Explore The Best of Puglia in 3 Days
Updated: Oct 11
Are you curious about exploring Puglia in 3 days? Then you are at the right place. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about the best destinations to explore in Puglia in 3 days.
Before starting in detail, let me share with you some of my best experiences in Puglia that would give you some idea of what Puglia is all about.
It was the 1st day of my trip to Puglia, and I was exploring Bari's old town at around 11 AM. The aroma of delicious cooking was all I could smell as I started walking through the pebbled passages of the old town of Bari. As I kept walking, I smelled the fragrance of fresh laundry in one passage and the scent of cookies being baked in another. It kept me busy wandering from one passage to another until the grannies making fresh pasta in the open passage grabbed my attention, I stopped to watch them using their skills of making pasta by hand, I waited for a while to admire their skills and asked one grannie, “is it good, tasty?” She did not understand a word of English but then I translated it into Italian.
“Non esiste una buona e una cattiva cucina. estiste solo quello che piu piace”, Granny replied. It literally means, there is no good or bad food, there is only one thing: What you like the most.
“Non si puo Pensare bene, amare bene, dormire bene se non si ha mangiato bene. Quindi, siamo qui per servirvi la pasta più buona del mondo, granny continued. It literally means the You cannot think well, love well, sleep well if you have not eaten well. Therefore, we are here to serve you the best pasta in the world.
It’s true, in fact, they were making world-famous Orecchiette pasta which is a local pasta originating in Puglia, and it is also true that these Grannies make the best Orecchiette pasta in the world. Bari Old Town is all about great food and its unique ambience.
On the following day, I was lost in the whites of a Polignano a Mare while hearing Nel blu dipinto di blu (the popular Italian song that goes by the name "Volare") played in a tourist boat nearby. While wandering through the tiny passages between the white houses, the sight of a blue sea and the fresh breeze coming from the passage made me stop at one point. I looked around and saw one staircase leading to a door of a private house which had poetry scripted on it. It goes something like this:
“Polignano mirabile Costellazione marina
domini il cielo della mia esistenza,
Qui anche le parole odorano di mare e di zefiri E il silenzio,
Silenzio, come rugiada Scende dal cielo Vigilando i nostri cuori,”
Mare di Polignano
“Polignano, wonderful marine empire,
dominates the sky of my existence.
Here even the words smell of the sea and zephyrs and the silence,
Silence, like dew fall from the sky Watching our hearts”.
The sea of Polignano.
It literally explained the ambience of Polignano a Mare.
Puglia: the land of Olives, the land of crystal-clear sea water, the land of picturesque coastlines, the land of iconic Burrata, the land of orecchiette Pasta, the land of a unique dwelling of “Truilli” and the endless list goes on…
Crowned as “The Breadbasket of Italy”, Puglia has incredible potential to feed Italy with its calibre for the production of Pasta and bread.
Puglia is different from rest of the Italy as it has some of the unique coastline and beautiful beaches of crystal-clear water. It also has a longer coastline than any other region in Italy. Therefore, it is a trendy summer destination among locals.
The main destinations of the Puglia region are Bari: which is the capital of Puglia, Alberobello: Which is popular for its unique dwelling called Truilli, Lecce: which is also called Florence of the south, Polignano a Mare: which is popular for its picturesque Pebbled beach and Ostuni & monopoli: which are also a popular summer resort. Not to forget Matera, although it’s not in a Puglia region, it needs to be on your Itinerary for exploring Puglia as it is a must-visit destination bordering Puglia that you should not miss.
Exploring the region of Puglia is one the best things to do in Italy and therefore, it deserves at least 3 days of Itinerary from your trip to Italy. In this article, we have mentioned the best places to visit in the Puglia region, how to explore them and the perfect Itinerary to explore Puglia in 3 days.
It is important to note that Puglia deserves one whole week to explore completely, however, this article is focused on the 3 days Itinerary for exploring Puglia.
Following is the index of Content we have covered in this article. If you want to Jump to any specific topic then simply click it.
Index of Content
So, let’s start exploring Puglia in detail!
Top Places to visit in Puglia in 3 days:
We have shortlisted the top 4 places that should be part of your 3-day Puglia Itinerary. The best places to visit in Puglia in 3 days are Bari, Polignano a Mare, Alberobello and Matera. We will see in detail below in this article how to explore Puglia in 3 days.
