Polignano a Mare, Italy

Exploring Puglia, Italy: A Comprehensive Travel Guide

Nestled in the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is a hidden gem that promises a perfect blend of history, culture, and stunning landscapes. Its picturesque coastlines, charming villages, and delicious cuisine make Puglia an ideal destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience. In this guide, we’ll delve into how to get to Puglia, navigate the region, understand the climate, discover the best times to visit, and highlight must-visit destinations.

What to expect in Puglia

Getting to Puglia and Getting Around

Easily accessible by air, Puglia boasts major airports in Bari and Brindisi, with numerous airlines operating flights from major European cities. Alternatively, you can reach Puglia by train, bus, or car, providing flexibility for various travel preferences.

Once in Puglia, renting a car is recommended for exploring at your own pace, given the well-developed road network. Public transportation options like trains and buses connect major cities and towns.

Climate and Best Time to Travel to Puglia

Puglia enjoys a Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The best time to visit is during spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when temperatures are pleasant, and tourist crowds are thinner. Summer (July and August) is the peak tourist season, with higher temperatures and lively beach scenes.

Explore Puglia’s regions

Gargano Peninsula

Often referred to as the “spur of Italy’s boot,” the Gargano Peninsula offers diverse landscapes with lush forests, rugged cliffs, and pristine beaches. Explore the enchanting Umbra Forest, visit Vieste, a historic town, and relax on the stunning beaches of Peschici.

Discover the Thrilling Roads of the Gargano Peninsula: Enthusiasts of winding roads and breathtaking panoramas must experience the exhilarating drive from Peschici to Mattinata. This scenic route offers captivating views and a unique local charm. Along the way, ancient wooden structures, trabucchi, stand gracefully leaning towards the sea, some transformed into stylish dining establishments like Al Trabucco da Mimì in Peschici.

Alta Murgia

Nestled in the heart of Puglia, Alta Murgia National Park beckons nature enthusiasts with its unique limestone landscapes, ancient cave dwellings, and the picturesque town of Castel del Monte, renowned for its medieval castle.

Olive Farm Experience in Andria: Puglia, known as the olive oil capital of Italy, contributes 50% of the country’s olive oil production. To immerse yourself in this local tradition, visit Andria, the top spot for extra virgin olive oil. Explore olive farms, witness the olive oil-making process, stroll through olive groves, and engage your senses in understanding the secrets behind Puglian olive oil.

Valle d’Itria

As you drive south past Bari, the region’s capital, Valle d’Itria unfolds. This enchanting landscape welcomes you with a continuous forest of monumental olive trees, their branches twisted by time, seeming to hold up the sky. White towns pop out on various hilltops, with Ostuni, the “White City,” boasting stunning views and iconic white-washed architecture.

Drive through Valle d’Itria to encounter Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with mesmerizing trulli, traditional stone houses with cone-shaped roofs. In Polignano a Mare, a coastal gem within Valle d’Itria, experience the dramatic beauty of its cliffside terraces.


Transitioning from Valle d’Itria, head further south into Salento, the easternmost part of Italy. Lecce, Salento’s capital, often referred to as the “Florence of the South,” boasts stunning baroque architecture and noble palaces, reflecting its rich history and cultural significance.

Each town in Salento takes pride in its historic city center, brightening up during summer nights for yearly religious festivals and food fairs. What sets Salento apart is its crystal-clear waters lining the entire coastline. From Torre Sant’Andrea to Porto Cesareo, Castro, Santa Maria di Leuca, Gallipoli, and Porto Selvaggio, the choices for idyllic swim stops are plentiful.

In Salento, summer nights are filled with the vibrant energy of religious festivities and local food celebrations. Whether exploring the architectural wonders of Lecce, indulging in the coastal charm of Gallipoli, or embarking on a boat adventure from Porto Selvaggio, Salento beckons with a unique blend of history, culture, and pristine coastal beauty.

