This post has been updated on February 21st, 2021
How many times have you wished a full guide about a place you are visiting? Something that it’s not taking you random hopping from a blog to another. This list of 20 useful things to know before visiting Puglia, it’s all you need before your trip.
If you are willing to visit Puglia, Italy, for the first time, there are some tips you should go through. Many don’t know which airport to land in, and which is the closest location to the seaside, or that location you want to explore so bad.
The car is not needed and you will know why! You will understand why staying overnight in a Trulli it’s one of the true experiences in Puglia, or maybe making fresh pasta with the nonna, learning all the secrets.
That’s and more in this ultimate guide to Puglia. There are tips for everybody, a luxury gateway, or suggestions for a budget traveller.
- The best weather in Italy
- The food is delicious with specialities everywhere
- Slower peace lifestyle
- Everything looks like a proper dolce vita dream
- Spend a week or two
- Luxury holiday at a fair price
- It is washed by two sea
- Wander for hidden beaches
- Do you need a car in Puglia?
- Explore Bari and Surrounding Area by Public Transport
- Two airports to choose from depending on your trip
- Avoid July and August
- Italians love Puglia
- Always stay in the old town
- Stay in a Trulli for a true experience
- Cheap outside touristy places
- Away from touristy places, no English spoken
- Go for a day trip to Matera
- Ideal country for backpackers
- Future Digital Nomads destination?
- Best Places to visit in Puglia
- A final thought on the things to know before visiting Puglia
Where is Puglia, Italy?
This is a good question. Because it’s an underrated location to visit in Europe, often travellers are quite confused about the position of this region on the geography of the Italian territory.
Puglia, it’s located on the east coast, in the heel of the boots. Yes, this is the shape of Italy. This region has a longline coast that faces Greece on one side, and Calabria, another Italy Region on the other. Because of this position, it’s the best way to get a ferry to Greece. The Puglia Beaches are the most beautiful in Italy, during summer it’s hard to find a free spot in the local “lido” or even a free piece of sand. Because it’s easy to find a place where to stay in Puglia, there are many locations worth visiting and below you will see a few. For the same reason, you will understand that there are many things to see in Puglia, incredible experiences unique.
Useful things to know before visiting Puglia
The best weather in Italy
We are always looking for the best weather conditions to fulfil our desire to escape from the rainy and grey weather we are used to in the UK. Puglia is beautiful and warm, enough to attract us not just for simple holidays, but for the whole year-round.
The last time we visited Puglia was in September, which is not a fancy holiday period. However, it was best to avoid crowds and lay on the beach. Mostly during this time of the year the temperature breaches about 27C to 30C, even on the hills of Valle d’Itria. Far south the temperatures go over, which make Puglia the perfect escape for late summer holidays.
However middle months in springtime, like March and April are beautiful too, with a few days here and there raining. This is the perfect time of the year to visit the mainland. Avoid January and February, likely it’s raining a lot and cold. Just for the records, Apulia, which is the name you commonly will listen across foreigners, it’s meaning, without rain. This gives you the dimension of what is the weather like in Puglia.
The food is delicious with specialities everywhere
You will find this topic quite often in this blog post about things to know before travelling to Puglia. Food’s life for us, and we might open a food blog one day. We knew that Puglia was incredible foodwise, but what we experienced was over the top.
There are many specialities we will suggest to you, but let’s concentrate on a few that we found just in Puglia. The olive oil it’s unique, the wine will get you away with a bottle in your luggage. You should try the “focaccia Pugliese” , a kind of pizza, but quite fat and tasty, with several toppings on your choice. Another incredible product it’s the “Puccia”. We have never heard about that, and it’s basically a fried bread, really soft inside and filled with ingredients of your choice, but mainly with “caciocavallo” a typical cheese, “capocollo” kind of prosciutto but rich in taste.
Obviously being on the seaside means good seafood. Try the fried cuoppo, which it’s a cone with seafood like squids, fried shrimps and more.
There are also vegetarian options, with the “Orecchiette alle cime di rapa” typical of this region.
Slower peace lifestyle
We all know that Italy is home to the most balanced lifestyle. However sometimes it seems too sedentary, but often the most envied. Maybe it is the beautiful landscapes, the organic products, or the sea breeze. Puglia is all that in a single region. Gong around the beautiful places in Puglia you will feel that slower peace lifestyle.
