Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Ingrid & Alex

Italy may be my all-time favorite destination in the world, and I try to get there at least once per year. This year, after seeing La Rossa Bologna in February, one of my dreams came true, and I traveled to the south, spending 4 days in Puglia on a road trip. Let me share with you my itinerary.

If you have more time and want to make the best of it, plan a one-week itinerary to Southern Italy. Make sure to include Puglia, one of the 52 Places to go in 2019 as per the New York Times.

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4 days in Puglia
A Puglian cat enjoying the weather / Ingrid

There are, of course, many ways of getting to Italy’s heel, but the easiest way is through the largest airport in Puglia, Bari Airport.

Once we finally solved our car rental issues (more on that in the “getting around section”), we drove straight to the seaside.

Puglia in 4 days at a glance

Bari -> Polignano a Mare -> Monopoli -> Alberobello -> Martina Franca -> Ostuni -> Matera

4 days in Puglia itinerary map
Click on the map to open it in Google Maps

Where to stay

When it comes to epic accommodation for your 4 days in Puglia, I’m not exaggerating when I say that options are endless. From trulli houses unique to Puglia to masseria hotels and even historic buildings such as convents, you can choose whatever suits you best.

No matter what you choose to do, here are a few accommodation options in Puglia worth taking into consideration:

  • Masseria Le Cerase – a traditional white house with a stunning pool, perfectly located for daily trips to the sea or Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, or Ostuni.

Check the prices here!

  • Masseria Alchimia – enjoy the most authentic and fresh Italian breakfast only a few kilometers away from Polignano a Mare in a stylish and immaculate location.

Book your perfect room here!

  • Hotel Don Ferrante – who wouldn’t want to experience staying within the walls of Monopoli? This 10-room boutique hotel will not only charm you with its design but also with the rooftop terrace and pool overlooking the blue.

See when they have free rooms here!

  • Trullieu Guesthouse Alberobello – even though the trullo guesthouse is located extremely close to Alberobello’s center, it is still shielded from all the noise and fuss. It also has a free parking space close by.

Book your stay in a trullo here!

  • Furnirussi Tenuta – not only are the rooms spacious at this hotel, but they also have a big lake-like swimming pool.

Check out that pool and book a room!

  • Masseria Le Fabriche – a stone house in the middle of vineyards. You can easily imagine why this is a wine lover’s paradise destination. Explore also the nearby beach Conte d’Ayala.

Book a stay in the vineyards here!

Day 1 – Polignano a Mare

4 days in Puglia
Polignano a Mare / Ingrid

As soon as I parked and got off, the salty breeze ruined the curls I worked so hard to achieve with my flat iron just a few hours earlier.

I was finally in Puglia!

Thus, we started our first day looking for one of the places Polignano a Mare is known for, Spiaggia Cala Porta.

Puglia road trip
Polignano a Mare / Ingrid

It was an early afternoon. The bridge was packed with people, and the beach was crowded. It was still August, after all.

We decided to go on and find a better view of the buildings erected using stone quarried from the deep blue sea.

Polignano a Mare, Puglia
Polignano a Mare / Ingrid

What’s so special about Polignano a Mare?

Right behind Domenico Modugno’s monument, which welcomes visitors with open arms, is the place to take a perfect photo.

4 days in Puglia
Polignano a Mare / Ingrid

Locals were jumping from the top of the cliffs into the water, and kids were laughing at each other for being cowards. Teenagers trying to impress girls (can it get more Italian than this?) did almost breathtaking dives.

It was an impressive show, and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, but after a while, hunger nudged us along.

food in Polignano a Mare
Meat and Cheese platter at Panzerotti / Ingrid

So we went back and found some of the best street food Italy has in store at Panzerotti. It smelled delicious. The place was crowded; that’s always a good sign. Once the food was served, we forgot about everything else.

Polignano a Mare
Balcony in Polignano a Mare / Ingrid

Next, we headed out to do what we do best: wander aimlessly on the streets of Polignano a Mare.

The town, a collection of one-story high buildings with colorful balconies, is lively and filled with little stores that peddle local clothing and everything else in between.

Polignano a Mare cave restaurant
Grotta Palazzese Restaurant, Polignano a Mare / Ingrid

Flowers in windows, restaurants, cafes, and the Grotta Palazzese restaurantcarved in stone, it is a place where you have to prepare all year long to pay for dinner.

Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Pcituresque house in Polignano a Mare / Ingrid

Day 1 – Monopoli

what to do in monopoli
Monopoli marina / Ingrid

Yes, you’ve read it right; it is called Monopoli. And no, I’m not referring to the board game or the wet dream of every CEO. The town is a must-visit place on your Puglia itinerary.

