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Puglia Travel Guide: 3-Day Itinerary

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Puglia is a region in Southern Italy that I had honestly never heard of before moving to Trieste, Italy mid-2023. Man, was I missing out.

You've most likely had images from Puglia grace your social media feed without even realizing that's where the places are. I'm looking at you Alberbello.

But, now that you know the region (and I do, too), it's no surprise you're here trying to build the perfect 3-day trip to the heel of Italy's boot. In Italian, the region is Puglia but you might still come across its Latin name, Apulia. All you need to know is it's one in the same!

Before I dive into the day-to-day, like most beautiful places in the world, it's important you know that 3 days will only just scratch the surface. There are countless towns and beaches that I was unable to visit due to my limited time down south but if you have more time I urge you to tack on a few extra days.

Instead of spending more time in Puglia, I actually spent 3-days in Matera which was even more magical than I thought it would be. Although not in Puglia, if you arrive in Bari and have the time, I highly recommend the detour, but more on those add-ons later on in the article.

For now, let's dive right into our Puglia travel guide and how you can plan an epic 3-day getaway to this unique region.

Short on time? Here's the cheat sheet:

🛵The region of Puglia is home to a number of small towns and coastal cities, a few of the most famous being Bari, Alberbello, Polignano a Mare, Ostuni, and Lecce.

⌛Have minimal time? My #1 recommendation is to rent a car! The coastal towns are well-connected but the interior isn't. You'll save a lot of time and be able to see much, much more if you rent a car instead of relying on public transportation.

🎭Want to squeeze in more? GetYourGuide and Viator offer a wide variety of tours and activities to suit your schedule, budget, and interests. 

🛏️I recommend basing yourself in the seaside town, Monopoli since it's centrally located and well-connected. Book your stay at Al Console Luxury Suite for an even more special getaway.

📅3 days should be enough to cover a portion of the region but to see all that Puglia has to offer, you'll want more time here.

🏥Accidents happen so come prepared with nomad insurance, just in case!

Day 1

Welcome to Puglia, you're about to fall in love!

You've most likely arrived to the region either from the Bari Airport or Brindisi Airport but unless you've arrived early and have light luggage, I recommend you skip the exploration (for now) and hop on the train to Monopoli, where you'll be basing yourself for the 3 days.

I'll cover more about transportation below so don't get stuck on the details just yet.

Check-In in Monopoli

When I had my 3 days in Puglia, I actually based myself in Polignano a Mare and while yes, it is a very cute town, it was smaller and more touristic than I thought. I went in April and the small alleyways were already packed with people so I imagine summer there is a bit over the top.

Monopoli is more centrally located in the region and has more train and bus connections. It's big enough that it has plenty to do and see but it's not as expansive as Bari. Personally, I would have preferred to base myself here and just visit Polignano a Mare as a quick stopover.

So, once you've arrived in Monopoli, check-in, change into something fresh, and let's hit the town.

📍Don't where to stay? I recommend one of these hotels located within Old Town:

  • Budget Option: Mamma Maria: This hotel is just steps from Monopoli's city beach. The rooms are simple but the location and included breakfast make it a great stay.
  • Mid-Tier Option: Palazzo Fiscaiolo: Right next door to Mamma Maria, the rooms here are a big step up, while still offering a great breakfast and the perfect location, especially if you want to spend some of your time at the beach.
  • Luxury Option: Al Console Luxury Suite: This hotel is located just steps from Porto Antico and Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, both of which I'll recommend below as must see places in Monopoli. The rooms here offer luxury amenities and more space, still alongside an included breakfast.

Roam Around Old Town

I hadn't heard much about Monopoli before actually visiting Puglia. It seems to get overshadowed by its more aesthetic neighbors but I urge you to give it a chance.

By the way, Monopoli has no affiliation to the beloved game Monopoly... I asked.

It's big enough to offer a lot of things to see, places to eat, and shops but small enough that you can easily traverse the town by foot.

