Puglia and Matera Cycling Holiday

  • 4.7
    (11 reviews)
  • Category

    Cycle Touring
    Self Guided
  • Grade

    Leisurely
  • Duration/s

    7 nights
  • Start / Finish

    Matera / Lecce
  • Distance

    199 miles/320 kms
  • Themes

    CoastalEbike
  • Accommodation

    Superior
  • Tour code

    019-119CIT
Price From £542

Overview

Spend a night in fascinating Matera, Italy’s oldest settlement, before embarking on a cycling tour of Puglia, the heel of Italy. See the charming Trulli houses in Alberobello and visit the white city of Ostuni. Ride along blissfully quiet, picturesque lanes, flanked by ancient olive groves, orchards and wheat fields. See both the Ionian and Adriatic coasts and marvel at the baroque splendour of Lecce.

Puglia is southern Italy’s land of plenty. A warm climate and incredibly rich soil make it a farmer’s dream. It’s not bad for cyclists either – the roads are quiet, the scenery is sublime and any hills are short and shallow.

Your cycling holiday starts in the neighbouring region of Basilicata, in the town of Matera. Abandoned for many years, the  haunting, old, hillside town of Sassi (Stones) is a human warren of ancient troglodyte dwellings connected by an intricate maze of corridors and stairways.

Trulli house in Puglia

Trulli house in Puglia

From Matera you cycle across an arid plain and into the lush green world of Puglia. In Alberobello you can admire the charming, naturally air-conditioned Trulli houses, cleverly designed to keep their occupants cool in the summertime. You’ll visit Ostuni, the ancient ‘white town’, offering splendid views across the countryside to the Adriatic coast. You’ll cycle along quiet lanes lined with dry-stone walls that wind their way through Puglia’s fertile countryside of ancient gnarled olive groves, orchards and wheat fields.

The fortified town of Gallipoli marks the beginning of the coastal section of the holiday as the route leads you south along the Ionian coast’s gorgeous beaches. After a night at the very tip of Italy’s heel you turn north and head up the rugged Adriatic coast to the enchanting town of Otranto. As a fitting finale your last night is spent in the ornate and opulent town of Lecce. Lose yourself in the narrow streets and find the perfect restaurant to celebrate your Puglia adventure.

This leisurely cycling holiday can be enjoyed by anyone of average fitness. For the most part the terrain is level and any hills are short and not that challenging.

Itinerary & Map

This leisurely cycling holiday can be enjoyed by anyone of average fitness. For the most part the terrain is level and any hills are short and not that challenging.

View larger map

Day 1: Arrive Matera

Sassi di Matera - Basilicata - Italy II*

Sassi di Matera

Your cycling holiday starts in one of the oldest settlements in Italy, Matera. After arrival you are free to relax or explore as your welcome briefing is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Since paleolithic times man has lived here in dwellings dug into the honey-coloured soft stone of the surrounding hillside. Over centuries more houses were added above and below each other, connected by a maze-like network of stairways and exterior corridors. Looking across the valley, the town looks like a huge human rabbit warren. It’s extremely picturesque and is protected as a world heritage site but not so long ago its inhabitants were amongst the poorest in Italy, living without running water or electricity. You’ll spend the night in this atmospheric town before starting your cycling adventure in the morning.

Day 2: Matera – Alberobello, 44 miles/70 kms

Alberobello - Puglia - Italy*

Alberobello

Leave Matera and set off on your bike across a rural plain. The land is quite arid here, Basilicata is one of the driest regions in Italy and seas of wheatfields are punctuated with just a few olive groves. After a while you pass from Basilicata, the instep of Italy, into Puglia, the heel, and immediately the landscape becomes greener. Your route is lined with lush meadows and ancient olive groves contained by picturesque dry stone walls. Eventually you arrive in Alberobello, a pretty town famous for the preponderance of ‘Trulli’ houses within its confines. These charming, circular stone dwellings were designed to keep the occupants cool during the long hot summers.

