It takes only one trip around Italy to make you realise what a magical country it is. Each city has its vibe, and seeing all of them is nearly impossible. But if you are up for something special, you need to be on the lookout for hidden gems. One such place is Puglia – without big touristy landmarks and overcrowded spots, it shows a whole different side of Italy and is definitely worth checking out!
Visiting this Italian region is simply incredible and will entirely change how you see this magnificent country. Due to its size and versatility, you must choose the best places to visit in Puglia before you go. In particular, it is an area of Italy with unique features and characteristics, and one visit will not suffice to explore all of them. But if you carefully select the things you want to see and plan your itinerary down to the dot, then prepare yourself for a surprise!
In this blog, I have discussed some of Puglia’s best locations that are worth visiting. You can have the most amazing Italian adventure if you plan your travels properly. So, dive into the magic of Puglia and choose the spots your adventurous heart craves!
Best Places To Visit In Puglia - Contents
Why Should You Visit Puglia?
Puglia is located at the heel of the Italian boot, the shape on the map we are all familiar with. But what makes Puglia unique is that this region is nothing like you have ever seen before. Even if you have already travelled around Italy, your Puglia holiday will be unique and vastly different from your previous travelling adventures.
I am talking about a magical area of the country where the summer lasts long, life is slow, and the food is delicious. The famous saying “Less is more” briefly describes everything Puglia is about because simplicity is at its core. So, it is unsurprising that it is a place where Italians seek escape from their ordinary lives, and celebrities buy houses to escape all the drama in theirs.
If you decide to visit this extraordinary region, be prepared to feel the joy of simple things in life – in an Italian way! And, before you set off, ensure you have a list of the best places to visit in Puglia so you can make the most of your adventure!
7 Best Places to See in Puglia
Even though the whole region is exceptional, there are places you can simply not miss when you reach Puglia. How you plan your Puglia travel itinerary is completely your choice, but some spots are too good to be left out. So, I have listed some of the most amazing ones you should check out during your Italian adventure. And you will not regret any single one of them!
I have started with the Salento Peninsula because it is Puglia’s most prominent and breathtaking feature. It is an area that makes this Italian region so special, so visiting it is a must. If you do not take a peek at Salento, you will miss out on the chance to feel Puglia’s spirit and its best spots.
This area is home to gorgeous towns like Lecce, Gallipoli and Otranto, each of which tells a different story. Moreover, Salento boasts miraculous beaches, so if you seek a glorious day under the Italian sun, this is where you look for your spot. Plus, the surroundings you will witness as you explore the peninsula will be epic!
Church of San Domenico in Gallipoli in Puglia (Left)
Since I already mentioned Salento, it is necessary to point out the gorgeous towns more precisely. Lecce, characterised by marvellous Baroque churches and majestic narrow streets. Italians consider Lecce the ‘Florence of the South’, and many claim that they do not need Florence since the focal point of Salento has it all.
Lecce is considered one of the best places to visit in Puglia for many solid reasons. One of them is the astonishing architecture. The houses you will see around the town are stunning and will leave you in awe. This place is also known as the town of the aristocrats because its style cannot be seen elsewhere.
On top of that, Lecce is also known for many historical sites that will tell you the town’s story. Every feature is distinct and unique, and anywhere you turn, you will see remains of past times, which will take you to a different world. Ensure you get to see the Roman Theatre and admire the views from the bell tower of Piazza Duomo.
As the capital, this area is a must when it comes to the best places to see in Puglia. Plus, it will make your adventures more convenient since from here you can easily travel to other beautiful towns in the region.
Now that we already mentioned the most significant town, it is time to move on to the most striking one. Ostuni is considered the region’s crown jewel, meaning you must put it on your Puglia travel itinerary. It is located on a hillside, which gives it spectacular views, while the white-washed buildings make it truly magical.
Ostuni is often called the White City because of its appearance. As you explore it, you will be amazed by the gorgeous hilly streets and white features all over town. Plus, it is a place packed with shops, so you will enjoy shopping, especially when trying to find the perfect souvenirs that will remind you of your Puglia holiday. Moreover, you can find fantastic artwork and charming handcrafted goods. So, plan on staying for a bit more if you are just exploring it for a day.
Some of the things you should not miss out on are the glorious view of the town from the Ostuni old-town viewpoint and the marvellous architecture of the Ostuni Cathedral. And, if you want to be a little bit artsy with your travel photographs, then plan on posing in front of the famous blue door, known in Italian as La Casa con La Porta Blu.
A view of the Colonna di Sant’Oronzo in Ostuni
Another location in the group of the best places to visit in Puglia is the magical Alberobello. This majestic town, famous for its Trulli houses, is one of the dreamiest spots you can see in Italy. It is where you will witness Puglia’s slow life and the abundance of numerous remains of past times, starting from the Trulli buildings.
Everywhere you turn, you will see tiny white stone houses with pointy grey roofs. I am not talking solely about homes where people live but also stores, restaurants and different establishments in the same form. If you are going on an organised tour, you may even take a peek inside the Trullis and see their magnificence with your own eyes. Their most remarkable feature is that they are made of stone. This means they stay warm in winter and cool in summer. That is why no one in Alberobello uses an air conditioner unit.
If you include Alberobello in your Puglia travel itinerary, which I strongly suggest you do, you should also enjoy the views of the many panoramic terraces around the town. You will see the tiny white houses from a different perspective and get the opportunity to take some spectacular photographs. And of course, if you decide to spend the night here, ensure you book a Trulli for your stay. It will be an experience of a lifetime!
