airports. Further north Bari is nearer, further sounds and its Brindisi.

      We did write a guide about driving in Puglia that might help you make up your mind:

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2023/06/28/driving-in-puglia/

      2. Parking. Parking anywhere can be challenging, but partly because most locals prefer to park for free, not only in the designated free parking spaces, but also on corners, within traffic circles/roundabouts and anywhere else the opportunity arises. We are often in Ostuni. The longest it has taken us to find a space is 20 minutes. But that was exceptional. There are certain times when it is easier to find one in town: when everyone goes to the beach between 10.30am and 11am (after a late night), and coming back earlier before people park overnight. There are pay car parks we often use. Not hugely expensive. Usually it works. We have been in big cities in other countries where its been almost impossible. Most times there is a space somewhere. It’s a chore, a slight challenge, but not an impossibility and not a reason to put you off car hire. August is peak visitor season, the penultimate 2 weeks in July next busiest, so your visit is coming up to, but avoiding, the busiest time on roads and towns.

      3. For a trullo (one trullo, two, three, four trulli etc!) look around Cisternino, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Ceglie. Alberobello comes to mind because the town has the greatest density of trulli, but more picturesque, less expensive options can be found beyond Alberobello. And what could be nicer than finding one in an olive grove, with fruit trees, outside cooking and dining space – a pool is a good option in summer too!

      Our city guides and beach guides on the menu tell you what you need to know to guide your choices otherwise and, of course, please check out our #EatPuglia guides for our recommendations on where to eat like a local (in the food sections of the main menu). The one other comment is have a look at the guide we just wrote about pizzica in Puglia: we always think of ways to make a holiday more memorable, and this is something that is very much part of local life during the summer months:

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2024/02/24/pizzica-san-vito/

      Hope that helps. If you do spend time on travel forums and found our website helpful, we would love if you could recommend PugliaGuys.com as a resource for information about visiting Puglia! Grazie.

      LuigiMax

  15. LuigiMax thank you for taking the time out of your day to respond so thoroughly! Yes, I looked at the pizzica(w/video) and restaurant post thank you, again exceptional information. I dreamt of having a dinner @ GROTTA PALAZZESE sometime in my life but that will only be a dream. Pulled up the reservation cue and the thought of spending nearly three thousand dollars for eight of us just seems insane…
    We have a layover (36 hrs.) in Dublin, and it appears that flying into Brindisi requires a couple connections and more expensive. I think we will do an Airbnb for the group on arrival in Bari Old town for two nights (we arrive late in the evening) then possibly Martina Franca, Lecce and Matera if we leave the 17th but that may too ambitious. Just not sure if we will ever get a chance to come back.
    Grazie – Andrew

    1. We sent two of our team to Grotta Palazzese in Polignano in 2020 for the sake of being able to review it (and for another reason we come on to). Our view was that certainly it is a beautiful place to eat, in a stunning setting. However the food was nothing special, and in fact, disappointing. The quality of food we eat day to day in local osteria was superior, substantially! Our team described it as a tourist trap. It wasn’t value for money, but then you don’t go there for the food! However something else that might console you is that in 2019 health and safety inspectors visited and the restaurant was fined for using meat that was a month out of date. It was also found to be using sea bass steaks and fillets, king crab legs, pasta and frozen cuts of meat all without documentation tracing their legitimacy (the inference: it had been bought cheaply and illegally). Certainly management and ownership has changed since then, but in our view the place is still very much style over substance, by a long way. The most beautiful and stunning place we have eaten in the whole of Puglia is Trabucco da Mimi in Peschici. But that’s probably too distant for you, even if you decide on one base in and around Bari.

      As regards your second post, there is nothing wrong with one base, and certainly it saves the packing. Wherever you base yourself there will be plenty to see, and while there is diversity across the region, sometimes it’s not possible to see everything you want. That is why you come back to what we try to highlight in our original post. Where you choose as a base depends on what you want to get out of your vacation, and sometimes compromises will need to be made. In any event, have a safe and happy trip, and let us know how you get on!

      LM

  16. …initially I was thinking of renting a Trullo for the entire trip and ding day trips so we would not feel like we were packing unpacking all the time, but you have made your home and the surrounding area so enticing, I know my in laws will never make it back (health issues).

  17. Hi, would you prefer Nardó to Lecce for a base after staying in the outskirts of Locorontondo?From the masseria in Locorotonda, we need to drive and we are thinking of a base where we and our guests can just walk out and enjoy the coffee, shops but also explore southern Puglia.

    1. Ciao Katherine K – Nardò is a small, quiet town that comes to life during the summer months (late June – beginning September). We often suggest as an alternative to Gallipoli which is heavy with visitors and becomes quite party crowd during the last 2 weeks of July and in August.

      Lecce is a larger city, with many more bars, restaurants and places to stroll around and explore. It has much more interesting architecture. Have you seen our Lecce guide?

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2024/02/26/lecce/

      Both are equally easy for exploring Salento. The difference being Nardò is set off the Ionic coast, which generally has the better beaches, whereas Lecce is easy access to the Adriatic coastal route, and the best drive (in our opinion) in Puglia. The coastal route from Otranto to SM Leuca. Though ironically the nearest beach to Lecce (San Cataldo) has long sandy stretches, whereas the amazing natural reserve at Porto Selvaggio by Nardò is a rocky pebble beach (though extremely popular). We don’t yet have a Nardò guide, which might also be relevant to the answer to your question!

      You can see pictures of them both on out beach guide – 50 of Puglia’s best beaches:

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2022/10/27/50-of-puglias-best-beaches/

      If you like rugged nature, Porto Selvaggio is incredible.

      Hope that helps.

      Buone vacanze.

