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Cycling in Puglia

Posted 12 Jan 2024

Located in the most south-eastern part of Italy, known as the heel of Italy’s boot – Puglia is a renowned destination for national and international cyclists. This southern region offers beautiful nature, delicious typical cuisine, and architectural and artistic variety. Steeped in history, in Puglia you will ride through land touched by Greek, Roman and Spaniard populations which have left their distinctive mark across the region. Thousand-year-old olive trees will shade you from the sun as you pass traditional whitewash houses where people have lived for over 9,000 years. With 800 km of coastline, this region has the country’s longest stretch of golden beaches and emerald cliffs. A truly magical destination, cycling in Puglia is a dream holiday for those looking for the perfect blend of history, culture and cuisine.

This area is also an ideal Softies location for its flat, quiet roads and smoothly rolling countryside with amazing views. Our tours take you from the north to the very southern tip of Italy whilst you explore Puglia’s delightful towns and colourful country villages along the way. Live lo struscio, the art of slow Italian living as you meander through Puglia, indulging in the local specialities of rich olive oils, fresh fruits and deep, Primitivo wines. In this blog, let us pedal you through the Puglian landscape and routes taken on our leisurely tours cycling in Puglia.

View our cycling tours in Puglia

Matera to Alberobello (70 km)

Both of our Puglia tours start in the ancient city of Matera, set on a hilltop and full of narrow stone streets and buildings that glow gold in the sun. The city is so outstanding that the 25th James Bond movie was filmed here. The cycle route travels from Matera, just over the border of Basilicata, through silver-hazed olive trees and towards the Sassi quarter where you will reach the Trulli houses. These ancient homes form a whole town carved out of soft rock where people have lived for thousands of years. Pale limestone caverns, which take the form of churches, monasteries, palaces and homes, light up at dusk transporting you to a fairy tale world. As you arrived into Alberobello, the Trilli capital, you can indulge in some of the delicious local cuisine or take a walk to absorb the other-worldly beauty of this Apulian town.

View our Highlights of Puglia tour

Matera to Alberobello

Alberobello to Ostuni (50 km)

As you head down towards La Citta Bianca, the white city of Ostuni, you’ll ride through the historically rich Murgia National Park. This spectacular rocky landscape pays tribute to the primitive relationship between man and nature in southern Italy.  Here you will see cliffs, caves and gorges touched by the first settlers in the prehistoric ages.  Travelling through this plateau, you’ll see many remnants of ancient towns carved into the rock. You’ll then pass through the medieval towns of Cisternino and Locorotondo. It’s worth taking a break from your bike to explore their town centres with magnificent viewpoints of the gorgeous Valle d’Itria. Maybe even grab a bombette, a roasted pork roll, typical of Cisternino and the perfect snack to give you a blast of protein before continuing onwards. 

You’ll know when you’re nearing Ostuni from its ‘white glow’, a quality which makes it one of the most beautiful places in Puglia. Sitting majestically on a hill, Ostuni offers wonderful views out towards the Adriatic Sea and over the heavenly white houses in the old town. There are many different speculations about the origins of these pure white homes; some state that they were painted white to reflect the sunlight to keep the interiors of the building cool. Meanwhile, others claim that during the mid-17th century, the white limestone mixture was used to paint the houses inside and out as a form of disinfectant to fend off the spread of the plague. Nowadays, this whitewashed skyline is an unforgettable sight that will leave you with amazing memories of cycling in Puglia.

View our Pedal Through Puglia tour

Alberobello to Ostuni

Ostuni to Lecce (55 km)  & Lecce to Otranto (60 km)

On our Highlights of Puglia cycling tour, you’ll reach the city of Lecce in the heart of the Salento area and then continue exploring the former Greek colonies of the south. Lecce is named the Florence of the South for its warm stone tones and fine Baroque architectural structures. After a short break in Lecce, you’ll pedal through the luscious Salento countryside and the low wetlands of Alimini to arrive in Otranto. This Greco-Roman port reflects a lavish Greek history which is still very much alive today in the area's dialect, cuisine and architecture. Relax in this charming coastal town that was once frequented by merchants and thrill-seekers.

Finally, your last destination lies in the little village of Santa Maria di Leuca at the very southern point of Puglia where the Adriatic and the Ionian seas divide. Enjoy its crystal-clear waters and refreshing coastal air – the perfect way to finish off your time cycling in Puglia.

View our cycling tours in Puglia

Ostuni to Lecce to Otranto

Ostuni to Polignano a Mare (53 km)

Our Pedal Through Puglia tour takes you further north to the lively fishing village of Polignano a Mare. Leaving Ostuni behind, you’ll pedal along the coast passing shining Roman ruins and many buildings with a mix of Norman, Venetian-Byzantine and Arabic architectural styles. Stopping in the pretty seaside town of Monopoli where you can have lunch, we recommend going to one of the many seafood restaurants that line the coastline, serving the freshest of fish. About 10 km northwest is your final destination, Polignano a Mare. The best place to take one last dip in the warm Italian sea before heading home.

Ostuni to Polignano a Mare

For more information on Puglia cycle routes, call our cycle experts today on 020 7471 7760. Alternatively, you can view our Puglia cycling holidays here.

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