Monopoli Puglia
Monopoli marina / Ingrid

Monopoli is a small, picturesque port town, but when we parked on one of the most colorful streets we had seen so far in Puglia, we had no idea what was waiting for us.

Things to do in Monopoli
Monopoli / Ingrid

The dampness clung to my hair and arms, and the salty scent guided us toward the port.

An old Italian song lured tourists, and we all gathered around the street artist playing his guitar. Oh! Lovely Italy!

Monopoli Puglia vespa
Boats and an iconic Vespa in Monopoli / Ingrid

Fishermen chated nearby, most probably exaggerating the size of their catch. Wisened matrons supervised the streets outside of their ancient houses, sitting on chairs while nothing escaped their observant gaze. That’s how authentic Monopoli is.

Monopoli, Italy
Ingrid in Monopoli / Ingrid
Puglia
Monopoli / Ingrid

What else to do in Monopoli?

Visit the Palmieri Palace located in the heart of the old historic town, admire Carlo V Castle, or simply drink a gin tonic at one of the bars on the seafront.

Day 1 – Alberobello, the Trulli town

2 days in Alberobello
Alberobello / Ingrid

Leaving Monopoli behind, we headed toward our base camp for the next 2 nights, Alberobello.

If you are planning your 4 days in Puglia itinerary, I strongly recommend spending at least 2 nights in Alberobello because it offers easy access to most of the towns you’ll be visiting here. Our time was limited, unfortunately, but if you can, the best balance would be to spend 3 nights in the Alberobello area and 1 night in Matera.

Alberobello trulii
A trullo in Alberobello / Ingrid

Going back to Alberobello, the trulli village, was as lovely as expected. Even more so because it was home to a bunch of friendly cats.

Waking up early in the morning, just before a hearty Italian style breakfast, we headed out to shoot some pictures before the streets became crowded.

4 days in Puglia
Street view in Alberobello / Ingrid

Since it was August and prices were high, we chose not to stay in a trullo (even though that is a must!). Instead, we stayed just walking distance from the Trullo Sovrano – the only 2-floor trullo.

Alberobello has 2 areas filled with trulli:

  • Rione Monti – it is the tourist area where every trullo is either a shop, a restaurant, or a B&B
  • Rione Aia Piccola – the more authentic and inhabited trulli area

To be honest, Alberobello was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Puglia, and it did not disappoint.

Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Trullo in Alberobello / Ingrid

Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Beautiful street in Alberobello / Ingrid

Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Residential trullo in Alberobello / Ingrid

Day 2 – Martina Franca

4 days in Puglia
Martina Franca / Ingrid

Since we spent the first part of our second day in Alberobello and were going to return in the evening, we drove to the next waypoint on our Puglia itinerary, Martina Franca.

The village is pretty non-touristy, and once we stepped through the old town’s gate, an imposing cathedral appeared in sight. While we walked around the empty streets, we took pictures of the colorful doors and flower-filled stairs.

An old lady overtook us several times, wishing us a lovely walk with a full smile on her face. It made me wonder if I should work out more:).

Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Street in Martina Franca / Ingrid

Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Street in Martina Franca / Ingrid

Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Plazza in Martina Franca / Ingrid

Day 2 – Ostuni 

4 days in Puglia
Ostuni / Ingrid

Another 35-minute drive and we were right in the heart of the whitest and chicest little town: Ostuni.

I took a right turn, and there it was: a narrow and steep street, menacingly climbing toward the blue sky. Needless to say, I panicked a little but wasn’t deterred – I drove on.

I am proud to report that I successfully parked the car somewhere close to the top.

Walking toward the center of the white city of Ostuni, Lisbon came to mind – a similar town with narrow streets and stone buildings.

Ostuni
Street in Ostuni / Lisbon

The hanging laundry on the small balconies above was a testament to the locals living their normal all-Italian lives; it wasn’t a tourist area, and you could feel the authentic vibes.

4 days in Puglia
White buildings in Ostuni / Ingrid

We had a delicious lunch in the center at a simple white and blue restaurant. The food was good, and the company was even better – we met several friendly cats.

Ostuni
House front in Ostuni / Ingrid

Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Cats and Shopping in Ostuni / Ingrid

Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Ingrid in Ostuni / Ingrid

Day 3 and 4 – Matera

things to do and see in Matera
Matera / Ingrid

Perhaps you are wondering why I’ve suggested two days and one night out of our 4 days in Puglia to Matera.

But you will soon understand.

During my visit, it saddened me to leave this fabulous museum town after only a few hours. Let me tell you, there is plenty to do and see in Matera. Moreover, the area known as Sassi di Matera (Stones of Matera) is very different from everything we had seen before.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sassi di Matera has undergone a transformative revival in recent decades. It evolved from a poverty-stricken area into a vibrant cultural hub, attracting visitors with its rich history, cultural heritage, and stunning views.