  18. Hi, thanks for such an interesting, detailed and helpful piece. In June this year we shall be staying in a trullo near to Martina Franca, then we have five nights to explore further afield before flying home from Brindisi. We had been thinking we would stay somewhere different each night, but now I’m thinking perhaps we would be better to base ourselves in one or two places instead. The last night we’ll spend in Brindisi itself, having returned the hire car. That will give us a little over 24 hours there. Before that we had thought we would drive down to Taranto, then via Manduria to Gallipoli. From there down the coast to Santa Maria di Leuca, before heading to Lecce. Would Lecce be a good base for those four nights? We had planned two nights in Lecce, just wondering whether it’s worth being there for longer. And is it worth spending more than one night in Brindisi? Would save a days car hire, but only if it’s a lovely place.
    And on a side note, one of the car hire companies we’ve looked at indicates they do not provide full cover for theft/attempted theft of the vehicle in three areas of Italy, including Puglia. Is car theft a big problem in Puglia? Just thinking that could impact stopping off on our travels, with our luggage. Presumably hotel car parks would be fine.
    Any thoughts or comments much appreciated. I’m off to read your guide to driving in Puglia next.
    Many thanks, Angie

    1. Hi Angie

      Sound like you have a good plan.

      1. The drive from Gallipoli to Leuca is on motorway. If you drive to the other side and follow the coastal route, it is stunning. Worth doing twice because of the stop-off points. You can do some going down, others coming back. Just a thought, because the coastal route from Otranto to Leuca is our favourite road trip. Gallipoli to Leuca is highway!

      2. Lecce is a stunning beautiful city and has more to offer than Brindisi. We would be tempted to spend more time in Lecce than Brindisi.

      3. Car hire – the only time we heard this being a problem was on some travel forums, from people who seemed, we thought, didn’t know our region well. In reality we haven’t come across this as an issue. Interesting to hear this about a car hire company, as we thought this was a fiction! Our car was broken into when we worked in London, but in Puglia, we have never had this issue. But interesting to know! Grazie.

      1. Thanks so much for responding. We love stunning coastal roads, so it sounds as though Otranto to Leuca is a must!
        We’ve just realised (from one of your blogs) that the G7 summit will be in Puglia, starting on the day we fly home. Here’s hoping this won’t impact us (and locals) too much. Our flight home is mid evening, so we’d thought we would check out of the hotel in Brindisi, leave our bags there, explore, and eat, then head to the airport. I guess there will be enhanced security around, but the G7 event itself is between Brindisi and Bari, so hopefully things won’t be too hectic! We’ll firm up our plans over the next few days so we can get hotels booked as no doubt there will be higher demand. Fingers crossed! And it now makes sense to just stay the one night in Brindisi.
        Really looking forward to exploring this part of Italy. Time to crack on with some language learning I think! (I can manage a few basics in Italian. I got by in Sardinia last year so hoping I can remember what I knew.)
        Angie

        1. Ciao Angie. Great. We think Brindisi will be fine. As you say, the conference takes place a little further north. Probably Bari will be busier. The media centre is based there. Brindisi is our preferred airport. It’s newer and for those hiring a car it’s a much easier drive from the airport onward. Coming from Bari heading south you are onto the busiest stretch of road in Puglia, the Bari tangenziale, with no time to acclimatise! Brindisi is nice, and the lungomare is really attractive. It has a fascinating museum – and history – but there is much more variety in Lecce, that’s all. One of our British friends has been learning Italian, and she swears by the podcast Coffee Break Italian. Buone vacanze. Have a great time. LM

  19. Hi guys, you came from heaven! Thank you so much for putting so many precious information together. I’m travelling to Puglia for the first time with my boyfriend and a couple of friends, and we are trying to put a 1-week itinerary together. We love food, wine, beaches, cool bars and, some days, a bustling evening life! I have noted some of your tips, but I still doubt our base for exploring your beautiful region. We will land in Bari very early in the morning on the second week of July.
    We have a rough itinerary:
    Day 1: Quick visit to Bari Vecchia after landing and drive to Matera (via Altamura), spending one night there.
    Day 2: Explore Valle d’Itria (Alberobello, Locorotondo, Cisternino, Ostuni).
    Spend 3 nights in the south with a coastal drive to Santa Maria di Leuca (possibly renting a boat).
    Spend 3 nights close to Bari (where we have our flights early in the morning).
    We’ve been recommended Otranto as a base in the South and Monopoli or Polignano a Mare for the final leg of our trip before returning to Bari to catch our flights back. We would love to hear your thoughts on the best place to stay.

    1. Ciao. Otranto sounds perfect for the beaches, bars and nightlife. We prefer it to Gallipoli for the nightlife. I don’t know if you have been to Ibiza, but when we think summer nightlife (and we are talking about night) Gallipoli tends more towards San Antonio, whereas Otranto is the more sophisticated Ibiza Town!!!

      From Otranto if you head north there is a great beach at Torre dell’Orso and Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle (it’s all the same long stretch of beach), with busy popular beach lido clubs that are cool and fun during the day, which would give you the contrast of day beach party life – but the beach is big enough if you want quieter spots – and it has stunning scenery, then back in Otranto for beach bar lido nightlife.

      For boat hire you can do this either at Castro Marina or Santa Maria di Leuca. We used Nautica Red Coral at Castro and Piccola Nautica in Leuca. I think we enjoyed the Leuca hire more because it let us explore some Adriatic, some of the caves and head up the Ionian and we stopped at Torre Vado. We had more variety and diversity of coast to see when we took the boat from Leuca.

      We absolutely think a quick visit to Barivecchia is in order, a stroll around and lunch at one of our EatBari restaurant suggestions (yes, we will mention spaghetti all’assassina) is as much as you need to do, and Matera is worth spending the night at over Bari (although we would choose Bari over Matera for a base on a longer stay). The drive from Matera through the Valle d’Itria gives you a real taste of the countryside. Locorotondo and Cisternino are much of a muchness, we say stop off in Cisternino, drive around Locorotondo. It’s the view looking at Locorotondo that is more interesting.

