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.

Brindisi

Brindisi’s lungomare is a picturesque reminder that this was once a thriving Mediterranean hub.

Once upon a time when Puglia was the center of the known world, Brindisi was one of the great intersections of the Mediterranean. A major center of Roman naval power and maritime trade, Brindisi was once one of the busiest ports in the world. The Via Appia ended here, the Crusaders set off from here. During WW2 Brindisi was Italy’s capital city for 8 months before the defeat of fascism. 

Pros | good public transport links, the train takes you into the city centre | less loved by visitors, so still feels off the beaten track. History and fascist monuments.

Cons | any are easy to overlook and forget due to lack of overcrowding.

More | read the Puglia Guys’ Brindisi day trip guide or the fuller Puglia Guys’ Brindisi city guide.

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

167 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.

  35. Hi, What a great guide to come across – really helpful and informative! I am planning a for around 10 nights, we are planning to hire a car whilst out there. I am trying figure out the best places to stay, when having a car to park over night etc. My current thinking is: Polignano a Mare – 3 nights, Locorotondo – 2 nights then Lecce – 4 nights. Does this sound like the best distribution and length of time? We’d like to explore all the towns on offer but also the beach, so unsure whether Leece would be best or head there for the day and stay somewhere more coastal? Also debating Locorotondo vs Ostuni or even experiencing staying in a trullo. We’re a 30 year old couple, so like to have access to places to have great food and a drink in the evening. Any help would be much appreciated I feel I am reading too much into everything! Thank you.

    1. Ciao. Great food and drink won’t be a problem, wherever you choose to base yourself. According to a BBC Travel Show presenter and travel journalist Carmen Roberts who selected Puglia as her top lux destination in Europe last week, Puglia has “arguably the best food in Italy”. Who are we to disagree?

      Our Eat Puglia guides have all the information you need on eating like a local. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. Visit price friendly osterie and trattorie where good food is inexpensive. No point paying for frills when they don’t make any difference to quality of food!

      The Puglia Guys Best Puglia Restaurants Guide

      Parking in towns and cities is likely to be a challenge wherever you choose to base yourself, especially as summer creeps on – some accommodation might have private parking, and in the countryside it shouldn’t be an issue.

      We think:

      1. Locorotondo over Ostuni. Everyone loves Ostuni, but Locorotondo is likely to be quieter than Ostuni, and has a not too different feel. Also consider Cisternino and Carovigno.

      2. Distribution wise Polignano, Ostuni (or Locorotondo) aren’t too far apart, and we easily visit one from the other regularly. The difference is that one is on the coast by the sea, the others not. So, you could think about swapping Polignano for another seaside destination, one further south in Salento. Castro, or Otranto. But be sure to check our beach guides for sandy beach ve rocky shelves. Also, there are some decent stretches of sandy beach nearby Ostuni and Carovigno – so you could use them for beach visits too:

      Life’s a Beach: the Puglia Guys Guide to best beaches nearby Ostuni

      Lecce is a nice city, and worth staying if you have done surf and turf (beach and countryside). From Lecce you can also do a day trip down the coastal route from Santa Cesarea Terme to Santa Maria di Leuca, our favourite Puglia road trip. That way you can dip into the sea along the way: Tricase Marina, Castro Marina, Marina Serra.

      You are never far from the coast in Puglia, and we think you will have enough sea, even without staying in a destination that’s by the sea. Starting from your thinking, we might be tempted to choose Locorotondo and Lecce, and leave it at that. Locorotondo as your base for Valle d’Itria (Polignano, Monopoli, Alberobello, Ostuni, Ceglie, Martina Franca) and for the beaches around Torre Canne/Pilone. It might take up to 20 minutes longer to get to some of these beaches from Locorotondo vs Ostuni, but the trade-off is the slightly less busy Locorotondo but still with fine bars and restaurants at night. Lecce for the atmosphere and for access to that coastal route drive that we love so much, with bathing options along the way:

      The Puglia Guys favourite Puglia Road Trip

      One other guide that might help, our day trip and road trip planning guide:

      Puglia Guys Essential Day Trip Planning Guide

      You still want to have a relaxing holiday, and if you have a 3rd check-in and check-out, perhaps that’s one too many for a slower pace of life?

      Hope that helps a little! Buone vacanze.

      Luigi M.

  36. Ciao Luigi,
    First, thank you for putting together such a detailed and thoughtful guide of Puglia! You have no idea how helpful this has been for us in planning our first Puglia trip.
    We have a few questions that we’re hoping to get your expert insights on. We are a couple who are planning to visit Puglia from the end of July- mid August this year (for about 2 weeks). As this is our only holiday period, unfortunately, we cannot visit on a different time that is not at the height of Italian summer. While we’re aware that August is hectic everywhere in Europe with sun and beach, we’ve read that beaches and coastal regions in Puglia could be worse and it could be overcrowded to a point where it is unpleasant. It would be great to hear your thoughts on this. For context, we also don’t drive, so we are planning to travel across Puglia using public transport (trains and buses), hence why we’re thinking of basing ourselves in main cities in the region with good transport links. While we know we can’t easily access the ‘off the beaten tracks’ with public transport, we still want to maximise our chance of getting an authentic experience. Our key interests are scenic walks/hikes, quaint villages, food, wine and clear and swim-able beaches (preferably quiet and not as touristy). Our questions are as follows:
    1) While we know the beaches will be packed, will places like Locorotondo (and Valle D’Itria regions, i.e. Cisternino and Martina Franca), as well as Lecce will be as crowded?
    2) Can you please recommend nice hikes/walks that are accessible by public transports in these areas?
    3) Are there any beach areas we can stay in (swim-able) for a few days where we can enjoy a relaxing, quiet time at all? i,e, Otranto? Or is there no point spending time by the beach in Puglia at this time of the year, and we are better of travelling to Tropea for a quieter beach for example?
    4) Do the buses in Puglia tend to be packed or is it still manageable to travel between cities, especially since we will have our small suitcases with us. Will the local buses have overhead compartments/storage area?
    5) Last but not least, below is our rough itinerary. We organise it in this way due to the transport links between places. Do you think this is too hectic/is there anything we should spread out more or leave out?
    Bologna to Bari by train
    Bari (2 nights)
    Brindisi (2 nights)
    – Day trip to Ostuni (from brindisi)
    Lecce (2 nights)
    Potentially Otranto (or any recommended quieter beach areas) for 3 nights
    Lecce (back here for 1 night)
    Martina Franca (1 night)
    Locorotondo (3 nights) – thinking of hiking in Valle D’itria region, day trip to Ostuni, Cisternino
    Matera (2 nights) via Bari

    Thank you so very much. Really appreciate your help on this.

    Mel

    1. Ciao Mel, and thank you for the message.

      August Rush: August sees a surge in visitors due to Italy’s Ferragosto holiday, peaking in the last two weeks. Italians predominantly opt for staycations, with Puglia being a favored destination, especially for its beaches and cuisine.

      But the good news is that many of the Italians go to beach resort type destinations that are pretty much just for the beach, and stay there. Porto Cesareo, Torre Lapillo, Campomarino, Pescoluse and the myriad of camping beach villages and resorts all around the coast. Typically not the destinations that foreign visitors chose to stay.

      More good news: September is the busiest month for foreign visitors visiting Puglia. Not August.

      And even in August we can still enjoy even the popular beaches. We go to the beach around 8am and stay until 11.30, noon. We usually avoid the crowds who tend to arrive in greater numbers after their resort breakfast, around 10.30am.

      While the Italians choose Puglia, we think the majority of foreign visitors coming to Italy – especially from the US – still tend towards the more “romantic” destinations: Sicily, Tuscany, Sorrento and the Amalfi coast. If Puglia pulses during the summer months these destinations heave in comparison!

      Tropea we have no experience of. But we understand that it is one of the 25 most-visited cities in Italy and is a popular summer destination for Italians as well as Europeans. Tropea has 55km of coast, Puglia has 800km of coast, so even if our region is busier, there’s more beach to go round.

      While there are destinations in Puglia where the city beaches will be packed in August, like the city beaches of Bari, Gallipoli, Monopoli, Polignano a Mare and Otranto, you can find much quieter spots.

      Public Transport

      The main train service in Puglia is excellent. It connects Bari to Lecce. But some stations (Fasano, Cisternino, Ostuni) are distant from the towns they serve and you need to connect with buses or taxis.

      Elsewhere in Puglia other, local commuter trains run, but the services may not be so regular and reliable. We have a guide about public transport in Puglia, with links to the services for information. This should help with planning:

      The Puglia Guys Guide to Puglia by Public Transport

      We use the Trenitalia (official rail service) app, which is excellent. We can book tickets and change them usually for no extra cost before we “validate” them. Be aware that even with your downloaded phone app ticket, you still have to validate this before travel. You do this on the app using the “check-in” button. No additional information is needed, you just click the button.

      We have little experience of using buses as we usually drive, and sometimes for sustainability, use the train. But we see that in summer the buses are busy taking people to and from the beaches.

      Specific Questions

      1. The main beaches and city beaches will be packed (the possible exception being Vieste because it has massive long sandy beach stretching either side of the city), many remote beaches (and there are many) will not. You can mitigate against the busy-ness by going to the beach early. Unfortunately without your own transport it is very difficult to access the remote beaches. Some Masserie have access to private beaches, which might be an option. There are also private lidos away from the public beaches that you might prefer if you want to avoid more crowded beaches.

      Locorotondo, Cisternino, Ostuni, Martina Franca, Locorotondo, Ceglie are surprisingly quiet during the day (most people go to the beach) but at night they are very lively, the town squares busy and bustling. Less busy, but convenient as an alternative to Ostuni, Carovigno (which we think punches well above its weight). The trulli zones of Alberobello we totally avoid in August! That is what crowded feels like. The only place that we consider overcrowded. Polignano a Mare as a town still works for us in August as does Monopoli (though not for beaches)!

      2. This is challenging, because the places you probably want to visit aren’t served well by public transport. We trekked Porto Selvaggio (with a guide) which we loved. There is probably a bus service to Porto Selvaggio from Nardò. Torre Guaceto nature reserve is great and you can get a bus to the beach there.

      Would you consider organising this with a tour guide? They can organise the transport you need. We recommend Pietro of Puglialy.com. He does nature tours in the Valle d’Itria (as well as wine tours and cultural visits). We also suspect that he could organise transport for you to take you to wilderness beaches. This is his website.

