ITALY,  ROAD TRIP

8-day road-trip in Puglia: itinerary and budget

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Puglia is located in the very south of Italy, at the heel of the boot, in the south-east. Puglia is a land of whitewashed hilltop towns, villages of Trulli (dry-stone dwellings with conical roofs), sumptuous towns, some Baroque, others port-like and others resembling medinas, endless olive groves and crystal-clear beaches.
Add to all this a simple, tasty cuisine!
It’s a region of great richness and diversity. We really fell under the spell of this part of Italy!

In this article, I propose an 8-day itinerary in the heart of Puglia, which you can of course adapt to your own tastes.

Itinerary and budget for 8 days in Puglia

Puglia

Day 1: Arrival in Bari – Polignano a Mare and Monopoli

Bari > Polignano a Mare (35km – 35min)
Polignano a Mare –> Monopoli (9km – 20min)

Night Monopoli

POLIGNANO A MARE

This Apulian seaside resort is built into the side of cliffs (dozens of meters high) and offers marvellous views of the sea. It’s famous for its beach and its houses suspended from the rocks! Don’t hesitate to head down to Monachile beach and stroll through the pretty historic center. In high season, this town is a victim of its own success, and you can quickly find yourself cramped for space…

MONOPOLI

Our first favorite of the trip (I warn you, there are 3 of them!). The city’s historic center is superb, with its white houses with green shutters. The atmosphere is really pleasant. Two places not to be missed are the Cathedral of Maria Santissima della Madia and the little fishing port in the center of the city. For me, Monopoli is a must-see in Puglia!


Where to eat in Monopoli

  • Spaghetti d’Italia: very good experience. We went there twice in 2 days. We really enjoyed our pasta dishes!

Where to sleep in Monopoli?

  • Borgo Guesthouse: perfect for 2 adults. The location is great and the accommodation itself is clean and very well equipped!

Day 2: Beaches around Monopoli, Castellana caves and Alberobello

Beaches around Monopoli (just a few minutes away)
Monopoli > Les grottes di Castellana (16km – 30min)
Les grottes di Castellana > Alberobello (15km – 20min)

Night Alberobello

BEACHES NEAR MONOPOLI: Copacabana and Lido Colonia

There are several beaches in the Monopoli area. We’ve set our sights on Copacabana beach, with its grotto, fine sand and translucent water!

Access: Park in the free parking lot overlooking Cala Paradiso. Follow the beach to the right to access the 3 successive beaches.

LES GROTTES DI CASTELLANA

  • Access: 45km southeast of Bari on the SS100, then the SS172 to Castellana-Grotte.
  • Times and prices: Year-round, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Several guided tours (the full 1hr30) at €21 and the partial tour (50min) at €16.5.
  • Parking: parking close to the entrance, no other choice for parking, compulsory at €4/car.

The caves follow the course of an ancient underground river that criss-crossed the Murge limestone subsoil. Their discoveries have revealed magnificent creations: draperies, stalactites and colorful stalagmites. The spectacle becomes grandiose in the Grotte Blanche, sparkling with calcite crystals.

ALBEROBELLO

Second favorite of the trip!
If you can, Alberobello is a must-see at sunrise. This town is incredible for its 1,500 Trulli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These lime-walled, conical-roofed, cement-free houses, made of heaped local stone, were originally used by peasants and are now exploited for tourism. It’s one of the most visited places in the region. I recommend getting up early (before 8 a.m.) to enjoy the village’s alleyways without the crowds – that’s when you’ll discover all its charm.

A fun experience to try: a quad bike tour from Alberobello! For the “Quad for all” package at €118/person. Here’s the link if you’d like to book.


Where to stay in Alberobello?

  • Daca: I’d recommend this accommodation for its location close to Alberobello’s historic center, its cleanliness and above all the possibility of parking your car right in front of the entrance, so you can visit Alberobello on foot!

Day 3 : Alberobello, Martina Franca and Locorotondo

Alberobello > Martina Franca (15km – 25min)
Martina Franca > Locorotondo (6km – 15min)
Locorotondo > Alberobello (10km – 12min)

Night Alberobello

MARTINA FRANCA

We continue our road trip down to Martina Franca. It’s a real gem. The town boasts a beautiful historic center surrounded by ramparts, and a maze of narrow streets lined with majestic Baroque churches.

LOCORODONTO

Located near Alberobello and perched on a hilltop, Locorotondo is a marvel not to be missed. We really liked it. Take the time to lose yourself in its white streets with flower-filled facades and colorful geraniums adorning the balconies. Everything about this town is so cute! A must-see!

Day 4 : Cisternino, Ostuni et Lecce

Alberobello > Cisternino (17km – 25min)
Cisternino > Ostuni (15km – 25min)
Ostuni > Lecce (75km – 1h)

Night Lecce

CISTERNINO

If you have a little time, stop off at this village. Admittedly, it’s less well-known than its neighboring villages, but it’s well worth a stop. A wonderful discovery!

OSTUNI

Another cute village with an atmosphere we love: white houses, flowers, garlands, narrow streets and superb monuments.

Access: park your car before entering the old town. We found a spot close to the viewpoint that was also free.


Where to stay in Ostuni?

  • La Grotta di Megre: if you’re looking for an inexpensive place to eat on the terrace, this is the place for you!

LECCE

Its wealth of incredibly exuberant monuments has earned Lecce the nickname “Baroque Florence“. While the palaces and churches of the historic center attract the crowds, the city also attracts visitors for its art of living and the cheerful liveliness of its streets.