While roaming around Monopoli's Old Town, I urge you to get a little lost among the alleyways and stroll without a destination. But, if you're limited on time or the steps you want to take, at the least, I recommend:

  • Porto Antico: This is the old fishing port that is super dreamy to look at. I recommend seeing it from both sides but the northern side from around the parking lot offers the best views.
  • Castello Carlo V: This castle is just on the tip of the port so it's just a few steps away from the previous destination. You can go inside the castle if you have the time or desire.
  • Lungomare Santa Maria: This is a nice walk stretching from the Porto Antico and the Castello all along the town walls along the coast. You get great sea views and you'll spot some impressive architecture along the way.
  • Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi: Now that you've seen the surroundings of the town, it's time to head inwards. This small piazza is one of my favorites. Many of the streets leading into it are full of shops and restaurants.
  • Il Capriccio: Within that same plaza is this small gelato stand. I devoured their peach and mango flavor and saw others enjoying their cones just as much.
  • Baldovino Winebar: Located on a quiet corner, this is a great spot for an aperitivo or a full meal. It's cute, cozy, and offers a different experience than you'll find in the largest, more tourist plazas.
  • Cattedrale Maria Santissima della Madia: I'm not a religious person but do appreciate good architecture. The small plaza in front of the cathedral is really peaceful.
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Day 2

Let's not waste any time on Day 2 so we can explore Puglia as much as time allows. Start your morning off with a coffee and focaccia and then be ready to hit the road.

To really make the most of today, it's best you rent a car but going by public transportation is possible, it just will alter stop #2 on our road trip. Another option is to go on a tour so you don't have to deal with getting from Point A to Point B at all.

Hang tight, more on public transportation is coming your way below!

Take a Day Trip to Alberbello

Alberbello is likely the most photographed town in the region, or at least it was the one that kept popping up on my feed.

It's been made famous thanks to its cute trulli houses, the circular white-washed homes with conical stacked stone roofs pictured above. While there are trulli houses spread throughout Puglia, practically the entire town of Alberbello is made up of these homes, making it extra special to visit.

I definitely recommend you visit Alberbello if you have the time but you really don't need much time here, unless you're a content creator and are seeking the picture shot.

It's well worth strolling through all of the alleys, popping into a few of the shops, and snapping pictures along the way but, unless you really, really take your time, you'll be able to walk through the entire town in just a few hours.

As a heads up, when I went to Alberbello, it was early April and already the streets were teeming with tourists, similar to my experience in Polignano a Mare. Since I'm a tourist, too, I can't complain but I can recommend you try and visit during off season to avoid peak tourist time.

I wouldn't plan your entire trip to Puglia simply for Alberbello but I do recommend adding it to the itinerary because it really is so unique.

Fun Fact: The trulli are built the way they are because back in the day property tax was really expensive but was only charged on buildings with roofs. When the tax man was on his way to town, locals removed their roofs to avoid the fees, stacking back up the stones after he moved on to the next town.

Getting to Alberbello

I'll go into more detail about transportation throughout the region but for Alberbello specifically it's important to know that it's not an easy spot to get to.

Although there is a train station in town, it's really small and not well connected.

Most likely, you'll get to Alberbello via bus or by driving yourself. I took the bus from Monopoli. They have an office to buy tickets and their bus stop at Piazza Sant'Antonio.

While this might change in summer, in spring there were a few times coming and going but not so many.

Visit an Olive Grove

Photo courtesy of depositphotos.com

If you have a rental car, I highly recommend you visit one of Puglia's famous olive groves.

Most of Italy's famed olive oil actually comes from the sweeping olive groves in Puglia. And I mean, what is Italian cuisine if not for the olive oil?

If you're a fan of Italian food and culture, a stop at one of the olive groves is a must. You'll get to try some of the best olive oil of your life (it really does taste different than what you're used to) and some also offer full lunches or dinners among the plantation.

There are loads of places that offer tours, meals, and overnight stays among their ancient olive groves.

Although I haven't personally been here, I have heard great things about Masseria Il Frantoio outside of Ostuni. You can stay the night, book a tour and tasting, or make a reservation for a full meal.

