Visit Puglia (Italy): Top 20 Things To Do and Must-See Attractions


What are The Best Things to Do in Puglia, Italy?

You’re planning to visit Puglia (sometimes also called Apulia), in Italy, during your next holidays? You want to know more about the best places to visit?

You’re at the right place!

In order to help you plan your stay, i have prepared this guide of the 20 best things to do in Puglia, with all must-see attractions and points of interests.

In this beautiful region, you can discover the trulli of Alberobello, the stunning Baroque monuments of Lecce and numerous typical towns and villages.

And if you prefer natural landscapes, no problem! Go for a hike in Gargano National Park, spend a day on Tremiti Islands, or simply relax on the beach.

So, what are the best places to visit in Puglia?

Let’s find out!

Visiting Puglia: All Must-See Attractions

Voyage Tips - Advice

In order to help you plan your stay in Puglia, I have prepared detailed itineraries depending on your trip duration. You should read them after reading this article.

You can find them here, simply click on the orange links to read the articles:

They will allow you to plan your trip very easily!

And if you have any question, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section, at the end of the article. I would be glad to help you plan your stay.

1. Bari

Let’s start this Puglia guide with the regional capital, Bari.

While the modern city may not be particularly interesting for tourists, its historic center is well worth a visit. Especially since you’ll probably be landing in Bari when you visit Puglia. On your arrival or before you leave, take the opportunity for a stroll through the old town of Bari.

Here are the best places to visit in Bari:

  • Bari Vecchia: the historic center, with its maze of typical narrow streets where you can also watch women crafting orecchiette, a small ear-shaped pasta originating from Puglia
  • The Basilica of San Nicola, built to house the relics of Saint Nicholas. You can visit the crypt where his tomb is located.
  • Petruzelli Theatre, the fourth largest in Italy and one of the biggest private theaters in Europe
  • The Norman-Swabian Castle: worth seeing mostly from the outside for its ramparts and square towers
  • The Cathedral of San Sabino, a beautiful example of Puglian Romanesque architecture
  • Palazzo Simi and its archaeological exhibitions
  • The Metropolitan Art Gallery of Bari with its impressive collection of paintings. One of the main museums to see in Bari.

To make the most of your stay in Bari, you should read my dedicated article: The 12 Best Things to Do in Bari. 

Bari Puglia
Bari Puglia

2. Polignano a Mare

Not far from Bari, heading south, is one of my personal favorites during my stay in Puglia, the charming town of Polignano a Mare.

The charm of Polignano comes from its white-walled houses perched atop cliffs, some 20 meters above sea level. Wander through the labyrinth of narrow streets and enjoy breathtaking views from the terraces built over the cliffs. It’s a fantastic opportunity to snap some beautiful photos.

Polignano also has a lovely pebble beach with clear waters, nestled between two high cliffs. It’s the perfect spot for swimming and, for the more adventurous, cliff diving.

For me, it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Puglia!

From Polignano, you can also embark on a motorboat tour to discover the nearby sea caves. Click here for details!

For a more romantic option, there’s also the catamaran excursion with a typical Puglian aperitif. Information and reservations by clicking here!

Voyage Tips - Advice

You’ve probably found yourself humming the famous tune “Volare, oh, oh,… Cantare, oh, oh, oh.” Well, its singer Domenico Modugno was born in Polignano a Mare. It’s a source of pride for the locals.

Polignano Puglia
Polignano Puglia

3. Monopoli

Another charming little town in Puglia that pairs perfectly with a visit to Polignano a Mare is Monopoli.

Located about 15 minutes by car from Polignano, Monopoli is also worth visiting for its historic center. You can take a 1-hour stroll to discover the main historical monuments:

  • Castle of Charles V
  • Cathedral of Santa Maria della Madia
  • The Archaeological Museum
  • Church of Santa Maria della Zafira
  • Piazza XX Settembre

Voyage Tips - Advice

To visit Monopoli, park your car before reaching the historic center as cars are not allowed there.

cathedrale Monopoli
Cathedral of Monopoli

4. Ostuni, the White City

Perched on a rocky promontory, overlooking the countryside and the vast plains of olive trees, Ostuni stands out as a must-visit destination in Puglia.

