Puglia is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you’re planning a trip to Italy and want to visit some of the more charming Italian towns while avoiding the chaos of the more popular tourist spots like the Amalfi Coast, Rome, and Venice, then Puglia is definitely the place to go. From the stunning beaches to the white washed cliff-side houses and the beautiful olive tree groves, Puglia is truly the hidden gem of Italy.
Three Towns in Puglia, Italy You Don’t Want to Miss
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
How to Get to Puglia:
To get to Puglia, you can fly into Bari or Brindisi airports. It might be a bit cheaper if you’re flying internationally to fly into Rome (or another major Italian city) first and then take a smaller European airline to Bari or Brindisi. You can also take the train from Rome to Bari, which is about a four hour train ride. Or you can rent a car and drive. No matter how you get there, we suggest renting a car while you’re in Puglia, so you can easily get around from one town to the next. We recommend renting a small car, because some of the streets and parking spaces are pretty small.
When to Visit:
How Long to Spend in Puglia:
THREE TOWNS TO VISIT DURING YOUR TRIP TO PUGLIA:
POLIGNANO A MARE:
If you only visit one town in Puglia, make sure it’s Polignano a Mare. This charming beach town is by far one of the most beautiful places we have ever visited. And we absolutely fell in love with it. The entire town is also set right on the cliffs and overlooks the Adriatic Sea. It’s unlike anywhere else we’ve ever seen before! So we recommend spending at least one to two days here.
WHAT TO DO:
SPEND A DAY RELAXING ON THE BEACH AT LAMA MONACHILE:
The beach at Polignano a Mare is probably the most famous part of this town and it’s absolutely stunning! It gets pretty crowded in the summer with locals and other Italian and European visitors, so get there early to grab a spot. The water is an absolutely beautiful turquoise blue and if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s a great spot for cliff diving too. Be sure to wear sandals, because the sand is made up of small pebbles rather than soft sand.
WANDER THROUGH THE STREETS:
ENJOY DINNER WITH A VIEW:
One of the most famous and beautiful restaurants in Puglia is in Polignano a Mare, Grotta Palazzese. It’s built inside of a cave and has an absolutely gorgeous view, but you need to make a reservation in advance and be prepared for an expensive meal.
TAKE A PHOTO AT PIETRA PIATTA:
The best place to capture the beauty of Polignano a Mare is from the Piettra Piata, which is a rock that juts over the ocean and has a beautiful view of the town. It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset. We suggest grabbing some pizza from the restaurant Malidea for takeaway and having a sunset picnic here.
*Keep in mind: A lot of restaurants in the area charge an additional fee just for sitting down and eating at a table (normally 1-2 Euro per person). If you want to avoid this fee, order for takeaway.
The charming fishing town of Monopoli is about fifteen minutes south of Polignano a Mare, but it has a bit of a different feel to it. It’s not quite as popular, so the streets are a little less crowded but they’re just as charming. Every corner you turn feels like you’re about to discover something beautiful just on the other side (and you probably will). One of the things we loved about Monopoli is that it feels like you’ve stepped into a true Italian town. Not a lot of people spoke English and there were little, old Italian women washing their front steps on every corner. It has a slower-pace to it and we loved feeling like it was more of a local scene and less of a tourist destination. There’s also a beautiful cathedral right in the heart of town.
WHAT TO DO:
Alberobello is about a 30 minute drive south of Monopoli. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must on your Puglia travel itinerary. The famous for its traditional “trulli” houses, and when you arrive, it honestly feels like something straight out of a storybook. There are other one-off trulli houses throughout Puglia, but Alberobello is an entire town full of them, so it’s definitely a unique place to visit. It’s definitely more of a tourist stop, so it can get pretty crowded, but it’s worth spending a few hours here are least.
WHAT TO DO:
WHERE TO STAY:
One of the best parts of Puglia if that since there are a lot of different charming towns pretty close to each other, it’s easy to base yourself in one area and then take day trips to all the little towns you want to visit. We stayed at Masseria Torre Coccaro and loved it! Masseria means “farmhouse,” so Masseria Torre Coccaro is a traditional farmhouse, so there is a beautiful olive tree orchard and a stunning garden right on the property. It also has a beautiful heated pool that has a very relaxing and private feel to it, their spa offers massages and a fitness area, and there are a variety of activities you can do there from oil tasting and painting classes to tennis lessons and bicycle tours.
You also have access to Coccaro Beach Club, which is right down the street and the perfect place to spend your day relaxing in the sun. There’s a delicious restaurant there on a charming terrace just steps from the beach, so you can eat lunch there or order drinks for the beach. It’s truly a beautiful hotel that gives you a very unique Italian vacation experience.