Alternative Plan: Go On an Organized Tour

Don't want to drive or rely on public transportation? Book a guided tour instead.

Many of the options will take you to multiple towns, not just Alberbello, so you can really see a lot of Puglia in one trip. Personally, I'm not a big fan of tours like this that bounce you around from place to place quickly but if you're limited on time and don't think you'll ever be back, I can understand the allure.

We did this when we visited the Amalfi Coast from Naples and while it was great to see the entire coastline, it was a super long day where we felt we were rushing from one town to the next.

I recommend GetYourGuide and Viator to find tours. Both have a variety of options throughout Puglia, taking you to the interior and also ones that stick to the coast, ideal for peak summer months when it'll be more comfortable to be on the water than on land.

Day 3

Although you might be tired from yesterday, depending on what time your flight or train out of Puglia is, there's more to see and do.

If Leaving from Bari...

If you're flying out from the Bari International Airport, like I did to get back to Trieste, I recommend taking the day to visit Polignano a Mare and Bari's Old Town if you didn't on the way down to Monopoli.

In Bari, there is a luggage drop at the train station so you won't have to carry your bag but in Polignano a Mare, you will need to lug it around. Luckily the town is super small!

If Leaving from Brindisi...

I recommend you give yourself enough time to explore a bit of Brindisi before your flight. While I haven't yet made it here, I've heard it's worth a stroll.

If you have your own rental car, make a stop at Ostuni to see another of Puglia's famous towns but if you're relying on public transportation, you'll need to skip it and head straight into the city since it's not well connected by train or bus.

Puglia Travel Tips

To make your Puglia itinerary even better, take these few extra tips. The architecture, sandy beaches, hilltop towns, and delicious food makes Puglia a fantastic destination - one that you're going to want to take full advantage of from the moment you arrive!

Other Towns in Puglia to Visit

Polignano a Mare

I know I mentioned stopping by here so if you take me up on the recommendation, I wanted to share more of my favorite view points in town.

Also, if you do decide you want to stay the night here, I highly recommend Suite Novecento. This is where I stayed while here and really loved the home and the welcoming owner.


Lecce was originally on my list when I was considering a 4-day trip instead of a 3-day one. Thanks to a jump in flight prices, I cut it down to 3 and had to remove Lecce from my list.

Since I live in Italy, I know I'll be back to see southern Puglia, with Lecce as my top destination.

This small town is famous for its Baroque architecture. Apparently the historic center and well-preserved architecture alongside 20th-century shops, bars, and restaurants makes it a local favorite.


Another that I didn't get a chance to visit on this trip to Puglia but is on my list for next time is Ostuni. Known as another of one of the most beautiful towns in the region, Ostuni is famous for its Mediterranean architecture, aka its white-washed walls.

It's not a coastal town but sits on a hill overlooking the sea a few kilometers away.

Like Alberbello, it does get its fair share of press so it's far from being a hidden gem. Unless you want to share the cobblestone alleyways with plenty of others, avoid the peak summer months.


Ok, Ok, this isn't actually in Puglia but it's right on the edge in Basilicata and well worth mentioning.

Before visiting Puglia, I spent 3-days in Matera and loved every second of it.

Matera is one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited towns making it practically burst at the seams with rich history. The hilly, narrow streets constantly provide great views.

I was expecting it to be busy but it actually felt very quiet. I think that's mainly because it's more spread out than the other towns on this list, giving it the feel that it's quiet. It also seems like not many people spend the night in Matera, making mornings and evenings extra special.

If you want more than just a day trip in Matera, I recommend staying at The View. This is where I stayed during my trip and really loved it.

Best Time to Visit Puglia


I visited Puglia in spring, early April to be specific, and loved the weather. The nights are still chilly and the temperatures drop drastically so you will want to bring a jacket if you'll be out past sunset.

In the sun though, I was happy in a short skirt and short-sleeved top.

The sky, as you've seen in my pictures, was ridiculously blue without a rain cloud in sight. That might have been more luck than season though as typically spring brings on the rain.


