Nestled in the heart of Southern Italy, Puglia beckons millions of travelers each year with its sun-soaked landscapes, historic wonders, and cultural richness. Both world-renowned destinations like Alberobello and off-the-well-trodden path places like Grottaglie deserve a spot on your itinerary. From secret coastal oases to ancient towns, we’re uncovering Puglia’s Top 7 Must-Visit destinations! 

#1: Alberobello

Valle d’ltria is home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello, the epicenter of trulli architecture. Wandering through these cobblestone streets will make you feel like you are in a village frozen in time. The corbelled, dry-stone construction is a prehistoric building technique still used in this region.

Fun Fact: The traditional Trullo shape may have arrived in Puglia as early as the 8th century B.C. with the Romans, who used a similar design for funeral monuments. 

While there are other trulli houses across the Valle d’ltria, Alberobello is the only place where you can see nearly 1,600 together for a community that looks like no other place in Italy. The trulli are now homes, boutiques, and even hotels, with the largest Trullo turned into a museum – The Trullo Sovrano. 

This two-story Trullo provides insights into the construction techniques and daily lives of those who inhabited the original buildings, furnished with period pieces. 

The streets of Alberobello are lined with shops run by local artisans offering handmade crafts, pottery, and locally produced olive oil. Whether exploring the bustling Rione Monit district or strolling through the quieter parts of town, you’re sure to enjoy an enchanting experience in the heart of Puglia. 

Pro-tip: Dreaming of visiting the Alberobello, but can’t stand the crowds? Then be sure to visit Puglia in the off-season or you’ll be met with a flock of tourists during the main months of June to September when Puglia becomes a hot spot not just for Americans, but travelers from all over the world and Italy.

Come in the right season and Puglia is the perfect Italian destination to experience local Italian life, with its near-perfect climate and slow-paced culture. However, finding these experiences on your own and planning the logistics can be a chore. Why not let a local travel expert do the work for you? Join us on Passport to Puglia!

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#2: Locorotondo

Also located in Valle d’ltria is the beautiful village of Locorotondo, the perfect place to wander the streets, sit in the sun, and enjoy a couple of Aperol spritzes! Locorotondo offers visitors a picturesque escape into the timeless charm of Puglia, known for its intricate circular layout and whitewashed buildings adorned with flowers in the spring and summer. 

The whitewashed homes are one of the hallmarks of this tiny village. The town’s commitment to preserving its traditional appearance has earned it recognition as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. 

At the heart of the city lies the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, a lively square surrounded by cafes and restaurants, where you can grab a coffee or a traditional Puglian dish. The Church of Saint George adds a historical grandeur to this charming square. 

Another can’t-miss activity in Locorotondo is exploring the town’s historic churches, such as the Santuario di San Rocco or the Chiesa della Madonna della Greca. But, if you’d like to go inside to appreciate the architecture or attend a service, it’s required that women wear clothing that covers the shoulders and doesn’t go above the knee. Read more on what to pack for Italy!

Perched atop a hill, visitors enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and vineyards from around the city. But the best place to see the view is from Lungomare, the highest point in the town, offering unbeatable panoramic views of the valley. 

Time slows down in the charming village of Locorotondo. Every hidden corner seems to reveal a story of its own. Some cities are best explored in leisurely strolls away from the crowds! 

With no train routes that include Locorotondo, it can be difficult for many visitors to get to this destination. A small-group tour led by local travel experts is the perfect way to visit off-the-beaten-path towns in Puglia like this one with ease. Leave the logistics to us when you book your spot on Passport to Puglia! 

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#3: Lecce

Want to visit Florence but don’t want to deal with the excessive crowds and tourist traps? Lecce is the perfect place for you! Often named the “Florence of the South,” Lecce is a city of extraordinary Baroque architecture and rich cultural heritage. Situated on Puglia’s Salento peninsula, Lecce is a quintessentially Southern town and the perfect backdrop to experiencing Italy like a local. 

Intricate Baroque details line the city, a labyrinth of narrow streets and bustling piazzas. The Basilica di Santa Croce is renowned as one of Italy’s most detailed Baroque facades, depicting animals, cherubs, and mythological creatures. Simply wandering through the streets, you’ll find a vibrant artisan community with workshops showcasing the city’s famed limestone craftsmanship, a testament to its nearly 2500-year history. 

While Lecce is most known for its Baroque treasures, it also boasts an impressive, well-preserved Roman amphitheater in the city’s heart that dates back to the 2nd century. With so much to explore around the city, Lecce is the perfect destination to immerse yourself in Southern Italian culture and history. 

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#4: Polignano a Mare

If you’re visiting Puglia for its sparkling blue waters and breathtaking coastlines, Polignano a Mare is the place for you. Perched on the cliffs overlooking the Adriatic Sea, this postcard-perfect setting will capture your heart with its historic charm and coastal vibe. 