      Coming back we would choose Monopoli over Polignano for another lively beach night life scene.

      So, it looks like you found a lot of the answers for yourself. But for more inspiration, check out our Instagram (@pugliaguys). Some of our posts there might help! Buone vacanze.
      LuigiMax.

      1. Thank you so much, Luigi and Max, for getting back to me and for the great insights, I really appreciate it. I’m already following you guys on Instagram, your posts are really nice!! I will use your website and Instagram posts to guide us through our trip. We will surely follow your lead for the boat hire and try the spaghetti all’assassina in Bari.
        Do you have any recommendations for hotels and Masserias in Otranto and Monopoli? (or nearby).

        1. Ciao – great. On this occasion we don’t have accommodation recommendations, as we only recommend places we have experienced ourselves. We haven’t stayed in any masserie nearby Otranto or Monopoli! Sorry 😔

          Happy hunting and have a great holiday.
          LuigiM.

  20. Hi Guys!

    Thanks for the great guides! My wife and I are visiting Puglia with another couple from April 25 – May 1. We’re interested in Salento as well as the Valle d’Itria and are interested in food, wine, history and beautiful scenery. Do you recommend that we pick a single base, or should we shift to a second base for our time in Salento?

    1. Ciao from Puglia.

      Our guide tries to highlight the pros and cons and compromises to be made choosing a base or bases, depending on what you want from your time in Puglia.

      In your case we think there are two things that might help you focus: Where are you arriving – Bari or Brindisi? – and the time of year. We have assumed you will have your own transport.

      If you are arriving in Bari then you might as well stay there for a few nights, which you can use as a base for visiting Matera, Alberobello, Polignano and Monopoli, as well as visiting the wonderful Barivecchia. At a stretch (for day trips) as you mention the Valle d’Itria you might consider Locorotondo, Cisternino and Ostuni.

      If you are arriving in Brindisi then Ostuni and Lecce (or nearby either) come to mind.

      Ostuni positions you perfectly if you want to be in the heart of the Valle d’Itria. Day trips to Alberobello, Polignano and Monopoli (we do all 3 in 1 a day trip from Ostuni), Cisternino, Locorotondo and Ceglie Messapica are quite possible. Or you can do any other configuration – we drive to Alberobello via Cisternino and Locorotondo. So you could do the three of them in one day, saving another for Polignano and Monopoli. Brindisi and Lecce can also be accessed easily enough from Ostuni. You could do a day trip to Bari and Matera at a stretch, but you might not want to do both.

      Lecce (or nearby) for Salento. Salento is wonderful for its coast. But bear in mind the time of your visit. We don’t normally take to the water until mid to late May. We love Salento at the height of summer, when it is the essence of sleepy southern Italy in the heat.

      But visiting at the end April we would be tempted to stick to a base in or around Bari and Ostuni, which gives you plenty Valle d’Itria, the eat Bari experience (you must try spaghetti all’assassina – we have a guide) and the opportunity to visit Matera nearby in the neighbouring region of Basilicata. From Ostuni you can still visit Lecce which gives you the feel of Salento (it is the main city). And while the drive down the coastal route along the Adriatic from Otranto to Leuca may be our favourite road trip, our second favourite is driving between Ostuni, Cisternino, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Alberobello in the countryside of the Valle d’Itria!

      Final thoughts. Less is more. Don’t rush to see everything. Take your time. Wherever you go the food will be great.

      For more inspiration, check out our Instagram (@pugliaguys). Some of our posts there might give you more of a feel for what you’re looking for.

      Hope that helps.
      LuigiMax.

  21. Thanks for the quick and thoughtful response. We are planning to rent a car in Salerno and drive over to Puglia.

    It sounds like we’ll try to stay in Ostuni, Cisternino, or Locorotondo and do day trips from there. Any favorite places to stay in those towns?

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge of the area.

    Mike

    1. Great. If you drive the way I think you will, you will come by Taranto. Taranto is a much neglected part of Puglia, but it has a stunning old town. It also has some of the best fish and seafood we have eaten in Puglia. If you have time, and decide to visit, its easy to come off the highway to the old town – head towards (and park around) Hotel L’Arcangelo and explore from there. There are some excellent restaurants there, all listed in our Taranto guide.

      Anyway, hope that doesn’t further complicate!

      Ostuni to Cisternino is 20 minutes, Cisternino to Locorotondo is 10 minutes, Locorotondo to Alberobello another 10 minutes. If the accommodation is much of a muchness price wise, Ostuni will have a little more to offer in terms of variety, especially if eating there most nights!

      Because we are a group of friends living across Puglia, we don’t often need to hire accommodation. We do from time to time.

      In Ostuni there is Apartment Q40, Ostuni:

      https://www.booking.com/hotel/it/q40-ostuni.en-gb.html

      We have also stayed at Paragon 700 which is a boutique hotel in Ostuni. If it is interesting, you might be able to find special offers online via third-party booking sites (like Expedia etc)

      https://paragon700.com/

      We haven’t stayed here, but we pass by them often and recently met the manager who invited us to come and look around (we haven’t yet):

      https://www.il5elemento.com/

      They are private rental apartments in a converted larger residential building.

      Hope that helps.
      LuigiM.

  22. Thank you so much for your very helpful information and website.
    We are planning to spend September 21-30 in Puglia (our 7th trip to Italy and our 1st trip to Puglia).
    We will be in Lecce from September 21-26 or 27 visiting friends and taking day trips. We have read your suggestions and are very excited about what is possible.

    We would like to spend 3-4 nights at the beach after Lecce. We like swimming, walking, good food and interesting sites. We don’t care as much about nightlife. We would like to see what else Puglia has to offer. Where would you suggest we go?

