Last Updated on October 27, 2023 by Ingrid & Alex
Puglia had been on my list for so much time that when I finally started planning my trip I wanted to see it all. This is my 7-day Puglia road trip itinerary, one that will take you through one of the most charming regions in southern Italy.
My first encounter with Italy was 10 years before I finally got to Puglia. The funny thing is, for my Erasmus scholarship I had to choose between Trieste (in the very north), and Lecce (in the very south, and yes, in Puglia). As you’ve guessed, I ended up choosing Trieste and became very familiar with northern Italy.
After I first fell in love with Italy, I ended up going back over and over again, exploring the country from the north to the south, and from the east to the west.
If you too are planning to spend one week in Puglia, I am here to help you create the perfect itinerary. One that will take you to see most of the charming southern villages and stunning beaches.
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7-Day Puglia Road trip: one week in Puglia
Is one week in Puglia enough?
Yes, one week in Puglia will allow you to see most of the important villages, attractions, and beaches. However, if you can spend more time here, and if you want to mix relaxation with exploration, you can always spend more time in Puglia.
Where to land in Puglia?
Puglia is served by the Bari International Airport and here is where you will start your trip in the region.
Another good option when traveling from the UK for example, is the Brindisi Airport, close to Lecce, more to the south of Italy’s heel.
It is worth checking both options, no matter where you are traveling from, especially when you are on a budget and want to optimize the trip and costs.
How to get around in Puglia?
While it is not completely impossible to get around Puglia by public transportation, renting a car and driving around Puglia would make your life much easier and would allow you to make the best out of your time there.
The roads are good, and driving in southern Italy should not intimidate you – if I could do it, so can you! Also, we had no problems in finding parking spaces, even if we traveled in August – and the parking fees were low.
If you would rather check public transportation options, you can always use Omio for buses and trains.
When it comes to trains, it is worth knowing that on Trenitalia you won’t find many options, but you should rather go on Ferrovie Appulo Lucane. They operate trains and buses in the region and can help with itineraries.
Do you need to rent a car in Puglia?
It depends on what you are planning to do in Puglia. If you plan on staying in one place or mainly sticking to the major cities, then public transportation should be sufficient for getting around.
However, if you want to explore farther afield and visit rural areas or beaches, then renting a car would be highly recommended as there is limited public transportation outside of the larger towns.
This itinerary has been created for someone who would rent a car.
My go-to car rental company is always Discover Cars. It 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. Get your best offers here!
When is the best time to visit Puglia?
The best time to visit Puglia is during the months of April, May, and June for pleasant temperatures, fewer crowds, and blooming wildflowers in the countryside.
The shoulder seasons of March and September are also ideal for enjoying many of Puglia’s attractions without too many tourists.
For beach resort areas, however, it’s wise to consider July or August when temperatures are at their highest. We’ve been in August and while it was hot and humid, apart from the more popular destinations like Polignano a Mare or Alberobello, most villages were relatively free of tourists.
Puglia is also a great destination for Italy in winter because of its mild temperatures. All in all, Puglia is a great destination year-round, it only depends on what you want to do.
Which is the best town to stay in Puglia?
There is no single “best” town to stay in Puglia; it really depends on a traveler’s individual needs and preferences. However, some of the most popular towns to stay in during a visit to Puglia include Alberobello, Ostuni, Monopoli, Lecce, Otranto and Gallipoli. Each of these towns offers something unique for visitors and there are plenty of restaurants, shops and attractions to explore
If you want to explore the region but also spend time at the beach, you should choose to stay along the coast. Places like Monopoli or Polignano a Mare are perfect for the beach.
Many people choose to stay in Bari, mainly because that’s the largest city in the region, but also because that’s where the airport is. I wouldn’t do that because staying in Bari would place me in the northernmost part of Puglia, thus the distances for driving would be higher.
What are the most common accommodation types in Puglia (apart from hotels, of course):
Trullo – A trullo is a conical-shaped house found mainly in the region of Apulia, Italy. Traditional trulli are made from local limestone that is either uncut or cut into large blocks and built without the use of mortar.
These drystone structures have a conical roof held up by an internal circle of tall stones, called “speaking walls”, with their distinctive white-washed exterior making them stand out in the rolling Apulian countryside.