      The Puglia Guys recommended tour guide: Pietro of Puglialy.com

      Do contact him, but soonest – he is one of the hidden gems, in demand and organises only small groups. But do tell him that the Puglia Guys recommended him to you!

      Someone else who might be able to help with activities type touring is Guiseppe Leone of Yuniqly but we don’t have any personal experience of his tours.

      Yuniqly.it

      3. There are many but the issue is accessing them without your own transport! Otranto is a very busy August destination, but nearby there are excellent beaches. Busy, but with plenty of room: Foce dei Laghi Alimini, Torre dell’Orso. There will be buses from Otranto, or you could consider staying at Torre dell’Orso, although for us it has much of that resort type feel.

      (We just collaborated with a BBC TV Travel Show presenter on an Instagram reel she filmed there: you can find it on our Instagram:

      Puglia Guys on Instagram)

      4. The bus service can be convoluted. For example from Ostuni the bus service takes you to Cisternino at one end, to Brindisi at the other. So if you wanted to get the bus from Ostuni to Locorotondo you would have to go to Cisternino and then take another bus. Same for Alberobello.

      By way of example the public transport solutions we are being given for Ostuni to Alberobello travelling today are:

      Bus to the train station in Ostuni, taking the train to Bari, then the bus from Bari to Alberobello (just over 2 hours, although by car we drive from Ostuni to Alberobello in 40 minutes).

      Or take the train from Ostuni to Mola di Bari, the bus from Mola di Bari to Conversano, then the train from Conversano to Alberobello – a total journey time of 2h 43m!!!

      Most buses are modern and will have luggage areas for general travel, but not the long distance travel overhead storage.

      National and regional train services are excellent, but the route is limited, as we have noted!

      5. Can we suggest another way of thinking your bases? Stay in Bari, Brindisi and Lecce only.

      From Bari you can day trip easily by train to Matera, Polignano, Monopoli, Alberobello and beyond. Use the trains. There are beaches north of Bari: Bisceglie, Barletta – for us resort type destinations, but with long sandy beaches, busy, but much bigger than those you find in Otranto for example.

      From Brindisi you can access the Valle d’Itria destinations you want to visit.

      From Lecce you can do the wonderful Salento towns as day trips. Gallipoli, Otranto, Nardò for Porto Selvaggio, choose the small quieter towns that you can access by public transport.

      That is just a thought. If you do use a guide like Pietro, you can perhaps programme in another destination (say Ostuni – and he will organise all your transfers) and plan hiking time using his services.

      Hope that helps you!

      LuigiM.

      1. Ciao Luigi,

        We can’t thank you enough for these tips! Very kind of you. You’ve really helped us shape our plans and bases in a more effective way. We will also check out Puglialy for the day trips and when we go, we will mention you.
        We’re so thrilled for our trip now and explore the recommended places you shared.

        P.S. we definitely will be recommending your travel websites to our friends who are thinking of travelling Puglia in the future 🙂

        All the best

        Mel

  37. Hi again, thank you SO much for your detailed reply. It is very helpful! I have noted that you recommend that we should base ourselves in Ostuni & Gallipoli for our 12 night stay. You recommended that we cut back on the nights in Polignano a Mare/Monopoli to stay longer in Ostuni, this makes sense. I’m wondering if we should not stay in Polignano or Monopoli at all as a base, and just keep it to two home bases; Ostuni and Gallipoli, or should we aim for all three? What do you think? Also, what are your thoughts on a Masseria stay? We want to be close to the town & city Center at night. Should we skip the Masseria and stay in town at a hotel or B&B instead? Lastly, do you recommend Matera as a day trip or overnight?
    One final question, as we are travelling from one destination to the next, is it safe to leave our luggage unattended in the car?
    Grazie!!!
    Giulia

    1. Our thoughts are, from Ostuni we can do easy day trips to Polignano a Mare and Monopoli. We could do both destinations in one day or take a day in each for half a day on the city beach (we have commented on these city beaches), lunch, and the rest of the day exploring the old towns, having gelato.

      When we are in Ostuni we are some 6-8km from the sea, but in places we can see it. But that’s fine, we get enough of the sea and beaches. But if you live in a city that is far away from the sea, perhaps on vacation you want to be right by the beach?

      A masseria for us is being cared for, beautiful, chilled surroundings where we relax and enjoy the attention and service we pay for. We don’t think of them too differently from luxury boutique hotels. We tend not to do B&B as it is not our style. We don’t like having a room or rooms in shared private accommodation, so we would always tend towards a private rental of whole villa, house or apartment. If we are doing a private rental, whilst many are nice, some beautiful, we still never feel the same luxury as a masseria. What do you prefer? Luxury and pampering or looking after yourselves?

      If you want to be close to town and city centre at night then you can find masserie that fit the description nearby the town of your choosing. But if you actually mean you want to walk (from the accommodation into the centre of town) rather than drive, then the countryside roads, even close by, are not made for walking and we would not recommend you walking then day or night and especially with children.

      Matera is very worth overnight.

      Wherever we are in the world we worry about leaving luggage unattended in the car as inviting opportunistic attention. Whether in Europe (Spain, France, Italy, UK etc), the US and Canada, most places really! And with checkout times often no later than 11am and check in from 3pm, the more bases you switch between that might mean more time without having any other option than leaving your luggage unattended in the car. We wouldn’t encourage that – wherever we are in the world, city or countryside!

      LM

  38. Hi again & thank you for your reply!

    As for the Masserie, they sound lovely but we do not plan on staying at the property all day, since we will be exploring different beaches & cities during the daytime. We will use the pool for an afternoon swim but won’t plan to have dinner at the Masseria as we would like to go out and explore different towns. When you recommend different home bases, do you suggest staying right in the city centers of the places you write about, or is slightly outside of them okay too (10-20 min car ride)? For example, with Ostuni, the Masserie we are looking at, are either in Fasano, Pezzo Di Greco, etc., not right in Ostuni. Is that still a good choice or should we find places as close as possible to main city centers? One other question, we found an agriturismo that is walking distance to Baia dei Turchi – does it make sense to stop there along the way to Gallipoli so that we can see the top beaches close by before we get to Gallipoli? It would be an extra stop, which you recommend that we don’t take but I wonder…how else will we see the beaches in Salento on the Adriatic coast? Would we take day trips from Gallipoli to see Otranto and close towns?
    Thank you again!
    Giulia

    1. Ciao. It comes down to your personal choice. Do you want to drive 10-20 minutes before and after dinner, find a parking spot? Or would you like to roll out of the apartment 5 minutes away from the town centre and not think about driving. Enjoy some fine wine from our region with dinner…

      We like to do both, depending on our mood and our last stay. Stay in the countryside when we want peace and quiet, enjoy the company of friends, cook outside (many villas have outside cooking). Chill in the warm evening air, in the surrounding olive grove and lemon trees. And, yes, go to the pool in the afternoon, when we want lazy quiet time. But if we want to go into town for dinner that means a dinner without wine so we can drive home.

      Sometimes we like the busy bustle of a lively old town centre in reach just beyond our door. When we socialise with friends, so we don’t have to plan our dinner around driving there and driving home. So we can enjoy an aperitivo before dinner, wine with dinner and an amaro to help digestion after.

      Our guides are written so that readers can find a location to explore Puglia based on their priorities and the type of holiday they want. We can’t be much more specific because the answer depends on a visitor’s personal preferences and what they want from their holiday.

      When it comes to picking bases and how many bases to choose we try not to be prescriptive. We try to make suggestions – such as considering checking-in and checking-out and keeping luggage in the car, until you can check-in at the next destination vs the convenience of day tripping from your base. We can take day trips from Otranto to Gallipoli or vice versa. But if we were on vacation, rather than travelling around our region we might choose not to. We might simply think why bother driving to Otranto and or Baia dei Turchi from Gallipoli when we can visit the city beaches in Gallipoli or have a shorter drive to Porto Selvaggio, or to Punta della Suina instead.

      There is so much to see in Puglia and if you want to see it all then you might want to have a road trip type holiday with more stop-offs to stay. Or you might make compromises and decide not to see it all, and settle for a more relaxing time and a smaller selection.

      Hope that helps you.
      Buona vacanze.LM

  39. Hi,
    I want to first thank you for taking so much time to explain everything so well about Puglia. My husband and I have read everything, but we’re still struggling to decide! We’re traveling from August 8th to 22nd, landing in Bari and departing from Naples to Belgium. Our little son is also coming along (he’s 1 year old). So, we’d like to spend 8-9 nights in Puglia with a mix of city visits, beach time, and occasional relaxation by the hotel pool. We thought for our first time in Puglia, we’d limit ourselves to: Bari, Polignano a Mare, Valle d’Itria, Monopoli, Alberobello, and Ostuni. Thus, we’re thinking of potentially staying in 2 different places: 4 nights in Monopoli (using it as a base to visit other towns) and 4 nights in Ostuni or Alberobello. We’d like to save the southern part of Puglia for another vacation (Lecce, etc.). As you know, we’re also heading to the other side of Italy: Campania. Would it be wise to spend 2 nights in Matera in between? Once we’re on the other side, we’d like to stay for 4-5 nights in the Sorrento, Positano, or Amalfi area, where we’d also visit Pompeii, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast. It seems like a lot, but we’re definitely planning to come back for more. We’ll also have a car for the entire duration of our stay. Which beaches would you recommend for us with our 1-year-old son? Something quieter would be ideal! So, we’re thinking of staying in 3, maybe 4 accommodations over the 2 weeks. Is this feasible? Your tips and recommendations would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 Thanks in advance for your response!

    1. Ciao

      Take a look on the maps and check out the connections between the three destinations you are thinking of.

      The distance between Monopoli and Ostuni is a little under 30km and we can drive from one to the other in a little over 30 minutes.

      Monopoli to Alberobello is 20km and we can drive from one to the other in just over 20 minutes.

      Ostuni and Alberobello are 36km apart, some 40 minutes by car.

      The drive from Ostuni to Alberobello and from Alberobello to Monopoli is one of our top 3 favourite drives in Puglia.

      We highlight this because for us the Ostuni, Alberobello, Monopoli triangle is a popular one, and one we would cover using just one base (Ostuni, Monopoli, or Cisternino, Locorotondo, even Carovigno or anywhere in the countryside in between, but never Alberobello, which we will come back to). As you have probably already read, for those using Monopoli or Ostuni as a base we recommend driving from one to Alberobello for a couple of hours to visit Alberobello, then leave Alberobello to head to the other for lunch. It puzzles us that so many people seem to choose both Monopoli and Ostuni as a base – and so many do – because for us it’s just a short hop from one to the other!