    Thanks so much for your generous information of Puglia.

    1. Ciao Nancy, and thank you for the kind words. Lecce is lovely, and with so much choice when it comes to places to eat. If you don’t want to move too far perhaps Otranto or Gallipoli. The difference after August, when people on the beach is at its peak, is quite remarkable. They have small sand city beaches. But if you want longer stretches of beach and don’t mind a smaller town, perhaps Porto Cesareo or Torre Lapillo. The beaches there are wonderful, and long! Again, after August when Italy goes back to work after summer, these are much, much less crowded.

      Take a look at our beach guide, 50 of Puglia’s best beaches:

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2022/10/27/50-of-puglias-best-beaches/

      Buone vacanze
      LuigiM.

  23. So happy I found your website, such great advise!
    We are 2 (maybe 3) families with kids in the age of 10-15 coming to Puglia for 2 weeks in July. We will spend the first 3 days in Bari, then rent cars and are now looking for 2 different bases. I struggle on choosing where to stay! Options seem endless. We would like to stay a nice place with a pool, but explore the most beautiful beaches, take daytrips and be able to go to dinner to restaurants some nights. The teenagers would love some shopping and exploring the city life at nights as well.
    What would the best bases be? Monopoli, Ostuni, Lecce, Gallipoli or Otranto? In addition to Bari, we are thinking 2 different places.
    Highly appreciate any advise!! Thanks. 🙂

    1. Ciao.

      Three days in Bari without cars is a long time, though you could use that time to visit Matera by train or day trip by train to Monopoli and Polignano while you were there without cars. We have just written a stripped down guide considering how much time you need to spend in other destinations not chosen as a base:

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2024/03/13/essential-puglia/

      The reason for suggesting this is if that with 2 weeks you have time to head to Vieste in Gargano, which really would tick most of your boxes. If we could get to Vieste more often, we certainly would. We write about making compromises when choosing a base: the best beaches are usually out of town. Lively nightlife can be found in Gallipoli and Otranto, where the small city beaches will be busy. But Vieste has huge long stretches of golden sand, with two huge city beaches either side of its old town. You can walk to these beaches if you are staying in town.

      But there’s some 325km between Lecce and Vieste. While travelling from the Valle d’Itria to Salento is easier, it’s not practical from Vieste. Which is a pity. The Gargano has so much to see and do, it has without exaggeration, some of the best beaches in Puglia. But it feels remote. Yet, it was much of what you are looking for. There are so many day trips in and around Gargano, from the spiritual to the romantic.

      We certainly think Vieste is better for your group’s holiday requirements, and better than Monopoli, Gallipoli and Otranto for reasons given.

      Perhaps a solution is actually to spend a couple more nights in Bari (4 nights) then you can use it as a base to explore the Valle d’Itria: Alberobello, Polignano, Monopoli, and then Matera (not in Puglia but essential visiting). Then head up to Vieste. You miss out Salento, BUT Gargano is stunningly beautiful and because it is less visited, feels even more special.

      If you still want the variety of another base, then perhaps a couple of nights in Matera after Vieste? That makes focussing on the Valle d’Itria a little easier if you keep Matera separate. But as it is an easy trip from Bari, if you don’t want the trouble of changing base unnecessarily you can stick to Bari and Vieste.

      Do consider this – we really think it has what you need to keep everyone satisfied. It just means you miss out on Lecce, Salento but you just miss out on better known named destinations most people think about, certainly not experience.

      The best eating experience we have had was in Peschici at Al Trabucco. There is visually no more spectacular and satisfying a place to eat in all of Puglia. The food is great, but it’s the location!

      Really hope that helps (rather than complicates)!

      Buone vacanze.
      Luigi M.

  24. Hi!
    My husband and I and our 3 and 5 year old are coming to Puglia for part of our trip to Italy. It’s our first international trip (from Canada) as a family of 4! We come to Bari by train on Saturday March 23 around 2pm then leave Sunday March 31 for 2 more nights before we fly home. I was thinking to have two bases in Puglia in addition to 2 nights in Matera. My initial thought was to rent a car and go straight from Bari to Matera for two nights. I wanted one base for three nights in Valle i’tria and one for the Salento region – perhaps Lecce? I know it’s the off season so would appreciate advice on where to stay. Or should we stay in Bari for a night or two before heading to Valle d’Itria then Lecce then Matera? Appreciate your help and LOVE your website.

    1. Ciao

      Matera makes sense from Bari. It’s a relatively straightforward drive from Bari. You get a beautiful drive through the Valle d’Itria (one of our essential roads trips) coming back via Gioia delle Colle to Alberobello and onward (eg Ostuni).

      So long as you leave yourself at least half a day to explore Bari Vecchia – the old town – we don’t think you need to stay an extra night in Bari either before heading to Matera, or on your way back (unless its convenient for travel times, departures).

      We think the order you suggest makes better sense, coming back to Bari from further south, whether somewhere in the Valle d’Itria or Lecce.

      With 2 children presumably one of the factors will be keeping car time to a minimum? The drive from Matera solves itself. You can stop off at Alberobello for lunch and visit the trulli zone, to break up the journey.

      Lecce is good anytime, but it makes good sense off season (in this case, before Easter) as there is still plenty to do and see. You have to weigh up the inconvenience (if it is) of changing base twice. You could do a day trip to Lecce from Ostuni, but then you presumably need to be back not too late with the children. So, perhaps in this case splitting the rest of your trip between 2 bases is better. You have more variety.

      Ostuni could work. It’s positioned well when you move on from Matera, and off season there will be enough interest for a couple of nights. From there you can easily visit Polignano a Mare (probably, visually more fun for the kids than Monopoli). Lecce will have more to suit you and your husband in terms of variety of restaurants.

