10 of the best
things to do in


Puglia, the sun-kissed region occupying the heel of Italy's boot-shaped landmass, is a stunning destination where unique traditions, verdant landscapes, mouthwatering cuisine, and fascinating history combine to create an unparalleled travel experience. Steeped in a rich tapestry of culture from Greek, Roman, and Norman influences, Puglia is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.

In this guide, we will journey through some of the best things to do in Puglia, highlighting everything from its rich historical landmarks to natural wonders, vibrant cities, and captivating coastal beauty. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a nature lover, a foodie, or a beach-goer, Puglia has something for everyone.

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1. Castel Del Monte

One of the must-visit landmarks in Puglia, standing stoically amidst the region's rolling hills, is the enigmatic Castel Del Monte. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this architectural masterpiece was built in the 13th century by Emperor Frederick II.

Designed with mathematical and astronomical precision, the castle is a marvel of symmetry and numerology. Its unique octagonal shape, punctuated by eight octagonal towers, captures the imagination. Each of the castle's two floors has eight rooms, all interconnecting in a complex labyrinth of stone passages.

Stepping inside Castel Del Monte feels like entering another era. Despite its austere and bare walls, the castle speaks volumes about its past through the remnants of the once grand fireplace, the beautifully crafted single window frames, and the traces of intricate mosaic floors.

The castle's location on a hill near Andria provides a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the Apulian landscape – a vast expanse of olive groves, vineyards, and farmlands, stretching all the way to the Adriatic Sea. These views, coupled with the castle's awe-inspiring architecture and historical significance, make a visit to Castel Del Monte a truly unforgettable experience.

2. Architecture in Lecce

Lecce, often referred to as the 'Florence of the South', is a city that enchants visitors with its stunning array of architectural wonders. At the heart of Salento, Lecce stands out as the region's baroque masterpiece, an open-air museum gleaming under the southern Italian sun.

The city's signature Lecce stone, a soft, malleable limestone with a warm golden hue, has been the cornerstone of the city's architectural splendour. Sculpted with elaborate detail and precision by the skilled stonemasons of the 17th century, this stone has given rise to an array of intricate façades, ornate statues, and whimsical cherubs that define Lecce's Baroque style.

Take a walk in the evening, and you'll find the city bathed in a soft, golden glow, the Lecce stone buildings beautifully illuminated against the night sky. The city squares come alive with locals enjoying an evening stroll, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee from historic cafes, and the lively chatter from bustling trattorias serving Puglian cuisine.

3. Head Underground at Grotte di Castellana

Embarking on a journey through the Grotte di Castellana offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to step into an awe-inspiring underground world. Located on the outskirts of the charming town of Castellana Grotte, in the heart of Puglia, this vast network of caves is a natural wonder, sculpted over the course of millions of years.

The adventure begins at the grand Grave, the large main cavern, where a dramatic sinkhole opens up to reveal a spectacle of towering stalactites and stalagmites. Guided tours lead through an array of atmospheric caves, each with its unique allure. From the cavernous chambers of the 'Monument Corridor' to the eerie 'Desolation Passage', every turn reveals a new sight that captures the imagination.

One of the main highlights of the tour is the mesmerising White Cave, the last and most spectacular of the caves. Named for its extraordinary white alabaster stalactites and stalagmites, it’s often referred to as the most beautiful cave in the world. The intense whiteness of the formations, illuminated by strategic lighting, creates a scene of otherworldly beauty, giving the sensation of being inside a cathedral of natural crystal.

4. The Trulli of Alberobello

In the heart of Puglia, nestled amidst rolling hills and ancient olive groves, lies the enchanting town of Alberobello. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Alberobello offers a unique journey into Puglia's cultural heritage and architectural ingenuity.

The trulli, which are unique to this region, are whitewashed cylindrical dwellings with conical roofs made of dry stone. Their origins trace back to the 14th century, and today these captivating structures stand as a testament to the creativity and resilience of the Apulian people. Each trullo is unique, with variations in size, layout, and decorative symbols painted on their roofs. These symbols range from Christian signs to mystical and astrological symbols, each telling its own story.

