Puglia: Self-Guided Cycling in the Heel of Italy

Traveller ratings
4.6 / 5 from 11 reviews >
Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Road Cycling
Min age:

Cycle from the spectacular UNESCO town of Matera along an idyllic coastline to Lecce

In the heart of the Mediterranean lies Puglia, a unique landscape sandwiched between the Adriatic and Ionian seas. We explore the very best of this captivating region and begin by cycling through two towns that both possess UNESCO world heritage sites. The region is mainly flat, which lends itself perfectly to the self-guided cycle ahead; filled with spectacular views; beautiful coastline and mouth-watering cuisine.


  • Cycle through UNESCO historic towns, olive groves and past white-coned trulli
  • Ride along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas
  • Enjoy fine seafood and wine

Key information

  • 7 nights comfortable hotels
  • 6 days cycling with luggage transfers
  • 99% asphalt, 1% unpaved roads
  • Gentle undulations throughout
  • Self-guided holiday. Min age 12 yrs

What's included

  • All breakfasts
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • Luggage transfer
  • Maps and route notes
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation - (compulsory)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Arrival & departure transfers



Low altitude; 90% tarmac, 10% easy gravel roads

Day by day breakdown
Day 270.0km/43.0miles
Day 345.0km/27.0miles
Day 450.0km/31.0miles
Day 550.0km/31.0miles
Day 650.0km/31.0miles
Day 755.0km/34.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Matera. Make your own way from Bari or Brindisi to Matera by train or bus.

    Make your own way from Bari or Brindisi airport to Matera by train (see joining info below).

  • Day 2

    Ride through the historic ‘Sassi’ houses of Matera before heading to the town of Alberobello.

    On leaving Matera you will pass through what makes this town so special. For millenia, inhabitants of this region have carved dwelling directly into ravines and gullies made of tuff (or tufa), a characteristic honey-colored soft stone. These houses are called 'Sassi' and are as today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Matera is the only place in the world where people can boast to be still living in the same houses of their ancestors of 9,000 years ago. From one famous world heritage site to another, heading towards Alberobello, you will pass the famous fairy-tale trulli houses that have also made Alberobello a recognised world heritage site.

    Cycle approx. 70km

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Cycle through the lush Valle d'Itria, past the picturesque fairy-tale Trulli houses to hilltop-town of Ostuni.

    Cycle through the lush Valle d'Itria and one of the prettiest cultural landscapes of the south past more trulli houses to Ostuni - offering breathtaking coastal views. Along the way we pass the famous wine town of Locorotondo, regarded as one of Italy's most beautiful villages. After sampling some of the local sparkling white wine, the route heads to the white city of Ostuni - famous for the dazzling effect of its whitewashed houses.

    Cycle approx. 45km

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Train to Lecce; cycle through the countryside to Gallipoli on the Ionian Coast with its old town situated on a rocky island.

    In the morning you will take a train transfer with your bike to the the fascinating baroque town of Lecce. From here we cycle deep into the Salentinian countryside before approaching the Ionian coast. Here you will reach beautiful Gallipolli, known as the 'Ionian Pearl' with its old town situated on a rocky island and offering fantastic views both from the north and the south. The town itself has many churches, narrow alleys and was the largest exporter of lamp oil made from olives in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    Cycle approx. 50km

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Reach the most southerly point of Salento at Santa Maria di Leuca.

    Today you cycle to the most southerly point of Salento at Santa Maria di Leuca, where the crystal waters of the Ionian and Adriatic seas merge. This village is home to one of the most important lighthouses in Italy and the architectural delights of numerous villas built at the turn of the century. Inhabitants of this area were quite eccentric people who loved the peace and quiet and wanted to enjoy the sea and the town.

    Cycle approx. 50km

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Follow the south coast of the Adriatic Sea to the ancient town of Otranto.

    Our route continues along the south coast of the Adriatic sea through charming landscape to the ancient Messapian town of Otranto. The old town is surrounded by a mighty wall containing the impressive Hapsburger Castle. En route to Otranto there is the opportunity to visit the famous Grotta Zinzulusa, the only coastal grotto that is open to the public, and also the thermal baths of Santa Cesarea Terme.

    Cycle approx. 55km

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Continue along the shoreline through innumerable olive groves to the Baroque city of Lecce.

