The 10 most beautiful cities to visit in Puglia in 2023
Before getting to the heart of this topic, it would be better to take a step back and understand what we are talking about. Do you remember the map of Italy? Well, Puglia is an Italian region located in the south-east of the country, and is the so-called heel of the boot. It is bathed to the east by the Adriatic Sea and to the south by the Ionian Sea, however it is not only known for its crystal clear waters; in fact, in addition to some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy and the world, Puglia also boasts several natural parks, such as the Gargano, Alta Murgia, Valle d’Itria located in the inner part of the territory, which offer breath-taking hiking and cycling trails. There is no ideal time to visit Puglia, since it is a region with a mild climate all year round; thus the real question is: what kind of vacation do you prefer? If you are more interested in swimming and sunbathing, the period from May to September is the right one for you, even though May can be extremely hot (this year temperatures were over 30 degrees); September is an intermediate month instead, with 24-25 degrees on average; on the other hand, if you prefer to relax, I recommend choosing October, March, April or also December to enjoy the lights and colours of Christmas time! In general, you will rarely find temperatures below 15 degrees and if you love swimming and are accustomed to low temperatures, you’ll definitely be able to swim. Ask Ann, Victoire and Michael, some of our guests who swam in Polignano a Mare last October!
Let’s go back to the main topic of today’s article: what are the 10 most beautiful places to visit in Puglia in 2023? I won’t just tell you the name of the places, but you will find for each of the destinations some suggestions you cannot do without! Let’s get started!
Located in the easternmost part of the region, Otranto is a town rich in history and art. It is the ideal location to get lost in the alleys on an unforgettable tour between East and West, in fact Otranto has traces of the Turkish invasion dating back to 1480, visible today in its architecture of its historic centre. The places not to be missed in Otranto are: Aragonese Castle, the Old Town, the cathedral, Baia dei Turchi, Alimini lakes.
Gallipoli is the second town on our list located in Salento, on the east coast of the region. Unlike Otranto, Gallipoli is a village known for parties and for its concerts on the beach, thus the most popular destination in the 18-25 age group, because it offers entertainment by sea and by land. Nevertheless, Gallipoli is not only known for its festivals, it is in fact a baroque town, with wonderful monuments and secular churches, which offer ideas for varied tours, between ancient and modern. If you visit this town, you definitely need to see: the Old Town, the cathedral, the Angioino castle, the Greek fountain. The most beautiful beaches around are: Spiaggia delle Purità, Punta della Suina, Baia Verde, Punta Pizzo. All the beaches can be easily reached by bus, transfer or boat.
Vieste is the pearl of the Gargano, overlooking the Adriatic Sea and located in an extremely strategic point, the town is the starting point for the main excursions around the natural park. Unlike the beaches that we find in the centre and south of Puglia, here we have mixed beaches, in fact if in Vieste we still find light sand, moving to Mattinata, a little further north, we will find for example rocky beaches. The peculiarity of these places are the mountains, in fact we find limestone cliffs and white stacks that you will not find anywhere else in the region and in Italy. The city of Vieste offers characteristic tours through the medieval streets and panoramic squares, unforgettable for those who have had the opportunity to see them. If you pass by Vieste, do not forget to visit: the Old Town, the cathedral, the castle, the rock of Pizzomunno, the staircase of love, Mattinata, Monte Sant’Angelo, the lakes of Lesina and Varano, where you can do boat or kayak tours and the rest of the Gargano, where you can go hiking or trekking.
We now move to the central part of the region, particularly to what is known as the White City. In fact, Ostuni is known for its characteristic white lime buildings, which differentiate some towns of the Itria Valley, i.e. Monopoli or Polignano a mare. Ostuni is one of the most visited destinations by tourists from all over the world; as a consequence, it is an extremely lively city in summer and more quiet in the winter months. The town offers several wonderful tours to: the Old Town, the cathedral, the Aragonese walls, the diocesan and the civic museums, the park of coastal dunes and the protected area of Torre Guaceto.
6. CASTEL DEL MONTE
Castel del Monte is located a few km north of Bari, not far from Andria. The castle was built in 1240 by Frederick II and is known for its peculiar octagonal plan that has at each corner an octagonal tower. Listed in 1996 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Castel del Monte is now the 30th most visited Italian site. The castle is located on a hill in the countryside of Andria and often those who visit it, add other locations to their tour, such as: Barletta, Trani, Giovinazzo, Bisceglie or a hiking path in the second natural park of the region, the Alta Murgia.
