Cycling through beautiful places is something everyone should experience. Puglia is the perfect place for a beginner cyclist looking into doing an independent tour. Don’t know where to start? Read this post!
Puglia is such an underrated part of Italy. When you think of Italian beaches, everyone immediately thinks of the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre, but Puglia has some of the most stunning beaches in Italy! We spent a week cycling in Puglia, finding amazing spots to see and enjoying the stunning seaside cliffs, small towns, and of course, the food! Here’s our 1 week Puglia itinerary for cycling in Puglia!
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When should I go cycling in Puglia?
The best thing about doing a cycling tour of Puglia is that the weather is pretty great year-round. They have mild winters, hot summers, and super pleasant springs and autumns, so it’s an incredible destination no matter the season! That being said, I would probably avoid summers, when it would be the most crowded and hot! We cycled in the middle of winter, and we had good weather most days, but when it was cloudy, it felt much colder than it was. For perfect cycling weather, I’d choose to cycle in the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn).
What are Puglia cycling paths like?
The Eurovelo 15 was our first cycling trip, and I’ve gotta say, that spoiled us! With beautiful, smooth cycling paths, and big bike lanes on main roads, the EV15 was a cyclist’s dream. Puglia is quite different. It’s still a stunning region to cycle, but we were on shared roads the entire time, and it wasn’t uncommon to be on a road right next to the highway.
Sharing the roads with cars wasn’t as bad as we had anticipated. We live in Rome, and we know that sometimes the drivers here can be a little aggressive and occasionally, reckless. So when we found out we’d only be on roads that cars used, we were a little nervous. We were so pleasantly surprised that most cars gave us plenty of room to cycle – and there were very few times that they’d pass us in tight spots.
1-Week Cycling in Puglia Itinerary
This itinerary is full of short days. Whilst you could certainly add more mileage, we decided that super short days were perfect for this region. Puglia has some amazing towns and cities, and we wanted to be able to visit them and thoroughly explore them. Therefore, a lot of our days are only around 30 kilometres, which is only a little bit of time cycling! If you aren’t particularly excited about one town, skip it and cycle to the next!
Day 1: Arrive in Bari
Bari is one beautiful place. Located right on the seaside, Bari is home to fresh seafood, amazing little streets, friendly locals, and soooo much beauty. This is the perfect way to start your 1 week Puglia itinerary, as Bari is a great taste of what you’ll see in this magical region of Italy.
It’s also the biggest city you’ll be cycling to, so it’s the best place to check your packing list twice and make sure you have all the gear you’ll need. If you need to shop a little, there are plenty of stores in the main part of town.
How to get to Bari with a bicycle
You could always rent a car and drive your bike down to Bari, but I recommend taking a train (for shorter trips) or a plane.
By Train: There are plenty of trains from all over Italy that end up in Bari. From Rome, we took a Frecciarossa high-speed train. On high-speed trains, you’re able to take a bike if it’s carried in a bike bag with the dimensions 80cm x 110cm x 40cm. We ended up having to remove the handlebars and both wheels, but we got it to work. When it comes to actually putting your bike ON the train, I recommend reserving seats on the handicap-accessible car. There’s one section with a little more storage room. Otherwise, it’s pretty difficult to find any space for your bikes.
By Plane: If you’re travelling from overseas, flying into Bari is a good bet! To fly with your bicycle, it usually needs to be packed in a sturdy bike bag with the front wheel removed. Some airlines allow you to take your bike as your complimentary check-in luggage, but some require you to pay an extra fee – for more information, check with your airline!
Where to stay in Bari
B&B La Uascezze was the perfect place for us. It has a kitchenette and breakfast is included, but if you’re lazy, there’s an incredible restaurant just downstairs. Its location is perfect, located right near the sea in the old town.
Things to do in Bari
- Bari Fish Market – every morning, fisherman arrive at the market, throw their catches onto the pier, and sell ’em straight to you. You can either buy fish to cook later, or try some of the catches raw. Octopus and sea urchin are popular to eat fresh.
- Castello Normanno-Svevo – this castle is mainly an exhibition center. You can buy tickets to enter (great views!).
- Lungomare – the seaside walkway is beautiful and stretches for kilometers. It’s definitely worth grabbing lunch to go and sitting by the sea.
- Explore the old town – Bari’s old town is so charming, with the cutest piazzas and most beautiful churches around every corner.
Day 2: Bari – Polignano a Mare (37 km)
The cycling this day is right along the coast! You’ll mainly be travelling on the road, shared with cars, but they give you plenty of room. Navigating is pretty easy and you pass by so many little stalls where you can buy seafood. These are the little stops that you’d normally miss without a bike! Worried about hills? Don’t be! This section is all flat. It took us around 2 hours with plenty of stops and rests.
