What to do in Ostuni and in the Itria Valley (Puglia)?
Visit Ostuni, in Italy , is to discover the famous “White City” of Puglia.
Perched on 3 hills, the Citta Bianca can be seen from afar and is one of the essentials to visit during a stay in Puglia . It symbolizes the starting point of the Itria valley , known for its villages classified among the most beautiful in Puglia and its vast expanses of olive trees.
Thanks to our Top 10 things to see and do in Ostuni, walk its pretty alleys and don’t miss any of the places of interest. Follow our itinerary to visit the city and its surroundings in 1 or 2 days.
As always, I have also prepared a list of the best hotels in Ostuni . Why not take advantage of your trip to the South of Italy to sleep in a masseria , these old typical Puglia farms?
So what to see in Ostuni and in the Itria Valley ?
Visit Ostuni: the essentials
1. The historic center
As everywhere in Puglia and in the towns and villages of Italy, most places of interest to see in Ostuni are concentrated in the historic center.
The old town of Ostuni, however, has a very special charm thanks to its whitewashed houses , from which the town derives its nickname “white town”. It was in the Middle Ages that the practice of covering lime facades developed, the aim being to bring a little light into the narrow streets. Today this tradition is lost a little but the city has retained all its cachet.
In the historic center of Ostuni, you can walk through narrow alleys, passages and stairs, leading you to the main monuments to see like the cathedral or the palace which I will tell you about in detail right after.
Everywhere you will find pretty craft or souvenir shops , small restaurants and cafes where to stop for a drink. There are also many views of the surroundings of Ostuni, the surrounding countryside and the Adriatic Sea, just 8 km away.
The Travel Tips
To visit Ostuni, park your car just before entering the city , in one of the paid car parks. The city, and more particularly the tourist center, is a maze of fairly narrow or one-way streets when access to cars is not simply prohibited, in short a hassle to park (assuming you find a place) !
2. Ostuni Cathedral
Ostuni Cathedral is the main tourist site to see in Ostuni. It is at the top of the highest hill , so you have to go up a little in the alleys to discover it.
Built from the 15th century and dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta , it took almost a century for it to be completed. It has a rather original exterior facade , in the Romanesque-Gothic style, a mixture of connected and convex curves . You can also admire a beautiful stone rose window at the heart of which Christ enthroned surrounded by 7 cherubs. Its 24 departments represent the 24 hours of the day.
The interior is to be seen for its painted ceiling and its beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Christ.
3. The episcopal palace
Right next to the cathedral is the second must-see building in Ostuni, the Episcopal Palace or Palazzo Vescovile in Italian.
Built in the 16th century, its particularity rests on the loggia used to connect the palace to the cloister of the cathedral . A rather unusual construction that one does not necessarily expect to find in Puglia. In any case, with the cathedral in the background or the white alleys, the place is perfect for a photo break.
The interior of the palace houses the Diocesan Museum , a very modern museum , open only in the summer of 2017. Divided into 6 sections, you can take turns admiring archaeological remains from the Messapian era, a collection of objects used by the church, paintings and a collection of books and documents relating to local historical events.
At the end of your visit, do not forget to pass by the Bishop Garden , a small garden adjoining the palace and offering a breathtaking view of the whole Itria valley.
Find information for opening hours and prices on the official website (in Italian and English).
4. The Museum of Preclassical Civilizations of Southern Murgia
During your day trip to Ostuni, I recommend that you visit the Museum of Preclassical Civilizations of Southern Murgia.
Under this long and somewhat barbaric name hides one of the most interesting visits to do in Ostuni. The museum is located in the center of the old town, in the former Carmelite monastery.
It houses an astonishing and unique discovery in the world: the skeleton of a young woman who died in childbirth at the age of 20 and her fetus, 25,000 years old !
The young woman, nicknamed Délia and the fetus baptized Ostuni 1st, were found in the cave of Santa Maria di Agnano, about ten minutes by car from Ostuni. You can observe the body, found in a contracted position, the head adorned with a headdress made of hundreds of small shells. Evidence of Delia’s membership in a group of hunters, flints and horse teeth were also found next door.
Other than that, you can also see some archaeological remains found in the caves around Ostuni.
The museum is very small and can be visited quickly, note that most of the explanations are in Italian.
Price, opening hours and access, it’s on the official website.
5. The Piazza della Liberta
Piazza della Liberta is the main square in Ostuni , marking the entrance to the historic center.
In particular, you can admire:
- the municipal palace, built in the 18th century
- the column of Sant’Oronzo , patron saint of the city
- Saint Francis of Assisi church whose origins date back to the Middle Ages
In the evening, piazza della Liberta turns into the ideal place in Ostuni for a drink on one of the many café terraces, an ice cream or dinner in one of the many restaurants typical of Puglia.
The Travel Tips
Take advantage of your visit to the square to go to the Ostuni tourist office, located next to the municipal palace. Here you can get a map of the old town and tips on what to see around and in the Itria Valley.
6. The churches of Ostuni
During your visit to Ostuni, and during your walk in the alleys, you can admire, in addition to the cathedral, many churches.
The churches to see in Ostuni:
- Saint Vit Martyr Church, which houses the Museum of Civilization. It was built in the pure baroque style of Lecce
- the Church of Santiago de Compostela , the oldest in Ostuni
- Church of the Holy Spirit
- the church of Saint Francois d’Assise, built in 1304 and redone in 1883, for its magnificent altar and stained glass window.
- the Sainte-Marie de l’Etoile church whose location at the top of the ramparts offers a beautiful panorama of the surroundings of Ostuni
- The Chiesa del Carmine , with its pretty neoclassical facade, in the lower part of the city.
