Highlights of Puglia

Highlights of Puglia

8 Days Starting in Bari and ending in Lecce

Visiting: Bari, Altamura, Matera, Alberobello, Lecce

Tour operator:

Explore!

Tour code:

PUL

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 18

Physical rating:

Moderate

Age range:

14-99

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Adventure Tours

Activities:

Sightseeing, Walking

From:
$2390
$1857 (USD) Operator discount: -$480 The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$53 -22%
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Tour Overview

The 'heel of Italy' is more densely populated by olive trees than by people; it has a relaxed atmosphere, sunny climate and rolling countryside. This trip offers the perfect balance of culture, food and the Adriatic coastline.

Matera - In Basilicata discover the fascinating UNESCO-Listed ancient troglodyte sassi quarter
Alberobello - Explore the beehive-shaped trulli houses that are unique to Puglia and enjoy a wine tasting
Lecce - See the Baroque architecture in the 'Florence of the south' including the magnificent cathedral square.

Highlights

  • Matera - In Basilicata discover the fascinating UNESCO-Listed ancient troglodyte sassi quarter

  • Alberobello - Explore the beehive-shaped trulli houses that are unique to Puglia and enjoy a wine tasting

  • Lecce - See the Baroque architecture in the 'Florence of the south' including the magnificent cathedral square.

Itinerary

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Day 1: Join Trip In Bari
Location: Bari
Accommodation: Hotel, Adria
Meals Included: Breakfast, No Meals

Arrive in the Adriatic port city of Bari. The old town area of Bari Vecchia is located next to the harbour and is a tangled maze of old streets. One of the main highlights is the Basilica of San Nicola, which legend has it, contains some of the bones of jolly old Saint Nick.



For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Bari at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Bari International Airport - Karol Wojtyla (BRI), which is around 20 minutes' train journey from the city centre. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.



The transfer from Bari Airport to the Bari Central will be by train. Our Leader who is normally at the airport from 11am to 4pm will meet you at the arrival gate and give simple instructions on which train to catch and to supply you with your train tickets. It is then a short 5-minute walk from the train station to our hotel. If your flight is arriving before 11am or after 4pm then we will send you your train ticket with your final documentation and you will need to make your own way to Bari Central by train and walk to our hotel. It is a very straightforward journey and details of the route will be provided in your final documentation.



Please note that according to the current timetable (which is subject to change), the earliest train from Bari Airport departs at 5.54am and the latest train departs at 11.24pm. If your flight will be arriving too late to catch the last train then please speak to our Sales team who can arrange a private road transfer for you at an additional cost.



If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to take a walk along the Lungomare seaside promenade.



In Puglia the food revolves around local produce, so the dishes on offer will vary depending on what's in season. A lot of the cuisine is vegetable or cheese based and of course, they make good use of all the olive oil produced from the 60 million olive trees in the region. Over the next week you could sample a range of dishes such as fried polenta, tubs of ricotta, mozzarella balls stuffed with cream, orecchiette pasta (known as small ear pasta due to its shape), which is normally served with a sauce made from turnip tops, meat and rice stuffed peppers or a large array of seafood dishes. The wine is also delicious with Primitivo red wine being a popular choice.

Day 2: Food Tasting In Altamura And Visit To The Medieval Castel Del Monte
Location: Altamura
Accommodation: Hotel, Sassi
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning we leave Bari and drive to Altamura, which is a city famed for its bread and we'll get the chance to try it along with a selection of other specialities like taralli savoury biscuits flavoured with fennel seeds, focaccia, pizza and wine. Pane di Altamura is a very filling bread and loafs on average weigh a kilo and traditionally would have been eaten by workers out in the fields. The bread is cooked in 'forni' stone oven using oak wood.



Next we have a guided visit of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Castel del Monte. It is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Southern Italy and is an unusual octagonal shape with a tower in each corner and there's no roof over the large central courtyard. The architectural design suggests Arabic influences as well as more classical Italian features. It was built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and was of huge importance to the region. It is believed to have been a cultural centre for ancient scholars coming from all over the world and that each part of the castle conceals philosophic and alchemical meanings within its unique design.