The old towns are the heart of the local life, with all the community seats at the bars, or around the piazza. The rhythms you will feel it’s of ancient times. It’s easy to shut down your mobile and be away from the world for a little bit. Happened to us, the best detox from socials we have never had was in Martina Franca.
The shops in the local reality shout for a nap at lunchtime, that opens early in the morning with fresh products coming, closing the doors around 1.30 pm to reopen at 4 pm or 5 pm. This is the time to rest, a kind of Spanish Siesta. There is no rush, all has its time and you will relax your body and mind.
READ ALSO | Best places where to stay in Puglia
Everything looks like a proper dolce vita dream
We have said already that it’s the proper dolce vita style. A vacation to Puglia means a dream, also because it’s still a hidden gem in Europe. The good thing about this it’s that it’s ridiculously less pricey compared to other beautiful places in Italy. However beautiful, visiting Venice, Rome, Florence and even Milan, you don’t feel the same vibes compared to Puglia.
It’s maybe the geographic position, which wants the Southern part of Italy more welcoming compared to the north. However, I bet everything that you will fall in love with Puglia. Watching the sunset over Polignano a Mare, or walking through the whitewashed houses of Locorotondo it’s a great start.
We have a feeling that the ape car passing by the narrow streets of Ostuni, or watching the winemaker spilling the wine in Alberobello, or even the nonna making the orecchiette in Bari, will leave you great memories. We fell in love with Puglia and you should see why.
Spend a week or two
How long should I stay in Puglia? At this question, it’s easy to answer with forever. We will be back, and for many years we will be back again and again. Puglia, it’s just that, something that remains in your heart forever. We suggest you plan at least a week in Puglia, deciding which it’s the most suitable trail for you.
In the video below you will see our Puglia Part 1, with all the tour of Valle d’Itria, and Puglia Part 2, with beaches and beautiful places on the seaside.
You can plan a week in Puglia, which in Summer should be direct to the southern part of the Region. Visit places like San Cesarea, Gallipoli, Otranto and Lecce. Spring and late summer will be good to plan a trip to Valle d’Itria, visiting places like Ostuni, Alberobello, Martina Franca, ending in late September on the coast, visiting Monopoli and Alberobello.
One week it’s not enough to do both, you will waste so much time commuting from a place to another. The best it concentrates the energies for two different tours.
Luxury holiday at a fair price
We couldn’t miss the opportunity to remark how Puglia is affordable. If you are looking for a relaxed holiday, but prices still matter, you should consider Puglia.
This region offers you the chance to accommodate your needs for a relaxing holiday with luxurious details at a fair price. In fact, Original Travel can organise luxury holidays to Puglia for you. This will help you to enjoy the best of your trip, without headache or running from one side to another.
It is washed by two sea
Puglia is located in the heels of the boots, the strategic position has been the right card to play through the centuries. This region has always been the docking from Greece and Balcan Region, but also the gateway to the rest of the Mediterranean. Puglia is washed by two seas, Adriatic on one side, Ionio on the other.
At the far end of the region, some days you can clearly see the two seas meet and create beautiful shadows of blue and turquoise which mark the two territories.
Wander for hidden beaches
This is a wild region, and don’t plan a trip to Puglia without a proper beach hopping. This is the Italian Region with the longest stretch of Coast. It’s not difficult to find hidden creeks, coves surrounded by wild nature.
We will talk about that in the next paragraph, but to be able to discover some hidden beaches in Puglia, you should rent a car. Using public transport it’s still possible to find beautiful beaches, but the hidden one is far away from the main streets and regular train stations.
The South of Puglia it’s full of these spots, one of the best one it’s the grotta della Poesia. This is a crazy natural spot that you should not miss at all.
If you are wondering why visit Puglia we have the right answer to your question! Read our ultimate guide of all the reasons why Puglia is worth visiting!
Do you need a car in Puglia?
A car’s not necessary everywhere, but in order to reach the remote south, you need it. We visited Puglia by Public Transport, and it was completely fine. However, if you want to go faster through the places, rent a car, which will speed up your tour.
To rent the car in Italy it’s hard and you have to give them a Credit Card. However, if you are willing to go for a more relaxing time in Italy, why don’t you check an organized tour which will take you around, hassle-free.
We are avid travellers, strongly addicted to public transport, backpackers, willing to travel everywhere just walking or by bus, train and whatsoever.
Puglia, it’s a bit harder for non-native speakers. If you book a car ahead of time, you can get a good bargain. Visiting the South it’s necessary to have a car that you can book at Brindisi Airport easily.
