Top Things To Do In Puglia: Uncover Italy’s Hidden Gem

Top Things To Do In Puglia: Uncover Italy’s Hidden Gem

In this guide, we will explore the top things to do in Puglia, from exploring the maze-like old town of Bari to visiting the picturesque coastal town of Polignano a Mare. Puglia, located in the heel of Italy’s boot, is a hidden gem boasting stunning coastlines, historic sites, and delicious cuisine. It remains relatively untrampled by international tourists, making it the perfect destination for those seeking an authentic Italian experience. Get ready to uncover the beauty of Puglia!

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the charm of Puglia through its stunning coastlines and historic sites.
  • Explore the maze-like old town of Bari and immerse yourself in its rich history.
  • Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the Putignano Carnival, the oldest in Europe.
  • Indulge in the picturesque beauty of Polignano a Mare and its unique Grotta Palazzese restaurant.
  • Relax on the sandy beaches of Monopoli and savor its delicious seafood.

Explore the Fascinating City of Bari

Bari, the capital of the Puglia region, offers a wealth of attractions, making it a must-visit destination for travelers. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply immersing yourself in the local culture, Bari has something for everyone.

One of the highlights of Bari is the maze-like old town of Barivecchia. Here, you can wander through narrow streets and discover historic buildings that showcase the city’s rich history. Don’t miss the impressive Castello Svevo, a medieval fortress that overlooks the sea, and the stunning Basilica San Nicola, which houses the relics of Saint Nicholas.

In addition to its historic landmarks, Bari is also known for its vibrant atmosphere. Take a stroll along the bustling waterfront promenade, known as the Lungomare, and soak up the energy of this coastal city. Indulge in the local cuisine, which is renowned for its fresh seafood and delicious street food.

To fully experience the charm of Bari, consider taking a walking tour. A knowledgeable guide can lead you through the city’s hidden alleyways and share fascinating stories about its past. From the modern Murat district to the ancient wonders of the old town, Bari is a city that will captivate your senses and leave you wanting more.

“Bari is a city of contrasts, where the old and the new coexist harmoniously. From its ancient landmarks to its modern shopping streets, there’s something here for everyone to enjoy.” – Local Resident

bari italy

Table: Top Attractions in Bari

Castello SvevoA medieval fortress overlooking the sea, offering stunning views and a glimpse into Bari’s past.
Basilica San NicolaA beautiful church that houses the relics of Saint Nicholas, a highly revered figure in the Christian faith.
LungomareA vibrant waterfront promenade where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll and take in the sights and sounds of Bari.
Teatro PetruzzelliOne of Italy’s largest opera houses, known for its stunning architecture and world-class performances.
BarivecchiaThe historic old town of Bari, with its maze-like streets and charming atmosphere.

With its fascinating history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture, Bari is a city that should not be missed when exploring Puglia. Whether you’re strolling along the waterfront or getting lost in the old town, Bari offers a truly unforgettable experience.

Experience the Vibrant Putignano Carnival

Putignano, a lesser-known city in Puglia, comes alive during the winter thanks to its annual Carnival. Dating back to 1394, the Putignano Carnival is the oldest in Europe and one of the longest-running carnivals in the world. This vibrant celebration takes place between late January and Shrove Tuesday in February, offering a unique and festive experience for visitors.

The Putignano Carnival is known for its masked parties, processions of satirical papier-mache floats, live music, street entertainers, and food stalls. The entire city becomes a colorful playground, where locals and tourists alike join in the festivities. Experience the lively atmosphere as you immerse yourself in the vibrant street celebrations and revel in the energy of the Carnival.

What sets the Putignano Carnival apart is its deep-rooted history and cultural significance. It is believed to have originated as a way to mock and satirize the city’s influential figureheads. Today, the Carnival remains a time for social commentary and political satire, as well as a celebration of the city’s rich heritage.

“The Putignano Carnival offers a unique and immersive experience, allowing visitors to witness centuries-old traditions come to life. From the intricately designed floats to the vibrant masks and costumes, this carnival is a true feast for the senses. It’s a must-visit for anyone seeking a memorable and culturally enriching winter activity in Puglia.”

