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Puglia travel guide
Puglia is a skinny region that’s fat with riches – architectural, geographical, gastronomical – all squeezed beautifully into a narrow strip of land in the country’s far south. There are ancient towns where shady alleys speak of the past. There are baroque cathedrals crowning hilltop cities; curious trulli homes with conical roofs; and proud traditional farmhouses presiding over mile after mile of olive grove and vineyard. There are beautiful beaches and seafront restaurants, exquisite regional foods, traditional crafts (papier-mâché is big in Lecce) and layers of culture laid down over the centuries. Yet, despite this embarrassment of riches, Puglia still feels pleasantly undiscovered.
Forming the vertiginous heel on Italy’s stylish boot, Puglia is a truly elevated destination – with hilltop towns, clifftop villages perched above the Adriatic and sweeping valleys.
A small group or tailor made tour, complete with passionate local guides in all the right places will help you extract every last drop from this delicious, multi-sensory region, ensuring you make the most of a week, or whatever time you have, in Puglia.
Our Puglia Holidays
Popping with baroque churches, whitewashed towns, olive groves, vineyards and beaches.
As widely visited or as busy as other parts of Italy.
Our top Puglia Holiday
If you'd like to chat about Puglia or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Puglia map & highlights
Shaped like a knobbly parsnip, Puglia lies on the southern Adriatic coast, with the hot, dry Salento Peninsula the clearly defined high heel of Italy’s boot, and the northern part of Puglia forming what’s known in shoe design lingo as the ‘counter’. Driving times within Puglia are modest – you can get from Gallipoli in the west to Lecce in the east in around 40 minutes – and its compact size, pretty countryside and abundance of fascinating towns and villages make it ideal for a cycling break. Bari airport serves the region and you can catch ferries here, to Dubrovnik in Croatia, Bar in Montenegro and Durrës in Albania.
Alberobello is Puglia’s Trulli Town, home to 1,500 of these ancient stone houses and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The trulli are drystone, mortarless constructions, made of limestone boulders with conical roofs of limestone slabs. They were designed to be easy to tear down, to swerve paying property tax to the king in the 1500s, but have survived and now function mostly as shops, restaurants and tourist accommodation.
Known as the ‘Ionian Pearl’, Gallipoli is one of the prettiest small towns in the Salento Peninsula and was the largest exporter of lamp oil made from olives in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its old town, the centro storico, sits on a rocky island with wonderful views to north and south. It’s peppered with churches, laced with narrow alleys, and features superb Baroque architecture to rival nearby Lecce.
One of Europe’s most distinctive Baroque cities, Lecce bristles with fine 17th century architecture and is home to more than 40 churches and countless palazzi, festooned with occasionally OTT cherubs, asparagus sprigs and gargoyles, all carved from the local soft stone. The Basilica di Santa Croce scoops the prize for Top Baroque Monument in town; fans of earlier history will enjoy the Roman amphitheatre, too.
The hilltop town of Ostuni, nicknamed the White City because of its many whitewashed houses, rises above the olive trees of the Valle d’Itria, with numerous churches and monuments silhouetted against the sky. Its cathedral presides over a maze of narrow streets, staircases and higgledy homes, where tiny trattorias and glimpses of the Adriatic wait around each corner.
Overlooking the Adriatic at the tip of the Salento Peninsula – Italy’s heel – Otranto is the country’s easternmost town. It has a medieval centre with a Romanesque cathedral, dating back to 1088 and with impressive 12th century floor mosaics, plus lots of pretty architecture and seafront restaurants. Relax on white sandy beaches and swim at the Grotto della Poesia, a natural swimming pool within the rocks.
6. Valle d’Itria
The Itria Valley is a beautiful landscape of rolling hills, dotted with olive trees, vineyards and trulli. It’s excellent walking country and home to Locorotondo, or ‘round place’, one of Puglia’s prettiest towns. The Castellana Caves, Italy’s biggest cave system, lie at the entrance to the valley while Polignano a Mare is a gem on its coast, perched on 20m high cliffs above the Adriatic.
More about Puglia
Whether you’re cycling, walking, soaking up the culture or a combination of all three, find out the best time to visit Puglia, please tips for things to do and expert travel advice.
Geographically close and linked by ferry, but culturally different, Puglia in Italy and Albania make perfect partners on a single, fascinating trip.
Cycling in Puglia has a lot to recommend it: the heel of Italy’s boot is flat, as well as dry and sunny.
Puglia remains a largely undiscovered walking destination, and with a season that runs all the way to November, it’s a wonderful place to escape the crowds.