17 Exciting Things to Do in Puglia in 2024 → for All Budgets

street with trulli houses

Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime! But first, let’s check this carefully curated guide with the best things to do in Puglia! I just came back from a trip there with a bag of useful information and tips, from the top attractions to the must-take tours, and the best hotels!

Puglia, Italy, is absolutely packed with places to see, and I know from experience how hard it is to organize a trip there! That’s why I made sure to make this post as informative as possible.

If you are in a hurry

Don’t have the time to read the whole post? Then check below the main things you need to book in advance for a real Puglian experience:

And here are the best hotels: Dilman Luxury Stay (luxury), POSEA – Polignano Sea Suites (mid-range), Casa Bianca B&B (budget)

Since we are talking about a region, here’s a map to easily find all the things to do!

1. Wander through Lecce’s Baroque streets

A woman wearing a straw hat.

I had to start this guide with the best things to do in Puglia, with one of the most beautiful towns there: Lecce!

This wonderful place is the region’s Baroque jewel, packed with historical buildings, hidden temples, and ancient attractions like the Roman Amphitheatre.

But these are just a few points in the long list of tourist attractions in Lecce! If you want to know more, have a look at my post with the best things to do in Lecce, where you’ll find everything in greater detail!

Most tourists stick to the historic centre while they’re here as that’s where you can admire the gorgeous baroque architecture and iconic sites like Basilica di Santa Croce and Piazza del Duomo. There are also lots of places to stay in this area, and you find some amazing ones in our post with the best hotels in Lecce, on Puglia’s Salento peninsula.

You can spend the rest of your time shopping for handcrafted ceramics, textiles, and gorgeous leather accessories. Manufactus (map) and Bijondo (map) are 2 of my favorite small shops there that I highly recommend.

Don’t forget to try the delicious Italian food and Primitivo wine! If you’re more into sweets, head to Caffe Alvino (map), and for unforgettable dinners, go to La Cucina di Mamma Elvira (map)!

2. Explore the unique Trulli of Alberobello

The trulli houses

Probably one of the most famous towns in Southern Italy, Alberobello is a place that you definitely want to visit either as one of your day trips from other cities or actually stay there so that you can have more time to explore the enchanting Trulli of Alberobello with conical roofs!

For anyone who doesn’t know, the Trulli houses are cone-shaped settlements with a very specific look, painted white and with stone-made conical roofs!

Alberobello is packed with these cute little limestone houses that date (most of them) from the 14th century.

While here you can explore the small streets, go inside some of the houses and get some souvenirs!

If you’d like to explore Alberobello alongside someone who knows more about its interesting history, then you could join a tour! This one lasts 2 hours, and it costs €45, and it’s pretty great as it also takes tourists to a typical Trullo church.

TOUR PRICE: from €45 per person

Join a tour of Alberobello

3. Visit historic cave dwellings in Matera

The sun is shining through a cave into a city.

Matera feels like a time capsule!

I loved exploring the fresco-filled rock churches here and walking for hours on its ancient streets, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same!

This incredible town has such a rich history, and if you’d like to learn more about it, you can join a guided tour! The one that I just linked lasts around 2.5 hours and costs €45. That’s plenty of time to learn all about this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

No wonder Matera was picked as the location to film Chris’s crucifixion scene in the movie Passion of the Christ! Some areas actually resemble the ones from the Holy Land!

But if you’re not much into tours, you can just start walking and climbing up to the top of the city! That’s what I did, and I had an amazing time!

Plus, you’ll get to discover all the attractions on your way! Some of the most important ones are the Church of Santa Maria de Idris, Matera Cathedral, and the Church of San Pietro e Paolo al Caveoso!

Most of these places are set in the Sassi areas! These are basically places with houses, churches, and monasteries that are built in the original Matera stone. But I talk more about this in my carefully curated Matera guide, where I also have more information on where to stay in Matera and other attractions that you can visit there!

