Puglia Travel Guide: What to Do and See in Puglia
General Information about Puglia
Are you looking for vacations in Puglia? In this travel guide we tell you everything you need to know about this beautiful destination.
Puglia is a region located in the southeastern part of Italy, also known as Apulia in English. It is bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the regions of Basilicata to the west and Campania to the north. Its capital is Bari, and other important cities include Lecce, Brindisi, Taranto, and Foggia.
Puglia has a long history and has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It has been ruled by various peoples throughout its history, including the Greeks, Romans, Normans, and Spanish, among others. This has led to a rich cultural heritage that is evident in its architecture, cuisine, and traditions.
The region is known for its stunning coastline, with some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy, as well as its picturesque countryside, dotted with olive groves, vineyards, and ancient towns.
Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Puglia include the towns of Alberobello, Ostuni, and Martina Franca, which are famous for their whitewashed houses with conical roofs, known as trulli.
The city of Lecce is renowned for its Baroque architecture, while the Gargano National Park is a popular destination for hiking and nature enthusiasts.
Location of Puglia
Next, we show you where Puglia is located:
Map of Puglia on Google Maps
What to Visit in Puglia?
Puglia has a rich history and culture, and there are many sites of interest to explore. The region is full of ancient towns, historic sites, and stunning natural beauty, making it a great destination for travelers. Below we tell you about some of the most outstanding places to visit when you travel to Puglia.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its unique trulli, traditional cone-shaped houses made of limestone. The town is full of trulli, and many of them have been converted into shops, restaurants, and guesthouses.
Castel del Monte
This 13th-century castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered one of the most important medieval castles in Italy. Its unique octagonal shape and location on a hill make it a popular destination for tourists.
Known as the “Florence of the South”, Lecce is famous for its Baroque architecture, including the Basilica di Santa Croce and the Piazza del Duomo. The city is also home to several museums, including the Museo Faggiano, which showcases the history of the city.
Although technically not part of Puglia, Matera is a neighboring city in the Basilicata region and is worth a visit. The city is known for its ancient cave dwellings, which have been inhabited since prehistoric times. Today, many of these caves have been converted into hotels, restaurants, and museums.
Gargano National Park
This park is located on the Gargano Peninsula and is home to stunning beaches, forests, and mountains. Visitors can hike, swim, and explore the many ancient villages and towns in the area.
This town is known as the “White City” because of its whitewashed buildings. It is perched on a hill overlooking the Adriatic Sea and is home to a stunning Gothic cathedral and several museums.
The capital city of Puglia, Bari has a rich history and culture. Visitors can explore the historic old town, which is home to several museums, including the Pinacoteca Provinciale di Bari and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale.
Polignano a Mare
This town is perched on a cliff overlooking the sea and is known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. Visitors can explore the historic old town and enjoy the many seafood restaurants in the area.
Festivals to Attend in Puglia
Puglia is home to many festivals throughout the year that celebrate the region’s culture, history, and traditions. Here are some of the most popular festivals of Puglia:
- Festival della Taranta: This is one of the largest music festivals in Italy, held annually in the town of Melpignano. The festival celebrates traditional Puglian music and dance, particularly the pizzica, a traditional dance that originated in the Salento region.
- Fiera del Levante: This is one of the largest trade fairs in Italy, held annually in the city of Bari. The fair showcases agricultural and industrial products from this region, as well as its cultural heritage.
- La Notte della Taranta: This is another festival celebrating traditional Puglian music and dance, held annually in the town of Melpignano. The festival features concerts, dance performances, and workshops, and culminates in a massive dance party in the town’s main square.
- Festival dei Due Mondi: This festival is held annually in the town of Spoleto, and features a wide range of music, dance, and theater performances from around the world. The festival attracts visitors from all over Italy and beyond.
- Festa di San Nicola: This is the annual festival in honor of the patron saint of Bari, Saint Nicholas. The festival includes religious processions, street performances, and a parade of boats in the harbor.
- Carnevale di Putignano: This is one of the largest and oldest carnivals in Italy, held annually in the town of Putignano. The carnival features elaborate floats, colorful costumes, and music and dance performances.
- Festa di San Martino: This festival is held annually in the town of Martina Franca to celebrate the feast of Saint Martin. The festival features food, wine, and music, as well as a traditional horse race.