      For example, if we wanted a base to explore the Valle d’Itria (which is the middle part of Puglia that includes Carovigno, Ostuni, Ceglie Messapica, Cisternino, Martina Franca, Locorotondo and at its centre, Alberobello – with Monopoli and Polignano a Mare just beyond) we would choose either Ostuni or Monopoli. Monopoli would be our choice if we were spending time in Bari (which you are planning to do), Ostuni if we were planning on spending time in Lecce, which you are not!

      That said, we do appreciate a significant difference between the two choices and one that may well drive the choice of both as a base. Monopoli for a base that is right by the sea, Ostuni for a base that is surrounded by countryside.

      Puglia (and Sorrento, Positano and the Amalfi) in August

      This is the peak of tourist season, especially for Italian stay at home vacationers. Puglia will be busy, but of course it is possible to find quieter spots, off the beaten track places. However Naples, Sorrento, Positano and the Amalfi are still more visited by foreign – especially US – visitors and however busy we suggest Puglia will be in the following part of our thinking, those other southern Italian destinations are likely to be even more so. The main highway in August in Puglia is busy, but even in August driving in and around Puglia is not the chaos we hear about from friends who have done Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi. We say that not to put you off the other destinations, but simply to highlight that if we seem to suggest Puglia is too busy in August, the situation is magnified in these other places! Other than that we have no expertise with those other destinations, so have nothing more to say about them.

      You will see from our Monopoli guide – and the first three photographs of the city beaches – just how busy those city beaches are in summer. From memory the first 3 main beach photos were taken in July, when the beaches are “quieter”. Those Monopoli city beaches really don’t have space for little ones to splash around, and especially not in summer. We think that you should look at the beaches between Torre Canne down to Pilone, or at Specchiola or at Punta Penna Grossa AND go early in the morning, between 8am to 11.30am. Here you will find long stretches of sandy beach. Yes they will get busy, but first thing in the morning is when we go. Then spend for more time by the water head to the pool either in a Masseria or a private rental villa that has one.

      These are popular with families, and we see many little ones and toddlers splashing around. In fact, there is nothing more joyous than seeing a very little one discovering the fun and pleasure of splashing around the water’s edge. We see this happening over and over, some discovering the sea for the first time, and oh, the joy they show on their faces to Mum and Dad when they dip their toes in, or sit them down in their little floats and they splash and splash!

      Ostuni to Pilone is 12km, and a 14 minute drive. From Monopoli it is 32km and 25 minutes by car.

      Our Puglia Guys Monopoli Guide lists the nearby beaches that might be (a little) less crowded, including private lido beaches, but this part has many rocky coves rather than sandy beach, for which Monopoli is convenient.

      Monopoli Guide by the Puglia Guys.

      Our Ostuni Guide lists nearby beaches convenient for those staying in or nearby Ostuni (or Cisternino/Locorotondo), with parking information:

      Ostuni Summer 2024 Guide by the Puglia Guys.

      For less crowded beaches we head to spots on the Ionian coast where we find them south of Taranto, Manduria, and in Salento. We go to the other side of Salento, around Otranto and further south. Or we head to Gargano for our Puglia “beach” holiday. For this visit these are not however on your radar – which is why we have suggested the beaches nearby Ostuni and recommended early morning visits to mitigate against August popularity!

      Alberobello

      This is the most touristic, packed, relatively overpriced because of the volume of visitors part of our region and the least authentic. We would never stay in Alberobello itself, whatever the time of year. In August we tend to avoid it. But of course we can because we are here all year round. If you are visiting then even in August then no trip to Puglia is complete without seeing it. But for us you can see the “magic” of Alberobello in a 2-hour visit. For the trullo experience, find a trullo in the Valle d’Itria countryside. Trulli are all around the Valle d’Itria! We just want to be realistic so you can manage expectations about Alberobello!

      Matera

      Beautiful, the sassi experience can feel eerie and haunting. Although it is in the neighbouring region of Basilicata and not Puglia, many, many visitors stop off there because it is so accessible from Bari. If you are passing by we think it would certainly make sense to be able to spend a day and a half (split over a 1 night stay if you have a full schedule) in Matera.

      One final thought – if you are tending towards Ostuni, but finding somewhere suitable is difficult, take a look at Carovigno. It is very close, convenient for the same beaches and its smaller, less busy old town punches well above its weight. You might find better value in Carovigno or nearby:

      The Puglia Guys Guide to Carovigno, Ostuni’s nearby neighbour.

      Wherever you go in Puglia and Matera, good food is easily found!

      Hope that helps you finalise your focus! Buone vacanze, Luigi Max.

      1. Thank you so much Luigi! 🙂

        We are nevertheless hesitating to do 4 nights of Lecce (around Lecce) chilling at an Airbnb pool, and doing uistaps from there, we were thinking to stay rondol Lecce like: Mesagne, Nardo or Salve, do you have any other recommendations as a good base around Lecce? We would then do 1 night Matera and then the last days the Amafli coast.

        Thanks for you tips!
        Grazie!
        Mennie

        1. Nardò is a good call. We are big fans of Nardò and often recommend it as an alternative to Gallipoli in August. There are some really nice Masserie around there, and Galatone and Galatina. Gallipoli is an easy visit and also the slightly wilder nature reserve at Porto Selvaggio, which we really love. It’s not a sandy beach, but very interesting especially if you like nature.

          We would also add if you are looking around Lecce, on the other side, the beach at San Cataldo is excellent for little ones. The rake is shallow and long, and the dilapidated Roman pier still serves as a breakwater, so usually the water is very calm. It will be busy in August, it’s a small beach and a popular holiday town, but oh the contrast (for anyone else who is reading this) as soon as September comes – the beach is deserted!

          LM

  40. Ciao ragazzi,

    Sono half Tunisina, half Polish and I plan a trip to Puglia this June!
    I just wanted to thank you guys for this amazing article. It has lots of great information and it’s great and addresses lots of our questions.
    Thanks to you, I think we will do this June a 8-day trip with 3 bases:
    1) Ostuni (if we find affordable accommodation!
    2) Alberobello (my friend insists in living one night in the heart of the most famous village)
    3) Lecce or Gallipolli
    5) Bari for just one night to catch our flight back home

    I wanted to ask you guys if you could provide recommendations for local rental car agencies in Bari. We need a small car to be able to explore and we need to contact those agencies to check if we can paid with debit or cash instead of credit cards. It would be really appreciated if you could drop me a message about that.

    also, let’s meet up! I am also a travel blogger and would love to connect.

    Baci

    1. Ciao. Glad the guides have helped you planning.

      When in Bari – be sure to have some spaghetti all’assassina!

      We just had friends visit us. They rented their car using Noleggiare. They pranged their car when they were here when they were parking it, scraping it and denting it against a wall. They had the full cover direct from the car hire company, which meant paying no excess on the damage, and they had no problem with this when they returned the car. They reported the damage when it happened using the help line to comply with the T&C.

      We have no info on debit vs credit cards. But we understand car hire company practice is to block a deposit on a credit card for security, but have no experience of asking re debit card!

      Hope that helps. Have a great vacation. Buone vacanze.

  41. Hi Guys! I love the article and the great advice. I will be spending 2-3 weeks in Puglia this June and i am particularly interested in the Salento region. Im thinking 2- 3 bases , but 1-2 night in Bari Veccio . The bases I am considering Lecce or Nardo, Otranto, Santa María de Leuca. Thoughts?
    Im an artist and Ill probably split my time up sketching/ painting, beach/swimming time, exploring/ hiking/ biking, and just taking in the local vibe, enjoying it all. I like variety. :)))
    Im not super keen to rent a car tbh, but I will if I have to. ( I will be storing luggage in the Bari airport if possible and using my backpack so trains and alternative transport is easier…) I am more interested in having a base for 5 /6 days and exploring the area by bicycle… Is this doable? can one rent bikes or ebikes easily? I did so in the Ligurian rivera a couple years ago and It is my favorite way to explore pockets of regions.
    Any suggestions?
    I will probably book places as I go- but I like to have key locations in mind.
    Thanks!!

    1. Ciao

      Have a look at this article, which might be especially useful! The route seems to be very much the kind that you have in mind. You will also see that although the company mentioned organised group tours, this was a self-tour. It also takes in 3 of the places you mention (the writer stopped off in Gallipoli, but only some 16km from Nardò).

      Can I cycle 200 miles around Puglia in six days? I can on an e-bike

      There are other e-bike hire companies. We have spoken with these people, and seen them a few times at Puglia tourism fairs. They seem pretty nice, helpful and enthusiastic when we have spoken with them – we haven’t done a rental:

      Puglia OnBike

      In addition to rentals, they can organise transfers, luggage storage and have plenty suggestions on routes.

      Hope that helps. We would also love to know how you get on, given its not something we have done ourselves!

      Have fun, buone vacanze. LuigiM.

      1. Ciao Luigi thanks for the tips!
        How crowded is it in the first 2-3 weeks in June? the places i mention below?

        Ive made decisions based on the date and biking distance to towns in each area. Im sure its all beautiful! My travel between cities would be by public transportation and then local day trips in the area by bike.
        Begin in bari, 2nights Monopoli, ( maybe add in 1 night Ostuni ) , 5-7 days Lecce or Galapoli or Both , 4-5 days Otranto, a couple days in Santa Maria di Leuca. How realistic am i being to take transport to Otranto ,spend the afternoon and evening, then leave the next morning..

        -Where would you recommend If there was 1 place i should absolutely not miss ?
        – Where do you recommend 1 location – town or city : beautiful architecture, chill vibes, gorgeous beach,( sand or pebble no preference) ?

        Thanks again

        1. Ciao. Crowded is relative, In June we probably wouldn’t describe anywhere in Puglia as “crowded”, with the exception of Alberobello. Certainly at any time of the year there wont be as many visitors in Puglia as you will find in any of Rome, Florence, Naples, Sicily, Cinque Terre, Sorrento, Amalfi.

          Have you worked out the public transport logistics to all the destinations? Bari, Monopoli and Lecce are connected by regional train line, great service. Gallipoli is accessible by train, but its a slower service. Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca will need more careful planning. You can use our Puglia Guys Using Public Transport in Puglia guide to link to the necessary services, and check. You should also check which services you can take bikes on.