Bari is the Capital and port city of Puglia located on the southeast coast of Italy. Being the capital of the region, Bari is the largest city in the region and the second largest in south Italy after Naples.
Bari is an important trade Centre in Italy due to its harbour which is playing a significant role in Maritime trade since medieval times. Due to the significant trade opportunities, the potential of Bari was recognized by many realms in medieval times which resulted in many fierce battles to siege the city including powerful realms such as Greeks, Romans, Vikings, and Arabs.
In the present day, Bari is still playing its role as an important trade centre for Maritime trade in Italy. The traces of Bari’s rich history can still be found in the city such as Basilica of Sant Nicolas, Castello Svevo, Bari cathedrals and its medieval city walls. Bari has now expanded a lot in modern times; however, its old town still maintains the charm of Old Italy and can be explored in present days.
If you are exploring Bari, then it will not disappoint you as it has all the potential to make you lost for a day in its rich history and culture. We have mentioned the best places you must visit in Bari:-
Bari Old Town:
The best thing to explore in Bari is its old town (also called Bari Vecchia) which is home to all the main attractions in the city. Bari's old town is a walled city which can be traced back to ancient times. The old town of Bari is full of mazed alleyways of pebble lanes and Medieval architecture. Soon you start walking the Bari old town, the scent of fresh laundry, the scent of cooking in houses and the scent of fresh flowers keep you busy exploring every corner of the old town. It is the only place in Italy where you can see the Italian grannies making fresh pasta outside their houses. You can literally watch them using their skills to make traditional Orecchiette pasta from fresh dough. You can buy the fresh pasta as a souvenir from the grannies.
Bari Old Town also has numerous opportunities to eat local food and shop. Try eating in any Pescheria in the old town to taste the fresh fish cooked in the style of local cuisines. We have also mentioned below the best places to eat in Bari. Also, Bari is popular for its variety of street foods. The best way to experience Bari's street food is to join a Street food tour with locals where you will get to taste popular street foods like focaccia, salumi and cheese, panzerotti, etc.
Basilica San Nicola:
Basilica San Nicola in Bari is a church built by Normans in the 12th century. It is a significant pilgrimage for the Catholics and Orthodox Christians as It was specially constructed to house the remains of St. Nicholas. In the present day, the remains of San Nicolas are stored in the shrine at a Crypt in the church.
Basilica San Nicola is located in the heart of the old town and a few minutes walk from the Bari Sea Port.
The Bari Cathedral, also called Duomo di Bari is a Roman cathedral situated in the middle of the old town of Bari. Bari Cathedral has an interesting history as it was originally built in the 11th Century under the realm of the Archbishop and his successors Nicola I and Andrea II. Later, in the year 1156, the cathedral was destroyed by the ruler of Sicily, William I. Indeed, along with Bari Cathedral, William I also destroyed the rest of the buildings in Bari but luckily, he spared Basilica Sant Nicolas. Later in the 12th Century, the Bari cathedral was again rebuilt by using the ruins of the destroyed cathedral and ruins of other buildings that were destroyed by William I.
The Bari Cathedral was a replica of Basilica Sant Nicolas as it was planned to be built similarly after the destruction by William I.
In the present day, the Bari cathedral houses the relics of Saint Sabinus (San Sabino in Italian). The relics are preserved in the crypt from the larger altar of the church.
Castello Svevo (Also called as Castello Normanno-Svevo or Swabian Castle):
The Old architecture of Aragon walls, Castello Svevo lays adjacent to the old town of Bari. The Castello (which means castle) was built in 1132 by a Viking king Named Roger II. The castle was destroyed by fierce Sicilian king William I in the year 1156 and later again rebuilt by the Roman emperor in the year 1233. Later the castle went through several reformations as it changed the hands between the several rulers.
Castello Svevo is a great example of Medieval Architecture as a typical castle that is surrounded by Moat which was used as a defence against attacks by enemies.
In the present day, the castle is home to the Museum with a collection of fine artefacts from the Puglia region and archaeological pottery from the Norman times. The Castle also hosts an important exhibition in the city.
2. Polignano A Mare:
Polignano A Mare, the real Gem of Puglia, is a picturesque coastal town located around 40 km to the south of Bari. Polignano A Mare is mainly famous for its unique setting on the rugged cliffs of the coast and its unique beach called Lama Monachile. The speciality of the beach is it is completely pebbled without any sand and the water is so clear that you can easily see the base of the Ocean.