Later this afternoon we arrive in Matera, which is just over the regional border in Basilicata and where we will spend the next two nights. The town is impressively located on the side of a gorge eroded by the Gravina River and is famous for its ancient sassis, a UNESCO-Listed troglodyte quarter, which originates from prehistoric times. Stepping into the city is like stepping back in time, and it feels as though the cobbled narrow streets and meandering buildings have changed little over the past 7,000 years. It's a place that has to be seen to be believed and we have the wonderful experience of staying in a hotel within these ancient sassi cave dwellings.

Day 3: Guided Tour Of The Caves And Rock Carved Churches Of Matera
Location: Matera
Accommodation: Hotel, Sassi
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning a local guide will takes us on a walking tour of the sassi quarter which is split into two halves - Sassi Caveoso and Sassi Barisano, with the cathedral sitting between them. The city is so unchanged over the centuries that it has frequently been used as a film set for biblical scenes. It's hard to believe it now, but in the 1950s Matera was an embarrassment to the Italian authorities, as many families were living in one room caves, in poor conditions and poverty was rife. The families were helped and re-housed and the city cleaned up and it's now a treasured historic city that will become the European Capital of Culture in 2019.



After spending the morning exploring the cobbled lanes, rock carved churches and caves we have the afternoon free to discover more or you might choose to take a train to neighbouring Gravina (the journey is around 45 minutes each way). Gravina is a historic town that has retained much of its character. The buildings here line the sides of a deep river gorge with a Roman bridge connecting them. The highlight of the town however is the Gravina Sotterranea, which is an underground network of meandering passageways that run beneath the city through caves and cellars where you can find rock carved churches under the houses above. This remarkable underground labyrinth has only recently discovered.

Day 4: Cheese And Wine Tasting; Walk Through The Trullis Of Alberobello
Location: Alberobello
Accommodation: Hotel, Trullidea
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning we drive to an agriturismo in Putignano or in the surrounding area for a cheese tasting. Agriturismos are traditional country farms that have opened up their doors to visitors, everything here is homemade. After seeing how the cheese is produced and exploring the farm and gardens we'll sample their delicious food, which usually includes freshly braided mozzarella.



Our first stop in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed town of Alberobello is in the Cantina Albea Winery and Museum. After having a guided tour and learning about the different wines of Puglia we'll then get to sample the award-winning wines that they produce. The small town of Alberobello is famous for its unusual trulli round houses with their white washed dry stone walls and pointed 'witches hat' tiled roofs and we spend the next two nights in these unique buildings. After our wine tasting we will take a pleasant walk through the trullis to our hotel. Trullis or trullos as they're also known are either built singly or in groups of up to five which would have originally been occupied by a single family. After checking in to our trullis our Leader will take us on a walk of the town to learn about the history and to help us get our bearings. The town is divided into two districts - Rione Aia Piccola and Rione Monti. On our walk we'll see Trullo Sovrano, built by a wealth priest in the 18th century it is the only two floor trulli house and it's now a museum, and the Trullo Church with its domed towers and curved windows it looks like a stretched trulli and was built far later in 1927.



This evening is free for you to experience more of the town. There are a number of restaurants and shops and typically Italian bars along the main street of Largo Martellotta.

Day 5: Free Day In Alberobello; Chance To Visit The Castellana Caves
Location: Alberobello
Accommodation: Hotel, Trullidea
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today is free for you to relax among the trullis or perhaps to travel further afield for more sightseeing. You could take the train (around 10 minutes each way) to the pretty town of Locorotondo. Although it's only a short distance from Alberobello a completely different building style has been used with tall, narrow rectangular buildings packed together with their tiled gable roofs and whitewashed walls. The formation of them and their hilltop location makes the town resemble a white fort.



Alternatively, you might like to take the train to the Castellana Caves (taking about 35 minutes per way). You can join an English speaking guided tour of one of the most amazing natural wonders in Puglia and see the array of stalactites, stalagmites and fossils that can be found in this underground grotto which started to form about 90 million years ago.



