Puglia Family Holiday – What To Do & Where To Stay

After a 2 year delay we finally got to go on our long-awaited Puglia family holiday in May 2022 and it was every bit as good as we hoped it would be.

Puglia is a region in Southern Italy (it’s the heel of the boot!) that is famed for its whitewashed conical shaped structures known as trulli. And while these fantastical-looking buildings are truly interesting (see what I did there?!) they are just one part of what makes Puglia such an attractive part of Italy to visit.

Because it’s pretty, guys, really pretty.

Locorotundo Puglia Italy
Locorotondo is often referred to as one of the prettiest towns in Italy

I’m talking picture-book villages that look unchanged for hundreds of years; grocery-laden locals chatting animatedly on the street. The coastline is cinematic too – whether you’re watching royal blue fishing boats bumping up against ancient castles in Monopoli, or peering over the steep cliffs of Polignano A Mare to the tiny slither of turquoise water that runs towards an ancient arched bridge.

And the best thing about all this? It’s free! You can discover all the best things to do in Puglia without spending a penny. Just being there, discovering one old town after the next, is the best thing you can do on a Puglia family holiday.

So, if that has talked you into planning a Puglia holiday here’s a closer look at our Puglia itinerary and everything we loved about it.

FYI Our trip was self-funded. This post contains some affiliate links.

Updated February 2024

Where to base yourself in Puglia

Trullo Roverella
Our beautiful base in Puglia – Trullo Roverella near Castellana Grotte

Because we only had 1 week for our Puglia family holiday and our son was only 3 at the time we decided to base ourselves in one location and explore from there. We found a beautiful spacious trullo villa with private pool just outside the town of Castellana Grotte that was a great base for exploring all the popular Apulian places I list in this article, including Alberobello, Monopoli and Ostuni.

We flew from London to Bari Airport with Easyjet and hired a car for the week. Our accommodation was approximately 50 minutes drive from the airport and the roads to get there were flat and easy to navigate. It just takes a little getting used to the Italian way of driving!

You could easily spend 2 weeks (or more) in Puglia and split your time between where we stayed near Alberobello and somewhere further south such as Lecce.

I think if you’re a family with young kids then what we did was more than enough. I feel like we saw a good cross-section of Puglia’s attractions while still making it back to our trullo for nap time most afternoons. (AKA the DREAM!)

7 Day Puglia Itinerary

From our base in Castellana Grotte, approx 20 minutes from Alberobello, we set out to explore all the prettiest towns, villages and sandy beaches in the surrounding area. Here are the highlights.


Alberobello Puglia Italy

Perhaps the most famous town in Puglia, Alberobello is where you’ll find the highest concentration of trullo buildings with over 1500 tightly packed into the rural valley. What makes Alberobello so unique is that you don’t find this style of building anywhere else outside of the Itria Valley.

Legend has it these conical-roofed, dry-stone dwellings popped up in Puglia in the 14th century as a way to avoid feudal taxes. They were deliberately built in a way that would be easy to dismantle should the tax man come knocking. Which makes it even more surprising that so many are still standing in Alberobello several hundred years later.

Today, Alberobello is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site and a popular tourist attraction in Puglia. Many of the original trullo now house gift shops, cafes and (more so outside of town) they have been made into tourist accommodation.

We spent an afternoon exploring Alberobello and went back on another occasion for dinner and this was enough to see everything. Check out Ristorante Pizzeria Pozzo Contino, which has an outdoor terrace with a fab view over the trulli (there is a public walkway with a great view behind the restaurant if you decide not to eat there), then head to Arte Fredda for gelato after.

If you’re driving we found the closest car park to the historical zone is Parcheggio Largo Giuseppe Martelotta. If this is busy there are a couple of overflow car parks nearby, search for Parcheggio Viale Indipendenza on Google maps.


I don’t know if it’s because it was the first of Puglia’s pretty towns we visited but Locorotondo stands out in my mind as the prettiest! From the pots of crimson flowers that adorn balconies, to olive trees dotted around piazzas, and unexpected frescoes on the ceilings of tiny churches, it was charm personified.

We loved wandering the pedestrianised streets without a plan here. There are a few brown signs that guide you to buildings or churches of note but we mostly enjoyed getting lost in the historical centre (‘centro storico’ ) for a few hours and then popping out at the community garden near Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, which has a lovely view over the trulli-dotted valley.


