Puglia holidays

Wend your way round this beautiful slice of south Italy, taking in ancient olive groves and vineyards. Discover hilltop towns bursting with history and cute cliffside villages that gaze over pristine beaches and waters. Marvel at its ‘Florence of the South’ city and UNESCO-listed trellis before feasting on the rich flavours here in Italy’s breadbasket. 

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Italy's hidden gem

From the baroque majesty within the astonishing hilltop town of Lecce to spectacular limestone caves, like Grotte di Castellana, Puglia makes a mesmerising alternative to the better-known Amalfi Coast. 

Start at the top of Italy’s heel, the ancient, gritty port of Bari has become one of southern Italy’s most prosperous cities in recent years. Once considered slightly rough, Bari’s horn-shaped medieval old city and handsome waterfront, the Lungomare, have been beautifully restored and many visitors now linger here before heading for the beaches and historic towns nearby. Book flights to Bari today and start exploring.

Carefully selected Puglia breaks 

Best hotels in Sicily for all types of traveller

Borgo Egnazia iis a luxury hotel based in the scenic town of Savelletri, which offers a championship golf course, spa, private beaches, a Michelin-starred restaurant and clubs for tots to teens. Alternatively, grab an affordable tranche of tranquillity at Pietrablu Resort & Spa Pietrablu Resort & Spa with bed and breakfast or half board on offer. 

‘The Godfather’ film fans can choose Palazzo Margherita as their glamourous holiday setting – a 19th Century palace restored by director Francis Ford Coppola. Interestingly, there’s no official on-site restaurant, but guests can dine at the eat-in kitchen – meant to create a ‘home-away-from-home’ atmosphere. 



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Puglia holiday FAQs

  1. Some of the peachiest Puglia beaches are the free, easily accessible ones around Vieste. If you like small, head north of San Lorenzo or Baia di San Felice. To escape the summer crowds, head to the grotto-heavy coastline around Testa del Gargano or the wild Parco Regionale Porto Selvaggio. 
  2. Getting around Puglia using public transport is nearly impossible, so hiring a car is a great way to see what’s on offer. Cruise the clifftop coast road that extends from Otranto to Santa Maria di Leuca. It only covers about 60km, but once you’ve discovered the small coves and best beaches in Puglia along the way, the hours will have flown by. Arrive at the headland of Santa Maria di Leuca in time to catch the perfect sunset.
  3. The porous limestone beneath Puglia’s soil is perfect for winemaking and helps the nation produce more wine than any other. Puglia vineyards have produced red wine dating back to the 8th Century BC when the Greeks colonised the area. Consider visiting a winery like Morasinsi in Minervino where you can learn about regenerative agriculture. 
  4. Even with a myriad of hilltop towns, the mighty Lecce still stands out as one of the best places to visit in Puglia. Known as the Florence of the South, the town’s picturesque piazzas were styled by some of Italy’s finest 17th Century architects. Its baroque architecture is so incredible it even has its own style, Barocco Leccese. 
  5. If you head 12 miles south of Andria, you’ll find the mysterious octagonal Castel del Monte. Despite having ‘castle’ in its name, you won’t find a mote or a drawbridge here; and it’s not located anywhere strategically. Some claim it was built as a hunting lodge or folly. Others believe it was constructed by Frederick II for religious devotion, since its octagonal shape was seen as sacred during Medieval times.
  6. The trulli of Alberobello are tiny cylindrical limestone houses topped by conical roofs built entirely without mortar. They date from the 14th Century – and this town has 1,500 of them, which have bagged the structures UNESCO World Heritage status. Alberobello is popular in summertime, so coming during shoulder season can be especially rewarding. 
  7. Puglia is known as Italy’s breadbasket and is a gastronomic goddess primed for pasta, breads and wine. The region’s sunny landscapes also produce some 40% of the country’s olive oil. As such, the best restaurants in Puglia use locally sourced ingredients to make signature delicate dishes. Look out for a pasta dish, Cime di Rapa (broccoli rabe) – and Pasticcitto pastries filled with custard.   
  • With its rough and ready charm, Vieste is an authentic part of Puglia. If you’d come fifty or so years ago, you wouldn’t have seen a proper road here. Today its great beaches are accessible, yet the warren-like old town with its whitewashed homes retains an old-world charm. Relax at one of its many restaurants or wine bars overlooking the Adriatic. You can also hop on a ferry to the Tremiti Islands from here (April to September).
  • Once a penal colony, these five islands lie some 13 miles off Puglia’s northern coastline. Canny travellers come in the shoulder season to find it much quieter. The largest island, San Domino, is where ferries from the mainland dock. From here you can hop on a hire bike and explore. Note that only Cala delle Arene has a sandy coastline. If you want to snorkel, head for the smaller island of San Nicola.
  • Matera sits in the Basilicata region, just beyond the borders of Puglia, but it’s well worth a visit. Not only did the iconic locale star in the Bond film ‘No Time to Die’ (as did Puglia’s bridge – Ponte Acquedotto sul torrente), today it’s a stunning UNESCO site and one of the most unique cities in the world. The famed Sassi cliff dwellings have been largely inhabited since the Palaeolithic period, minus a thirty-year renovation period that began in the 1950s.
  • Don’t miss Bari’s old town with its fat boulevards, decent shops, bars and restaurants. You'll also find its impressive Romanesque-style church Basilica di San Nicola a great example of one of Puglia’s earliest Norman churches. While here, you could take a food tour by rickshaw. If you’d prefer to pedal yourself, as exercise after excellent nosh, opt for the bike tour. 
  • Ostuni is known as the ‘white city’. Originally painted white to keep cool, this stunning town sits on three hills at the southernmost edge of Le Murge. The old centre spreads across the highest of the hills with gleaming sun-bleached streets and cobbled alleyways. It even has an archaeological museum that displays artefacts from as far back as the Bronze Age.
  • Otranto has a medieval cathedral with 12th Century mosaic that covers the entire floor of the nave. Its surreal mural features a tree of life, animals, biblical figures, pagan characters, mythical beasts and visions of heaven and hell — as well as, surprisingly, a cat in boots. No one really knows what it was trying to say. Why not go and interpret it for yourself?

