The most wonderful must-do Puglia itinerary in 7 days

Planning a trip to Puglia? You will love this Puglia itinerary for 7 days! Italy exceeded all our expectations again in this wonderful region. Be captivated by the charm of the iconic white towns, the allure of traditional Italian living, and the crystal-clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Puglia, all the way in the southern “heel of Italy” is one of the best destinations for a road trip in Italy! Pack your bags for this 7-day itinerary in Puglia!

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Map of the 7-day itinerary in Puglia

How many days is enough for Puglia?

Truth be told, we can talk endlessly about Puglia and the places to visit. Therefore, you can easily enjoy yourself in this region for 1 to 3 weeks. Puglia is big and very diverse. You can do something new every day! However, we understand that you might be looking for a shorter trip to Puglia. Therefore we recommend you to spend at least 7 to 10 days going home with a proper memory box of Puglia.

Can you do Puglia without a car?

Yes, you can. There are train and bus services to most of the main cities in the region. But we do not recommend it for this 7-day itinerary in Puglia. By far the best way to travel in the region of Puglia is by car. It is easy to rent a car at one of the airports when you arrive. Driving in the south of Italy is likely different from what you are used to. Please ensure to read the tips below:

  • The roads in the south, as well as the highways, can have quite some potholes. Watch out to prevent accidents and damages.
  • No one drives according to the given speed. But the fun fact here is that it is either speeding way too much or driving way too slow.
  • Take a smaller rental car. We enjoyed our Fiat 500 very much as some streets and parking are rather small.
  • Do not leave any belongings in the car! Puglia is more known for break-ins and often car insurance does not cover full theft.
  • ZTL zones: do not enter these zones with a car or you will be fined heavily! These are often in the historic center. Keep your eye out for the signs, cameras behind these signs will catch you right away.
  • Parking was very easy. There was enough space and the costs were around €1 per hour. Do note: we travelled just outside high season so it was less busy.
Car in Puglia, Ostuni

What is the best time to visit Puglia?

In Puglia, some of the most beautiful beaches with clear blue waters are waiting for you! Therefore we highly recommend you travel to Puglia in the summer months for a refreshing escape. These are specifically between May and September. While the summer allure is undeniable, we should note that July and August are high season with many tourists around. We explored Puglia during the first weeks of September and found it simply perfect – offering the best of both worlds.

Where to stay in Puglia?

If you are following the 7 day Puglia itinerary below we recommend you to stay in two locations. One more in the north of the region and the last days in the south. All locations are easily accessible from the main airports Bari and Brindisi. The longest drive from the accommodation on a day trip would be from Martina Franca to Matera which is max.1,5 hr. See below our recommendations, or search for other deals on the map.



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Travel in Puglia – 7 day itinerary

Day 1: Arrival & Polignano a mare

An early morning arrival, fresh and ready to start exploring for one full week on a Puglia road trip! We took our rental car from the airport and set sights on the coastal gem of Polignano a Mare right away. Good to know, if you stay in the Locorotondo area it is strategically located and route to your accommodation. Polignano a Mare is one of the most famous towns in Puglia, and a real Instagram hotspot as well.

Have your first Italian lunch at the charming Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, get lost in the small and winding streets, and feel the vibes of the Centro Storico. When the heat is peaking, dip into the beautiful waters of Lama Monachile beach. Of course to be followed by a real Italian treat – Gelato! That one thing you have been longing for so much. Do you want to know the best spot to enjoy this? At the great viewpoint of Terrazza Santo Stefano and Pietra Piatta. Enjoy!

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Day 2: Alberobello, Locorotondo & Cisternino

Three beautiful towns in the incredible Itria Valley and a must on your road trip itinerary. If you love photography, these are the places to be! Thanks to the short distances between them, exploring all three in a single day is not only feasible but also highly recommended. You will be surprised by the unique characteristics of each town, make sure to not skip any and visit all.

Alberobello

Start your one-day adventure in Puglia with a visit to Alberobello, an absolute essential on your 7-day itinerary. Alberobello is a true symbol of the Puglian region. You will see the remarkable and iconic Trulli houses everywhere! And this UNESCO World Heritage Site is worth a visit!

Allow around 2 to 3 hours for your cultural Alberobello visit, making it an ideal morning trip. To enjoy the authenticity of this town, you might want to consider an early start. From 10 AM the tour buses will arrive and you will feel the mass tourism all around.

The prehistoric buildings have their unique charm. You will not find this anywhere else. Most Trullis are easy to find using maps “Trullis Zone”. However, what if you want to go beyond the well-trodden paths and discover another more hidden panoramic viewpoint? In that case, do not forget to visit the viewpoint “Belvedere Santa Lucia” on the opposite side of the famous zone. Additionally, don’t miss the Rione Aia Piccola Area, with some very old trulli’s (maps; Via Duca Degli Abruzzi).

DRIVE: Alberobello > Locorotondo 10 min.

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Locorotondo

Briefly: a maze of whitewashed charm! UNA BELLISSIMA CITTA, we loved it! Locorotondo was initially not on our 7-day itinerary for the Puglia road trip, and we wonder how this happened. Luckily we made a stop and fell in love. A delightful local market welcomed us to taste some delicious Italian cheeses, Afterwards, it is a must to venture into the historic heart of the town – Locorotondo Centro Storico!