Italian Carnival: A Unique Celebration

The Putignano Carnival is just one of many exciting Italian carnivals that take place across the country. These annual celebrations are deeply rooted in Italian history and culture, offering a kaleidoscope of colors, music, and festivities.

From the world-famous Carnival of Venice, with its elaborate masks and elegant costumes, to the lively Carnival of Viareggio, known for its massive parade floats, each Italian carnival has its own unique charm and traditions. Attending an Italian carnival is not only a chance to revel in the lively atmosphere but also an opportunity to delve into the rich cultural heritage of Italy.

So, if you’re planning a winter getaway to Puglia, don’t miss the chance to experience the vibrant Putignano Carnival. Join in the festivities, immerse yourself in the local culture, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

putignano carneval

Discover the Picturesque Polignano a Mare

When it comes to stunning coastal towns in Puglia, Polignano a Mare is a true gem. With its breathtaking beauty and charming atmosphere, it offers a delightful escape for travelers. One of the main attractions in Polignano a Mare is the picturesque Cala Porto, a small pebble beach with crystal clear emerald waters. It’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun while enjoying the mesmerizing views of the Adriatic Sea.

But Polignano a Mare has another hidden treasure that shouldn’t be missed – Grotta Palazzese. This magical restaurant is situated in a natural cave carved into a cliff face, offering a dining experience like no other. As you savor delicious Italian cuisine, you’ll be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the sea. It’s a truly unforgettable and romantic setting that will leave you enchanted.

Aside from its natural beauty, Polignano a Mare also boasts charming streets that are worth exploring. Take a leisurely stroll through the town’s narrow alleyways, admire the whitewashed buildings, and discover quaint shops and cafes along the way. The town’s rich history and cultural heritage add an extra layer of charm to this coastal paradise.

Table: Polignano a Mare Attractions

Cala PortoA picturesque pebble beach with clear emerald waters.
Grotta PalazzeseA magical restaurant located in a cliffside cave with panoramic sea views.
Charming StreetsExplore the narrow alleyways and white-washed buildings of Polignano a Mare.

Polignano a Mare is a must-visit destination in Puglia, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, history, and culinary delights. Whether you’re relaxing on the stunning beaches, dining in the magical Grotta Palazzese, or simply wandering through its charming streets, Polignano a Mare will captivate your heart and leave you with lasting memories.

polignano a mare

Relax in the Seaside City of Monopoli

Located close to Bari, the coastal city of Monopoli offers a perfect escape for those seeking relaxation by the sea. With its beautiful sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters, Monopoli is a popular destination among locals and tourists alike. Whether you want to soak up the sun, take a refreshing swim, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the coastline, Monopoli has it all.

In addition to its stunning beaches, Monopoli is also known for its delicious seafood. The city’s coastal location means that fresh catch is readily available, and local restaurants offer a wide selection of seafood dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the flavors of the sea and savor the culinary delights that Monopoli has to offer.

Monopoli is a hidden gem in Puglia, offering a unique blend of natural beauty and seaside charm. With its picturesque beaches and mouthwatering seafood, this coastal city is a paradise for beach lovers and food enthusiasts alike.

While in Monopoli, take the time to explore the historic center, with its winding streets and charming architecture. Admire the traditional blue and red fishing boats in the harbor and immerse yourself in the local culture. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway or a taste of authentic Italian coastal living, Monopoli is the perfect destination.

Table: Top Monopoli Attractions

BeachesEnjoy the sandy shores and crystal-clear waters of Monopoli’s beaches.
Historic CenterExplore the winding streets and charming architecture of Monopoli’s historic center.
SeafoodIndulge in delicious fresh seafood at local restaurants.

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello

Alberobello is a unique town in the Puglia region of Italy that is renowned for its Alberobello Trulli, a collection of distinctive mortarless limestone houses with domed roofs. These trulli, which date back to the 16th century, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are symbolic of the Valle d’Itria region. The town’s historic center is a bustling hub of activity, with narrow streets lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants.