TOUR PRICE: from €45 per person

Explore Matera on a tour

4. Soak in the sun and beauty of Polignano a Mare

A woman in hat is standing on a balcony overlooking the sea.

Puglia has some of the best beaches in Italy, and you’ll find so many incredible ones in Polignano a Mare and nearby this coastal town!

Imagine this: you’re staying in a waterfront hotel in town, and you start your day with some colazione (espresso and pastries) and then head to Lama Monachile to swim in the crystal clear waters and try some water sports!

To help boost your visualization, hop on Google and just type ‘Lama Monachile’, and a bunch of pics will appear of this unique beach surrounded by 2 giant limestone cliffs and whitewashed buildings!

I’ve got to admit, it really is one of the most scenic spots in Puglia. However, it’s usually packed, so definitely come here super early in the morning to catch a good spot and even get some nice pics!

boats harbored in front of a building in the city

But Polignano is more than just scenic beaches! It also has a lovely Old Town filled with churches, old buildings, beautiful squares, and restaurants where you can indulge in the yummy focaccia (which is super famous here, so definitely try it)!

I talk all about this and the other fabulous attractions in this town in my things to do in Polignano a Mare post, so definitely have a look!

By the end of the day, if you’re not too tired from all the walking and eating, you could also join a sea cave tour (there are so many in Polignano). Here’s a cool boat tour that lasts 1.5 hours, costs €40, and will take you to some of the most famous caves like Grotta Azzurra, Grotta Piana, and Cala Paur!

TOUR PRICE: from €40 per person

Join a sea cave tour in Polignano a Mare

5. Catch scenic sunsets in Gallipoli

aerial view of a city on the coast at sunset

Often missed by tourists (although I don’t know why), this port town nestled on Puglia’s east coast is absolutely magical!

Its Old Town is made out of narrow cobbled streets filled with locals that have small shops and restaurants. There’s nothing like enjoying local seafood delicacies at coastal eateries after a long journey!

In the mornings, you can sunbathe on a pristine sandy beach either in Gallipoli, on Spiaggia della Purita, or you can walk down south (or rent a bike) and head to other beaches like Baia Verde.

NOTE: there are so many bike rental services in this small town, as it’s one of the best ways to explore the area. Old Bike Rental di Salvatore Giungato is a great spot to rent from, and Bluerent as well. This was by far one of the most adventurous things that I did while I was here, and it was so much fun!

Once you’re back in town, you can also explore some of its attractions like the Church of Saint Agatha Virgin and Martyr, Gallipoli Castle, and the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Most attractions are set in the Old Town, and you can find so many affordable places to stay there! I’ve gathered some of the top ones in this post with the best Gallipoli hotels, so check it out!

End your day with an Aperol and some taralli (specific Pugliese pretzels) while watching the sunset!

6. Dive into Puglia’s history in Otranto

A city on the coast with people walking along the shore.

I hope you’re ready for a fun history class in Otranto!

I was here for only a day, but oh my, this beautiful town really is a place that you shouldn’t miss out on when you visit Puglia, Italy!

Also, a port city, Otranto, is widely known as the place that was attacked by the Turks all those centuries ago. There is actually a beach called Baia Dei Turchi Spiaggia, which is where the Turks arrived!

TIP: I learned about the attack from a TV series called Da Vinci’s Demons, which I highly recommend!

The ancient town is home to a lovely Old Town where you can spend hours just walking up and down the streets and admiring the amazing sea views!

But make sure you also visit its attractions like Castello Aragonese, which now holds just a few exhibitions but offers some amazing sights!

There’s also the gorgeous Cattedrale di Santa Maria Annunziata whose 12th-century mosaic flooring is such a beautiful piece of art, and the port area where you can watch all the small ships and boats at work!

PRO TIP: if you have a car, definitely venture outside of the Old Town and central area as Otranto as some splendid masserias in the countryside! Most of them were turned into hotels, and we actually have a post with the best accommodations in Otranto, which are housed in these old Italian farmhouses.