This is the place where you should just walk around without a map to appreciate the town’s unique character. The labyrinth streets are a photographer’s dream offering a love-at-first-sight moment at every turn. Allow yourself at least 2 hours of leisurely exploring, discovering churches, soaking in panoramic views from the hilltop town and getting some refreshing drinks.

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Cisternino

After a siesta and swim back in our Trulli, we went to Cisternino in the evening. Cisternino is another beautiful white town with many small streets in the historical centre. When entering you will soon end up on the main square which is surrounded by restaurants with great vibes. The lights and flowers are all around – perfect for a romantic date night!

DRIVE: Locorotondo > Cisternino 15 min.

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Day 3: Matera

While officially nestled in the region of Basilicata, Matera presents a perfect opportunity for a visit during your Puglia road trip. Matera is truly an ancient town, maybe even the oldest one you have ever visited! Going back around 9000 years, Matera is now proudly known as the third-oldest continually inhabited settlement in the world. And besides that the oldest town in Italy!

Stepping into Matera feels like a different world or a biblical movie scene. There is so much history to tell. Take a day to explore and wander around on its cobblestone streets and ancient architecture. Fun fact, did you know that the James Bond movie (2020) was filmed here as well?

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Day 4: Ostuni

Today it is time to start discovering the Southern part of Puglia on this 7 day itinerary. As you drive south, a mandatory stop at Ostuni awaits. Mandatory? Yes, because if you did not fall in love with Puglia yet, you will do so in Ostuni. Known as the Città Bianca D’Italia, with an enchanting historic centre!

The historic centre is yet again a labyrinth of streets that just seem to be going around in circles and circles. Every turn has a surprise while you are getting lost in the small and steep alleys. You might think you are enjoying the Italian vibes, but Ostuni also carries quite some traces of Greek influences. Making the visit even more spectacular with another layer of historical richness.

Some lovely restaurants are tucked away in the smallest corners. Ensure you will enjoy these adorable places before you continue your trip. Ostuni will leave a wonderful cultural mark in your Italian trip memory box.

Day 5: Otranto, beaches & Lecce

Right now we are in the southern part of Italy and you can brace yourself for more traditional Italian vibes. And before we forget, if you love seafood, this is your haven! Culinary delights are waiting for you along the breathtaking coastline in Puglia. Are you ready for the second part of this 7-day itinerary in Puglia?

Do realize that today is a big day for exploration! Of course, if you want to. Seize the opportunity by waking up early to maximize the hours of this day. The agenda? Beach hopping it is! But remember, the pace is entirely yours to set. For those seeing a more relaxed pace, consider skipping some and dedicating more time to one particular beach.

Otranto

A coastal city with incredible blue waters in the city itself. The city is picturesque and charming. As it is not that big, you can enjoy a leisurely two-hour stroll, unless, of course, you choose to extend your visit with a beach visit here. The city has a rich history as well, evident from the commanding castle and protective walls. It is perfect for a morning escape before the sun becomes too hot to handle.

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Beaches: Grotta della Poesia, Torre Dell’Orso & Baia Mulino d’Acqua

Don’t forget your swimwear, as the afternoon promises a refreshing dip in some of the most beautiful waters! The first stop is Grotta Della Poesia, known as the famous cave. But not just any, one with gorgeous beautiful blue waters! We know it will be thrilling to jump from the rocks. However, this is officially not allowed.

Do note that there can be long queues to enter. We therefore opted for a local tip – a spot just 200 meters away with breathtaking views. Actually off limits, and requires a small climb over a fence. It was irresistible and a perfect moment.

Following this refreshing dip, head towards Torre Dell’Orso, a beach bustling with activity. It was pretty crowded, so why would you still go? Again, beautiful clear waters to just float in all the time. That is what you call a perfect day.

Before calling it a day, make a detour to Baia Mulino d’Acqua. This hidden gem, nestled amid cliffs and only accessible through a bit of off-road adventure is gorgeous! Unfortunately, when we were there we were not allowed to access the beach due to safety reasons. However, if you like some good views on your road trip, go for it!

Lecce in the evening

Lecce Italy, Lecce by night

Day 6: Maldives Beach!

Extend your sun-soaked adventure with some more sun rays! Along the coast, you will find many more breathtaking places and beaches. Today’s journey brings you far south to Maldives Beach. Doesn’t that name promise a lot already? Despite the weather not fully cooperating during our visit, the day was still ideal for lounging on a sunbed, book in hand and enjoying the views.

If you are having a perfect summer day, be prepared for crystal clear waters and endless paradise views! There are more beautiful beaches along the coast, on the other side towards the northern part of Gallipoli too. Good to know, from these areas you can admire the sun as it gracefully sets over the horizon very well!

Day 7: Monopoli & departure

This 7-day itinerary for a Puglia road trip nears its end. Consider a stop in the charming coastal village of Monopoli, especially if time permits on your way to the airports in Bari or Brindisi. The village has full fisherman vibes! Again you will be invited to wander through the narrow, white streets of a coastal gem. You will see lovely interiors, splendid churches, old doors and lots of flowers and greenery.

Monopoli is like an open-air museum of historical, architectural and cultural treasures. Let Monopoli give you the last beautiful memories of this Italian road trip. And lastly, do not forget to finish with some Italian ice cream or local seafood!

Ready to pack your bags a start this 7-day itinerary in Puglia? Italy will never disappoint, and Puglia will not change that! Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

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