One of the best ways to experience the charm of Alberobello is to take a leisurely stroll through the town’s streets. As you meander through the maze-like alleys, you’ll come across trulli that have been converted into shops selling local crafts, souvenirs, and traditional products. You can also visit the Trullo Sovrano, a two-story trullo that has been converted into a museum showcasing the history and architecture of these unique buildings.

While Alberobello is a popular tourist destination, it is best experienced during the quieter evenings and early mornings when the streets are less crowded. The town takes on a magical atmosphere as the fairy lights illuminate the streets, creating a truly enchanting ambiance. Whether you choose to stay overnight in one of the trulli accommodations or simply visit for a day trip, Alberobello is a must-visit destination in Puglia.


Visit the Fascinating Grotte di Castellana

The Grotte di Castellana, also known as the Castellana Caves, is a mesmerizing natural wonder located in the town of Castellana in Puglia. These incredible caves are a hidden gem that offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience for visitors.

“The Grotte di Castellana is like stepping into another world. The intricate formations of stalactites and stalagmites are truly breathtaking, and the sheer size and scale of the caves is awe-inspiring.”

Take a guided tour through the 90-million-year-old cave system, where you’ll descend 60 meters below ground and explore the mesmerizing underground chambers. Marvel at the stunning formations, including delicate stalactites hanging from the ceiling and shimmering stalagmites rising from the cave floor. The Grotte di Castellana is a true testament to the beauty and power of nature.

Exploring the Castellana Caves

  • Discover the “White Cave,” the largest chamber in the cave system, adorned with stunning white formations that glisten in the cave’s natural light.
  • Marvel at the “Cave of the Monuments,” where you can see the awe-inspiring “Madonna della Croce” stalagmite, named after its resemblance to the Virgin Mary.
  • Don’t miss the “Grotta Bianca,” known for its beautiful white calcite formations that sparkle like diamonds.

A visit to the Grotte di Castellana is a must for nature lovers and those seeking a unique and awe-inspiring experience in Puglia. Witness the beauty of these natural wonders and immerse yourself in the captivating underground world of the Castellana Caves.

Highlights of the Grotte di CastellanaDetails
LocationCastellana, Puglia, Italy
Opening Hours9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (varying seasonally)
Guided ToursAvailable in multiple languages
Tour DurationApproximately 2 hours
Ticket PricesAdults: $15 / Children (4-14 years old): $10

Experience Authentic Local Hospitality at a Masseria

Puglia’s countryside offers a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the region’s rich agricultural traditions. One of the best ways to experience the authentic charm of rural Puglia is by staying at a Masseria. These traditional farmhouses have been transformed into luxurious agriturismo hotels and charming B&Bs, offering a unique and immersive stay.

During your time at a Masseria, you can not only enjoy comfortable accommodation but also partake in guided tours of the property’s land. Learn about the processes involved in producing olive oil, wines, and cheeses, as well as the traditional methods that have been passed down through generations. Engage your senses with tastings of these local products, savoring the flavors and learning about the diverse culinary heritage of Puglia.

In addition to exploring the agricultural aspects, a Masseria stay allows you to connect with the local community. You can have the opportunity to enjoy home-cooked dinners with your hosts and other guests, sharing stories and experiences over delicious meals made with locally sourced ingredients. The warm hospitality of the Masseria owners will make you feel like part of the family, ensuring a truly authentic and memorable experience in the Puglia countryside.

Masseria Stay: A Unique Farmhouse Experience

The following table provides an overview of what you can expect during a Masseria stay:

Comfortable AccommodationStay in beautifully restored farmhouses with modern amenities and rustic charm.
Guided ToursExplore the Masseria’s land and learn about olive oil, wine, and cheese production.
Product TastingsIndulge in the flavors of Puglia with tastings of locally produced olive oil, wines, and cheeses.
Home-Cooked DinnersShare a meal with your hosts and fellow guests, enjoying traditional Puglian dishes made with local ingredients.
Authentic HospitalityExperience the warm and welcoming nature of the Masseria owners, who will ensure you feel like part of the family.

