A 400km strip of land that makes up the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is one of Italy‘s most charming regions. Known for its never-ending coastline, whitewashed hill towns and sublime food it feels very different to the rest of the country and is it the perfect place for those looking to get off the beaten track.
With the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to the south, Puglia is a beach lover’s dream with everything from long stretches of golden sand to pebbly enclaves and hidden coves.
Pretty coastal towns such as Polignano a Mare, Trani and Monopoli are perched atop the rocks looking out over the turquoise waters. The towns themselves are clusters of low laying white houses punctuated by the occasional church spire.
It’s not all beaches, however, and heading inland to the Valle d’Itria the landscape becomes a tapestry of olive groves, vineyards and the conical trulli houses typical of this region. Set on a high fertile plain stretching from Putignano in the north to Ostuni in the south, the valley is a giant outdoor playground perfect for walking and cycling.
Puglia is also home to two national parks; Gargano is a collection of beaches and lagoons with a green mountainous heart, while Alta Murgia is a unique mix of nature, archaeology and history.
Its coastal position meant Puglia was invaded and colonised more times than it would care to remember, and each dynasty from the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines to the Normans and Spanish left their mark. Towns such as Lecche are filled with baroque churches and palaces while scatterings of impressive castles are the finest surviving examples of Swabian architecture.
And if that wasn’t enough to tempt you to Italy‘s south east coast, the food in Puglia is some of the best in the country. Expect fresh burrata, incredible seafood and wonderfully rich and heart-warming peasant dishes.
When to go
Summer sees the highest number of crowds, with July and August the hottest months. May is a nice time to visit because it's warm but not the busy season.