Puglia itinerary in 7-10 days to discover the best of the region
Can you visit this breathtaking region of Italy in just a week? Well, if you plan it well in advance, you can experience a lot of it.
I have built this Puglia itinerary in 7 days including most of the amazing destinations of the region and if you have 10 days you can add also the Gargano area, up in the north.
From the unique trulli houses in Alberobello to the stunning beaches of Salento, Puglia has something for everyone.
With this guide, you’ll experience the best of Puglia, exploring charming towns, beautiful coastlines, and delicious local cuisine.
So, let’s dive into the ultimate Puglia itinerary for an amazing journey I’ll never forget!
Puglia Itinerary – the summary on a table
I was asked multiple times where to stay in Puglia as a base to explore the region. Honestly, it is hard to suggest a single place, because the region is actually quite big, and this is why an itinerary works best in my opinion.
Here below I have organised a quick reference table for the entire Puglia itinerary in 7 days. I have added 3 days more at the end in case you want to extend your holiday to the Gargano area.
Click on the day number for a detailed description of the things to do and places to visit
Down below I have also organised a few maps to give a better idea of the drive
|Day||Stay in||Hotel||What to Experience in the Area||~Km driven|
|1||Bari||B&B L’annunziata||Bari Vecchia, Basilica San Nicola, Piazza Mercantile and Lungomare||0Km|
|2||Alberobello||Il Gabellota Resort||Trulli houses, Conversano and Castellana Grotte (along the route)||55Km|
|3||Alberobello||Il Gabellota Resort||Day trip to Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, beaches||60Km|
|4||Alberobello||Il Gabellota Resort||Day trip to Martina Franca and Cisternino (or Ostuni)||50Km|
|5||Gallipoli||Il Giardino Della Regina||Gallipoli Old Town, Nardò and Porto Selvaggio (along the route)||170Km|
|6||Gallipoli||Il Giardino Della Regina||Day trip to Otranto and Maglie, coastal views||100Km|
|7||Lecce||Palazzo Massari||Basilica di Santa Croce, Roman Amphitheater, Castello Carlo V, Piazza Santo Oronzo||40Km|
|8||Vieste||B&B La Rosa dei Venti||Vieste Old Town and Castel del Monte (along the route)||360Km|
|9||Vieste||B&B La Rosa dei Venti||Gargano National Park, Beaches||35Km|
|10||Bari (Airport)||B&B L’annunziata|
|Trani (along the route) or more time at the beach in Gargano||170Km|
If you follow this Puglia itinerary expect to drive around 500km for the week option and around 1,100km for the 10 days option.
Although you can do most of this itinerary using public transportation, I highly suggest renting a car.
Using trains and buses is an option, however, you would miss out on the stops along the route and you would have to skip a few of the day trips I suggest in this guide, just because you would have not enough time for them.
Keep also in mind that the local public transportation is not very famous to be on time, unfortunately.
I usually rent my cars on DiscoverCars, a great website that compares the prices of most global and local rental agencies, providing the best options.
There are two things that I love about DiscoverCars: they provide a rating of the rental agencies based on customer feedback (a sort of Airbnb of car rentals), so useful, and they offer full insurance for just 7€/day, essential for peace of mind (streets can be very narrow in Puglia).
Day 1 – Uncover Bari
This is going to be a pretty hectic day, but you will get to experience so much of the city.
Of course, you do not need a car in Bari. Start the rent from the morning of Day 2.
Start your day by checking out Bari Vecchia, the city’s lovely old town.
Strolling through its narrow cobblestone streets feels like stepping into the past.
These historic lanes are filled with cute shops, inviting cafes, and old churches.
Talking of churches, make sure to add to your must-visit list the Basilica di San Nicola, built in the 12th century, for the patron saint of the city.
Interestingly enough, you will find a statue of San Nicola just outside the church, delivered by Putin in 2003 (Saint Nicholas is highly revered in Russia). The major of Bari, however, decided to remove the plaque of Vladimir Putin after the conflict with Ukraine started in 2022.
Walk inside and you’ll be wowed by the awesome architectural details and the peaceful atmosphere that has attracted visitors for hundreds of years.
You could literally spend a day wandering around Bari Vecchia, but it’s now time to move on and head to Piazza Mercantile.
This is the favourite square of the Baresi, the locals enjoying an espresso, drinking an aperitivo and just watching the life passing by.
As you sit and relax, you’ll notice the gorgeous buildings surrounding the square, like the medieval Palazzo del Sedile and the Baroque Clock Tower.
Next up, pop over to the nearby Teatro Margherita, a former theatre that now houses a museum all about the city’s history. The theatre’s unique design, built on stilts over the water, makes it a super cool place to explore.
Your journey through Bari’s culture keeps going with a visit to the incredible Teatro Petruzzelli. As Bari’s largest and fanciest theatre, it’s been hosting performances by famous artists since 1903.
