Last updated on March 1, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Puglia

PUGLIA ROAD TRIP – Itinerary in 14 days for the BEST GEMS

Embarking on a Puglia road trip is an unforgettable way to explore the enchanting beauty of Southern Italy.

This captivating region, often overlooked by mainstream tourism, is a treasure trove of pristine beaches, ancient towns, and delicious cuisine.

This carefully curated Puglia Itinerary in 14 days takes you on a journey through time, tracing the region’s rich history and culture, and soaking in its unique charm.

From the iconic trulli houses of Alberobello to the dramatic cliffs of Polignano a Mare, and the verdant landscapes of the Gargano National Park, prepare to be surprised by the beauty of this Italian region.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or a nature lover, this Puglia road trip is your passport to an authentic Italian adventure.

Let’s get started!

A Puglia road trip – Itinerary in 14 days on a table

This Puglia Road Trip starts from the city of Bari, however, it can easily be adapted to Brindisi, the other international gateway.

If you fly into Bari, I suggest visiting the city for the first day and hiring a car to explore Puglia for the remaining 13 days. There’s not much point in having a car to visit Bari.

Should you choose to fly into Brindisi, this itinerary can be easily adapted. The beautiful city of Brindisi is another great starting point for your Puglia road trip.

You will find below a summary table about all the stops, places to visit, and suggested restaurants to eat at. However, let me spend just a couple of words on hiring a vehicle in the region first.

I have written extensively about renting a car in Puglia. I usually book my car on the aggregator website DiscoverCars. They compare the price and service of the major rental companies as well as the local ones, providing the best price on the market (a sort of AirBnb of car rentals). I have never been disappointed.

My biggest recommendation is to hire a car in Puglia with full insurance (no excess). Streets and parking are quite narrow in the region and it’s so easy to scratch or dent the car. One of the best features of DiscoverCars is that they offer Full Insurance for less than 8 Euros/day, a real bargain.

Vieste - Beautiful coastal town on the rocks in Gargano - Puglia
Vieste – Beautiful coastal town on the rocks in Gargano – Puglia
DayOvernightSuggested HotelApprox Km drivenMain sitesMorning activityAfternoon activity
1BariB&B L’annunziata0kmBasilica di San Nicola, Bari VecchiaArrival, Transfer to accommodationExplore Bari Vecchia and visit the Basilica
2Polignano a MareMareluna35kmPolignano a Mare, Lama Monachile BeachDrive to Polignano a MareRelax at Lama Monachile Beach
3AlberobelloIl Gabellota Resort30kmAlberobelloDrive to AlberobelloExplore Alberobello and its trulli districts
4OstuniBiancofiore40kmOstuniDrive to OstuniExplore Ostuni, “The White City”
5LeccePalazzo
Massari
80kmLecce, Basilica di Santa CroceDrive to LecceExplore Lecce and visit Basilica di Santa Croce
6OtrantoMaison d’O50kmOtranto, Otranto CathedralDrive to OtrantoExplore Otranto and visit Otranto Cathedral
7Santa Maria di LeucaB&B Leuca In & Out60kmSanta Maria di Leuca, Basilica SanctuaryDrive to Santa Maria di LeucaVisit Basilica Sanctuary
8GallipoliIl Giardino Della Regina60kmGallipoli, Old TownDrive to GallipoliExplore Gallipoli Old Town
9Matera (Basilicata)La Casa di Ele140kmMatera, Sassi di MateraDrive to MateraExplore the ancient city of Matera and its Sassi
10Matera (Basilicata)La Casa di Ele0kmMatera, Parco della Murgia MateranaVisit Parco della Murgia MateranaFurther explore Matera
11Vieste (Gargano – North of Puglia)B&B La Rosa dei Venti260kmVieste, Gargano National ParkDrive to ViesteExplore Vieste and its surroundings
12Vieste (Gargano)B&B La Rosa dei Venti0kmVieste, Gargano National ParkExplore the Gargano National ParkContinue exploring the Gargano area
13Vieste (Gargano)B&B La Rosa dei Venti0kmVieste, Gargano National ParkFurther exploration of the Gargano National ParkRelax and enjoy the beauty of Gargano
14Bari240kmBariDrive back to BariRelax or explore Bari
Puglia road trip – Itinerary in 14 days on a table

You may have noticed that on days 9 and 10 I added a short detour to Matera, one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, right on the border between Basilicata and Puglia regions.