Ostuni Puglia Italy
On a private tour of Ostuni in a tuk tuk

Perched on top of a hill and cascading down the sides in tiers like a wedding cake, you can spot Ostuni from miles away.

Known as Puglia’s White City, Ostuni is also known for its Cathedral, which has a blend of Gothic, Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, and its medieval gate, Porta San Demetrio.

Ostuni Puglia Italy

Ostuni is the only place in Puglia we paid for a sightseeing tour and that’s because we couldn’t resist the chance to explore in an open-air Ape Calessino (or tuk tuk). It was such a fun way to get an introduction to the history of Ostuni, plus we stopped at some great viewpoints toddler legs might not otherwise have made it to!

Book a private tour of Ostuni in a tuk tuk here.

Find more great tours in Puglia here.


Monopoli is a vibe. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this characterful coastal city as much as we did but the centro storico, with its baroque churches, castle, cannons and stone walls abutting a photogenic harbour really is a must-see.

This was probably one of Miles’ favourite places to explore (see reasons above) and the fact that I had some of the best gelato of my life at Gasperini dal 1936 really sealed the deal for me!

The tiramisu gelato at Gasperini is just TDF

We also enjoyed a refreshing cold drink with fab sea views from the rooftop terrace of a beautiful boutique hotel called Don Ferrante. If you’re strolling the coastal path be sure to stop here.

Close to Monopoli you’ll find some of the best beaches in this part of Puglia. We spent a morning at Cala Paradiso, which has a lovely sandy, child-friendly bay and a view of Monopoli peeking up over the cliffs.

Cala Paradiso Puglia - family friendly beach to visit on a Puglia family holiday
Cala Paradiso, Monopoli

Many beaches in this area are organised Lidos – this basically means a beach club operates on part of them and you have to pay to use sunbeds and umbrellas or squeeze your towel in the public areas around the edges.

During our visit the Lido at Cala Paradiso was not yet open but it looked lovely. I’d definitely have spent the day here if we could get food and drinks served.

Cala Paradiso Puglia
View of Monopoli Old Town

Another area that was recommended to us was Capitolo, which has a long stretch of sandy beach with a mix of beach clubs and public areas.

Polignano A Mare

The most famous beach in Puglia is found in Polignano A Mare

It was seeing pictures of Polignano A Mare that made me realise there was more to a holiday to Puglia than exploring trulli in Alberobello.

Polignano is home to arguably the most famous beach in Puglia, Cala Porto. (Also known as Lama Monochile). Enveloped by steep cliffs, sunkissed buildings and a Roman bridge, Lama Monochile is so distinctive. We’ll never forget it.

Head to the balcony at Belvedere su Lama Monachile for the best views

The beach itself is quite pebbly and gets crowded so in my opinion it was not worth the trek down with a 3-year-old, but wandering the chic old town to get to the balcony where you’ll find the Insta-famous view definitely is.

(The view point is listed as Belvedere su Lama Monachile on Google Maps. Click to get directions here.)

Polignano A Mare
Stop for Aperitivo at Dei Serafini

There are some really gorgeous boutique stores and sophisticated bars in Polignano. It felt more touristy than other places we visited but it was very chic. We enjoyed a fantastic Aperitivo board with Aperol Spritz at a gorgeous boutique B&B called Dei Serafini. A local school were performing in the square while we ate and Miles danced around in the audience.

Martina Franca

We squeezed in a visit to Martina Franca before heading to the airport on our last day and unfortunately as it was raining we didn’t see it in the best light.

Things got better though as we entered the old town through one of the four impressively imposing Renaissance and Baroque gates and found our way to the beautiful Basilica di San Martino, picking up some freshly baked focaccia on the way.


In 2024 I returned to Puglia as part of a cruise and as we docked in Bari, the capital of the Puglia region, I took the opportunity to visit the old town that we had skipped on our family holiday.

I was actually blown away by how picturesque the lemon-coloured old town is and discovered that if there is one reason you should add Bari to your Puglia itinerary it’s this – La Via Delle Orecchiette.

La Via Delle Orecchiette is a famed street food market in Bari where local women prepare fresh Orecchiette pasta at little wooden tables and sell colourful bags of it by the kilo.

Orecchiette is an ear-shaped pasta that is typical of Apulia so not only is it intriguing to see it being freshly made on the street but it’s a must-try while in Bari.

Bari is a great city for foodies in general as Focaccia Barese, fried seafood and homemade pizza are all local specialities. Unfortunately I was a little too late to try the famous focaccia at Panificio Fiore and Panifico Santa Rita but I’d go back for some in a heartbeat!