      One suggestion, because you have the children. If you don’t want to change base again, how about Brindisi as a base? Brindisi to Lecce is easy, you could even do it twice. It has a really, really nice undervalued sea front, and as a major city, has more variety than Ostuni that works off season. It’s just a thought if you think having a 3rd base is too much.

      You know your children better than us and the tolerances of travel vs packing/unpacking for a 3rd base. If its better to do the latter then perhaps Matera, Ostuni and Lecce is a good solution.

      If you want to take the children to the sea (from Ostuni or Lecce) just for fun rather than a swim, visit Torre Santa Sabina. It’s a practical beach rather than sunbathing beach, with the bonus of a small town just there and a great restaurant to have lunch: Ristorante Miramare da Michele. That way you are not stuck on the beach!

      Hope that helps you decide.
      Buone vacanze
      Luigi M.

  25. Hi, thanks so much for this useful information! We are planning a trip to Puglia in the last week of June. My partner and I will be in Puglia (flying into Bari) for 11 nights in total. We have friends meeting us from nights 4 – 8 and will be based in either Monopoli or Ostuni. This means we have three nights at the start of the trip and three nights at the end, to ourselves. We plan to go to Salento for our final three nights and are considering using Gallipoli as a base. For the first three nights, we are considering a trip to Matera for 1-2 nights. My question do you: Do you need more than one night in Matera? If not, is there a nice village you suggest we stay at between Matera and Monopoli the night before our friends arrive? Thanks, Charlotte.

    1. Ciao. One night in Matera works, but two is better. There is much to see and do and the city’s geography is big enough and diverse enough to enjoy over 2 nights. You could have dinner one night in the atmospheric settings somewhere in the heart of the Sassi say along Via Bruno Buozzi- always different at night that daytime. The next night you could eat out around the Piazza Vittorio Veneto, for a very different feel. We would spend one night in Bari Vecchia (perhaps you were planning to) and eat out there. Barivecchia is one of our favourite places to eat.

      Be sure to check out our Matera city guide which has all sorts of suggestions for visiting, the best walking routes and where we like to eat (and what to eat). For Bari we have a dedicated Eat Bari guide, because eating in Barivecchia really excites us! Just navigate to them from our front page on the website.

      Buone vacanze

  26. Hi Guys!
    My partner and I (mid 30s and 40) are visting Puglia for a few days in mid May this year, and need some guidance on where we should base ourselves.
    Ideally looking for somewhere less touristy, with great food and bars – though don’t necessarily want to party much, so nightlife isn’t super important outside of being able to eat and have a drink.
    Somewhere walking distance to sandy beaches would be amazing too (though that depends if you think May is going to be warm enough for swimming or not)
    I think we are considering Santa Maria di Leuca, but it feels like we change our mind every few days hahaha.
    Thank you.

    1. Ciao. May is good for swimming. In Salento people have been swimming since January (though we don’t go until April usually).

      Good food and bars are everywhere. Our curated restaurant guide suggests places where locals choose to go, although there are some fine dining suggestions too.

      Santa Maria di Leuca is wonderful, but it does not have sandy beaches. There are lidos that overhang sharp rocks (you need bathing shoes but many of the lidos can supply them, or you can buy them inexpensively from supermarkets etc). For sand around there you need to head to the Ionian side. Pescoluse has great, beautiful sand beaches, but it is not as chic as Leuca feels.

      This guide really tells you what you need to know to make your choice for city sandy beaches, with no driving necessary from city to beach. Gallipoli is our top choice, though Otranto would be a close 2nd, then Monopoli. That is based only on quality of city beach and ease of walking there from town. Alternatively, Vieste or even Peschici.

      You don’t mention whether you will have your own transport of will be using public transport, and if the latter whether you plan on some sightseeing. If it is public transport and you want to do some sightseeing eg Alberobello, Polignano, then Monopoli is the answer. Though its city beaches are not as nice as Gallipoli and Otranto, it is better connected by train.

      Hope that helps.

      LuigiM.

  27. Ciao Luigi, we are 2 couples planning to visit Puglia for 3 weeks around Sep. 5/2024 from Montreal,Canada.
    We would like to see as much of Puglia in the 3 weeks, spending at least 1 week on a beach. We also want to spend 2 nights in Matera. Would you recommend we land in Rome or Bari’s airport. If we land in Bari what do you suggest as home base? Also, which beach would you recommend? What would you recommend as our 2nd home base? Sorry we have never been in that area of Italy so we are not good with planning.
    Appreciate your suggestions.

    1. Ciao Carmela.

      Bari from Rome is a 4 hour train journey (or around an hour flight). Unless you are spending time in Rome, and have the option of Bari or Rome airports, then for Bari (and Matera), Bari airport is better.

      If you are connecting in Rome and have the option of either Bari or Brindisi (Salento airport) then Bari is better when your immediate destination is north of Alberobello. Brindisi airport is better if your immediate destination is south of Alberobello. If it doesn’t make a huge difference (eg if your immediate destination is in or nearby Monopoli, Polignano or Alberobello) then Brindisi is a smaller, more modern and efficient airport, but the big difference is the car hire is slightly easier from Brindisi and driving out of Brindisi airport is much less frenetic that driving out of Bari airport onto the Bari tangenziale, the busiest section of road in Puglia.

      Our guides give you all the information to focus, if not make your choice, and to plan your itinerary. In particular we suggest reviewing:

      1. Find the best base for vacation in Puglia guide.
      2. Essential Puglia. Our guide to day trips and road trips to other destinations (i.e once you have chosen a base, which day trips are easier and make better sense from that base):

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2024/03/13/essential-puglia/

      3. Our beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches.

      They are intended to give you all the information you need to make some informed choices. After that if you are still twiddling your thumbs over, say, Gallipoli vs Otranto, Monopoli vs Ostuni, we can certainly give you more specific thoughts.

