Located in the vibrant region of southern Italy, Puglia is as diverse as it is attractive, with beaches stretching across idyllic coastal towns that are steeped in tradition and a healthy passion for cuisine. Home to the longest stretch of coastline in Italy, the farming region of Puglia sits between the Ionian and Adriatic Seas. With year-round sunshine and stunning blue seas, holidays in Puglia are a firm favourite with Italian holidaymakers. Traditional buildings exude Italian style and hark back to their historical past, while the coastal towns maintain their homely atmosphere. Expect celebrations and family-friendly festivals during the summer that radiate colour and entertainment, adding a dose of excitement to your Puglia holidays. This untouched region of scenic Baroque towns and churches compliment the vineyard-sprinkled countryside as well as some of the prettiest beaches in Italy. Each little town is different here, Torre Canne boasts mineral-rich hot springs and a dune-backed beach, whilst further along the coast, Torre Guaceto’s wild beaches make up a beautiful nature reserve. Reminiscent of centuries gone by, medieval watchtowers mark the coastline. In the city of Ugento you will find some of the best ancient finds, including a 5th century bronze Zeus statue. At Fasano you’ll find the ruins of pre-Roman churches, palaces and crumbling walls.
There is something for everyone with holidays to Puglia. If it is history you crave, visit the site of Alberobello, situated between two hills with a plethora of modern and ancient architecture. Explore the Trulli of Alberobello to marvel at the beehive buildings on cobbled streets. This fairy-tale like town has plenty of souvenir shops selling gems that you’ll treasure forever. In San Giovanni Rotondo is the spectacular Shrine of Padre Pio. This site is the second most-visited Catholic shrine in the world, centring on the tomb of Saint Padre Pio alongside bronze and marble sculptures in a preserved church. For more outstanding architecture, the charming city of Lecce has baroque churches and ornate squares. During the summer, Puglia has several music festivals, including the Centro Artistico Musicale Paolo Grassi and the Festival della Valle d’Itria that play host to a range of local and international music performances, like opera, classical and jazz.
Wine and Dine
Puglia holidays really begin when you taste the food and wine. The famous cuisine consist of fresh local produce like olive oil, artichokes and mushrooms. There are a range of different styled eateries, from romantic medieval restaurants to quaint family-run bistros along the coast. Red wine is very popular here. Producing more than any other region in Italy, Puglia’s grapes are known for their broad, flavoursome variety and contribute around 17% of Italy’s wine production. If you want the crème de la crème of cuisine then you’ve come to the right place. Puglia is bursting with Michelin star restaurants waiting to be discovered. Pashà – Conversano in Bari has a haute menu that features rustic dishes and world class Italian flavours. The best table in the restaurant is near the window so you can enjoy fantastic views of the beautiful Conversano Castle. For a hip dining experience at lunchtime, book a table at Porto Ghiacciolo near Santo Stefano beach. Or if you want to dine outside, then head to the cool restaurant of Lido Bosco Verde, outside of Savelletri, with its terrace flanked by olive trees.
Aside from bucket and spade activities on Puglia’s beaches, there are a lot of amusements for you and the family to enjoy. Visit Zoo Safari Fasanolandia amusement park at Fasano in the Valle d’Itria for a glimpse of hippos, lions and penguins, the Zoo Safari has over 50 different species of animals for you and the little ones to discover. Indiana Park offers children the chance to explore the adventure playground in Castellana Grotte near Monopoli. From rope ladders, cable slides and trees to climb there are different levels to keep kids of all ages happy. If you want to cool off, take a dip in the pools at Curtipetrizzilandia Acquapark in Cellino San Marco. With an array of water slides and tubes, you can make a day of it with a drink at the bar and lunch in the picnic area. The themed Red Indian village will keep the children occupied, as will the wooded area complete with a jungle play area, a mini zoo and a dinosaur park.
Action and Adventure
For a piece of action on your Puglia holiday, you just need to venture outdoors. From the salt pans of the Margherita di Savoia Nature Reserve to hiking along the soil amongst Mediterranean scrubland down to the wonderful blue sea, this region will show the best that nature has to offer. If you love scuba diving, you have a choice between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas to appreciate Puglia’s colourful sea beds. Surfers can make the most of the copious amounts of sun and wind to ride the waves at some spectacular bays. Out in the countryside, you can either go horse riding through the gentle hills of the Murge plateau or free climb the ravines in Gravina.
Life's a Beach
With 800 kilometres of shoreline, Puglia is surrounded by two Mediterranean seas which offer holidaymakers a brilliant variety of coastal beauty. From the shimmering waters of the Ionian to the glistening sands of the Adriatic, you will find a beach to suit your needs. The Pugliese coast is blessed with countless stunning seaside views and experiences. As well as golden heavenly sandy beaches, you will also discover steep white cliffs, wonderful rocky coves and enchanting grottoes. If you have the family in tow, take a trip to Punta Prosciutto that has crystal clear water and long stretches of golden sand. Its shallow waters are ideal for swimming and water sports. Alternatively there are plenty of sun loungers for you to top up your tan. Pescoluse beach in Leuca has small sand banks that resemble a collection of islands at sunset offshore sand banks with glittering Ionian waters and silky white sands. The beach-crowd is mainly Italian and families flock here because of its shallow and safe waters. For total seclusion go to Dune di Campomarino beach in Maruggio. The dunes are the perfect place to hide and host a variety of lush shrubbery and vegetation like fragrant juniper, lavender and thyme. This beach is the place for you to reconnect with nature and find peace in the crystal clear waters.
With so much coastline, nightlife in Puglia starts on the beach. If you want to mix sand with partying, head to Samsara Beach in Gallipoli. With delicious cocktails in a buzzing atmosphere, this beach bar is one of the hottest night spots on the west coast. Another beach club to visit on your holiday in Puglia is White Beach in Torre Canne, Fasano. Located right on the sea front, the club has a chilled vibe during the evening, and comes alive when the sun goes down. The place to be seen in Puglia is Riccardo Caffé, situated in the heart of the hill town, Ostuni. At night this restaurant in the caves transforms into a quirky bar. For cliff-top clubbing, head to Gibó which is only open during the summer months. This luxury bar in Santa Maria di Leuca sits on a cliff-face and offers stunning sea views whilst you drink and dance the night away.
There are many hidden romantic spots in Puglia whether you want to escape to the astonishing Adriatic coastline with its concealed inlets and cliffs that remain untouched by holidaymakers, or discover its capital Bari which oozes tradition and Romanesque art, like the Basilica of St Nicolas, which makes for an exciting day out. Up on a vast plateau, there are olive groves, wheat fields, almond groves and vineyards where the region’s farming history blooms. Get away from it all in the Iria Valley and explore the thousands of trulli, which create a fairy-tale-like landscape. Spice up your Puglia holiday with a visit to a festival. During the summer there’s the Otranto Jazz Festival and La Notte della Taranta, where the region's traditional dance, the Pizzica is celebrated.
Every town and village in Puglia is filled with history. Bearing ruins and architecture of cultures gone by, this region is a treasure trove, waiting to be discovered. Lecce’s soft white limestone architecture is from the Baroque era. Packed with churches and a 12th century cathedral, as well as a superbly maintained Roman amphitheatre. A listed UNESCO World Heritage site, Alberobello is home to the unique trulli, whitewashed houses with conical roofs, that line its narrow streets. Carovigno has a wonderful historic centre with a medieval castle surrounded by olive groves that reach the sea. Wander around the old Roman town of Fasano Egnazia for a good share of historical sites. Here you can explore the ancient Roman settlement, along with the museum that exhibits mosaics, pottery and an Egyptian marble head.