Known as the White City (Citta bianca) due to its lime-painted house walls, Ostuni is a delightful city to explore. Don’t hesitate to wander through all the narrow alleys of the historic center, the various passages, and stairways. It’s not very large, and there’s little risk of getting lost!

Your walk will inevitably take you to the upper part of the city. There, you’ll find the two main buildings: the Ostuni Cathedral and the Episcopal Palace.

This vantage point also offers you a stunning 360° panorama of the countryside around Ostuni.

Lastly, if you want to see something truly unique in the world, I recommend visiting the small Museum of Preclassical Civilizations of the Southern Murgia. It’s located in the historic center, on Cathedral Street.

It houses Ostuni’s claim to fame: the remains of a woman over 24,500 years old giving birth. The fetus of the young woman, named Ostuni I, is the only one of its kind in the world!

To discover how to visit Ostuni in one day, check out my dedicated article on the white city: Top 10 Must-See Attractions in Ostuni.


5. Alberobello and the Trulli

Let’s continue this guide of the best things to do and see in Puglia with the very unique village of Alberobello, in the Itria Valley.

For sure one of the Puglia’s must-see attraction!

Alberobello is famous for its small white-washed stone houses with conical roofs, called trulli. The town has no less than 1,400 of them, earning it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

You can visit the village freely and admire the trulli from the outside. Most of them now house souvenir shops or cafés/restaurants.

To get a better idea of what a trulli originally looked like inside, you can visit the Trullo Sovrano, a two-story trulli with an interior staircase, or the Museum of the Territory, a complex of 15 trulli where you’ll find explanations about their origins, daily life inside trulli, and the traditions of the Itria Valley.

I admit the place is very touristy, but if you visit early in the morning or during the off-season, you should avoid the worst of it. In any case, Alberobello remains an essential stop during an itinerary in Puglia, there’s nothing else quite like it!

To learn everything about the trulli and to make the most of your visit to  Alberobello, read my detailed article: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Alberobello.

Voyage Tips - Advice

As you will see when visiting Alberobello or in the surrounding countryside, on the roofs of the Trulli, mysterious white-painted symbols are drawn. The origin and meaning of these are not precisely known, but some historians believe they were used to protect families from evil curses or to promote good harvests.

Alberobello Trulli Puglia
The famous Trulli of Alberobello

6. Locorotondo / Cisternino / Itria Valley

Just a short drive from Alberobello, you should not miss the villages of Locorotondo and Cisternino.

Also located in the Itria Valley, both feature charming historic centers that are easily walkable.

Locorotondo gets its name from its circular layout. Overlooking the entire Itria Valley, it’s considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Here, you can admire Cummerse, traditional rectangular houses with sloping roofs covered in flat tiles. It will take you around 1h to visit the town.

And when it’s time for lunch, try the local specialty: “u tridde”. Fresh pasta cooked in turkey broth sprinkled with finely chopped pecorino and parsley. To accompany your meal, choose a DOCG wine from Locorotondo.

In Cisternino, you’ll also find a lovely medieval historical center with a central square, white houses, narrow streets, and churches. Plus, you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the Itria Valley from the town’s three terraces.

Here, the culinary specialty is the “bombette”, slices of meat stuffed with ham and cheese. You can find them at Cisternino’s butchers, who will be pleased to prepare them for you on the grill. A truly typical Puglian culinary experience! After all, tourism is also about trying new flavors.

You can visit Cisternino in about an hour, slightly more if you decide to dine there.

Locorotondo Church
Locorotondo Church

7. Castellana Caves

If you’re visiting Puglia with family, a trip to the Castellana Caves is a must.

The caves, one of the most significant tourist attractions in Puglia, are located near Alberobello, Cisternino, and Polignano a Mare.

Stretching over 3 km long and 70 meters deep, they are among the largest and most fascinating underground caves in Italy, and even Europe. Guided tours are organized every day to admire the stalactites, stalagmites, and the impressive caverns and cavities.

The highlight is undoubtedly the stunning white cave, considered one of the most beautiful in the world.

The tour of Castellana Caves takes about 2 hours for the full route (3 km long), but there is also the option of a shorter route (1 km long, about 50 minutes). Guided tours are available at fixed hours, in English and Italian.

The caves also host Speleonight. Equipped with helmets and headlamps and accompanied by a guide, explore the Castellana Caves in the dark and experience what it was like for the first explorers. A truly unique and original activity to do in Puglia!