We arrived at Matera at around 10 AM, and even though it was one of the last days of August, the sun was scourging.

Ingrid in Matera / Ingrid

View of Sassi di Matera from Piazza Pascoli / Ingrid

Without even knowing it, we entered the Sassi di Matera through one of the most iconic viewpoints, Piazza Pascoli.

A picture on the balcony, with Matera at your feet, is breathtaking. Since it wasn’t that crowded, we managed to take some nice ones.

If you spend two days in Matera like I wish I had at the time, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to discover the best viewpoints in Matera.

Moreover, you’ll get the chance to see the town at night, which must be an incredible sight.

Where to stay in Matera for a night

Since you only have one night in Matera, try to stay in one of the stone houses inside the Sassi di Matera. You will go to bed and wake up with the best view of the city.

Here are my top 3 favorite options:

Locanda Di San Martino Hotel & Thermae Romanae

Corte San Pietro

Residence Le Vie Del Mosto

Best Viewpoints of Matera

Some of the places you need to stop by, admire the city, and just take it all in are:

  • Belvedere Luigi Guerricchio – as the name says, this is a belvedere point, offering a great view towards the Sasso Barisano;
  • Santa Maria de Idris Church – unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to climb the stairs all the way to this stone-made church, but it sure is one of a kind, and it offers a great view over the Sasso Caveoso;
  • Sant’Agostino Church – as we walked within the Sassi, we made our way on the left side and arrived at this church, which offered a great view of the place we had left behind;
  • Piazza Duomo – the impressive building you see from the first stop in Piazza Pascoli dominating the skyline.

best viewpoints of Matera
Matera at night / Unsplash

As I’ve said, Matera is not such a small town, and I regret not having spent more time here.

If you need one more reason to head to Matera, the city has not only been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993 but was also selected as The 2019 European Capital Of Culture. 

Since December 2018, more than 150 authentic Salvador Dali’s artworks have been displayed in the Sassi di Matera.

How to get to Puglia

The easiest way to get to Puglia is to fly into Bari or Brindisi.

While both airports are well located in the region, Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport might have more direct flights from other major cities in Europe.

If you are planning for a longer Italy itinerary, you can also get to Puglia by train. Bari is a major railway hub with connections to other Italian cities.

High-speed trains (Frecciarossa and Frecciargento) operate between Bari and cities like Rome, Milan, Florence, and Naples. You can check train timetables here!

If you would rather rent a car, it is worth knowing that major highways like the A14 and A16 connect Puglia to other regions in Italy.

You can rent a car at the best price on DiscoverCars, or read our complete guide on driving in Puglia here.

Getting around the region

The best advice I can give is to rent a car.

I have always been a fan of public transportation in Italy, and will always take the train in the Northern and Central parts, but in the South, it is just simpler to go around and plan your schedule as you like by car.

Of course, this does not mean that public transportation does not exist in Southern Italy. It does and can be used.

Because we ran into some administrative issues (we had no credit card, and our preferred car rental didn’t accept debit cards), we eventually got to the Sicily by Car desk, which was more than flexible and open to helping us and giving us a car.

However, if you have a credit card and want to be sure you have a car waiting for you when you get to Bari, I recommend booking well in advance to get the best price. 

Discover Cars is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for renting a car during your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. They have a pretty good Cancellation policy that would give you options in case your flight or travel plans change. You will most probably need a car to get to most of these places, especially if you want to keep a schedule. Get your best offers here!

Driving in Puglia is not hard, but it’s not a breeze either. Locals tend not to follow certain rules when it comes to signaling or speed limits. They are also very impatient, so you could get into traffic altercations here and there for driving too slowly by their standards.

However, when you pay attention to the road and especially to what others do in traffic, it is a small price to pay for traveling around Puglia.

We didn’t encounter any issues regarding parking spaces, and the fees weren’t high (around 2-3 EUR depending on the number of hours spent in one place). Just make sure to look for the machine and pay the fee.

Another thing to have in mind is that you shouldn’t leave any valuables inside your car, no matter where you park. Nothing ever happened to us, but I’ve heard and read about many unhappy stories.

Other cities worth seeing in Puglia

When you have more time to spend and want to either take things slower or include more in the trip to Puglia, there is just so much more to do and see on Italy’s heel.

Locorotondo

Locorotondo is another option if you don’t want to stay in Alberobello but still want to stay in a trullo at a smaller price.

Only 15 minutes away by car from Alberobello, perched on top of a hill, with its white buildings and small streets, Locorotondo is the perfect place to get lost, if only for a few hours.

Best restaurants to try in Locorotondo: Ai Tre Santi, Bina Ristorante di Puglia, Osteria Il Rosone.

