Total tour distance: 181 miles
Daily tour distance: 30 miles
Difficulty: 40 / 100
Puglia (Apulia), you may have heard of it, but where is it? This region of Italy is found in the 'boot heel' area of Italy and on this tour we more or less follow the coast from the inland town of Conversano and go to Otranto. The coast here overlooks the Adriatic just across from Croatia and Albania. Gateway to and from the East, it has been conquered by legions of foreign rulers, most of whom were careful to live elsewhere. The notable exception was Frederick II (1194-1250), the last Emperor of the Hohenstaufen line. An enlightened man, he built many castles which still grace the region, along with acres and acres of vineyards and olive groves. Apulia produces one-tenth of the wine consumed in Europe; and its olive oil is renowned. And for the unique architecture; Alberrobello and Lecce. The cycling is moderate with rolling hills, but not long hills like in Tuscany. Best months are April/May/June and Sept/October.
Day 1 | Arrival in Conversano
Arrival in Conversano, just inland from Polignano and a short distance from Bari. To get here, you first need to come to Bari, the capital city of the region. You can reach Bari by plane from Rome (1 hour 20) or by train (4 hours+). Arrive on your own to Conversano at the Hotel Corte Altavilla, or we can arrange a taxi. Trains from Bari are possible except on Sunday when it is only bus or taxi. We meet for bike fitting. The beautiful little town of Conversano is set amid a landscape of olive and cherry trees, and has rambling alleyways and a sun-baked piazza dominated by the Norman castle and Romanesque cathedral. If you arrive early you will have the time for a short ride to the small, but vibrant fishing village of Polignano a Mare, a postcard perfect whitewashed village overlooking the seaside: be sure to explore the old towns narrow winding streets and marvel at the incredible views of the bright blue sea. We will also recommend the best gelato stop in the region on this route!! 29km ride (option to go as far as 54km) To do the ride, plan to arrive by 1pm at the hotel - please advise us at time of booking. Lodging at Corte Altavilla. Dinner on your own.
Day 2 | Alberobello (38 km)
Today, you will leave Conversano and cycle towards the Valle d Itria (Itria Valley) and reach old town of Alberobello, with its unique plethora of Trulli houses, the most famous architecture and symbol for which this region is known. Pedal through rolling countryside to the sweet aroma of mint that grows by the roadside and stop to enjoy the little towns of Putignano and Noci, with their characteristic whitewashed houses and narrow alleyways. On arrival in Alberobello, you will meet our local expert Mimmo who will check into your accommodation in one of this unique houses. Dinner on your own.
Day 3 | Locorotondo & Martina Franca (49 km)
Spend today roaming around the historic center (UNESCO WHS): Alberobello a world heritage site and known for nearly conical shaped white 1,000 Trulli dating back to the 13th century, this particular houses are painted with strange symbols on their roofs and framed by rich green farmland. The bike ride we propose is a circular cycle route deep into the Valley to visit stunning Locorotondo - nicknamed citta del vino for its excellent dry white spumante (Italian champagne) wine made from verdeca grapes. Here in Locorotondo, meander the atmospheric alleyways bedecked with geraniums and citrus plants. Spin past Martina Franca, a not to be missed town for its marvelously intact historic center, beautiful Baroque architecture, and stunning palazzi, an architectural jewel, splendidly positioned on the hillside. Back to the same hotel with dinner on your own. A guided walking tour of Alberobello is possible, as well as a mozzarella cheese making/tasting; ask for a quote to add this on.
Day 4 | Ostuni (39 km)
Today cycle down beautiful scenic country lanes lined with weathered stone walls, beginning with some rolling hills to the edge of the plateau, before enjoying a long downhill run with panoramic views of the Adriatic coastline and the lower fertile plains. As you progress to Cisternino, one of the most lovely and chic hilltop towns in Puglia, you will soak in sweeping views of the Itria Valley below and see firsthand why this town is starting to gain some serious international repute. You will then ride past olive groves and rock-strewn fields to the stunning citta bianca or white city of Ostuni. Your home for the next two nights will be the lovely Palace Hotel, situated in the pastoral community with old-time charm. Palace Hotel, dinner on your own.
