Looking for things to do in Ostuni, Puglia? Want to know where to stay, how to get there - or just trying to work out whether it's somewhere you'd like to visit on your own Puglia road trip? Then this guide to Ostuni should have you covered!
Driving through the beautiful Valle d'Itria, you will see Ostuni long before you arrive; the vast 'White City' rising high above the ocean of olive trees that sweep through this verdant area of Puglia.
Built atop a hill to protect from invaders, Ostuni is a certifiable labyrinth. A maze of alleyways, staircases and arches, of houses built upon houses, of hundreds of years of history laid out before you in a way no map can truly explain or capture. Dead ends and pretty little gardens, glimpses of the Adriatic sea, green doors and bright blue skies; everything and nothing may lie around the next corner you take.
Ostuni is a city for explorers, and a place to be devoured slowly over a couple of days. It's a city for historians and for those that simply like to stroll amongst beauty and spontaneous Italian moments.
It is a city that should be on every Puglian itinerary.
Things to Do in Ostuni
We absolutely adored spending time in Italy's 'Citta Bianca', discovering a new alleyway, staircase or tiny trattoria every time we ventured out - in fact, we have little doubt we'd continue to discover more hidden nooks should we return in the future. Unlike many of the small towns and villages dotted throughout this part of Puglia, Ostuni is not a simply a town for day-trippers, offering enough for a stay of at least two or three nights
Here are our favourite things to do in Ostuni.
| Go for a wander. As with every Puglian town and village, the very best can be discovered simply by taking a walk through the old town - the centro storico. If you're visiting in low season, just be sure to do so in the morning when the town comes alive before the afternoon 'pausa'. If visiting during summer, adjust to the locals' eating times and head out in the balmy summer evenings after dark (from about 8 or 9 p.m.) to see a wonderful contrast as Italian families venture out to eat, drink and converse.
| Sitting atop the hill that houses Ostuni is its crowning glory, the impressive 15th century Gothic cathedral. Just be sure to enter - it's even more spectacular inside!
| Ostuni is stunning at any time - but it's particularly beautiful at sunset. For fantastic views over the white city head up to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and take a seat at the viewpoint.
| Escape the tourist crowds, and visit the Saturday local market with stalls selling everything from fruits and vegetables to local crafts. The market is held between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the vicinity of Via Gabbriele D’Annunzio, southwest of Ostuni centre.
| Walk the city walls. On your wanderings throughout Ostuni, you will inevitably find yourself heading downwards toward the city walls - and it's definitely worth it. This solid construction, designed to keep invaders out, give you an entirely different perspective on the White City.
| Between the 24th and 27th August, a celebration of the town's patron saint (the Cavalcata di Sant’Oronzo) takes place. Don't miss the costumed procession in horseback held on the penultimate day.
| We love Puglian cuisine, and one of the very best days to experience it is on the 15th August in Ostuni when the Sagra dei Vecchi Tempi comes to town providing a great opportunity to taste all of the region's incredible offerings and traditional dishes.
| Head to the beach. Ostuni is located just a stone's throw from some of the most beautiful beaches in Puglia, all found along the aptly named 'Marina de Ostuni'. Be sure to check out Lido Morelli, Quarto di Monte and Torre Pozzella.
| Sample the best of Puglia. Given Ostuni's proximity to a number of popular tourist attractions (namely the likes of Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Alberobello and the spectacular Adriatic coastline), it makes a fantastic base from which to explore the highlights of region. In fact, it's a base so perfect that we used it twice in a year! Rent a car and escape into the Puglian countryside, to the shimmering sea and the beautiful villages which surround it.
Where to Stay in Ostuni
We've stayed both in the old town, as well as amongst the olive groves a few minutes drive away - and both come with their benefits.
Most recently, we had the pleasure of staying at the incredible Corte dei Messapi (check out the review here) just outside of Ostuni - just one of many stunning villas to rent from Bookings For You and Raro Villas.
If you don't plan on hiring a car in Puglia, forsee that you will eat out most nights or would prefer to be 'closer to the action', we'd recommend staying in either a hotel or apartment within Ostuni's old town, like we did during our first visit. The below are highly recommended, and within walking distance to everything you need:
La Sommità Relais & Chateaux | So, it's not cheap, but if you want luxury in a prime position, you won't find much better than La Sommità Relais - it even has a Michelin Star restaurant on site! To find out more and check availability, click here.