Read Also | How to spend a week in Puglia
Explore Bari and Surrounding Area by Public Transport
As mentioned before we have travelled all around Puglia just using public transport. However, this was completely not recommended by foreigners but also our Italian families. So far so good, here how it was.
The complete itinerary about Puglia was pretty easy and we managed to visit all our stops in Valle d’Itria and the seaside planned. We were prepared for the worst and it didn’t come at all. We couldn’t find any delay, no missing train, no gap in the interchanges of trains and buses. All went smooth. We might be lucky, but have to say that, it helped the fact that we speak Italian.
Bari, it’s the perfect hub to explore the Region. In the north, you can visit the beautiful beaches and natural areas of Gargano. Going internally you can enjoy the landscapes of Ostuni, Alberobello and Locorotondo. The South it’s for the beaches. Continuing the coastline of Bari you will visit Polignano a Mare and Monopoli at a short distance, reachable by a single train.
READ ALSO | Day Trips from Bari
Two airports to choose from depending on your trip
If you are flying to Puglia, you should know that depending on your trip you can land close to the seaside, or in Bari, the capital of the Region. Bari is far north, Brindisi is more central in the Region Geography.
Both airports are served by low-cost companies, which make Puglia an affordable place to visit. Both airports are also easy to reach from the historic centre, within about 20 minutes by bus or train at a fair price, cheaper compared to other well-known locations.
Our trip was meant to be all around the Bari area, but we found out that it was easy to reach Ostuni from Brindisi in less than half an hour. However, we made our way to the north and flew back from Bari. If you schedule your time well, this might sound like a good plan. Check our guide to Bari as a hub spot.
Avoid July and August
We suggested that already. July and August mean holiday time for many Italians. Puglia, it’s a pretty location, mainly visited by locals. Italians love the Adriatic coast and young head to Gallipoli for parties since July.
This means that you will find all the spots pretty crowded. However, renting a car, there is still plenty of room for hidden spots and quiet places.
Avoid completely July and August, especially the two weeks across 15th August, which is a public holiday in Italy. A trip in June or September it’s best to enjoy the beaches, the temperatures are great, leaving you space to enjoy the beautiful sand and warm sun.
Italians love Puglia
Yes, we announced that in the previous paragraph. Italians love Puglia. This might be a less known international location, but Italians head to Puglia every summer. Many people also work in northern Italy during winter, and in summer it’s starting the exodus to the south, with Puglia as one of the most crowded regions.
We love Puglia too, the vibes of the last little bar in town, with the old and new generation all mixed in a local environment, playing cards and telling stories. This is Puglia, a region still while the time changes, with visible old values and that Italian touch.
Always stay in the old town
This should be a must visiting Italy. The cute old towns are the soul of the culture of this beautiful country. Stroll around the gorgeous architecture, the maze of narrow streets telling old stories and incredible adventures.
The old towns in Puglia are even more magical, at day or at night. Towns like Martina Franca, where we stayed while touring the Valle d’Itria, it’s a cute town on top of the hill. Whitewashed houses surrounded by green meadows a short ride from the sea, so benefitting of the sea breeze.
Towns like Martina Franca are less touristy, so ideal if you are looking for a quiet and slow pace.
Naturally photogenic places which will take part in your heart and be your memories forever.
Stay in a Trulli for a true experience
This was the most incredible time of the whole trip in Puglia. Staying in a Trulli was a true experience we couldn’t miss. If you don’t know yet, a Trullo is a funny structure, with a cone-shaped roof. These stone made buildings are iconic in this part of Puglia. Check our guide to Alberobello to know more.
Alberobello it’s also a Unesco World Heritage Site, it’s a whole old town made by these houses. Many of them are today just a tourist attraction, but others, especially on the other side of Rione Monti are accommodations and b&B.
We have stayed in a Trullo, and ours was also without a wi-fi connection, on purpose. Due to the stone walls, the network on our mobile was pretty bad, and we decided that was the right time for a detox from social and internet connectivity.
You must stay in a Trullo, take a tour of Alberobello and consider staying overnight. Those can be quite expensive, so it’s well to know that there are many other opportunities elsewhere, at a cheap rate. We stayed in a Trullo in Martina Franca, which saved us some bucks.
Cheap outside touristy places
You might have understood that we are always looking for hidden gems, walking through off the beaten path trails. Puglia has got plenty of it. We knew that we would get lost in Puglia, we knew that we would fall in love with this land.
