A week in Puglia: What to do and see?
Have you chosen to make a tour of Puglia for your next vacation in Italy ? Very good choice ! In order to help you prepare for your stay, I have organized the itinerary for a week in Puglia, so as not to miss any of the places of interest that cannot be overlooked in this little-known region of Italy.
In this article I give you all my best tips for visiting Puglia in 6, 7 or 8 days . And so that you can prepare your trip easily, I also offer my selection of the best accommodation for each step.
So what to do and see during a week-long road trip in Puglia?
1st step: Bari / Ostuni (2 days)
To visit Puglia in 1 week , it is best to land in Bari, the capital of the region.
In order to see as much as possible and not waste time on public transport , I strongly recommend that you hire a car. Personally I always go through rentalcars.com. This is for me the best car rental site!
3 good reasons for this:
- All car rental companies are listed on the website, so you can directly and easily compare the pricesfor a car rental for a week in Puglia.
- By taking out the full insurance offered by rentalcars, you are sure to be protected and reimbursed in the event of an accident or theft, and even in the event of minor scratches.
- Cancellation is often free! Obliged to cancel your rental at the last moment, no problem, you will not pay anything.
Do you want to rent a car? If you know your travel dates, I recommend you compare the prices and rent it now to get the best price. Click here to compare prices!
For the first leg of this week-long trip to Puglia , after picking up your rental car, I suggest you leave Bari directly . You will have time to visit the city before your return, at the end of your vacation.
Direction Polignano a Mare , located just 40 minutes’ drive from Bari. Polignano is known for its houses built on the sides of cliffs, by the sea. You can stroll through the many alleys of the historic center and discover multiple viewpoints at the edge of the terraces , quite impressive!
Be sure to go down to the pebble beach surrounded by the cliffs, at the entrance to the old town, to take the photo found on all postcards. Allow around 2 hours to walk around Polignano.
Then take the car back to Monopoli, just 15 minutes from Polignano a Mare . In the same style as Polignano but the cliffs less, Monopoli has a pretty historic center, very pleasant to walk on. A walk of about 1 hour allows you to see the main monuments like the Charles V castle, the cathedral and the Piazza XX Settembre.
Finally for the last stop of this day, join Ostuni, located 40 minutes from Monopoli. You will have a glimpse of the city long before reaching its historic center. As it is perched on a rocky promontory, it can be seen from quite a distance!
You will then understand why it is nicknamed the “Citta Bianca”, the White City. The walls of the houses in the upper part of Ostuni , those located in the old town are in fact almost all painted with lime to bring a little light into the narrow alleys.
After admiring it from afar, I suggest you take a walk to visit the historic center . At the very top, you can visit the cathedral of Ostuni, the main tourist site of the city. To see for its rather original facade. Next door you will also see the Episcopal Palace where the Diocesan Museum is located and its collection of documents relating to local events.
Then go up a little more to the Sainte-Marie church . It is here that you can admire a 360 ° panorama of the countryside around Ostuni and the entire Itria valley.
At the end of the day, go to Piazza della Liberta, a fairly lively place in Ostuni, where people meet on the terraces of bars and cafes for aperitivo. Take the opportunity to do the same!
If you then want to eat a good pizza , I recommend the Impasto Napoletano , 200 meters from the Piazza. The pizzas are really generous and delicious, we really enjoyed ourselves!
Stay overnight in Ostuni, in one of the accommodations we have selected below.
For all the things to do and see in Ostuni, see our article: Visit Ostuni, the white city of Puglia.
The next day, for this second day of your 6-7-8 day circuit in Puglia, I advise you to go visit Alberobello, the most famous village in the Itria valley.
Who says famous also means tourist! I therefore recommend that you be in Alberobello early in the morning , in order to avoid the tourist buses disembarking from 10 a.m. From Ostuni, Alberobello is a 50-minute drive away.
In Alberobello you can admire hundreds of trulli . Its old dwellings, small stone houses with conical roofs,are today classified as World Heritage by UNESCO . The main activity in Alberobello is to walk through the streets to observe them. Most of them are converted into souvenir shops, restaurants and guesthouses.
To best organize your visit to Alberobello, I recommend that you read our dedicated article: All our tips for visiting Alberobello.
Continue the morning with 2 other very nice villages to visit during your week-long stay in Puglia:
- Locorotondo: 10 minutes from Alberobello, it is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. A one hour walk through the historic center will allow you to discover the Cummerse . These rectangular houses with sloping roofs with flat tiles are the typical habitats of Locorotondo.
- Cisternino: 15 minutes from Lorotondo, it is also one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Cisternino has 3 panoramic terraces overlooking the entire Itria valley. Allow around 1 hour to visit the historic center.