      Buone vacanze.
      LuigiM.

  28. Hi, I am planning a trip to Puglia first week of Sept for 7 days, it will be for a very special occasion and a surprise! I am looking to book high end/luxury hotels. Happy to hire a car for days trips etc but I am stuck on what area(s) to stay. We will to chill out around the pool, spend sometime at the beach but also take in the towns/cities and absorb all the culture we can. Any recommendations please?

    1. Hi. Have you decided on where to base yourself? Let us know and we can put our minds to accommodation nearby that might suit. There are many luxury and boutique masserie all around Puglia. If you are looking for recommendations for a base, the post pretty much sets it all out, so we would only be repeating ourselves. But if you have narrowed it down, happy to give you thoughts on those specific destinations.

      1. Hi yes we plan on starting off in Lecce as a base for a few days (unless you recommend a better area to stay?) and then plan on heading to Fasano to stay at the Borgo Egnazia. I would also like to add one night in Matera into the trip. We have 7-8 days so, we want relax for a few days in Fasano and two places we most definitely want to visit are Polignano a Mare and Alberobello, so would welcome your thoughts on a few other places we shouldnt miss? Thanks Andrea

        1. Ciao. From Lecce you could try and do our favourite road trip in all of Puglia, driving the coastal route from Santa Cesarea Terme to Santa Maria di Leuca. It is explained (with the places we love to stop off) in the road trips section in our essential Puglia day trip planning guide:

          Essential Puglia Day Trip Guide

          That also has some advice about making the most of a visit to Alberobello (!) as well as recommending some other places you might enjoy. But our heart is in Salento, which is perfect especially in early September for that road trip we mention.

          At the Borgo you will be positioned perfectly for the beaches at Savelletri (some nearby restaurants there are recommended in our curated restaurant guide), and at least one of their restaurants do spaghetti all’assassina, so be sure to try it.

          LuigiM.

  29. Ciao Luigi, thankyou for your wonderful information on Puglia. We are visiting Puglia for the first time from 18th September to the 27th September. After reading your website, we plan on first staying in Vieste, then Carovigno and then Matera. We will have a car and will be able to visit the areas around these towns. We are not fans of big cities and prefer authentic villages and towns and like to eat like the locals. We love beaches and would like to find quiet less touristy areas to spend time in. Any further advice you can give will be much appreciated.

    1. Ciao. Luigi is visiting family for Easter, so its my turn!

      The good news is that even in big cities Puglia remains authentic at its core (the one exception we have written about is Alberobello, the most touristic part of our region, yet no trip would be complete without visiting there). Although our region is becoming more popular it still doesn’t see the crowds you might find elsewhere in Italy’s most visited destinations. It is however the top choice of destination for Italians when it comes to an Italian beach vacation. But the Italian summer vacation is over after August – and the contrast is spectacular.

      If you are looking for places to visit in and around destinations you have mentioned, our beach guide mentions many of the hidden and spectacular beaches in Gargano. The season in Gargano starts to wind down earlier than elsewhere in Puglia. We visited Peschici in the 3rd week of September and already many of the restaurants by the beach and beach bars had closed. However Vieste was good. Our Gargano guide mentions this. The two things we strongly recommend are the boat trip we mention from Vieste along the coast, and eating at Al Trabucco da Mimi by Peschici which will still be open (for lunch, on the terrace, booking essential).

      Elsewhere in Gargano, we loved visiting Vico del Gargano and Monte Sant’Angelo.

      When in Carovigno, think about visiting Cisternino and Locorotondo. Head to Torre Santa Sabina for lunch at Miramare da Michele. We recently wrote a new guide to day tripping around Puglia from your chosen destination. You can find it in our blog (Puglia Piece by Piece).

      If you have time nearby Matera try Gravina in Puglia (we have some restaurant recommendations in our curated restaurant guide) and Alta Mura. And don’t miss out on Bari Vecchia.

      Hope that helps. Check out the guides we mention and if you still need inspiration, let us know here!

      Gianmarco.

  30. Hi there!
    Wow I so appreciate this blog post. I’ll be travelling with a friend from 9-16 August in Puglia. We wont be renting a car but would like to base ourselves in maybe 2 places. We want to experiences the amazing beaches but also want to experience the liveliness and buzz of the night. what would you recommend?

    1. Ciao. If you need somewhere you can walk to the beaches with ease, and relying on public transport to get you there we suggest: Vieste (if you are flying to Bari airport, you can connect directly by airport bus service). If arriving Brindisi (Salento) airport, train to Lecce and from there Otranto. Monopoli is easy to connect with by train, but the city beaches are small and will be packed. All three have busy nightlife both on the beach and in town.

      If you choose Monopoli, the better beaches are out of town, but you could get the bus to Savelletri, or from Ostuni you could get the bus to Pilone. But that means bus there and back at the end of the day. Ostuni is fun at night but you wouldn’t be able to blend night beach club night life from there if that’s a priority!

      Check out our other posts on the website – the city guides and beach guide to Puglia’s 50 best beaches. They should help.

      Buone vacanze, Marco.

  31. Hello,
    Thank you for all the helpful information and advice. My husband and I are planning to spend a month in Puglia next winter (February), and we’d like to base ourselves in one place to really get to know it and to be able to take day trips from there to explore the wider area. We’ll have a car, and we’ll have been driving from further north. We care about food and wine, scenery, nature, design. We don’t need beaches in February, but sea views are always nice! If you were to stay a whole month in the winter, where would you choose?

    1. Ciao Jessica.

      Off season Puglia has a very different feel (the reason why we joke that we only have two seasons in Puglia – summer and not summer). Even in Ostuni, where we are based, many of the restaurants and bars that are open in the historic centre between Easter and November close up. We estimate as many as 3 out of 5. Last week was the first time since last year that we have had tables and chairs on the main piazza, as the town awakens from its slumber for another year. Of course, it still functions: residents need their local bars and restaurants, but overall, even for us, it can feel far less well served and “too” quiet!