Polignano a Mare is a town on the seaside. It’s amazing to look at the buildings – they seem to just appear right from the sea cliffs. In Polignano a Mare, you’ll also be able to find the #instagramfamous Grotta Palazzese, the restaurant in the cave/grotto above the sea, as well as Lama Monachile Beach, popular for the large cliffs and stunning sea – right in the middle of town!
Where to stay in Polignano a Mare
We LOVED staying at Casa Simone – the apartment was just a 10-minute walk from the old town and it was the most beautiful modern studio. There were two floors, the top floor being the bedroom, so I could sleep whilst Phil was doing work downstairs. There’s a kitchen downstairs and we were provided with breakfast, snacks, and wine. This was one of our favourite places we stayed at.
What to do in Polignano a Mare
- Walk through the centro storico
- Eat gelato! No matter the season, it’s acceptable to have a gelato here.
- Get a view of Lama Monachile Beach from above – the bridge in the center of town overlooks the beach (afternoon brings the best light to photograph it!).
- Visit Lama Monachile Beach
- Splurge at Grotta Palazzese on a meal with a view you’ll never forget
- Get the best view from the Lungomare
Day 3: Polignano a Mare – Alberobello via Monopoli (31 km)
Don’t be fooled by the short mileage – this is the toughest day! From Polignano a Mare to Monopoli, the road is flat and you’ll cycle super quickly. Near Monopoli, there are amazing beaches with turquoise water – you should definitely stop at one for a little rest. Monopoli itself is an absolutely stunning town. Park your bikes and take an hour to wander through the streets. The white buildings and blue accents reminded me of Greece, but there was still that classic Italian charm.
From Monopoli, you start to head inland on SP146. This is a slightly unpleasant road to cycle on, with cars whizzing past you, but it clears up as you cycle uphill towards Gorgofreddo. From Gorgofreddo, you head onto Strada Provinciale 113, and then it’s allllll uphill. The road isn’t too steep, but it’s just steep enough that your legs will burn – it’s long and it just never gives!
Arriving in Alberobello is absolutely amazing- the trulli, a classic style building that Alberobello is famous for, are captivating, and Alberobello is lively and inviting. It was one of my favourite stops on this trip.
Where to stay in Alberobello
The great thing about having a bike with you in Puglia is that you can stay a little bit outside of Alberobello, where the most charming trulli are. Just outside the city is so picturesque and beautiful – while the city itself is lovely, getting away from the tourist crowds and living in a stunning trullo is the best experience.
We stayed at Diamora Sumerano, the most stunning trullo in the countryside outside of Alberobello. It was extremely quiet and peaceful here, but town was just a quick 15-minute walk away. It was such a stunning and unique place to stay – I couldn’t recommend it more! There’s one hob so you could cook if you really wanted to, but with so many places to eat in Alberobello, it’s more of a luxury than a necessity.
Things to do in Alberobello
- explore the city’s trulli
- wander through the centro storico
- get the best view of the UNESCO site from Chiesa di Santa Lucia
Day 4: Alberobello – Ostuni via Locorotondo & Cisternino (33 km)
This is such a beautiful ride. You’re heading downhill most of the time, but there are short uphill sections to meet every long downhill. The good news, you barely have to pedal uphill! This was my favourite day in terms of actual cycling – the rolling hills and constant change in elevation was so pleasant and fun.
On the way, you’ll stop at Locorotondo. It’s a really cute town with plenty of those Puglian alleys you’ll come to love. There’s also a beautiful park with a lookout over the small climb you’ll have done to reach the city. We just walked our bikes around, but it was pretty empty throughout the streets. In the summer months, I’d lock up your bike and walk around.
By the time we reached Cisternino, the weather had turned really cold and the sky was grey – we skipped out on thoroughly exploring this city, but it looked super cute (it almost reminded me of Monopoli, but inland).
Where to stay in Ostuni
The apartment we chose in Ostuni was an incredible place for a one-night stay. It doesn’t have wifi, BUT it does have the most amazing rooftop, where there are sunbeds and a beautiful view! I really enjoyed soaking up Ostuni from the rooftop, without the distraction of social media and the online world.
Things to do in Ostuni
- Eat! We had a delicious 3-course meal in town, and there were so many other restaurants we wanted to try!
- View the Ostuni Cathedral
- Get lost in the old town
We loved Ostuni – there’s so much charm and beauty in the city. Like any city, it can first appear a little rough around the edges, but Ostuni was so cute and the old town is absolutely amazing. We recommend getting a good meal and slowing down, walking through the old streets and thoroughly just enjoying your time in the white city.