Hotel La Terra | There are surprisingly few hotels in the centre of Ostuni, with most people clearly favouring an apartment-style stay. With stunning facilities (but at a slightly nicer price), La Terra is a great option for those that prefer the hotel experience. To find out more and check availability, click here.
Palazzo Altavilla | Probably the fanciest apart-hotel in The White City, Palazzo Altavilla combines all the benefits one would expect to find in an excellent hotel with the ability to be a little more self sufficient. Great location and the pool is to die for. To find out more and check availability, click here.
I 7 Archi Guest House | A great option for those on a bit of a budget, this Guest House has several apartments/studios, some of which come with pretty little terraces. As with all of the above, location is top notch! To find out more and check availability, click here.
As always, don't forget to check Airbnb for short term rentals, and if you haven't signed up yet, be sure to follow this link and use our code to get £20 off your first booking!
Where to Eat in Ostuni
In peak tourist season, picking a spot to eat in Ostuni can be pretty difficult with an almost overwhelming array of restaurants from which to choose for all budgets - with some being incredibly popular. You will find most options in Piazza della Liberta, or as you ascend Via Cattedrale and the small alleys branching off from it. We barely scratched the surface, but the ones listed below are those which we'd return to in a heart beat!
Coffee and More | Excellent lunch time option with lots of fantastic sandwiches, mezze-style plates, veggie and healthy options. Also has wonderful outdoor seating.
La Pastasciutta | This place is not fancy, but my goodness do they make a mean bowl of pasta! With outdoor seating in the atmospheric Via Vito Tamborrino, a menu that changes daily, dishes for around 5 Euro and glasses of red wine for 3, it's of little surprise that we returned more than once...
Il vizio del conte | Less of a restaurant, and more of a hole in the wall, this popular place offers really good pizza and foccacia. Best enjoyed on the small bench outside with a cold bottle of beer!
Borgo Antico Bistro | With some of the best sit-down views in the city, this place is a must visit. Hidden amongst the tiny alleyways, this photogenic spot offers delicious sharing plates, great cocktails and a fantastic place to watch the world go by.
Art Cafe | A cool little place to hang out in with cocktails and two cute little tables overlooking all the action in the old town.
Pizzeria Notti Bianche | A little walk from the cathedral, this pizzeria is extremely popular with locals and tourists and serves affordable authentic Napoletano pizzas.
There is also an INCREDBILE gelato place within Piazza della Liberta, on the right hand side just as the before the street become Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, but we can't remember the name. You will however easily be able to find it from the queues outside...
**Although we didn't visit any 'vegetarian-only' restaurants, we can confirm that eating out as a veggie was never difficult, with many of the traditional dishes being meat-free to begin with. Additionally, even the pizza restaurants offered a vegan pizza!
Important things to Note
Low season in Ostuni is very low | We visited both in peak summer when the streets were full, restaurants were open every night of the week until the wee hours and every tourist shop was vying for your attention, as well as a much quieter few days in March - and the difference was quite stark. Whilst Ostuni is a lovely spring destination (especially if you're travelling fro much cooler parts of northern Europe), do note that eating out can be a little more tricky particularly during the day when options are exceedingly limited.
Note the dreaded 'ZTL' | If you are visiting Ostuni as part of a larger Puglia road trip, you'll hopefully be aware that driving in the wrong part of an centro storico can result in a very costly fine. This town is no exception, and in fact has a relatively large ZTL that you will not be able to take your car through. Not sure what we're talking about? Then take a look at this post.
How to Get to Ostuni
We first visited Ostuni as part of our Puglia road trip, and we highly recommend this as the best way to discover the region. Car rental is available at Bari and Brindisi airports via Auto Europe (the only guys we rent with worldwide), but for more info be sure to check out our road trip itinerary and our post on driving advice for Puglia.
If arriving by train, please note that the train station is Ostuni train station is located 2 km from the city, from which you can catch a local bus into the centre. Trains from Brindisi cost as little as €9 with a journey time of approx 20 minutes.
If you're using public transport to travel in Puglia, then check out Go Euro which is a fantastic free app for anyone travelling independently in Europe. It gives train and bus times, designs the easiest or cheapest route from A to B and lets you book tickets centrally and easily in your own language.