Spend a stunning weekend in Puglia with this perfect itinerary

Although Italy is my all-time favorite destination, there were a few places I still haven’t been. So, before our upcoming move to Hong Kong, I decided to spend a weekend in Puglia

I instantly fell in love with the region.

Puglia is a hidden gem, a place of small towns untouched by crowds, where everything is still authentically Italian. 

Have I piqued your interest? Good! Let’s dive in.

weekend in Puglia

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Table of Contents

  1. Spend a stunning weekend in Puglia with this perfect itinerary
    1. Is Puglia worth visiting?
    2. Which airport serves Puglia?
    3. Where to stay for a weekend in Puglia
    4. Do you need a car in Puglia?
    5. Puglia without a car
    6. Puglia for a weekend: a perfect itinerary
      1. Day 1 – Alberobello, Martina Franca, Ostuni
        1. Alberobello
        2. Martina Franca
        3. Ostuni
      2. Day 2 – Polignano a Mare and Monopoli
        1. Polignano a Mare
        2. Monopoli
    7. What to eat in Puglia
    8. When to visit Puglia?
    9. Other Italy travel resources

Spend a stunning weekend in Puglia with this perfect itinerary

Is Puglia worth visiting?

First things first! If you are here, it means you are considering adding Puglia to your Italy bucket list. I know what you are going through because I’ve been there myself. Let me tell you one thing: Puglia is 100% worth visiting! 

Which airport serves Puglia?

The Bari International Airport is the largest one in Puglia. Another option is the Brindisi Airport.

Where to stay for a weekend in Puglia

Even though you will land in Bari, you can choose another base camp for your weekend in Puglia. 

For instance, we chose to stay in the picturesque town of Alberobello, set only 60 kilometers away from Bari. We absolutely loved it there. It placed us close to all the things we wanted to see in Puglia.

Other great options are Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, or Locorotondo. 

Here are a few stunning options to choose from:

Masseria Le Cerase is a traditional white house with a stunning pool, perfectly located for daily trips to the sea or Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, or Ostuni.

Check the prices here!

Trullieu Guesthouse Alberobello. Even though the Trullo guesthouse is located extremely close to Alberobello’s center, it is still hidden from all the noise and fuss. And it also has a free close-by parking space.

Book your stay in a trullo here!

Furnirussi Tenuta. This hotel has spacious rooms and a big lake-like swimming pool.

Check out that pool and book a room!

Masseria Le Fabriche is a stone house in the middle of vineyards. You can easily imagine why this is a wine lover’s paradise destination. Explore also the nearby beach Conte d’Ayala.

Book a stay in the vineyards here!

Do you need a car in Puglia?

The answer to this question depends heavily on several factors. Are you an experienced driver? Are you willing to hop on buses and trains?

While it is possible to see Puglia without a car, this will limit your itinerary options a bit. This part of Italy is not so well connected, and you will spend quite some time on the road.

Overall, renting a car is the best option if you are comfortable driving in a foreign country.

Driving along the streets of tiny villages scattered around the hills and plains of Puglia is almost therapeutic. Finding a parking space isn’t difficult either, especially when compared to the Amalfi Coast.

For more information about renting a car and driving in Puglia, check out our comprehensive guide here.

If you decide to rent a car for your weekend in Puglia, I suggest doing so in advance. This way, you can choose the type of car, and also save a lot on the car price. 

My go-to rental company is Discover Cars. It can help you save on the price, and they have a flexible cancellation policy in case your plans change. Get your best offers here!

Other things worth knowing when you rent a car: 

  • make sure you have a credit card
  • the name on the credit card needs to match the person with the driver’s license
  • opt for insurance, especially in Italy

Puglia without a car

However, if you don’t rent a car, the best option is to stay in Bari and travel by train to the available attractions.

There are options to get from Bari to Alberobello by train or bus (directly or with a change in Putignano). Also, Bari and Polignano a Mare are connected by train. Thus, these could be your weekend day trip destinations

I use RailEurope.com to check and book trains when in Italy.

Another option for checking public transportation options is Omio.com.

Puglia for a weekend: a perfect itinerary

2 days in Puglia might not be enough, but you will get the chance to make a first impression and decide whether you want to come back later and spend a longer vacation in the region. 

Day 1 – Alberobello, Martina Franca, Ostuni

Alberobello

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Alberobello is not, as the name suggests, a “beautiful tree” but a small, charming village famous for its Trulli houses. 

While dry-stone wall houses with cone-shaped roofs are scattered throughout the region, Alberobello has two whole districts made out of trulli houses: Rione Monti (the more touristic area) and Aia Piccola (the less explored district). 

The houses were built like that for a reason: they managed to keep a somewhat stable temperature, especially during hot summer days, but today, they are very charming accommodation options. 

Walking the streets lined by houses painted in white, with contrasting flowers and colorful doors, has a fairytale feel to it. Some of the buildings host souvenir shops, wine-tasting bars, restaurants with hidden terraces, and even Chiesa di Sant’Antonio is hidden in a nineteenth-century trullo. 

If you travel outside of the peak season, chances are you will have the charking village all to yourself, or you will get to share it with only a few other tourists. Even if we visited in August, we still had the chance to explore the empty streets, early in the morning. 

You won’t find many tourist attractions in Alberobello; the whole village is the main attraction. 

Other things worth doing in Alberobello:

  • Take an Italian cooking class at a local farm – learn how to make some of the most iconic Pugliese dishes and get to taste them! See more here!
  • Go on an Alberobello walking tour and learn the history of the village from a local. See more here!
Martina Franca

15 kilometers away from Alberobello, you’ll find Martina Franca. You can get here in less than 20 minutes by car from Alberobello, or hop on the bus that links the 2 while going through Locorotondo. 