Day 3 : Alberobello – Ostuni, 28 miles/45 kms

Ostuni - Puglia - ItalyII*

Ostuni

Today’s ride leads you through the Valle d’Itria dotted with small hamlets and pretty vineyards. We recommend stopping to taste the wine produced in this region, as it really is very good. Take a break in the pretty, hilltop town of Locorotondo before pressing on eastwards. In the early afternoon you arrive in Ostuni, the ‘white town’, so named because of its whitewashed buildings standing out against the sky. From the top of the town you can enjoy superb views out over the Adriatic coastline 6kms away to the east. The narrow streets of this quaint little place are a pleasure to explore on foot.

Day 4: Ostuni – Lecce – Gallipoli, 44 miles/70 kms by train 32 miles/50 kms by bike

Gallipoli - Puglia - Italy*

Gallipoli

The day starts with a train journey of about 70km, with your bike, to the town of Lecce. You’ll spend more time here in three days time but for now you mount up and ride south along quiet, winding lanes lined with gnarled old olive groves and ancient stone walls. This peaceful and enjoyable ride ends at the fortified port town of Gallipoli. The town occupies a strategic position and has a long history of repelling attackers as well as being overrun. A visit to the impressive fortress will provide you with more details on its violent past. The narrow winding streets of the old town have a Moorish feel to them and are a delight to explore in the evening.

Day 5: Gallipoli – Santa Maria di Leuca, 32 miles/50 kms

Santa Maria di Leuca - Puglia - Italy*

Santa Maria di Leuca

Continue south along the Ionian coastline, the route passes numerous idyllic beaches so it’s a good idea to have your swim stuff packed in your pannier today. After this lovely coastal ride you arrive in the small town of Santa Maria di Leuca. The town marks the point where the Ionian and Adriatic seas meet and has that lovely end-of-the-earth, remoteness about it. This is probably why it has attracted quite an eccentric population many of whom live in the numerous, quirky but luxurious villas that abound here. Spend the night in this pleasant little town.

Day 6: Santa Maria di Leuca – Otranto, 32 miles/50 kms

Otranto - Puglia - Italy*

Otranto

Bid the Ionian Sea farewell and say hello to the Adriatic as you head northwards along its rocky coastline. Today is all about superb sea-views, pretty coastal villages and quaint ports. The swim spots are not as frequent as on yesterday’s ride but they do exist so be sure to pack the swim stuff again. You could also stop off at the Zinzulusa Cave, a stunning Grotto with clear turquoise waters and/or the spa town of Santa Cesarea, known for its sulphurous mineral springs and mud therapy treatments. Otranto itself is an enchanting old town and the waterfront promenade is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal after the day’s activities.

Day 7: Otranto – Lecce, 35 miles/55 kms

Roman theatre, Lecce, Apulia

Roman theatre – Lecce

Your last day of cycling takes you further along the coast to Torre dell’Orso – a great place for a swim by the way – and then inland to the Baroque city of Lecce. The city has been dubbed the Florence of the South and makes a lovely finale to the cycling holiday. Narrow little streets suddenly open up to reveal baroque treasures seething with detail, like the incredible Basilica di Santa Croce. Historically, Lecce was always the powerhouse of Puglia and this is evident in its opulent and ornate architecture. Perhaps celebrate your achievement with a nice meal in one of the town’s many restaurants.

Day 8: End of trip

After breakfast it is time to head for home or your next adventure.

Dates & Prices

2019 Arrival Dates
March2330
April6132027
May410, 1117, 1824, 2531
June1, 7815
July
August2431
September6, 713, 1420, 2127, 28
October512

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2019 Prices
019-119CIT
Per person
23 Mar
24 Mar
to
28 Apr
29 Apr
to
15 Jun
24 Aug
to
28 Sep
29 Sep
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18 Oct
Superior category
Double/twin £575 £696 £769 £769 £696            
Single £769 £891 £964 £964 £891            
Triple £542 £664 £737 £737 £664            
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Deposit per person £125

Price Includes

7 nights accommodation. See practical information
7 x Breakfast
Luggage transfer
Maps & route information
Welcome briefing
Train Ostuni - Lecce, day 4
Local assistance

Price Excludes

Flights and transfers
Bike hire & helmet (see supplements)
Tourist tax (approximately €10-15 payable locally)

Supplements

Extra night Matera, double/twin, superior (£70)
Extra night Matera, single, superior (£97)
Extra night Lecce, double/twin, superior (£56)
Extra night Lecce, single, superior (£83)
Arrival transfer Bari-Matera (£47)
Bike with pannier & lock. See practical information (£66)
Electric bike with pannier & lock (£156)
Helmet (£16)

Practical Information

Bikes

Mens bike

Example of bike used on this tour

The bikes provided on this tour are modern alloy framed, 27-gear city bikes with comfortable saddle and upright riding position.