Walking through the streets of Alberobello, you can't help but be charmed by the trulli. They are clustered together, their grey roofs contrasting beautifully against the white walls, with brightly coloured flowers adorning their entrances.

Inside, the trulli are just as fascinating. The thick stone walls and small windows keep the interiors pleasantly cool during the scorching summer months and warm during winter. Some trulli are still used as homes, while others have been transformed into shops, restaurants, and museums, providing insights into traditional Apulian lifestyle.

5. Stroll Around Vieste’s Old Town

Perched on the easternmost point of the Gargano peninsula, the charming coastal town of Vieste presents a picturesque blend of mediaeval architecture, stunning natural beauty, and lively local culture. Its historic old town, with a maze of narrow, winding streets, stands on a rocky promontory overlooking the azure Adriatic Sea, creating a striking landscape that has fascinated visitors for centuries.

Exploring Vieste's old town is like stepping into a postcard. Its whitewashed houses adorned with colourful window boxes, quaint piazzas dotted with local cafes, and the maze-like alleys that lead to panoramic sea views, create a captivating atmosphere that exudes authentic Italian charm.

Dominating the old town's skyline is the impressive Vieste Cathedral. Built in the 11th century, this Romanesque-style cathedral is a testament to Vieste's rich history. Its robust structure stands atop the highest point in the old town, offering an incredible panorama of the surrounding cityscape and the azure sea beyond.

As you wander through the labyrinth of streets, you'll come across small artisanal shops selling locally crafted products, from ceramics to olive oil. You'll also find a plethora of cosy trattorias and seafood restaurants where you can savour the region's gastronomic delights, including its famed orecchiette pasta and fresh seafood dishes.

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6. Explore the Isole Tremiti

Floating like emerald jewels in the sparkling Adriatic Sea, the Isole Tremiti (Tremiti Islands) beckon adventurers to discover their hidden wonders. Comprising five small islands—San Domino, San Nicola, Capraia, Cretaccio, and Pianosa—these destinations offer a captivating blend of natural beauty, rich history, and a tranquil atmosphere that is simply irresistible.

Setting foot on the Isole Tremiti feels like stepping into a pristine paradise. The crystal-clear turquoise waters, fringed by rugged cliffs and picturesque coves, create a mesmerising backdrop for exploration. From secluded sandy beaches to dramatic limestone formations, the islands boast a diverse coastal landscape that invites leisurely walks along the shore, refreshing swims, and moments of serenity while basking in the Mediterranean sun.

San Domino, the largest and most popular island, is a true gem of the archipelago. Its lush vegetation, including pine and Aleppo trees, provides a verdant setting for picturesque walks and scenic picnics. The island's hidden coves, such as Cala delle Arene and Cala delle Viole, offer tranquil spots for swimming and snorkelling, where vibrant marine life thrives beneath the water's surface.

7. Explore Puglia’s Stunning Beaches

Puglia, with its idyllic location along the sun-kissed Adriatic and Ionian coasts, boasts some of Italy's most breathtaking beaches. From pristine stretches of golden sand to rugged cliffs that plunge into turquoise waters, Puglia's coastline offers a diverse range of seaside experiences that will leave beach lovers in awe.

One of the region's most famous beach destinations is Pescoluse, affectionately known as the Maldives of Salento. With its powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters, Pescoluse is a true paradise for sun-seekers and water enthusiasts. As you lounge under the warm Mediterranean sun, the gentle lapping of waves and the refreshing sea breeze create an atmosphere of pure relaxation.

Travelling up the coast, you'll encounter the enchanting coastal town of Polignano a Mare. This picturesque destination boasts dramatic cliffs that plunge into the deep blue sea, creating a dramatic backdrop for its beautiful beaches. Explore hidden coves such as Cala Porto and Cala Paura, where you can swim in secluded turquoise waters surrounded by towering limestone walls.

