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Best cycle routes in Puglia

Best cycle routes in Puglia

As Puglia grows more popular as a holiday destination, more and more people are trekking to the Italian region to explore the stunning scenery on bicycles. From picturesque fishing villages to busy ports, expansive national parks to rocky coastal paths, and endless country roads surrounded by olive trees, there is so much to explore on two wheels.

Puglia has 600km of coastline, over 120 castles, two national parks and four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is, therefore, little surprise that there are many favourited cycle routes in the region.

Let’s take a look at some of the best.

1. Salento: Lecce - Gallipoli - Santa Maria di Leuca - Otranto - Lecce

Serious cyclists fantasise about this beautiful diamond-shaped Salento route. Starting from the Baroque Lecce, Puglia’s ‘Florence of the South’, you’ll head southwest to Gallipoli, an idyllic fishing town with a thriving LGBTQ+ culture. Then keep tight to the coast as you head for the southernmost tip of Italy’s heeled boot.

Gaze out at the meeting point of the Ionian and Adriatic oceans, before embarking on the third side of the diamond, up the Strait of Otranto to Otranto itself. En route, be sure to enjoy the thermal baths of Santa Cesarea Terme and catch a stunning sunset like no other.

This route is 175 km in total. You may enjoy it clockwise or anti-clockwise, all at once or split into different sections.

2. Bari to Brindisi: Bari - Brindisi

A relatively simple bicycle ride, perfect for inexperienced cyclists. This route runs almost a straight line down the coast passing trulli and the countryside’s olive trees, with the sea’s breeze never far away.

If you manage to leave the charming streets and seafood of Bari, make the Greek-influenced Monopoli your next stop. Then one of the journey’s highlights is the world-famous trulli of Alberobello. If you need a pit stop, you can even stay in one!

Come slightly inland to Ostuni, nicknamed ‘The White City’, to see the beautiful whitewashed buildings that give the city its moniker. Then marvel as the most visually beautiful part of the Adriatic coast comes into view and you approach the harbour town of Brindisi.

3. End of the Grand Tour: Matera - Bari - Barletta - Vieste - Foggia

Matera to Foggia is the closing stage of the epic Puglia Grand Tour cycle route, which spans the length of the region. Also seen on the famous Giro d’Italia, this huge 426 km route takes the cyclist deep into the north east Gargano National Park.

Whilst the full route is recommended only for serious cyclists, this itinerary can be broken up into little segments and enjoyed over several holidays.

Begin at Matera, said to be the world’s third-oldest inhabited city (after Aleppo and Jericho). As you head to the coast, the tufa limestone buildings will soon make way for the open port town of Bari. After the cute coastal city of Barletta, you’ll ride through the Gargano, coming out on the coast at Vieste, a cliff-topped town known for water sports.

The route then loops around until the E55, at which point you can ride town to complete your journey at the seaside town of Foggia.