These are just a few of the many festivals that take place in Puglia throughout the year. Each festival offers a unique glimpse into the region’s culture and traditions, making them a must-see for visitors to the region.
What to Eat and Drink in Puglia
Puglia is known for its delicious cuisine and traditional dishes that reflect the region’s long history and cultural heritage. The food is based on simple and fresh ingredients, often highlighting the flavors of the sea and the land. Olive oil, vegetables, and seafood are staples in the local cuisine.
One of the most popular dishes in Puglia is orecchiette, a type of pasta shaped like small ears, typically served with a tomato-based sauce and often flavored with anchovies, capers, or garlic.
Another typical dish is fava bean puree, which is made with fresh fava beans, olive oil, and garlic, and often served as a starter or side dish.
Seafood is also a major component of Puglian cuisine, with dishes like grilled octopus, baked fish, and fried calamari being popular choices. Inland, meat dishes like lamb and pork are also common, often roasted or grilled and served with vegetables or potatoes.
When it comes to drinks, Puglia is famous for its wine. The region produces a variety of red, white, and rose wines, including Primitivo, Negroamaro, and Salice Salentino. In addition to wine, the region is also known for its strong coffee and liqueurs, like Limoncello, made with locally grown lemons.
Overall, Puglia’s cuisine is a celebration of fresh, simple ingredients and traditional cooking techniques, resulting in dishes that are both delicious and authentic to the region.
How Is the Culture in Puglia?
The culture of Puglia is rich and diverse, shaped by its long and complex history and its position at the crossroads of different civilizations.
Also, one of the defining aspects of Puglian culture is its deep connection to the land and the sea.
Agriculture and fishing have been central to the region’s economy and way of life for centuries, and this is reflected in the local cuisine, which emphasizes fresh, simple ingredients and traditional cooking methods.
Music and dance are also important parts of Puglian culture. The region is known for its traditional music and dance forms, including the pizzica, which originated in the Salento region and is still performed at festivals and celebrations throughout Puglia.
Puglia is also home to a wealth of historic and cultural sites, including ancient ruins, medieval castles, and baroque churches.
Overall, the culture of Puglia is characterized by its strong sense of tradition, its connection to the land and the sea, and its rich history and heritage. Visitors to the region can experience this culture through its food, music, dance, art, and architecture, making it a fascinating and rewarding destination for travelers.
How to Get to Puglia
Puglia is located in the southeastern part of Italy and is easily accessible by air, train, or car.
- By Air: Puglia has four international airports: Bari Palese Airport (BRI), Brindisi Salento Airport (BDS), Foggia Gino Lisa Airport (FOG), and Taranto-Grottaglie Marcello Arlotta Airport (TAR). These airports have regular flights connecting Puglia to major Italian and European cities, making it easy to reach the region by air.
- By Train: Puglia is well connected to the rest of Italy by train, with regular high-speed trains running from major cities like Rome, Florence, and Milan to Bari and Lecce. The region also has a local train network that connects its various towns and cities, making it easy to explore Puglia by rail.
- By Car: If you’re driving to Puglia from other parts of Italy, you can take the A14 motorway from Bologna to Bari, or the A16 motorway from Naples to Bari. From there, you can explore the region’s various towns and cities by car or by using the local train network.
Overall, getting to Puglia is relatively easy and convenient, with multiple transport options available. Whether you choose to fly, take the train, or drive, you can look forward to discovering the beauty and charm of this stunning region of Italy.
How to Get Around Puglia?
Puglia has a good transportation system that allows visitors to easily explore the region’s many towns, cities, and attractions. Here are some of the best ways to get around in Puglia:
- Train: Puglia has a network of trains that connect its various towns and cities, making it easy to travel by rail. The region’s main train line runs from Bari to Lecce and stops at several other towns and cities along the way. Trains are generally reliable and comfortable, with air conditioning and onboard facilities.
- Bus: Puglia also has a network of buses that connect its various towns and cities, making it easy to travel by bus. Buses are generally cheaper than trains but can be slower and less comfortable.
- Car: Renting a car is a great way to explore Puglia, as it gives you the flexibility to travel at your own pace and visit remote or less accessible areas. Puglia has a good road network, and driving is generally easy, although some of the smaller roads can be narrow and winding.
- Bicycle: Puglia is a great region to explore by bicycle, with many dedicated bike paths and quiet country roads. You can rent bicycles from many towns and cities, and there are also guided bike tours available.