For timetables and pricing details, please visit the official website of the caves.

Voyage Tips - Advice

The cave temperature varies between 14 and 18°C, so remember to bring warm clothing. Also, sneakers or hiking shoes are recommended as the ground can be slippery.

Castellana Caves
Castellana Caves

8. Brindisi

Located by the Adriatic Sea, Brindisi is one of the most significant cities in Puglia.

For your stay in Puglia, you might choose to land there as, like Bari, Brindisi also has an airport offering flights to and from several European cities. Prices are generally similar to Bari, but I suggest checking both.

Brindisi is also known for being one of the main ports in Italy, from which ferries full of tourists set sail to Greece every year.

As with many Puglian towns, it’s mainly the historic center that’s worth exploring. Plan 1.5 to 2 hours for your visit. Notably, most museums in the city offer free admission.

What to see in Brindisi, in Puglia:

  • San Giovanni Battista Cathedral, located on the Piazza del Duomo
  • The Swabian Castle or Castle of Land, formerly Frederick II’s residence and later a prison, now houses naval buildings
  • Alfonsino Castle or Castle of Sea, used to lodge garrisons
  • San Benedetto Church, a fine example of Romanesque art in Puglia
  • Santa Teresa Church and the diocesan museum
  • MAPRI, the Francesco Ribezzo provincial archaeological museum with its collection of sculptures and ancient objects
  • The Sailor’s Monument located across the harbor, accessible by a water shuttle

9. Lecce

Lecce is another must-visit city in Puglia, and particularly in the Salento peninsula.

The city is a Baroque jewel, home to an incredible number of historical monuments. With its many churches, plazas, and museums, you will for sure have plenty to discover while walking around.

The historic center is truly beautiful and expansive. Everything is very harmonious, with most buildings made from the same material, known as “Lecce stone”.

While not as well-known as Rome or Milan, this southern Italian city was a fantastic surprise!

There are so many sights to see in Lecce, you should spend at least 2 days there during your trip to Puglia.

Here are the best places to visit in Lecce:

  • Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the heart of Lecce, where you can admire the Roman amphitheater and the Sant’Oronzo column
  • The stunning Piazza del Duomo and its numerous landmarks: the bell tower, the cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace, the seminary palace, and the Diocesan Museum
  • The magnificent Santa Croce Church with its richly detailed facade
  • The Historical Museum of the City of Lecce (a MUST-see)
  • The historic center gates, including Porta Napoli
  • The Church of Saints Niccolo and Cataldo

If you want more details about the best things to do in Lecce, you should read my article: Visiting Lecce: the definitive guide.


10. Torre dell Orso

Visiting Puglia also means discovering beautiful beaches. With its crystal clear water and fine sand, Torre dell Orso beach is definitely one of them!

This large beach is located on the East Coast of Puglia, in Salento, between Lecce and Otranto. You can take a long stroll along the water’s edge, and of course, take the opportunity to swim and relax.

Don’t miss going to the end of the beach to take pictures of the faraglioni found there. These two rocks (the Due Sorelle) are featured on numerous postcards of Puglia; they are indeed very photogenic!

You should then climb to the top of the cliff overlooking them to enjoy the best view. From up there, you will also be able to walk along the coast. It’s the perfect opportunity to admire stunning panoramas.

Torre dell Orso
Torre dell Orso

11. Torre Sant’Andrea

As another addition to this list of must-see places in Puglia, let’s talk about Torre Sant’Andrea.

Similar to Torre dell Orso, here you’ll find magnificent faraglioni, perfect to take pictures from every angle. The turquoise and transparent water invites you to take a dip in this amazing spot. However, there’s no sandy beach on this side; you’ll have to settle for laying your towel out on the rocks.

And for anyone disappointed at not having had the chance to see the Azure Window in Malta before its collapse, you’ll find a miniature version at Torre Sant’Andrea. Just as charming, with far fewer crowds!

Torre Sant Andrea
Torre Sant Andrea

12. Otranto

Otranto is another delightful small town to visit during your trip in Puglia region.

Otranto is situated at the edge of the Salento peninsula. Its historic center is characterized by the walls dating back to the 8th century BC which entirely surround it.

