Puglia (pronounced poo-li-ya), the southern region located in the boot of Italy, is one of the less explored parts of Italy amongst tourists. However, it has easily become my favorite Italian region coming from someone who has explored quite a bit of Italy! Read on for my Puglia road trip itinerary – a travel guide and 7 day itinerary to the best places in Puglia.
⭐ I’M LINKING MY TRIP TO PUGLIA ON MY INSTAGRAM HIGHLIGHTS FOR MORE INSPO!
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There are 2 airports you can choose from to explore the surrounding areas. Those are Bari Airport (BRI) and Brindisi Airport (BDS). I chose to fly into Bari Airport and made my way straight to Matera after taking a 1 hour bus from the airport.
Rent a car
I highly recommend renting a car. This will be the easiest way to explore as much ground as possible. It was not that difficult driving and I did this trip solo driving on my own, so that says a lot (especially if you know me). Italy has lots of roundabouts so if you’re not used to them that’s the only thing you need to get used to. The roads were hilly and small in some areas but for the most part, it was easy travels! There didn’t seem to be police cars stopping people from speeding so I did notice people driving really fast and passing me lots! but there are speed cameras so be careful about that.
Puglia is not well connected with public transport. It is possible to go without a car but it might be a bit more difficult to get to the smaller towns and to cover a lot of ground. I went to 11 cities in 8 days! Uber is not available either so you’d have to call and get a traditional cab which can get pricey – for example, I took a cab a short distance of 7 minutes in Bari and it cost 20 Euro.
🚗 I picked up my car rental after spending one day in Matera but it might be easy for you to book from Bari Airport too. I found my rental using Discover Cars which is a great aggregator site, that will find you the cheapest rates for a car rental.
there was a great app that made paying for parking much more convenient. You can get it here and if you see a sign for Easy Park on the meter it means you can use it to pay for the parking in many of the Puglia towns I mention below. Just enter in the zone number into the app and have a piece of paper in your dash that says Easy Park.
Where to stay in Puglia
I definitely recommend staying in a Masseria or Trullo. They are very unique to the Puglia region and will become the highlight of your trip – promise! I have compiled a list of the best masserie and trulli to stay in on this blog post! I have also highlighted where I stayed on my road trip throughout this post.
7+ day Puglia Road Trip Itinerary to the Best Places in Puglia, Italy
This 7+ day Puglia road trip itinerary includes all the best places to visit for the perfect trip. Arriving at Bari, Airport I took a bus directly to MATERA which took about an hour. From there, I stayed 1 night and explored Matera. I would recommend renting a car as you leave Matera, as I hear it’s hard to find parking around Matera so I just left it after I explored the city.
Day 1: Matera
🕐 Need 1 day to explore – stayed overnight, picked up 🚗 rental car here
My first stop was Matera which is not a part of the Puglia region, but it is very closeby and 100% worth the stop. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This magical city is full of stone and used to be considered “the shame of Italy” due to its extreme poverty and disease in the 1950s. It was such a unique place to see.
🏨Stay in a cave hotel! Sassi Hotel, is the name of the one I stayed at and it is not too expensive. I loved soaking in the views from the fabulous balcony.
Day 2: Locorotondo
Read the full blog post on Locorotondo
On day 1 of your Puglia Road trip, visit the charming town of Locorotondo.
🕐 Need 1 day to explore this town but it’s a good base to get around the nearby areas and I stayed here for 5 nights.
🏨I had the most incredible stay at a family farm that has been around for generations. It was called Agriturismo Masseria Aprile. I stayed in a unique trullo, a cone shaped building made of stone. Stefania and Anna will make you feel like you’re part of the family. They were the kindest people ever and made my stay so great.
Locorotondo is within 30-45 mins of all the places to go! The town was also charming and cute. Maybe my favorite town. It felt like the white version of the colorful amazing town Burano in Northern Italy near Venice.
Day 2: Cisternino
Another best place in Puglia to visit on your road trip is Cisternino. It is very small in size and like many of the other towns, it’s full of white-washed houses and narrow, charming walkways.
🚗15 min drive from Locorotondo. There are parking spaces right when you arrive in the town. I didn’t have to pay this evening but check the signs.
🕐I spent around 3 hours here in the evening and had dinner
If you’re a meat lover, Al Vecchio Fornello is a recommended restaurant to try. If you’re looking for something lighter you can try Ristorante Da Zia Rosa. I went and had the Orecchiette pasta, an ear-shaped pasta, which is known to the region.
Day 3: Alberobello
Read the full blog post on Alberobello here!
Alberobello is a must stop on your Puglia Road Trip.
🚗 15 min drive from Locorotondo. There are many parking lots right before you enter the town. I parked here. It was 6 euros for the day.
🕐Need ~4 hours to explore this town
This is where you will see all the pretty white cone-shaped homes known as trulli – it is such a unique village
Pro tip: look for the many signs that say vista Panoramica and go up to see a view from the shop’s terrace.