The bikes come equipped with pannier, handlebar bag, water bottle, water bottle holder, odometer and lock plus one repair kit per room.

Electric bikes are also available to rent.

We suggest you bring your own helmet for safety and hygiene reasons. Alternatively, helmets are available for rent at the time of booking.

Accommodation

Below you will find examples of the types of accommodation typically used on this tour. Please note that the hotels we book for you may differ slightly from those described but they will certainly be of a similar standard.

Superior: Good quality hotels and guesthouses.

Matera: Locanda di San Martino
Alberobello: Trullidea Resort or Hotel Lanzillotta
Ostuni: Hotel Rione Antico La Terra
Gallipoli: Hotel 33 Baroni
Santa Maria di Leuca: Gran Hotel L’approdo
Otranto: Hotel San Giuseppe
Lecce: Hotel Delle Palme

Local taxes
Some hotels have started to charge a local/tourist tax. These taxes are not included in the sale price of the tour and must be paid directly by you at check-in or checkout at the hotels. This fee varies and is ever changing but as a guide, you may be asked to pay between €1-€4 per person per night

Getting There

Fly to Bari and take a train to Matera. At the end of the trip you can take a train to either Bari or Brindisi.

Research flights from the UK here.
Research trains in Italy here.

Gallery

Current rating for this cycling holiday based on 11 reviews 4.7
  • Date - 16/06/2019
  • Name - Wayne Grady
  • Service rating -
    5.0
  • Service comment - Once again Ally provided timely ,informative responses to my inquires.
  • Product rating -
    5.0
  • Product comment - Excellent e bikes ,hotels and a wonderful cycle through a beautiful scenic part of Italy . Very pleased with all the arrangements .
  • Date - 26/05/2019
  • Name - Anonymous
  • Service rating -
    5.0
  • Service comment - Very helpful and informative
  • Product rating -
    5.0
  • Product comment - Good maps and tour information great bikes with brilliant gears and a beautiful route
  • Date - 14/05/2019
  • Name - Anonymous
  • Service rating -
    5.0
  • Service comment - All info arrived in good time
  • Product rating -
    5.0
  • Product comment - Really well organised trip, lovely hotels, beautiful time of year to come to Puglia - rolling fields filled with wild flowers of all colours, olive groves, fig trees, quaint towns and villages and not too hot. The cycling was just about perfect length.
  • Flexitreks response - Service rating : Excellent - thank you.
    Product : Lovely description of this magical region - thank you so much.
  • Date - 16/04/2019
  • Name - Lys de beaumont
  • Service rating -
    4.0
  • Service comment - Overall it was a very good trip. An interesting area, good cycling distances except for the first day. Though as we said, there wasn't really another option for that day, except the one we organised!

    The bikes were excellent.
  • Product rating -
    5.0
  • Product comment - The bikes were excellent, the Roadbook was good, except obviously when there were (?)last minute roadworks on the first day that we cycled (day 2), when I think we'd have been stuck without Google. I didn't use the book with maps in, but from what I saw it was fine for the straightforward bits, but not too helpful for the complex ones.
    I thought the book with all the info about the area was good and very interesting. We would have appreciated a copy per person rather than per room booked.

    The hotels were all fine, except perhaps the Gallipoli one, which didn't really have the capacity to feed us all at breakfast......and there was our problem with the aircon in the room
  • Flexitreks response - Service rating : Glad you enjoyed it Lys and thanks for the useful feedback.
    Product : Thanks for the feedback Lys. Roadworks diversions can spring up from time to time and while our local suppliers do their best to stay abreast of them it's true that an app with online mapping can often help in such situations.
  • Date - 08/11/2018
  • Name - Roger Crabtree
  • Service rating -
    5.0
  • Service comment - This was well organised, efficient and met all our needs. All communications with staff were positive and without delay.
  • Product rating -
    5.0
  • Product comment - We had a fantastic time. The weather was perfect, the guide book excellent and the maps accompanied by the detailed instructions made the trip easy to navigate each day. We appreciated the detailed information about each town visited and the various options available to enhance our experience.
    We would recommend that the bikes be fitted with suspension seats or suspension as the roads on the first two days especially, are quite rough.
  • Flexitreks response - Service rating : Many thanks Roger, your comments are very much appreciated.

