The South of Italy is such a beautiful part of this child friendly country and Puglia in particular has so much to offer families visiting the region. We have picked out 10 of our favourite things to do here –
1. Stay in a masseria
These evocative former farms or olive mills are packed full of character. The Masseria Torre Coccaro for example has an indoor pool set into the cave and there are enchanting walks in the grounds. The perfect opportunity to get kids out and about and exploring somewhere really unique.
2. Visit during Carnival in February
This can be an exciting time for children to visit. Local kids dress up in fancy dress and families all meet in the towns to watch parades. We visited during this time and people were handing out colourful confetti to be thrown into the air which was really good fun. It felt like a real opportunity to mingle with local people and soak up the atmosphere and the children loved it – here they are throwing confetti in Lecce:
3. Wander in to the beehive shaped houses at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello
Now a shopper’s dream, these odd little homes, called trullo, are hundreds of years old. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello is a quirky town and the best place to see trullo en masse. Unique to Southern Italy they really are quirky and fun to explore and they are child sized and filled with little trinkets like whistles and puppets – what’s not to love as a child!
4. Enjoy the beaches of Puglia
We visited Puglia in winter but still managed to get over to the seaside and enjoy the beaches. In summer these really come in to their own and are the perfect places to cool off from the sun. Many have beach clubs you can go into for drinks or meals and some have pools, boats to hire or fun beachside activities going on for children.
5. Take a cookery class.
Our children took a cookery class with the chef at the Masseria Torre Coccora and loved learning how to make calzone, pizza, spaghetti and most of all the orecchiette pasta, shaped like an ear, famous in this area. We ate the food we had cooked and it was delicious. This was such a rewarding experience for all the family.
6. Zoo Safari, Fasano
When we visited many of the traditional attractions were closed for the winter but one place everyone talked about was Zoo Safari which is one of the largest zoos in Europe and has a large number of animals but also water rides and rollercoasters: the perfect day out that’s completely child-centred.
7. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Matera
Not in Puglia but only just outside so I feel like I can get away with it, the ancient town of Matera is a must. One of the world’s oldest continually inhabited towns we were entranced by the houses set into the caves and the labyrinth of steps. And don’t miss buying the unique souvenir of cuccù here.
8. Grotte di Castellana
These 90 million year old caves are a great place to explore with children. Marvel at the amazing shapes and colours as you wind your way through some of the 3 kilometers of caves.
9. Hire bikes
This is a perfect region to cycle around as it is relatively flat. Local roads are lined and shaded by olive trees and are ideal for a trip around the olive mills and cheese producers where you can try samples and see how products are made. Our Masseria had bikes to borrow and could direct us to a good route so it would be worth asking your accommodation to help.
10. Wander the streets of Old Bari
In Puglia’s capital city Bari, the Barivecchia is a wonderful area to explore and lose yourself in ancient streets and passageways. The redevelopment of the main piazzas has injected new life into Old Bari which warmly welcomes visitors. It’s a great place to discover markets, castles, churches and the traditional ways of life in Puglia.
Read more about our winter trip to Puglia and Matera and see our video of our time in the region.