7. Admire the churches in Ostuni and go olive-tasting

a large church with a clock on the front of it

Exploring Puglia, Italy, and its small towns is such a fun adventure that you’ll never forget!

Especially if you happen to visit the stunning white city of Ostuni, which is packed with white-washed buildings, ancient olive groves, and iconic churches!

I’ve got a whole post with the best things to do in Ostuni, where I go in much more depth about the town and how you can spend your days there cycling through its scenic countryside routes and savoring authentic Puglian cuisine!

But I guess the best way to explore Ostuni is to just walk! Yep, there are hundreds of narrow streets where you can snap pics of Puglia’s iconic white-washed town, and most lead toward the Old Town!

There, you’ll find restaurants, the famous Ostuni Cathedral, a Romanesque cathedral with such a unique façade, Arco di Sccoppa, Museo Diocesano di Ostuni, and other spots.

PRO TIP: right near the Cathedral, there’s a place that sells the yummiest gelato in town called Gelateria Borgo Antico! The yogurt flavor tastes heavenly!

Another fun thing that you can do here is going on an olive oil-tasting tour! There’s nothing like touring centuries-old olive groves and tasting local olive oil.

This one is held in an old masseria, it costs €40 and lasts around 1h. You’ll have to get there on your own, but you can rent a bike or take a bus. But I feel like it’s totally worth it since Ostuni is home to some ancient olive trees that were planted more than 2,000 years ago!

TOUR PRICE: from €40 per person

Go olive oil tasting

8. Go underground at Grotte di Castellana

A statue is standing in the middle of a cave.

Italy is famous for its underground discoveries! Many temples, sites from the Roman Empire, and natural wonders were discovered over the years!

One of them is Grotte di Castellana, set in a small town with the same name that’s only an hour away train ride from Bari.

This 90 million-year-old karstic cave system is home to unique formations like stalactites, stalagmites, concretions, and fossils!

There are various tours that you can take inside the caves, and you can check out all the options and prices on the official website, but usually prices start from €20. They also include an entrance to the Franco Anelli Speleological Museum.

PRICE: from €20 per person

9. Eat delicious seafood in Bari

We’ve some lovely small towns, but if you’re now craving a bit more action and adventure, then let’s head over to Bari, Puglia’s capital city, and also to its international airport (most likely, you’ll land here).

Home to attractions like Basilica di San Nicola, San Sabino Cathedral and Pinacoteca Metropolitana di Bari, and some great sandy beaches, Bari is one of those urban Italian cities where fashion, class, and history meet at a very interesting crossroads.

While here you must try the seafood at La Tana del Polpo (see map) which is great for that, as fishing is so big here! You can go by the port area in the morning if you want to see locals bring in the catch of the day!

I talk all about this in my post with the best things to do in Bari, where I give so many tips from my travels there!

Although it has the whole urban vibe going on, some parts of Bari have kept their authenticity! Bari Vecchia is such a fine example, mostly inhabited by locals.

street with various stands with homemade pasta

Make sure you stop by Strada delle Orecchiette, which is packed with tables where local women prepare the famous orecchiette pasta that you can buy straight from them and even learn some traditional pasta-making techniques!

If you’re thinking of spending a few days in Bari, make sure you check out our post with the best Bari hotels, where you’ll find so many amazing options.

10. Go on an adventure in Parco Nazionale del Gargano

A cliff with a house on it next to the water.

Going on a road trip around Puglia, Italy, is probably the best way to discover all the hidden treasures and gems of this region in Southern Italy! You can do so by renting a car, but I recommend doing it in advance as the prices get so high, especially in the summer.

Gargano National Park is one of those spots that you can discover on a road trip! Set 1.5 hours north of Bari, this place is such a paradise, and nothing compares to hiking through a picturesque natural park.