The Teatro Petruzzelli has a full performance program that usually runs in the evening. Alternatively, you can also think to join one of the guided tours of the theatre.
When evening rolls around, head over to Palazzo Mincuzzi, a stylish 20th-century building in the centre of Bari.
This eye-catching building has a stunning façade, decorated with loads of intricate details. Today the building is hosting shops like Benetton.
Take some time to admire its beauty before going for a leisurely walk along the Lungomare, Bari’s gorgeous seafront promenade.
The Lungomare is the perfect place to see how the locals live, as families and couples stroll by the water and fishermen bring in their daily catch.
The views of the Adriatic Sea are absolutely stunning, making it a great spot for a romantic evening walk.
For the perfect dining experience, make your way to Riva, a popular restaurant that both locals and tourists love (book a table well in advance).
You will appreciate here not only the amazing fresh local food but also the excellent attention to detail. Don’t forget to try the orecchiette, a traditional Pugliese pasta, and the fresh seafood that Bari is famous for.
These are highly recommended places to stay in Bari Vecchia (the lovely Old Centre):
Day 2-4 : Alberobello and Central Puglia
- Drive: around 55Km from Bari to Alberobello
- Stops along the route: Conversano and Grotte di Castellana
- Main attractions at destination: Trulli houses
- Length of stay: 3 nights
- Best hotel to stay in Alberobello: Il Gabellota Resort
- Great restaurant for dinner: La Cantina
On Day 2, pick up the rented car and make your way to the next destination, Alberobello, where you will spend 3 nights.
Why do you want to spend three nights in Alberobello?
On the way to Alberobello, I made a point to stop at two amazing places: the town of Conversano and the Grotte di Castellana.
Conversano was originally built as early as the Iron Age and it is today a unique medieval town in Puglia with a castle and an old town to explore
After wandering around and taking in the sights, I continued to the Grotte di Castellana.
These stunning caves should be on anyone’s must-do list. Remember to book in advance a guided tour in which they will explain all about the geology of the place.
Once I arrived in Alberobello, I was instantly captivated by its unique charm.
The town is famous for its trulli, traditional whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs that look like something straight out of a fairytale.
Exploring the narrow streets, taking pictures, and admiring the picturesque trulli was an unforgettable experience. And I had it all for me for three days 🙂
On Day 3 of my Puglia itinerary, I decided to take a day trip from Alberobello to Polignano a Mare and Monopoli.
Polignano a Mare, perched on a cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea, boasts stunning views and a lovely historic centre.
The town’s main attraction is Lama Monachile Beach, where I took a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters.
Just be aware that this is a very scenic, however popular beach, which translated means crowded, especially in July and August, not to mention the weekends.
It is a pebble stone beach, with no sand. Take water shoes with you.
Afterwards, I visited the nearby town of Monopoli, which has a charming old town and a beautiful harbour.
I spent the afternoon exploring its narrow streets and enjoying the laid-back atmosphere.
Head to the Porto Antico for its amazing view, and have a swim at the Cala Porta Vecchia Beach, right next to the old walls of the city, so spectacular.
On Day 4, I embarked on another day trip, this time visiting Martina Franca and Cisternino.
Martina Franca is a picturesque Baroque town that took my breath away with its elegant architecture, winding streets, and lovely piazzas.
I spent the morning wandering around and soaking in the atmosphere before moving on to Cisternino for the afternoon.
Cisternino is another small town in the centre of Puglia well known for its whitewashed buildings and charming streets.
Once again, getting lost in the old centre is the best way to explore it.
I particularly enjoyed visiting the viewpoint in Piazza Garibaldi, which offers fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
If you have a spare day, I suggest visiting Ostuni, also known as the “White City” due to its whitewashed buildings.
Wandering around the charming narrow lanes and enjoying the characteristic architecture is a must.
But there is more than that because Ostuni is located on top of a hill and you will have also breathtaking views of the countryside and the Adriatic Sea.
I had an incredible time in Alberobello and the surrounding towns, and I highly recommend it as part of any Puglia itinerary.
Each town has its own unique charm and attractions, making the entire trip to Central Puglia an unforgettable experience.
An important tip here. Make sure to have a fully charged mobile with you because you will need Google Maps on a constant basis.
Driving through the local roads and streets can be misleading sometimes. Although, getting lost in these beautiful towns is all part of the adventure!
Day 5-6 : Gallipoli and south Puglia
- Drive: 120-150Km from Alberobello to Gallipoli
- Stops along the route: Nardò and Porto Selvaggio
- Main attractions at destination: Old Town, beaches
- Length of stay: 2 nights
- Best hotel to stay Gallipoli: Il Giardino Della Regina
- Great restaurant for dinner: Osteria Sant’Angelo
On Day 5, after spending a fantastic time in Alberobello, I hit the road and headed towards Gallipoli, in the southern part of Puglia called Salento.