Puglia's beaches offer more than just natural beauty; they are also a hub of cultural experiences. Along the coast, you'll find vibrant beach clubs where you can sip on refreshing cocktails and enjoy live music while soaking up the sun. Local beachside restaurants serve up the freshest seafood dishes, tantalising your taste buds with flavours of the Mediterranean.

8. Gargano National Park

Gargano National Park is a natural paradise that beckons outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Extending over 120,000 hectares, this diverse and captivating park showcases a mesmerising blend of dense forests, towering limestone cliffs, picturesque beaches, and hidden coves, all teeming with a rich array of flora and fauna.

The park's crown jewel is the Foresta Umbra, a sprawling ancient beech forest that has stood the test of time, offering hikers and nature enthusiasts the chance to explore its peaceful groves, breathe in the fresh scent of pine and moss, and encounter wildlife such as deer, wild boar, and numerous bird species. Gargano's coastline is equally captivating, boasting some of Italy's most stunning beaches and coastal landscapes.  The marine ecosystem of Gargano is also a paradise for snorkelers and divers, revealing a vibrant underwater world of colourful coral reefs, sea sponges, and a myriad of fish species. Snorkel along the coast, exploring hidden coves and discovering the secrets of underwater caves, or embark on a diving expedition to explore the depths of the Adriatic Sea.

9. Explore the Capital City – Bari

As the bustling capital city of Puglia, Bari is a vibrant metropolis that seamlessly blends rich historical heritage with modern urban life. Situated on the Adriatic Sea, this captivating coastal city offers a wealth of cultural, culinary, and architectural delights, making it a must-visit destination for travellers.

At the heart of Bari Vecchia lies the impressive Basilica di San Nicola, an architectural masterpiece that houses the relics of Saint Nicholas. This grand Romanesque church, with its soaring domes and intricate stone carvings, is a site of pilgrimage and a symbol of devotion for both locals and visitors alike. Inside, the atmosphere is tranquil, with flickering candles casting a warm glow over centuries of religious art and ancient frescoes.

Leaving Bari Vecchia behind, the modern side of the city unfolds. Stroll along the elegant shopping streets, lined with designer boutiques, trendy cafes, and gelaterias serving up irresistible flavours. Discover the striking modern architecture, such as the iconic Teatro Petruzzelli, the largest theatre in southern Italy, and the contemporary art exhibitions at the Fondo Verri.

10. Sample Local Cuisine

From coastal delicacies to hearty inland dishes, Puglia's food and drink culture promises a delightful adventure for foodies.

One of the region's most iconic dishes is Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa. This delectable pasta dish features small, ear-shaped orecchiette pasta served with sautéed broccoli rabe, garlic, chili pepper, and a sprinkle of pecorino cheese. The combination of tender greens and perfectly al dente pasta creates a harmony of flavors that exemplifies the simple yet profound nature of Puglian cuisine.

Another must-try is Burrata, a creamy cheese delight that originated in Puglia. Made from mozzarella and cream, Burrata's luscious centre spills out when cut, creating a luxurious texture that pairs perfectly with fresh tomatoes and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

To accompany your meals, be sure to sample the local Primitivo wine. Grown in the fertile soils of Puglia's vineyards, this red wine variety has gained international acclaim for its rich, velvety taste. Sip on Primitivo as you relish the flavors of Puglian cuisine, and you'll truly experience the essence of this sun-drenched region.

For more in-depth insights into Puglia's food and drink scene, check out our comprehensive guide to food and drink in Puglia.

Browse Our Collection Of Villas In Puglia

Whether you're an architecture enthusiast, a nature lover, a foodie, or simply seeking a tranquil escape by the sea, Puglia has something to offer everyone. Wander through ancient towns, bask in the sun on golden beaches, indulge in authentic local dishes, and immerse yourself in the warm embrace of Puglian culture.

To make the most of your Puglian adventure, we offer a selection of beautiful villas in Puglia that perfectly complement the region's allure. Each villa is handpicked to ensure comfort and a genuine experience of Puglian living. 

Browse our collection of villas in Puglia and start planning your dream holiday in this hidden gem of Italy.

Explore Our Villas in Puglia