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The Highlights of Puglia by Bike

The Highlights of Puglia by Bike

Overview

In the deep south of Italy, nestled between the Adriatic and Ionian seas, lies the beautiful Puglia region, one of Italy’s best-kept secrets when it comes to cycling. This is a classic and varied itinerary that takes in all the highlights of Puglia. Cycling between land and sea every day you will discover history and legends, amazing architecture and the stunning coastal landscapes of the heel of Italy.

This tour is suitable for anyone in good shape and with some cycling experience. The daily mileage goes from 40 to 70 kilometres, with many options for pauses for site visits, food sampling and refreshments. There will also be exciting moments of cultural exploration and possibilities for a refreshing swim in the clear sea of Puglia.

  • Sleep among the trulli
  • The green Itria Valley with Ostuni, Cisternino and Locorotondo
  • Lecce and its 100 Churches
  • The Sea of Otranto, Leuca and Gallipoli
  • Salento countryside and the fortified village of Acaya
  • The amazing Cave of Poetry

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Alberobello

You will easily access Alberobello and its magical Trulli from the regional capital. The town is in an area called “Valley of Trulli” and has a historical centre declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The two souls of Alberobello are divided by Piazza Martellotta: Rione Aia, with its streets still authentic and almost always silent, and Rione Monti, mostly devoted to tourism.

Day 2: Alberobello to Ostuni | 40 km

During your first day by bike, you will have the opportunity to visit two of the most beautiful villages in the region: Locorotondo, famous for its fresh and flavourful white wines, and Cisternino, the Casbah of the Itria Valley. You will then arrive at Ostuni, the city on the border between the Southern Murge and the Salento Plain. Some say its name comes from an ancient Arabic word for “olive.” From Ostuni, in fact, you can admire the olive trees going from the old city to the long beaches of the Adriatic Sea.

  • Accommodation: I 7 Archi or similar
  • Cycling: 40 km, ↑400 m ↓500 m

Day 3: Ostuni to Manduria | 60 km

Leaving Ostuni behind, you will cycle south to continue discovering Puglia on your bike. From the Murge hills, you reach the immense Salento plain, green with olives and red as its soil; this flat land extends to get lost in a transparent and clear sea. Today you will get to Manduria, the capital of the Primitivo grapes. Here you can visit the Museum of Primitivo Wine, located within the popular Manduria Winery. The museum collects objects of daily life and working tools of the old peasants telling the social and economic history of Salento.

Day 4: Manduria to Gallipoli | 70 km

In the morning, you will reach Torre Colimena and the Salt pan and then follow the coast southwards accompanied by the blue of the sea, between ancient coastal towers and fine sand, reaching Porto Cesareo, where we strongly advise you to enjoy fresh seafood or fish lunch. Continuing south, your end destination will be the Greek Kale Polis, today’s Gallipoli, with one of the most beautiful historic centres of Salento and streets full of shops, restaurants, churches and views of the sea.

Day 5: Gallipoli to Leuca | 50 km

Before exploring Puglia by bike and leaving the pretty Gallipoli, we recommend a morning dip in the small beach of Purità. Today, the route will take you on a low and sandy coast washed by a sea, matching the Caribbean beaches. Follow your instinct to choose your corner of paradise to enjoy the sun of the Ionian Sea. At the end of the day, you will reach the heel of Italy. From the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary, you can admire the stairs of the monumental fountain built to honour the end of the Apulian aqueduct, the longest and most complex in Europe.

  • Accommodation: Hotel Terminal or similar
  • Cycling: 50 km, ↑250 m ↓150 m

Day 6: Leuca to Otranto | 50 km

Cycling along the undulating coastal road, you can choose the route that will take you to admire and rest at one of the many coves of the coast. Discover, for example, the bay of Acquaviva, or if you like snorkelling, marvel at the colours of the Grotta Azzurra. You will also pass through Porto Badisco, where you can detour to explore “Grotta dei Cervi”, the archaeological wonder of Puglia. After passing Capo d’Otranto you will then arrive in Otranto, the most eastern city of Italy, where you will stay for the night.

  • Accommodation: Hotel Albania or similar
  • Cycling: 50 km, ↑680 m ↓760 m

Day 7: Otranto to Lecce | 55 km

The low and jagged coast today offers good options for a break at restorative baths in authentic natural pools, such as the wonderful Grotta della Poesia near Roca. The route then will take you along the path in the coastal reserve “Le Cesine”, abandoning the coast and heading towards Lecce.  A few kilometres before the arrival, you will see the fortified citadel of Acaya, halfway between Lecce and the sea. The Castle is an example of the first experiments in 16th-century military architecture commissioned by Giangiacomo d’Acaya, who also redesigned the entire village, to the point that the city changed its name in his honour, from Segine to Acaya. Leaving Acaya, you will travel the last narrow country roads before reaching the tour’s final destination, Lecce. 

Day 8: Departure

Departure on your own after breakfast. Do not let your holiday end without spending a few hours in Lecce, the Florence of the South: get lost in its historical centre, which will surprise you with a harmonious Baroque style. The stone which decorates many of the old town churches is called “Lecce Stone”, white, weather-resistant and easy to work.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Standard accommodation for this trip is mostly in selected 3* hotels and B&Bs. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour. Hotel upgrade is available upon request.

Click to view default hotels

Click to view upgraded hotels

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included each morning. When no restaurant is available on the route, lunches and snacks can either be bought from local shops, or packed lunches can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. For the evening meals, dinner is available either from the restaurant in your hotel or the restaurants in the town where you stay overnight (you will be recommended the best ones for sure).

Difficulty & terrain

The rides go mostly on well-asphalted country lanes and secondary roads with little traffic; however, note that sometimes you will have to cycle on more highly trafficked roads when approaching and riding in the larger towns. Average daily distances vary between 40 km and 70 km, with daily elevation gain ranging from 250 m to 680 m. The trip is suitable for regular cyclists who have an active lifestyle (read more about difficulty grades).

When to go

The trip can start from the beginning of March until mid-December (please note that it can be very hot in July & August). The period between 25 July and 4 September is on request only. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season. Puglia enjoys a comfortable Mediterranean climate with hot sunny summers and mild winters. There is an average of 300 sunny days in Puglia. Spring is characterised by the quick return of warmer and sunnier weather. The average temperatures in April and May are 14°C going up to a comfortable 18°C by the beginning of June. Summer lasts from June through September and is hot and sunny, with average temperatures of 21°C in September and 24°C in July and August. Days in October are still warm, with average temperatures of 17-21°C. In November, it’s a mild 13-14°C but rainy with cool evenings.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended arrival/departure airports for this holiday are the ones in Bari (BRI) and Brindisi (BDS).

By train or bus

Arrival in Alberobello: The Ferrovie Sud-est connects Alberobello with the train stations of Bari, Taranto and Lecce. This service is replaced by bus rides on Sundays and public holidays.

Departure from Lecce: You can take the direct train to reach both Bari and Brindisi train stations, where you will find connections to the relative airports.

For the most updated information about trains, visit the website www.trenitalia.it.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in charming hotels and guesthouses; private ensuite rooms
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Welcome briefing
  • Luggage transfer on all cycling days (1 piece up to 20 kg per person)
  • Travel app with route notes, maps and tracks
  • Phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Flights and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks & snacks
  • Bike rental
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses such as phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme
  • Local tourist taxes

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Bike rental – you can additionally book a trekking bike, a gravel bike, or an e-bike. All bikes come with a pannier and helmet included and with flat pedals.
  • Additional nights along the route
  • Hotel upgrade on request and with a supplement
  • Airport transfers

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