Our top 5 Puglia travel hacks

#1 Bari -vs- Brindisi Airport

Staying in Alberobello? You might think it best to fly to Bari. But the drive from Brindisi’s Salento airport is quicker.

The usual journey time from Bari International Airport-Karol Wojtyla to Alberobello, a distance of 70km-80km depending on your route, will take just over an hour in normal traffic (1h5m).

The 75km journey from Brindisi’s Salento airport will take just under an hour (56m)

Brindisi to Alberobello from Bari airport. 70km via the SS16, SS100 and SS175 or 80km staying on the SS16 until just before Monopoli.
Alberobello from Brindisi’s Salento airport. A 76 km journey taking 56 minutes.

Travelling anywhere south from Bari airport (Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, Ostuni etc.) will take you on the highway passing through Bari. The usual journey time should take 25 minutes to the other side of Bari.

Bari is the second largest southern Italian mainland city (after Naples) with a population of just under 320,000. As you might expect during peak commuter times and during peak holiday periods the traffic can be heavier than normal. The same journey can take up to 50 minutes. That’s how long it took us during the ferragosto holiday week (the week of 15 August - ferragosto is Italy’s biggest summer bank holiday).

The route around the Bari “tangenziale” from the airport

Brindisi’s Salento airport lies to the north of the city and bypasses Brindisi completely when heading north.

The route heading north from Brindisi’s Salento Airport.

All other factors being equal - pricing and flight times - you might be quicker travelling to your onward destination from Brindisi airport, even if it is geographically closer to Bari. Be sure to check!

#2 Brindisi Airport Shortcut

If you are flying to Brindisi airport then there is a much quicker, more direct access to the main highway (SS16) than that signed. If you are heading south for Lecce then you should certainly take the more direct route.

Coming out of the airport the directions for Bari (to the north) and Lecce (to the south) will take you onto the E55 via the route indicated in red.

The quicker route is onto the SS16 signed to San Vito dei Normanni, shown above in green.

#3 Souvenir Shopping in Alberobello

When visiting Alberobello try to resist the many vendors trying to persuade you to come into their trullo to buy their pasta/olive oil/tea cloths or ceramics.

Trulli scrumptious - but cheaper elsewhere!

Whilst this may be a fine opportunity to shop Puglia if you are time poor but cash rich all the products can be found elsewhere in Puglia at much better prices.

The same pasta can be bought at any pastificio (a pasta shop); our favourite in Puglia is Al Mattarello in San Vito dei Normanni, but you can find their dried pasta to buy in the Famila supermarkets dotted around Puglia.

Better quality and - in our opinion nicer - tea cloths can be bought in Ostuni at Giaquinto the textile shop (opposite the Pausa Cafè on via Indipendenza, 6/8).

For ceramics best go to Grottaglie. (In any event it is usually the Grottaglie made ceramics found on sale in Alberobello and elsewhere in Puglia).

As to olive oil we recommend buying it from ExFadda Farm available at XFOOD restaurant. These are part of the ExFadda social enterprise based in San Vito dei Normanni.

The olives are grown on land confiscated from the mafia. The profits go back into supporting the social enterprise project

#4 - Less is More; Car Hire in Puglia

Don’t be tempted to hire an estate car, people carrier or SUV. You will regret it when it comes to navigating the challenges that await you when driving around Puglia: squeezing through narrow streets with cars parked on either side; avoiding the cars parked nose in tail out because parallel parking isn’t a skill well known to Italian drivers.

When it comes to parking you’ll certainly never regret not taking that free upgrade to the Fiat 500L.

Worth noting - in Italy diesel is still much cheaper than petrol (than in the UK for example).

#5 - Trulli Scrumptious, But Tastes Sweeter Outside Alberobello

Many visitors to Puglia find spending a couple of nights in a trullo a real highlight.

The trulli are drystone, mortarless constructions, made of limestone boulders with conical roofs of limestone slabs. They are unique to Puglia.

The trulli of Alberobello

Alberobello is Puglia’s trulli town, home to 1,500 of these ancient stone houses and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the Valle d’Itria is peppered with trulli, and you will find them all around .

Renting a trullo in one of the towns around Alberobello for example Locorotondo, Cisternino, Ceglie Messapica or in the countryside around Ostuni will be no less wonderful but almost certainly less expensive!

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