What to do in Puglia? Road trip one-week itinerary
We have just returned from a great road trip in Puglia. The region has been eyeing us for some time now… So we decided to take a 1 week road trip to visit the must-see and hidden places. So we’ll share with you what to do in Puglia, our itinerary and practical advice, which you will find at the end of the article! Are you ready ? ?
It is always a real pleasure for us to go on a trip to Italy. In a short time we have already made several trips to Roman lands. You can also find our different travel guides here:
- Northern Sardinia – Travel Guide
- Road Trip in the Dolomites
- 3 days to visit Rome
- Road Trip in the Amalfi Coast
What to do in Puglia?
The Apulia region is located in the very south of Italy, that’s the heel of the boot!
- Beautiful beaches: the coastline of the Adriatic coast is simply magnificent. We found magnificent limpid waters, dominated by cliffs.
- A typical hinterland: many villages have remained authentic and are worth a visit.
- Italian gastronomy: we quite simply enjoyed ourselves in this region, specializing in burrata in particular.
The itinerary of our road trip in Puglia
1 week to visit Puglia
This route can be done in 7 days. If you can take 9 or 10 days, that’s even better because you will have time to relax. ? So what to do in Puglia? This is what we will discover together in this week-long itinerary.
Day 1 – Les Salines
It’s a find we’re quite proud of! When we posted the salt flats on Instagram, people told us that the sea wasn’t like that in Puglia and called it a scam. So, we tell you, it is not about the sea. The salt flats of Margherita di Savoia are the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world after those of Bolivia. They are located 1 hour north of Bari.
Beyond the fact that you can learn a lot of things about the salt making process, you will find pink “lakes” there… You can imagine, that’s why we were originally there. . We had the good surprise to discover that this place was not touristy at all. The guide told us they had 30 visitors a day in high season.
If you arrive late like us and want to sleep nearby, we recommend Gazebo Rooms: good value, modern with breakfast and access to a private beach included.
? How to access the Saltworks of Margherita di Savoia?
The visit with a guide is compulsory. As it is a small structure, there are only two guides, only one of whom speaks English. It lasts about 2h-2h30 and costs 15 € per person. He will explain the entire production circuit to you and take you to the shores of the pink lakes. For visit times, they don’t have a precise schedule so go there when it opens to find out. See the GPS coordinates of the saltworks.
For information, the color of the water is due to the high salinity of the water combined with a special type of algae, without which the water would not be pink. To have the most beautiful color, the sun ☀️must be there, high in the sky!
? Little stopover in Bari
After the visit, you will continue your road trip in Puglia to the south. We recommend that you stop for lunch in Bari. Nothing special to see there, it’s a big city, so I took the opportunity to drag Yann to a few stores. ? Go feast at Atena Foccace, it’s delicious and not expensive at all! ?
Days 2 and 3 “What to do in Puglia”: Monopoli & Polignano a Mare
♥️The city of Monopoli, our favorite
?For a good Italian ice cream, head to Il Gelato, in the heart of the historic center:
Many beautiful beaches are also to be seen nearby. We recommend that you book two nights in Monopoli to enjoy the city and its surroundings (hotel recommendation below).
Beaches around Monopoli
Where to stay in Monopoli?
We chose to sleep in an apartment at Palazzo Mulini (click here to see prices and book). There is a kitchen in each accommodation to prepare small meals. Everything is new, so the decoration is amazing! The big plus of the establishment is the magical view from the roof terrace.
Polignano a Mare
During your stay in Monopoli, take the opportunity to visit the historic center of Polignano a Mare, just 15 minutes away by car. It’s very pretty but much busier than Monopoli.
Go there around lunch to try the panini from the Mozzarella Bar. Their products are excellent and of high quality! ?Otherwise, if you can afford it, you can go to dinner in a cave at the Grotta Palazzese restaurant (around € 300 per person for a meal).
Here are some other ideas for activities:
Day 4 : the Trulli – a must see in Puglia
♥️ Alberobello, the village of the Trulli
This step is essential for a road trip in Puglia worthy of the name! The Trulli are typical Apulian dwellings, initially used by peasants. Now the Alberobello Trulli are mined for tourism and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most visited places in the region. We therefore recommend that you go before 9 am.
We were there for the first time on a Sunday afternoon, and it was full of people! So we went back for 7am the next morning to make sure we were quiet. Allow 2 hours to visit Alberobello and stroll through the alleys.
? Unusual night in a Trullo
If you can, we recommend that you book a night at the Nina Trulli Resort. This establishment is magnificent! It is a former monastery which has been renovated over 6 years. The decor is sublime, modern, but all the same they have managed to retain the original charm.
Then, it’s so cool to sleep in a trullo! A great experience to do on a trip to Puglia.
Day 5: What to do in Puglia (even further south)
?Stop for lunch in Locorotondo
After enjoying the hotel until noon, direction Ostuni. Refueling break on the road in a charming village: Locorotondo. We find the same style of architecture as in Monopoli, with even fewer tourists. It’s tiny, but very cute.
We ate at the Casa Pinto restaurant. It was good but Yann found his pasta dish small for the price (a bit higher than in the restaurants we tested previously).
You will think that we are exaggerating, that we found everything cute… but it’s true! So, I’m repeating myself, but the historic center of Ostuni is TOO cute ?. We find the same charm as in the previous stages of our itinerary in Puglia. Pretty alleys, garlands, cool addresses where you want to stop to eat or have a drink. Speaking of which, don’t expect to lose weight in this region: it’s impossible to resist Italian products ?.
