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Perfect 7 Day Puglia Itinerary

Perfect 7 Day Puglia Itinerary

In this guide we share with you our perfect 7 day Puglia itinerary for road trippers. Puglia is a bit of an Italy hidden gem but more people are discovering it every year.  Our Puglia itinerary covers the main Puglia attractions and towns as well as some hidden gems that we have discovered along the way.

But before we get onto out road trip itinerary here are some things you might need to know before your visit. 

Where is Puglia?

Puglia, or Apulia as it is sometimes known, is located in the heel of Italy. For a long time, this hidden gem in Italy was known only to Italian and European travellers but is becoming a bit less hidden every year.

For most international visitors you will fly into Bari’s Karol Wojtyla International Airport. However there is also an airport in Brindisi for more regional travellers. But it is worth noting that flights in Bari are limited and as such are expensive. For this reason it can be cheaper to fly into one of Italy’s larger airports and then catch a high speed train to Puglia. 

There are high speed trains to the region from Rome, Venice and Naples. However we do recommend renting a car once you arrive in the region. 

Do I need a car for this Puglia Itinerary? 

As a less densely populated and hidden gem in Italy, it may come as no surprise that the public transport in Puglia is practically non existent between the smaller towns and villages and main attractions. For this reason it is essential to rent a car for this Puglia itinerary. 

Now while we would normally opt for a larger car as we travel with kids. However in Puglia we recommend getting a compact car when you can. The reason for this is because some of the towns and villages in Puglia are ancient and have very narrow streets. 

On our first visit to Puglia, I remember arriving in Ostuni late in the evening and finding myself on one of the tightest roads I have ever driven on. For this reason we recommend getting the smallest, most compact car that is possible for your travel party. 

Where to stay in Puglia?

For this itinerary there are definitely two options for where to stay. You can either move around every day to reduce the drive times. Or you could pick somewhere central to stay and then do a series of day trips.

However as we wanted to cover as much of Puglia as possible, and it is a large region, we decided to move around for our trip. 

It is also worth trying to book a stay in truly house in at least one of your stops. Truli houses are the iconic dwelling of the region. You can see many of them in the town of Alberbello but a stay in one is one of the most unique things to do in the region. 

Also if you are staying with children and heading to Puglia in the summer we recommend trying to stay in a couple of places with access to a pool. Puglia is one of the hottest regions of Italy and a pool is a great way to while away some free afternoons. 

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7 day Puglia Itinerary

Notes about this Puglia Itinerary: This itinerary is designed to be done in any order so feel free to move the days around as you see fit. And if you have less then 7 days we recommend picking your favorite days bit make sure you aren’t pushing yourself with travel times in a limited time. 

Puglia Road Trip Itinerary at a Glance 

– Day 1: Bari
– Day 2 – Monopoli and Polignano a Mare
– Day 3 – Matera
– Day 4 – Alberobello, Ostuni and Martina Franca
– Day 5 – Gallipolo
– Day 6 – Beach 
– Day 7 Make your way back to Bari

Day 1 – Bari

Bari cathedral facade

where to start your Puglia itinerary – Bari

Most visitors to Puglia will arrive in Bari. For this reason we recommend starting your Puglia itinerary in Bari. While Bari is the main city of the region, it is definitely not my favorite part. However it is worth dedicating half a day to explore. 

On arrival in Bari we recommend heading to the main sights of the city – Basilica San Nicolo and the Cathedral of San Sabino before collecting your hire car and moving on to Monopoli, where you are staying for the first half of this itinerary. 

Day 2: Polignano a Mare and Monopoli

Beach at Polignano a Mare in Puglia

Puglia Itinerary for Road trippers

Polignano a Mare is perhaps the most internationally famous place in Puglia because of it’s beautiful beach and it was definitely the main reason we decided to visit. 

Now although beautiful, the beach here is surprisingly small. Therefore we recommend that you get there early to grab a good spot on the beach. 

Also, if you are visiting with children especially, it is worth noting that the beach is exceptionally rocky. Therefore if you want to swim or are traveling with a family you will want to have some good quality water shoes with you to protect your feet from jagged edges. 

Once you have finished on the beach you could also:

  • head out onto a boat trip 
  • explore the Polignano a Mare old town or 
  • have a unique dining experience at Grotta Palazzese. 

For those that don’t know Grotta Palazzese is actually one of Italy’s most famous restaurants and is set in a cave on the water’s edge. It is a must do experience for foodies in Italy. But please note, if you are traveling with children you will have to go to lunch or the first dinner sitting at 6pm. 

Once you have finished in Polignano we recommend heading back to Monopoli for the evening. Also a short drive away from Polignano is the Grotte di Castellana (Castellana Caves). An inland cave system that kids will love.  It isn’t a must do but certainly worth a stop if you have time in your itinerary. 

Day 3 – Matera 

View of Matera

Matera – day 3 of our Puglia itinerary

Matera is one of the most ancient parts of Puglia having being populated since the prehistoric times. However, it has become more widely known in recent years especially since the James Bond film No Time to Die, was filmed in the city. 

If you are traveling to Puglia in Summer it is worth noting how hot the region is. But Matera gets especially hot so we recommend trying to get a very early start on the day you decide to do Matera. 

If you only have one day in Matera we recommend heading first to the Sassi area which is renowned for its ancient cave dwellings. Sassi means hill or rock in Latin and it is for these cave dwellings that Matera became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. 