The Polignano A Mare is one of the best places to visit in the Puglia region. We have mentioned here the best things to do in Polignano A Mare:-
1. Visit the Beach:
Visiting scenic Lama Monachile beach, Swimming in the clear blue water and soaking in the sun on the pebbles of the beach are the best things to do in Polignano a mare. The beach is one of the most photographed beaches in Italy due to its unique location.
2. Explore its Historic Town Center:
Polignano a Mare is a small picturesque coastal town that can be easily explored on foot. The town's main highlight is its Town centre, which is so unique that it gives a feel of being on the Greek islands as all the buildings are painted in white. The mazed alleys with the hidden views of the sea, the quaint houses painted in white colour, and the Italian Poetry written on the walls and stairways make Polignano a mare different from other parts of Italy.
The church of Saint Mary of the Assumption is the main church of the town and is in the town square called Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.
3. Explore the viewpoints for the best views:
When you are in the town, look for the best viewpoints where you can get the best views of the beach and the cliff together. Following are 2 best places that offer the best views of the cliff and beach together:
Belvedere Terrazza Santo Stefano:-
Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/Ns7ZUJ6CqDdzwuuH8
Belvedere su Lama Monachile:-
Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/fFxXQrPgJp5DyUSB9
Both these places can be reached easily as they are in the heart of the town centre.
4. Take a picture at the Monument of Domenico Modugno
Domenico Modugno, the famous Italian singer of the popular song called Nel blu, dipinto di blu or Volare was born in Polignano a Mare. The statue built as a tribute to the talented singer is a popular photo point in Polignano A mare. You will hear the song Nel blu, dipinto di blu everywhere in Polignano a Mare.
5. Take a boat ride to the sea caves:
One of the most romantic things to do in Polignano a mare is to take a boat ride to the caves that are formed by the tidal waves of the sea. There are numerous caves around the cliffs of Polignani a Mare and exploring them would offer some of the best views of the town. The boat ride usually offers a complementary Aperitiff. On a clear sunny day, you will also be allowed to swim near the caves.
How to reach Polignano A mare:
Polignano A Mare can be reached by direct trains from Bari in just 20 to 30 minutes. The train runs every 30 minutes from Bari. The train tickets can be booked from the Official site of Trenitalia.
Alberobello is a magical place which is different from the rest of the Italy and rest of the world. You may have seen it before in the pictures but being in Alberobello in person gives a unique feeling of being in some vintage romantic movie.
Alberobello is a small town in the Puglia region mainly famous for its unique dwelling called Trulli. Trulli are simple white houses built of dry stones with unique conical roofs. The trulli of Alberobello were built in the 16th century mainly by the farmers or peasants for their dwellings. Alberobello has the largest concentration of these old Trulli which made Alberobello popular among the world and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the present day, the Trullis continues to build in the Puglia region due to its popularity and uniqueness.
Alberobello and its Trulli can be explored on foot, and it requires around a half day to explore completely. Also, it doesn’t need any itinerary as all you can do is walk, explore its alleyways, and take unforgettable souvenir pictures. There are around 166 Trullis in Alberobello, most of which are private residences, but some of them are converted into shops and restaurants.
Trullis are photogenic in every corner due to their bright white colour. Turillis and streets of Alberobllo are nicely decorated which makes it even more picturesque and an ideal destination for wonderful Instagram pictures.
If you are visiting Alberobello from Bari, then it is better to start from Bari in the morning and spend your day or a half in the beautiful town of Alberobello.
Alberobello can be reached from Bari by bus and train. However, buses are more convenient options to reach Alberobello since they run directly from Bari to Alberobello. The trains, on the other hand, take more time as there is no direct connectivity for trains. You need to change a train to make further connections to Alberobello.
Bari to Alberobello by Buses:
There are direct buses Managed by Trenitalia (the official train company of Italy) that run from the central station to Alberobello. The buses can be booked from Trenitalia's official site.
Guided day trips from Bari to Alberobello:
Guided day trips or half-day trips are much easier and more convenient options to visit Alberobello from Bari. It is accompanied by a private vehicle and a knowledgeable guide to give you all the information you need about Alberobello.
Although the ancient town of Matera is not in the Puglia region, it deserves one day from your itinerary if you are considering exploring Puglia in 3 days. Matera is just 50 km from Bari but is located in the neighbouring region of Puglia called Basilicata. Matera town is located very close to the borders of Puglia; therefore, it is a place that you should not miss while having enough time to explore the gems of Puglia.
