Wanting to travel to Puglia? Italy exceeded all our expectations again in this wonderful region! Are you ready to be amazed by the scenery of all the white towns, a traditional Italian way of living and clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea? Puglia, all the way in the south in “the heel” of Italy, one of the best places in Italy for a road trip is waiting for you! This is our Puglia 7 day itinerary full of history, tradition, fun, an area with the best Italian food, beaches and places to get lost in the prettiest smallest alleys.
Travel in Puglia – map
Transport in Puglia
By far the best way to travel in 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 can be different from what you are used to. Please ensure to read the tips below:
- The roads in the south, also the highways, can have quite some potholes. Watch out to prevent accidents and damages.
- No one drives according 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 insurances do not cover full theft.
- ZTL zones: do not enter these zones with the car or you will be fined heavily! You can find these zones in most of the historical centers. 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 and during COVID-19 so it was less busy.
What is the best time to visit Puglia?
In Puglia, you will be welcomed to some of the most beautiful beaches with clear blue waters. Therefore we highly recommend you to travel in Puglia in the summer months to have some refreshing dips. This can be done between May and September. But keep in mind that it can be very busy in July and August as many European countries and Italy itself are enjoying their summer break. We visited the region in the first week of September and felt it was just perfect.
Would you like to explore other parts of Italy as well? Check out France to Italy, an epic South European roadtrip.
Where to stay in Puglia?
If you are following the 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 easy 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.
- From day 1 until day 4 we stayed in an Airbnb in the town Martina Franca in a real trullo!
- From day 4 until day 7 we stayed in hotel Tenuta Pigliano close to Otranto
Travel in Puglia – One week roadtrip in Puglia
Day 1: arrival & Polignano a mare
We arrived early morning at the airport in Bari. We took our rental car and decided to enjoy the coastal town Polignano a Mare right away as it was on route to the accommodation in Martina Franca. This town is probably the most famous one in Bari and became a real Instagram hotspot as well. It is perfect to enjoy your first Italian lunch at the main square (Piazza Vittorio Emanuele), to get lost in the small streets in the historical centre (Centro Storico) afterwards, to take a dip in the beautiful waters (beach: Lama Monachile) and to end the day with the Italian ice-cream you have been longing for so much on one of the best viewpoints; Terrazza Santo Stefano and Pietra Piatta.
DRIVE: Bari Airport > Polignano a Mare 30 min & Polignano a Mare > Martina Franca 50 min.
Day 2: Alberobello, Locorotondo & Cisternino
Three beautiful towns in the incredible Itria Valley and a must for your travel experience in Puglia. If you love to shoot some photos, these are the places to be! Due to short distances is it easy to visit all in one day. You will be surprised by the unique characteristics of each town, make sure to not skip any and visit all.
We start with Alberobello which you cannot skip when you travel in Puglia. The well-known place for the real icon of the Puglian region; Trulli houses, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and definitely worth a visit! In total, you can walk around in 2/3 hours, perfect for a morning visit. Go early if you like to experience without the mass tourism, around 10 AM all the busses will arrive.
The Trulli’s, prehistoric buildings, are really charming. It is easy to find the Trulli area by using maps “Trullis Zone”. But do not forget to also cross the road to the other parts of the town like the viewpoint “Belvedere Santa Lucia”. Also in the Rione Aia Piccola area you will have some very old trulli’s but less touristic (maps: Via Duca degli Abruzzi).
DRIVE: Alberobello > Locorotondo 10 min.
In short: white and a maze! UNA BELLISSIMA CITTA, we loved it! Locorotondo was initially not on our list to visit and we wonder how this happened. We were welcomed by a local market to taste some delicious Italian cheeses, then we moved to the historical centre (Locorotondo Centro Storico). What a gem! This is the place where you should just walk without a map. Keep your camera close, you will fall in love around every corner. It is easy to stay here for 2 hours, walking around, visiting churches, enjoy the views from the hilltop town and have a break for some food or a drink.
We dedicated a full blogpost on Locorotondo: “Locorotondo, Italy’s prettiest town in Puglia”. This place will become a highlight when you travel to Puglia.
After a siesta and swim back in our Airbnb, 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 surrounding by restaurants with great vibes. The lights and flowers are all around – perfect for a romantic date night!
DRIVE: Locorotondo > Cisternino 15 min.
Day 3: Matera
Matera is officially a part of the region of Basilicata, but when you travel in Puglia a perfect opportunity to visit. Matera is an ancient town and the third-oldest continually inhabited settlement in the world and the oldest town of Italy from around 9000 years ago! You will feel like you entered a different world or a biblical movie scene. There is so much history to tell, take a day to explore and wander around. Fun fact: the new James Bond movie (2020) was filmed here as well.