Inside the old town, there are 2 major tourist sites to see:

  • The Aragonese Castle. Built in the 15th century, it features 3 round towers and a spur facing the sea, known as “Diamond Head”.
  • The Cathedral of Otranto, where, during the Turkish attack in 1480, about 800 inhabitants took refuge. Asked to renounce their faith, they all refused. Subsequently, they were beheaded on Minerva hill. A chapel inside the cathedral pays tribute to the martyrs of Otranto. You can also admire its beautiful mosaic floor depicting the tree of life.

In Otranto, you can also enjoy a lovely sandy beach, take a seaside stroll, and dine at one of the excellent seafood restaurants.

Voyage Tips - Advice

After visiting Otranto, you should make a stop to see 3 places of interest in the vicinity:

  • The bauxite quarry, notable for its ochre color, which makes you feel like you’re in Australia or Colorado
  • Palascia Lighthouse and its wild landscape
  • Porto Badisco with its small cove of crystalline water, ideal for snorkeling.

13. Gallipoli

This seaside city is located along the Salento coast, in the Southwest of Puglia.

Comprising a modern town and an old town situated on a small island, Gallipoli reminded me quite a bit of the island of Ortigia and Syracuse in Sicily, as both are built on the same model. However, I found Gallipoli a little less charming, but the weather was not on our side that day, which didn’t help!

In Gallipoli, you can visit:

  • The Angevin / Aragonese Castle
  • The Greek Fountain
  • The numerous Baroque palaces, including Palazzo Tafuri, Palazzo Ravenna, and Palazzo Pirelli
  • The Cathedral of Saint Agatha, the largest in the city
  • The Church of Santa Maria della Purità, one of the most ornate churches in Gallipoli

This destination in Puglia is also the gateway to the stunning beaches known as the Maldives of Salento and to its trendy establishments.

Lido Pizzo, Punta della Suina, Baia Verde, and the Porto Selvaggio Natural Regional Park are just a few places where you can swim in clear and transparent waters.


14. Taranto

Taranto is the capital city of the province of the same name. It’s the second most populous city in Puglia.

Dubbed the “city between two seas,” here too, there is a separation between the modern city and the historic center situated on an island.

On one side, there is the Mar Grande with its commercial port, and on the other, the Mar Piccolo and its fishing boats. Both seas are connected by a swing bridge, the Ponte Girevole, which is one of Taranto’s curiosities.

The highlights of Taranto, in Puglia:

  • Castello Sant’Angelo or Castello Aragonese, the city’s main tourist attraction. Free guided tours are organized every 2 hours starting at 9:30 AM.
  • The National Archaeological Museum of Taranto housing an impressive collection of Greek, Roman, and Apulian objects
  • The Cathedral of San Cataldo, where the relics of the city’s patron saint are located and which features a beautiful mosaic floor (somewhat comparable to the one in Otranto Cathedral). It’s the oldest cathedral in Puglia.

15. The Puglia Canyon

You might not know this (I had no idea before visiting Puglia) but there is a canyon that crosses several villages in Puglia.

This ravine, or Gravina in Italian, and the towns that surround it offer beautiful vistas, and are a complete contrast to what you would have seen in Puglia so far.

For the most beautiful views of the Puglia canyon, visit:

  • Ginosa and its medieval castle
  • Laterza, where several trails allow for walks along the edge of the canyon
  • Castellaneta and its lookout over the gravine
  • Massafra, completely split in two by the Gravina San Marco, the canyon that runs through it. The banks are connected by a bridge.
Puglia canyon
Puglia Canyon

16. Matera and the Sassi

Matera was unquestionably a big highlight of our itinerary in Puglia.

However, I must admit, it’s a bit of a stretch including it in our top 20 things to do and see in Puglia, because in reality, Matera is part of the Basilicata region and not Puglia.

Still, being only 30 minutes away from Ginosa, 1h10 from Taranto, and 1h10 from Bari, it’s very easy to incorporate in a Puglia itinerary. It would really be a shame to miss it!

Matera is famous worldwide for its typical troglodyte dwellings: the Sassi. The city is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Occupied by humans since the Paleolithic era, over the centuries, the caves were transformed into real dwellings. Some even housed rock churches and were occupied up until the 1950s, when they were evacuated due to poor living conditions. The residents were relocated to Matera’s modern neighborhoods.

