Puglia is a huge region in southern Italy so our first question while planning our trip was where to base ourselves so we can better explore by using only public transport. But if you are renting a car, these choices are also good for you!
We explored Puglia, Italy for over a month and here at the best places to make your base. We stayed mostly inland which are close to the train station so all of these places are accessible by public transport.
This post also includes the apartments where we stayed at which I also highly recommend. These are all in the mid-range budget, walking distance to the train or bus station and every apartment exceeded my expectations as I put a lot of time researching and comparing. We also work online and since we stay longer, we prefer something that gives us comfort and within reasonable budget for our full time travel lifestyle.
We stayed in a total of six of the most beautiful whitewashed old towns (and a city) in Puglia. Check out each location to see what is best for you.
1. Lecce: 2 Weeks
Why Lecce? Lecce, often referred to as the 'Florence of the South', is a city where history and culture collide. With its ornate baroque buildings, a vibrant restaurant scene, and an array of cultural activities, it's the perfect base for an extended stay.
What to Explore?
- The Old Town: Wander through narrow streets lined with golden sandstone buildings.
- Culinary Scene: Dive into the flavors of Puglia with orecchiette, pasticciotto, and local wines.
- Day Trips: Visit nearby beaches or the historic city of Otranto and Gallipoli
Where to Stay in Lecce?
This is where we stayed and we highly recommend it. It's a huge one bedroom apartment perfect for a couple but I they have an extra bed if you're a bigger group. It also has a private terrace and rooftop!
This is a great budget option for double rooms with private shower and is just walking distance to the historic center.
For luxury, you can relax in one of the elegant rooms and dine at their highly rated restaurant. It's also perfectly located in the old town.
Another great option is Palazzo Sant'Anna Lecce which is just beside the Church of Saint Anne, walking distance to numerous restaurants and bars. It's in the very heart of the old town. It was formerly a mansion, so you can enjoy the modern amenities with dreamy courtyards and terrace views.
Read more about Lecce:
Top 10 Things to Do in Lecce, Italy
Ciao and welcome to the charming city of Lecce, nestled in the heart of Apulia, Italy. We had the pleasure of living in this city for two weeks,[...]
2. Martina Franca: 4 Days
Why Martina Franca? Nestled in the Itria Valley, Martina Franca is a symphony of baroque and rococo architecture with a local vibe. Just before sunset, you can sit at the park while watching locals go out and meet their friends. Its tranquil charm is perfect for a shorter, yet enriching stay.
- Architecture: Marvel at the Basilica di San Martino and Palazzo Ducale.
- Local Markets: Experience the bustling local life and artisanal products.
- Day Trips: Cisternino
Where to Stay in Martina Franca?
My personal recommendation is this beautiful stone apartment where we stayed during our time in Martina Franca. While it gets great reviews on Airbnb, it has only one review in Booking which was below average. Booking still provides lower rates because Airbnb has unreasonable high fees.
For budget, Monolocale ad un passo dalla chiesa del Carmine has the lowest price with excellent location.
For luxury, Suite San Martino has suites with your own swimming pool, hot tub and sauna right in the old town!
Read more about Martina Franca
Best Things to Do in Martina Franca, Puglia, Italy
Martina Franca is a picturesque Baroque town nestled in the heart of Apulia, Italy. With its whitewashed alleys, delectable cuisine, and captivating[...]
3. Locorotondo: 5 Days
Why Locorotondo? Famous for its circular layout, Locorotondo offers a unique experience. Its whitewashed houses and tranquil ambiance provide a serene retreat.
- Wine Tasting
- Scenic Walks: Enjoy the panoramic views of the Valle d’Itria.
- You can easily do a day trip to Alberobello, it's just a one train station away
Where to stay in Locorotondo?
For an authentic and a countryside experience in Locorotondo, consider staying in a traditional trullo at Micele Holidays Don Antonio Trulli.
We stayed in a 2-bedroom trullo and cummerse so we have a terrace. Since trulli are conical, it's unusual to find a balcony but the cummerse (sliding roof) connected to the trullo created a perfect balcony.
It's just outside the centro storico and walking distance from it as well as to the train station.
Best Things to Do in Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy
Locorotondo showed up in our searches as one of the prettiest towns in Puglia, Italy. We saw this right away as the train approached this charming[...]
4. Alberobello: 3 Days
Why Alberobello? A UNESCO World Heritage site, Alberobello is renowned for its trulli - traditional Apulian stone huts with conical roofs. It's a magical place to spend a few days.