Day 5 | Loop tour: Carovigno & Ceglie Messapica (42 km)
You will start from the Palace Hotel, and embark on a circular bike ride to Carovigno and Ceglie Messapica. This ride will take you along rolling country roads lined with ancient stone walls within the fertile Itria Valley. Along the ride, we recommend you stop at the sanctuary of St. Maria del Belvedere, a beautiful historic landmark that must be viewed. Next, you will cycle toward Ceglie Messapica, which is a lovely town on a hill, and is protected by a 5 kilometer wall that surrounds this cherished town. Within the town of Ceglie Messapica is the Castle of the San Severino, which is very famous forenogastronomic events, making it a global food and wine capital. Your rich day will surely be rewarded with a final nights rest at Palace Hotel, after a final cycle back to the lodging. Dinner on your own.
Day 6 | Squinzano to Otranto (68 km)
Today you go via train to Squinzano, and then cycle along the beautiful Salento coast to Otranto. Along the way you can have a lovely local lunch in the Castle town of Acaya. You will ride through numerous olive groves and nearly empty roads to reach the coast and pedal into one of the jewels of all of Puglia: Otranto. Here you will lodge in the gorgeous Relais Valle dell Idro and enjoy lovely evening walks along the giant piazza and the pristine beach. Thanks to its peculiar location, you will enjoy a panoramic view of all Otranto, of the sea and of the old town center, in which it is possible to admire the architectural beauties of the Otranto martyrs Cathedral, the Byzantine Church of Saint Peter, the old city centre, and much more. There are numerous lovely suggestions for dinner as well as one of the best Pizza joints in Puglia right in the main Piazza.
Day 7 | Otranto to Santa Maria de Leuca loop (55km or 110km)
You will pedal along the coast south and west of Otranto where you will see the easternmost and southernmost points of Puglia both on the same day. You can also visit the Castel di Salve winery on your way to the city of Santa Maria de Leuca, which appears gleaming white as you approach from the sea and is known for its position as De Finibus Terrae (the end of the earth). You can make today as relaxing or as challenging as you like, as your route notes cover a loop of 110km but also make it easy for you to turn around and head back at any time. Or you can cycle to Santa Maria di Leuca and then catch a shuttle back (must be pre-arranged). And, of course, whatever option you choose, it will be easy to find places to stop for food and sightseeing along the way! Same hotel tonight back at Otranto.
Day 8 | Departure Day
Departure after breakfast, at your leisure. To depart, we suggest a taxi to Lecce and the train to Bari or Brindisi where you have either flights or trains to Rome. We can also arrange in advance a transfer to Lecce, Bari, or Brindisi.
- Deluxe lodging 3 and 4 stars - double room with private bath
- Buffet breakfast daily
- All luggage transfers from hotel to hotel
- Local emergency support throughout your tour during daylight riding hours
- Arrival orientation with welcome drink, snack, and bike set up
- Route maps, route cue sheets with suggestions for visitation and site information
- All pre and post travel planning services
- A package of pre-travel documents sent electronically to help you prepare for your trip.
Hotels on this tour are usually family owned with a local charm, and in central locations for your convenience. All lodging includes private bathroom and a variety of other amenities. Some upgrades are possible depending on travel date, please inquire. Hotels include:
- Hotel Corte Altavilla****
- Trulli e Puglia****
- Palace Hotel Ostuni***
- Relais Valley dell'Idro****
Please inquire for:
Upgrade Rates (date specific)
Other options: walking tours and cooking classes
Private transfers from/to Bari are available and start at 85 euros for up to 3 persons.
Hybrid or Road Bikes are available for our Puglia trips