Puglia and Matera Cycling Holiday

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.

Torre Sant Andrea - Salento

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.

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.

Please note that from 04 July and 15 August an ammended itinerary applies. Full details are on the itinerary page.

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.

Puglia and Matera Cycling Holiday

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.

Torre Sant Andrea - Salento

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.

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.

Please note that from 04 July and 15 August an ammended itinerary applies. Full details are on the itinerary page.

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

Day 1 : Arrive Matera

Your cycling holiday starts in one of the oldest settlements in Italy, Matera. After arrival you are free to relax or explore. 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

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
35 miles/ 55 kms

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 6 kms 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

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

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

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

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.

Bikes

Regular bikes provided are modern alloy framed models with 27 speeds. The bikes come equipped with pannier, lock and a repair kit with pump.

Electric bikes are also available.

We suggest you bring your own helmet for safety and hygiene reasons, alternatively helmets for adults 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.

Comfort: Comfortable hotels and guesthouses

Matera: Hotel Sassi

Alberobello: Trullidea Resort (standard)

Ostuni: Hotel Incanto

Gallipoli: Hotel Joli Park

Santa Maria di Leuca: Hotel Terminal

Otranto: Hotel Albania

Lecce: Hotel Eos

Superior: Good quality hotels and guesthouses.

Matera: Locanda di San Martino

Alberobello: Trullidea Resort (superior) or Hotel Lanzillotta

Ostuni: La Terra Hotel

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.

Reviews