Following is a description of each and every single day, with things to do, where to stay in Puglia and the approx number of km driven in the day.

Day 1: Arrival and Exploration of Bari

  • Accommodation in: Bari – Suggested stay in B&B L’annunziata
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 0km
  • Main sites visited: Basilica di San Nicola, Bari Vecchia
  • Trekking: Some walking around Bari Vecchia

Morning

Upon your arrival in Bari, you’ll transfer to your accommodation to settle in.

Once you’re refreshed, spend your morning exploring Bari Vecchia, the old town.

Wander through its narrow streets and visit the renowned Basilica di San Nicola, a crucial pilgrimage destination for both Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

This architectural marvel houses the relics of St. Nicholas and is a prime example of Romanesque architecture.

Afternoon

After lunch, continue your exploration of Bari Vecchia.

Visit the Bari Castle, the Swabian Castle built by the Normans, and enjoy panoramic views of the sea.

Walk along the city’s seafront promenade, and experience the lively atmosphere of the local fish market, where you can see fishermen mend their nets.

End your day with a delicious dinner at a local restaurant.

Narrow lanes of Bari Vecchia
Narrow lanes of Bari Vecchia

Day 2: The Charm of Polignano a Mare

  • Accommodation in: Polignano a Mare – Suggested stay in Mareluna
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 35km
  • Main sites visited: Polignano a Mare, Lama Monachile Beach
  • Trekking: Leisure stroll along the beach

Morning

Drive to the picturesque town of Polignano a Mare, perched on a rocky outcrop over the Adriatic Sea.

Spend your morning exploring the quaint old town with its labyrinthine streets, charming piazzas, and stunning sea views.

Visit the town’s main church, Chiesa Matrice, and take a relaxing stroll to the famous Lama Monachile Beach, enclosed by two rocky walls.

Afternoon

After lunch, spend your afternoon relaxing at Lama Monachile Beach.

Enjoy the crystal-clear waters and the stunning natural surroundings.

Make sure to capture some photos of the dramatic cliffs and caves surrounding the beach.

As the evening approaches, enjoy a meal at a local restaurant overlooking the sea.

Day 3: Journey into Alberobello

  • Accommodation in: Alberobello – Suggested stay in Il Gabellota Resort
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 30km
  • Main sites visited: Alberobello
  • Trekking: Some walking around Alberobello

Morning

Drive to Alberobello, known for its unique trulli districts.

These whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a delight to explore.

Spend your morning wandering through the two trulli districts, Rione Monti and Aia Piccola, and marvel at the peculiar architecture.

Afternoon

After lunch, continue exploring Alberobello.

Visit the Trullo Sovrano, a two-story trullo converted into a museum, and learn about the history and lifestyle of the people who once lived in these traditional houses.

You could also visit the Church of Saint Anthony, a trullo-shaped church.

Cap your day with a hearty meal at a local restaurant.

Alberobello - the characteristic Trulli in Puglia
Alberobello – the characteristic Trulli in Puglia

Day 4: The White City of Ostuni

  • Accommodation in: Ostuni – Suggested stay in Biancofiore
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 40km
  • Main sites visited: Ostuni
  • Trekking: Some walking around Ostuni

Morning

Drive to Ostuni, known as “The White City” because of its whitewashed old town.

Spend the morning exploring the town’s labyrinthine alleys, staircases, archways, and courtyards.

Visit the Cathedral of Ostuni, located at the town’s highest point, and marvel at its stunning rose window and the late Ghotic design

Afternoon

After lunch, continue your exploration of Ostuni.

Visit the Palazzo Municipale and the Bishop’s Palace, both located in the main square, Piazza della Libertà.

Wander through the charming narrow streets and enjoy the picturesque views of the surrounding olive groves and the Adriatic Sea from the city walls.

Don’t miss the chance to take beautiful photos with Ostuni’s unique whitewashed houses as a backdrop.

End your day with dinner at a local restaurant offering traditional Pugliese dishes.

Day 5: Uncovering Lecce, The Florence of the South

  • Accommodation in: Lecce – Suggested stay in Palazzo Massari
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 80km
  • Main sites visited: Lecce, Basilica di Santa Croce
  • Trekking: Some walking around Lecce

Morning

After breakfast, drive to Lecce, often referred to as ‘The Florence of the South’ because of its exquisite Baroque architecture.

Spend the morning exploring the city’s historical centre.

Visit the Basilica di Santa Croce, a gem of Baroque art with its ornately decorated facade.