The protected area on the Gargano Peninsula has forests and a rugged coastline with gorgeous cliffs and beaches! It’s the perfect place for hiking, swimming, and outdoor adventures!

11. Walk around Vieste’s Old Town

A city on a cliff overlooking the sea.

Since we just mentioned the raw and untouched Gargano National Park, it was only fair to also talk about its closest town, which is the perfect base to not only visit the park but also venture around its beautiful Old Town.

Vieste is set inside the park’s borders on the coast, and it looks as if it was taken out of a fairytale with its whitewashed houses perched above the cliffs overlooking the sea.

Home to another tall castle called almost like the one in Otranto, Castello Svevo Aragonese, some amazing beaches, and plenty of restaurants where you can indulge in the local cuisine, Vieste is a city that you shouldn’t miss out on your Puglia trip!

12. Spend a day in Sant’Agata di Puglia

A small town sits on top of a hill.

Although most tourists run to Puglia’s coastal towns to hit the beaches, there are also some who prefer to explore the towns, which are set right in the middle of the coast.

Trust me, those are just as beautiful and carry so much magic! Just like Sant’Agata di Puglia, a town perched on a hill set 1.5 hours from Bari by car (a bit more if you’re thinking of taking a train there).

Sharing a similar authentic Italian vibe like most sites in Puglia, Sant’Agata di Puglia is filled with pastel-colored houses, narrow streets, and fabulous restaurants where you can try the unique cuisine.

Make sure you climb all the way to the top of the town to catch a scenic sunset while you’re here!

13. Follow the pilgrim’s way to Monte San Angelo

The entrance to a church with a stone archway.

I think every person’s Italy bucket list is incredibly long! Guilty of that charge as well! But you know, I guess it’s really important to prioritize what you must see without a doubt!

Monte San Angelo is one of those places that mystics and history lovers will fall in love with!

Set 2h away from Bari by car, this incredible site has been known since the Middle Ages as an important pilgrimage site. There was actually a route that pilgrims would take from Mont St-Michel (in Normandy) to this site in Italy.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a complex of churches, chapels, and other buildings that were built on top of where Archangel Michael left his footprint!

While here you can visit the castle (which has a low entry fee), explore the town (which has the same name as the complex) and if you’re lucky you may even catch some exhibitions and events!

PRICE: €2 per person

14. Join a vineyard tour in Martina Franca

a close-up of some grapes

Is your trip to Italy even complete if you don’t visit one of the country’s beautiful vineyards?

I guess not! And the best place to do that is Martina Franca, a beautiful town that’s set a 1h drive from Bari and which has a fabulous Old Town filled with attractions like the Palazzo Ducale and Basilica di San Martino!

Don’t miss a visit to those places, but if you’re looking for something a bit more exciting, then join this fun wine tour that includes a visit to one of the oldest vineyards in Itria Valley (a depression filled with bright red soil) and wine tasting alongside some local delicacies like burrata and cured meats! The whole activity will last around 2 hours, and it costs €50.

It really is such a wonderful way to discover an unknown part of the town and drink some yummy Italian wine!

TOUR PRICE: from €50 per person

Visit a vineyard in Itria Valley

15. Reach the southernmost point at Santa Maria di Leuca

An aerial view of a marina with boats docked in it.

It is said that a point where 2 different seas meet holds great power! If you want to feel that on your own, head over to Santa Maria di Leuca, also known as the white pearl of Puglia!

This is the southernmost point of the country, right at Italy’s heel, where the Ionian Sea meets the Adriatic Sea!

NOTE: if you look at a map, it’s very south! And it’s a bit hard to reach if you don’t have a car. If you’re considering taking a bus, as Google Maps shows (bus number 107), know that the bus service only works from July until September, so if you’re visiting any other time, you can’t use it. Trust me, I’m talking from experience.

But if you do have a car, you can drive down from Otranto to Santa Maria di Leuca. The coastal road offers some incredible sea views, and it is a pretty famous route!

