The charming region of Puglia is found in southern Italy. It’s has a hilly landscape with old towns and small villages. You might have some questions about getting around Puglia before your plane lands. Lucky for you, TopFlightsNow is here to answer all your questions.
We will help you figure out the nitty-gritty and help you with everything that you need to know about traveling in Puglia. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bus, a train, or a car that you have on your mind. There are multiple ways to get around the region with some being a bit more convenient than others. Of course, you should think about your budget as well when you choose,
Getting Around in Puglia via Public Transport
First, we shall take a look at getting around the region via public transport. Italians might be famous for not being the most punctual people, however, don’t let this fool you. Italy has a pretty robust public transport network.
It’s not actually hard to get around Puglia with public transport. If you’ve ever been to northern Italy then you might have some fond memories of Italian trains. They are quick and effective even for travelers. However, things are a little bit different in the south. Although trains are still good, there are far fewer connections to smaller towns.
If you are looking for a Puglia vacation using purely public transport, then try to plan around bigger towns. It’s easy to travel between them via the train and bus system, but getting to smaller places might be difficult.
With all this in mind, we highly recommend Puglia by public transport for first-timers. They can check out the biggest towns and most beautiful attractions this way on an easy budget. After some time they can then return and rent a car to complete their Puglia experience.
Using trains to get around Puglia
Trains are one of the most effective ways to get around Italy. The national line has some amazing ‘rapid’ trains which connect cities. The system in Puglia is mainly restricted to the east coast of the region. The biggest line runs between Barletta and Lecce.
This line goes through famous towns like Trani, Bari, Ostuni, Monopoli, and Brindisi. Just to compare the effectiveness let’s take a look at the time to travel from Barletta to Lecce. It takes around two hours via train with a direct ticket. Meanwhile, the same trip is 2 hours and 15 minutes by car.
The difference is not huge, but still, the train wins. This proves just how effective the train system in Italy is. Traveling between these towns is cheaper and quicker than renting a car. This is why we say that first-timers can easily choose train as their way of getting around in Puglia.
Apart from this mainline, there are many smaller regional lines around Puglia. Unfortunately, these smaller ones suffer from fewer trains and you can’t even buy tickets online for some of them. We’ve found them dirty and neglected as well many times. A stark contrast to the main national trains.
Regardless, this regional railroad is cheap and will get you around Puglia effectively. Might not be great to look at, but don’t let that faze you.
Tips for buying train tickets in Puglia
When traveling between the main cities we always recommend buying tickets online. It’s just easier to have your tickets ready and not have to worry about finding the ticket office at the station.
The mainline trains are very comfortable, but the regional ones might not even have AC. This means that during the summer you should dress very lightly. If there’s no AC, then a train can quickly turn into a heated tin can.
Always use Google to determine your station. For example, let’s check the Cisternino station. As we’ve said in our article about great places near Ostuni, it’s only a few minutes via car from Ostuni. If you were to search for a train you could see that it’s only a 7-minute ride from Ostuni. Sounds great, right?
Well, think again! The Cisternino station is 11 kilometers from the town center. That’s a lot even on flatlands, but Puglia is very far from being a flatland.
The rail station is called Cisternino Cittá and no train goes from Ostuni to Cisternino Cittá.
The lesson here is: always check where the station is and if there is a way to get to town from there. There might be local buses like in the case of Ostuni station. It’s not ideal, but totally ok for a budget holiday.
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Using buses to get around Puglia
As for public transport, there is also a bus system available in Puglia. Of course, there are many local buses in cities, which you can utilize if you need to travel from the train station or airport to the center.
What you will be most interested in is the inter-city buses available. Most of the small towns are connected to bigger hubs via these regional buses. Tickets are almost always only available at the bus station or from the bus driver.
Whenever planning a bus trip make sure that you do good research. You are deep in southern Italy which means bus drivers might not speak English at all. There is a possibility other passengers won’t either.
The bus network is extremely fragmented in Puglia. There are tons of carriers each with its own routes. It can be confusing with many of the websites only available in Italian.
We recommend the bus for those who are adventurous and have some great planning ability. Otherwise, visiting small towns is mostly recommended via car.
Useful Websites for Puglia Buses
- Salento Province Buses (Italian Only – Timetable available)
- Local Puglia Trains and Buses (Available in English)
- South Regional Italy Transport (Regional Bus + Train, can purchase tickets online, only in Italian)
- Bus Company from Taranto (Only in Italian)
- Brindisi Bus Company (English available on the website)
- Bari Bus Company (Website in Italian)
Getting Around Puglia via Rental Car
For those who are not afraid of driving in Italy, we definitely recommend renting a car. If it fits your budget and you want to experience Puglia to the fullest this is definitely the best option. You will have so much more opportunities to visit hidden gems and charming towns than sticking to public transport.
💡 TopFlightsNow Top Tip: Save money by planning a visit with both public transport and car rental. If you structure your holiday to include easily reachable cities first, then you can use the train system for the first couple of days. This means you can shorten your car rental period which in turn can save you tons of money!
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Tips for renting a car in Puglia
Try to rent a small car. Italy, in general, is full of tiny streets and this effect is only more visible the further south you go. Well, being in Puglia there isn’t much further south you can actually go, so expect twisty small streets in cities. Best prepare and try to rent a smaller type of car.
Expect to rent a manual car. Automatic cars are still far from the standard when it comes to Europe. Although, rental companies are prepared and have automatic options they are often much more expensive than their manual counterparts.
Stock is also a problem automatic rentals face in Puglia. As there are fewer of these types of cars, you might find none available at your date. If you are looking to rent automatic transmission, make sure that you rent in advance.
Puglia is hilly so you should be comfortable in getting the car moving from a hilly road with manual transmission.
How are the roads to for getting around in Puglia?
Luckily the road system in Puglia is very robust. Not only that, but it’s also reasonably well maintained. It does help that the region sees good weather for most of the year, but it’s better than we expected from southern Italy.
The main highway is the A14 which is a toll road. In Italy, you don’t have to worry about getting any type of highway sticker or ticket. You will need to pay as you enter and exit the highway. It’s an intuitive system.
Other than this main road there are some freeways and a huge network of small hill roads between towns.
Generally speaking, traffic is pretty mild out of cities and the main roads. Cruising along the often empty and beautiful hill roads of Puglia is an awesome thing to experience.
Parking can be a challenge in towns. Many hotels have no parking spaces so consider this before renting a car. Either you will need to leave the car nearby the hotel or narrow your search for hotels with parking.
A small car will surely come in handy when you are parking in Puglia. It will be easier to fit them into the often small free spots available.
Beware of the ‘blue lines’. Whenever you see parking that’s painted in blue it means you are expected to pay.
White painted lines usually mean free parking. Just make sure that you look at all the street signs nearby as some white-painted parking spots have limits on how much time you can stay. Sometimes you can leave the car for the whole day, while other times you might be limited to 30 minutes of parking.
It’s not that hard to get around Puglia
As you can see from this article getting around Puglia is not that much of a daunting task. With the proper planning, you can even do it via public transport. This option will absolutely save you money in the long run.
Even better, you can return later and see the rest of this charming province via rental car. No matter how you choose to travel, keep our tips in mind.