Day 5: Ostuni-Brindisi (38 km)
From Ostuni, you’ll head over to Brindisi. This day is incredibly short (time-wise), but it’s really fun, as you’re going downhill the entire time!
Brindisi itself isn’t really my favourite. It’s a nice place with a busy main street for shopping, but to be honest, we didn’t fall in love with it the way we fell in love with other places in Puglia. I will, however, give Brindisi this: I had the BEST cornettos and pastries here. If there’s one thing you’ve gotta do in Brindisi, it’s eating cornetti for breakfast!!! We went to Cafe Principe, and the cornetto with crema was the best cornetto I have eaten in my life.
Flaky, buttery, and filled to the brim with custard. Eaten with a cappuccino. La dolce vita.
Where to stay in Brindisi
We again stayed at an apartment-hotel, as we find it easiest for saving some money and cooking our own food. It’s really nice to have the convenience of a fully-equipt home, especially when it has a washer & drier.
Diamora del Tempio was an incredible place to stay – in a great, convenient location, and overall a really nice apartment.
Day 6: Brindisi – Lecce (38 km)
If there’s one day of cycling to skip, this is it. You’re on the main road for most of the day, and there are few towns to stop in and sightsee. If you do want to cycle, be aware of cars! It’ll be pretty much all flat, so an easy day that shouldn’t take you long at all.
To take your bike on the train, check out the Trenitalia website (the app won’t work for this!) and look at the trains heading from Brindisi to Lecce. It’ll be a regional train. If there’s a small bicycle symbol next to the train number, you’re free to take the bike on board. If there isn’t a bike symbol, you can’t take the bike.
When you actually get to the train station, head up to the front car. The bike carriage is normally there – it’ll be marked with a bike symbol. It’s easy to hang your bikes up (no assembly!) and then you can have a seat. The conductor will come by and check your tickets, as well as give you a paper receipt for your bike. They might ask you to write some details down, they might not – it’s just for their record.
Where to stay in Lecce
We spent two nights in Lecce at two different places. Both were absolutely wonderful!
The first place we stayed in was Dimora dell’Artista. It’s a B&B, but it reminded me of a modern art-deco hotel. It was right in the middle of the old town and so so so lovely. It’s a full apartment and so comfy – we didn’t feel like leaving when we stayed here! Another thing we loved – when we had breakfast, we were introduced to pasticciotto, a local Lecce pastry. Think of a cookie pie filled with custard. Heavenly.
Our second night, we stayed at Apartment Don Giuliano Centro. This was another INCREDIBLE find. It’s again, right in the centre of the old town, and the owner was so lovely – he gave us plenty of recommendations to make sure that our time in Lecce was wonderful. It’s a cute studio with original stonework on the walls. Stunning.
Things to do in Lecce
Lecce’s old town is so charming. We immediately fell in love with the city, and it felt like each day, we found a new alley to explore. There’s quite a bit to do around Lecce, but our favourite thing was just slowing down, enjoying the relaxed pace of Italian living.
- Eat pasticciotto!!! One of my favourite pastries now. Get it from where it’s from!
- Church of the Holy Cross – from the 1600s and so beautiful
- Visit the Roman Amphitheatre – right in the central piazza!
- Cattedrale Dell’Assunzione Della Vergine (Cathedral of Saint Mary)
- Porta Napoli
- Wander through the old town.
Day 7: Onward Travel
Here’s where there’s more flexibility with this itinerary. We ended up staying two nights in Lecce, as we fell in LOVE with the city.
If you want to see more of Puglia and if you have the time, there are some stunning day trips from Lecce. Otranto and Gallipoli have incredible seaside views and turquoise water.
Want to stay somewhere overnight? Villa Ilios is next on our bucket list. We’re itching to have a little retreat there, spending our days near the sea, cooking, reading, and enjoying each other’s company.
You can also continue your bike trip in Puglia – there’s so much at the actual tip of the boot. Santa Maria di Leuca is especially well-loved. If you’re looking to cycle back towards Bari, take a detour to Matera. The possibilities are endlesss!
What to pack for a Puglia cycling trip
You’ll pretty much want to pack for this cycling trip like any other. There are some things, however, that I would just double-check you have for Puglia!
- SUNSCREEN. A necessity (even in winter!)
- Windbreaker. Puglia can get really windy – it’s nice to have something to stop the wind from cutting into you. Remember to be extra careful cycling with the wind (and maybe consider taking the train!).
- Shorts & T-shirts – it’s HOT in Puglia, and even in the winter, in good weather, you’ll want shorts!
- *Winter-only* Down jacket & trousers (whilst it can be warm, the weather can also turn really dang cold – trust me)
- Reusable shopping bag – there are loads of shops for grocery and snack shopping, and you’ll save 10 cents if you don’t buy a plastic bag.
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