Matera is mainly famous for its unique dwelling called Sassi di Matera. Sassi means caves, therefore, Matera is full of ancient cave dwellings carved through stones. In the present day, the Sassi are home to the locals who also run different businesses like restaurants, hotels, shops, etc in the ancient Sassi.
Matera has a very rich history dating back to 251 BC when it was founded by Romans. Later it exchanged many reigns including Lombards and Arabs. Due to the uniqueness of Matera, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was also a European cultural capital in the year 2019.
Matera is different from the rest of Italy. The moment you step in the Matera, it gives an exceptional feeling of being in another time. The ancient town is photogenic from every corner due to the slopy and curvature settings of Sassi’s.
Matera can be explored on foot, and it needs a lot of walking. You only have to walk and explore the different landmarks to get the insights of the town. The best thing to do in Matera in one day are Visiting Chiesa Rupestre di Santa Maria di Idris, Belvedere di Piazza Giovanni Pascoli, san pietro cavesso and Fontenna del’amore. Every landmark offers different viewpoints of the town for the best souvenir photos. If you want to make your trip to Matera more adventurous, then you can also plan on hiking to “Parco della Murgina Materana” which takes around 2 hours to complete (to go and come back from Matera). Materana Park has numerous old, abandoned caves that are open for visitors. The park also offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Matera town.
In the town of Matera, there are also many Sassi Museums which allows visitors to enter the Sassi that are decorated in the style of real ancient living. It is a great experience to explore such museums to have an idea about their way of living, their tools, their furniture, weapons, etc.
It is also recommended to spend a night in Matera since the ancient town looks magical during the dusk and dark hours.
Matera can be reached from Bari in 1 hour if you are making Bari a base for your Puglia tour. Matera can be reached from Bari by Bus and train.
Matera by Trains: There are hourly direct trains run from Bari to Matera from Monday to Saturday. however, it is important to note that the trains between Bari and Matera don’t run on Sundays and public holidays. The total time of the train journey is around 1 hour and 45 mins.
Matera by Bus: Direct buses depart from Bari Central Station to Matera. However, the frequency of buses connecting from Bari and Matera is not so impressive. On Sundays or public holidays, the buses are the only option to reach Matera by public transport.
Guided trips: Guided trips from Bari to Matera are far more convenient options to have a day trip from Bari to Matera. The guided trips are always accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who adds real weight to your knowledge of the destination during the trip.
Best Itinerary for exploring Puglia in 3 days
To explore Puglia in 3 days, we recommend to follow the following Itinerary:-
1. Day 1- Bari City and Polignano a Mare
Arrive in Bari in the morning and keep your luggage in your hotel. On day 1 explore the old town of Bari Old Town, Bari Cathedral and Castello Svevo. Also, Explore the hidden alleyways and Markets of Bari’s old town. Don't miss visiting the grannies making pasta on the streets of the old town.
After having your lunch, head towards Polignano a Mare in the late afternoon and explore Polignano a Mare including its Lama Monachile beach, take a boat trip to the hidden caves of the cliff and sway on the music of Domenico Modugno.
2. Day 2- Alberobello:
Head towards Alberobello and explore the beautiful town of Trulli. Alberobello can be explored in a half day, although, you can take all the time you need to explore it and feel its ambience.
Once you are back in Bari, you may choose to explore the old town again in the late evening since the vibes of the evening are different in Bari.
3. Day 3- Matera
Wake up in the morning on your 3rd day and travel back in time to Matera. Spend your full day exploring the ancient town of Matera and come back to Bari in the Evening.
You may be surprised to include Matera in the 3-day Itinerary of Puglia but trust us it's the best place you can visit in a Limited time as compared to other options in Puglia.
Best places to stay in Bari:
Bari is full of Luxurious hotels, budget hotels and air B&Bs. We have listed here some of the best places we have shortlisted to stay in Bari:-
1. Travel B&B
Travel B&B is one of the best places to stay in Bari at an affordable price. Located just next to the Bari central train station, it is also an ideal place to stay if you are dependent on Public transport.
2. Melo 48
Located in the heart of the Bari old town, Melo 48 is a great and cosy place to stay in Bari. The place is usually available at an affordable price.
3. B&Z Luxury
B&Z Luxury is also one of the top places to stay in Bari considering its location and quality of service as it is located near to the Bari central train station. It is a little more pricey than other similar options available in Bari but considering the cleanliness and quality of service, it is worth your money.
