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The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Puglia

Ellie Swain

Contributor

Tucked away in Southern Italy, Puglia, or 'Apulia' is a region known as the country’s ‘heel of the boot’. Puglia is renowned as one of Italy’s most beautiful areas, which says a lot considering how attractive the rest of the country is. With a relaxed and laid-back charm, Puglia is scattered with charming seaside villages, fascinating towns, and sun-bleached sand beaches. Embrace the slow life and spend your days discovering crumbling old architecture, indulging in long leisurely lunches, and dipping into the clear blue sea as you explore all that Puglia has to offer. While there are many stunning spots to visit, here are some of the most beautiful areas of the region.

Polignano a Mare

The coastline of Polignano a Mare is known for its dramatic cliffs, sparkling waters, and white-pebble beaches. It’s also one of the most significant ancient settlements in Puglia, and as you wander the narrow white-washed streets you’ll come across plenty of architecture to reflect that.

The historic city centre displays influences of the Arab, Byzantine, Spanish, and Norman cultures and the grey stone Matrice Church from the 13th century is worth a visit. In the main square and along the cobbled streets you’ll find plenty of restaurants dishing up authentic Italian fare. Be sure to try the seafood – most of it is locally caught and fresh.

For a dinner to remember, a visit to the Grotta Palazzese is a must. This is a luxury restaurant that sits tucked within a cave, offering splendid views of the crashing blue waves below. Carved from remarkable limestone rocks, Grotta Palazzese offers a fine dining experience like no other.

Brindisi

The pretty port city of Brindisi is known as a UNESCO heritage site for culture of piece, as it’s recognized as a safe harbour for travellers. While the city is mostly full of locals, many travellers use the city as a port to travel to Greece, as well as admiring all that Brindisi has to offer, of course.

The scenic waterfront is humming with restaurants that dish up local and fresh food. After an indulgent dinner, be sure to grab a refreshing gelato from one of the many ice cream shops and take an amble along the port promenade to admire the host of bobbing boats.

Reflective of the rest of Puglia, locals are friendly and welcoming and many nickname the city ‘Brindeasy’ in expression of the slow and relaxed pace of the city. And like many of Puglia’s other towns and cities, Brindisi offers an authentic Italian charm that’s sometimes lost in the bigger, busier cities in the country.

Alberobello

Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage town in-land of Puglia, otherwise known as the Trulli Town. Not sure what a Trulli is? Picture a small limestone house with a grey conical roof and white walls that wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney film. Now imagine a town filled with 1,500 of these tiny and quaint structures.

As you wander the streets of Alberobello, you may just feel like you’re featuring in a fairytale. While the town is the most touristy spot in Puglia, there’s no denying the magic of the place.

Most Trulli houses have been transformed into shops, cafes, and restaurants, however, many in quieter parts of the town are real homes where locals reside. If you’d like to experience living in a Trulli for yourself, then it’s possible to do so in a genuine Trulli such as Trullo Sofia. This Trulli combines the tradition of an ancient Trulli with a contemporary feel for modern living, offering the best of both worlds.

Monopoli

Monopoli is a charming seaside town that sits on the coast and is home to archaic white-washed buildings, pretty boats, and glimmering blue water. Just a 30-minute drive from Alberobello, Monopoli is an ideal spot to stop in for half a day or so to relax on the beach and for a hearty pasta lunch. A great place for a swim, on baking hot days you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away from the refreshing sea – if you don’t mind the waves, that is.

Away from the shore, wander around town through the cobblestone alleys and count how many medieval churches you come across – the old town is home to 19. 

Trani

Trani is a historic fishing port and another of Puglia’s most beautiful seaside towns. As you explore the small port, you’ll often find tanned fisherman sorting through their daily catches and selling fresh seafood straight from their colourful boats.

The vessels in the port are a fascinating mix too, and you’ll find rusty chipped fishing boats sitting aside gleaming white yachts.

Lining the port are tons of buzzy bars, jam-packed restaurants, and chic clothes boutiques. If you visit late, you’ll find that the waterfront venues are completely rammed into the early hours, mainly full of locals enjoying dinner and drinks.

The main feature of the town is Trani’s towering cathedral which is perched in a perfect spot on the harbour close by to the castle. Keep an eye out for the fascinating carvings that are found on cathedral’s façade.

Lecce

Nicknamed the ‘Florence of the South’, Lecce is a city in-land littered with Baroque monuments and ancient architecture. In the historical centre, discover archaic churches and squares, including the St. Mary of Providence and the sprawling Addolorata Square.

Be sure to stay for a spot of lunch, as Lecce is the birthplace of several unique Italian dishes, including the rustico leccese. This is a street food snack of a crunchy pastry filled with tomato and mozzarella cheese.

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