Where to stay in Puglia without a car: 7 Best areas

Finding where to stay in Puglia without a car can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will share with you what I believe are the best areas to stay in Puglia without a car (including a map), where I stayed in Puglia, and the best hotels in Puglia for visitors of all budgets.

Puglia, located in the southern part of Italy, is a beautiful region known for its picturesque landscapes, historic towns, and stunning coastline. While having a car can make it easier to explore the more remote areas of Puglia, it is still possible to enjoy the region without one, especially if you plan your trip strategically and choose the right places to stay.

The train system is relatively well-developed, and you can use it to travel between major cities in Puglia, such as Bari and Lecce. Trains are a comfortable and convenient option for longer journeys.

There are two train companies in Puglia, Trenitalia and Ferrovie del Sud Est. You can use Trenitalia trains to explore the east coast such as Bari, Polignano, Monopoli, Ostuni, Brindisi and Lecce.

You can use Ferrovie del Sud Est train to travel between Bari and Alberobello, as well as Lecce from/to Gallipoli or Otranto in the Salento Peninsula.

In addition to the trains, there are also public buses that connect towns. Local and regional bus services operate throughout Puglia, but schedules can be less frequent, so plan your trips accordingly. Popular bus companies are Ferrovie del Sud Est, Oraribus, Omio, Flixbus.

In larger cities like Bari and Lecce, you can use public transportation, including buses and trams, to get around within the city. This is especially useful for exploring the urban areas.

Puglia has relatively flat terrain, which makes it suitable for cycling. You can rent bicycles and explore at your own pace. Be sure to follow road safety rules and wear appropriate gear.

Taxis are available in most towns and cities. These can be convenient for short trips or when public transportation is limited.

Puglia’s cities and towns often have narrow, winding streets that are best explored on foot. Many attractions are within walking distance of each other, so bring comfortable shoes and enjoy the scenic strolls.

Consider joining organized tours or excursions that include transportation. These tours often pick you up from your accommodation and take you to various points of interest.

If you absolutely need a car for a particular journey or to explore remote areas, you can rent one for a short period. Many rental agencies are available in larger cities and at airports.

Keep in mind that Puglia’s transportation options may vary by season and location, so it’s essential to plan ahead and check schedules and availability. 

Additionally, if you’re traveling to more remote or less touristy areas, it’s a good idea to learn some basic Italian phrases to help with communication, as English may not be widely spoken in these regions.

Where to stay in Puglia without a car?

The best areas to stay in Puglia without a car are Bari, Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, and Lecce. You can also look at towns of Ostuni, Brindisi, and Alberobello.

My recommendation is to base yourself in Bari, Polignano, Monopoli, and Lecce, then use bus/train for day trips to its surrounding towns and attractions.

Bari is the capital of Puglia and has well-connected trains and buses. You can use Bari as a base to explore the city itself and take day trips to nearby towns by public transportation or organized tours.

Lecce is another major city in Puglia, known for its Baroque architecture and lively atmosphere. It has good train and bus connections, making it a convenient base for exploring the Salento Peninsula.

Polignano and Monopoli are charming coastal towns, located just a short train ride south of Bari. Polignano is known for its stunning cliffs and crystal-clear waters. Monopoli is known for historic architecture and beautiful beaches. 

During my trip to Puglia without a car, I stayed in Bari for 3 nights at the Travel B&B, which is located very close to the bus and train station for easy day trips to Alberobello and Monopoli. Then I stayed in Lecce for 3 nights, and was able to make it a base to visit Gallipoli and Otranto.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Puglia for car-free travelers. You can Scroll down for the live map.

Map of the best areas to stay in Puglia without a car
Map of the best areas to stay in Puglia without a car

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Puglia, especially for travelers without a car. I’ll explain to you how to reach each area, how to get around, as well as some suggestions of the best places to stay in each area for every budget.

7 Best areas to stay in Puglia without a car:

1. Bari

Bari is one of the great areas to stay in Puglia, especially for car-free travelers. Bari is easily reachable as it has an international airport with flights from major European cities and a train station with connections from the main Italian cities such as Milan, Rome, Naples, Bologna.  

Bari is a major transportation hub in the region, making it convenient if you plan to travel around Puglia. You can easily take day trips by bus/train to major tourist destinations such as Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, and Alberobello.

