Southern Italy and especially Puglia has a kind of Old-World charm only a few places possess still today. Located in the heart of the Puglia region (really, it’s almost in the middle), Ostuni is a truly old city. With an incredible whitewashed historic center, it invites travelers from all over the world. Read on to discover the best things to do in Ostuni.
Ostuni is a small town. Most of the attractions can be found in the Old Town part. This is the best part of the town anyway and if you find a good hotel you should definitely stay in the Old Town.
How to get to Ostuni?
Ostuni doesn’t have its own airport. The best choices for traveling to Ostuni are Brindisi’s Salento Airport or the International Airport at Bari. Both see regular flights from all over Europe.
Once you have landed in Puglia the best course of action is to rent a car. Although Italy’s public transport is rather well, this south part of the country leaves a lot to be desired. If you can afford a rental we highly recommend it. You will be saved from a lot of headaches. Just make sure you book a hotel with parking available.
In case you would like to stick to public transport there is a Train Station in Ostuni. You can catch a train from either Brindisi or Bari. Do note though, that the train station is quite far out of the way so you’ll need to walk a lot or use further public transport to get to the center. You can check the current schedule and purchase your tickets on the ItaliaRail website.
How many days to spend in Ostuni?
Ostuni is an amazing place however, you might feel a little bit underwhelmed if you are planning to spend a whole week here. You should only think about a whole week’s stay if you rent a car and explore other parts of Puglia as well.
As for Ostuni alone, we recommend 1 to 3 days. A day trip to Ostuni is great and you can see most of the town via a short visit. However, due to the awesome Old Town part, you might want to think about spending one or two nights in the city itself. Walking around the town on a warm summer night is very romantic!
The Best Things to do in Ostuni
Now you are well aware of how to get to the city and how many days you should plan. It’s time to take a look at some of the best things to do in Ostuni. It’s a great spot for both families and couples. We think it’s especially awesome for couples as the whitewashed town is a great romantic setting.
1. The Historic Center
The city’s Old Town is called ‘Centro Storico’ which literally translates to ‘Historic Center’. This is where you should start your Ostuni visit and where you will discover most of the attractions. It’s located on a hill and almost all of the old town are historical whitewashed buildings.
Walking around the small passageways and streets is a very romantic activity. You can discover awesome restaurants, bars, and local establishments along the way. Once the sun goes down the romance is turned up to eleven and you might start feeling like being in a movie.
2. Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption
Right in the middle of town, tucked away in the narrow winding streets of the historical center you will find the Concattedrale Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo. This huge cathedral poses as a reminder of how amazing Italians are at constructing holy sites.
You can walk around and take pictures of the church that possesses Gothic and Baroque elements. We always wonder how the Italians manage to fit such huge buildings into such narrow streets.
You can go inside to check out the awesome interior. It’s just as beautiful from the inside with great frescoes and beautiful decorations.
3. Palazzo Vescovile
The main square of the Old Town is Palazzo Vescovile. It’s surrounded by awesome old buildings. Looking around the square you need to be careful or you might drop your jaw on the ground. What’s awesome is that most of the buildings and the square itself looked almost identical hundreds of years ago. Talk about a glimpse into history!
This square is also a great place to visit a restaurant. There are many awesome picks available here that will serve authentic Italian food. Just remember, that they will charge a bit more due to the premium location.
4. Museum of Preclassic Civilizations of the Southern Murgia
If you want to visit a museum while you are in Ostuni, then the Museum of Preclassic Civilizations of the Southern Murgia is a great choice. It’s a very unique place as the building was a former basilica. You can still very much see how it was a holy place from the inside.
There are tons of artifacts on display along with bones of people who lived in the area. Do note that all the descriptions are offered in Italian only! Either get your translator app ready or learn some Italian before you visit.
5. La casa con la porta blu
The premium photo spot in Ostuni. Well, the name translates directly to ‘the house with the blue door’ and it describes mostly what you are about to expect. The thing is though, there is no actual house anymore, just a wall with the blue-painted door.
Regardless, people love to come here and pose for their Social Media appearances. Many couples love to do romantic shots in front of the door. Just make sure your expectations are not running high up. It’s a blue door to take pictures, nothing more.