They are also usually adorned with decorative symbols painted in bright colors such as blue, red, yellow, and green for luck and protection.
You can find these unique houses throughout southern Italy’s rural towns and villages.
Masseria – an agricultural estate in the Italian regions of Apulia, Molise, and Basilicata that has traditionally been used to produce wine, olives, grains, fruit, and vegetables.
Masserie are often fortified structures with a central court for animals or outdoor activities such as olive pressing. They typically have a series of enclosed rooms surrounding the court, used for storage or living quarters.
Masserie are an important part of the cultural heritage in Southern Italy and many have been converted into modern accommodations for tourists wishing to experience traditional rural life.
You can find trulli in Alberobello, but also in Locorotondo and around that area.
Here are some great accommodation options in Puglia:
Masseria Le Cerase is a traditional white house with a stunning pool, perfectly located for daily trips to the sea or Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, or Ostuni.
Trullieu Guesthouse Alberobello – even though the Trullo guesthouse is located extremely close to Alberobello’s center, it is still hidden from all the noise and fuss. And it also has a free close-by parking space.
Furnirussi Tenuta – not only the rooms are spacious at this hotel, but they also have a big lake-like swimming pool.
Masseria Le Fabriche is 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.
What to see and do in one week in Puglia
Day 1: Alberobello & Locorotondo
Alberobello is known for its unique trulli houses, which are cylindrical stone dwellings with conical roofs that have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The town’s name comes from two words: albero, meaning tree, and bello, meaning beautiful.
Alberobello boasts a rich history as well as numerous attractions for visitors to explore such as the Trullo Sovrano (the largest trullo in existence), Piazza del Popolo (a picturesque public square), and Sant’Antonio Abate Church (which dates back to the 16th century).
With its stunning architecture and old-world charm, Alberobello has become one of Italy’s most beloved tourist destinations.
Top activities to try in Alberobello:
Go on a 2-hour guided trulli tour
Its cobblestone streets, ancient buildings, and stunning views are a sight to behold. The town’s whitewashed houses with their distinctive grey slate roofs have earned it its nickname “The White Town”.
Locorotondo also boasts impressive churches and monuments like the Church of Santa Maria della Greca and Palazzo del Vescovado. These historic sites make it a popular destination for visitors who want to explore Italy’s culture and history.
Day 2: Polignano a Mare & Monopoli
Polignano a Mare
The city is situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Adriatic Sea and has been inhabited since ancient times.
The city is renowned for its dramatic cliffs, beautiful beaches, and historic architecture.
You can explore winding alleyways lined with whitewashed houses or take a boat tour to visit some of the caves that have been carved into the limestone cliffs by wind and waves over centuries.
From sunbathing on one of Polignano’s many golden sand beaches to sampling regional cuisine at one of its traditional restaurants, there are plenty of activities available to enjoy in this charming seaside destination.
Polignano is also the home of one of the most famous cave restaurants – Restaurant Grotta Palazzese. If you want to have dinner here you must book a table ahead of time and come prepared to spend some hard cash, with the menu starting at 195 EUR per person.
Want that perfect picture in the place you’ve seen everywhere on the internet? Head over behind Domenico Modugno’s monument.
Located on the Adriatic Sea coast, Monopoli has long been a popular destination for tourists looking to enjoy its crystal clear waters and stunning views.
The town’s historic old center is full of narrow streets lined with cafes and restaurants serving up traditional Italian fare.
Monopoli boasts some impressive architecture as well as many attractions such as churches, museums, and parks that offer something for everyone.
With its inviting atmosphere and Mediterranean charm, this beautiful coastal city is an ideal spot to spend your vacation or even just a weekend getaway.
Visit the Carlo V Castle, explore the Old Town Center, have a drink in Porto Antico, step inside the Basilica of the Madonna della Madia, and the Chiesa di San Salvatore.
Best tours in Monopoli:
Day 3: Bari
Spend one day exploring Bari, an ideal destination for those looking to explore the cultural heritage of this unique corner of Italy.
Located on the Adriatic Sea, Bari is one of Italy’s most important port cities and has been an important trading hub since ancient times.
The city’s historic old town boasts beautiful architecture from its Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Norman periods that can still be seen today.
Its two main attractions are its stunning coastline with pristine beaches and its vast selection of restaurants serving up delicious traditional dishes such as Pasta alla Barese or focaccia bread with seafood stew.