In the afternoon program, I offer 2 choices according to your desires:
- Do you want to relax and swim? Head to the Torre Guaceto nature reserve , 50 minutes from Cisternino and 30 minutes from Ostuni. There you will find a beautiful sandy beach , ideal for swimming and spending a quiet afternoon by the sea.
- Do you want to walk a bit, ride a bike or even ride a horse in beautiful natural landscapes? Visit the natural dunes of the Torre Canne and Torre San Leonardo coastal dunes. Along the coast for 8 km, it offers several types of landscape such as dunes, pastures and olive groves where you can walk.
Spend a second night in Ostuni.
The Travel Tips
During your 1 week tour in Puglia, you will visit a lot of historic center. It is best to try to always park before the old town . Access to most of them is indeed only allowed to resident cars and even if there are no specific prohibitions, the streets are often narrow, steep and one-way. In short, not the easiest place to park!
Accommodation in Ostuni
- Hotel Tropical: Located 5 minutes by car from Ostuni and 10 minutes from the beach. Comfortable and colorful double room from 75 € per night, breakfast included. The most: the situation to visit Ostuni, the very nice staff, private parking.
- Grand Hotel masseria Santa Lucia: The hotel is located about 10 minutes’ drive from the center of Ostuni. It is located both in the countryside, quiet and close to the seaside (direct access on foot from the hotel). Comfortable, bright double room with private terrace from 150 € (low season) to 250 € in high season, breakfast included. The most: the superb swimming pool, the Spa, the solarium by the beach, the calm. It is our choice for a relaxing and relaxed stay in Ostuni!
- Masseria Salinola: This masseria is located just a 5-minute drive from Ostuni. It is located in the countryside, in a very quiet location. The rooms and apartments are housed in a beautiful typical building, entirely renovated but respecting the original style. Cozy double room, tastefully decorated from 300 € per night in high season, breakfast included. The most: the decoration, the rustic and warm charm of the place, the gargantuan breakfast (and I am not exaggerating!), The outdoor swimming pool, the very welcoming staff. This is our recommendation for a romantic luxury stay in Ostuni and one of the best hotels to sleep in during your week-long road trip in Puglia!
2nd step: Lecce (3 days)
The second leg of this week-long trip to Puglia takes you to Lecce.
On the road, you will necessarily pass by Brindisi , only 1/2 hour from Ostuni. You can take the opportunity to stop by for a ride.
Stroll through the historic center to admire the churches, pass by the port to see the naval monument and if you are interested, you can also visit MAPRI, the provincial archaeological museum. It is not a must, but it will not take you much time and at least you will get a glimpse of Brindisi, which is one of the most important cities in Puglia.
Then take the car back to Lecce. I advise you to park your car in the parking lot next to the cemetery. It costs only € 2 for the day and is located around 100 meters from Porta Napoli, the main gateway to the historic center.
Lecce being considered THE baroque city of Italy, it is extremely rich in historical monuments . They were almost all built with Lecce stone , a very soft limestone, which gives a beautiful harmony to the whole old town. It is one of the places to see absolutely in Puglia in 1 week.
To visit Lecce , start by going to Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the largest square in the city. There you will find the tourist office, handy for having a map of the city and not missing anything.
In the Piazza, you cannot miss the Roman Amphitheater . Discovered in the 20th century, it is extremely well preserved. Shows are organized there, find out about the programming at the tourist office if you are interested.
Continue your tour of Lecce by going to see the other emblematic square, piazza del Duomo. You will inevitably be impressed by its dimensions and its size.
I have seen a lot of Piazza del Duomo during my travels in Italy and Sicily , and that of Lecce is, for me, one of the most beautiful. On the Piazza you will of course find the cathedral of Lecce which you can visit inside. See also the seminary palace, the episcopal palace and the campanile (one of the tallest in Europe!).
And since we are in the list of tourist sites to see absolutely, continue your day by going to visit the Basilica of Santa Croce. Pure “Baroque de Lecce” style, adorned with hundreds of sculpted details and a very beautiful rose window: its facade is simply magnificent!
It took almost a century to build it, but you could say it was worth it. I also advise you to go inside to admire the 17 altars , which are also superb. In addition, entry is free.
Then stroll freely in the streets of the historic center to discover the many palaces (more than 90 in total!) And churches.
The next day, we start the day in Lecce with a cultural visit. That of MUST, the historical museum. In addition to being devoted in part to the history of the city , it presents a contemporary art gallery as well as an exhibition of sculptures.
For history buffs, you can continue with a visit to another museum, the Faggiano. It is in an old house , which, when the owners decided to do some work on it, discovered ruins and old objects in the walls and foundations .
The house is in fact more than 2,000 years old and has been used as a dwelling during the time of the messapes, the Romans and the Templars until today ! In order not to lose all this historic wealth, the family decided to open a museum there.