          Regarding your Otranto question, it should be but in reality will depend on where you are travelling from. Lecce to Otranto will be easier than Gallipoli to Otranto or Leuca to Otranto. If the question is whether an afternoon and evening is enough time in Otranto as a destination, then we usually only spend the day there, as part of a longer road trip, and that’s enough for us.

          Not miss: coastal route from Santa Cesarea Terme to Santa Maria di Leuca. However as you are connecting between towns by public transport and not cycling – and it could be a challenging cycle if you are only cycling locally, this might not be possible.

          Not miss: Santa Maria di Leuca for sunset, Gallipoli for sunset.

          Architecture: Lecce

          Chill vibes and beach: Gallipoli, Gallipoli at sunset,

          Beach: Spiagga della Purità (Gallipoli), and along the coastal route we mention the bathing spots at Santa Cesarea Terme, Castro Marina, Cala dell’Acquaviva. Marina Serra, il Ciolo.

          LuigiM.

          1. PS – We have a drone video we took flying over Gallipoli on out Instagram stories just posted. We often include videos on our social media we can’t include on the website, so do follow and see for more insight!

  42. Hello! This article is so incredibly helpful! My soon to be husband and I are traveling to the puglia region as part of our honeymoon for 13 nights in august. There seems to be so many beautiful places that we can’t go wrong but would love to hear your recommendations. We don’t want to move too much, and love the small itallian town vibe where we can really explore areas, have amazing food, and visit local bars and shops. Our first thought was to base ourselves in vieste for 4 nights, ostuni for 5 nights, and then somewhere further south in otranto for 4 nights so we can explore different regions but are thinking that might be too much movement.

    If we narrow that down to maybe vieste for 4 nights, and ostuni for 9 nights, do you think it will be easy for us to check out lecce, poglinano a mare, monopoli and otranto on day trips?

    Our only concern is vieste seems so far away, so would love to hear if you think we should absolutely include vieste in this itinerary, or maybe exclude it and stick to the valle d’itria and more southern coast of puglia. It’s so tough because we feel like we can’t go wrong regardless! Appreciate all of your wonderful insights!

    1. Ciao Monica

      A special place for a special occasion. Puglia is geographically a long region, extending some 400km from the northern point to its most southern point. What makes the choice of base an especially hard one is that our favourite destinations are at the extremes. Gargano, especially around Vieste and Peschici, and the coastal route from Santa Cesarea Terme to Santa Maria di Leuca at the other end!

      I don’t know where you are arriving, but if you are arriving in Bari airport we would strongly recommend Vieste. Apart from Gargano’s beauty, being that little bit further away from the Valle d’Itria works especially well in August. August is the busiest month for visitors coming to Puglia. But still, the least visited destinations at that time are in Gargano. Vieste also has massive long stretches of beach, as well as more hidden, exclusive beaches nearby. So even if it has more visitors, it has much more beach space! Visiting Vieste will mean that you avoid the busier parts of Puglia in August, the peak time for visitors, when at times some parts can feel overcrowded.

      Most Italians vacationing in Puglia in August will visit in and around the beach resorts. Otranto will be packed in August…

      So, what we would suggest you consider is Vieste but perhaps for longer than just 4 nights, for more chilled, more relaxed beach time. There is plenty to see and do and visit in and around. So you don’t just have to stay on the beach. And our favourite eating experience ever – at Al Trabucco da Mimi.

      Ostuni is a perfect base for day tripping to Cisternino, Locorotondo, Alberobello, Monopoli and Polignano a Mare, and for Lecce. From our Ostuni base we often day trip from Ostuni, Alberobello, Monopoli, Polignano and back to Ostuni when we have friends visit. All in one day – Alberobello doesn’t need much time to take in!

      As a final suggestion, the one place we visit in August which never seems busy or packed is Santa Maria di Leuca. It always has another worldly feel about it. But it is, as we have said, at the other extreme. But Otranto to Santa Maria di Leuca is the Puglia Guys favourite Puglia road trip! But around about it – Castro Marina, Otranto, Gallipoli on the other side are all places we tend to stay away from in August because they are popular with visiting Italians who flock to Salento in August!

      Hope that helps! Buone vacanze
      LuigiMax.

  43. This is the best article I seen on Puglia yet! Thank you! I’m hoping you can answer a few questions. I am flying into Bari very soon! May 23rd 😳 and will have a rental car. I am a single female traveler. I will have a week in Puglia and a week in Calabria. I will be spending 2 nights in Matera on my way to Calabria. I love the smaller, quieter, off the beaten trek towns. I would love to swim, eat healthy food and take in the culture, ideally in 2 different places. Recommendations on the best 2 locations to stay? I don’t mind driving and love to explore. Thank so much!

    1. Ciao Amy. Thanks for the feedback. We all live in Puglia (most of the team are originally from Puglia) and regularly travel around the region. We write our guides as locals, from the point of view of where we go and experience, but mindful of what visitors like to see!

      Food isn’t a problem when choosing a destination. Wherever you are in Puglia, you should find good food. We recommend trattoria or osteria type family cooking. An excellent town we don’t write about that much which is known for its great gastronomy is Ceglie Messapica. It is in the heart of the Valle dì’Itria. If you don’t mind being a little distant from the coast, you could look at Locorotondo and Cisternino too.

      A little closer to the coast might be Carovigno which is good for these beaches.

      On the other side of the coast think about Nardò (with nearby Porto Selvaggio great for trekking) or even Gallipoli. Gallipoli can get busy, but still at this time of year it shouldn’t be too busy, and the old town does have a very small town feel. With some great city beaches you can walk to, and other amazing beaches, including punta della suina.

      The main thing is to choose accommodation near or in the old town centre.

      If you really want to feel off the beaten track and go for small, try Santa Maria di Leuca. It is at the very tip of the heel, the drive from Otranto to Santa Maria di Leuca is one of our favourites. That stretch of coast has wild beaches to swim at. They are not sandy beaches, but will connect you with nature: Santa Cesarea Terme, Castro Marina, Cala del’Acquaviva Tricase Porto, Marina Serra, il Ciolo, and Leuca itself. A short drive away on the Ionian is Pescoluse, where you can visit when you want soft, white sands.

      Have a look at our 50 of Puglia’s best beach guides, if the beach is a main focus for destination!

      One final thought. While the city is a main one, its old town is off the beaten track and is wonderfully authentic, with the best seafood, we are huge, huge fans of Taranto’s old town, the borgo vecchio. A lot of it is run down, but life is still incredibly authentic and we can’t keep away from it. The coast south of Taranto is very good too… Don’t discount it because it isn’t much valued by visitors or a main city. Taranto’s old town is raw, gritty and authentic.

      Buone vacanze
      LuigiM.

  44. Ciao Ragazzi,
    I will be travelling to my parents’ hometown of Deliceto this summer with my husband and son, (22 years old). We are not planning to rent a car as we prefer not to drive while in Italy. Can you suggest the most efficient and economical way to move around Puglia. We will arrive by train in Foggia and then need to travel to Delicetto. After a 4-5 day stay, we will travel to one of the towns you recommend as a base to see Alberbello, Polignano a Mare, Lecce, and any others we can.

    1. Ciao. We have a guide written for this purpose. The Puglia Guys guide to navigating puglia by public transport. It has the links you should need to plan your journey.

      The TrenItalia app is very helpful We use it all the time.

      The regional trains that connect Foggia, Bari and Lecce are very good. They connect Polignano and Polignano has a central station, (compared with eg Ostuni and Carovigno where the stations are 3.5km and 5km out of town, with limited connections into town, if at all in the case of Carovigno).So, when choosing a base you will want to check ease of connection and distance from station to town. Easy are Bari, Polignano, Monopoli, Brindisi, Lecce where the stations are central.

      If you do decide to hire a car, driving in Puglia is usually straightforward. Have a read of the Puglia Guys practical guide to driving in Puglia as well.

      Buone vacanze.
      LuigiM

      1. Ciao Guys

        Thanks for the fantastic guide! Do you have any recommendations for local (less touristy) restaurants / bars in Martina Franca. We are considering staying here for 4 nights as a base to visit the area at the end of September.

        Grazie Lila

        1. Ciao Lila.

          Martina Franca has a delightful piazza, with baroque and rococo architecture as a backdrop.

          Our two favourite restaurants (Ciacco at via Conte Ugolino 14 and Il Ritrovo degli Amici on corso Messapica 8) have closed, which is why our Puglia Guys curated guide to Puglia’s best restaurants is lacking recommendations there.

          However in the countryside between Martina Franca and Ceglie Messapica (which is a centre of gastronomic excellence) you will find Trattoria delle Ruote. There is not an extensive menu. The dishes are few and simple. When we went there was only one starter. But this is the joy of authentic trattoria eating. Often you take what is being cooked, which depends on what produce was available from the garden or market that day. So it is very seasonal. It is typical Puglian cuisine. Strada Monticello 1.

          Buon appetito
          LuigiM.

  45. Hi Puglia guys, thank you for your wonderful information on Puglia, I just stumbled upon your blog and let me tell you it’s a game changer! My husband and I and our two year old daughter will be visiting Puglia for the first time in early June for 10 days. We have a car and will be able to visit the nearby towns. We have already booked 3 nights in Ostuni to visit the Valley D’itria and enjoy the nearby beaches. From there, we found some available Airbnb apartments in Lecce to visit the Salento region, where we also plan to stay for 3 nights. At the end of our vacation we would like to visit the Bari area and of course Matera, but we still don’t know where to stay… We prefer authentic villages and towns, but don’t mind visiting big cities for a day trip. We love beaches and would like to find quiet sandy areas to spend time in. And we love to eat like the locals! Oh, and I’m 7 months pregnant… Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated…

    1. Hi Amira.

      1. The G7 Leaders summit is taking place in Puglia between 13 – 15 June. You don’t say when you are visiting, but be aware that it will be held in the Borgo Egnazia in Savelletri, nearby Monopoli and Fasano. Security arrangements are still to be announced, but it is anticipated that there will be a red exclusion zone of 10sq km around the Borgo during this time, and we know that downtown Brindisi will be subject to severe disruption for the opening event on 13 June. It is also anticipated that there will be a yellow zone up to as much as 30sq km around the Borgo, which will restrict access and exit to domiciled residents ONLY who are pre-registered for a security pass. This could affect Monopoli, BUT it will certainly cause disruption and perhaps mean certain of the beaches we recommend for Ostuni visits will be unreachable during this time – certainly those between Monopoli and Torre Canne.