The city also has a major port that connects Italy to various international destinations and serves as an important hub for trade and transportation.

Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and is one of the largest cities in the southern part of the country. It is situated on the Adriatic Sea coast and is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and beautiful waterfront.

Bari’s historic center is known as Bari Vecchia, and it is a charming area filled with narrow winding streets, picturesque squares, and historic buildings. The Basilica di San Nicola, dedicated to Saint Nicholas, is a prominent religious site in this part of the city.

Puglia, in general, is famous for its delicious cuisine, and Bari is no exception. You can savor local dishes such as orecchiette pasta, focaccia, seafood, and the famous pasticciotto pastry.

Bari and its surrounding areas offer beautiful beaches along the Adriatic coast, making it a popular destination during the summer months.

The city is home to the University of Bari, a renowned educational institution with a diverse range of academic programs.

Bari is a fascinating destination for tourists and a vibrant urban center in the region of Puglia. It offers a mix of historical and contemporary attractions, making it a versatile and interesting place to visit.

If you choose to stay in Bari, I recommend booking an accommodation in the downtown area called Murat. This allows you to be located in the middle of the city, easy access to both the Old Town, the port, and the main train station.

Best places to stay in Puglia in Bari without a car:

Budget ($):  Travel B&B, great hotel, centrally located in the downtown area, very close to Bari Central Train Station, the main shopping street, and the old town area with attractions such as Teatro Margherita and Bari Cathedral. The hotel offers paid airport shuttle service, which is a bonus for car-free travelers.

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Adria , popular 3-star hotel, located within easy distance from the main train station for day trips to nearby towns and attractions. Also close to the St Nicholas Cathedral, the historic center, and Corso Cavour, one of Bari’s main shopping streets in Bari.  

Luxury ($$$): Hotel Boston, this 4-star hotel is conveniently located in the city center of Bari, just a few steps from a stop from Tempesta shuttles and bus 16 to the airport. Also within walking distance from the Old Town, Via Sparano shopping street, Bari Centrale Train Station, and the seafront promenade. 


2. Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare is a charming coastal town located just a short train ride from Bari and Monopoli. It is known for its stunning cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque old town.

Polignano train station is in Viale Trieste, just a few mins walk from the main square Aldo Moro. You can check the schedule on the Trenitalia app or website as trains may not be frequent in autumn and winter.

One of the most iconic features of Polignano a Mare is its dramatic cliffs that overlook the Adriatic Sea. The town is perched on limestone cliffs, which provide breathtaking views of the sea and create a unique and romantic atmosphere.

The historic center of Polignano a Mare is a maze of narrow, winding streets and whitewashed buildings. It’s a charming area to explore, with many cafes, restaurants, and shops tucked away in its alleys.

Polignano a Mare offers several small beaches and coves such as  Cala Porto/ Lama Monachile Beach where you can swim and sunbathe. It is famous for its scenic bridge that spans the crystal-clear waters.

One of the town’s most famous attractions is the Grotta Palazzese, a unique sea cave restaurant. Carved into the cliffs, the restaurant offers a stunning setting for dining with views of the sea and the cave’s interior.

The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has featured the town’s cliffs as a location for its competition.  

The famous Italian singer and songwriter Domenico Modugno was born in Polignano a Mare. He is best known for his hit song “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu” (commonly referred to as “Volare”), which became an international sensation.

Best places to stay in Polignano a Mare without a car:

  • Budget ($): Sinestesia, 3-star accommodation, offers an airport shuttle from Bari Karol Wojtyla airport, which is 40 km away. Centrally located within walking distance from the train station, the historic center, and the Lama Monachile Beach area.
  • Mid-range ($$): Vilu Suite Centro, secure and comfortable accommodation, great base in Polignano, conveniently located within just a few mins walk, Polignano train station in Viale Trieste, and all major attractions. You’ll find the market downstairs and a nice coffee bar nearby.
  • Luxury ($$$): Hotel Grotta Palazzese, this is a five-star hotel with a private beach and paid airport shuttle which is convenient for those without a car. If you want a luxury base, this can be a good choice.

3. Monopoli

Monopoli is a charming coastal town located just a 5 mins train ride from Polignano a Mare, 35 mins train ride from Bari. Monopoli is one of the many gems in Puglia and offers visitors a taste of authentic Italian life. 