Then pass by the Charles V castle, to see its monumental ramparts. Inside is the Cartapesta Museum,where more than a hundred papier-mâché works are grouped together.
This activity is very typical of Lecce , visiting the museum is the best way to discover it. In the old town, you will also find several shops practicing this art, if you want to leave with an original souvenir!
Last thing to see in Lecce for today, the cemetery! Yes, you read that right, I’m taking you on a tour to discover the many Baroque tombs of Lecce .
Realized in the same style as the other monuments of the city, the vaults present an impressive architecture . The visit is not at all murky because the cemetery is well maintained and surrounded by cypresses. If you’ve ever visited the monumental cemetery of Milan , it’s kind of the same kind.
For this third and last day in the city, I suggest you go visit the surroundings of Lecce and even take a few bathing breaks . Visiting Puglia in a week also means enjoying the sea and its advantages!
Take your car back to go to Torre dell Orso , the first stop of the day, 35 minutes south-east of Lecce . In Torre dell Orso you will find a very beautiful and large sandy beach. You can walk there all the way to the fariglioni , 2 very photogenic rocks and present on a majority of postcards from Puglia.
I advise you to take the path that climbs the cliff to benefit from a better view and a plendid panorama of the surroundings. Going back down, why not give yourself a refreshing swim?
Continue the morning by going to see the other famous faraglioni of Puglia , those located in Torre Sant Andrea . The town is just 5 minutes from Torre dell Orso. Here too the rocks in the middle of the turquoise and transparent water deserve a few photos. And I think you will not be able to resist making a little splash in this paradisiac place.
For the rest of the day, direction Otranto, a 20-minute drive from Torre Sant Andrea.
Otranto and especially its historic center, is a small town pleasant to discover. Be sure to see the castle, its ramparts and Otranto Cathedral . End the day in quiet mode on or near Otranto Beach .
Go back and spend the night in Lecce.
Depending on your interests, you may want to adapt this program a bit to visit Lecce, so I advise you to consult our article: What to see absolutely in Lecce.
To stay in Lecce
- Casa Balmes: Located just 100 meters from the Basilica of Santa Croce and 400 meters from the Duomo. Spacious and comfortable double room from 65 € per night but you may find it cheaper. In March, we only paid € 100 for 3 nights in a deluxe suite (breakfast included)! The most: the calm, the location in the heart of the historic center, the comfort of the rooms, the excellent breakfast with fresh pastry in the morning and still very hot! We highly recommend it for a cheap stay in Lecce.
- VicodellaCavallerizza: This B&B, housed in an ancient palace in Lecce, is just 200 meters from Piazza del Duomo. Double room completely renovated and combining old and modern from 140 € per night, breakfast included. The most: the exceptional setting, the friendliness of the staff, the delicious breakfast. It is our favorite for its benefit / price ratio.
- Risorgimento Resort – Vestas Hotels & Resorts: 5 * hotel located in the historic center of Lecce. Modern and comfortable double room from 180 € per night, breakfast included. The most: the great location, a roof terrace overlooking the cathedral, the staff very attentive. It is the best choice for a luxury stay in Lecce.
3rd step: Matera (1 day)
For this third step of your week-long itinerary in Puglia, I suggest you join Matera.
But before that, I recommend you to make some essential stops located on the road between Lecce and Matera:
- In Taranto , 1h15 from Lecce. The historic center is worth a visit for its castle (free guided tour every 2 hours from 9:30 am) and the national archaeological museum. Recently renovated, it is a visit that I highly recommend because it is well organized and very interesting. It is dedicated to the history of Taranto and Puglia.
- In the villages crossed by the canyon of Puglia: Massafra, Castellaneta, Laterza and Ginosa all allow to have very beautiful panoramas on the canyon. Do not hesitate to walk in the very quiet alleys and enjoy the calm.
Then join Matera for the afternoon. Small geographic precision, Matera is not part of the Apulia region but that of Basilicata. However, as you will have seen, it is located very close and that is why I integrate it into the things to do in Puglia in 7 days. It would be a shame to miss one of the oldest cities in the world !
Like Alberobello, Matera also has its very specific homes: the Sassi ! Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site , the Sassi are cave dwellings carved into the rock. Originally from the Paleothic for some, they have always been busy. Of course, over time, they have turned into real homes with kitchenette, bed.
Some Sassi also served as a refuge for the monks and were transformed into rock churches . Today there are nearly 3,000 habitable caves and multiple rock churches.
Matera can only be visited on foot. To not miss any of the places of interest in the city, go through the tourist office to collect a map. You will find there 3 different courses , more or less long. Whichever you choose, start by going to piazza del Duomo to admire Matera Cathedral. The piazza also has the advantage of giving you a first glimpse of Matera thanks to its view of the Sassi.
