It’s hard to imagine a destination more suited to summer than Puglia. This sun-kissed gem sits in southern Italy on the heel of the boot, serving up a flurry of charming towns, fairytale trulli, quaint fishing villages and a stunning coastline. No matter how long you spend in Puglia, you’ll leave wishing you had more time. There’s A LOT to see and do in the region. Thankfully, it’s one of the more affordable destinations in Italy, so a week or two (or three!) in Puglia won’t break the bank. Below is my complete guide to all-things Puglia – I’ve included my favorite places to visit, daytrip ideas, the best beaches, itinerary ideas, hotel and Airbnb recommendations, cafes, cave restaurants, travel tips and more. This post contains affiliate links.
The charming town of Locorotondo in full bloom. Outfit details: Lulu’s two-piece set, linked here.
Polignano a Mare has the best summer vibes in Italy.
SEVEN DAYS. It might seem like a long time to dedicate to one region of Italy, but Puglia is a jackpot when it comes to sightseeing, beaches, culture and cuisine. Yes, you can scratch the surface with just a few days in the area, but there’s more than enough to fill a full week, or longer.
Absolutely smitten with the beauty of Monopoli.
MAY, JUNE AND SEPTEMBER. Puglia is a warm weather destination best experienced in late spring and summer. All of Italy is overrun with tourists in July and August, so best to visit in May, June and September when temps are pleasant and crowds aren’t at their peak.
Alberobello is like stepping into a storybook. Outfit details: Rip Curl dress, linked here.
Cala dell Acquaviva.
Sunbathers flock to this turquoise inlet fed by both salt and spring water surrounded by craggy rocks, sea caves and trees. The vibes here remind me so much of summer in the Greek islands.
CAVE OF POETRY
Cave of Poetry is a stunning sinkhole located in Roca Vecchia Village. It’s a natural pool of sparkling turquoise water, popular for cliff jumping, swimming and sunbathing, especially in the summer months.
Marina Serra is a sheltered cove where most of the water is waist deep – ideal for sunseekers that like calm shallows. The tiny bay sits surrounded by stone steps, rocky ledges and small caves, serving up a picturesque backdrop for a day in the water.
Cala Porto is the main beach in Porto Miggiano. It’s popular, and it’s spectacular. The Old Town overlooks a rocky cala, home to a narrow beach, as well as tiers of rocks for cliff jumping and sunbathing. This beach is a vibe in summer.
SPIAGGIA PORTO MIGGIANO
It’s my favorite beach in all of Italy. Porto Miggiano is a bit of a drive from northern Puglia, but the epic setting on the Adriatic is absolutely worth a visit. You’ll need Google Maps to find the beach – it sits at the bottom of a cliff where there are no signs, and you can’t see it from the road. Soak in the spectacular view from the top before climbing the 100 steps built into the cliff to reach the sparkling water below.
This Ionian gem that can be tacked onto a visit to Porto Miggiano and the Cave of Poetry. Torre Sant’ Andrea is a collection of stacked sandstone rock formations on Puglia’s coast where visitors can sunbathe, swim and cliff jump. Best to visit on a warm summer day when the water is calm.
Afternoon in Cisternino.
Blooming corridors of Cisternino. Outfit details: Lulu’s dress, linked here.
Polignano a Mare is my happy place.
Possibly the most iconic town in Puglia, this place looks like something out of a fairytale. Crowned a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, Alberobello is made up of hundreds of trulli, bright white cottage-like buildings with stone conical rooftops. The charming structures house boutiques, cafes, restaurants and hotels along the pedestrian lanes, and create the ultimate storybook setting.
White-washed alleyways connect charming cooridors, boutiques and restaurants to a lovely central square in little Cisternino. This hilltop village can be explored in a couple of hours – parking is located right outisde of Old Town.
Switch up the scenery with a visit to Lecce where you’ll find yourself surrounded by the city’s iconic 17th century Baroque architecture. Considered by many to be the Florence of southern Italy, Lecce offers plenty to see including the Roman Ampitheatre, Lecce Cathedral, Basilica di Santa Croce and beautiful streets to explore on foot, as well as loads of delicious restaurants.
One of the lovelier little towns in Puglia, Locorotondo is a labyrinth of pedestrian lanes bursting with blooming flowers, colorful shutters and picturesque doorways. Worth a visit, and it only takes a couple of hours to explore.
Matera is located in the Basilicata region of Italy, but it’s so close to Puglia that it can be visited as a day trip. Carved into the rocks, beautiful Matera is one of the oldest cities in Italy. It’s a dizzying labyrinth of alleyways and stone staircases that lead to cave hotels, rock churches and sweeping viewpoints.
Monopoli is a port city in northern Puglia. Spend the day wandering the white-washed streets of the Centro Storico lined with churches, outdoor dining and little shops, and then park yourself at a sunbathing rock outside of the city walls to enjoy a day in the water.