6. Souvenirs from L’Ulivo che Canta
If you are looking for something to take home don’t forget to visit L’Ulivo che Canta. It’s essentially a local woodworker’s shop where you can browse Italian wood products. From animals through decor to actual kitchen items you will find many interesting things in L’Ulivo che Canta that you can take home to remember Ostuni by.
7. Ostuni Town Hall
The Ostuni Town Hall stands proud at the central square of the town. In front of it is an ancient Italian monument. The Town Hall is a beautiful building. Many people don’t know this, but it was originally built as a small chapel in the 1300s. Later during the neo-classicist era, the whole building was extended and the facade was renovated. The result is what you see today as the Town Hall of Ostuni.
8. Visit the Market in the Morning
In case you are in Ostuni on Saturday, it’s worth waking up early. Each Saturday the market comes alive at Via Gabriele d’Annunzio from 8:00 to 13:00. Visit this market to discover true local produce and products. You can sample the local farmer’s growth or even get some fresh seafood if you have the means to cook it.
9. Discover the Old Town Gates
There are two Town Gates waiting for you to discover and photograph in Ostuni. They are not so conveniently located on opposite sides of the Old Town and provide entrance to the historic part of the city. On the east side, you’ll get the chance to see Porta San Demetrio. On the west, it’s the newer gate along with a bastion called Porta Nova e Bastione (which literally means ‘New Gate and Bastion’).
11. Don’t skip the beach at Ostuni
You might be thinking, wait, I am in the middle of the land. How am I supposed to reach the beach? Well, you are in luck! If you rented a car already then you can reach the beach as quickly as 15 minutes. Otherwise, you’ll have to take public transport. During summer there is a free bus that runs daily between the beach and Ostuni. The service ends on September 2. We have a full article dedicated to the beaches near Ostuni.
12. Explore the area near Ostuni
Now, this activity is best for those who have rented a car. The area around Ostuni is full of life and interesting agritourism opportunities. Exploring with a car you will be able to get closer to the locals and learn about their way of life. Check out our article on places to visit near Ostuni for a full write-up.
Where to eat in Ostuni?
Ostuni has some amazing restaurants. You can sample the true authentic Puglia cuisine here. We have two restaurants that we absolutely love in town and we are happy to recommend them to you.
Located in the middle of the historical center we love Spessite as it has absolutely unassuming looks. Despite this, the cooking is amazing with the local chef preparing the authentic meals. There is a nice selection of a la carte items with some fixed tasting menus.
Ristorante La Reggia
Seafood, pasta, and pizza. These three courses are there ones we come for when we visit Ristorante La Reggia. It’s a unique underground restaurant with the rock walls of the cellar as a decoration. The food presentation is excellent everything looks awesome. It all looks so great you will want to take a photo before you eat!
Where to stay in Ostuni?
Have you decided on staying the night? Maybe more than one? Maybe a whole week? Let’s see some awesome places that you can stay at when you are in Ostuni.
Hotel Relais La Sommità
Looking to indulge yourself in a luxurious time? Then Hotel Relais La Sommità is the place to be. This 5-star hotel has everything you would need for an awesome holiday. The stylish interior is very pleasing to the eye and the service is top quality.
Do you love unique hotels? Because we absolutely do! Grotta Carlotta is such a unique place to stay that it’s hard to find anything similar. It’s a hotel that’s carved into the hill that the town stands on. The rooms have proper walls on one side and the rocky hill on the other. Looks and feels amazing. Definitely recommended!
Our final pick is an awesome budget option. It’s right at the city center with spectacular views and great rooms. Guests love who close everything is and how friendly the staff seems to be.
Things to do in Ostuni FAQ
Ostuni has an amazing whitewashed Old Town that’s a must-see in Puglia
Two or three days is an optimal length for a stay in Ostuni. You can also use Ostuni as the base for your Puglia exploration, in which case a full week of stay is in order.
You can catch a train to Ostuni train station where you need to change to a bus to take you into the town.
The white paint was thought to be antibacterial and was originally used in great quantities in Ostuni.