Then head towards the church of San Pietro Caveoso, whose location on the edge of the Matera ravine is truly impressive. Then climb to Chiesa della Madonna de Idris , a magnificent rock church carved out of the rock. Overlooking the ravine, the view is breathtaking.
Continue your visit, visiting the museum of the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario . Very small but fascinating, it recreates the interior of a Sassi.
Your tour of Matera will then take you past the Convicinio di Sant Antonio, the Lafranchi Palace, the belvedere of the Piazzetta Pascoli, the National Archaeological Museum and the Tramontano Castle.
At the end of your walk, night will certainly have fallen and you will be able to admire the Sassi from another angle when the city lights up.
All our advice to discover Matera is in our article: Visit Matera and the Sassi.
Accommodation in Matera
- Matera in Vacanza: Located 3 minutes walk from the Sassi area. Spacious and very clean double room from 80 € per night, breakfast included. The most: the location to visit Matera on foot, the warm welcome in French.
- Thymus Residence nei Sassi: Located 5 minutes from Matera Cathedral. This hotel offers double rooms furnished in Sassi, from € 160 per night, breakfast included. The most: live the experience of sleeping in a Sassi, the perfect location. It is our favorite for its benefit / price ratio in Matera!
- Locanda Di San Martino Hotel & Thermae Romanae: The hotel is located in the heart of the Sassi. Double room with wooden furniture and vaulted ceilings located in Sassi from € 260 per night, breakfast included. The most: the indoor pool, valet parking, comfortable bedding, the charm of the place. It is our choice for a romantic stay in Matera.
- Palazzo Gattini Luxury Hotel: Located in an ancient palace, a few meters from piazza del Duomo. This 5 * hotel offers tastefully decorated double rooms from 480 €, breakfast included. The most: the excellent breakfast, the charming staff, the location, the Spa.
4th step: Bari (1 day)
Fourth and last leg of your week-long itinerary in Puglia , return to Bari. If you visit Puglia in 7 days, you will have to think about getting closer to the airport.
When leaving Matera , I strongly advise you to stop at the Belvedere de la Murgia, accessible in 10 minutes by car from the exit of Matera. This is where you will have the most beautiful overview of the city! Many hiking trails also leave from the Belvedere, which mark the entrance to the Parc della Murgia Materana , to admire some cave churches.
To reach Bari from Matera, allow around 1 hour . If your flight is late in the evening or the next morning, I suggest the following program to visit Bari in 1 day:
- Start by strolling in Bari Vecchia, without a doubt the most interesting neighborhood to see in Bari. Particularity of the historic center, it even has a street exclusively dedicated to typical Apulian pasta, the Orecchiettes. You will be able to observe the women in the middle of manufacturing work and of course bring a package in your suitcase!
- Admire the Basilica of San Nicola and its imposing facade
- Pass by the Swabian Castle , one of the largest in Puglia and Italy
- Visit the Cathedral of San Sabino and its crypt
If you have time, you can also visit a museum like the Simi Palace or the Bari art gallery . If you prefer to walk outside, I recommend the Lungomare walk . The opportunity also to have a last drink at the water’s edge!
And for more information on all these tours, it’s in our article: Top 12 things to do and see in Bari, Puglia.
The Travel Tips
If you have an additional day and your stay in Puglia lasts 8 days:
- After Matera , head towards Gravina in Puglia to see the ravine and its ancient cave dwellings. Less touristy than Matera, the historic center is charming.
- Take a walk in the dell’alta Murgia national park , a paradise for hikers
- Visit Trani : go see the famous cathedral by the sea
- Join Bari
Accommodation in Bari
- Magdas House on the sea: Ideally located 3 minutes walk from the beach and 1.5 km from the Basilica of San Nicola. Modern and equipped apartment from 50 € per night. The most: the location, the air conditioning, the price.
- Seven Maze Charming House: Located outside the center of Bari, around ten minutes by car, the hotel is part of a 50-hectare botanical garden. Spacious double room with Indonesian decor from 90 € per night, breakfast included. The most: the original decor, the comfort of the rooms, the possibility of walking in the garden, the outdoor swimming pool and the varied breakfast served in the greenhouse. It is our favorite for its benefit / price ratio.
- Grande Albergo Delle Nazioni: Located 10 minutes walk from the historic center. Double room with 70’s decoration, modernized version from 180 € per night, breakfast at 20 €. The most: the location to visit Bari on foot, the roof terrace with swimming pool, the view. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Bari!
Do not hesitate to give us your opinion and suggestions on our week-long road trip itinerary in Puglia!
Budget for a week’s trip to Puglia
Because it’s always good to have an idea of what a trip can cost, here is what we spent to visit Puglia in 7 days:
- Accommodation for 2 for a week : 400 €
- Transport for 2 (flight + car rental): 200 €
- Visits for 2 : 80 €
- Food for 2 : 250 €
Total budget for a week for 2 people : € 930
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