Matera Italy
The Sassi of Matera is known for its ancient cave dwellings carved into the rock

Finally, although it’s not technically in Puglia, I have to mention Matera in this post as it’s an easy drive from Alberobello and an absolute must-see while you are in this region of Italy.

Matera is one of the oldest, still inhabited cities in the world (alongside Aleppo & Jericho – some call it the “second Bethlehem”!) and up until only a few decades ago some of those inhabitants still lived in tiny cave dwellings carved into the rock. 

Visit a Casa Grotta to see the traditional furnishings of a cave dwelling

While in Matera you can visit a Casa Grotta, a museum staged like a typically furnished cave dwelling, to get a sense of what life was life in these prehistoric homes. I couldn’t believe whole families, including the pigs & donkeys, lived in these caves up until the 1950s. (Residents were evacuated in the 50s due to poor living conditions after Matera became known as the ‘shame of Italy’.)

Today, you’ll find boutique hotels, art galleries, gift shops, restaurants & rock churches dotted around the rejuvenated historical centre known as the Sassi. 

It’s an intriguing mix of the ancient & the chic, with a touch of the cinematic about it too. (Bond Movie, No Time To Die, and Mel Gibson’s, The Passion of Christ were both filmed here).

Where to stay in Puglia

Where to stay on a Puglia family holiday - Trullo Roverella Puglia

We stayed in the absolutely stunning Trullo Roverella with private pool just outside Castellana Grotte. I wrote about this place in more detail here as it was the perfect place to stay on a Puglia family holiday but, in short, some of the things we loved about it were:

*The annexe bathroom with huge bathtub overlooking the pool

*The extensive outdoor dining and pool area surrounded by olive trees

*The chic but practical décor – there was a fully fitted kitchen, master bedroom on the mezzanine level and good sized sofa bed in the living room

*The outdoor shower and laundry room

*Electric car charger

*Complete privacy – there is only one other villa on the property and they have their own pool too

More family-friendly trulli in Puglia we love are:

Rifugio di Puglia

La Dieci Porte

Trulli Ad Maiora

Trulli suite with private jacuzzi

HelloApulia Trullo Mario

Trullo Apulia Ostuni

Trullo Tulou relax in Valle d’Itria

Trulleria Tagliente

Traditional villas and farmhouses:

Villa Fantese Ostuni

IL TRULLO BIANCO – Country House & SPA

Masseria Montefieno

Getting around Puglia

We flew into Bari Airport and hired a car for the week through Discover Cars.

As our accommodation had an electric car charger we used Discover Cars to search for the best deal among various suppliers and ended up finding an electric Renault Zoe which we loaned via Sicily by Car. We also hired a car seat for Miles which was in great condition. We had to fit it ourselves though and that took ages!

Hiring an electric car worked out really well for us. Not only because we didn’t pay for fuel for the week but because we were able to snag some great parking spaces in the likes of Polignano and Locorotondo by using the electric charging points.

Is Puglia good for families?

Matera Italy

I think Puglia is perfect for family holidays. Our 3-year-old had a blast exploring the pedestrianized old towns; searching for castles and church bell towers became his new favourite thing.

It was great to be able to enjoy a mix of sightseeing and beach time and if the weather had been just a little bit warmer I’m sure we would have spent most afternoons in the pool.  (We visited during an unseasonably cool week in May!)

We found Puglia super accessible. It’s relatively flat compared to other parts of Italy. It’s an easy region to drive around and during May we didn’t have any issues finding parking spaces. I also loved that you could see so many beautiful places within a short time frame. Many towns are just 15-20 minutes drive from each other so we managed to see a lot while not feeling like we were always in the car.

In short, we loved it. Are you planning a visit?

If you’d like any more tips for travelling to Puglia please visit my Instagram @jayneytravels – I have a highlight of our trip saved there.

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About the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum to a 4-year-old son. I’ve been blogging since 2010, travelled to 65 countries and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips.

4 thoughts on “Puglia Family Holiday – What To Do & Where To Stay”

  1. Hi Jayne,

    Beautiful post and amazing trip you had in Puglia. Happy to hear you liked our region. You are always welcome to come back, next trip you should plan to visit Salento sub-region and Gargano too. Highly recommended

    Beautiful blog in general 🙂

    • Aw thank you, I’m so glad you liked it. We would definitely like to come back and explore more of the region so thanks for your recommendations.


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