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First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

Liverpool, United...
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First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

My partner and I have just booked 7 nights in Monopoli for early August 2017. I have been to quite a few places around Italy but this will be my first time in this region (Puglia).

We both love a holiday mix of the beach, leisure activities (watersports, theme parks etc), dining and visiting places of historical interest - all of which Puglia seems to have in abundance. I wasn't planning on renting a car but may decide to rent one for a couple of days once there depending on how easy it is to reach some of the areas of interest by public transport (bus/train).

I am aware this region is 'off the beaten track' for English speaking tourists which suits us both, however, for this reason, I would like to plan some activities in advance and get some recommendations for things that shouldn't be missed when visiting Puglia.

My main concerns/queries:

- Will we get along just fine without a car? Keeping in mind we like to spend a lot of time relaxing and dining but want to plan a couple of day trips/excursions.

- Are beaches in the Monopoli area generally sandy and suitable for sunbathing? I read somewhere online about the better beaches being in the south of Puglia.

- Does anyone with experience of the area has any particular recommendations for aforementioned day trips/excursions?

Thanks in advance for any info provided and I am very much looking forward to exploring another beautiful region of Italy!

50 replies to this topic
Salt Lake City, Utah
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1. Re: First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

I am planning a trip to Puglia for myself too, and have decided that, since I want to explore the inland towns, (Locorotondo, altamura, alberobello, martinafranca,) and then Ostuni, and Matera, a car would be best. There are not enough trains, buses, etc. to make it convenient. But if you stay on major towns along the coast you might do ok without car.

Liverpool, United...
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2. Re: First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

Thanks for the advice!

I am considering renting a car for a few days to visit the inland areas of interest and stick to trains/buses to visit some of the major coastal towns (I may spend a day in Bari if it is worth a tour!). I just need to weigh up whether it is worth renting a car for a couple of days when in Monopoli as I may be able to get a deal from Bari airport that covers the whole week..

London
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3. Re: First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

Personally I'd say to hire a car from the airport as the extra cost for a couple of days will be negligible and the convenience well worthwhile (do you want to stand waiting for public transport when it could be 34 degrees?) Don't bother with a day trip to Bari but do visit Alberobello, Locorotondo, Ostuni, Cisternino - these are all about 40 mins drive away from you and make a good day trip. They also come alive at night in August when the region is full of Italians on holiday - it's helpful we find to book restaurants in advance, otherwise you can have long waits. I don't know Monopoli beaches but there are amazing sandy beaches round Savelletri - look at Pilone and Lido Morelli; they're not far by car.

Virginia
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4. Re: First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

I agree with April on the car rental (maybe with a caveat of if you have a parking space with your accommodation) but not on Bari. I found it nothing like its reputation and quite pleasant. However, do what interests you and what you have time for (it would not be in my top 5, but the windy old streets with women making pasta are nice). If you explore the northern towns like Trani it is right there so you may as well. Good restaurants too.

You will want to drive south for a sandy beach; along the coast from Monopoli there are rocky beaches.

Definitely make dinner reservations. I was there in May and needed them.

Parking can be hairy, but I am just not prompt enough or organized enough to conquer public transport in this area. Also, because places close up for several hours in the afternoon, it is nice to be on your own schedule.

Traverse City...
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5. Re: First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

For what it's worth, we will be visiting those spots you mentioned - plus a few more - using trains/buses this May.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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6. Re: First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

Good luck

Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

Playaguya, please do a trip report. interested in trains/buses in this region for future trip.

Traverse City...
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8. Re: First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

You can count on it...

Miami, Florida
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9. Re: First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

Just returned from a week in Puglia - it's winter so swimming was not on the agenda. I didn't see the beach at Monopoli - no help there. Driving is demanding - narrow twisty roads. The driver doesn't get to see much countryside. And the coastline is beautiful. Sites to see include cave dwellings, pre-Roman ruins, Medieval and Baroque structures. I had a private guide-driver, Allesandro Perrone <aperrone@ymail.com> or <toursbylocals.com>, who generally made our time in Puglia successful.

London
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10. Re: First Time in Puglia (Monopoli)

Driving isn't necessarily that demanding - I say that as someone who is a terrible driver in London but has been staying in Puglia for the past nine years, weeks at a time. The motorways are good once you accept everyone will shoot out from the right into the slow lane (so you always drive in the middle) and then smaller roads are really no worse than ones you would find in the UK. People seem to make a major drama about driving in Puglia and I don't quite understand why - in nine years of spending at least two months a year there, always driving, we have never had an accident.

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