The Perfect Puglia Road Trip: Exploring The Happening Heel Of Italy
I’ve recently starting making video guides to all the places I visited this year, including an incredible 5 day Puglia road trip I took in Italy earlier this summer where we stopped off in some of the prettiest towns in Italy, exploring the region by car foot, tuk-tuk and bike!
In this post you can read about all the cool places to visit in Puglia, or you can simply watch the video below to see how beautiful this region really is!
We started our trip through Puglia in the far south, in the historic town of Otranto.
Our first stop was Punta Palascia Lighthouse, which is located inside the protected Otranto Coastal park and is known to be the most Eastern point in all of Italy. Many people come here on January 1st to ring in the new year as it’s the first place in Italy to see the sunrise. Sometimes you can spot dolphins off the coats and the Natural Park that it’s located in is a gorgeous place to explore.
We then hopped back into our Apee, which is Puglia’s answer to a Tuk Tuk, and whizzed back to town stopping off at BauxiteLake – a stunning emerald-green pond, surrounded by mineral rich, red soil – a great spot for photos. It was once a quarry but is now a sort of sanctuary for birds and wild life and a popular stop on city tours of Puglia – such a fun place to take photos.
We stopped off briefly in Otranto’s historic old town – where you explore Otranto Castle, and Cathedral and take a dip in the crystal clear waters of Otranto Harbour. There’s also lots of pretty souvenir shops, swimming spots and lovely restaurants to stop off for lunch. Believe me, you don’t wanna skip any meals in Puglia as the food is simply mouth-watering!
We spent the afternoon driving up the coast stopping off at Torre Sant’Andrea – a popular swimming and cliff jumping spot a short distance up the coast from Otranto. It’s also a famous photo spot and you might have seen it in holiday brochures or magazines promoting Puglia.
Besides cute coffee shops and an abundance of great restaurants, the city of Lecce (which was our next stop) is also a very beautiful city to explore on foot, home to a number of impressive buildings and photo spots. You could easily spend an entire day exploring this cool city – there’s even a food tour available on foot, and there are again plenty of great bars and restaurants to keep you entertained late into the night.
Puglia Road Trip Day 2
While I’m not normally a fan of museums, we simple had to stop off at the The Museum of Primitivo Wine in Manduria on day two of our trip – probably one of the few places in the world where you can buy huge quantities of wine that gets distributed to customers in what looks like petrol pumps!
The museum, which is also a wine co-operative for local wine producers, is mainly underground showing off what was once huge underground tanks and wine cellars. You can also see some of the old ways the wine was distributes in massive, clay pots.
After a tour of the museum you can do a wine and cheese tasting – an activity I’ll never say no to, especially when in Italy!
The next stop on our Puglia Road trip was Locorotondo – probably one of the prettiest villages in all of Puglia and a place you’ll definitely fall in love with. I loved strolling through the quiet streets, past white-wash buildings covered in flowers, cute cafes and pretty boutiques.
The charming and almost cartoon-like town of Alberobello was probably one of my favourite places to visit in Puglia. Alberobellow is famous for being home to hundreds of unique Trulli, which are small round homes with a conical stone roof found all over the Istria valley in Puglia.
Walking through the old part of town at sunset feels like the scene from a movie – and at times the cute, white homes look like a basis for scenes from The Smurfs!
While exploring the Alberobello is one way to appreciate the Trulli houses, you can also do a cycling tour through the countryside and see some of then more rural Trulli houses – most of which are built entirely out of stone. I loved our morning cycling through the Puglia countryside, past olive groves, viaducts, wild flowers and gorgeous villas in the country.
You can’t visit Puglia without stopping off for a few hours in Polignana a Mare – a place that needs to explanation as it’s one the most famous destinations in the region. With houses and restaurants resting precariously on rocks, one of the most iconic beaches in Italy and a heaven for cliff jumpers – this is a must visit in Puglia.
As you make your way further north, don’t forget to stop in Bari, a historic coastal city in Puglia and a haven for foodies. The old parts of town are full of character, and a local guide will show you parts of the city you didn’t even know existed – as well as introducing your to the best food and the best people!
If you have time and want to see a whole different side of Puglia, then I suggest you drive further north and inland to check out the villages of Bovino and Sant’ Agata Di Puglia – two gorgeous hillside villages with a fascinating past.
While in Bovino, you can stop off for some traditional home cooking and a tour of a local water-mill – an experience we all agreed was one of our favourites whille in puglia thanks to the delicious home-made pasta dishes. We were even given a brief lesson on how to roll pasta ourselves before digging into a feast of a lunch in a gorgeous setting.
…AND THAT’S IT. Four fun-filled days doing a Puglia road trip – enjoying local regional dishes, swimming in pristine swimming spots and exploring historic cities and hillside towns. I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Puglia and be sure to check out my other videos for more Italy travel inspiration.
This trip was made possible thanks to the Puglia Tourism board and was written as part of a paid collaboration called #DoubleYourJourney.