Some noteworthy spots in this area include:

  • Palombaro Lungo – this underground cavern was used to collect rainwater for the city and is a fascinating stop in Matera
  • Churches –  there are many noteworthy churches in Matera but some highlights include: the rock churches of Santa Maria de Idris, and  Santa Lucia alle Malve
  • Viewpoints – some of our favourites include Belvedere of Luigi Guerricchio – the Three Arches and Belvedere Emilio Colombo.

Please note: if you are traveling to Italy with a toddler or baby and heading to Matera then we recommend using a carrier rather than a stroller. Although many parts of Italy are accessible with a good quality stroller, Matera is not really one of them. Matera is a city with many hills so a carrier is a much better option

Day 4: Alberobello, Ostuni and Martina Franca

Truli Houses in Alberobello

Puglia Itinerary

After Polignano a Mare, probably the most famous place in Puglia is Alberobello. Alberobello is known as the truli town of Puglia. Now while I think no visit to Puglia is complete without a visit to this beautiful town it is worth noting that this is one of the most touristy and crowded places in the region. 

We recommend spending the morning in Alberobello and wandering around the old town and doing some souvenir shopping before heading to the nearby towns of Ostuni and Martina Franca for the afternoon. These white washed towns are equally beautiful but far less crowded than Alberobello. 

Both Ostuni and Martina Franca are gorgeous cities for wondering around and a great place to spend the afternoon. 

But for the evening we recommend you head to the nearby masseria il frantoio. This al fresco dining experience (in summer) was the best meal we had during our Puglia trip. Everything is sourced locally and you can even see how the amazing local olive oil is made while on site. 

Day 5 – Gallipoli 

Woman with back to camera by sea in Gallipoli

Gallipoli visit on our Puglia Road Trip Itinerary

Gallipoli is another beautiful place in Puglia and where you will be spending day 5 of your itinerary. The town is actually car free, which is great if you are visiting with family. We recommend parking your car near the harbour before starting your day of exploring. 

It is a beautiful town for wandering around and the harbour is a great place to people watch. 

Day 6 – Beaches at Torre Lapillo

Woman with back to camera in beach town near Gallipoli

Best beaches to visit on this Puglia Road Trip itinerary

Puglia is famed for it’s beautiful beaches and your final full day in Puglia is dedicated to them. While there are a lot of beautiful beaches in the Gallipoli area, we recommend picking one and staying on it. 

That is beaches during peak summer season the beaches can get very busy so you are better finding a spot and enjoying it for the day. 

Torre Lapillo is on the Ionian coast of Italy and is famed for its beautiful blue water. But families will enjoy it because unlike in Polignano this is a beautiful sandy beach.

Day 7 – head back to Bari with possible stop in Lecce

On Day 7 you will likely be heading back to Bari to catch your flight or high speed train. Depending on what time your transfers are will depend on how long you have to spend on stops on the way up.

However if you have more time then you could stop by the beautiful city of Lecce. Nicknamed the Florence of the South, this beautiful city is renowned for its amazing churches and outstanding art. 

Like Gallipoli the town center is car free so you will need to park up and walk into the historic center.

FAQs About this Puglia Road Trip Itinerary

Best Time to do this Puglia road trip itinerary?

Most visitors to Puglia arrive in Summer as this is the perfect time to appreciate the beaches that the region is known for. However trust me when I say the temperatures get hot hot hot. 

This is also the most expensive times to visit. If you want to enjoy good weather, beaches but have less crowds then June or September would be best. 

What to pack for this Puglia Road Trip Itinerary?

It is important to pack for the sun if you are visiting Puglia in Summer. Therefore we recommend packing lots of light breathable fabrics such as cottons and linens. For a full Puglia packing list check out this post. 

And there you have it our favorite Puglia Road Trip itinerary. But if you have any questions about traveling around Puglia be sure to leave us a comment below and we will get back to you as quickly as we can. 

Mini Travellers

Thursday 30th of March 2017

We spent a long time going to Italy every year and I really miss it. I did love Puglia and loved staying in a Trulli too, although it was very very hot! Thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes

Wandermust Mummy

Friday 31st of March 2017

Yes can imagine they are not the best for air flow

Sarah Christie

Wednesday 29th of March 2017

What a stunning region it looks the perfect place to wander on a hot sunny day and those little houses are so pretty, thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes x

Wandermust Mummy

Thursday 30th of March 2017

It really is and so unspoilt

Emma Raphael

Tuesday 28th of March 2017

I LOVE this part of Italy. We stayed in a very "rustic" Truli a few years ago, it was brilliant, but a little like camping in a stone tent. Have seen some very luxurious trullis though, so I am going back!! :) #mondayescapes

Wandermust Mummy

Wednesday 29th of March 2017

Silly auto correct that should say trulli

Wandermust Mummy

Wednesday 29th of March 2017

When are you going back? I have never been camping but would like to stay in a luxury trillion

Fiona Cambouropoulos

Monday 27th of March 2017

It looks so beautiful and the image of Italy I have in my head. I've not visited since my teens, I hope I'll change that one day and Puglia sounds very special. #MondayEscapes

Wandermust Mummy

Tuesday 28th of March 2017

I hope you get to visit soon


Monday 27th of March 2017

I am DYING to visit this adorable little town!! #MondayEscapes

Wandermust Mummy

Monday 27th of March 2017

It is fantastic