4. Il Palazzetto Bari
Il Palazzetto Bari is located near the train station and offers luxurious rooms. Of course, you need to pay a luxury price but the luxury they provide is worth every penny.
Cathedralflats is located in the heart of the old town of Bari and very close to the beach. It is a little bit pricey as compared to other similar places but considering its location, you can choose this place for your stay in Bari.
Best Places to eat in Bari:
Bari is famous for its local cuisine which is rich in flavours and varieties. Since Bari is a coastal city, the seafood is main ingredient in many popular Pugliese dishes. If you are in Bari, then you must try its seafood rich dishes. Here are some recommendations of good restaurants to try in Bari based on our experience: -
1. Ristorante La Pesciera:
We can rank it as one of the best seafood restaurants in Bari since they serve a variety of mouth-watering seafood cooked in local Pugliese style. Ristorante La Pesciera is located close to the train station. It is better to book your table in advance since it usually gets packed during peak lunch and dinner hours.
Google Map Location: https://maps.app.goo.gl/pntdUoXMU5L5CLa58
2. La Tana del Polpo
La Tana del Polpo is another seafood restaurant located in the old town that also serves delicious seafood cooked in local style with fresh local pasta. The dishes here are also available at affordable prices.
Google Map Location: https://maps.app.goo.gl/EwzqQ1dAE87ZxoNi9
3. Al Pescatore
Al Pescatore is another option for a variety of delicious local cuisines specialising in seafood. Al Pescatore is also located in the heart of Bari's old town.
Google Map Location: https://maps.app.goo.gl/UMzxNVMvzPUGSaTS7
4. La Baresana:
La Baresana, a restaurant and Pizzeria is a good option if you don’t prefer seafood but yet want to enjoy the local cuisines cooked in local fresh pastas. There are also options available for vegans in this restaurant. La Baresana is located on the border of Bari's old town.
Google map location: https://maps.app.goo.gl/AXqv3KTsw1udCaok9
Frequently Asked Questions:
3 days enough for exploring Puglia?
3 days are not enough for exploring Puglia. You would need at least one week to explore Puglia in total. However, 3 days are enough to explore the best of Puglia.
What is Puglia famous for?
Puglia is famous for its wonderful coastlines, Olives, fresh orecchiette pasta and its rich culture.
Must try pasta dishes in Puglia?
There are a variety of delicious dishes available in Puglia. In our opinion if you love seafood then you should try pasta with seafood in Pugliese style called Linguine al Cartoccia and if you are vegetarian then you should try Orecchiette con cime di rapa
Which is the best Beach to visit in Puglia?
Puglia is full of a stunning coastline and wonderful beaches. However, Lama Monachile in Polignano a mare would win the crown of the best beach in Puglia.
Which is the best time to Visit Puglia?
Puglia is a popular summer destination among the locals, and therefore, it is usually overcrowded during peak summer months like July and August. Therefore, you should visit Puglia in shoulder seasons like May, June, and September when the weather is warmer and yet less crowded.
Is Bari safe to visit?
Bari is very safe to visit. It is safer than other popular Italian destinations like Rome and Milan.
Is one day enough to Explore Alberobello?
Yes, one day is more than enough to explore Alberobello. You can also explore Alberobello in half a day.
Is one day enough to Explore Matera?
One day would be enough to get a glimpse of Matera and visit its popular attractions. However, to feel the real ambience of Matera, it is better to spend 2 days in Matera if you are not in a hurry.
Is one day enough to explore Bari?
Yes, one day would be enough to explore the main attractions of Bari City and its old town. However, an overnight stay in Bari is recommended to get the real feel of its unique atmosphere, especially during the late evening.
How long is Bari City and Bari Airport?
Bari airport is 12 Km away from Bari’s central train station. There are direct trains run from Bari to Bari airport (and vice versa) every 20 to 30 mins.
What are the best day trips from Bari?
Alberobello and Matera are the most popular day trips you must take from Bari.
How much time is required to explore Polignano a Mare?
Polignano a Mare would need one whole day to experience its musical atmosphere. However, you can get a glimpse of a town in a half day if you are in a hurry.
We hope that you liked this article. Let us know in the comments section if you have any other questions about exploring Puglia or other places in Italy or Europe. We will be happy to address your questions.
Check out our other unique blogs about Italy and Europe.
More related Articles.