Monopoli boasts a well-preserved historic center with narrow winding streets, white-washed buildings, and a maze of alleyways. The town’s medieval walls and historic architecture make it a delightful place to explore on foot.

Monopoli is renowned for its stunning coastline and crystal-clear waters. There are both public and private beaches in the area, offering opportunities for sunbathing and swimming.

The town has a bustling port, which is not only functional but also picturesque. You can take a stroll along the harbor and enjoy views of the fishing boats and sailboats.

Monopoli is home to several historical sites and churches, including the Cathedral of Maria Santissima della Madia and the Castle of Charles V.

Monopoli’s location makes it an excellent base for exploring other parts of Puglia. You can easily visit nearby towns like Polignano a Mare, Alberobello (famous for its trulli houses), and Ostuni.

Puglia is also known for its vineyards and wine production. Consider taking a wine tour in the region to sample some of the local wines.

Best places to stay in Puglia in Monopoli without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hotel Don Ferrante, this is a five-star hotel with private beach and airport shuttle services. It is 15 mins walk from the train station, and is well connected by the SS16 national road, a short ride from San Domenico Golf Club, Fasano Zoo, and Castellana Grotte.
  • Mid-range ($$): HolidayMonopoli, Fabulous accommodation, easy access to the old town, harbor, beaches, main square with lots of restaurants, pubs, and shops. 
  • Budget ($): Sogno D’Epoca 1822, this hotel offers paid airport shuttle and free shuttle to the train station which is a bonus for guests without a car. The hotel has an Italian breakfast of croissants and cappuccino daily. They can help you to arrange excursions and tours of Puglia.

4. Lecce

Lecce is one of the great bases to explore Puglia for travelers without a car, who want to explore the  Salento Peninsula. It is the capital of the province of Lecce, located in the Salento Peninsula, and is a popular destination for beach lovers and offers opportunities for exploring the scenic coastline.

Lecce is approximately 2 hours by train from Bari, and 30 mins by train ride from Brindisi. From Lecce, you can take day trips to Gallipoli ( 1.5 hour FSE train ride), Galatina (50 mins train ride), and Otranto ( 90 mins train ride depending on season).

Lecce is often referred to as the “Florence of the South” because of its rich Baroque architectural heritage. The city’s historic center is filled with beautiful buildings, churches, and palaces adorned with intricate carvings and decorative details.

The main square of Lecce, Piazza del Duomo, is a must-visit. It features the Lecce Cathedral (Duomo di Lecce), a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, as well as the Campanile (bell tower) and the Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop’s Palace).

One of the most famous examples of Baroque architecture in Lecce is the Church of Santa Croce. Its façade is intricately decorated with a variety of motifs, including animals, plants, and mythological figures.

Lecce also has a well-preserved Roman amphitheater, which dates back to the 2nd century AD. It could once hold thousands of spectators and is a testament to the city’s ancient history.

Lecce has a vibrant nightlife scene, particularly during the summer months. Many bars and clubs come to life, making it a great place to experience the lively atmosphere of southern Italy.

Best places to stay in Puglia in Lecce without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Patria Palace Lecce, 5-star hotel, centrally located in the middle of the Old town, right next to the Basilica of Santa Croce and a short walk to the Roman amphitheater. They can give you recommendations on restaurants, and airport transfers.
  • Mid-range ($$): Grand Hotel Di Lecce, this 4-star hotel is a short walk from Lecce Railway Station, which is convenient for day trips by train. It is also only a 10-minute walk from the historic center and Piazza Sant’Oronzo.
  • Budget ($): Kalurya, 3-star accommodation located in a quiet area close to Lecce Train Station, and the centro storico, Piazza Mazzini, Sant’ Oronzo Square.

5. Ostuni

Often referred to as the “White City” due to its charming whitewashed buildings, Ostuni is a picturesque town that can be easily explored on foot. It has good train and bus connections to other parts of Puglia. Just take note the train station is located around 2 km up to the hill of the Old Town.

Ostuni is situated in the province of Brindisi, in the heel of Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula. It is located on top of a hill, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the Adriatic Sea.

The historic center of Ostuni is a maze of narrow winding streets, alleys, and staircases. The white buildings are adorned with architectural details in various shades of blue, which add to the town’s unique and enchanting atmosphere.

Ostuni boasts several notable landmarks, including the Cathedral of Ostuni (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta), which features a beautiful rose window and an ornate interior. The Bishop’s Palace and the Palazzo del Seminario are other architectural gems worth exploring.