    We follow the shoreline through innumerable olive groves to the Baroque metropolis of Lecce. A relaxing way to end the week is at the beach of Torre dell'Orso surrounded by limestone cliffs and with many ancient caves to discover. The final destination is Lecce, the capital of Salento, and as well as being home to over 30 churches and countless palaces, there is an ampitheatre and Roman theatre dating back to Emperor Augustus.

    Cycle approx. 50km

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    End Lecce.

    Finish your trip in Lecce and make your own way back to the airport for your flight home.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info



No visa required for British passport holders.
Please note in Italy it is compulsory to carry ID with you at all times.



There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

7 breakfasts are included and consist of a continental-style buffet. However, please note that the typical Italian breakfast are generally light; usually a cup of coffee and a cream-filled or jam-filled croissant.

In Puglia you will find genuine regional cooking that has strong links to the land and the sea. To give you just a small list of the types of food on offer in Puglia: Bread from the Murge, durum wheat pasta, olives, the pasta delicacy Orecchiette served with a sauce of turnip-tops or fresh tomato and sheep's ricotta-cheese, Cavatelli with pulses, aubergine and parmesan bake, grilled fish and seafood, burrata (soft mozzarella and cream cheese), plus excellent wines. This region is a food lovers paradise and the abundance of delicious vegetables makes it a perfect destination for vegetarians! On this trip there will be many opportunities to taste the best local specialities.
Suggestions of what to do for lunch and dinner are given in the cycling route notes.


The Puglia region of Southern Italy enjoys a wonderful Mediterranean climate with all year round sunshine and just enough rainfall to ensure that the green is never too far off. Although Puglia covers a large area, it is long and narrow, never more than 30km across means that you're never far from the sea which has a moderating effect on the weather.

Is this trip for you?

Cycling conditions
This is a self-guided cycling trip for those who like to cycle independently, but with back up to take out the hard work and planning. We arrange your accommodations, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next.
Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate)
Please see the introductory pages of the cycling holidays brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading.
Av. daily ride: 51km (32 miles).
No. of days cycling: 6.
Terrain & route: The suggested cycling is along quiet, tarmac roads (mainly traffic-free). There are a few ascents and descents along the way.
Vehicle Support: A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journeys as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There maybe others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain an emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. As a guide we have suggested that 12 years is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. Please do be aware that on some occassions on this trip the cycling can be along busier roads so any children must be comfortable cycling alongside traffic. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities.



You will spend 7 nights in comfortable en suite hotels, when available we use traditional traditional accommodation in Alberobello. Most of the towns are close to the seaside.

All prices are based on 2 persons sharing, so if there is an odd number of people travelling in your party or you are travelling alone, there will be a compulsory supplement for a single room for the tour duration.
For a solo traveller there is an adttional charge to cover transfer costs.

Additional Accommodation

We can book additional accommodation in Bari, Matera, or Lecce (subject to availability). Please notify us at the time of booking and we will provide up-to-date prices.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed October 2016
    Sheila Bould

    Puglia cycling

    A very well organised trip. A good pace visiting the main sites. All instructions clear and detailed.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Arriving in Matera at start of trip was breathtaking

    What did you think of your group leader?


    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do some research to decide how much time you may want to explore en route each day as there never seemed enough time at the end of the day to explore the overnight destination. Make sure you follow all instructions for the route.
  • Reviewed May 2016
    Elizabeth Bury

    Puglia cycling

    Very well organised. Lovely scenery and locations. Unfortunately had poor weather the week we were there - but no fault of anyone!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

  • Reviewed May 2016
    Andrew Carver

    A fabulous way to see a less travelled part of Italy

    A great tour of some unique and interesting towns, all with something to see and explore. The cycling was mostly easy and fun on empty roads (in May). The hotels were all different and of a really good standard, and the food and wine was excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Arriving every day in a completely different and interesting place

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Self Guided

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The days are easy enough to spend time having lunch on route or go right through to the destination and have more time to explore and eat there. Everything is cheaper than in other parts of Italy but they do close up in the afternoon and some of the potential lunch stops are very small so don't have many options.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Jane Halliday