Visits: Entrance to the main churches has been chargeable since January 2021. A combined ticket for €9 per person allows you to visit 4 churches (Duomo, Santa Croce, Chiesa Santa Chiara and San Mateo) as well as the Museum of Sacred Art. I highly recommend taking this pass, as it’s a great way to visit all the monuments.

Parking: it’s impossible to park in the historic center (residents only). To park without paying, stay in the modern part of Lecce. Alternatively, you can park in the parking lot next to the cemetery, not far from Porta Napoli (the city’s main entrance). It costs just €2 for the day!

Day 5 : Poetry cave, Torre dell’Orso, Faraglioni di Sant’Andrea, Baia dei Turchi and Otrante

Lecce > Poetry cave (26km – 35min)
Poetry cave >
Faraglioni di Sant’Andrea (5km – 10min)
Faraglioni di Sant’Andrea > Baia dei Turchi (10km – 15min)
Baia dei Turchi > Otrante (10km – 20min)

Night Otrante

POETRY CAVE

Located in Roca Vecchia, the Poetry Cave is a natural swimming pool carved out of the rock and connected to the sea. Most visitors take a dip in the water, even though it’s forbidden, but it seems to be tolerated. If you want the best color in the water, you should go when the sun is high in the sky (between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. depending on the time of year). Unfortunately, the site is overrun by crowds even in September, so it loses much of its charm.

Admission: depending on the time of year, access to the cave may be subject to a fee. 3€/person.

Parking: compulsory pay parking (you can’t park elsewhere) at €1.80/hour.

FARAGLIONI DI SANT’ANDREA

This place is superb. The color of the water is really incredible and the cliffs are impressive. We went swimming near the arch, and the water was very good.

Parking: it’s free if you park on the right side of the road, otherwise you have to pay €1.50/hour. Pay attention to road signs.

BAIA DEI TURCHI

North of Otranto, this sandy beach is large and wild. You’ll reach it after crossing the pine forest.

Parking: €5 for the day, then you can take the shuttle bus to the beach. If you don’t want to pay, you can park along the road (via Uliveto Vecchio) and walk there. It’s a good 25-minute walk.

OTRANTE

Otranto is a good base for visiting this part of the Puglia coastline. Take the time to stroll through its charming historic center, and don’t hesitate to stop for an aperitif on one of the many terraces.

Day 6: Southern Otranto, Gallipoli and Matera

Otrante > Porto Miggiano (16km – 25min)
Porto Miggiano > Castro Marina (5km – 10min)
Castro Marina > Piscina Naturale di Marina Serra (13km – 25min)
Piscina Naturale di Marina Serra > Gallipoli (47km – 50min)
Gallipoli > Matera (230km – 2h30)

Night Matera

PORTO MIGGIANO

It’s a very pretty beach at the foot of the cliffs. You can get there by taking the stairs. Be careful, it’s a steep descent!

CASTRO MARINA

A small village well worth a stop on the way (be sure to pay for your parking at the pay-and-display machine, there are controls!)

PISCINA NATURALE DI MARINA SERRA

The place is just too nice not to stop for a dip! And the color of the water is just too beautiful!

GALLIPOLI

No particular favorites, but we don’t regret our stop to form our own opinion. The town has an atypical layout, as the old town lies on a limestone island and is linked to the mainland by a bridge.

Parking: parking in the old town is reserved for residents. Leave your vehicle at the fishing port below.

Day 7: Matera

Day trip to Matera + overnight in Matera

So here’s our 3rd road trip favorite: Matera, our most pleasant surprise on this trip to Puglia (even though, technically, we’re no longer in Puglia)! Whether at sunrise, in the middle of the day, at sunset or at night, the town is magnificent. If you can, stay for 2 nights so you can enjoy it at all hours.

Matera is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Sassi (small troglodyte dwellings carved out of the rock). Built in light-colored stone atop a plateau, the historic center overlooks a deep ravine. Take the time to wander around the town and take in the sights. Plan to have a drink or try out the restaurants. Whether it’s the decor, the atmosphere or the quality of the food, it’s all worth it!

Belvedere Luigi Guerricchio detto dei “Tre Archi”, located under the three arches next to the small church in piazza Vittorio Veneto.

Belvedere on the piazza del Duomo:

Visits : I also recommend taking the pass that allows you to visit 3 monuments in the city. The pass costs €7/person. It allows you to discover :
The Church of the Madonna of Idris and Dan Giovanni in Monterrone.
– Santa Lucia alle Malve
– San Pietro Parisano

Parking: it’s impossible to enter the old town by car, so you’ll have to park on the streets or in one of the modern city parking lots, such as Viale Aldo Moro (near the railway station) or Via Pasquale Vena. Matera can only be visited on foot.

Day 8 : Bari – Back to France

Matera > Bari (65km – 50min)

Budget for 2 people (8-day itinerary)

Trip made in September 2021, prices have probably changed since then…

Car rental: €31/day or €248.
Petrol: approx. 700km for this itinerary, i.e. 80€.
Accommodation: mainly bookings on Booking and Airbnb. On average 72€/night or 504€.
Visits and parking: 60€.
Shopping: 100€.
Restaurants/drinks and ice cream: 210€.

TOTAL: 1202€ for 2 people excluding airfare

Thanks for reading!

Mylène

My most beautiful photos are on Instagram

Follow me on my adventures around the world

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