      2. Our Puglia Guys day trip and road trip planner guide should help you plan the trips you are thinking of making. The good news is that pretty much all of Puglia still feels authentic, with many places still feeling off the beaten track. The exception is Alberobello, which we say no visit to Puglia’s Valle d’Itria is complete without visiting. But a couple of hours in Alberobello is all you need. Ostuni becomes very busy, though it is dear to us as it’s where we have our Puglia Guys HQ (although all of us live outside Ostuni, apart from Davide) – one of the reasons we suggest “staying local”, by which we mean considering nearby Carovigno instead of Ostuni, or Nardò instead of Gallipoli.

      3. Our guides to Puglia’s beaches are pretty extensive and really can’t add anything more than suggest looking at this to decide which beaches best suit what you are looking for – particularly the Puglia Guys guide to 50 of Puglia’s best beaches.

      4. If you are considering where to stay between Bari and Matera, for say 1 night at the end of your visit. Hmm. There is much more to see in Matera, and easier to spend more time there, whereas in Bari the star is Bari Vecchia, the old port. But we prefer to eat out in Bari for the variety of places and types of dishes. The typical dishes of Bari are, for us, more interesting than those of Matera.

      5. This year one of the things we are trying to raise awareness of, something that can really add value to a holiday, are the pizzica nights that are put on for locals which are a real bonus experience if you stumble upon one. We just took friends to one last night, where there was a free pizzica workshop and then a free concert to celebrate Santa Rita. We will have some videos appearing on our Instagram and twitter, and we include information about these on our social as and when we know about some. This can be fun, just to watch even if you can’t dance around pizzica style, which we don’t imagine wouldn’t be recommended by your doctor at 7 months!

      Hope that helps, and thank you for the kind words about the website.
      Buone vacanze
      LuigiM.

  46. Hi guys – your website is the most detailed and useful travel site I’ve ever seen. Thank you for all the information!
    My wife and I will be in Puglia from 30 May to 10 June. We will be working for the 4 days in the middle, so are renting an apartment in Monopoli Monday afternoon to Friday. But we have Friday to Monday at the beginning and Saturday to Monday at the end to fill. We arrive to Bari on Thursday evening, so perhaps a night in Bari Vecchia and head south Friday afternoon for three nights in Lecce or Otranto (not sure which). We tend to like low-key places and good, simple seafood and wine. But we don’t mind the odd nice cocktail bar too. For the final weekend I love the idea of Vieste but it’s out of the way so does it mean we’ll miss out on some other good spots to visit (given our Monopoli time will only give us evenings free from work)? I guess it’s also a fairly long drive to the airport when we leave (although our flight is 10pm). We don’t want to be rushing about in our free time but we will have a car and would like to check out the best of the region of course. Any advice would be very welcome. Grazie!

    1. Hi Alex

      Thank you for the kind words. Glad you found the site and found it useful.

      Here are some thoughts:

      1. We are big fans of Bari Vecchia. Bari has become one of Puglia’s most popular city break destinations. It certainly deserves a night or at least half a day to explore, and to hit the assassin’s trail for some spaghetti all’assassina, Bari’s must eat spaghetti dish! You do not need a structured tour, our Puglia Guys Bari guide will help guide you to some highlights, and its very much the nature of the place to meander around! But if you do the Puglia Guys recommend taking part in the Free Walking Tour Bari around the old town (called “The First”).

      2. Lecce or Otranto? Lecce is 13km from the coast. Otranto is a seaside destination, in many ways similar to Monopoli, but with much more beach and seafront than city centre Monopoli has. Otranto has some stunning coast nearby, and places you very well for our favourite Puglia roadtrip – the coastal route from Santa Cesarea Terme to Santa Maria di Leuca. We take all our friends who visit on this trip.

      Of course, you can manage the same from Lecce, in which case we recommend heading from Lecce directly to Santa Cesarea Terme, instead of starting that trip from Otranto. Lecce will feel very different from Monopoli, which might help guide you in choosing between the two.

      3. Good, simple seafood and wine is easy. Wherever you are in Puglia you will find this and eat well. Avoid tourist favourites like Osteria del Tempo Perso, which come highly recommended by travel guides and other visitors. Locals would certainly not eat there. Also, with a few exceptions, fancy, expensive restaurants are often style over substance. Ask your hosts for their recommendations. These are the Puglia Guys recommendations for Puglia’s great restaurants and eating out experiences. We have to update more detail for Le Zie Trattoria Casereccia in Lecce following our last visit. Incredible.

      4. From north (where Vieste is more or less) to south, Puglia extends some 400km. We would agree that in the time you have it would be pushing it to try and take it all in. Don’t think of it as missing out. There are plenty amazing places you will be able to see with the locations you mention already as bases. Think of it as leaving something for the next time…!

      5. In case you missed it, the Puglia Guys essential day trip and road trip planner is meant to help you plan in a way that suits your way of travelling to make the most efficient use of the time you have.

      Hope that helps guide you on the bits you still need a steer on.
      Buone vacanze
      Luigi M.

  47. Hi,
    Thank you for all of your wonderful tips! We are going to Puglia last week in Sept for a short 3 night stay. We would really like to see it all but know we are limited.
    We would like to go to Bari, Alberobello, Valle D’itria region, Polignaro/Monopoli and would love to go down to a toward Salento somewhere. Can you recommend a central location, for at least 2 nights and maybe one night elsewhere. From there we will be driving to Sorrento for 5 days. And possibly going to Capri or Ischia overnight and heading back to Rome to the US.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Ciao Theresa

      Our three main guides are written to give you most of the information you need to guide you to the destination that best suits the vacation you are looking to have! Do you want quiet countryside relaxation or vibrant beach resorts with a lively bar scene? Small town isolation or bustling city break? Do you have your own transport, or do you need to rely on public transport to get around?

      Whichever of these combinations, you should be guided by:

      1. The Puglia Guys guide to finding the best base in Puglia.

      2. The Puglia Guys Guide to Essential day trip and road trip planning in Puglia – we strip down Puglia (and Matera which is not part of Puglia, but a near neighbour in Italy’s Basilicata region) to its essential parts. Here we consider visiting these destinations as day trips, when your chosen base is elsewhere.

      You can then fit together the pieces to plan an itinerary that best suits your needs. Whether for efficient day-tripping, making the most economic use of time and distance, or packing in as much of our region as you can during a shorter stay.

      3. The Puglia Guys beach guide.

      Once you have identified the locations that best suit your vacation desires and circumstances, by all means we can give you some thoughts if you are struggling to shoes between, say, Monopoli vs Otranto, or Locorotondo vs Cisternino, that kind of fine tuning. Hope that makes sense.

      Buone vacanze!
      LuigiMax.

  48. Hi Luigiand Max,

    Excellent guides you have written!!
    I am going to Puglia for 6 nights in the second week of September this year with my partner. We’re struggling to pick between 3 nights in Ostuni or Carovingo and 3 nights in Gallipoli or Otranto or Vieste or Santa Maria di Deluca. So basically 3 nights with access to the Valle d’Itria (and close enough to beaches) and 3 nights by a coastal town with great beaches and night life.

    We love to visit beaches, and national parks and will rent a car while we are in Puglia.

    Any advice or recommendations would be much appreciated!!

    1. Ciao, grazie.

      Carovigno and Ostuni are very close by each other. About 10 minutes apart by car. So staying in Carovigno will add 10 minutes to your journeys into the Valle d’Itria and favourites like Cisternino, Locorotondo, Alberobello. Ostuni will be busier, and has more bars on the main piazza to watch people pass by. It also has a bigger old town, and many more bars for variety. Carovigno is much more compact, quieter and will have less visitors. It has a smaller but extremely attractive old town with some beautiful passages. There is a great bar on the piazza and three great restaurants side by side for variety. September is the busiest month for foreign visitors coming to Puglia, so we think Ostuni will feel fuller than Carovigno which should have a sleepier feel to it.

      Vieste or Santa Maria di Leuca: Vieste has long stretches of sandy beach you can walk to. Leuca has a small sand beach, and a number of private lidos with wooden decks which lead into the water. It’s rocky and you need swimming shoes to protect your feet. So if sandy beach is a priority Vieste beats Leuca. But 9 minutes away by car from Leuca is some of the most beautiful beach in Puglia at Pescoluse. When we visited Vieste in the 3rd week of September last year it was already shutting down for the season. We were told the season ends there after the 2nd week in September. There was still enough to do, and the week before, we imagine you should see little difference.

      Gallipoli vs Otranto: for variety spend some time on the Ionian coast, so choose Gallipoli. It has in our opinion a more interesting old town, and feels more fishing village than Otranto.

      Hope that, along with our guides, this helps.

      LuigiM.

        1. PS – We have a drone video we took flying over Gallipoli on out Instagram stories just posted. We often include videos on our social media we can’t include on the website, so do follow and see for more insight!

          1. Awesome, I’ll check it out!! With accommodation in Ostuni, would you recommend staying in the Historic Centre, or more city fringe?

          2. The historic centre and the area behind Piazza della Libertà. If you search on a website like Booking and use the map function, you can see the areas where there is demand. There is little appetite and it seems little on offer outside this central zone! We prefer the area behind Piazza della Libertà because you can access it by car, whereas the historic old town is a restricted ZTL, for residents only.

            LuigiM.

  49. Ciao Luigi e Max,
    Ho letto molti dei vostri articoli e vi ringrazzio. Li ho trovati piene di informazzioni per autarci a sceglere La Nostra aventura.
    My wife and I are planning a slow paced trip to Puglia from mid Sept to mid October. We are both retirees and love swimming, walking and kayaking. We want to spend the first couple of weeks at seaside towns where we could enjoy days of swimming. Will the sea temperature still be warm enough for comfortable swimming? . We are thinking of Polignano a mare, Otranto then gallipoli, with day trips to near by beaches. And evening strolling the towns. We wanted to ask you about Santa Maria de Leuca if it is better to base there then either Otranto or Gallipoli? Or if there are nicer seaside towns to base in the south?
    The second half will be Ostuni & Lecce with day trips and then Bari to fly out.
    Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.
    Ciao, Gianni

    1. Ciao Gianni

      The water temperature when you visit is especially fine for swimming. It warms all summer, so in September the average is usually 25°c | 77°f, cooling a little during October. Our last swim of the year is usually around the 3rd last week of October.

      Are you hiring a car, because that will make a difference when it comes to travelling to Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca, and any planned day trips from there? (From Leuca you would take a bus to Gagliano del Capo – 10 minutes then a train from there to eg Lecce – 2h14m with a waiting time in between of 30m for total journey time of 3 hours; by car its an hour drive).