We did a day trip here from Locorotondo but we realized that we wanted to see it at night time and early morning. This is the most touristy place in Puglia so it gets very crowded with day trippers. It gets magical just before the day trippers arrive or after they've left in the evening.
- Trulli Exploring: Discover the history behind these unique structures.
- Local Crafts: Shop for handmade souvenirs and local products.
Where to Stay in Alberobello?
Our personal experience and which I would also recommend is at Trulli e Puglia resort $$. This is the most central location as it is in Rione Monti Trulli Zone. If you are staying for a few night or especially overnight, it's best to be in a very central location. It's also one of the most photographed trulli because of the decors and bicycle outside but you have a private patio inside and has good soundproofing so you don't really notice the tourists outside.
Another beautiful option near Rione Monti is Romantic Trulli $$$. This was one of our options but they get booked out fast. We always pass by some of their trulli apartments with a romantic outside seating. Another photogenic spot in Alberobello.
The Best Things to Do in Alberobello, Puglia, Italy: Home of the Trulli
Welcome to Alberobello, a charming town in Apulia, Italy, known for its unique trulli houses. Step into a fairytale-like setting as you wander[...]
5. Putignano: 4 Days
Why Putignano? Known for hosting one of Italy’s oldest carnivals, Putignano offers a blend of historical charm and festive spirit, making it an intriguing stop.
This place wasn't in our original plan but we discovered it as we were looking for alternative places for Ostuni after Alberobello. We were supposed to go to Ostuni but we didn't research about the public holiday on the day of our check out so there was no way we can get to Ostuni. This only 15 minutes by bus to Alberobello which was luckily running on that holiday.
We were happy that we discovered it that we extended our stay because the restaurants here are one of the best we have tried in Europe!
- Historic Center: Immerse in the medieval streets and local history.
- Carnival Museum: Learn about the town’s rich carnival tradition.
- Experience one of the oldest carnivals in Europe in February
- Restaurants and bars
- Day Trip: Grotte di Castellana
Where to Stay?
- Il Segreto $$
My personal recommendation and this is where we stayed. It's a cozy mid-range studio apartment, centrally located in the old town in a quiet residential street. We stayed in June 2023 and it's brand new that time. We were the first ones to stay in this place!
For budget, check out Accogliente Dimora which offers great value accommodation in the historic centre.
- Dimora Clementina $$$
For luxury, check out Dimora Clementina perfectly located in a historical building.
Read more about Putignano (I also listed our favorite restaurants here):
Putignano, Puglia, Italy: Things to Do and Where to Eat in this Hidden Gastronomic Destination
Unplanned adventures often lead to the most memorable experiences. That’s exactly what happened when Putignano unexpectedly became a part of our[...]
Note: In between Putignano and Monopoli, we took a bus + train (Bari Centrale) to Matera, Basilicata and after which we rented a car for almost 2 weeks to explore Basilicata and a little bit of Campagna. We returned to Puglia because our flight out was from Bari which is close to Monopoli.
6. Monopoli: 4 Days
Why Monopoli? Monopoli combines the allure of a historic port with the relaxation of beach life. Its coastal charm is the perfect finale to your Puglia journey.
This was the last leg of our 6 weeks in this area of South Italy (including Basilicata & Campagna) so we were quite tired of the intense travel. This was just the perfect place to relax and end our trip.
- Beach Relaxation: Unwind on the beautiful beaches.
- Seafood Cuisine: Indulge in fresh, locally-sourced seafood.
Where to Stay in Monopoli?
We stayed in this one-bedroom apartment and we also highly recommend it as it's in the heart of the old town and you can also walk to the beach. The apartment is smaller than the others I have recommended in this blog but the interiors are cute and gives it a lot of space.
This is the most affordable one-bedroom apartment that is central and close to the beach.
These luxury suites are housed inside a historic building so the central location is guaranteed.
Puglia is a region that captivates with its diversity. From Lecce's cultural richness to Monopoli's coastal serenity, each base offers a distinct slice of Italian life. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a food lover, or simply seeking relaxation, Puglia promises an unforgettable Italian adventure.
Now which one is my favorite place as base? That's really difficult to answer because each place offers something unique. If you have 1 or 2 weeks then probably best to just stay in just 2 to 3 bases so you can enjoy the towns serene night life and quiet mornings.
If you're into restaurants and want a more local vibe, Putignano and Lecce are my favorites. For the most beautiful place where you have all the sites at your doorstep, then that would be Alberobello. But honestly, I also really love the small Baroque town of Martina Franca, the countryside trulli of Locorotondo and the relaxing vibe of Monopoli.
But I guarantee that you will have amazing time whichever place you pick. Enjoy Apulia!
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