Southern Italy is home to the stunning region of Puglia, one of the country's most underrated areas and best-kept secrets. It's slowly gaining in popularity, but you can still enjoy quieter times in the off-season. Keep reading for an epic seven day itinerary through southern Italy with a special focus on Puglia.
Prepared By:

Ryan Tingle



Southern Italy is one of the most stunning regions of Europe, visually and culturally. Embark on a seven day adventure across Puglia and neighboring Basilicata, where your days will be full of friendly locals, ancient history, remarkable cuisine and sunny skies. This itinerary begins in Bari and follows a route south into the “Heel of the Boot” before looping back north towards Matera in the Basilicata region. Alternatively, you could also start your journey in Brindisi and work your way up from the south.

For this trip, we recommend renting a car but you can can also get around via bus and train. Just be sure to allot extra time in your trip if you do opt for public transit.

7-Day Southern Italy Itinerary


Bari is the perfect place to start any trip to Puglia as it has an international airport well-equipped with rental car companies as well as a large train station. This city is the perfect start for exploring Puglia, or you can make it your home base and explore the other cities on the itinerary as day trips. 

When visiting Bari, your focus should be on the food. Spend a day exploring the charming streets of Bari Vecchia and enjoy some fresh made orrechiette and taralli from the Nonnas of Strada della Orrechiette. These beloved “pasta grandmas” hand-roll pasta, specifically ear-shaped orrechiette, year round and sell sacks of their creations to passerby from humble carts and tables. Then, take a walk along the water to help your stomach digest any additional indulgences like an octopus and burrata panino or some fresh made foccaccia Barese. Finish the day with an aperitivo in one of the many wine bars across the city before enjoying a fresh seafood pasta in the old town. 

Bair, Puglia, in southern Italy


Just a short 30 minute drive down the coast from Bari, you can get to both Poligano a Mare and Monopoli. Make sure to visit Polignano earlier in the morning as it becomes very crowded as the day goes by. For an extra rewarding experience, wake up to watch the sunrise over the cliffside town. As the sun continues to come up, explore the tight streets and enjoy some cliff jumping around the famous Lama Monachile beach cove. Around midday, when the crowds can become overwhelming, make your way to Monopoli for a more quiet and cultural experience. Enjoy some fresh seafood at one of the many outdoor cafes and explore the historic port. Spend the rest of your day relaxing with an Aperol spritz or a glass of wine at one of the secluded beaches, such as Spiaggia di Porto Verde.

After a sun-filled day of beaches and cliff jumping, make your way to the beautiful hilltop town of Ostuni for a delicious and authentic meal at one of the many Pugliese restaurants. Explore the sparkling streets at night or enjoy an outdoor cafe with, yet again, another bottle of wine.

Aerial Views of Polignano a Mare in Southern Italy


Take a slow morning to experience a little more of Ostuni in the sunlight to have a full understanding of its nickname, “Città Bianca” before making your way to Lecce. Spend the rest of the day walking around the Baroque, white stone streets of Lecce.

Like Bari, make sure to try as many of the local delicacies in Lecce as possible. Thanks in large part to an influence of different cultures, some different dishes can be found here that are not as common across the rest of the country. For example, horse meat might be a shock to see on the menu in Lecce. However, it is quite common in Southern Italy. Love of horses aside, the meat is quite tasty when it is slowly cooked in a sauce. For the less adventurous eater, the most popular foods in Lecce come from the bakeries. Rustico, mostly seen as a street food, is made with two layers of puff pastry filled with a combination of bechamel sauce, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. This addicting savory snack is perfect for any time of day.

Don’t forget your camera as you will want to capture the gorgeous and unique architecture in every direction, especially in the Piazza del Duomo. As evening falls, soak in the local atmosphere, making your way into one of the many wine bars throughout the city center for an aperitivo and a glass of wine. Make sure to try some of the different varietals of grapes the Salento area has to offer, such as Primitivo, Negroamaro and Nero di Troia.

Lecce in Puglia, Southern Italy


Morning in Lecce means one thing: Pasticiotto. Start your day off at an outdoor cafe in the gorgeous streets of the historic city center with the iconic pastry and a cappuccino. But don’t eat more than one— its beach day! Hop in your car and head out to the coast to relax along the shore of one of Puglia’s incredible beaches. The Otranto area is one of the more popular areas for the surrounding beaches as it is many Italians’ favorite summer destination. Explore the sea caves such as Grotta della Poesia and get a little adrenaline rush with some cliff jumping. After you’ve had your fill of sun and sand, make your way back into Lecce for another evening of indulging in the best cuisine that the city has to offer.


This will be your longest day of driving, and there are many stops along the way. Get up early and first make the drive to visit Alberobello. The limestone cone-shaped buildings known as trulli are scattered across Puglia, but you will find the highest concentration of them here in Alberobello. It is the most touristy destination of the region, but this UNESCO World Heritage Site is worth seeing for an hour or two. However, if you want to actually enjoy it, go as early as possible or you will be fighting the crowds in this very small destination.

Next, it is time to stuff your face across the Itria Valley while exploring some tiny, less-visited towns. Make sure to stop in Gioia del Colle for a caseficio, such as “Caseficio Milano”, for the freshest burrata and mozzarella you have ever laid eyes on. Take a pit stop in a local winery to enjoy some different Primitivo to make a comparison to those from the Salento region around Lecce. Azienda Agricola Plantamura is an excellent option. Head into Martina Franca to walk off some of that wine and cheese before eating your way through a plethora of meats at a local macelleria such as La Locanda del Macellaio. Lastly, take a stroll through Locorotondo, another white hilltop town similar to Ostuni.

Trulli of Alberobello


You cannot visit Puglia without heading to Matera in the neighboring region of Basilicata. Considered the oldest, continuously inhabited town in the world, Matera is drowning in history and culture. The scenes are otherworldly as it feels like you’re stepping back thousands of years. The narrow, steep streets are a hike on their own, but make sure to head across to the other side of the gorge and climb up the hill and into the caves. The views are incredible around every turn, but some of the best include Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli, Convento di Sant’Agostino, Chiesa Rupestre di Santa Maria di Idris and Belvedere Murgia Timone.

One of the most unique things to do in Matera is to stay overnight in a cave. Many of the caves, known as sassi, have been fully renovated into hotels, spas, AirBnB’s, shops and restaurants. There is something very special about sleeping in a place that people have been using for around 9,000 years as shelter.

Lastly, indulge in the local culture and atmosphere. The cafes and restaurants here in Matera are extraordinary. Basilicata is actually the poorest region of Italy. But the regional Lucanian cuisine makes use of simple recipes and embodies an extremely rich culture around food. A lot of the time less is indeed more. La Lopa is a great restaurant to try out some different Lucanian dishes and each meal is followed by a visit downstairs to the cave cinema, which shows scenes from every movie ever filmed in Matera.



Because one day in Matera just isn’t enough, definitely stay for a second. You can decide to spend your extra day exploring more of what Matera has to offer, such as hiking around the caves or enjoying an ancient cave spa. On the other hand, you could spend an extra day in the Salento region around Otranto or Gallipoli, renting a boat, lying on the beach, swimming around sea caves and soaking in the sun. The beauty of Puglia is that the options are endless and you will experience the beautiful culture everywhere, no matter what you choose.

Matera Cave

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