- Good address in Ostuni: La Mela Bacata Lounge Bar very cool terrace and reasonable prices with a nice view of the surroundings. Basically, we just wanted to have a drink there but we finally ordered bruschetta to eat (5 € each for 3 large toast).
- Where to sleep in Ostuni? The best value we found at the last minute was The Liberty Bell Apartment. The place is original but not very bright. It is very well placed because the historic center is within walking distance.
- Activities in Ostuni ? For those of you with a sweet tooth, who would like to taste one of the most typical products of the region. We propose you an olive oil tasting.
Days 6 & 7: cliffs & beaches in Puglia
Visit of Otranto and its surroundings
Otranto is a good base for visiting this part of the Apulian coast. We advise you to find accommodation for 2 nights in order to be able to navigate between the different points of interest that are presented below. After a day of walking, you can have an aperitif and stroll through the historic center of Otranto which is very charming.
- There are many beaches in or near Otranto. The only problem is that many are overrun with private Beach Clubs, which obviously distorts the landscape. We found a beautiful wild beach (Bahia Mulino d´Acqua) on Google Maps with a cave ?. When we got there, we discovered that there was a charge for access as it is via a campsite. The price is € 8 per person for the whole day (note: the price rises to € 16 for July-August). This also gives you access to all the campsite facilities (including the swimming pool and deckchairs). The beach, left in its natural state, is sublime.
A beauty of nature that reminds us of the Benagil cave in Portugal … To discover our guide to the Algarve, click here!
We recommend that you take half a day to see the famous Grotta della Poesia and the Faraglioni di Sant’Andrea. These places are a 30-minute drive north of Otranto. Note that there are a lot of people at the Grotte de la Poésie. In addition, for the color of the water to be as beautiful as possible, you must go there when the sun is high in the sky (between 11 am and 2 pm depending on the time of year). Access is free, you just have to pay for the parking lot to park.
If you have time, head south to Otranto to bask on Porto Miggiano beach. The color of the water is amazing and there is a small cave near the edge. Watch out for the stairs going down!
?Where to sleep in Otranto?
To lower our travel budget and not to swell too much, we chose to book two nights in this beautiful modern apartment available on Booking. It was very well located for the historic center of Otranto, reachable on foot.
?We do not have a restaurant address to recommend in Otranto because we cooked in the apartment. Take a trip to TripAdvisor if needed!
(Bonus) Day 8 : Matera
To cut the road back to Naples airport, we decided to stop at Matera. This city is beautiful. Matera is one of the oldest cities still inhabited in the world, the buildings are very well preserved. When you visit, you have the impression of being in another era. We recommend it if you have the time! ?
Three or four hours are enough to walk around old Matera. Be careful, as the city is classified by Unesco, housing prices are quite expensive.
?Where to sleep in Matera?
We stayed at L’Alba Sulla Murgia, best value for money we found last minute. The apartment is very well placed and the welcome is super friendly!
Practical information for your road trip in Puglia
? Rent a car in Italy
If you follow us on Instagram, you have no doubt seen our mishap with the car rental company Nollegiare. To make it short, be careful, when you rent a car in Italy, you must make sure you have a CREDIT card in order to block the deposit.
The debit / credit nuance is misleading. In France, our cards are commonly called “credit”, but this is a misconception. If your bank cards are marked DEBIT, you will have to take out insurance for around € 400 per week… This has caused the rental price to explode, which was basic at € 150 for 10 days. Long live the low cost rental companies! ?For us, it was out of the question to pay more than 500 € in all to have a city car from an unpleasant lessor.
So we went to Sixt at the last minute to hire a vehicle. There are several advantages to renting a car from them when you arrive in Naples:
- It is the only rental company with its fleet of cars just in front of the airport
- They are friendly
- No credit / debit card problem at this Sixt branch
- Possibility to return the car outside of opening hours
We would like to thank Sixt for accompanying us on this road trip in Puglia which had started very badly. Click here to book your car rental
✈️How to get to Puglia?
The easiest way to start your road trip in Puglia is to arrive by plane at Bari airport. If, like us, your airport does not serve Bari or flights to Naples are significantly cheaper, you also have the option of landing in Naples. Then count 2h30 by road to reach the Puglia region.
When to go to Puglia?
☀️ This region, located in southern Italy, enjoys exceptional sunshine for much of the year. We therefore recommend that you go outside the summer holidays to avoid the crowds and excessive prices. The ideal, as often, is to leave in May, June or in September, October. In mid-September, we had good weather every day without exception and 28 degrees of average! In terms of the tourist influx, we found it to be very reasonable except on the 2/3 most popular spots in Puglia.
How to get around Puglia?
There is a lot to see in this region. It is therefore preferable to have your own means of transport so as not to depend on public transport. You can of course visit the most famous spots by public transport, but you will miss a lot of places, and that’s a shame!
What budget should you plan for your trip to Puglia?
Here are the details of our expenses for a week of road trip in Puglia. Note that this budget is for comfortable hotels with air conditioning and restaurants almost every day. We had fun, without going overboard either!
- Hotels / Airbnb: € 490, average € 70 per night
- Car rental: 300 € on average, see less depending on the period
- Catering: 315 €, we count 15 € for lunch and 30 € for dinner for two people
- Gasoline: 120 € for 1,200 km, plan less if you land in Bari
Total budget for our one-week itinerary in Puglia € 1,225, or € 612 per person (excluding plane)