Bordered by the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea, the heel of the Italian boot mixes culture, gastronomy, history and beaches. To visit Puglia is to succumb to the charm of its spectacular coastline. The west and its rocks, the east and its long sandy beaches. Everywhere the ocean’s changing reflections invites swimming and cooling off.
For those who like to dive into the heart of history, Puglia offers an indulgent collection of sites that evoke the ancestral origins of the land and its many influences. Lecce with its Baroque jewels among the vineyards, Trani and Barletta where we picture the departures of the Crusaders to the East, and the Itria valley where the stone trulli houses with their conical roofs became the symbol of the region.
From Bari, its capital to the white facades of Ostuni, and from the maze of alleys of Monopoli to the marine reserve of the Tremiti Islands, Puglia will make you discover another facet of Bel Paese. A destination that’s as full of flavours as it is surprises. Find out here what our local experts recommend doing, visiting during your stay at one of our well-located hotels in Puglia, Italia.
How to go to Puglia ?
By air is the fastest way to get to Puglia with options to fly into Bari or Brindisi. If you have the time and you don’t mind some train swapping, then rail offers a relaxed way of getting this far south. Our hoteliers recommend renting a car when you arrive (if of course you didn’t get here by car) for the best way to get around an area that retains a charm of relatively little urbanization compared to Northern Italy. And, while you should definitely follow the actual rules of the road, as with many parts of Italy driving rules and road etiquette are often up to the interpretation of the driver.
Best time to go to Puglia
With mild winters, pleasant springs and summers flooded with sunshine, Puglia has a dream climate. If you want to enjoy the turquoise waters in peace, forget the summer period. Coves and beaches fill up quickly. In September, on the other hand, the seaside regains its calm, and empty (or almost empty) beaches are once more a possibility, the water is still a pleasant temperature and the air temperature has dropped to a more enjoyable level. If you are planning a more culture-focused trip, then our hoteliers suggest joining them in the springtime where the mild temperatures allow more time for wandering the quiet alleyways, strolling through quaint towns and exploring the Baroque highlights of Lecce.
To visit Puglia is to find the perfect balance between moments of relaxation in crystal clear waters and the discovery of a region that continues to preserve its authenticity. In addition to the essential visits, our hoteliers recommend you take some time to discover the olive tree and wheat field covered hinterland. And if you have the opportunity to make time to join in one of the innumerable sagra (local festivals) that liven up the villages and fill the bellies of the locals. Discover all of our hoteliers‘ recommendations about the main attractions, points of interests and things to do in Puglia.
Climb To Hillside Villages
Besides its pretty trulli, the laughing valley of Itria, with its hills covered with olive trees, vineyards and fruit trees, is also punctuated by small towns that deserve a detour: Cisternino and its narrow medina-like alleys, Locorotondo and its collection of palazzi and churches, or Ostuni the "white city" that stands out like a magnificent chalk vessel stranded on a sea of olive trees. If you do make a visit to the latter, then the duomo (one of the most beautiful in Italy) and its magnificent panorama overlooking the Adriatic coast are memorable highlights.
Swim In Turquoise Waters
With its heel planted in the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea, Puglia offers a grandiose maritime spectacle. 800 km of coastline with waters that are deep blue, translucent emerald and aquamarine. Tropical landscapes, rocky reliefs, extensive beaches, fascinating caves and imposing cliffs make up this picture worthy of an Italian grandmaster. Particularly beautiful are the beaches on the islands of Tremiti.
Alberobello and Trulli
You know them, even if you didn’t know they were called trulli. These little houses unique to the area are nestled against each other and are famous for their picture-perfect fairy tale conical roofs. Take time to look a little closer at the roofs, where you’ll see bulls, crosses and other symbols painted with lime to repel the evil eye. Visit very early or late afternoon to experience the town without the crowds.
Lecce, Florence of The South
This jewel of elegance and refinement is a delight for the eyes. Home to a collection of the finest 17th century Baroque buildings, a still-in-use Roman amphitheatre and 23 ornate churches with carved facades and finely carved balconies, Lecce requires a lot of stepping-back to take it all in. A must-visit in the city is the Piazza del Duomo, enclosed on three sides, the entrance adds to the drama.
Bari, The Capital
Once you’ve passed through its industrial areas, Bari delights visitors in its mysterious old town, its small family restaurants, its vast port and its unusual Basilica San Nicola. The Basilica is particularly well known to Russian Orthodox pilgrims as the home of relics of Saint Nicolas, (very revered in Russia), that were stolen in the eleventh century. This holy man has such historical and political importance in Russia that a statue representing him was offered to the city by Vladimir Putin in 2003.
Apulian cuisine is often defined as "cucina povera" (poor cooking). But far from suggesting a lack of creativity, it is more about celebrating and making the best use of what the sea and the land have to offer. It is a gastronomy of common sense that is as simple as it is delicious. Among the inescapable flavours of Puglia that our hoteliers will help introduce you to is the local bread (Apulia is the breadbasket of Italy), orechiette alla cime de rapa (pasta with turnip tops), burrata (creamy cousin of mozzarella) and to finish an encore of taralli, small ring-shaped olive oil biscuits often flavoured with white wine and fennel.
Osteria Piazetta Cattedrale
Just like Ostuni, the restaurant façade (as is the interior) is painted in an immaculate white. While the building celebrates the monochrome, the dishes are rich in colour and taste. A comfortable atmosphere, delicious menu and a deserved Bib Gourmand in the Michelin guide.
Set back from the crush that sometimes reigns in the streets of Brindisi, this discreet restaurant plays the traditional flavours of Puglia embellished with a pinch of originality. The dishes are generous, but rest assured, they are not pantagruel!
In the city centre of Bari, a discreet (almost invisible) storefront hides a vintage-style restaurant with a small terrace at the back. Beautiful dishes with wonderous flavours that highlight the best products of Puglia and a strict focus on only what is fresh and seasonal.
Alex is short for Alexandra, the chef of this pleasant restaurant in the historic center of Lecce. Often awarded, the cuisine of this young chef is a reinvention of traditional Puglia culinary traditions. You’ll find a sunny atmosphere on the terrace and a candlelit one inside.
Ristorante Trullo d'Oro
Lunch in a trullo (plural trulli) not far from the Piazza del Popolo of Alberobello. This typical restaurant with its vaulted and elegant dining room will offer you a refined, generous and regional cuisine. Fall for the assortment of pasta, a real delight!