Tip: parking is pretty difficult here! Come on time and make sure you take a spot once you see it.
DRIVE: Martina Franca > Matera 1,5 hrs
Day 4: Ostuni
Driving from Martina Franca to the new accommodation more south, you will make a stop at Ostuni. If you did not fall in love yet with Puglia, you will in Ostuni – the Città Bianca D’Italia. The historic centre has streets going around in circles, and you will walk the rounds more than once. Overall take a different turn each time in the really small and steep alleys and enjoy the Italian vibes. However, not only Italian! Here you will see Greek influences as well. This town has many adorable restaurants in the smallest streets where you will want to enjoy your lunch or dinner! Ostuni is a MUST when you travel in Puglia.
DRIVE: Martina Franca > Ostuni 30 min & Ostuni > Hotel Tenuta Pigliano 1,5 hrs
Day 5: Otranto, beaches & Lecce
Right now we are in the southern part of Italy and it will get more and more traditional! If you are a fan of seafood, this is also the place to be as you will find plenty along the beautiful coast.
Do realize, Today is a big day! Wake up early to get as many hours as possible out of this day. We wanted to see as many beaches as possible. But if you would like to take it more easy, just skip a few beaches and spend more time on one or two beaches a day on day 5 and 6.
A coastal city with incredible blue waters in the city itself. The city is picturesque and charming. It is not that big, so 2 hours for a walk through will be enough, unless you like to enjoy the beach. The city has a whole history to tell, which you can see already from the castle and wall around it. It is a perfect city to visit for a morning stroll before the sun will become to hot to handle.
DRIVE: Hotel > Otranto 20 min.
Europe has some pretty beautiful beach destinations! Check out A spectacular 7 day itinerary for your Mallorca holidays for another aream destination!
Beaches: Grotta della Poesia, Torre Dell’Orso & Baia Mulino d’Acqua
Don’t forget your swim outfit because you will want to take a dip in the beautiful waters in the afternoon! First we went to Grotta Della Poesia. As the names says; this is a cave. But not just any, one with beautiful blue waters with fun guaranteed as you can jump in. Do note that this is officially not allowed, so it is on your own risk.
We decided to not go for a swim in the grotta, seeing the long queue and many people in the area already. We followed some locals to a spot with beautiful views on just 200m away. Here as well, you are officially not allowed to swim and you need to climb over a small fence, but it is just too perfect to resist! (across the street of ‘Oasis Park Hotel’) Check it out yourself below…
After the swim here we went to a beach as Grotta della Poesia only has rocks around. Torre Dell’Orso is a beach, but very crowded. So why would we still go? Again, beautiful clear waters which we would be playing in all the time anyway! This is what you call a perfect day.
Before we went back home, we also visited Baia Mulino d’Acqua. This place again has beautiful waters and great views from the cliffs. You need to go a little off-road to find it. Unfortunately, you are not able to access the beach due to safety. But if you are doing a coastal road trip, this is a must stop.
Lecce in the evening
After a visit to the hotel to freshen up we went to Lecce for the evening. The city is highly recommended for its architecture, it is stunning! We preferred this time to see the city with all the beautiful and cozy lights, what a vibe! Lecce is also know for its cuisine, unfortunately we picked the wrong restaurant so no recommendations from us here…. at least the ice cream was delicious! Ready to taste, visit Gelateria Tentazioni.
DRIVE: Otranto > Grotta Della Poesia and Torre Dell’Orso 30 min & Hotel > Lecce 30 min.
Day 6: Best Puglia beaches
We could definitely catch some more sun rays! Along the coast, you will find many more breathtaking places and beaches. This day we went far to the south: Maldives Beach! The name already promises a lot! Unfortunately, the weather was not too well today so we did not see the clear blue waters. Still good for a book on a sunbed to catch a few rays.
In this area you have many visit worthy beaches from Maldives beach all along the coast on the other side to the northern part in Gallipoli. Fun fact here is that you can admire the sunsets from these beaches very well!
DRIVE: Hotel > Maldives beach 1hr
Day 7: Monopoli & departure
Do note that Monopoli is on the way to the airport in Bari and past the airport of Brindisi, so see timewise if this will be a possible stop. A coastal village and fisherman vibes, you will have it in Monopoli! What a great place to end our trip. Again it is time to get lost in small white streets while you can enjoy the best ice cream and enter a few beautiful churches. We keep being amazed by the architecture in Italian churches. The locals really made the place an open air museum with a lot to appreciate.
With so many fisher boat around you just know you will have the best seafood, must give this a try before you head for the airport.
DRIVE: Hotel > Monopoli 1,5 hrs & Monopoli to Bari airport 45 min.