Puglia, also known as the heel of Italy’s boot, boasts charming towns like the white-washed Ostuni, the picturesque Monopoli and Gallipoli, along with the renowned trulli village Alberobello. A delightful aspect of a 10-day road trip to Puglia, or a general visit to Italy is the delicious cuisine. Our visit spanned 10 days in Puglia, taking place in October 2020 amidst the backdrop of the Covid pandemic. Consequently, the region was notably more serene than its usual bustling self, occasionally even reaching a level of quietness that didn’t do the trip justice. My suggestion would be to opt for a 10-day Puglia Itinerary, which is during the shoulder season for an optimal experience.
Presenting the 10-day Puglia Itinerary, I will illustrate our travel route that shows you how to best spend 10 days in Puglia on a road trip. Notably, I wouldn’t alter a single aspect, except perhaps extending the duration and dedicating additional time to the beach and a Masseria.
As this Puglia guide centres around a road trip itinerary, I wholeheartedly recommend opting for a car rental. This choice offers an incredible level of freedom, enabling you to explore smaller villages and discover hidden beaches en route. Personally, I’m a strong advocate of utilizing rentalcars.com for this purpose. An interesting tidbit from our journey is that we successfully secured free parking throughout our entire trip. Admittedly, achieving this requires some preliminary research and occasional strolls from your Airbnb or hotel.
Furthermore, Italy’s train network proves to be fairly user-friendly, with convenient connections between many of the villages and towns mentioned below. However, it’s important to note that accessing the beaches or efficiently combining multiple towns in a single day becomes notably more challenging via train travel.
* Note: All links below link to detailed travel and city guides
– Day 1 || Head to Lecce and discover the city
– Day 2 || Discover Gallipoli (+ Corigliano d’Otranto)
– Day 3 || Discover the south of Puglia (Grotta della Poessia)
– Day 4 || Matera (Sassi Barisano)
– Day 5 || Matera (Sassi Caveoso)
– Day 6 || Polignano a Mare (via Altamara, Castel del Monte, Bari)
– Day 8 || Valle d’Itria (Cisternino, Locorotondo, Martina Franca)
– Day 9 || Alberobello & Ostuni
– Day 10 || Ostuni
Our journey started with a flight from Amsterdam to Brindisi, where we acquired our rental car to start our 10-day Puglia road trip. Nextly, we drove to Lecce, our first destination, and what a remarkable choice it proved to be. Lecce, to put it simply, captured our hearts from the very beginning. As we reflect on the entirety of our vacation, we decided on Lecce as our absolute favourite city. Firstly, there are great day trips from Lecce to embark on, while the bars and restaurants in Lecce make it the perfect base to spend your evenings and nights. During our first day, we have indulged some great lunch at DoppioZero and dinner at La Magiada. Furthermore, the city itself boasts numerous charming spots, so make sure to also allocate one of your days to discovering Lecce.
Night 1: Stay the night in Lecce, click on the link to learn more about the hotels.
Gallipoli, a charming coastal town (check out the photo gallery), is a stop well worth incorporating into your Puglia itinerary. Strolling along the seafront and meandering through the alleys of the city centre on our way back to the car, was a lovely experience. Regrettably, I can’t offer any favourable restaurant recommendations, as the restaurant we chose is not worth mentioning. I’d advise opting for a restaurant in town rather than focusing solely on a beachside view.
En route from Lecce to Gallipoli, we also passed through Corigliano d’Otranto. Although not extraordinary, encountering smaller, less touristy locales added a fun dimension to our journey. Following our day trip, we circled back to Lecce to enjoy the evening, enjoying some drinks and dinner at for example Crianza and Mamma Elvira Enoteca (check out all bars & restaurants).
Night 2: We stayed the night in Lecce to not switch hotels daily. However, if you would like, you could also stay in Gallipoli to enjoy some beach views! Visit the links below to learn more.
The south of Puglia boasts an array of beaches, including my personal favourite, the Grotta della Poessia. Our third day in Puglia was dedicated to a coastal drive southward. However, the weather took an unfortunate turn, blocking our plans to explore all the intended attractions. Additionally, check out my comprehensive guide on all-day trips from Lecce, including the destinations to consider visiting on a road trip in the south of Puglia.
Night 3: We stayed in the same hotel in Lecce as before.
