While much of Puglia is best explored by car, the 200-kilometer section of Puglia’s coast from Trani to Lecce can easily be visited by train. Many of the cities and towns along the sea have medieval historic centers and Romanesque monuments. Most coast towns have beaches that can be accessed easily as well. Taking the train is often easier than driving in towns and finding a place to park. Let’s start with a look at the city of Bari.
Puglia Coast Cities and Towns – Bari
The city of Bari makes a good starting point for exploring the Puglia coast. Bari has an airport and it’s a major stop on the coast train line so it’s easy to get there. Bari can be reached by train directly from Rome or from cities along Italy’s east coast. From the train station it’s a short walk into the old town. The bus station, connecting to the airport and other towns in Puglia is by the train station. Going inland, you can get to Alberobello or Matera from Bari by bus or Trains of the Southeast, the local train line.
You can use Bari as a base for day trips to other coastal towns along the rail line or as a starting point to stay overnight in a couple of smaller towns. Bari is a historic port city with an interesting old town center, a major shopping street that’s pedestrian-only, a seaside promenade, a harbor, and plenty of good restaurants and nightlife. For a good overview of the city’s highlights, take a Bari Street Food: Walking or Bike Tour.
- Where to Stay in Bari: 200 Rooms & Terrace is a bed and breakfast with easy access to the train and bus stations.
- Bari Travel Guide
- Bari weather
Puglia Coast Towns Northwest of Bari
Going northwest from Bari along the rail line the first town to visit is Giovinazzo. Because it’s a great place to get a taste of local life, Giovinazzo makes a good base for visiting this part of the coast if you prefer to stay in a smaller town. Continuing northwest, visit Molfetta and Bisceglie, each with a small but interesting historic center, a good cathedral, and Romanesque churches.
Trani is the gem of this part of the coast, with its Swabian castle and stunning 12th-century Romanesque cathedral in a beautiful setting by the sea. Trani also has a nice harbor with a seaside promenade leading to the castle, 19th century public gardens, good seafood restaurants, and shopping streets in the more modern part of town.
A little farther up the coast, Barletta is known for the Colossus of Barletta, a bronze statue from the Roman era. Its 10th-century castle houses a museum and its cathedral has layers of history, built on top of each other.
- Where to Stay in Giovinazzo: B&B Vistazzura with sea views and a spa.
- Where to Stay in Trani: Hotel San Paolo al Convento, Trani, right on the harbor.
- Trani Travel Guide
Puglia Coast Towns – Bari to Lecce
Along the Puglia coast to the southeast, Mola di Bari is a lively town with a great fish market. Polignano a Mare is a striking town built atop a cliff overlooking the sea with a picturesque historic center, a restaurant and hotel in a cave in the cliff, and a good beach below. Monopoli is another town worth a visit along this part of the coast with a picturesque old port area, castle, and beach. Monopoli is a popular place to stay, especially in summer. Brindisi also has an airport and a port with ferries to Greece.
Continuing to the end of the Puglia coast rail line, you reach the city of Lecce, known for its Baroque architecture. Lecce has several museums and churches, Roman ruins, and a pedestrian shopping street. It’s the start of the Salento Peninsula. From Lecce you can also take a day trip by train on the Trains of the Southeast to see the trulli of Alberobello or other inland towns.
- Where to Stay in Monopoli: Corte Sant’Angelo is near the sea and the historic center.
- Where to Stay in Lecce: Torre Del Parco 1419, a 5-star hotel in a medieval fortress a short walk from the historic center.
- Lecce Travel Guide
- Lecce Weather
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