A view of the Trulli houses that make Alberobello famous in Puglia and all over Italy.
Polignano a Mare
When you plan your trip and look for the best places to visit in Puglia, you will undoubtedly come across Polignano a Mare. This is a miraculous coastal town that offers stunning surroundings and striking views. It is located along a coastal line of cliffs, giving it a dramatic appearance.
This is a town to visit when you want to have a beach day. Your itinerary will be pretty simple – find the beach you like and enjoy your whole day without worrying. However, if you are up to something more adventurous, plan on taking a tour boat to see the town’s majestic sea caves. Then, you can enjoy a delicious lunch in a cave restaurant. I suppose you have never had such an experience, so you won’t regret treating yourself to it during your Puglia holiday.
The restaurant, Grotta Palazzese, comes with the most astonishing views of the sea, but you should plan on spending a little more money on food than you usually do. I am talking about an authentic restaurant in Italy, so overpriced food in a one-of-a-kind location is more than expected. Nonetheless, the surroundings will make you feel like you’re in a dream, so I believe it is worth the experience. Just ensure you make your reservation beforehand because the restaurant is quite popular and crowds are usual.
Another thing you should plan on seeing when you visit Polignano a Mare is the old town. Some parts of the town give the most spectacular views of the entire area, so you should not skip them. These viewpoints make Polignano a Mare one of the best places to see in Puglia, so adding it to your itinerary is a must!
Vieste is another town in the group of the best places to visit in Puglia. It is quite small but very beautiful. White stone buildings characterise it, so expect to see numerous white landscapes once you get there. Moreover, you will enjoy exploring each corner of the town through the narrow streets full of restaurants, shops, and wine bars. It is one of the most amusing and romantic towns in Puglia, and a day spent in Vieste is quite an authentic adventure!
I should not forget to mention that this town also has an old part worth exploring. The buildings are fascinating, and the views are unparalleled – there is nothing you will not fall in love with! If you want to take a break from all the wandering around streets and buildings, consider relaxing at the beach. Vieste has beautiful, pristine beaches where you can just sit and let your hair down for a day!
On the other hand, if you love trying local food, this is the perfect place to do so. Vieste is known for delightful dishes and authentic delicacies you cannot find anywhere else in Italy. So, once you get there, use the chance to find a gorgeous local restaurant and ask for the classics. I am sure you will find exactly what your palate craves!
The final recommendation on this list of best places to visit in Puglia is Gallipoli. This ancient city, situated atop a rock cliff, has always been one of my favourite regional locations. With a very short list of must-see sights, visiting Gallipoli is more about strolling the streets and city walls and enjoying its beach rather than running through a list of churches and historical sites.
A day in Gallipoli will be your chance to catch your breath and just feel like a local. You can spend your time visiting the local shops and buying some authentic souvenirs. Also, do not forget to take numerous photos because this place is quite Instagrammable. You can visit the Castello Angiono as well, a castle that offers marvellous views of Gallipoli.
My takeaway regarding Gallipoli? Well, if you have a busy Puglia travel itinerary, I recommend planning to spend a few hours in this town. It will be quite enough to admire it and feel its spirit.
No list of the best places to visit in Puglia could be complete without the capital of Puglia. Bari is a vibrant tapestry of history, culture, and culinary delights along the Adriatic coast. This port city beckons travelers with its charming old town, where narrow cobblestone streets wind between ancient limestone buildings. As you stroll through the maze-like alleys, you’ll encounter hidden gems at every turn – from centuries-old churches adorned with intricate frescoes to lively piazzas alive with the chatter of locals.
One of Bari’s highlights is undoubtedly its stunning waterfront. Here, fishermen unload their daily catch while colorful fishing boats bob gently in the harbor. To taste authentic Bari cuisine, visit the city’s bustling markets, where vendors peddle an array of fresh seafood, ripe produce, and fragrant spices.
Bari’s most iconic feature is Basilica di San Nicola, which is dedicated to the beloved saint who inspired the legend of Santa Claus. Pilgrims from all over flock to this sacred site, drawn by its ornate architecture and religious history. Inside, the air is thick with the scent of incense as worshippers light candles and offer prayers to the patron saint of sailors and children.
No visit to Bari would be complete without indulging in the city’s culinary delights. From savory orecchiette pasta tossed with cime di rapa to crispy panzerotti stuffed with gooey mozzarella, the local cuisine will tantalize your taste buds. And as the sun sets over the Adriatic, grab a seat at one of Bari’s charming trattorias, where you can sip on a glass of locally produced Primitivo wine as you watch the world go by. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and mouthwatering cuisine, Bari offers a truly unforgettable experience for travelers seeking to explore the heart and soul of Puglia.
1) A view of Piazza Mercantile in the center of Bari. 2) Some Orecchiette pasta that is sold on the streets in Bari old town. 3) A view of the boardwalk (Lungomare) in Bari
Final words on our list of best places to visit in Puglia
When researching, you will certainly come across these locations as the best places to visit in Puglia. In other words, these are the spots most worth visiting, meaning you should include them in your travel agenda. This marvellous Italian region has a lot more places to offer, but when you are short on time, these are the things you cannot miss out on! So, now that you have your itinerary, do not wait anymore – book your adventure and start packing your bags! If you need more inspiration, feel free to check out the blog section.