A Masseria stay offers a unique opportunity to connect with the Puglian countryside and its vibrant agricultural traditions. Immerse yourself in the beauty and authenticity of rural life, and create lasting memories of your time in Puglia.

Check out some Masseria suggestions for an unforgettable stay:

Masseria Nicola Casavola located in Martina Franca

Masseria Ayroldi located in Ostuni

Masseria Rifisa located in Lecce


Visit the Charming Town of Ostuni

Ostuni, also known as the “White City,” is a charming town perched on a hilltop overlooking the Adriatic Sea. With its whitewashed houses, narrow streets, and stunning views, Ostuni offers a picturesque setting for visitors to explore. From its historic center to its delicious local cuisine, here are some of the top attractions in Ostuni:

Attractions in Ostuni

  • Ostuni Cathedral: Marvel at the impressive architecture of the Ostuni Cathedral, a stunning example of Romanesque style. Its intricate rose window and ornate interior make it a must-visit attraction in Ostuni.
  • The Old Town: Lose yourself in the winding streets of Ostuni’s old town, where each corner reveals charming white buildings adorned with colorful flowers. Explore the shops, cafes, and local artisan boutiques that line the narrow alleys.
  • Panoramic Views: Take in breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from the vantage points found in Ostuni. From the hilltop, you can see the rolling hills of olive groves and vineyards that define the Puglia region.

After a day of exploring, be sure to indulge in the delicious local cuisine. Ostuni is known for its fresh seafood and traditional Puglian dishes. Experience the flavors of the region at one of the many restaurants that line the streets of Ostuni.

Whether you’re strolling through the historic center, admiring the stunning architecture, or simply enjoying the panoramic views, a visit to Ostuni is a must for those seeking a charming and picturesque experience in Puglia’s “White City.”

Discover the Beautiful Town of Martina Franca

Martina Franca is a picturesque town located in the heart of the Puglia region. Known for its beautiful historic center, Martina Franca is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. The town is famous for its Baroque architecture, charming streets, and elegant palaces, providing visitors with a glimpse into the region’s rich past.

One of the highlights of Martina Franca is the stunning Basilica di San Martino. This magnificent church is a true architectural masterpiece, featuring intricate details and exquisite artwork. Take the time to explore its interior, admire the beautiful frescoes, and soak in the serene atmosphere that surrounds this sacred space.

As you wander through the cobblestone streets of Martina Franca, you’ll discover a wealth of charming shops, local boutiques, and traditional cafes. Immerse yourself in the town’s vibrant atmosphere, mingle with the friendly locals, and indulge in the delicious local cuisine that Martina Franca has to offer.

Experience the Rich Cultural Heritage

Martina Franca’s historic center is a treasure trove of historical and cultural landmarks. Visit the Palazzo Ducale, a magnificent palace that once belonged to the dukes of Martina Franca. Admire its grand fa├žade and explore the opulent rooms, which house a remarkable collection of art and antiques.

For a deeper understanding of the town’s cultural heritage, head to the Museo della Basilica di San Martino. This museum displays a fascinating collection of religious artifacts, including precious relics and ancient manuscripts. Learn about the town’s religious traditions and the role of the Basilica di San Martino in Martina Franca’s history.

Palazzo DucaleExplore the grandeur of this historic palace and marvel at its architectural beauty.
Museo della Basilica di San MartinoDiscover a rich collection of religious artifacts and learn about Martina Franca’s cultural heritage.

As you explore Martina Franca, don’t forget to take in the scenic views of the surrounding countryside. The town is nestled amidst rolling hills and picturesque landscapes, offering a peaceful retreat from the bustling city life. Take a leisurely stroll through the countryside, breathe in the fresh air, and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds this charming town.