However, everything has been extremely well-preserved and restored. So today, you can stroll through the old town and admire the countless Sassi of Matera.

The city is divided into two areas: the Sasso Caveoso and the Sasso Barisano. If you want to do a complete tour and see all the magnificent viewpoints, it will take around 3 hours.

I was expecting more of a small village similar to Alberobello, but in reality, Matera is quite extensive and truly deserves detailed exploration. To make sure you don’t miss anything during your walk, get the map of Matera at the tourist office.

If you spend a night in Matera, you should also head to the old town for the sunset and evening, when everything lights up. The atmosphere is very special.

And, for a 360° panorama of the Sassi of Matera, go to the Murgia Belvedere, located on the other side of the ravine. It’s one of the most beautiful views of the city!

You will find every information you need to visit Matera in my article: The 13 best things to do in Matera.

Voyage Tips - Advice

Matera was used as a backdrop for Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ”.


17. Castel del Monte

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Castel del Monte stands in the midst of the Apulian countryside, seemingly lost in the middle of nowhere!

Built by Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century, the castle sits atop a hill overlooking the Murge region, at an altitude of 540 meters.

A unique medieval architectural work, its octagonal shape and the astronomical and mathematical precision of its design, have earned it recognition as a national monument of Italy and as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

You can visit the castle’s interior for around 10 euros, but I wouldn’t really recommend it as it’s quite empty. The exterior, however, is worth checking out for that memorable photo.

Bear in mind that in peak season (about March 30 to September 30), you will not be able to park at the foot of the castle. You must leave your car in a paid parking lot (5€) and then take a shuttle (or walk for about twenty minutes).

Off-season, which was the case for us, you are allowed to drive up to a small parking area just a 2-minute walk from the entrance of Castel del Monte. We didn’t have to pay anything.

Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte

18. Gargano National Park

No guide to Puglia would be complete without mentioning the Gargano National Park, a must-visit in Puglia!

Located in the northernmost part of Puglia, and covering over 118,000 hectares, this protected natural area is one of the largest in Italy. The park boasts diverse landscapes, including beaches, high cliffs, forests, charming villages, and more modern towns. It also encompasses the Tremiti Islands which I will talk about next.

Here are the best things to do in Gargano National Park, Puglia:

  • Drive along the stunning coastal road from Manfredonia to Vieste to admire the spectacular coastline
  • Hike in the Foresta Umbra to discover numerous endemic species
  • Visit the picturesque town of Vieste
  • Climb up to Monte Sant’Angelo, a perched village that offers a magnificent viewpoint
  • Relax on beautiful beaches and wild coves
  • Birdwatch at the two coastal lakes of Lesina and Varano
  • Discover the Tremiti Islands

For more details and tips on organizing your visit to Gargano, you should check my article: How to visit Gargano National Park?

Vieste Gargano
Vieste, Gargano National Park

19. The Tremiti Islands

The Tremiti Islands are for sure one of the most beautiful spots to visit in Puglia.

They are accessible by boat from the north of Gargano National Park, from Vieste and Peschici in summer or from Termoli during the off-season. Or even better, from Foggia, you can reach them by helicopter in just 20 minutes!

The Tremiti archipelago is made of 3 islands:

  • San Domino, the largest island. Here you can wander beneath the shade of Aleppo pines and admire the Pagliai, a group of white monoliths.
  • San Nicola with its fortress built on a sheer cliff by Benedictine monks.
  • Capraia, renowned for Punta Secca, a stunning diving spot.
iles tremiti
The Tremiti Islands

20. Trani

In the Imperial Puglia region, you should visit Trani, located just 50 minutes from Bari by car.

Once a prosperous medieval trading town and a departure point for the Templar Crusades, Trani is now a picturesque little town with a charming historic center and a lively port.

What to do in Trani, Puglia:

  • Go admire its magnificent cathedral, which thanks to its exceptional seaside location, is featured on many Puglia postcards! A blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, it features an imposing 60-meter-high tower.
  • Visit the castle of Emperor Frederick II. It hosts art exhibitions and numerous cultural events.
  • Stroll along the docks and the port
  • Explore the Jewish quarter

And you, what do you plan to visit in Puglia?

If you need help to plan your stay, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section below!

Travel to Puglia: Flight Prices

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things to do in Puglia
things to do in Puglia

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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