Visit the Basilica di San Nicola – This beautiful 11th-century church is one of Bari’s most iconic landmarks and is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. Inside, you can admire its intricate Byzantine mosaics and spectacular religious artworks from renowned Italian artists. The basilica also houses some important historical artifacts, including the bones of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children.
Explore the Old Town – Bari’s historic old town is a must-see for any visitor looking to explore the city’s past. Wander around its cobblestone streets to discover hidden gems such as traditional restaurants and shops, or visit some of its impressive historic monuments including the Castello Svevo (Swabian Castle) which dates back to the 13th century.
Visit the Cathedral di Bari – This imposing 12th-century cathedral is the most important religious building in Bari and it’s well worth a visit. Inside, you can admire its Romanesque architecture, frescoes by Italian painter Domenico Bruschi, and baroque stuccos. This stunning cathedral is also home to some incredible artworks including Caravaggio’s “Deposition from the Cross”.
Sample local cuisine – Bari is well known for its delicious local cuisine and there are plenty of restaurants serving up traditional dishes such as orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe, polpette (meatballs), or focaccia bread with seafood stew. Be sure to also sample some of the city’s amazing seafood dishes, such as pesce alla griglia (grilled fish) or frittura di paranza (fried seafood). Book a pasta experience walking tour in Bari!
Other Bari popular tours
Day 4: Ostuni and Martina Franca
This picturesque town is known for its white-washed buildings, cobblestoned streets, and stunning views of the Adriatic Sea.
The city’s name comes from the Latin word ‘ustus’, meaning burning, due to its sun-drenched location on top of three hills.
Ostuni has been inhabited since prehistoric times and was an important trading port during Roman rule.
Today it remains popular with tourists who come to explore its winding streets, take in views from its hilltop churches and sample some delicious local cuisine.
Take a leisurely stroll through the narrow streets, admiring the architecture and taking in the atmosphere of this ancient town. Visit the Ostuni Cathedral, or climb the hills to one of the many other churches in town. Enjoy some local cuisine at one of the restaurants with a sea view, go on an olive oil tour, walk the city walls, do a wine tasting at a winery, and don’t forget to take a picture with the famous green and blue door.
Martina Franca is well known for its stunning Baroque architecture and vibrant culture.
The city was founded in the 13th century by Filippo I Anjou and has grown to be an important cultural center in southern Italy.
Martina Franca’s main attractions are its historic churches, palaces, and picturesque streets lined with colorful buildings. You can also enjoy traditional cuisine, visit local wineries, or explore nearby beaches along the Mediterranean Sea.
Even though we visited in August we found Martina Franca’s streets extremely empty and could walk around and take pictures as we wished.
Visit the Palazzo Ducale, built in 1688 with a high baroque façade and beautifully decorated, pass by the church of San Martino with a bell tower dating from the 15th century, or the church of Carmine with its remarkable dome, and have a coffee or an ice cream in Piazza Maria Immacolata.
If you want to learn more about the city and its Baroque architecture, go on a walking tour.
Day 5: Lecce
The city is known for its stunning Baroque architecture, which has earned it the nickname “The Florence of the South.”
Lecce is also home to some of Italy’s most impressive Roman ruins, including an amphitheater and an aqueduct.
You can easily spend one day exploring this paradise for history lovers: visit the Carlo V castle, go to Piazza Sant’Oronzo, and visit the remains of the Roman Amphitheater dating back to the 1st century AD, don’t miss the History Museum and the Roman Theater.
The best way to visit and to also learn about the city’s history is to go on a tour. Choose one of the following options, depending on your travel style:
Days 6 and 7: Matera
Sure, you are right to say that Matera is not in Puglia, but in Basilicata. However, no Puglia itinerary would be complete without a stop here, thanks to its proximity to the region.
Matera is known for its ancient cave dwellings, or sassi, that were inhabited until the 1950s by local farmers.
The city has since become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southern Italy due to its unique architecture and stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Its winding streets are filled with restaurants, cafes, galleries and shops offering everything from handmade crafts to souvenirs.
Moreover, the city hosts many annual festivals such as music concerts and film screenings which draw visitors from all over Europe.
Visit the Sassi di Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the ancient cave dwellings that have been carved out of the limestone in the city. From the old town square, you can walk through winding alleys to explore these fascinating dwellings, some of which are over 2,000 years old.
