I’m writing this article 2 weeks after the trip so I hope I can still remember it. Puglia is “the heel” of Italy. I really enjoyed this trip, it is more of a budget destination in comparison to other sea destinations in Europe. Besides having great beaches, good food, Puglia also has the nicest people I ever met and small towns with impressive architecture.
Who is Puglia for?
It is great for everyone, families, couples or group of friends.
Is it expensive?
As mentioned, it is more of a budget destination, esp. if we compare to Corsica (our previous sea holiday destination). I believe we paid for accommodation 2X more in Corsica than Puglia. Car rental prices are similar to over places.
How do I get there? (flight, car, ferry)
There are 2 main airports in the area: Bari and Brindisi. You can also arrive by ferry in Bari or arrive in any other Italian city and drive down.
Do I need to rent a car?
Most likely yes, especially if you plan to take more than a weekend holiday in Bari for e.g. and Polignano al mare. As usual, we rented a car at the airport of arrival.
Where do I choose accommodation?
I advise splitting your trip in 2 and stay in each of these 2 locations:
- Beaches north from Porto Cesareo (e.g. Le Dune Lido, Torre Lapillo, Punta Prosciutto, Tore Colimena, San Pietro, Monaco Mirante); I would advise staying near the beach rather than in Porto Cesareo itself as the village is newly built, no special architecture and really bad restaurants. One is is to choose a hotel with a good restaurant on booking.com even if it is located a bit inland and you need to drive to the beach; agriturismo is very popular in the area.
- Polignano al Mare (for a beautiful old town and easy access to other towns with beautiful architecture)
Beaches I recommend
- SAND – with sunbed, restaurant and relaxing music/dj: Le Dune Lido, near Porto Cesareo and all beaches north of it up to Ayala beach
- ROCKY & WILD – Porto Miggiano near Otranto, Beach Torre Sant’Andrea, near Otranto;
Towns/villages to visit
- Alberobello (trulli houses)
- Lecce (trulli houses)
- Martina Franca (baroque architecture)
- Polignano al Mare (famous beach between walls)
Restaurants we liked
- 37 Nodi Fish E Food (Castro) – best vegan burger!
- Terra degli Ulivi (Otranto) – best ravioli with yellow tomatoes!
- Gli Artigiani Tratoria (Nado) – best parmigianna!
- La Locanda Porta Picc (Polignano al Mare) – best fish!
- Osteria Piga (Polignano al Mare) – good mushroom risotto!
- Pizzeria Casa Pinto (Locorotondo) – best pizza for the entire trip!
What local souvenirs could I bring?
Olive oil (as this is what the region is known for), local almonds and any kind of local fruit or veggies that are in season. We also go to the food market when we travel and end up bringing a few things back with us. This time we enjoyed watermelons, yellow melons, pears, peaches, yellow and black grapes, dried tomatoes, cactus fruits, etc.)
What did I not manage to see in this trip and is still on my list
- Monopoli town
- Other beaches north of Porto Cesareo: Torre Lapillo, Punta Prosciutto, Tore Colimena, San Pietro, Monaco Mirante
What would I do different if I was to redo this trip
I would skip Otranto area as the beaches were more spectacular on the west side of Puglia and spend more time at the beaches north of Porto Cesareo. I would also skip Brindisi visit.