Once you arrive, you can enjoy fresh seafood along the coastal town, explore the port area, and visit some of its historical attractions, like its very tall lighthouse!

16. Go for a swim in Grotta della Poesia

A cave with clear water in the middle of a cliff.

Ready to dive into crystal-clear Adriatic waters in one of the most scenic spots in the Puglia region?

Check out the Cave of Poetry, a stunning natural pool surrounded by limestone cliffs! Boasting some caves and a tunnel to the open Adriatic Sea, this stunning attraction is a must-see.

You can reach Grotta della Poesia easily by car but also by public transport, but this depends on where you’re traveling from. Otranto is probably the biggest city, only 40 mins bus ride away from with frequent bus lines!

17. Admire the mysterious Castel del Monte

A castle sitting on top of a hill with trees in the background.

This place in the Puglia region is also pretty hard to reach if you don’t have a car, although it’s like 1h away from Bari. 

If you do have a car, I highly recommend visiting, especially if you love a bit of mystery and sacred geometry!

It is common knowledge that Castel del Monte might’ve been built as a hunting lodge for King Frederick II. Still, historians argue that it symbolizes his spiritual devotion since its many shapes, octagon, circle, and square, all carry such strong symbolism!

While here, take a moment to explore the castle and its grounds, and look for all the symbolism!

PRICE: €7 per person

🌅 Top attraction with a view:Matera
🏖️ Unique attraction:Grotta della Poesia
🍷 Must-take tour:wine-tasting in Itria Valley
😋 Must-try food:orecchiette pasta

Where to stay in Puglia

I already sprinkled some fab accommodation throughout the post, but here are my top picks for where to stay in Puglia, for each budget, with prices ranging from €100 to €290 and above.

collage of 3 images with: a bedroom, lounge on the terrace and couches on a terrace
  • Luxury (from €290 and above): Dilman Luxury Stay – this Bari hotel’s stylish rooms come with a private terrace, sauna, or spa bath. You can enjoy a free breakfast every morning and gather energy for your day!
  • Mid-range (from €190 to €290): POSEA – the Polignano Sea Suites feature fantastic views from the rooftop terrace! Select rooms can have a private panoramic terrace, but all of them have free Wi-Fi, TV, and toiletries.
  • Budget (up to €100): Casa Bianca B&B – staying at this Ostuni hotel will make you feel right at home! Rooms are cozy, and guests can enjoy free breakfast.

FAQs about things to do in Puglia

an aerial view of a city by the ocean

☀️ What is the prettiest part of Puglia?

The long stretch of coastline is amazing, with towns like Ostuni, Otranto, and Polignano a Mare where you can hit the beach but also check places like Lecce, Matera, and Monte San Angelo.

📅 How many days are enough in Puglia?

It depends on how many things you want to see, but I would recommend at least 10 days if you want to visit most of the region.

💙 Is Puglia worth going to?

Yes! 100 times, yes! Puglia is such a beautiful region with charming old towns, pristine beaches, and delicious food!

🍝 What is Puglia famous for?

Puglia is known for its delicious cuisine (it produces so much pasta), its ancient olive trees and oil, and of course its beautiful towns!

Conclusion

A city at sunset with palm trees and cliffs.

Just to recap, today we’ve seen the best things to do in Puglia, from amazing beaches to

rich archaeological sites and beautiful towns!

You’ll find so many tips in each section, plus some fun tours that will make your holiday even more memorable!

Wow! I’m so excited to hear all about your holiday after you go there! If you want to share with me, you can comment below, and I’ll answer ASAP!

Don’t forget to embrace the tranquility of coastal dunes while you’re there and sip on some locally-produced Primitivo wine for me (I already miss it so much)!

Safe travels,

Victoria


Pin it for later!

collage of 2 images with: Sassi di Matera and a grapevine

Pin it for later!

collage of 2 images with: trulli houses and a bread with olive oil

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