Martina Franca is a hidden gem that encapsulates the beauty and charm of Puglia. From its historic center to its rich cultural heritage, this town has something to offer every visitor. Immerse yourself in its history, indulge in its culinary delights, and experience the warmth and hospitality of the locals. Martina Franca is a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic and memorable Puglian experience.

polignano a mare italy

How to Get to Puglia

Below I have included some of the options on how to get to Puglia:

  1. By Air: The most convenient way to reach Puglia is by flying into one of its main airports. Bari and Brindisi are the two primary airports in the region. Many airlines offer direct flights to these airports from major cities in Europe. If you’re traveling from outside Europe, you might need to connect through a major European hub.
  2. By Train: The Italian rail network is well-connected and efficient. You can take a train to Puglia from major Italian cities like Rome, Milan, and Naples. High-speed trains (Frecciarossa and Italo) can significantly reduce travel time.
  3. By Car: Renting a car and driving to Puglia offers flexibility and the opportunity to enjoy the scenic routes. The region is well connected by highways. However, keep in mind that Italian driving and parking can be challenging, especially in historic city centers.
  4. By Bus: Various bus companies operate services to Puglia from different parts of Italy. This can be a more economical option, though it may take longer than the train or flying.
  5. By Ferry: If you are coming from Greece or other parts of Eastern Europe, there are ferry services to Brindisi and Bari.


Puglia, located in the heel of Italy’s boot, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With its stunning coastlines, historic sites, and delicious cuisine, it offers a unique and authentic Italian experience. From exploring the maze-like old town of Bari to visiting the picturesque coastal town of Polignano a Mare, Puglia has a wide range of attractions to offer.

Whether you’re interested in experiencing the vibrant Putignano Carnival or relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Monopoli, Puglia has something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to explore the fascinating Grotte di Castellana or experience the warm hospitality at a Masseria.

With its rich culture, hidden gems, and diverse points of interest, Puglia is a must-visit destination for any traveler. Uncover the beauty and charm of this region and immerse yourself in the unique experiences it has to offer. Plan your trip to Puglia and discover why it is truly a hidden gem in Italy.


What are the top things to do in Puglia?

The top things to do in Puglia include exploring the maze-like old town of Bari, visiting the picturesque coastal town of Polignano a Mare, experiencing the vibrant Putignano Carnival, and discovering the unique trulli houses in Alberobello.

What are the popular attractions in Bari?

Popular attractions in Bari include the maze-like old town of Barivecchia, the Castello Svevo, Basilica San Nicola, and Basilica Cattedrale di San Sabino.

When is the Putignano Carnival celebrated, and what can I expect?

The Putignano Carnival takes place between late January and Shrove Tuesday in February. It is the oldest carnival in Europe and offers masked parties, processions of satirical papier-mache floats, live music, street entertainers, and food stalls.

What are the attractions in Polignano a Mare?

Polignano a Mare is famous for its picturesque Cala Porto beach and the unique Grotta Palazzese restaurant, which is located in a natural cave with stunning views over the sea.

What is there to do in Monopoli?

In Monopoli, you can enjoy beautiful sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters, and indulge in fresh seafood. The town’s small historic center is also worth exploring.

What makes Alberobello a popular destination in Puglia?

Alberobello is known for its high concentration of trulli houses, which are unique mortarless limestone houses with domed roofs. The town’s historic center is bustling with visitors who come to admire its charm and explore the streets adorned with fairy lights.

What does the Grotte di Castellana offer?

The Grotte di Castellana is a 90 million-year-old cave system filled with incredible formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, concretions, and fossils. Visitors can take guided tours to explore this stunning cave system.

What is a Masseria, and why is it recommended to stay in one?

A Masseria is a traditional southern Italian farmhouse that has been converted into a luxurious agriturismo hotel or charming B&B. Staying in a Masseria allows visitors to experience authentic local hospitality, including tours of the land, tastings of products such as olive oil and wines, and home-cooked dinners with the hosts and other guests.

What makes Ostuni unique?

Ostuni, also known as the “White City,” is a charming town perched on a hilltop overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Its old town is characterized by its whitewashed houses, narrow streets, and stunning views.

What are the attractions in Martina Franca?

Martina Franca is known for its beautiful historic center filled with Baroque architecture, charming streets, and elegant palaces. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll, visit the stunning Basilica di San Martino, and immerse themselves in the town’s rich history and culture.