Also, take time to admire Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the city’s main square, with its Roman amphitheatre remains.

Afternoon

After lunch, continue your exploration of Lecce. Wander around the charming streets, and visit the Lecce Cathedral, located in Piazza del Duomo.

Don’t miss the chance to visit a local workshop to see how the traditional Lecce stone (Pietra Leccese) is carved by artisans.

In the evening, sample some local cuisine at a traditional restaurant.

Try the ‘rustico leccese’, a delicious savory pastry, or ‘pasticciotto’, a local custard-filled pastry.

Ostuni - White town skyline and Madonna della Grata church - Puglia
Ostuni – White town skyline and Madonna della Grata church – Puglia

Day 6: The Coastal Beauty of Otranto

  • Accommodation in: Otranto – Suggested stay in Maison d’O
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 50km
  • Main sites visited: Otranto, Otranto Cathedral
  • Trekking: Some walking around Otranto

Morning

Head towards the beautiful coastal town of Otranto after breakfast.

This historic town is known for its beautiful beaches and the impressive Otranto Cathedral.

In the morning, visit the Cathedral, famous for its large 12th-century floor mosaic and the bones of the Otranto Martyrs.

Also, take a stroll around the old town, which is surrounded by massive defensive walls.

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon exploring the beautiful coastline.

Enjoy some time off at the beach for sunbathing and a swim in the crystal clear waters.

Visit the Aragonese Castle where you will enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

As the sun sets, enjoy a leisurely dinner at a local restaurant offering fresh seafood.

Day 7: The Southernmost Point of Italy’s Heel, Santa Maria di Leuca

  • Accommodation in: Santa Maria di Leuca – Suggested stay in B&B Leuca In & Out
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 60km
  • Main sites visited: Santa Maria di Leuca, Basilica Sanctuary
  • Trekking: Leisurely walk

Morning

Your journey continues to Santa Maria di Leuca, known as the ‘End of the Land.’

After the scenic drive, spend the morning exploring this charming seaside resort.

Visit the Basilica Sanctuary of Santa Maria de Finibus Terrae, a sacred site since ancient times, and the iconic lighthouse, one of the most important in Italy.

Afternoon

After lunch, take a boat trip along the coast if the weather permits, and marvel at the stunning cliffs and caves.

Or relax on one of the local beaches. As the day winds down, watch the sunset over the point where the Adriatic and Ionian seas meet before dining at a local restaurant.

Gallipoli - View of the Old Town on the island - Puglia
Gallipoli – View of the Old Town on the island – Puglia

Day 8: Gallipoli’s Old Town and Seafood

  • Accommodation in: Gallipoli – Suggested stay in Il Giardino Della Regina
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 60km
  • Main sites visited: Gallipoli, Old Town
  • Trekking: Leisurely walk

Morning

After breakfast, travel to Gallipoli, a beautiful fishing port on the Ionian Sea.

Begin your day with a visit to the old town, located on a limestone island and connected to the mainland by a 16th-century bridge.

Wander the labyrinthine alleys and visit the Greek Fountain, one of the oldest in Italy.

Afternoon

In the afternoon, enjoy Gallipoli’s beautiful beaches.

Visit the Purità Beach, right next to the old town, and take a dip in the crystal clear waters.

As evening approaches, head to a local restaurant for dinner.

Gallipoli is famous for its fresh seafood, so don’t miss the chance to try some.

Day 9: Exploring the Ancient City of Matera

  • Accommodation in: Matera (Basilicata) – Suggested stay in La Casa di Ele
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 140km
  • Main sites visited: Matera, Sassi di Matera
  • Trekking: Some walking around Matera

Morning

Today you will journey to the region of Basilicata to visit the ancient city of Matera.

Matera is known for the Sassi, a complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside.

Explore these ancient cave dwellings and learn about the history of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Afternoon

In the afternoon, continue exploring Matera.

Visit the Rupestrian Churches, carved into the rock over the centuries, and the Casa Grotta, a typical cave dwelling furnished as it used to be in the past.

Do you have less than 2 weeks? Check out this itinerary of Puglia in 7 or 10 days.

My best tip here? Visit either the north or the south of the region if you have only one week or so.

