Puglia: 11 must-see places to visit in the south of Italy

by Destination(s) Europe
Published: Last Updated on

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Puglia, commonly known as the “heel of the boot” in Italy, is a region where Mediterranean nature reveals all its splendors and where traditions are firmly rooted. This expanse of land stretching out to sea offers sublime sandy beaches, such as those of Porto Cesario and Torre dell’Orso, and unparalleled wilderness, such as at the Gargano and Murges National Parks. The cities, such as Bari, and the many typical villages are also worth a visit. In short, and without further ado, here are our 11 must-see places to visit in Puglia in Southern Italy.


The capital of the region, this dynamic port city boasts 324,000 inhabitants, stunning architectural treasures and a seafront that is second to none. Its dozens of kilometers of beach are obviously an invitation to laze around, but there are also many cultural sites to visit.

Some of the must-see attractions of Bari:

  • The Basilica of San Nicola
  • The district of Bari Vecchia, the historical center of the city
  • The cathedral of San Sabino
  • The Norman-Swabian castle
  • The provincial art gallery, Corrado Giaquinto
  • The Petruzzelli Theater


Located in the southernmost part of Puglia, on the Salento Peninsula, this tourist destination is full of famous historical monuments such as museums, churches and palaces, etc. Its historical center, a true baroque masterpiece, will certainly bewitch you: the Piazza del Duomo will give you a glimpse of the architectural potential of this city, which is nicknamed the “Florence of the South”. The majestic Greek amphitheater and the Basilica of Santa Croce will convince you that you were right to stop in Lecce.


The Caves of Castellana

One of the places not to be missed in Puglia, the caves of Castellana are the largest complex of caves in Europe. Dating back several tens of millions of years, and measuring three kilometers long and 70 meters high in places, they are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The underground route is very well laid out, and you will have no trouble finding excursions to let you discover the whole area in greater depth.

The Tremiti Islands

Found in the northern part of Puglia, the Tremiti Islands form a single municipality belonging to the province of Foggia. This archipelago, composed of five heavenly islands, hides an elusive natural beauty. With crystal-clear waters, a ninth-century fortified abbey overlooking the island of San Nicola and numerous sea caves, it is a dream place for a vacation. It is very tourist-friendly: you can either opt for one of the many boat trips offered from the mainland, or you can choose to go for a walk with your family or friends on San Domino, the main island, which has beautiful vegetation and the only sandy beach of the archipelago.

Ostuni: The White City

Perched on a rocky promontory, Ostuni, also known as “the white city”, is a striking place which often leaves its mark on tourists who visit. It is easily and quickly reached from Brindisi by train. You will love losing yourself in the maze of alleys of Ostuni, between the bright white houses. You can discover the splendid cathedral, Santa Maria dell’Assunzione, and don’t forget to go for a walk along its 17km of coastline, where you will find endless coves and fine sand beaches. We promise you a walk outside of time.

Tip. While in Ostuni, try to attend the famous Cavalcata di Sant’Oronzo, or St. Oronce’s Ride. This is a parade on horseback, in period costumes. Fireworks, concerts, and a procession complete the festivities every year on August 25, 26 and 27.

The Itria Valley

Visiting Puglia is not only about walking through beautiful streets, it is also about getting some fresh air! Get out of Ostuni and walk through the bucolic countryside around. The Itria Valley, with its endless fields of olive trees, awaits you. In your wanderings, stop in the Monti and Aia Piccola districts of the municipality of Alberobello, whose trulli, houses made of dry stones with cone-shaped roofs,  are classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This is a place not to be missed that we will talk about further below. But it is not the only one in the region:

  • The town of Cisternino, which dominates the Itria Valley at 400 meters of altitude.
  • The town of Locorotondo, with its circular center.
  • The town of Martina Franca, known for its festival and baroque architecture.
  • And, of course, the caves of Castellana, which we have already mentioned above.


This seaside town, found on the coast of Salento, has an attractive historical center and offers a beautiful dive into the history of the region. It is also a less touristy destination, in comparison to the other towns and villages in Puglia. This means it has a more authentic atmosphere, but it is still not lacking in places of interest, including the Angioino Castle, the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, built in 1629. This is without mentioning the magnificent coastline of beaches.

The Houses of Alberobello

We’ve already talked about the Itria Valley, but we couldn’t fail to make a specific entry on Alberobello. This town is known for its trulli, whitewashed stone houses with conical roofs,  which leave an imperishable memory with its visitors. There are about 1,500 of these typical houses in the Monti and Aia Piccola neighborhoods, both of which are classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Aia Piccola is the place to be if you want to escape the crowds of tourists. Don’t forget to visit the Museo del Terroir and Chiesa di Sant’Antonio (Church of St. Anthony), with its trullo style roof.

Polignano a Mare

It would be sacrilege to visit Puglia without going to this beautiful place. Here you can find everything that makes the region so beautiful. Polignano a Mare is a town perched on limestone cliffs, world-famous for the diving competitions that take place in the beautiful turquoise water here. Polignano a Mare is also a place of historical interest, such as the Arco Marchesale, the great gateway to the townn center dating back to the 16th century, or the Chiesa Madre di S. Maria Assunta, which is much older, dating from the 13th century.

The Park of Porto Selvaggio

A must-see place in Puglia, this regional natural park was created in the 1950s. A significant part of its more than 1000 hectares of surface is dominated by a majestic pine forest, which makes the place famous. The park also borders the coastline for several kilometers, and is home to many places that are worth a visit, such as the Grotte du Cheval. Don’t miss the Torre dell’Alto, Torre Inserraglio and Torre Uluzzu, the three fortified towers that you will find in the park.


This is the most eastern city of Italy, but not the least beautiful! Otranto is a fortified city whose walls date back to the 8th century BC. The castle is more recent: it was constructed in the 10th century, and rebuilt in the15th century after the sacking of the city by the Turks. The fortress also offers a beautiful view of the surroundings. A little more than 45 minutes from Otranto, you will also find a beautiful bauxite quarry. A festival of colors is guaranteed!

This list of must-see places to visit in Puglia is obviously not exhaustive, so don’t hesitate to tell us your favorites in the comments or on our social networks.

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