Day 3: Martina Franca
Read the full blog post on Martina Franca here!
This buzzing town was nice and close to visit and definitely worth a stop.
🚗15 min drive from Locorotondo; Parking was tough! It was a busy town and I finally found a lot around here.
🕐I spent around 3 hours here in the evening and had dinner
🍽️Ristorante I Templari: a nice restaurant where I had some great pasta with some complimentary appetizers that were yummy!
Day 4: Ostuni
Ostuni is known as the white city full of beautiful stacked white houses reminding you of Greece.
🚗30 min drive from Locorotondo. I parked on Corso Vittorio Emanuelle II and as you walk from here you will find the perfect viewpoint of the entire town!
🍽️I had the best cheap pasta lunch at Pastasciutto.
Day 5: Polignano a Mare
Read the full blog post on Polignano a Mare
The most famous beach of the Puglia region, get ready for some breathtaking views. This was a stunning place. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here, especially the boat tour I did. Read the full dedicated blog post here!
🚗 35 min drive from Locorotondo. You need at least one full day. I parked right in the square in front of Pescaria.
⛵HIGHLIGHT OF THE TRIP: don’t miss the amazing boat tour I had – it was one of the coolest things I’ve done traveling. It takes you into caves! And you see amazing views all around! Here’s the link to the tour I booked.
🦐 Delicious seafood sandwiches at Pescaria. Have an amazing espresso granita with whipped cream at The Super Mago del Gelo Mario Campanella. And try some YUMMY focaccia at La Focacceria.
Day 6: Monopoli
Like many of the towns in this part of Puglia, Monopoli is full of white washed stone buildings. It’s another popular place to stop on a road trip in Puglia.
🕐I spent a few hours here.
🕑 Monopoli is only 15 minutes from Polignano A Mare but I didn’t have time to see it in the same day so I drove from my stay in Locorotondo and it was about 30 minutes.
🚗There was a large parking area which you can find here.
🍽️I love paninis! and I had a great one at Vini & Panini.
Day 7: Lecce
Lecce is known as the “Florence of the South” because of the rich Baroque architectural monuments found in the city.
🕐1 hour & 15 minutes from Locorotondo.
🏨I stayed one night at a really nice airbnb (see here) with a great view that was super central! If anything I’d recommend staying in Lecce a day or 2 longer. I may have overdone it this half of the trip by squeezing in too much. Otherwise, it was fine, and consider skipping Porto Miggiano!
🍽️I had dinner at La Cucina Di Mamma
Day 7: Cave of Poetry (Grotta della Poesia)
Read the full blog post on the Cave of Poetry (Grotta della Poesia)
This is one of the most beautiful natural swimming pool in the whole world. I’ve never seen anything like it! But to get in there’s a catch! You have to jump in as they guard the stairs and don’t actually allow you to go in but people do it anyway and are able to only exit from the stairs. I was not brave enough to jump in!
🕐You only need a couple of hours here.
🚗 30 minutes from Lecce.
Day 8: Porto Miggiano
With its high cliffs dropping sheer into the sea, a dreamy beach to relax at all day. The actual beach is a bit hidden from the road. You can find it here.
🕐You can spend the day at the beach here
🚗30 minutes from Lecce. There was plenty of paid parking right when you enter.
Other places worth visiting for your Puglia Road Trip:
1. Castellana Grotte – a pretty cave
6. The Tremiti Islands – looks stunning, but a bit hard to get to
You may also like these posts!
🏨 Where to stay in Puglia
🧚 What to do in Alberobello – the Trulli town in Italy
🤍 Locorotondo, Puglia: The Beautiful White Village in Italy
💎 Martina Franca, a Hidden Gem in Puglia
🏖️ Polignano a Mare – a guide to the most famous beach in Puglia
✨ Insider Tips to visiting the Cave of Poetry in Puglia, Italy
🏖️ 10 Beautiful Seaside Towns along the Coast in Italy
💎 20 Hidden Gems in Italy
🇮🇹 For more travel inspo visit my Italy section!
I enjoy reading your posts. My family will be travelling to italy from 17-28 dec this year, flying n out of milan. We plan to spend first 3 nights in venice. Havent decided on the second and third stops: florence and puglia. I heard that shops and restaurants will be closed on 25-26/12. In your opinion, will it be better to base in florence or puglia during the christmas break? Im worried that the place will be very quiet.
Our options are: 17-20/12: venice, 20-23/12: either florence or puglia (we are fascinated by puglia though it is way south so we dont mind staying north too). 23-26/12: either florence or puglia, 26-28/12: milan.
Would really appreciate if you could advise s.
Thank you! Well, Puglia you would definitely need a car, there would be less things to do in winter, and is really far from Venice so you’d have to take a flight there so I would defo recommend Florence as it’s much closer. There will be a lot more to do there and things should be open. There’s a beautiful Christmas tree by the Duomo. Puglia is amazing so maybe save for another trip where you can spend longer!