If you are planning a road trip to Puglia, make sure to include the lovely Ostuni, also known as the Città Bianca (White City), in your itinerary. At 83 km (51.5 miles) and just one hour drive from Puglia’s capital Bari, Ostuni is a picture perfect small town with whitewashed buildings, narrow cobbled alleys, and incredibly photogenic.
An incredibly busy place in the summer months, when flocks of tourists visit from the rest of Italy and even from overseas, Ostuni is a much quieter place the rest of the year. My sister and I visited in the shoulder season (mid October) and there were very few tourists around. We enjoyed having the place to ourself, though keep in mind that if you visit in the low season, the selection of places to stay and eat will be a bit more limited.
Whether you intend to visit Puglia over a long weekend or as part of your summer holidays, this post will tell you everything there is to see and do in Ostuni, Italy, and share a few tips to plan your trip.
The Best Things To Do In Ostuni, Italy
Simply go for a walk around town
The best way to enjoy Ostuni is to simply take a walk around the Old Town, beautifully perched on top of a hill. Get lost in the myriad narrow cobbled alleys; take in each and every corner; admire the colorful doors and windows and the many arches that connect the buildings (they are typical of this part of the region); stop to pet the cats that hang out in the shade (in the summer) or in the sun (during the winter); and simply take it easy – much as the locals do.
If you are visiting during the summer months, schedule your walk for the late afternoon – right before sunset; or – even better – after dinner. Locals wouldn’t dream of wandering around at the peak hours of the day, when it’s too hot outside!
Or take a guided tour
If you are short on time, or if you simply prefer to have some guidance while exploring the city, opt for a guided tour. Tours typically last about 1.5 hours and will take you to the most important landmarks in town, as well as the best viewpoints.
You can book your guided tour of Ostuni here.
Alternatively, opt to go around on one of the many Ape Calessino (tuc tuc) that can pick you up outside the city center, by one of large parking lots where tourists usually park. A tour lasts around 30 minutes and cost €15.
Visit Ostuni’s Gothic Cathedral
The 15th century Cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary. You will be impressed by its facade which is an interesting mix of Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic styles – though trust me, the interior is even more impressive!
Then stop by the Piazzetta Cattedrale
Located in front of the Cathedral, in the aptly named Piazzetta Cattedrale, you’ll find the Bishop’s Palace and the Seminar’s Palace, connected to one another by the beautiful Arco di Scoppa.
Walk along the city walls
In your wanderings around town, you will eventually get to a gate that will take you outside the city center – from there, you can walk below the city walls, which were erected to keep the invaders out. This is also the best sunset spot in town.
Join in the local celebrations
The summer is actually a good time to enjoy local festivals. August 14th and 15th – Italian Ferragosto – is when Ostuni holds the Sagra dei Vecchi Tempi, and you’ll be able to taste local food. For something even more traditional, join in the celebrations for the Cavalcata di Sant’Oronzo, which takes place between August 25th and 27th each year – the scenic procession in traditional costumes takes place on the second day.
Shop at the local market
For a yet more local experience, browse around Ostuni Market. It’s held every Saturday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm in Via Gabriele d’Annunzio and it’s the best place to shop for fresh produce at unbeatable prices. Expect to find lots of fresh fish and seafood, vegetables, local bread specialties such as taralli – small breadstick rings that are super crispy and savory, and come in many flavors.
Relax at the beach
If you are visiting Puglia in the summer, you certainly should not miss the chance of spending a day at one of the many beautiful beaches. A quick drive from Ostuni, you will find the Marina di Ostuni. The best beaches in the area are Torre Pozzelle, Cala Quarto di Monte, Torre Santa Sabina and Lido Morelli.
Hang out at Piazza della Libertà
The largest square in town is also the busiest. This is where you’ll find the Town Hall, located in a former convent now known as Palazzo San Francesco; the Chruch of San Francesco d’Assisi and the 1771, 20 meters tall Column of Sant’Oronzo, erected to express gratitude to the saint for protecting Ostuni against the plague and famine that hit the region in the 18th century.
Piazza della Libertà is also a popular local hangout spot – where locals will go to enjoy a drink after work or in the evening.
Take a day trip to the Trulli Towns
Ostuni is actually a great starting point to visit the lovely cities of the Valle d’Itria. It’s an easy 30 minutes drive to Martina Franca, another 5 minutes to Locorotondo and an additional 10 minutes to reach Alberobello, the famous Trulli town. Make sure to rent a car and you can easily explore them all in a day.
Practical Tips To Plan Your Trip
How to get to Ostuni
The easiest way to explore Puglia is by car – you can rent one easily at Brindisi Airport (about 30 km or 18.6 miles from Ostuni) or Bari Airport (about 100 km, or 62 miles from Ostuni).
Check out the prices of car rental in Puglia here.
Once you get to Ostuni, make sure to park your car in one of the large parking spots outside the center of town – it’s the best way to avoid being caught in the infamous ZTL (limited traffic areas) and run the risk of getting a fine.
If you prefer to move around by public transport, please beware that Ostuni train station is actually located 2 km (1.2 miles) from the city and once there you will have to catch a bus to the city center.
Trains from Bari take around 50 minutes. Tickets cost €6.
Trains from Brindisi take 20 minutes and cost €3 or €9, depending on whether you opt for a regional or an intercity train.
You can get your train tickets here.
Where to stay and eat in Ostuni
There are plenty of excellent places to stay in Ostuni town center or nearby, in one of the many masserie beautifully immersed in the countryside. I have selected a few options you may want to consider:
- PALAZZO STUNIS CHARME – A stunning historic home turned into a guest house, with beautiful tiled floors and tasteful interior decorations. It’s actually more than reasonably priced.
- MASSERIA GRIECO – If you’d rather stay in the countryside, this is one of the best masserie around. Expect a beautiful pool and views of the trulli.
- LA SOMMITA’ RELAIS & CHATEAUX – A prime position and plush rooms make this one of the best accommodation options in town.
And here are the best eats:
SORSI E MORSI – This tiny sandwich place is located right at the entrance of Ostuni historic town. You can choose among the various available sandwiches or just pick the single ingredients. It’s very budget friendly.
TRATTORIA FAVE E FOGGHJE – This charming trattoria serves some of the staples of the Puglia tradition. Be prepared for an incredible culinary experience.
IMPASTO NAPOLETANO – If you fancy a good pizza during your trip, this is the place to go. Equally loved by locals and tourists!
EVO – For wine, drinks and appetizers, this is the place to go.
To prepare your trip to Puglia and southern Italy make sure to read my other posts:
- 13 Cool Things To Do In Matera, Italy
- The Best Things To Do In Lecce
- What To See And Do In Polignano A Mare
- The Best Guide To Monopoli