      In the smaller towns many small shops and restaurants that stay open for residents’ daily life also take the chance to close for up to 2 weeks for a holiday (it’s carnevale time – see below)!

      Where you probably wouldn’t really notice much of a difference would be in larger cities, like Bari and Lecce. Bari especially is a city break destination all year long. Even though these are main cities, the old town areas where we recommend you stay, have their own feel and buzz – they feel more like a village. If you do want a smaller town, albeit quieter, but probably still enough to entertain, how about Monopoli? It has those sea views and will give easy access to travel around centrally. It can be nice to visit off season when it is quieter, enjoying a morning coffee outside, by the sea.

      Other than that, our guide sets out the reasons for the bases we suggest for account off-season travel, taking into account the weather and time of year.

      You should find excellent rates for accommodation at this time of year. And February is carnevale time, with festive celebrations all over Puglia that are lively and spirited. Putignano has the oldest carnevale celebration in Italy.

      The other thing to keep in mind that even though we are in the south of Italy, the weather in winter can be wet, damp and cold when the sun doesn’t shine. We can even have snow! When the sun shines it is glorious and we can dine outside in February in the sun (although we do also have shorter days at the time of year, which means less sunshine). Bring clothes to wrap-up warm.

      Don’t let that put you off. We just want to be sure you have the information to manage your expectations. Puglia still has a winter atmosphere and mood, but a very different one from what you are likely to see on social media and in travel guides and TV travel shows!

      Buone vacanze.
      LuigiM

      1. This was so helpful—thank you for the thoughtful, thorough response! We’ll give it careful consideration before making our choice.

  32. Ciao Puglia Guys, you have been my favourite resource as I am planning my trip to Puglia with my husband and 3 kids (11, 13, 15). It is our first time travelling to Puglia. We are going to be in Puglia for 12 nights and are looking for a beach vacation in the day and hoping to explore lively cities in the evenings for aperitivi and dinner. I cannot decide on a home base as it seems there are so many great ones! Here is what I am thinking: Polignano a Mare (2-3 nights), Matera (1 night), Otranto (2-3 nights), Gallipoli (2-3 nights), Ostuni (4-5 nights) at a Masseria (either Montenapoleone, Le Carrube, Salinola or Grieco). I am wondering if this itinerary makes sense as we are driving around a lot and not going in the best order (driving north to south to north again) but we want to start and leave from Bari Centrale as we are coming from Rome and going back to Rome. Is this too many stops in Puglia, too many check ins/outs? Do you prefer Otranto or Gallipoli for a beach town/fun evenings in the city? Should we do both, or pick one? Also, Matera was originally on our list as a day trip but it seems it is best to stay overnight. If we stay in Matera overnight, I would like to stay close to the beginning of our trip so that we can enjoy the beach for the rest of our time in Puglia. I am so confused and would love your guidance! Grazie tantissimo!!!

    1. Ciao Giulia. Thank you for the kind words. We are glad the guides are helpful. It’s our pleasure to tell people about Puglia, the part of Italy we live. Any to help and encourage visitors and responsible tourism!

      Matera

      It makes absolute sense to do this at the start or end of your trip, when arriving and leaving from Bari. It’s a 70km drive from centre to centre that should take an hour in the car. The other thing to consider is give yourself time to explore Bari Vecchia. We are big fans of the old town. Here you will find some of the best versions of our favourite Puglia dish – spaghetti all’assassina!

      From Matera you could head cross country (via Alberobello, where you can stop-off for a pause: 68Km just over an hour through beautiful countryside) and onward to Ostuni (Alberobello to Ostuni is another 40 minutes, at 33km). That way you have broken your trip – we suggest spending a couple of hours in Alberobello – and it has taken you to Ostuni for the next stage.

      Ostuni vs Polignano (vs Monopoli)

      As we understand it, one of the purposes of this Ostuni is to treat yourself to a masseria stay. Let us first talk about Polignano vs Monopoli vs Ostuni. Polignano a Mare and Monopoli are both on the coast, and have access to the sea. But neither really has excellent beaches. Polignano has the iconic Lama Monachile, but its pebbles and more than half a day is going to be uncomfortable. Monopoli does have small stretches of sandy city beach. But they are minuscule stretches of sand. Also, if your visit is July/August then Monopoli’s city beaches in particular will be packed. Our Monopoli city guide looks at nearby beaches as an alternative.

      Some nicer beaches, and a few long stretches of sandy beach, can be found around Savelletri and from Torre Canne south (around Pilone). We often head from Ostuni to Pilone and the beaches round about there. From Ostuni, there is also a family friendly popular beach nearby at Torre Guaceto (the Punta Penna Grossa end) and at Specchiola. Both are popular with visitors and Torre Guaceto is a local family favourite.

      So, if the main purpose of choosing Polignano for 2-3 nights is to enjoy beaches (as well as easy access to exploring the Valle d’Itria – day trips to Martina Franca, Locorotondo, Cisternino) then perhaps consider the Ostuni part of the vacation for beach time as well as for the Valle d’Itria (Polignano/Monopoli and Ostuni are equally good for that purpose alone), choose a masseria that is closer to Pilone or Torre Guaceto, and stay longer. Take a night off your Polignano stay and add it on here. Just a thought.

      Coming to Ostuni from Matera makes sense, and you can still do Polignano (or Monopoli) on your way back to Bari at the end of your trip.

      We mentioned Monopoli vs Polignano. They are so close to each other, Monopoli has a few more city beaches that are more comfortable and might be a better option than staying in Polignano – unless the sole purpose of Polignano is staying there because of that iconic view.

      From Ostuni you can go to Otranto or Gallipoli.