      Are you fussed by sandy beaches vs interesting places to swim? If its the former, then Monopoli might be a better base than Polignano, and Gallipoli a better base than Monopoli. If it’s the latter then choose any of the stop offs on the best road trip in Puglia which is also our favourite road trip, from Santa Cesarea Terme to Santa Maria di Leuca. Again, that’s one to make with a car.

      Santa Maria di Leuca is at the very tip of the heel. It’s quiet and has a slightly other worldly feel because it is at the distant point. It has many lidos (private beaches) and very little sandy beach. You need swimming shoes to protect your feet from the rocks and sea urchin. By late September October, it will start to close the lidos for the season, as end of season comes earlier there. In that sense Gallipoli would make a better base. It’s still coming to end of season, but there will be more in Gallipoli. A bigger selection of bars for coffee and pastries and restaurants for lazy lunches. When it comes to Gallipoli vs Otranto we think Gallipoli’s old town is more interesting than Otranto’s is. It’s prettier and has more of a fisherman village feel.

      There are other seaside towns that have great beaches. Especially at and around Porto Cesareo, Torre Lapillo, San Pietro in Bevagna, Campomarino di Maruggio and perhaps the most beautiful at Pescoluse. But these are more resort type destinations in the sense that the towns have very little to them, unlike Gallipoli, Otranto, Monopoli, Polignano. But, they are not “built-up” resorts with over-developed seafronts in that sense. We don’t have much of that in Puglia. That’s why we don’t cover them much. They are great for us to visit for the day, or for the thousands of northern Italians who flock those destinations for their 2-week seaside vacation in August. But not really as interesting to foreign visitors, despite having beautiful seas and beaches!

      Other than that we have nothing more to add than is already included in our guides. The beach guide and our road trip guide perhaps worth a revisit after reading this.

      Ostuni and Lecce will take care of themselves. If you get the chance, try and have some time in Bari Vecchia for some spaghetti all’assassina. Bari Vecchia is one of our favourite places to eat. But good food is everywhere wherever you are in Puglia.

      Buone vacanze, LuigiM.

      1. Molte grazie Luigi! Yes we will be renting a car and after reading many of your informative articles we will definitely be making that road trip from Otranto to Leuca. We love all kinds of beaches: sandy, rocky and hidden gems. We will follow your recommendations and visit many of the best beaches on your list. Your articles have been very helpful in our planning and yes good idea to reread them. Thank you again! Ciao

      2. Molte grazie Luigi! Yes we will be renting a car and after reading many of your informative articles we will definitely be making that road trip from Otranto to Leuca. We love all kinds of beaches: sandy, rocky and hidden gems. We will follow your recommendations and visit many of the best beaches on your list. Your articles have been very helpful in our planning and yes good idea to reread them. Ciao!

    2. PS – We have a drone video we took flying over Gallipoli on out Instagram stories just posted. We often include videos on our social media we can’t include on the website, so do follow and see for more insight!

  50. Grazie Luigi! Thank you so much for all of this incredible information on Puglia. My wife and I are planning our honeymoon in September. Unfortunately we only have 6 days in Puglia but we were hoping to visit Matera, Gallipoli and somewhere as a base in Salento. We will likely start in Matera and work our way over to Salento (we fly out of Brindisi). Is this too much of an ambitious itinerary with the time we have? I would also love to hear any recommendations of less touristy places to stay near the above locations. Thanks you so much for your help!

    1. Ciao – and thank you for the kind words!

      Alto (Upper) Salento starts from Ostuni. MAtera to Ostuni is approx 100km and less than a 2 hour drive. Ostuni to Santa Maria di Leuca at the very southern end of Salento is a further 160km, just under 2 hours. So geographically we think linking Matera with destinations in Salento within 6 days is manageable.

      Matera is not a destination we would suggest substituting for a more “local” location nearby. Matera is unique and should be experienced as a destination, Staying over, especially in the sassi, or at least having dinner in the sassi, is an atmospheric experience which we don’t think you should miss out on. But a nearby alternative could be Gravina in Puglia (that’s its name, including the “in Puglia” part, which is much smaller, much less visited, but still quite spectacular). It was the aqueduct that featured in the Bond film No Time to Die, in the opening Matera sequence, passed off as Matera!

      Gallipoli has a fair share of visitors in September, but much less than in August. We love the old town here, and again its has such a nice feel that we really think it is worth staying here. But an alternative could be Nardò. Not quite as nice.

      However if you want a really off the beaten track experience, try Santa Maria di Leuca. We return 4 or 5 times each summer. It feels special. Other suggestions: Tricase. Marina Serra (which has very little to it) or away from the coast, Miggiano.

      Buone vacanze and auguri on your upcoming marriage.

      LuigiM.

      1. Thank you very much for this Luigi. Are there any towns near Ostuni that you would recommend as a base?

  51. I’m looking to visit Pulgia late August for 6 nights for a beach vacation . I’m renting a car and was thinking about staying in Monopoli for 3 nights and Otranto for the rest of the time . Would you recommend that and is that a good place to make a base for a beach vacation?

    I’m mostly wanting to go to the beautiful beaches , please let me know your thoughts and if there is a better towns to stay to do this .

    Best regards

    1. Ciao. Our two main guides have pretty much all the information you need to guide you to the destinations that best suit you, if you are looking for a beach destination.

      The Puglia Guys guide to finding the best base for vacation in Puglia

      And

      The Puglia Guys guide to 50 of Puglia’s best beaches.

      HOWEVER, we urge you to look at our Monopoli guide as you will get a reasonable indication of what Monopoli’s beaches are going to look like in August. Monopoli has tiny city beaches with small, minuscule sandy sections. In August when Italians are on vacation and many staycation Italians come to visit Puglia, there is barely any space on Monopoli’s city beaches. We avoid them in August, always.

      Otranto will fare only slightly better because the city beaches and nearby beaches are bigger. But it will still be buzzing. If choosing between the two we would take Otranto.

      The benefit of Otranto is that you can do the amazing coastal route from Santa Cesarea Terme to Santa Maria di Leuca.

      We often go to Santa Maria di Leuca in August, simply because it feels quiet. But the beaches here are rocky, little sand, and we hang out at the private lidos.

      Our preferred destination that we would choose for a beach vacation in Puglia in August would be Vieste where, less visitors visit than the rest of our region, and where there are long deep stretches of beautiful beach (for up to 3km) all accessible from town. That means more beach to go around, even when there are more visitors. But also because Gargano is beautiful and there are many other exceptional beaches that you can secret away at, even in August!

      Buone vacanze
      LM

  52. Hi Puglia Guys,
    First of all, thank you for the amazing information on your website. I’ve learned so much about Puglia. It has truly heightened my excitement for my upcoming trip. Greetings from Brazil!
    I’ll be traveling with my boyfriend at the end of July. We have four nights and five days to spend in Puglia. We both love good food, beautiful beaches, as well as historical sites and stunning landscapes, though we’re not particularly seeking out a bustling nightlife scene. We’re aware that our time is limited, but we’re eager to experience a taste of all that Puglia has to offer. Our plan is to rent a car in Naples, attend a wedding in Potenza, and then make our way to Puglia. Our flight back departures from Naples so we need to head back to Naples at the end of our Puglia trip.
    After reading your guides, I’ve come up with the following itinerary (still a work in progress, LOL) and would love to hear your thoughts:

    Day 1: From Potenza, take a day trip to Matera. By the end of the day, head to the Otranto region and base ourselves there.
    Day 2: Explore the beaches of the Otranto region. Stay overnight in the Otranto region.
    Day 3: Spend the morning exploring the rest of the Otranto region (including Lecce and its surroundings). After lunch, head to the Ostuni region.
    Day 4: Explore the Ostuni region, including Alberobello, Locorotondo, and Cisternino. Stay overnight in the Ostuni region.
    Day 5: Explore the remaining sights of the Ostuni region in the morning (such as Fasano and Polignano a Mare), then head back to Naples.

    If the itinerary above makes sense, where would you recommend basing oneself in the Ostuni/Otranto region, considering nearby cities?

    Many thanks in advance. Once again, your website has already greatly enhanced our trip planning.
    Best regards,
    Natália

    1. Ciao Natália

      Grazie for your kind words, and we are really happy to learn that our guides have been helpful to your plan.

      The first thing that jumps out is that you are covering a lot of distance. It works, but you will want to have some beach time! We might suggest a re-order to make better use of geography and distance.

      From Matera drive to Ostuni, and en route you can stop off at Alberobello (2 hours needed to visit), head to Cisternino for afternoon coffee and gelato at the panoramic terrace and then on to Ostuni (city), to stay the night. The next day you could visit Monopoli for lunch and Polignano a Mare for a special coffee and gelato. Then you could return to Ostuni for a 2nd night in Puglia.

      The next day from Ostuni you could go to Gallipoli (as an alternative to Otranto), or Otranto. Perhaps Gallipoli has a slightly smaller fishing village feel than Otranto – though we like both. But for eating out, for us, perhaps Gallipoli has an ever so slight edge over Otranto. However if you do go to Otranto that means you can take our favourite road trip down the Adriatic coast from Santa Cesarea Terme to Santa Maria di Leuca. You Can visit Leuca from Gallipoli, or course, but the coastal drive down the Adriatic side it the one thing not to be missed.

      So that is your 3rd night in Puglia at Otranto or Gallipoli. From there, you could consider a more strategic 4th night in beautiful Bari Vecchia, for a much easier trip back to Naples. En route from Otranto or Gallipoli to Bari, stop off at Savelletri for lunch. The olive groves and countryside a round Savelletri are beautiful.

      Hope that makes sense, and hopefully might make for a more economic trip in terms of direction and distance, for better and more leisure time!

      Important guides to look at:

      The Puglia Guys Essential Puglia Day Trips and Road Trips Guide.

      The Puglia Guys Guide to Savelletri

      The Puglia Guys Guide to Eating Out in Bari.

      Buone vacanze!
      LuigiMax.

  53. This is very helpful! Thank you for writing this. My friend and I have a long Holiday break right after Christmas. (I am a teacher and she is able to take off). We are planning on heading over to visit the middle area (the Valley, I believe is the nickname). We are planning on visiting Alberobello, Cisternino, Ostuni, Monopoli, and Polignano. I believe we are looking to fly into Bari. We have from Dec 27 to Jan 3 (flying out on the 3rd) to visit and explore. Do you have any suggestions on where to stay? We were thinking maybe staying at Monopoli and then one other place. We hope to rent a car for easy access to traveling. Any additional advice from someone who lives there would be great!