Or perhaps you'd like to spend the day on the coast and take a taxi to Monopoli, which is approximately 30 minutes' drive away, and home to defensive sea walls, a cathedral and even a castle. The tall white buildings and rocky walls are offset by the bright blue waters of the Adriatic Sea dotted with traditional fishing boats and lined with narrow sandy beaches from where you can take a dip in the sea.

Day 6: Olive Oil Tasting; Visit To Otranto And Chance For A Coastal Walk
Location: Lecce
Accommodation: Hotel, Eos
Meals Included: Breakfast

We leave the trullis and head to Masseria Frantoio Ipogeo, which an underground olive press originally created by monks in the limestone caves that form here naturally. The monks released the importance of keeping the olive oil at a constant temperature in order for it to last and to get the best flavour, and the caves offered the perfect solution. We'll have the chance to sample the olive oil with taralli biscuits and wine.



We drive on to the historic seafront town of Otranto where our Leader will take us to visit the cathedral to see the amazing 'tree of life' mosaic floor and to have a brief orientation walk through the maze of the narrow alleys. After free time for lunch there's the chance to take a rugged coastal walk to the old bauxite quarry lake before returning back to Otranto. The almost turquoise waters of the lake are surrounded by the red earth of the old quarry walls, which makes it a very photogenic spot. Along the way to the lake there are spots ideal for swimming or paddling along the coast. The route takes around an hour each way, covering a total distance of seven kilometres. If you don't fancy joining the walk then you can further explore the town or relax on the sandy beaches.



Later this afternoon we drive on to Lecce, which is nicknamed the 'Florence of the south' due to its rich Baroque heritage seen in the city's palaces, churches and statues made from the local cream coloured limestone. This evening is free for you to have dinner and explore the city.

Day 7: Walking Tour Of Lecce; Free Afternoon To Visit The Museo Faggiano
Location: Lecce
Accommodation: Hotel, Eos
Meals Included: Breakfast

We start today with a guided walking tour of Lecce to see the Basilica di Santa Croce, Piazza del Duomo (cathedral square) and the cathedral itself. The Baroque basilica took over two centuries to construct and has a richly decorated facade with carved figures and topped with a large rose window.



Following our tour the rest of the day is free. In the city you'll find a Roman amphitheatre, a statue of Saint Oronzo, which is said to have healing powers and the Triumphal Arch, which is one of the three main gates into the old centre. You might choose to visit the Museo Faggiano, which will give you an even greater insight into the city's long history.

Day 8: Trip Ends In Lecce
Location: Lecce
Meals Included: Breakfast

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Lecce.



There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Lecce at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Bari International Airport - Karol Wojtyla (BRI), which is just over two hours by train.



If your flight is departing early, then you will take the train to Bari Central Station with your Leader at around 6am and then you will continue by train to Bari Airport.



If your flight isn't departing until later then you can still travel to Bari Central Station where there are luggage storage facilities at the station that you could make use of and then go into the city to explore independently.



Alternatively, you can choose to spend longer in Lecce in the morning and then travel by train to Bari Central and on to Bari Airport at a time of your choosing. Luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. Your Leader will give you your train ticket for the journey to the airport and advise you on when the trains will be departing.



Please note that according to the current timetable (which is subject to change), the earliest you can reach Bari Airport by train is 7.25am and the latest is 11.40pm. If your flight is departing earlier in the morning then please speak to our Sales team who can arrange a private road transfer for you at an additional cost.

What's Included

  • Accommodation

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Fully Guided

  • Meals – Breakfast Only

What's Not Included

  • Tipping and Gratuities

  • Country Entry Visas

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  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    All customers that travel on a Explore group trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. This is a great way to start your travels, offering you that little extra peace of mind and comfort in the knowledge that there will be someone at the airport or station waiting to take you t

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    Yes, we would be delighted to book extra nights before the start or at the end of your trip, please let us know your requirements at the time of booking.

