Things to do in Puglia: there’s something for everyone! Choose from fascinating museums and ancient cathedrals to the more exhilarating scuba diving and enjoyable boat trips. The Villa Rentals Puglia team are here to help find activities that will make your stay extra special.
We list just a small selection of the major attractions here. On our blog we feature our favourite local restaurants and events, all written about from personal experience.
You can also check out our bespoke concierge services for experiences and services to add a touch of luxury to your trip.
First of all, one of the gems of Puglia. Castellana Grotte is a series of stunning underground natural caves located a few miles from the town of Polignano a Mare.
Guided tours are available regularly throughout the day, but remember to take a cardigan or sweater. The temperature in some of the caves can be as low as 16 degrees centigrade, due to being 60 metres below ground.
Great for both adults and children, Fasano Zoo Safari offers a wide variety of animals to see. Especially exciting are the lions and tigers and the only male African elephant in Italy.
You’ll be taken around the safari by train, and there are regular shows with the sea lions and a troupe of parrots.
For those looking for an adrenaline rush, the zoo also includes a rollercoaster and a number of other theme park rides.
A stunning octagonal 13th century castle built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Castel del Monte is a UNESCO designated world heritage site. On the edge of the Alta Murgia national park, the castle is open to visitors all year round.
A beautiful 15th century Cathedral nestled in the heart of Ostuni, this is one of the most fascinating things to do in Puglia. The ‘white city’ of Ostuni itself is also must-see when visiting the area.
Address: Largo Trinchera Francesco – 72017 Tel: (+39)0831301177
If you’re exploring Ostuni it’s always worth paying a visit to the archaeological park. Tours are available to see evidence of early prehistoric habitation of the Puglia region. Only open during the summer.
Address: S.S 16 Ostuni-Fasano – Tel: (+39)0831336383 | Opening hours – by arrangement
Grottaglie has been producing beautiful ceramics since the Middle Ages, using the famous bright red clay of the region. A visit to the workshop quarter will also give you a rare opportunity to see the Grottaglie ceramic potteries at work. Finally, the nearby Grottaglie Ceramics Museum displays over 400 examples of the local pottery through the ages.
Known as the ‘Florence of the South’, this beautiful city brims with baroque architecture overlaid on the ancient Roman ruins beneath. One of our favourite things to do in Puglia, Lecce includes a Roman amphitheatre and theatre. There’s more than enough here to fill an enjoyable day out, from the artisan shopping to wine bars and architecture. We can organise an entertaining tour for you on request.
Just 15km north of Brindisi, the nature reserve and protected marine area of Torre Guaceto covers a six-mile stretch of the coast. There are a number of beautiful beaches and a large wetland and nature reserve area to explore. We can help arrange guided walks and bicycle tours of the latter.
Literally meaning ‘beautiful city’, Gallipoli is a very pretty town on the Ionian coast in the Salento peninsula. A defensive wall partially surrounds the town and it features a number of impressive baroque buildings. The surrounding coastline has gorgeous long sandy beaches and beautifully clear water. The fish market there is one of our favourite things to do in Puglia, with freshly-caught local delicacies such as giant red prawns and oysters on offer.
The ‘pearl’ of Puglia, Polignano is a bijou town built on cliffs between Monopoli and Bari. It’s a great place for exploring, whether you visit the Saracens cove and take a boat tour of Palazzese sea caves. Or you can just enjoy the stunning views of this ocean-nestled town from one of its many viewing points.
Every August the small town of Oria holds the Torneo dei Rioni, or ‘Tournament of the Districts’. This re-enactment of a tournament in 1225 involves a procession through the town of participants in medieval costume, followed by knightly jousting and medieval martial competitions.
A multicultural festival of music and arts, La Ghironda Festival features artists and musicians from across the world during August. The festival began in 1995 in Martina Franca and has grown to encompass 14 of Puglia’s towns over 9 days. We’ve had many great nights of dancing so we can thoroughly recommend it – adults and children alike will love it.
If you’re a fan of opera then you’re in luck, because the Festival della Valle d’Itria takes place during July and August. Quality performances often highlight obscure and little known operatic pieces along with more well-known repertoire. Running for over 40 years, the festival takes place in the Ducal Palace of Martina Franca.
In Ostuni from 25 – 27 August, this festival celebrates Saint Orontius, the patron saint of Ostuni and Lecce. Saint Orontius was believed to have saved the town from the plague in the 17th century. Alongside fireworks displays, the town plays host to an impressive parade of horses and riders in costume on the 26th.
Pasqua is one of the most important festivals in the Italian calendar, and many towns in Puglia hold these special Easter parades. Most noteworthy is the Carnevale di Putignano, whilst others take place in neighbouring Alberobello, Taranto and Bari.
To say there are lots of local markets you can visit would be an understatement. The plentiful, bustling and vibrant Pugliese markets vary in size, offering local vegetables, meats and fish. You can also find a variety of clothes and other items. Great fun to visit if you want to soak up some local vibes, and get hold of the very freshest produce.
Wednesday: Martina Franca
Thursday: Grottaglie, Brindisi
Saturday: Ostuni, Ceglie