    Thanks again and happy summer!

    1. Hi Elethea. We joke that here we have only 2 seasons in Puglia: estate and non estate (summer and not summer)!

      We love our region, and we love sharing it with visitors. But in winter we don’t recommend visiting Puglia, with the exception of a city break in Bari. There are two reasons: firstly although this is the south of Italy, the winter weather can be unkind. We have most of our annual rainfall from November to February. When the sun shines it is warm, but as soon as the sun disappears the temperature drops. In winter, days are shorter – so even if we have sunny days, sunshine hours are shorter. We sometimes get snow, but if we do not for long. However the main thing is that in winter the humidity chills to the bone. I feel more chilled here in Puglia over winter than I ever did when I was working in the UK. It might not get as cold, temperature wise, but here the humidity cuts through…

      The other reason is that so many of the places that visitors come to see, the old towns, for example are much quieter. A good thing, but with that many of the businesses – the coffee bars, restaurants also close from the end of October until Easter. In Ostuni we estimate about 65% of places we usually visit are closed up, or open for say dinner only, instead of lunch and dinner. You will find the same across the Valle d’Itria, and the rest of Puglia. Monopoli is a popular seaside town with an old town many love to visit, but the overall experience would be the same.

      It’s not that we are talking about less crowds, rather the feeling of (almost) being a ghost town. Yes, daily life continues for local residents outside (and inside) these areas. But many bars and restaurants and accommodations supported by the summer visitors close up. The young seasonal staff head to the ski resorts north to work the winter season. Where bars and restaurants open, gone are the outside seating areas that create the buzz and lively atmosphere, and the experience of being here at other times.

      One of our team has a successful, popular rental apartment in Ostuni, but they close it from September until April because although there is demand the experience of guests tends to be less positive because of the weather. They don’t enjoy the vacation and they consider this is reflected in how their guests rate their stay. The 9 and 10 ratings of summer become 6, 7 and 8! So they no longer rent it out over winter.

      We are sure some people still really enjoy visiting at that time of year and enjoy the nature and brisk beach walks. But if it rains, as it often does, there really isn’t that much to do outside Bari. We see those people in and around Ostuni, for example. A deserted piazza della Libertà – perhaps with 2 or 3 of the 15 or so bars and restaurants on and around it open to serve them. And every time we wonder why on earth they decided to visit – we think it is because they imagine being in southern Italy here means still warm winters:(

      There will be some places open, and of course Bari, being a major city doesn’t change too much in terms of places to visit, eat and drink. The pasta ladies might not be out in force on orecchiette street, if at all, but the bars and restaurants still open to cater to locals and that’s a time we like to eat out there because it feels like there are mainly locals around.

      So, if you wrap up warm the good news is that Bari will be a good base at that time of year and day trips to the destinations you mention are possible from there. You can also visit Matera with ease from Bari.

      We regularly receive messages from organisations promoting Puglia as a winter destination like this one:

      “ Although this region is often considered to be a purely summery destination, the winter season is equally interesting, indeed it hides some truly unique aspects.

      Temperatures are often mild, perfect for excursions to characteristic towns, historical sites, antique markets, ceramic villages and to enjoy the calming beauty of countryside living.”

      We don’t rely on tourism for a living, so we feel we can be honest and suggest that if you come, you need to be prepared for a “chilled” experience in more than one way. Bring warm clothes and waterproofs. Be prepared for a very different experience, which might suit you. But we don’t think Puglia is at its best until it wakes from its winter slumber around springtime when Easter kicks off the season.

      But if the alternative suits you, certainly Bari Vecchia is a good destination and popular all year round. If you still want to try somewhere else, Polignano a Mare have a festival of lights at wintertime and might be more interesting as a destination than Monopoli (its near neighbour) at that time of year. Usually we suggest Monopoli between the two in summer because Polignano is the more popular, but in winter Polignano will be so much quieter to justify staying there instead.

      Hope that helps manage your expectations for a winter visit!

      LM.

      1. Thank you so much for the suggestions. We are visiting that area in the winter to see the Christmas decorations. It is on my friend’s bucket list to see them.

  54. Ciao! Really looking forward to visiting Puglia and more so after reading a lot about it here. We are a couple in our early 30’s travelling early July, arriving from London so airport arrival options aren’t an issue. We’ll actually be flying into Bari or Brindisi then travel further north to take a flight from Florence through Tuscany. But regarding the trip down south – we love food, wine, beaches, activities, we love lively atmosphere, not nightclub raves so much but bars and day beach clubs, live music (even though I’ve read this is quite rare in Italy). Do you have any suggestions for a base for us for 4 nights – 5 days? We will be renting a car while we are in the area so we can explore Polignano a Mare, Ostuni, Lecce, maybe even Otranto. Then head up to Vieste for a couple days. If you have any local car rental company suggestions (of the base you recommend) while we’re there we were thinking of returning the car and getting to train (from Ostuni to Foggia) to Vieste as I read its a great way for both of us to enjoy the views of the coast. Feel free to let me know if I’ve gotten anything wrong also as it’s my first time visiting this area! Thank you for taking the time, we really appreciate it.

    1. Ciao!

      Fun day beach clubs (just a selection):

      Baia Verde, Gallipoli – basically the whole stretch of lidos. Pumping the vibe from afternoon until sunset, our favourite Pôr do Sol. Plenty around Otranto too on the other side of the coast, a very popular couple at I Caraibi del Salento beach bar at Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle (at Torre dell’Orso). Togo Bay by Torre Lapillo is pricey, but has a nice vibe. We also liked Bahia Lounge Beach at Ginosa. They are all around the coast, but the Salento ones are best known. Gallipoli and Otranto sound like places to consider for nearby Baia Verde and Torre dell’Orso beaches for fun beach clubs.

      Live Music

      This summer in Puglia as part of the Medimex festival we have:

      Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in Taranto on June 19th
      The Chemical Brothers in Bari on July 14th

      The Locus Festival takes place from 27 June to 1 September (Locorotondo, Valle d’Itria, Egnazia, Bari, Trani and Taranto). This year includes:

      Simply Red, Sigur Rós, Herbie Hancock, Robert Plant and a favourite Italian indie band of ours, Baustelle.

      Then there are the classic, folk, jazz and pizzica festivals…

      Base

      We’ve mentioned Gallipoli and Otranto already, otherwise nothing to add to what you will have read in our guide about finding the best base for your vacation in Puglia. Good food and wine are wherever you are in Puglia We are Italy’s 2nd top regional wine producer and apparently now the 2nd top foodie destination in Italy. Our curated guide to Puglia’s best restaurants has recommendations for wherever you find yourself.

      Car Rental

      We write from our experiences, and we all have our own transport. However friends who have visited have found the service from Noleggiare.it positive.

      Train to Vieste

      Not sure if your info is correct here. From Monopoli to Barletta the train line runs nearby and adjacent to the coast, but onward to Foggia and then either to Manfredonia or to Rodi-Peschici is inland and you miss the best of the coast, in our opinion, which is driving from Bari to Vieste via Margherita di Savoia and through the salt flats (look out for flamingos) and following the coast. The train doesn’t go to Vieste, and you would lack a car for getting around beautiful Gargano and some of the best beaches and coast in Puglia!

      Our favourite road trip is Santa Cesarea Terme to Santa Maria di Leuca, also following the coastal route. Another reason why perhaps instead of looking for a base in and around the Valle d’Itria a better base for better beaches is in Salento – Gallipoli, Otranto.

      Details of both included in our essential Puglia day trip and road trip guide.

      Brindisi airport best for Salento, Bari for Vieste and Gargano.

      Hope that helps. Buone vacanze!

      LuigiMax.

  55. Hi there, I’m visiting from Seattle WA next June for about two weeks! I’m very excited, esp since I’m gay and have been looking for a place where I can immerse myself in local gay Salento culture, but also relax and enjoy all that Apulia has to offer! This is my first international trip EVER, and I wanted to visit a unique area of Italy that wasn’t AS touristy as other places. That said, will there still be gay locals and travelers hitting the gay beaches in mid-June? I want to stretch my two weeks and want to see as much of Apulia as possible and meet up with wonderful gay locals. Any recommendations for a single, gay, 34 year old from America lol? Thanks again for all your articles!!

    1. Ciao. We have a guide that probably includes all the information you need about Salento:

      Gay Puglia | Salento: Italy’s Ultimate LGBTQ+ Summer Destination

      The Salento summer scene continues until the beginning of October. The 3 favourite beaches are Punta Suina Gallipoli, Torre Guaceto Brindisi and D’Ayala (our favourite) at Campomarina. Pôr do Sol (also Gallipoli) is a great party beach with music, Sundays are especially epic, but all days good. Gallipoli’s bar scene is busy too.

      Everything is covered off on the various guides you have found, so have fun and safe travels.

      LuigiM.

      1. Oh thank you Luigi and Max! I really appreciate the information, and I cannot tell you enough how much I love reading your guides. Looking forward to visiting your beautiful region!

        – Nathaniel

        1. Prego. BTW, I’m Luigi Maxwell, my given names. Like Gianmarco the other team member who sometimes writes here, we have two given names (though he prefers just to use Marco – only his family call him Gianmarco). Sometimes we are helped by Pierluigi, who always uses Pierluigi! Davide, Riccardo, Luis (another Luigi and why I use LuigiMax when writing), other Marco and Andrea also help on other stuff.

          1. Ohhhh I see, well thanks for explaining the breakdown of your names and who writes for the website haha. I will definitely reach out if I have any other questions. Until then, ciao for now😃

  56. This is a wonderful and in-depth explanation of Puglia. My husband and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary this October and are planning a 10-day to 2-week trip to Puglia to celebrate! We are thinking of dividing our trip between Lecce and somewhere for beach access exploration such as Ostuni or Pogliano de mare. Would we be able to actually swim in October or simply enjoy the coast? I think that will determine how much time we spend in a beach area. While we would love sandy beaches and great food, bustling nightlife isn’t important to us. We will be renting a car and want to see as much of Puglia as we possibly can, so we’d like to base ourselves wisely. Thank you so much for your help!