- Taxi: Taxis are available in most towns and cities in Puglia, although they can be expensive. It’s best to agree on a fare in advance to avoid any surprises.
Best Time to Visit Puglia
The best time to visit Puglia depends on your preferences and what you want to do during your trip. Generally speaking, the best time to visit Puglia is from April to June and from September to October, when the weather is mild and comfortable, and the crowds are smaller.
Spring (April to June) is a great time to visit Puglia, as the weather is mild, and the countryside is in full bloom with wildflowers and olive trees. The beaches are also less crowded, making it a great time to enjoy the coastline and the crystal-clear waters.
Fall (September to October) is another great time to visit Puglia, as the weather is still mild, and the crowds have thinned out. The region is also known for its fall harvest festivals, where you can sample local food and wine and experience traditional Puglian culture.
Summer (July to August) is the high season in Puglia, and the beaches and coastal towns can get crowded with tourists. However, this is also the best time to enjoy the region’s beautiful beaches and coastline, and there are plenty of outdoor events and festivals to experience during this time.
Overall, the best time to visit Puglia depends on what you want to do and see during your trip. Whether you prefer mild weather and smaller crowds or lively events and a bustling atmosphere, Puglia has something to offer year-round.
What to Give If You Travel to Puglia?
If you are traveling to Puglia and would like to bring a gift, here we tell you some ideas.
Puglia is famous for its olive oil, so bringing a bottle or two of high-quality olive oil can be a great gift.
Also, a good idea is to bring Taralli. These are small, savory biscuits that are a popular snack in Puglia. They come in many flavors, such as fennel, onion, and black pepper.
Puglia is also known for producing some excellent wines, such as Primitivo and Negroamaro. Bringing a bottle of wine from a local vineyard can be a great gift for wine enthusiasts.
And a great gift are ceramics, due Puglia is home to many ceramic artisans, and there are many beautiful ceramics to choose from, such as plates, bowls, and vases, or handmade jewelry, due Puglia is also known for its handmade jewelry, which is often made with local materials such as olive wood and sea glass.
Puglia has many delicious sweets, such as pasticciotto, a pastry filled with custard cream, and cartellate, a fried pastry dipped in honey. Bringing a box of local sweets can be a sweet gift for anyone with a sweet tooth.
These are just a few ideas for gifts to bring back from Puglia. Ultimately, it depends on the recipient's interests and tastes, but any of these items are sure to be appreciated.
Beaches of Puglia
Puglia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy, with crystal-clear waters, sandy shores, and stunning coastal landscapes. Here are some of the best beaches in Puglia:
- Baia dei Turchi: Located in the Otranto area, Baia dei Turchi is a picturesque cove with turquoise waters and a wide stretch of white sand. The beach is surrounded by a pine forest, offering plenty of shade and a peaceful atmosphere.
- Torre dell’Orso: This beach is located in the Salento region and is known for its clear waters and fine white sand. It is backed by a cliff with a tower, which gives it its name. The beach is popular with families and offers a range of facilities, including restaurants, bars, and water sports.
- Pescoluse: Known as the “Maldives of Salento” Pescoluse is a long stretch of white sand and crystal-clear waters that stretches for over five kilometers. The beach is bordered by dunes and a pine forest, offering a scenic and secluded atmosphere.
- Polignano a Mare: This beach is located in the town of Polignano a Mare and is famous for its dramatic cliffside setting and crystal-clear waters. The beach is small and rocky, but its stunning scenery and unique atmosphere make it a must-visit destination in Puglia.
- Porto Selvaggio: This beach is located in a nature reserve near Nardò and offers a secluded and unspoiled setting. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and offers stunning views of the sea, making it a popular spot for hiking and picnicking as well as swimming and sunbathing.
These are just a few of the many beautiful beaches in Puglia. Whether you prefer secluded coves or long stretches of sand, there is something for everyone in this stunning region of Italy.
Is It Worth Visiting Puglia?
Yes, it does! Puglia stands out for its incredible landscapes and its fascinating culture. Also, the region is known for having amazing beaches to spend wonderful holidays in the sun.
Are you looking to marvel at the most incredible landscapes? Do you want to know a fascinating culture? Do you want to taste exquisite cuisine?
If your answer is "yes", at Greca we have several proposals for tourist packages to Puglia, which you can modify and adapt according to your needs and times.
There are travel packages for all tastes. Choose your own adventure according to your needs!