While Matera isn’t technically part of Puglia, as it falls under the jurisdiction of the Basilicata province, it’s frequently integrated into Puglia road trips and itineraries; and rightfully so. That being said, Matera is a beautiful addition and well worth exploring. Firstly, one of the most standout features of Matera, is that it is built up of two sassis. During our first day in Matera, we focused on exploring one of them, named Sassi Barisano. Additionally, if you want to learn more about Matera, definitely check out my Complete Matera City Guide. Without a doubt, you should pay a visit to Casa Noha on your first day, to learn about the impressive history of Matera. Additionally, don’t miss out on cocktails at Area 8
Night 4: During your fourth night in Puglia and while visiting Matera, you can best stay in Matera. Explore the best hotels in Matera below.
Following your first day in Matera, where you explored Sassi Barisano, the second day in Matera focuses on discovering Sassi Caveosa. Personally, Sassi Caveosa was my favourite of the two, as there were so many amazing alleys to discover and photograph. Additionally, Trattoria del Caveosa is a great choice for dinner when exploring Sassi Caveosa.
Night 5: You can best stay another night in Matera. Explore the best hotels below.
The 6th day of our 10-day road trip through Puglia was packed with activities. Firstly, we left Matera early in the morning, driving to Altamura for a quick stop, a stroll and a cup of coffee. Afterwards, our journey led us to the renowned Castel del Monte. While the exterior is quite impressive, I must confess that the inside left something to be desired. Especially, given the unguided experience we opted for, left us merely wandering through vacant chambers.
Following our castle visit, we continued onward to Bari for a leisurely city walk and a satisfying lunch. Are you eager to learn more about this little side road trip in Puglia? Explore a full-day trip covering Altamura, the castle, and Bari here.
Concluding the day, we arrived at our overnight destination: Polignano a Mare. Polignano is a cute and popular coastal town, offering one of Puglia’s most iconic views. To make the most out of your stay, definitely check out this full travel guide to Polignano a Mare. To illustrate, you can’t miss out on the Pietra Piatta viewpoint, as well as the best pizza in Polignano: Pizza E Fichi.
Night 6: We stayed for 1 night in Polignano a Mare, in the lovely Nisea! Find more hotels below.
The 8th day of this 10-day Puglia itinerary was marked by exploring the first villages of the Valle d’Itria. This valley is a beautiful region, known for its charming villages and the trullis. As we wanted to leave enough time to visit Alberobello in the early morning and escape the crowds, we moved Alberobella to Day 9. Therewith, our planning for day 8 involved a visit to Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca. Unfortunately, the weather turned bad this day which meant that walking around and sitting on a terrace wasn’t possible this day. Nevertheless, we had a great time exploring these villages. In addition, we added a night in a trulli to fully experience the unique features of the Valle d’Itria.
Night 8: The trulli we stayed in was near Locorotondo, a perfect base to explore the Valle d’Itria during your 10 days in Puglia road trip.
As previously noted, we intended to visit Alberobello early in the morning to beat the crowds in Puglia’s most renowned trulli town. Fortunately, our strategy worked and we’ve been able to enjoy Alberobello to the fullest. Even though there is not too much to do, it’s a great place for photos (especially, don’t miss out on the elvedere Santa Lucia viewpoint)! Subsequently to our visit to Alberobello, our road trip itinerary continued to the final destination of our Puglia itinerary: Ostuni. We enjoyed lunch, soaked up the sun, and went for dinner to leave exploring the city in more detail the next day.
Night 9: We spent the night in Ostuni, to have the afternoon to explore the city and have the best restaurants available
During the final day of this 10-day Puglia itinerary, we further explored the beautiful town of Ostuni. Firstly, we wandered around, made loads of pictures and visited a great and famous viewpoint in Ostuni: Corso Vittorio Emmanuel II. Next to that, we visited the famous bar Borgo Antico and enjoyed amazing Italian food. Also, learn more about what to do, see, eat, and where to stay in Ostuni here.
Night 10: We spent our final night in Ostuni, before waking up early and driving back to the airport.
In conclusion, a road trip to Puglia is an amazing experience. After our trip, I can confirm that 10 days in Puglia is the perfect time to spend on your road trip. Amazingly, there are many great locations and stops to visit during your itinerary. The combination of cities such as Lecce, the beauty of the coastal town Polignano a Mare and the famous trullis in Alberobella, is note worthy.