    1. Ciao Jenny

      We usually swim up until the penultimate week of October. The sea is still warm after the summer months of sunshine pouring down on it, especially down south in Salento. By October Otranto and Gallipoli are far, far less busy (the transformation happens as soon as August is over). For sandy beach we would suggest Gallipoli or Otranto. Both are sufficiently close to Lecce for easy day trips (Lecce itself is not on the coast). Though our Lecce and beach guide references San Cataldo which is a small cute beach nearby Lecce and easily accessed from there.

      Polignano a Mare is not a base we would choose for the beach. It has one of Puglia’s most iconic beach views, but (as we have recently posted on Instagram – follow us on PugliaGuys as we often post video content that we don’t publish anywhere else and we think we have some reels of Gallipoli, there is also a Gallipoli video pinned on our twitter account), it is a beach that is rocky and pebbly and uncomfortable. We like Otranto too, but personally the Ionian always wins.

      Ostuni is a good choice because it is close by some of our favourite stretch of sandy beach on the Adriatic for the Valle d’Itria between Torre Canne and Pilone. But Ostuni also makes an excellent base for exploring Puglia: from there we regularly do a day trip that comfortably takes in Alberobello, Monopoli and Polignano.

      Good food is accessible wherever you are in Puglia, that doesn’t need to shape your choice!

      Hope that helps. You should find all the information that you need in our guides – the individual city guides and perhaps look again at our Puglia’s 50 best beaches guide to work out which beaches will suit you (rock vs sand).

      Buone vacanze, LuigiMax

      1. Thank you so much, Luigimax! This is very helpful. I am now thinking Lecce and Ostuni. We also definitely want to hit Matera. I feel like we’re already a bit late to the planning game, but I will do some more exploring on your site and find recommendation on nice places to stay. If there are any don’t miss spots where you’ve stayed, I’d love to hear it. I see that you mentioned https://www.santangeloresort.it/ in Matera and am definitely checking that out. We will probably do a combo of splurge and more affordable spots, but it sounds like this place is worth the splurge! Are there any others like this that you highly recommend?

        Thanks again for such incredible information!

        1. In Matera we have also stayed at here. These were modern, serviced apartments without the cave setting, but in a location we liked.

          B&B Matera Vittorio Veneto Luxury Rooms

          In our Lecce Guide you will see the hotel we like to stay at.

          In Ostuni we are just about to include a section with a range of options.

          A popular private apartment rental in Ostuni is Q40 Apartment Ostuni. It has an amazing terrace view.

          For a B and B take a look at Welcome Ostuni bnb.

          The Fifth Element Ostuni has a range of serviced apartments.

          Top of the range, take a look at boutique hotel Paragon 700.

          Hope that helps.

  57. We love your site. Thanks for sharing!

    We are coming to Puglia for one week at the end of Sept into October. We want to have one home base, a rental car, but in a location that we can walk to cafes resturants etc. We have never been before, and are hoping to visit the coastline and enjoy the beaches, but also have a calmer authentic experience. We are not resort type of people, but my husband does love the beach. We want to see Monopoli, Ostuni, and the coastline near Otranto and/or Gallipoli – plus some days relaxing in the place we are staying. Can you suggest the right base for us? We have been considering Carovigno. But husband is wondering whether we should we be staying in Salento? I was hesitant for beach towns due to reports of them being touristy and things being closed in October. THanks for your suggestions.

    We are picking up our rental car in Bari.

    1. Ciao Maria

      At this time of year we think Monopoli would make the better base.

      Puglia’s “summer” season runs through until mid to end of October. It tails off first in Gargano (from mid September), then Salento starts to change into a lower gear over October (Gallipoli, Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca, Castro etc) although still open for business at the time of your visit. The Valle d’Itria (Ostuni, Monopoli, Polignano a Mare etc) summer season tends to run as long as the weather will support it, with closures happening from the end of October once visitor numbers have dropped significantly (they start to drop off from the end of August).

      The other thing to bear in mind is that being “touristy” is relative. Puglia still does not suffer over tourism like the Amalfi, Cinque Terre and other parts of Italy (with the possible exception of Alberobello). It has busy spots over peak summer months, but relative to other destinations here and elsewhere in Europe it is still very much being “discovered”!

      We don’t consider Puglia to be a “resort” destination in the sense of dense built-up beach areas. When we talk about “resorts” we mean the small touristic villages like Torre Lapillo, Porto Cesareo, Campomarino, Baia Verde, Pescoluse, San Cataldo, Specchiolla. Towns that are popular with Italian tourists who come for the beach day after day for their main August vacation (August is the peak of Puglia’s summer season) and with local people on weekends. These are towns that don’t have much substance other than as places to visit to go to the beach without much interest beyond that. We don’t have built up “resorts” with high-rise hotel complexes and dense tourist compounds – that’s not Puglia!

      Here’s the reason we got to Monopoli: whilst Monopoli draws many visitors that crowd its small city beaches in August and at the beginning of September, towards the end of September there is quite a contrast with far fewer visitors and locals back to work. Monopoli is actually a place we would consider staying at that time of year. We think it will give you a nice balance of old town, coffee bars and restaurants, coast for walking around. As a base, and is perfectly placed for visiting Bari (Bari Vecchia is a must visit at this time of year, especially for eating out and the infamous not to be missed spaghetti all’assassina), Polignano a Mare, Matera, Alberobello, Cisternino, Ostini, Brindisi and even Lecce.

      The best nearby sandy beaches run from Torre Canne to Pilone, not too far, and at this time they will be very, very quiet. You can also enjoy the Torre Guaceto nature reserve.

      Carovigno is a really good choice in July and August as a quieter alternative to say Ostuni, but again, come end of September, beginning of October we’d rather stay in Ostuni as the summer crowds will have gone!

      Whilst we have ourselves chosen Gallipoli as a place to stay in October (we went for 4 days), at the time of your visit, we think Monopoli will have more interest simply in terms of what’s on offer round and about Monopoli for better day trips.

      Thanks for asking. It really does show how different our answer to such a question is depending on the time of your visit!

      Buone vacanze.

      LuigiMax.

      1. Luigi,

        Thank you for all of this helpful information! I will be traveling to Puglia with my 78 year-old mother. While she is mobile and very active for her age, I obviously want to prioritize the flatter towns in Puglia versus those that are hilly or have a lot of stairs. Which towns would you recommend we go to that would be easier for her to get around? Many thanks!

        1. Ciao. Lecce, Bari, Monopoli, Polignano a Mare, Brindisi all good. Avoid Ostuni, Alberobello. Cisternino and Locorotondo have slight hills, but you can drive in fairly centrally to the old town and walk without having to navigate steep inclines or stairs. Ceglie is steepish too. Martina Franca ok, Taranto old town would be perfect, and atmospheric. Gallipoli and Otranto good too.

          Enjoy!

  58. This is such helpful information – thank you so much. I am still determining my itinerary for 10 days in Puglia, where we want to stay in Lecce, a coastal town, and a masseria. And for day trips and for towns we are staying in, we need to prioritize flatter towns, as my mom is 78 years old. She is very active for her age, but I would like to avoid places that are very hilly or have a lot of stairs. What towns would you recommend we go to (as well as stay in) that are flatter and where she would have an easier time getting around? Thank you so mich!

  59. Salve from Australia,
    I will be attending an art retreat end of May next year at Manduria for a week till end of May. I was then considering hiring a car and exploring your beautiful Puglia region for a couple of weeks. Maybe basing in Ostuni and a couple other towns. It sound like hiring a car and getting around will be the best option or is it feasible to get transport between town bases and book orgnised day trips from them? Early planning for me but so happy to have stumbled across your blog. It is full of helpful information for this first trip to your region.
    Grazie for any tips and suggestions.

    1. Ciao Gillian. In case you haven’t seen them our guides driving in Puglia and Puglia by public transport tell you all you need to know, and you will see a number of responses to similar questions in the comments below.

      The short answer is:

      1. You will be able to access so many more parts of Puglia with a car that will be difficult or impossible to get to without. From some of the smaller towns, amazing beaches and off the beaten track spots.

      2. If you just want to stay in or visit some of the better known towns, this can be done easily using public transport along the regional Adriatic train line (connecting Bari, Polignano, Monopoli, Fasano, Ostuni, Carovigno, Brindisi, Lecce). The regional trains are modern, comfortable inexpensive and on the whole extremely reliable. But still beware: some stations are not at all central. Ostuni is 3.5km from the centre of town, with limited connection services. Carovigno is 5km from centre, with even less connectivity. Lecce, Bari, Brindisi are central, Polignano and Monopoli too.

      3. Transport between town bases is possible using public transport, but often longer and more cumbersome than a car journey. We drive from Ostuni to Alberobello in 40 minutes through some beautiful countryside. By public transport we have 2 or 3 connections using bus or train taking between 2.5 – 4 hours one way, depending on time of day and time of year!

      4. Puglia is not the Amalfi. Driving in Puglia is straightforward and not consistent with the reputation and preconceptions many visitors have about driving in Italy.

      5. Private tours and trips are useful alternatives to car hire. One of the best is Pietro of Puglialy.com. But he only organises small groups and is booked well in advance. As well as the tours he can organise transfers, drivers etc.

      Hope that helps, and you certainly have much to look forward to and a Puglia perfect holiday to have fun planning. Don’t forget about the amazing food!

      Ciao, LuigiMax

  60. Caro LuigiMax,
    Grazie mille for all the love you put into your wonderful review of all the towns in Puglia to visit. E’ davvero geniale! I just love the insights you made for each place geared towards the type of traveler. My wife and I just started a tour company for unique & authentic upscale travel to Europe and you’ve confirmed that Puglia should be the heart of our Italy tour. We’ll be there on a scouting trip on the last week of August and we’ll be scoping out our base and places to visit with the same exact methodology you have.. great minds! we’ll just have 4 nights so we’d plan to stay in Carovigno to see sites near there, and then to Polignano a Mare to do the same. So many places to wonderful to visit – thanks to you!

    1. Ciao. Thanks for the comments and a shared love of Puglia. We would especially like to hear of your Carovigno stay. We hear from so many people before they vacation here, but far fewer after. Carovigno is the perfect recommendation for the last week in August (we think) compared with its nearby neighbour and Puglia superstar Ostuni, which will be packed out. Carovigno should feel less busy, certainly than Ostuni, though the last weeks in August are peak peak Puglia season – when all the staycation Italian visitors are here. Still, we really think it works as an alternate, and also, hopefully, less expensive too.

      Enjoy the remarkable food, and remember our Eat Puglia recommendations for some of the best places to eat in Puglia. Sometimes the best places are the least expensive, least fussy ones.

      Have a fruitful trip.
      LuigiMax

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