Trani is among the most elegant places in Puglia. It is located in the central part of the region, north of Bari and is also located on the Adriatic coast. It is not the most suitable destination if you want to enjoy the beach, since Trani only has a few and purely rocky beaches, but it is the perfect city for those who love shopping, elegant restaurants and ancient streets. Like Gallipoli, Trani is an extremely young and lively city, often a destination for international events and concerts, offering tourists continuous entertainment. Famous for its cathedral, imposing and white overlooking the port, Trani also offers other points of interest for a tour: the castle, the port, the municipal villa.
Bari is the capital city of the region. It is the largest city in Puglia and the main link to all cities in the region and beyond. The city is divided into two parts: the ancient part (Bari Vecchia), known for the stalls of orecchiette run by the local women and for the typical scents of Bari street food; the modern part is equally characteristic and varied. The city offers tours of various types; street food tour, historical tour, tour of underground Bari. It is also known for the various culinary and craft workshops of various kinds. Among the points of greatest interest are undoubtedly the Basilica of San Nicola, the Saint is in fact highly venerated among the believers of the place and his feast, on May 9th, attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. If you happen to be in the area at that time, do not miss it! In addition to the basilica, another highlight is the Petruzzelli Theatre, the fourth largest theatre in Italy, dating back to 1903. If you visit Bari, you cannot miss: the castle, the promenade, via Sparano, Polignano a Mare, Alberobello, Matera.
3. POLIGNANO A MARE
Polignano is located a few kilometers south of Bari. It is a town known for its cliffs overlooking the sea and for Mr. Volare (Domenico Modugno). In the last 10 years the town has become a mandatory tourist destination for everyone in winter and summer, in fact also many inhabitants of neighboring towns usually stop here. Polignano is an ancient town, with clear buildings, often embedded in the rock. It offers few beaches, usually rocky, however, it is one of the most popular destinations for boat tours, as it is full of sea caves. The main points of interest are: the Old Town, Lama Monachile, Arco Marchesale, Domenico Modugno statue, and Monopoli, which is 5 minutes by train or car, whose beaches and historic centre will steal your heart.
Lecce is the baroque Apulian city par excellence. It is the fifth largest city in Puglia and is in the centre of Salento. It is known as the city of 100 churches located between streets and golden buildings. The city, often praised by international newspapers, offers an important history with wonderful monuments. Anyone who has made a tour in Lecce has claimed to have had the feeling of traveling in time, in fact the city is rich in works dating back to Roman, medieval and Renaissance times. The city is known for its historic centre, the amphitheatre and the Roman theatre, the castle of Charles V, Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the cathedral, the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Abbey of Santa Maria di Cerrate. Moreover, being in a strategic position, you can also visit: Nardò, Galatina, Maglie, Zinzulusa cave.
Alberobello is undoubtedly the most characteristic village of the entire region. There is nothing in the world like its houses (the Trulli), which seem to host fantastic characters of fairy tales. In fact, there is only the fairytale atmosphere, since these houses are real homes of locals. Alberobello is located in the Itria Valley, about 1 hour from Bari to the south; and its Trulli were listed in the UNESCO World Heritage in 1996. It is definitely the most popular destination in the whole region in all seasons of the year, in fact it offers breathtaking views, both with the sun and with the snow that sometimes covers its trulli. The points not to be missed are: rione monti, trullo sovrano, trulli siamesi.
You’re right, we have passed the 10 destinations and Matera is not located in Puglia, but it is undoubtedly one of the locations not to be missed in 2023. Matera is located in Basilicata, on the border with Puglia and just 50 minutes by car from Bari. It is one of the most beautiful and characteristic cities in southern Italy and probably unique in the world. In fact, Matera is known worldwide for the Sassi district, where the film The Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson was shot. The Sassi of Matera, included in the UNESCO World Heritage in 1993, are ancient houses built near the ravine of the city. Among the points of interest for a tour of the city we have: the cathedral, the cave house, Piazza Vittorio Veneto, rock churches, the belvedere, the church of Sant’Agostino.
Now that you have a much clearer idea of what you can find here, we are looking forward to seeing you in this beautiful region, and for any other questions, our community is ready to give you info and help you in planning your vacation!