The drive itself was an adventure, with breathtaking views and charming towns along the way.
My first stop was Nardò, a picturesque town with stunning Baroque architecture and a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.
I took my time wandering through the narrow streets, admiring the ornate churches and palaces that make this town so unique.
After taking in the beauty of Nardò, I made my way to Porto Selvaggio, a pristine nature reserve with crystal-clear waters that are perfect for a refreshing swim and an easy walk through the Mediterranean landscape.
My final destination for the day was Gallipoli, but it’s always so hard not to stop along the route!
Gallipoli is divided into two parts: the modern town and the historic old town.
The historic centre was the highlight of my trip, with its narrow streets, whitewashed buildings, and picturesque squares.
It is located on a small island connected to the uninspiring modern town by an ancient bridge.
Walk west, through the centre of the small island, to get to the totally unexpected Purità Beach, wide and sandy with turquoise water.
On Day 6, I planned a day trip to the eastern coast of Salento to explore the towns of Otranto and Maglie (~120 km in total).
Otranto’s historic centre is enclosed by imposing walls, and its narrow streets are filled with charming shops and cafes.
The imposing Aragonese Castle and the vibrant mosaic floor of the Cathedral are just two of the many highlights that make this town so special.
I was also surprised to know that I was in the easternmost town of Italy, with the first sunrise in the country.
After exploring Otranto, I continued my journey to Maglie, a quaint town nestled in the heart of Puglia’s countryside.
Maglie is a great place to sample some of the region’s delicious culinary offerings, such as fresh burrata, orecchiette pasta, and local olive oil.
I also visited the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a stunning example of 18th-century architecture, before heading back to Gallipoli.
Back in Gallipoli, I spent my evenings enjoying the city’s vibrant atmosphere and delicious local cuisine.
The seafood here is absolutely incredible, with freshly caught fish and shellfish prepared in a variety of mouthwatering dishes.
For your stay in Gallipoli, Il Giardino Della Regina is a lovely bed & breakfast right in the heart of the old Historic Centre, within walking distance of the beautiful beach.
You will be surprised by the gorgeous and enchanting backyard area, not to talk about the characteristic rooms and the fabulous breakfast.
If you are driving there, park in the harbour area.
Day 7 : Lecce
- Drive: ~40Km from Gallipoli to Lecce
- Stops along the route: none
- Main attractions at destination: Old Centre
- Length of stay: 1 night
- Best hotel to stay in Lecce: Palazzo Massari
- Great restaurant for dinner: Osteria 203
Let me say first that Lecce can be visited also as a day trip from Gallipoli, so if you do not fancy changing accommodation for one night, you can just extend your previous stay.
In saying that, what’s really special about Lecce is spending a whole day and night in the city. When the sun goes down and the buildings light up, this city becomes even more magical.
The streetlights make the Baroque buildings glow, creating a super romantic and enchanting vibe.
So, on Day 7, I drove from Gallipoli to the beautiful Lecce, also known as the “Florence of the South”.
This is a city so full of fascinating history, stunning Baroque buildings, and a lively vibe. You cannot really miss it on a Puglia Itinerary.
When I got to Lecce, I was blown away by the gorgeous Basilica di Santa Croce.
This huge church is like a work of art, with its detailed carvings of animals, flowers, and little angel statues.
Inside, the pretty stained glass windows and impressive artwork will definitely make you go “wow.” Be sure to check out every part of this awesome building.
Another cool place to see in Lecce is Castello Carlo V, a massive fortress built in the 1500s to keep the city safe from attacks.
The castle has stood the test of time and today hosts various exhibitions and events.
Not far from the castle, you’ll find the Roman Amphitheater, a reminder of Lecce’s ancient history.
Even though it’s only partly dug up, you can still imagine the gladiator fights and plays that happened here, with huge crowds watching.
Next up is Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the main square where everyone hangs out. It’s surrounded by beautiful buildings and has a big column dedicated to Lecce’s patron saint, Sant’Oronzo.
Chill out in the square, it’s a beautiful spot to watch the people go by.
Just a short walk from there is Piazza del Duomo, another amazing square with a cathedral, bell tower, and bishop’s palace.
Osteria 203 is an awesome place to book your dinner. This cosy spot is popular with both locals and tourists and serves up yummy traditional Pugliese dishes.
Make sure to try their pasta, like the classic orecchiette with tomato sauce, and don’t forget to taste some of the amazing seafood they have.
Another 2 great accommodations options are the Pollicastro Boutique Hotel (unique and historical) and B&B Palazzo Sambiasi (2BR historical house)
If you have a 7-day Puglia itinerary, well, this is the end of your trip. The next day drive to Bari to catch the flight.