  • I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

  • Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

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    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

  • What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

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  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

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    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

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    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

  • Do we have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel

    It’s now a condition of booking a trip with us that customers should have one of the following before they travel - — Be vaccinated against COVID, having received the full recommended course, and allowing enough time for immunity to take effect. Full vaccination includes any booster required to keep the vaccine valid. — Have taken a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) within 72hrs of departure.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour

Patricia  

Highlights of Puglia

I had a very bad trip last Xmas to India and a ter

I had a very bad trip last Xmas to India and a terrible 2nd week in Morocco last April that I didn't report on I was so fed up with your company but thankodness all is restored because of this fabulous trip and an excellent guide in Fabio Giorlande

Ewan  

Highlights of Puglia

Sonia was an excellent tour leader and was always

Sonia was an excellent tour leader and was always available for any questions or requirements we had. She was always friendly and outgoing am made the trip very pleasurable.

Rachel  

Highlights of Puglia

A wonderful trip with an excellent leader.

A wonderful trip with an excellent leader.

Patricia  

Highlights of Puglia

Just great trip somebody suggested reversing so ha

Just great trip somebody suggested reversing so had more time in Bari

Hellen  

Highlights of Puglia

I thought it was very varied and interesting, from

I thought it was very varied and interesting, from castles to making mozzarella, and churches to bakeries. I very much enjoyed the coastal walk to the bauxite quarry which some previous reviewers had criticised. The restaurants organised for the group meals were also vod and varied, which was great at the current time of the virus.

Catherine  

Highlights of Puglia

A wonderful holiday, which I really enjoyed and wo

A wonderful holiday, which I really enjoyed and would recommend ( and I have recommended already!) to many of my friends. I visited some wonderful places that I not even heard of before which were fantastic! Puglia is a hidden gem. Sonia was brilliantfaultless in all she did.

Patricia  

Highlights of Puglia

Great trip

Great trip

Sally  

Highlights of Puglia

The group leader made valiant efforts to engage wi

The group leader made valiant efforts to engage with people and provide a varied, interesting and enjoyable experience.

Hellen  

Highlights of Puglia (12-Sep-2020)

I thought it was very varied and interesting, from

I thought it was very varied and interesting, from castles to making mozzarella, and churches to bakeries. I very much enjoyed the coastal walk to the bauxite quarry which some previous reviewers had criticised. The restaurants organised for the group meals were also v good and varied, which was great at the current time of the virus.

Ewan  

Highlights of Puglia (11-Sep-2020)

Sonia was an excellent tour leader and was always

Sonia was an excellent tour leader and was always available for any questions or requirements we had. She was always friendly and outgoing am made the trip very pleasurable.

Read all 10 reviews

Dates & Availability

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Sunday - Sunday

May 05, 2024 - May 12, 2024
$2600 $2529 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$72 (USD)

Sunday - Sunday

Jun 09, 2024 - Jun 16, 2024
$2390 $2324 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$66 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Jun 23, 2024 - Jun 30, 2024
$2390 $1857 (USD)

Operator discount: -$480 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$53 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Jul 21, 2024 - Jul 28, 2024
$2410 $2344 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$66 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Sep 01, 2024 - Sep 08, 2024
$2410 $2344 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$66 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Sep 08, 2024 - Sep 15, 2024
$2410 $2344 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$66 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Sep 22, 2024 - Sep 29, 2024
$2690 $2616 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$74 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Oct 06, 2024 - Oct 13, 2024
$2350 $2285 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$65 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Apr 13, 2025 - Apr 20, 2025
$2420 $2353 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

May 04, 2025 - May 11, 2025
$2420 $2353 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

May 18, 2025 - May 25, 2025
$2420 $2353 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Jun 08, 2025 - Jun 15, 2025
$2420 $2353 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Jun 22, 2025 - Jun 29, 2025
$2420 $2353 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Jul 20, 2025 - Jul 27, 2025
$2420 $2353 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Aug 31, 2025 - Sep 07, 2025
$2420 $2353 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Sep 07, 2025 - Sep 14, 2025
$2420 $2353 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Sep 21, 2025 - Sep 28, 2025
$2420 $2353 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Oct 05, 2025 - Oct 12, 2025
$2420 $2353 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67 (USD)

Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Explore! allows you to make 1 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 60 days before the start of the tour.

  • Low Deposit

    Explore! requires a minimum deposit of 10% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of explore! charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 13 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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