When it comes to Italy, Puglia (pronounced as “poo-lia”) may not be the most obvious choice, with major cities such as Milan, Venice and Amalfi Coast being on top of most people’s list and for good reason! You can read my post about my Italy trips here. Although there are many places not to be missed in the land of pasta and pizza, Puglia may be overlooked by many. But after reading this guide, you’ll be sure to put this place on your travel bucket list very soon! This is the place where local Italians escape to for holidays, so take it from them and make that trip! Stephan and I made our trip down here in late June this year and it was seriously one of the best trips I’ve done so far! We rented a car from Naples and drove all the way along the Amalfi coast to the southern tip of italy’s boot. I would recommend renting a car (like what we did) to allow for several day trips to explre the coast, countryside and small towns of southern Italy. Keep reading to see why you should go to Puglia (Now)!
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Lecce | A city with rich historical features and heritage, Lecce is a major city in Salento known for it’s baroque styled architecture. As you stroll through the city, you will discover several architecturally designed buildings as well as the hugely ornamented façade of Basilica di Santa Croce. Located in the city centre sits one of the highlights of this town- the amphitheatre. Take a day to enjoy the city and relax at one of the many cafes with a tartufo or gelato!
Alberobello | A UNESCO world Heritage Site with a postcard like town full of traditional Italian summer homes with cone like roofs called Trullis! This town is perfect to walk through during the day and very picturesque afar or up-close, with some cafes and small shops to stop by along the way. The small area and easily walkable in 30 minute and very suitable for family and small children as well.
Ostuni | The white town perched on a hill, Ostuni is a charming town to wander through narrow passage ways and steps with every corner being a perfect photo opportunity! The feeling we got when we arrived was a sleepy town during mid-afternoon when it’s very hot and sunny (up to 40 degrees). We pretty much had the town to ourselves and it was very enjoyable getting lost in the windy streets.
Martina Franca |A cute little town with white washed houses and a lovely baroque styled cathedral located in the city centre. A true Italian experience can be enjoyed in the piazza to taste local wine and cheese at the many outdoor cafes and restaurants available. A day or two here is not complete without booking a few nights at this amazing Airbnb we stayed in either!
Coastline and beaches
In Puglia, you will find incredible natural beauty, a mostly rocky coastline with intermittent sandy beach coves, incredibly clear water and many sea caves. Read my full post on the best Puglia beaches here!
Polignano a Mare | Situated in the south of Bari is a small town that sits on the edge of the Adriatic sea. Walking through the lovely old town, you will find that the winding streets are filled with charming white washed buildings, beautiful cathedrals and various cafes. As if it can’t get any better, the end of the town leads to the beach that is hugely popular among locals. It’s flanked on two sides by cliffs from which many dive into the turquoise waters throughout the day until sunset.
Grotta Palazzese, Polignano | A must try when you’re in this area is the cave restaurant, a true gem of Puglia and an experience not to be missed! Reserve in advance and get there when doors open to ensure best spot at the edge of the restaurant with a sea view.
Torre Dell’Orso | Named the brother bear, this famed beach resort features a twin rock formation that sticks out of the ocean on the eastern side of Puglia. This popular beach has been awarded many times with the Blue Flag of Europe, and rightfully so! It has maintained a reputation for clean and crystal clear waters which truly doesn’t disappoint. (Read more here)
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Puglia being a large agricultural region produces many of Italy’s olive oils and local wines. So natural these produces are found everywhere and very cheap as well! A must try in Puglia is the famed orecchiette, little ear-shaped pasta that are still produced by hand on a daily basis by many signore. Gluten free pasta and pizzas are also hugely popular and available in many restaurants and cafes to accommodate those with gluten-free diets. Lastly, Puglia’s long coastline also means that freshly caught seafood and fish are not to be missed when in the area!
Have you been to Italy before? Let me know about your best experience in the comments below!
Photography by Stephan and yours truly.