Beaches in Puglia

Punta Prosciutto Puglia
Punta Prosciutto Beach / Ingrid

When you just had enough of walking around towns or simply want to spend some me-time and just relax, a day at the beach is always a good idea.

Puglia has plenty of beautiful beaches, deep turquoise water, and incredible scenery.

If you are looking for the best beaches in Puglia, don’t overlook places like the Maldives of Salento (at the Ionian Sea, stretching from Torre Pali in the north, through Pescoluse in the center, and ending at Torre Vado), the Grotta della Poesia, or Porto Cesareo.

Brindisi

History, museums, old cathedrals, a castle (Castello Alfonsino di Brindisi), beaches, fine cuisine, you name it, Brindisi has it.

A bigger town than the small villages we’ve visited so far, Brindisi is still not overly touristy, which offers a great all-Italian vibe.

Best restaurants in Brindisi: La Locanda del Porto, La Cantina ti l’Artisti.

Lecce

Piazza in Lecce
Piazza in Lecce / Ingrid

I was very close to living in Lecce during my university years, but eventually, I ended up choosing the northern city of Trieste as the location for my Erasmus scholarship.

Nonetheless, Lecce has remained with me, and I’ve often fantasized about the different memories I would have made in such a place: all the way in the South where the weather is warmer, the sea is bluer, people are friendlier, and beaches are sandier.

When I eventually visited Lecce, I wasn’t disappointed.

Best restaurants in Lecce: Crianza, Osteria 203, Tabisca “il Vico dei Tagliati”.

Otranto

The main attraction in Otranto is the Aragonese Castle, which dates back to the 15th century. Strategically placed on the edge of the sea, it offers amazing views of the blue water and the city.

Best restaurants in Otranto: Vecchia Otranto, Peccato di Vino, Ristorante La Pignata

Gallipoli

Gallipoli Puglia
Gallipoli port / Ingrid

With the Old Town built on an island connected to the land on a bridge, Gallipoli oozes history and will take you back all the way to the period of Moorish domination.

Best restaurants in Gallipoli: Ristorante La Vinaigrette, L’Angolo Blu, Osteria Briganti

Bari

The capital of Puglia and the main transportation hub in the region, Bari is much more than that and is definitely worth visiting if you have more time to spend in Italy.

Best restaurants in Bari: La Muraya Ristorante, La Cantina dello Zio, Ristorante Antò – Cucina e Sapori Tipici

When to visit

We have seen Puglia at the worst time possible: August, the high season.

Plenty of people around (not as crowded as other places though, and mainly Italian tourists) in the main towns, high prices for accommodation and most probably also food, were just 2 considerations.

But the worst of all is the heat. Southern Italy is hot! Especially in August.

Then when is the best time to visit Puglia?

In my opinion, that would be either March – April or the second part of September and October.

What to eat

When it comes to Italian food, you can never go wrong with anything, whether you travel in the North or the South. Of course, you should always try some very local dishes apart from the national Italian cuisine. Because that’s how you get to really know a place: through its food.

In modern days, the south of Italy is less industrially developed than the north, so the food tends to be simpler but cooked with fresh and delicious local ingredients.

Some local dishes to try in Puglia:

  • some vegetarian antipasti – grilled, deep-fried, you name it
  • lots of fresh fish dishes
  • caciocavallo cheese
  • hand-made pasta
  • taralli pugliesi – some local kind of pretzels
  • puccia – a sandwich made of pizza dough with many delicious flavors

Italy travel resources

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Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary

 


25 responses to “Puglia in 4 Days”

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  5. Emma Avatar

    Oh wow, such a beautiful area. Sounds like a great trip. Don’t worry my hair would be the same in that type of environment. The Grotto restaurant looks fabulous. I’m almost afraid to lik at the prices though.

  6. Albi Avatar

    I have never heard about that place but I like that it looks like there is not too many tourists, I love finding hidden gems like that

  7. Taylor Deer Avatar

    Wow! This is amazing! I’m heading there this summer, so definitely keeping this blog post handy. 🙂

  8. TWW - Nigel Avatar

    What a great post! We loved It in the Puglia region.
    I do like the Google maps, I’m a bit partial to them also.

  9. […] The old town, with its seawall, photogenic streets and 16th Century castle, is a must-visit on your Puglia itinerary. Sun yourself on Cala Porta Vecchia before strolling into town and feasting on the delicious local […]

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  18. […] to see something else for a change? Plan a one-week itinerary in South Italy and make sure to see Puglia and the Amalfi […]

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  23. […] the Amalfi Coast to Calabria and Puglia, there is an abundance of gorgeous beach resorts that offer plenty of activities for visitors such […]

  24. […] With their white tips, the small trulli look like they are wearing hats and you can see them everywhere around Puglia.  […]

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