Charming fishing towns, glamorous sandy beaches and a lively capital city with a youthful atmosphere make this Italian region one of the Mediterranean’s most underrated destinations.

On the southeastern coast of Italy is Puglia, a culturally rich region where miles of beaches meet dense forests and vine-covered hills. Enjoy the sunny climate while indulging in hearty feasts cooked up by the locals, who are known for their culinary prowess and hospitality.

If you are looking for fresh-air adventure, head to the Gargano promontory and amble through the Gargano National Park or ride a bike through Foresta Umbra. After, stop by the clifftop fishing town of Peschici and enjoy a lunch with sea views. For culturally inclined travelers, the Sanctuary of San Michele in Monte Sant’Angelo is a prime spot to study Lombard art.

Shop in boutique stores along the coast in Bari, Puglia’s capital, which is known for its historic old town and vibrant nightlife scene. Hidden inlets in Taranto, nicknamed the “city of two seas” for its location between the Mar Grande and Mar Piccolo, offer places to relax and sunbathe.

Further south, there is lots more to explore including the oceanfront town of Gallipoli, whose historic core sits on a small island and comprises a warren of narrow winding streets. Also worth a visit is the 15th-century Castello Aragonese fortress in the seaside town of Otranto. Venture just outside Otranto to reach Bauxite Lake, a sparkling green lake surrounded by deep orange rocks and Mediterranean scrub. Nearby Lecce is known as the “Florence of the South” for its stunning Baroque architecture, while the town of Arnesano has quaint streets and delightful local cuisine.

Anyone with an interest in history should make a beeline for Foggia, a city built over the ashes of the ancient Italian city of Arpi. Visit the Civic Museum in Palazzo Arpi and marvel at the beautiful architecture of Palazzo Belvedere.

July and August are popular times for Italians to visit Puglia. Come during these months and the coast will be very busy. Travel in May and things will be quieter, though temperatures will still be pleasantly warm. Buses and trains serve the major towns in Puglia renting a car gives travelers extra freedom.

Popular cities in Puglia

Gallipoli Port showing a bay or harbor and general coastal views
Known for Historical, Cathedrals and Churches
The Florence of the South is an eye-catching southern Italian city blessed with Baroque architecture, Roman ruins and manicured gardens.

Reasons to visit

  • Piazza Sant'Oronzo
  • Porta Napoli
  • Piazza del Duomo
Known for Historical, Cathedrals and Churches
Organising a holiday in Bari is like entering an ancient southern city guarding a rich collection of art and architecture from its millennia of history. The monuments run the gamut from Romanesque constructions to medieval churches, from Frederick's castle to Venetian and Baroque, Liberty and Art Deco style buildings. Saracen, Byzantine and Norman influences also contributed throughout the centuries to shape the ancient city known as Barium in Latin, today's Bari. Thanks to the holiday offers in Bari, you can experience the unique charm that only such a cultural mixing pot can provide.

Reasons to visit

  • Basilica of San Nicola
  • Bari Cathedral
  • Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle
Vieste featuring rugged coastline, a gorge or canyon and a coastal town
Known for Historical, Swimming and Cheese
If you go on a holiday in Vieste you will get to discover this lovely small town and the surrounding Gargano area. Vieste is an ancient town overlooking the sea full of narrow alleys and little white houses, their windows adorned with basil. At the very edge of the cliffs the view is spliced in two by the azure of the sky and the blue of the sea.

Reasons to visit

  • Vieste Harbour
  • Scialmarino
  • Baia di Campi
Gallipoli featuring a coastal town and boating
Known for Historical, Culture and Running
A holiday in Gallipoli, with its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, is a wonderful chance to discover one of the most interesting parts of Salento's natural environment. Viewed from the sea, Gallipoli displays its most exotic feature: the traditional white houses so reminiscent of towns in the Cyclades. Perched on an island, the old town is connected to the mainland by an arched bridge, while the walls, ramparts and towers that used to protect the city from invaders, now protect it against storm surges and give it a unique charm.

Reasons to visit

  • Gallipoli Port
  • Church of St. Francis of Assisi
  • Gallipoli Castle
Brindisi showing signage
Known for Ports, Historical and Monuments
Seaside fun, ancient history and beautiful old churches are the big draws of this picturesque city on the Adriatic coast in southeast Italy.
Monopoli featuring a coastal town
Known for Ports, Trendy and Secluded
Embark on guided tours of old churches, inspect artifacts on display in the museums and climb to the castle summit.