Where to stay in Puglia  depends on you and your travel companions. Puglia can be perfect for families, romantic couples or singles. It may not have the kudos of Florence or Rome, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting. This place is seriously impressive and has been off the radar for far too long. We recommend these Puglia hotels for different types of travellers.

Enjoy local gastronomy and see some of the most beautiful coastal villages and towns close to Canne Bianche Lifestyle Hotel. This luxury hotel in Puglia boasts sun terraces and some water sports on the golden sands of Torre Canne di Fasano. If you’re after something a little more remote and romantic, try Masseria Torre Maizza. It’s one of the best boutique hotels in Puglia  and part of Rocco Forte’s luxurious portfolio at the coastal and countryside location of Fasano. Take in the cliff-edged coast from the rooftop bar at this former 16th Century farm, close to olive trees and vineyards.  

A real feeling of escape beckons at the Borgobianco Resort. Built from an old farmhouse, it offers a relaxing atmosphere just a few miles from Polignano a Mare. Perfect for families who want the ease of Puglia package holidays, the Vivosa Apulia Resort is set in the pine forests of Ugento and offers easy access to white sands and clear seas, plus a kids’ club. Another family hotel in Puglia is Relais Masseria Le Cesine, close to Salento, with a private beach. 

April to June is the best time to visit Puglia. You’ll find that the Puglia weather is pleasant, and many travellers visit during this time. Temperatures soar in July and August, but another good time to visit is September - October, when Puglia temperatures are much more comfortable.

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We’re one of the UK’s largest holiday companies offering carefully chosen hotels, resorts and villas in the most amazing places, and car hire with no hidden extras. Our access to the extensive British Airways global network and oneworld® alliance puts us in a unique position to create holiday packages with convenient flights across the globe. From start to finish consider your holiday taken care of.

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