What to do around Ostuni (Itria Valley)?
To help you plan your trip to Puglia, here are the 4 best things to do around Ostuni:
It is the most famous and certainly the most touristic village in the valley of Itria and Puglia , to see around Ostuni: Alberobello .
From Ostuni, it takes around 45 minutes by car to reach it.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site , Alberobello is known worldwide for its Trulli, typical dwellings in this region of Puglia. Besides, you must have seen it before arriving at Alberobello, because the Trulli dot the surrounding countryside and the whole valley of Itria.
But what is a trulli? Quite simply a small house with a conical roof , the walls of which are mounted with limestone and then whitewashed. The peculiarity of Alberobello is that there are hundreds of them gathered in the same place and which gives it a unique charm in the world.
The main attraction of this village remains to wander the streets to admire them. Most of them are now converted into souvenir shops and tourist restaurants.
To learn all about the things to do and see in Alberobello, it’s in our article: Visit Alberobello.
The Travel Tips
Better to visit Alberobello early in the morning or at the end of the day, if you want to avoid the crowds and tourist buses. Hundreds of tourists in such small streets, it immediately spoils the charm!
8. Cisternino / Locorotondo
Between Ostuni and Alberobello, I advise you to stop in 2 villages classified among the most beautiful towns in Italy : Cisternino and Locorotondo.
- Cisternino is the closest to Ostuni, around 20 minutes by car. Located in the Itria valley, its medieval center is more reminiscent of an oriental village with alleys, small staircases, houses with whitewashed walls and ideal places for an aperitif.
- Locorotondo is a 35-minute drive from Ostuni. Built according to a circular plan, you can see several Cummerse, dwellings with rectangular bases and sloping roofs covered with flat stone tiles. Overlooking the entire Itria valley, it also offers several very beautiful views.
2 very nice little stops to do around Ostuni!
9. The regional natural park of the coastal dunes of Torre Canne and Torre San Leonardo
In the surroundings of Ostuni, do not miss the natural park of the coastal dunes of Torre Canne and Torre San Leonardo.
The park covers more than 1,000 hectares between the territory of Ostuni and Fasano , in the province of Brindisi. It runs along the coast for about 8 km and allows you to cross many landscapes : agricultural areas with pastures, olive groves, dunes or even wetlands.
You can choose to visit the dunes natural park on foot, but also on horseback, by bike or by electric car : 3 routes are available.
10. Torre Guaceto
Finally, to conclude this Top 10 things to do and see in and around Ostuni, head to the Torre Guaceto nature reserve , located barely 30 minutes by car from Ostuni and equidistant from Brindisi.
Torre Guaceto is both a protected marine area and a nature reserve with 8 km of coastline and landscapes alternating between coves, wetlands, scrubland and dunes 15 meters high. You can indulge in many activities to discover it: hiking, cycling, scuba diving or sailing lessons.
You can also take the opportunity to relax on a magnificent sandy beach with clear, clean water. With the beach of Torre Pozzella (surrounded by wild vegetation) and that of Lido Morelli (the best known near Ostuni), it is one of the most beautiful beaches for swimming around Ostuni.
More information on the reserve website.
Visit Ostuni in 1 day
To visit Ostuni in 1 day , I recommend that you follow this itinerary:
- Walk through the narrow streets of the historic center
- Visit the Cathedral
- Discovery of the Episcopal Palace and the Diocesan Museum
- Climb to the Sainte-Marie church to admire the panorama over the Itria valley
- Visit to the museum of civilizations
- Lunch break around Piazza della Liberta
- Afternoon at the beach in the Torre Guaceto nature reserve
Visit Ostuni and its surroundings in 2 days
1 day is enough to visit Ostuni, in 2 days, therefore venture around Ostuni:
- Walk in 2 of the most beautiful villages in Italy: Cisternino and Locorotondo
- Visit of the essential village in the Itria valley: Alberobello and its trulli
- Lunch break
- Afternoon in the regional natural park of the coastal dunes of Torre Canno and Torre San Leonardo
Where to sleep 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!
Where to eat in Ostuni
- Impasto Napoletano: Located 200 meters from Piazza della Liberta, via Antonio Specchia. Wide choice of pizzas, plentiful and delicious between 5.50 € and 8.50 €. Fast service and super nice boss, we recommend it for a good pizza. Open only in the evening.
- Vicolo 43 Bistro: Located via Arciduca Francesco Antonio Zaccaria. Excellent regional and Italian cuisine served in a beautiful setting. Friendly and attentive service with French speaking waiters. All for an excellent quality / price ratio. Reservation recommended.
- Il Fienile: Located on the contrada Rosara in a beautiful old building, a little out of the way. The restaurant offers quality cuisine serving typical dishes but with a touch of originality. Excellent welcome from a dynamic and friendly team. Excellent value.
Tourist map of Ostuni
To help you visualize the city a little better, I have made you a tourist map of Ostuni listing the places to visit I am talking about in this top 10 things to do in Ostuni. You can display the legend of the map by clicking on the button at the top left with a small arrow.
And you, what are you going to visit in Ostuni and in the Itria valley?
Are you going to Puglia? Also read
Discover all our articles on Puglia : all the Travel Tips articles on Puglia are listed here.
- What to do in Puglia: The TOP 20 places to see in this region of Italy
- Itinerary: A week in Puglia – The ultimate itinerary to visit Puglia in 7-8 days
- Itinerary: 10 days in Puglia – How to visit Puglia in 10 days and not miss anything!