It’s known as The White City, and Ostuni is a must-visit while in Puglia. Old Town sits on a hilltop, a jumbled labyrinth of white staircases, arches, crooked corridors, cobbled streets and pedestrian alleys.
POLIGNANO A MARE
I know, how can every town in this part of Italy be a must-visit? This is why you need at least a week in Puglia. Spend a full day in Polignano A Mare exploring the stunning Old Town built onto a rocky outcrop, then head to the spectacular beaches – Cala Porto and Ponte dei Lapilli.
My favorite viewpoint in Alberobello. You can see all the conical rooftops from up here! Outfit details: Two-piece Lulu’s set, linked here.
The fairytale feels of Alberobello.
An upscale boutique hotel located in Cisternino. The property is home to 42 refurbished trullis, the white-washed stone huts with cone-shaped rooftops that you’ll see when visiting Alberobello. Borgo Canonica is absolutely charming, a hotel with so much character unique to this part of Italy. My private trulli suite housed a sitting room, bedroom, closet and a downstairs bathroom – everything adorned in white.
Beautiful two-bedroom villa that sits tucked away in the countryside east of Ugento, ideal for travelers focusing on southern Puglia. The villa is bright, airy and spacious with lots of whites and neutral tones – an Airbnb Plus property. Dimora Sighe is rarely available – if you see it, book it.
Amazing luxury tulli option located in the heart of Alberobello. The property is completely spacious, occupying three-cone trulli that house three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living space, kitchen and dining area that open up to an enclosed patio and small garden. The Hermanas Relais location is ideal for exploring northern Puglia, and everything in Alberobello is walkable.
This five-star Relais & Chateaux property houses 15 rooms and suites in the heart of Ostuni. La Sommita is designed with muted colors to align with the neutral tones of the town – lots of Apulia stones and light wood. Beautiful property, and an ideal location.
Upscale property located just outside of Otranto, the Masseria Mintibianchi Agri Resort is an oasis of calm where guests are surrounded by olive trees and serene sparkling pools. Rooms are luxurious, but minimalist in deign (almost too minimalist). Make sure to book a massage in the property’s beautiful Relaxation Cave.
The property dates back to the 18th century, and sits just outside of Ostuni. Masserian Salinola offers a lovely mix of rooms and suites – everything looks rustic chic, but the feels are all five-star luxury.
Another darling Airbnb set in a transformed set of iconic trulli. Trullo Suite Martodda is located just outside of Locorotondo, an ideal location for exploring the Puglia region. This Airbnb Plus property dates back to the 18th century, but has been completely renovated with all the modern creature comforts and bright, airy design cues.
Spiaggia Porto Miggiano.
CONDOMINIO 60 (MONOPOLI)
One of the tastiest restaurants in Monopoli with outdoor dining that spills out onto the pedestrian lanes. Menu is loaded with fresh pastas and seafood.
GROTTA PALAZZESE (POLIGNANO A MARE)
If you’re looking to splurge on one-of-a-kind dining, book a table at Grotta Palazzese. The restaurant is built into an open-air limestone sea cave (food is underwhelming for the price, but the experience is off-the-charts).
Dinner spot in Alberobello near the trulli that serves fresh pastas, meats and seafood. The service is a bit slow, but this one of the testiest restaurants in Alberobello.
LA FOCACCERIA DI DELLA NOCI MARCO (POLIGNANO A MARE)
Popular focaccia pizzeria that serves up a delicious selection of pies that you can buy by the slice, or as a whole.
This restaurant in Cisternino has all the homey feels, and serves a selection of pasta and seafood.
PIZZA & CO (LECCE)
Quick, fresh and delicious pizza in the heart of Lecce.
Delightful spot for outdoor dining that sits in the heart of little Putignano. Scinua is popular for its meats, but also serves a selection of pasta.
Cliff jumping, sunbathing and swimming – a typical summer day in Polignano a Mare.
Puglia is best experienced by car. The towns and beaches are spread out, and you’ll need freedom and flexibility for all the day trips. For many, the thought of driving in Italy can be intimidating, but the Puglia region is relatively low stress when it comes to being behind the wheel. Most of the towns are connected by quiet roads that cut through farmland, and all the routes are pretty straight forward. Major car rental brands are available at the airport in Bari including Sixt, Hertz, Budget, Avis, etc.
Matera looks like a painting – it is absolutely surreal.
Bari is home to an international airport that connects Puglia to dozens of cities around Europe, as well as a handful of domestic destinations. If traveling through Italy by train, Bari Centrale Train Station is the easiest entry and exit point in Puglia. It connects the region to Rome, and from there it’s easy enough to travel to Florence, Liguria, Amalfi, Venice, etc.
The historic beauty of Matera.