However, if you have a 10-day Puglia itinerary, then you have 2 options
- stay one day more in Alberobello to explore Ostuni and 2 days more in Lecce/Gallipoli to enjoy the Salento area (south of Puglia)
- drive north to visit the Gargano area and Trani. For that, keep reading my guide below.
My personal suggestion is to avoid squeezing in both Salento (the south of Puglia) and Gargano (the north) in just 7 days. It would be very rushed. Keep in mind that only the drive from the south to the north of Puglia takes around 5 hours
Day 8-9 : Vieste and Gargano
- Drive: ~360Km from Lecce to Vieste
- Stops along the route: Castel del Monte
- Main attractions at destination: Nature
- Length of stay: 2 nights
- Best hotel to stay in Vieste: B&B La Rosa dei Venti
- Great restaurant for dinner: Pizzeria Da Enzo
On Day 8, I drove from Lecce to Vieste, stopping at the magnificent Castel del Monte along the way.
The castle was built in the 13th century and was listed in 1996 as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The unique thing about it is its layout, octagonal, with eight towers at each corner, of octagonal shape themselves.
The structure is not as big, in fact, it was originally built as a hunting lodge, however, it really stands out in the beautiful Puglia countryside.
Upon reaching Vieste, I was eager to start discovering the town. However, the drive from Lecce took most of the day. Budget in at least 5 hours of just driving, plus the time for the stop in Castel del Monte.
During my short wandering, I came across the Scalinata dell’amore, a lovely set of stairs leading to Vieste’s charming old town.
This picturesque spot is perfect for taking Insta-worthy photos, and you can soak in the stunning sea views as you explore.
By the way, you can see all the attractions and destinations mentioned in this guide on my shared Google Map.
On Day 9, I visited in the early morning the lively Mercato di Vieste, a bustling local market full of fresh fruits, veggies, and other local treats.
It is organised on the Lungo Mare Europa and it is open every Monday morning. It’s a market for the locals where you can buy mostly fresh products and experience the typical Italian way to sell regional products (i.e. screaming loud).
Besides the market, this is a day I have fully dedicated to the beautiful beaches of Gargano. And to be honest with you, I have just scraped the surface of one of the most beautiful natural wonders of Italy.
Most of Gargano is covered and protected by a National Park, the biggest in Puglia. A great destination if you love beaches and walks.
I drove my car first to the Spiaggia dei Colombi, a tiny beach tucked between the cliffs. The clear water and soft sand make it an awesome place to chill out and go for a swim.
The beach itself is close to Vieste (~4 Km), however, budget some time to walk the steps up and down to the sandy area. I may add totally worth it.
In the afternoon, after a lovely lunch in Vieste, I headed south to Spiaggia di Castello, another gorgeous beach. This one’s larger and has more amenities, like umbrellas and sunbeds.
You can also practise some water sports in the area, like SUP or kayaking. I was more into chilling out and recovering from this long Puglia itinerary 🙂
Before leaving Vieste, I made sure to visit Punta Delle Sirene, a beautiful viewpoint offering panoramic views of the city and coast.
The scenery is just amazing, and you can even see the famous Pizzomunno rock formation, which is a symbol of Vieste, right at the end of Castello Beach.
Talking about food, I usually ask the locals or the hosts for the best restaurants around and I rarely get disappointed.
For lunch, I stopped at Piccolo Ristoro By Gerry where they offer a yummy fixed-price menu, which is a bargain.
For dinner, I tried Pizzeria Da Enzo, very close to the Market I visited in the morning. Absolutely delicious and at a great price too! The tables on the street create the perfect setup.
For accommodation right in the heart of Vieste, look no further than B&B La Rosa dei Venti. It’s clean, spacious and with a view to die for.
Breakfast is also excellent. Really all you need for a lovely stay.
If you are looking for accommodation also with a view but outside the old town of Vieste then Residence Chiesiola is a great option. The great benefit of this accommodation is that you do not need to venture into the historic centre by car.
Day 10 : Back to Bari
- Drive: ~170Km from Vieste to the Bari Airport
- Stops along the route: Trani
- Main attractions at destination: Back home!
- Length of stay: none
- Best hotel to stay in Bari (if needed): B&B L’annunziata
- Great restaurant in Bari: Riva
The last day on this Puglia itinerary, unfortunately.
Probably reading this article you are already thinking that 2 weeks would be actually a better length of stay, and I totally agree with you 🙂
Having 4 days more would allow you to explore more of Ostuni, spend one day more in Gallipoli and extend your stay in the Gargano area to explore also the town of Peschici.
For the drive to the Bari airport budget in between 2 and 3 hours.
If you have some spare time, you can stop in Trani along the way, a charming coastal town with a picturesque harbour, a stunning cathedral, and well-preserved historical buildings.