Puglia’s diverse landscapes, rich history, and mouthwatering cuisine captivate every traveler. Whether exploring ancient caves, indulging in local delicacies, or basking in the coastal beauty of Salento, Puglia promises an unforgettable experience. Pack your bags and discover the hidden treasures of Italy’s southern gem. Buon viaggio!

Trulli houses in Alberobello
Trulli houses in Alberobello

Where to stay in Puglia

Embark on a journey of luxury and style as we explore the most enchanting design hotels in Puglia, where the traditional beauty of Southern Italy meets modern design. Discover accommodations that effortlessly blend the laid-back, artistic soul of Puglia with a commitment to unparalleled hospitality. This region, known for its picturesque coastal villages, crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, and sprawling olive groves, sees historical architecture and contemporary design merge into a unique experience. The design hotels in Puglia are not just places to stay; they are gateways into a world shaped by the rich culture, delicious cuisine, and stunning nature of this unique area of Italy. Check out the complete guide for an immersive experience in the heart of Puglia’s charming ambiance.

Puglia Bucket List

Trulli houses in Alberobello

Trulli Houses in Alberobello

Embark on a journey to Alberobello, a charming town in Puglia, Italy, renowned for its unique trulli houses. These distinctive limestone dwellings, with their conical roofs and whitewashed exteriors, create a captivating fairy-tale-like atmosphere. Stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Rione Monti district, where clusters of trulli line narrow cobblestone streets, each telling a story of traditional Apulian architecture. Immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring the interiors of some trulli, transformed into shops, cafes, or museums. Alberobello offers a picturesque glimpse into Italy’s past, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and lovers of unique architecture alike.

Tremiti Island Italy

Island hop to the Tremiti Islands of Italy

Escape to the Isole Tremiti (Tremiti Islands), where you’ll enjoy a far more pleasant experience than Julia the Younger, who faced exile by Emperor Augustus in the 1st century CE for alleged adultery. Located 20km off the Gargano Promontory, this compact archipelago comprises five islands—San Domingo, San Nicola, and the uninhabited Capraia, Crettaccio, and Pianosa—creating a pristine wonderland of white cliffs, Aleppo pines, and crystalline waters teeming with starfish, lobsters, and rare black coral. Relax on vibrant San Domingo or step back in time on medieval San Nicola, where the 11th-century abbey showcases stunning floor mosaics. Embark on boating and diving tours from San Domingo to discover the wild, tiny Capraia, where limpid inlets offer perfect snorkeling spots.

Gargano, Italy

Embark on a hiking adventure in the Parco Nazionale del Gargano

If the Gargano promontory in northern Puglia evokes images of the Dalmatian coast, it’s no accident. Eons ago, this “spur” of the Italian boot was once connected to present-day Croatia. Today, a significant portion of this rugged mountainous terrain is encompassed by the 1,181-square-kilometer (456-square-mile) Parco Nazionale del Gargano, standing as one of Italy’s most captivating national parks.

Within this expanse, well-marked hiking trails offer diverse experiences, ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging treks that work your calf muscles and induce a good sweat. Lace up your boots and explore the trails winding through the tranquil Foresta Umbra, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient woodland hosting an array of wildlife, including roe deer, wild boar, elusive wild cats, and over 65 varieties of orchids. For breathtaking coastal vistas, embark on the trail connecting Vignanotica to Mergoli, offering a moderately challenging hike along the lush and precipitous coastline of the Gargano.

Puglia Beach

Discover beautiful Puglian beaches

The region boasts a diverse coastline of nearly 600 miles between the Adriatic and Ionian seas, offering everything from dramatic cliffs to sandy beaches and rocky coves. Discover the perfect beach by catching the early morning sun along the east coast or relishing golden sunsets in the south and west.

Punta della Suina in Gallipoli is enchanting, with a pine-fringed coastline and clear turquoise waters. A hidden gem, Cala dell’Acquaviva, nestled between Santa Cesarea Terme and Tricase, features a small rocky cove with remarkably fresh water. Explore these coastal wonders, where each beach tells a unique story against crystal-clear waters and natural beauty.

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