The best it was while searching for the right accommodation. The wide choice gives you the freedom to understand the surrounding and evaluate the options carefully.
Away from the touristy places like Polignano a Mare, you can find affordable accommodations. In Polignano, a small room in a not great location, away from the sea and not comfortable, can go up to 100£ easily. Instead base yourself in Bari, just half an hour away from Polignano a Mare. If you want a more local feeling, instead stay in Monopoli. We love it, read our guide to Monopoli. This cute town it’s just 10 minutes away by train, and the accommodation prices are cheaper. Instead of Alberobello, consider staying in Martina Franca, cheaper and less touristy, with some great day trips to vineyard and olive oil factories. Simply going a few kilometres away from well-known touristy places, you can save a few bucks.
Away from touristy places, no English spoken
Not all it’s beautiful in Puglia. Unfortunately, away from touristy places, English it’s not well-spoken or not at all. We didn’t find this problem, because speaking Italian, but it has to be true and say that some friends have run into problems while speaking with locals.
However not everything it’s bad, look at the right side of the medal. You have the right occasion to learn a few words in Italian and practise with locals.
A few words to help you out:
- Ciao – Hello!
- Il conto per favore – The bill, please
- Dov’è il centro? – Where is the city centre?
- Dov’è il Mare? – Where is the seaside?
- Un gelato per favore – Ok! Enough, this is easy! (An ice-cream please)
Go for a day trip to Matera
However, Matera, it’s not in the Puglia Region, this place it’s often associated with a road trip to this amazing Region. The city of stones and lights, Unesco World Heritage Site it’s just a few kilometres away from the main tourist spots in Puglia.
In 2019 Matera was named as European City of Culture, but was for a long time inhabited, and brought to new birth as one of the most magical cities in the World.
We have included this place in our guide to the best day trips from Bari. The city’s easy to reach, both by car and public transport. Despite that, we suggest you stay at least overnight to enjoy the lights. The city will transform during the day, giving you great memories back home.
READ ALSO | Most beautiful cities in Italy
Ideal country for backpackers
Not many mention that Puglia it’s the ideal for backpackers. If you are willing to travel indefinitely, like us, almost without set time to reach places and just get lost, Puglia will surprise you.
We have visited the region using just public transport, hopping from one place to another with bus and trains. The transport’s pretty cheap, accommodations all along the way with a wide prices range and incredible tasty street food for a few bucks per day.
As we mentioned before, you don’t have to travel far to get the vibes of an exotic trip. The Puglia weather, nice lifestyle and incredible landscapes are the ideals for slow travellers who want to enjoy the places they are discovering.
Future Digital Nomads destination?
As a way to approach this topic on our blog, we often demand ourselves if Puglia can be the future digital nomad’s destination. In Europe we found many places worth staying, not just for a short holiday but actually to Seattle for a few months, discovering the surroundings. Happened to us in Nice, France and in Malaga, Spain, where we spent 6 months during a hot summer while exploring the world.
The cheap lifestyle, which includes long-term accommodation from just 400 euro per month to daily expenses that can be thigh down to about 20 euro per day for food, excursions and others. We think that Puglia it’s the ideal for a remote worker looking for a quiet place to carry on the job, why not relax on the beach and enjoy even the cold winter with a bit of sunshine more.
Best Places to visit in Puglia
We couldn’t miss the opportunity to help you out with some places you cannot miss on a trip to Puglia.
A final thought on the things to know before visiting Puglia
We did promise you a useful guide to Puglia, something that will help you to plan ahead your trip, avoiding our mistakes.
This part of Italy it’s insanely beautiful and way too underrated. Visiting Puglia, you will understand a bit more of the classic Italian lifestyle, that kind of attitude known as “Dolcevita”. Walking along the seaside, watching the shore of Polignano, or admiring the stunning cone-shaped houses of Alberobello, you will wonder what it would be like to live the dreamy life in Puglia.
Dreaming about Puglia? Read also…
- BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN PUGLIA ITALY
- HOW TO SPEND ONE WEEK IN PUGLIA
- THINGS TO DO IN BARI, ITALY
- ULTIMATE GUIDE OF WHAT TO DO IN POLIGNANO A MARE
- WHAT TO SEE IN MONOPOLI
- A SHORT GUIDE TO ALBEROBELLO
- THINGS TO DO IN OSTUNI, PUGLIA’S WHITE TOWN
- REASONS WHY PUGLIA IS WORTH VISITING