      Otranto vs Gallipoli

      Gallipoli has a quaint old town on an island separated from the larger, modern part of the town. It is more atmospheric in that sense, but at night during the last 2 weeks of July and in August it becomes quite the party central. Tuk tuks race around the old town, with disco lights and playing loud music, though during the day those party goers sleep.

      Otranto has a more spread out beach front and at summer its beach nights seem a little more sophisticated, more Ibiza Town to Gallipoli’s San Antonio (if that Ibiza analogy makes sense to you)!

      Both have access to amazing nearby beaches, as well as city beaches. From Gallipoli you can head to Baia Verde and Punta della Suina. From Otranto you can head to Due Sorelle beach at Torre dell’Orso. From Otranto, if you want a really interesting day trip, you can drive along our favourite Puglia road trip – the coastal route to Santa Maria di Leuca (via Santa Cesare Terme, Castro, Porto Tricase, Marina Serra) with some stunning coast. But that’s only if you aren’t averse to more time in the car. Understandable if not!

      I don’t think you need to do both Gallipoli and Otranto. At a push, we would say Gallipoli because we still like it during the day, and perhaps the (over) lively July/August nights will suit you. Either side of July/August, Gallipoli nights are not so party, party but still lively, and Gallipoli has stunning, stunning sunsets.

      If you choose Gallipoli, your drive back takes you to Lecce, where you might want to stop off for a half day (or more). Then you can head back up the Adriatic coastal highway to Monopoli or Polignano before returning to Bari.

      Hope that helps to give you the sort of information you need to choose what best suits your family vacation.

      Good food is a given wherever you are in Puglia.

      Do look at our Monopoli and Ostuni guides which each have information about nearby beaches,

      Buone vacanze! Have a great time in Puglia.
      LuigiM.

  33. Hello, just to say thank you for your amazing and informative blog. Game Changer. My husband and two very young children will be traveling to Puglia at the end of May for 10 days . We arrive and leave from Bari airport. We were thinking of lots of calm beaches quiet towns and good food … We are thinking of two bases maybe monopoli first then somewhere near Gallipoli for the 2nd half of our trip….would you recommend this with young children. Any suggestions of what sort of properties to stay in?

    1. Ciao Priscilla – we are delighted to know you are enjoying our blog. We think it’s helpful for planning, but most of the time we only hear from people when they are planning their vacation, never after! So we don’t know how helpful the suggestions have been after the event!

      Good food is easy to find in Puglia, wherever you are. Our top tip for 2024 is trattoria and osteria eating, places that do good home cooking. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to eat well. Some of the best food is found at no frills venues.

      Our Monopoli guide and our beach guide explain that Monopoli’s city beaches are small, with little, tiny areas of sand and lots of rocky shelves. At the end of May they won’t be as packed during the week as you see in our main Monopoli guide photos. The longer stretches of sand and “family friendly” beaches where families often take their very young children are around Torre Canne, Specchiolla and Punta Penna Grossa, south of Monopoli, and perhaps more accessible from a town like Ostuni. But the compromise is that Ostuni is not on the coast, Monopoli is.

      Of course you could think about staying in accommodation in a little holiday village – by which we mean private gated vacation communities (here referred to as “camping” villages, although they are in fact clusters of private vacation villas and townhouses). With young children that may or may not be your thing. They won’t be as ideal for evenings as staying in a town might be! Think Rosa Marina or Riva Marina 2. There are many resorts like this, all along the coasts. We don’t often write about them. Some family friendly Masserie have access to private beaches and come with swimming pools and family activities. Their cost is at the other end of the spectrum from camping villages.

      If you want to rent an AirBnB type private rental, and are prepared to compromise and stay nearby the coast, rather than on the coast, we really recommend Carovigno. It is really easy to get to the family friendly Specchiolla strip of beaches, and has great restaurants in the intimate old town for night. You can also slip away easily to Torre Santa Sabina, with a little town and a little beach, also good for small kids, and some nice restaurants.

      We think Gallipoli at that time is a good choice. You have good city beaches (especially spiaggia della purità), can easily get to the beach lidos at Baia Verde and to Punta della Suina should you want to. Gallipoli’s old town itself (where we recommend staying) is full of atmosphere and historic beauty and you have fantastic restaurants on your doorstep. If Gallipoli seems too costly and again (like Carovigno) don’t mind a short drive, consider nearby Nardò.

      Is there any chance you can easily change your flight to Brindisi (Salento) airport instead of Bari, if it’s a connecting one? That makes the driving – especially to Gallipoli – much shorter (and it’s super close to Carovigno). If not, we drive to Bari airport from Carovigno in just over an hour.

      Hope that helps.
      LuigiM

  34. Hi! Thank you so much for your extensive resources on Puglia – it has helped my completely refocus my trip! I am planning to stay in Puglia for four nights, after visiting the countryside in Tuscany, with my husband, sister, and brother in law (all in our 20s). We are planning to prioritize culture, food, and great beaches for our time in Puglia. I am looking into hotels now and thinking to book a place that is an 8 minute drive to Gallipoli. It seems like the soft sand beaches (which we prefer – although also open to scenic pebble/rocky beaches for short visits) in Otranto would not be too far of a drive. Do you recommend this area given what we would like to prioritize? Also open to any other soft sand beach recommendations you may have that are nearby to Gallipoli! Thank you again!

    1. Ciao – we have a beach guide which should have all the information that you need:

      https://www.pugliaguys.com/2022/10/27/50-of-puglias-best-beaches/

      This describes where our favourite beaches are and whether they are long soft sand beaches, or pebbles and rocks! It also has a general overview of the coast from the amazing white kilometre long sandy beaches beaches of Gargano to Salento’s award winning spiagge. Some of the beaches have links to pages with more information too.

      Buone vacanze – LuigiM.

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