Having called Puglia my home for the past year and a half, I've had the privilege of exploring the diverse and enchanting region extensively. From historic towns, to breathtaking beaches, to delicious cuisine, Puglia is a must-visit. I am thrilled to share my personal recommendations for an unforgettable 7-day itinerary in this hidden gem of Italy!
After having experienced the public transportation here, I would highly recommend renting a car in order to experience the region fully. While public transportation such as trains and busses are available, having a car allows for the freedom to explore more remote villages and the majority of beaches. Car rental agencies are easily accessible at theBari and Brindisi airports.
Day 1: Arriving in Bari, the capital of Puglia, I recommend starting your journey here. The city is vibrant and is known for its old town, Basicila di San Nichola, Castello Svevo, and the local ladies who make fresh "orechiette" pasta in Arco Basso.
Day 2: Although not technically in Puglia, you simply cannot skip a visit to the city of Matera. Declared Europe's Capital of Culture in 2019, Matera is known for its "Sassi" which are ancient cave dwellings dating back to prehistoric times. Matera is one of the oldest cities in all of Europe, and is incredibly scenic - the famous James Bond film "No tTime to Die" was even filmed here! During your stay, make sure to savor local cuisines such as the infamous bread and the "Caciocavallo" cheese.
Day 3: Next up, we have Polignano a Mare, a picturesque coastal town perched on cliffs above the Adriatic Sea. I would recommend spending the most of your time following the Poetry written on the walls of the historic center, and enjoying the views from the Lama Monachile beach. I also highly suggest taking a boat tour to explore the iconic sea caves the town is known for, and indulge in some fresh seafood!
Day 4: Journey further south to Ostuni, known as the "White City" perched atop a hill. Here you can get lost among the narrow streets, adorned with white-washed buildings, and take in the panoramic views from the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. If time permits, you can also pay a visit to the iconic village of "Alberobello" to take in the picturesque "trulli" houses.
Day 5: As you continue to make your way down, you'll want to make a stop at some breathtaking beaches before arriving at your final destination in Lecce. My personal favorites are Baia dei Turchi, I Faraglioni di Sant'Andrea, and Torre dell'Orso.
Day 6: After spending the day soaking up some Puglian sun and diving into turquoise waters, you'll arrive in Lecce. I suggest to staya night here and spend the next day exploring this charming Baroque city, often referred to as "The Florence of the South." The city features ornate churches, palaces, and intricately carved limestone buildings. While you're here, you'll want to make sure to order a "Caffè Leccese" (an iced espresso coffee with almond milk) and a "Pasticcioto" pastry for breakfast, as well as a "Rustico" for lunch!
Day 7: On the last day, you can spend your free time relaxing and taking in the amazing past 6 days you spent. You'll likely be making your way back to either the Bari or Brindisi airport.
To conclude, spending seven days in Puglia, Italy, is an enchanting journey that combines history, culture, cuisine, and natural beauty. Whether you seek relaxation, adventure, or a blend of both, Puglia caters to all with its unique blend of old-world charm and modern allure. So, if you're looking for an Italian vacation to enjoy the slow lifestyle, Puglia is the perfect destination. Buon viaggio!