Take a stroll through an outdoor market to discover some unique souvenirs or pick up fresh produce from one of the many vendors. Visit Parco della Murgia Materana, a park that offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Sample some of Matera’s delicious cuisine such as orecchiette pasta with sausage and broad beans, a variety of local cheeses, and dishes like involtini di melanzane.
Visit the Museo Nazionale d’Arte Medievale e Moderna, where you can see works from some of Italy’s most famous artists. Or explore the Cathedral of Matera, a 13th century church with stunning Romanesque architecture.
Spending only a few hours in Matera is not enough, so I strongly suggest you should spend the night.
Where to stay in Matera
Of course, staying in the heart of the Sassi is a must, and here are a few fantastic options:
Locanda Di San Martino Hotel & Thermae Romanae – another stunning cave hotel in the Sassi di Matera, with beautiful terraces and a Roman wellness center unlike anything you’ve ever seen. See more here!
Best tours and activities for Matera
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
Other places you can include on your itinerary
The town sits on a peninsula overlooking the Ionian Sea and is known for its stunning views of the Adriatic coastline.
It’s also home to some stunning ancient ruins that date back to Roman times.
You can explore these incredible sites while taking in the beautiful scenery and enjoying local cuisine such as fresh seafood dishes and traditional Italian pastas.
Gallipoli offers an array of activities including swimming in crystal-clear waters, kayaking, fishing, walking through picturesque olive groves, and exploring nearby cities like Lecce or Taranto.
Another stunning city situated on the Adriatic Sea and surrounded by stunning beaches, making it an ideal destination for those looking to relax and enjoy some sun.
The town itself has plenty to offer visitors, with its narrow cobblestone streets lined with shops, cafes and restaurants serving up delicious local cuisine.
Otranto also boasts a rich history, having been occupied by various civilizations over time including Greeks, Romans and Normans. Its imposing castle serves as a reminder of its past as one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean Sea.
A small and quaint city that still has all the charm and beauty of larger cities.
The old part of town sits on a rocky promontory overlooking the Adriatic Sea while modern Trani sprawls along its coastline.
Home to some stunning architecture, including one of Italy’s most beautiful Romanesque cathedrals, Trani is also known for its delicious seafood cuisine and vibrant street life.
Santa Cesarea Terme
A small town known for its thermal springs, which have been used since ancient times to treat various ailments and diseases.
The area also boasts some beautiful beaches, as well as stunning cliffs and caves along the coastline. You can explore this unique region by taking part in activities such as hiking, biking, swimming or simply relaxing on one of the many terraces overlooking the sea.
Santa Cesarea Terme is an ideal destination for those looking to escape from everyday life and enjoy some natural beauty and tranquility.
Gargano National Park
Located on the Gargano Peninsula, this stunning national park offers visitors an array of activities and attractions to explore.
From its lush green forests with winding trails for hiking and biking, to its serene beaches and crystal clear waters for swimming or simply relaxing in the sun – Gargano National Park has something for everyone.
You can also take part in bird-watching or horseback riding along some of the most beautiful coastal views in all of Europe.
Puglia has some of the most beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, with plenty of hidden gems.
Here are only a few places worth exploring:
Baia Delle Zagare
Fiume Chidro San Pietro In Bevagna
Marina Serra – Tricase
Grotte di Castellana
One of the most stunning and impressive cave systems in all of Italy.
The cave system consists of two levels which include several large chambers filled with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.
Visitors to Grotte di Castellana can explore this natural wonder by taking a guided tour through its winding passageways and caverns that are lit up with colorful lights for an added effect.
There is also a museum site where visitors can learn more about the history and geology behind this amazing site.
Is Puglia worth visiting?
No matter if you are looking for stunning villages, delicious food, crystal-clear waters, and sandy beaches, or history-packed destinations, Puglia has something for you. If this is your first or tenth time visiting Italy, Puglia is definitely worth visiting.
Is Puglia expensive?
No, Puglia is not an expensive destination. It offers good value for money and you can enjoy a great holiday in the region at an affordable price.
Prices for food, drinks and accommodation are generally lower compared to other parts of Italy.
Additionally, there are plenty of free or inexpensive activities available such as exploring historical sites and traditional villages.