    Product : Many thanks Roger, we're glad you had such a fantastic time.
  • Date - 18/06/2018
  • Name - Anonymous
  • Service rating -
    4.0
  • Service comment - Staff were helpful in responding to specific questions and relaying on requests regarding diet to the hotels we stayed in. Communication via email was prompt and clear
  • Product rating -
    4.0
  • Product comment - Hotels were good, varied and well chosen. Organisation was thorough and efficient. The route was at times slightly disappointing- the terrain was a bit ordinary at times and some stretches were dull, particularly on the journey from Gallipoli to Leuca. We were surprised how deserted some of the towns and villages were along the way - and how tricky it was to find decent food, particularly on the first weekend.The bikes were a bit heavy but were well maintained and fit for purpose.
  • Flexitreks response - Service rating : We really appreciate your taking the time to provide this helpful review.

    Product : Thank you for the useful feedback.
  • Date - 21/06/2017
  • Name - Gillian Bryce
  • Service rating -
    5.0
  • Service comment - Very responsive AND HELPFUL
  • Product rating -
    4.0
  • Product comment - Had a great time. would use the company again
  • Flexitreks response - Exactly what we like to hear - thanks Gillian!
  • Date - 18/10/2016
  • Name - Sara Sonley
  • Service rating -
    5.0
  • Service comment - great help with questions. Always prompt response
  • Product rating -
    5.0
  • Product comment - The accommodation was great although unimpressed with one of the hotels. Only cyclists in and we were out in a room at the back with huge tree outside, shame as a sea view would have been wonderful.
    Check that the emergency number is answered please!
    Also point out to other clients that rain travel is so easy if you get the correct company. We got on the platform of ferrova sud, apologies for the spelling, and despite asking three times, once in Italian, once in English, And once actually pointing at a map and showing Matera we were sold a ticket to Alberobella and had to get off that train, wait over an hour to get back to Bari and then start again.
  • Flexitreks response - Thanks for the feedback Sara. If you could let us know which hotel you were unimpressed with we'll look at changing it for future customers. Also, in light of your experiences, we're reviewing the info we provide on local train travel. Thanks again.
  • Date - 24/09/2016
  • Name - Donna
  • Service rating -
    5.0
  • Service comment - Easy to contact. Quick to respond. Offered good options.
  • Product rating -
    5.0
  • Product comment - The local company was great. Routes well identified with yellow arrow stickers, maps were excellent, directions clear, reset points a great idea as you did not get muddled with km over the day. Guide to sights in each area interesting and helpful, especially the restaurants.
    Bikes and equipment in excellent condition.
    Countryside amazing. Hotels were all interesting and different a great mix not just run of the mill.
    Ride was more hilly than all of us expected. Map with elevations a good tool.
  • Flexitreks response - Thanks for the review Donna we're so glad you enjoyed your cycling adventure in Puglia. We agree that website elevation charts would be useful for such tours and we're looking at how best to facilitate this.
  • Date - 23/05/2016
  • Name - Anonymous
  • Service rating -
    5.0
  • Service comment - I dealt principally with Ali who was very helpful indeed.
  • Product rating -
    5.0
  • Product comment - All very well organised locally. Instructions were good, bikes were excellent.
  • Flexitreks response - Many thanks for the positive review of this popular cycling holiday in southern Italy.
  • Date - 28/12/2015
  • Name - Anonymous
  • Service rating -
    4.0
  • Service comment - Always very helpful.
  • Product rating -
    3.0
  • Product comment - Better information about places to get food en route would be helpful. Even when paying for high session many of the towns and villages we passed through were closed up and each day became about when we could next find food. We traveled at the end of September.
  • Flexitreks response - Many thanks for taking the time to give us your constructive feedback on your recent trip with Flexitreks. We will certainly speak to our local partners about supplying better information on places to eat lunch en route and for them to advise if they think at any time it is necessary to consider a packed lunch. The Flexitreks Team