    Cycling in Pulia

    Beautiful scenery, comfortable hotels, excellent route maps and written instructions. Very interesting and picturesque stopovers. Loved every minute of the trip we were also very lucky with the weather.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The days we cycled by the clear blue sea.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Self guided but good instructions on how to follow the route.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take your time to enjoy the views and to get to know your fellow cyclists.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would happily recommend exodus to my friends and family.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Rachael Jolley

    Puglia: A great way to discover it

    Brilliant idea to self guide ourselves around this little known area of Italy, which has so much to discover. The cycling routes were really well thought out and lots of fun to follow. A mix of challenging and easy, so something for everyone, which optional extra bits such as off-road sections. Stunning countryside and castles. A mix of hotels, some of which were excellent, most good.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Lovely stop on the side of a cliff with great views, next to a bar shaped like a giant pineapple on the ride from Gallipoli to Santa Maria. The switchbacks and the long downhill on the second day are amazing rides.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Prepare by doing some cycling if you are a bit rusty. Particularly a few hills. Take a gel saddle!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Lovely food and cafes all around the coast. Well thought out materials, road map, and the great green book from local partner Girolibero. Our green pack didn't arrive at our first hotel, so check for yours. Good idea to check you know how to fix a puncture in advance. We had a couple of breakdowns, but you are expected to fix your own punctures. And enjoy, this is a great trip.
  • Reviewed November 2014

    Fantastic holiday

    A great way of exploring the country, though some beautiful scenery staying in hotels that matched the character of the towns.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Arriving in Matera and seeing the uniqueness of the town.

    What did you think of your group leader?

  • Reviewed November 2014

    Cycling Puglia Heel of Italy

    So glad we cycle during the month of October, weather was very comfortable. Fabulous cliffs with majestic sea views at every tops. Hotel selection was spectacular and authentic to region. Plenty of time to visit sites and explore during the day and left over energy to take advantage of nightlife of all the charming cities. Self-guided was simplyfie by accurate maps and practical stickers of an arrow on strategic intersections. Oh yes, we also made friends from all around the globe !

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Matera left a profound and magical impression on us. Taking the train with the bikes was fun. Just feeling the warm wind and salty air on top of gigantic cliffs.
  • Reviewed September 2014
    Penny Kinder

    Fantasic scenery, wonderful trip

    We are a couple who went on the self guided heel of Italy cycling trip. We loved it, it was such a great experience, waking up every day and cycling in such a wonderful part of Italy. The first couple of days through olive groves and vineyards and the next days by the coast (which was my favourite as the scenery was amazing and stopping to swim in the coves that we came across was so much fun. Everyday we got to a great destination, and it was brilliant, just to have a wash and then go out and explore such wonderful and historic places. The hotels are a mixture of old and new, always in good locations. Breakfasts were full of different fruits, pastries, breads (loads of it to set us up for the day) I couldn't resist Italian ice cream and made sure I tried it every evening to check that it was still as delicious as the last place.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The fifth day cycling was the best day, the scenery was breath taking.
  • Reviewed October 2013


    A lovely holiday in this beautiful unspoilt part of Italy. The accommodation and breakfasts usually excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Eating grapes donated by friendly farmers during their harvest

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Self guided trip

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a phrase book as not much English spoken.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    My husband had a faulty cycle computer which they failed to put right. This was very much a necessity on this self guided trip.
  • Reviewed June 2012


    A really lovely part of the world and even nicer to see it from a bike!Each hotel base was in an interesting town with plenty to see and lots of great restaurants.Instructions were mostly easy to follow, we only made one mistake!Bikes, hmmm if you like orange boneshakers, ok!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling from Leuca to Opurto along the coast. Admittedly the bright sunshine helped!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We were self guided

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Arrange a private transfer before you go. We didnt realise the airport busses are few and far between and spent two hours at Bari airport when we could have been in the hotel pool.If its hot, drink water as often as you can. In England we rarely get dehydrated, so were a bit blase about drinking enough.Carry a thin long sleeved shirt in your panniers. There's no shade on many roads, and your arms get very exposed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We thoroughly enjoyed this trip. My only gripe would be the bikes were heavy and had no front suspension. I would have preferred to pay more for a better one. If this was possible, it wasnt clear.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Trips you might also like

Call us on 0208 772 3936