The town’s most iconic attraction is the must-visit Grotta Palazzese, a sea cave turned world-renowned restaurant at the top of every foodie’s bucket list. Carved into the cliffs, visitors enjoy a unique dining experience with waves lapping against the cave walls and a ceiling open to a starlit sky. Click here to learn everything you need to know about visiting – from a local!

Restaurants in Polignano a Mare offer the freshest catches of the Adriatic Sea, with traditional Puglian flavors like orecchiette pasta paired with seafood. Read more about the foods and wines of Puglia. 

With the backdrop of panoramic views of the vibrant blue sea, the historic old town is a maze of whitewashed buildings and picturesque squares where locals gather for a coffee or gelato. The coastline is dotted with hidden coves and small beaches, with several spots to relax and enjoy the view. 

Whether you’re admiring the cliffside view, indulging in local cruising, or enjoying that refreshing coastal breeze, Polignano a Mare promises an unforgettable experience by the sea! Which is exactly why you’ll want to join us on Passport to Puglia to take in the coastline with private tour – just for The Italian On Tour guests! 

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#5: Ostuni

Perched on a hill in the heart of Valle d’ltria, Ostuni, often called the white city, captivates visitors with gleaming whitewashed buildings and a panoramic view of the Adriatic Sea and the surrounding olive groves. There is truly no other experience like the sun setting over the rolling hills, casting a warm glow over the white city. 

The city’s hallmark, the striking white architecture, is best enjoyed by wandering down the narrow side streets, where houses are supported by the archways they sit atop, and dead ends lead to breathtaking views of the sparkling sea. Vivid-colored doors and floral arrangements often complement the stark white buildings. Residents are encouraged to repaint every two years and are incentivized to do so by the government paying for half the cost. 

Fun Fact: Legend says that locals of 17th Century Ostuni noticed that there seemed to be less illness in the white houses during the plague and attributed this to a miracle. 

With its intricate rose windows and impressive architecture, the beautiful Cathedral of Ostuni stands as a prominent landmark in the heart of the historic Old Town, amongst quaint piazzas and charming cafes. There’s something to uncover in every corner of this historic town, and what better way to experience it than with a local guide? 

Ostuni is surrounded by centuries-old olive groves that produce some of Italy’s finest olive oils – which you’ll have an opportunity to taste on Passport to Puglia.

Pro-tip: Whether you’re visiting Ostuni or any of the other top destinations to see in Puglia, packing sturdy comfortable walking shoes to navigate the cobblestone streets to the winding white washed streets, are a must! Don’t know what to pack? Click here to get the low down on all the essentials for your next Italian vacation!

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#6: Grottaglie

The artistic soul of Puglia lies in Grottaglie, known as the “City of Ceramics,” and celebrated for its centuries-old pottery traditions that shape the city’s identity and bring in visitors from around the world. The narrow streets of the city’s pottery district are lined with workshops and studios showcasing the artistry of local ceramists. 

Wandering the district’s streets, you’ll find skilled artisans molding clay into exquisite shapes, hand-painting intricate designs, and firing their creations in traditional kilns. With traditional methods passed down through generations, you’ll witness the dedication to preserving the authenticity of Puglian ceramics. 

If you’re a ceramic enthusiast wanting to delve deeper into Grottaglie’s ceramic heritage, the Museum of Ceramics is a must. House in a historic castle, the museum has a vast collection of ceramics spanning many eras. 

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#7: Grotte di Castellana

Beneath the sun-soaked landscape of Puglia, there’s a whole world waiting to be explored – The Grotte di Castellana. Located near the town of Castellana Grotte, this extensive network of caves is a natural wonder offering breathtaking beauty beneath the surface. 

The Grotte di Castellana is renowned for its stunning limestone formations and stalagmites that nature has sculpted over millions of years. Guided tours take visitors through a labyrinth of passages, unveiling incredible chambers such as the Grave, the White Cave, and the Grotta Bianca. The play of sunlight and shadows on the cave walls creates a surreal atmosphere you will never forget. 

Grotte di Castellana is easily accessible and welcomes visitors year-round, as the caves maintain a constant temperature. We recommend wearing comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes for a tour of the caves. 

Surrounding the caves is a lush national park, offering a picturesque setting for nature walks and enjoying the serene landscape of Mediterranean vegetation, vineyards, and olive groves.

Exploring this remarkable corner of the world is an unforgettable experience, and you’ll want to soak up every moment. Why spend hours planning the logistics yourself and going down a Google rabbithole when you could have a local guide whisky you away to all the off-the-beaten-path destinations you wouldn’t have found on your own? Instead grab your spot on Passport to Puglia! 

Fun fact: Grotte di Castellana are not the naturalistic cave wonder you can visit in Italy, in fact the largest undergroud karst cave system of stalagmites and stalacites is found in the region of Le Marche. Click here  to read more about the largest karst cave system in Italy and Le Marche’s hidden gems.

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