Ostuni is close to some stunning beaches along the Adriatic coast, making it a popular destination for beach lovers. Some nearby beaches include Rosa Marina, Pilone, and Torre Pozzella.

The town is also known for its local crafts, including ceramics and handmade textiles. You can find shops selling these traditional products in the historic center.

Best places to stay in Puglia in Ostuni without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): La Sommità Relais & Chateaux, 5-star hotel, located in the pedestrian area in the Old Town of Ostuni, offering a Michelin-starred restaurant and Airport shuttle service.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel La Terra, 4-star hotel located in the old quarter of Ostuni, right next to the Benedictine convent of St Peter.
  • Budget ($): 21mq Suite Home Ostuni, great accommodation, centrally located.

6. Brindisi

Brindisi is the capital of the province of Brindisi situated on the eastern coast of the Italian peninsula, facing the Adriatic Sea. It is strategically located as a major port city in southern Italy.

In addition to its port, Brindisi has good transportation links, including an airport (Brindisi Airport) and a railway station, which connects the city to other parts of Italy.

Brindisi has a rich history dating back to ancient times. It was a significant port during the Roman Empire and served as the endpoint of the famous Roman road, the Via Appia, which connected it to Rome. In medieval times, it was an important center for trade and commerce.

The city is known for its busy commercial and passenger port. The port of Brindisi is one of the main gateways to Greece and the eastern Mediterranean, with ferry connections to various destinations.

Brindisi boasts several historical and cultural attractions, including the Roman column (Colonna Romana), the Church of Santa Maria del Casale, the Castle of Brindisi, and the Archaeological Museum.

Brindisi is not only steeped in history but also has a modern side with a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Best places to stay in Puglia in Brindisi without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hotel Orientale, 4-star hotel, located in the historic center of Brindisi,  within walking distance from Brindisi Railway Station and the harbor. It has a paid airport shuttle and free bikes to use.
  • Mid-range ($$): Filia Solis – Old Town SUITEs & SPA , good value for money accommodation, offers a paid airport shuttle service. Central quiet location, close to lots of shops and restaurants.
  • Budget ($): B&B station, 3-star accommodation, a short walk from the train station, and a bus stop with links to the airport and the beach.

7. Alberobello

Alberobello is famous for its unique trulli houses, and it’s a walkable town where you can explore the historic district on foot. It’s well-connected by train and bus to nearby cities like Bari and Martina Franca.

The most iconic feature of Alberobello is its trulli, which are traditional Apulian dry-stone huts with conical roofs. These unique structures are made without the use of mortar and have white-washed walls. 

They are often decorated with distinctive symbols painted on the roofs. Trulli houses are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attract tourists from around the world.

The trulli in Alberobello date back to the 14th century when they were constructed as a way for the local population to evade property taxes. The dry-stone construction allowed them to be quickly dismantled when tax inspectors were in the area and then rebuilt once they had left.

Trullo Sovrano is the only two-story trullo in Alberobello and serves as a museum. Visitors can explore its interior to get a sense of what life was like in these unique homes in the past.

Alberobello is divided into two main parts, Aia Piccola and Rione Monti, both of which are filled with trulli. Rione Monti is the bigger and more touristy of the two, while Aia Piccola is quieter and has a more residential feel.

Best places to stay in Puglia in Alberobello without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Le Alcove-Luxury Hotel nei Trulli, 5-star accommodation is a series of traditional Trulli huts in the heart of Alberobello that offers a mix of modern and ancient stone dwellings. The hotel has a shuttle service from/to nearby airports, stations, and ports.  
  • Mid-range ($$): Romantic Trulli , great accommodation located in a lively area in central location, lined with restaurants and shops. Easy access to most things.
  • Budget ($): Tipico Resort, a great base in Alberobello in the heart of the Trulli Area, within walking distance from the train station. The hotel can help organize tours to Matera.

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In conclusion, Bari, Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, Lecce, Ostuni, Brindisi, and Alberobello are the best places to stay in Puglia without a car. These areas are well-connected to the region’s train and bus system, making them great bases for car-free travelers in Puglia.

There you have it, my recommendations for the popular areas and towns that you can stay during your trip to Puglia region. I hope you found my article helpful and enjoy your holiday!

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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