Polignano a Mare - Sunset at Cala Paura gulf with Bastione di Santo Stefano - Puglia
Polignano a Mare – Sunset at Cala Paura gulf with Bastione di Santo Stefano – Puglia

Day 10: Delving Deeper into Matera

  • Accommodation in: Matera (Basilicata) – Suggested stay in La Casa di Ele
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 0km
  • Main sites visited: Matera, Parco della Murgia Materana
  • Trekking: Gentle hike in the park

Morning

Start your second day in Matera with a visit to Parco della Murgia Materana.

This regional park, full of caves and rock churches, provides a stunning backdrop to the Sassi.

Go for a gentle hike in the park and enjoy the beautiful landscape and the view of Matera from afar.

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon further exploring Matera. Wander the narrow alleys and steep staircases, finding surprises around every corner.

Visit the Museo Nazionale Ridola to learn more about the history of the region.

For dinner, enjoy the traditional cuisine of Basilicata in a local restaurant.

Day 11: Journey to the Gargano Peninsula

  • Accommodation in: Vieste – Suggested stay in B&B La Rosa dei Venti
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 260km
  • Main sites visited: Vieste, Gargano National Park
  • Trekking: Leisurely walk

Morning

Set off early for a scenic drive to Vieste, a charming town on the tip of the Gargano Peninsula.

Upon arrival, enjoy the stunning coastal views, and take a leisurely walk around the town.

Visit the cathedral and the Castle of Vieste, both offering panoramic views of the area.

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon exploring the surroundings of Vieste.

Visit the Pizzomunno monolith on the beach, a symbol of Vieste.

As the sun sets, wander along the marina, taking in the peaceful ambience.

Have dinner at a local restaurant, tasting the region’s seafood specialities.

Vieste - View of Pizzomunno beach from Punta Delle Sirene - Puglia
Vieste – View of Pizzomunno beach from Punta Delle Sirene – Puglia

Day 12: Exploring the Enchanting Gargano National Park

  • Accommodation in: Vieste – Suggested stay in B&B La Rosa dei Venti
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 0km
  • Main sites visited: Gargano National Park
  • Trekking: Possible hikes in the park

Morning

Spend the day exploring the Gargano National Park.

Start the morning with a visit to the Foresta Umbra, the “Shadowy Forest.”

Hike along its trails, enjoying the coolness of the ancient, dense woodland and observing the diverse flora and fauna.

Afternoon

In the afternoon, discover the park’s stunning coastline, dotted with beautiful bays and caves.

Visit the Bay of Zagare with its iconic sea stacks and clear blue waters. If weather permits, take a boat tour to discover hidden sea caves.

End your day with a well-deserved meal in Vieste.

Day 13: Further Discoveries in Gargano National Park

  • Accommodation in: Vieste – Suggested stay in B&B La Rosa dei Venti
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 0km
  • Main sites visited: Gargano National Park
  • Trekking: Possible hikes in the park

Morning

Continue exploring the Gargano National Park.

In the morning, consider a visit to the Tremiti Islands, a small archipelago known for its clear waters and rich biodiversity.

They are reachable by ferry from Vieste and offer great opportunities for snorkelling and diving.

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon at your leisure.

You could return to the mainland and explore more of the park or stay on the islands to soak up the sun.

Enjoy the beauty of the Gargano Peninsula as you dine in one of Vieste’s local restaurants.

Castel del Monte - Historic castle in Puglia
Castel del Monte – Historic castle in Puglia

Day 14: Farewell to Puglia

  • Accommodation in: Bari or flight back home
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 240km
  • Main sites visited: Bari
  • Trekking: None

Morning

On your final day, drive back to Bari.

Depending on your schedule, you might have time for a last stroll in Bari Vecchia, the old town, or a visit to the vibrant fish market.

Or why not stop for a visit to Trani along the route or the unique Castel del Monte

Afternoon

Spend your last afternoon in Italy as you wish.

This could be relaxing at the beach, doing some last-minute shopping, or visiting any sights you missed on your first day in Bari.

Enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant, reflecting on the adventures of the past two weeks.

Conclusion

This two-week journey through the regions of Puglia and Basilicata offers a rich tapestry of experiences that beautifully encapsulate the essence of Southern Italy.

From the charming trulli houses of Alberobello and the striking white city of Ostuni to the awe-inspiring sassi of Matera and the vibrant coastal towns of the Salento Peninsula, every day brings a new discovery.

The final days exploring the natural beauty of the Gargano National Park are the perfect end to this trip.

The diverse landscapes, historical sights, delicious local cuisine, and warm hospitality of the people make this a memorable journey.

This Puglia road trip offers not just a vacation, but an immersion into an authentic Italian lifestyle

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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