The town is bigger than Alberobello, and the main attraction you’ll head towards will be the walled town, delimited by four Renaissance and Baroque gates. 

The old town can be easily explored on foot in a few hours, and that’s what we did. 

We stopped for a coffee at a bar right next to Porta di Santo Stefano, and we entered the walled town right in Piazza Roma, where we admired the beautiful Palazzo Ducale. Further on, we let ourselves get lost on the streets, and we stumbled upon the Basilica di San Martino in Pizza Plebiscito, the Chiesa di San Domenico, and many buildings with beautifully ornated balconies. 

A local old lady passed us by several times, wishing us a lovely walk with a wide smile on her face.

Why wouldn’t you love such a place?

Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Hidden places in Italy: 4 days in Puglia. Discover one of the most beautiful places in Italy and embark on an Italy vacation you will never forget, without your usual tourist crowds. Read why you should put Puglia on your Italy travel destinations list, and read your perfect Puglia Italy itinerary. #puglia #italy #travel #itinerary
Ostuni

The white city has a special vibe! This is one place I absolutely loved, and somewhere I would go back to whenever I have the chance. 

Set upon a hill, only 35 minutes by car and a little over 1 hour by bus away from Martina Franca, Ostuni lured us in with its magical white streets, colorful doors, and flower-filled windows and stairs. 

After we parked on a steep street and began our climb, it was clear from the hanging laundry on the small balconies that people were living their normal Italian lives here. It wasn’t a touristic area, and you could feel the true local vibes.

Puglia weekend itinerary
2 days in Puglia

We wandered through the maze of medieval streets, beneath the arches and neverending buildings. We stopped to admire the Arco di Scoppa in Piazzetta Cattedrale, took a picture by the famous green door, and walked along the city’s defensive walls, packed with history and offering an impressive panoramic view. 

Since we were famished, we had a delicious lunch at one of the venues we encountered along our walks. The restaurant was beautifully decorated with colorful ceramics. 

Ostuni, Puglia

If you want to learn more about Ostuni and its history, while exploring its narrow streets, book a walking tour with a local expert. Learn the story behind the white walls, reach the highest point by the Cathedral of Santa Maria of the Assumption, and admire the beautiful mix of white and blue as soon as your eyes meet the sea. Book your tour here!

Day 2 – Polignano a Mare and Monopoli

Weekend in Puglia_day 2
Polignano a Mare

One of the most popular destinations in the area, Polignano a Mare, is such a vibrant town. Its restaurant, the Grotta Palazzese Cave restaurant, must be on anyone’s bucket list

Everyone wants a perfect picture right behind Domenico Modugno’s monument, which welcomes you to the sea with its wide-open arms.

4 days in Puglia

When we got there, the salty air was strong and extremely humid, and groups of young guys were jumping from the cliffs into the water, trying to impress girls or maybe tourists with their skills. 

From the Ponte Lama Monachile, we admired the popular beach bearing the same name, hidden just below the bridge. It was peak season, so the beach was packed with people, and many others were climbing the stairs back and forth from the sea. 

Go on a walking tour of Polignano, or better yet, take a boat tour and admire the city from the sea while exploring the sea caves carved inside the rocks beneath the city. See more here!

Monopoli

The smaller brother of Polignano, Monopoli, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered and bearing so much charm and authenticity. 

The air was damp; I felt it in my hair, on my arms, and in the smell; a salty aroma welcomed us as we approached the port.

Someone was playing old Italian songs on his guitar, luring tourists to gather around and listen to him, and maybe leave a euro or two as a Thank you.

Old fishermen meeting up and catching up over the day, most probably talking about what the day had brought, old ladies with their chairs outside of their shriveled building doors in the Old Town. That’s how authentic Monopoli is.

weekend in Puglia
Monopoli, Italy

Along the sea, visit the Castello di Carlo V., step inside the Basilica of the Madonna della Madia, go on a walking and gastronomy tour, or even spend a day at the beach. As night falls, stop at one of the restaurants and bars with a sea view, and let yourself be seduced by the laid-back dolce vita

What to eat in Puglia

Of course, you won’t go wrong with anything you choose to eat when in Italy. Italian cuisine is internationally renowned for a reason, after all. 

However, you should try some Puglian specialties when there.

  • burrata – the softer version of mozzarella is a typical Pugliese product, and you must try it here!
  • some vegetarian antipasti – grilled, deep-fried, you name it
  • lots of fresh fish dishes
  • caciocavallo cheese
  • hand-made pasta
  • taralli pugliesi – some local kind of pretzels
  • puccia – a sandwich made of pizza dough with lots of delicious flavors

Just remember that in Italy, restaurants are closed after 3 or 4 PM, and they reopen only for dinner at around 7 PM. That’s why you will have to keep an eye on the clock when organizing your Puglia itinerary and activities. 

When to visit Puglia?

Located in Southern Italy, this region has mild weather and hot summers. Avoid July and August, and plan your weekend getaway for May, June, or September. 

Outside of these months, the tourists melt away, but there are fewer restaurants or activities to choose from. 

Other Italy travel resources

Choose the best subscription boxes for Italy lovers and get Italian flavor delivered to your doorstep.

If you would like to extend your holiday, here is my perfect 10-day itinerary in Southern Italy.

Here is all you need to know about the Amalfi Coast: where to stay in Positano, go there on a budget, and enjoy a perfect 7-day itinerary

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The perfect weekend in Puglia itinerary

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