Summer in Southern Italy is no joke but if you're in the region to experience the fabulous beaches, this is the best season for sunbathing and swimming.

If you can't handle super hot temperatures, I would avoid it. The best way to experience Puglia, other than being on the sea, is by walking aimlessly and that might not be so enjoyable if the temperature is around 95°F or 35°C.

Summer is also when there are the most crowds so you'll have to share the towns and beaches with plenty of others. Early June and September are the only exceptions when you should get great warm weather but still less people.


Although I don't have personal experience visiting Puglia in the fall, I've heard it's similar weather to what you can expect in the spring. There will also be less people in town than in the summer, making it a nice overall time to visit.

In early fall, the Adriatic Sea (east coast) and Ionian Sea (west coast) should still be warm enough for swimming.


Given how far south Puglia is, even though it's off season, the winter is pretty mild. Just know that some restaurants and bars might take their holidays in the winter since there's less tourists in town. You might have a few less options to choose from but in general it should be a nice quiet time to see the region.

How to Get Around Puglia

I learned the hard way that public transportation is pretty lacking in Southern Italy. This region is pretty small and the drive time between towns is minimal so I wrongly assumed catching a train or even a bus between them would be easy.

Public Transportation

With the exception of the coastal towns (say Bari to Polignano a Mare to Monopoli to Brindisi), the interior of the region is pretty cut off.

That being said, buses do exist but can take some detours and aren't always promoted online. I usually plan all my travels within Italy on Trainline but hit a wall getting around Puglia.

I only learned about the bus from Monopoli to Alberbello after asking my hotel in Polignano a Mare for a hand. Without their assistance, I wouldn't have known about it. Given that, I highly recommend you ask your hotel or vacation rental for help getting from Point A to Point B if not one of the coastal towns and you won't rent a car.

If you stick with the big cities in the region or those coastal towns, you'll be fine to plan on your own and buy the tickets directly on Trainline.

Car Rental

If you have the budget (and the driver's license) to rent a car while traveling Puglia, I highly recommend it.

Most of the prettiest towns you'll want to visit are a short drive from one another. With the car, you'll have full sway over where you go and when you go, giving you the best chance to soak up as much of Puglia as possible.

Foods to Try in Puglia

I will travel for food. While I love eating my way through all countries, living in Italy and getting to eat my way through the different regions, cities, and towns has been a real treat.

And Puglia is no different.

There are loads of great dishes from Puglia to try, especially if you're craving fresh seafood. These are my top recs:

  • Bombette: These are pork rolls usually stuffed with cheese and spices. I tried them chopped up on a sandwich while in Alberbello and was in heaven. If you're in the area for lunch, I recommend trying it at MaDó Filoneria Pugliese.
  • Orecchiette: This ear-shaped pasta is super tasty and found on menus around town. I ate it with turnip greens and oysters while in Bari and was in absolute heaven.
  • Stracciatella di bufala: This soft cheese rivals mozzarella in my book. It's often served on bruschetta, friselle, or pinsa and is a real treat in my opinion.
  • Caciocavallo: You'll find this type of cheese all throughout Southern Italy so whether you try it here or elsewhere, it shouldn't be missed. You can try it fresh or baked.
  • Taralli: These are commonly served at aperitivo all throughout Italy but they reign from Puglia. They're the combination between crackers and breadsticks and can be plain or with a wide variety of flavors.
  • Puccia: This is the Pugliese sandwich, commonly served at grab-and-go restaurants. You'll find a wide range of fillings but the most likely option I saw on menus all around the region was grilled octopus.

How Will You Spend Your Trip to Puglia?

As I said in the beginning of the article, this 3-day Puglia travel guide really just scratches the surface of the region. To really explore all that Pugia has to offer you'll certainly want more time. But, to see the highlights you now know you can cover a lot of ground in a short time.

Get lost among the olive trees, enjoy the sea breeze at the coastal towns, and go inland for unique architecture and towns that you won't find anywhere else in the world.

Puglia really is a stunning region that tends to get overshadowed by more famous areas but I'm sure the turquoise waters and white-washed landscape won't disappoint.

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