The beautiful whitewashed city of Ostuni should be on everyone’s Puglia itinerary. Perched on top of a hill and overlooking the sparkling Adriatic Sea, its charming white houses, narrow cobblestone streets, historical churches, and atmospheric little squares give it a unique and magical atmosphere.
In this post, I’ll share some of the best things to do in Ostuni, Puglia. It’s one of my favorite cities in southern Italy and has something to offer every traveler.
From exploring the ancient Centro Storico to visiting nearby beaches, olive groves, and vineyards, it’s hard not to be captivated by this stunning historical city. However long you have to spend sightseeing in Ostuni, I’m sure you’ll love your time there.
Best Things To Do in Ostuni
Here are 15 of the best things to do and places to visit in Ostuni and its surroundings.
1. Explore the Centro Storico (Old Town)
Walking the cobblestone streets of Ostuni’s Centro Storico is like being transported to another era. This stunningly preserved, whitewashed medieval town is perched at the top of a hill and is known as the “White City”.
From here, you can take in incredible views of the rolling hills surrounding Ostuni and the turquoise Adriatic Sea that sparkles in the distance. The lively restaurants and cafes, boutique shops, churches, ancient buildings, and narrow alleyways make it an ideal place to explore.
Wander through the backstreets and linger for a while in one of the many attractive piazzas. One of my favorite free things to do in Ostuni is to take a seat in one of these squares and just watch the world go by.
2. Do a Walking Tour
A great thing to do in any new place is to join a walking tour. There are a few different tours to choose from in Ostuni – this one is particularly well-reviewed and takes you to all of the top places to see in Ostuni.
This is a fantastic way to familiarise yourself with the town, visit its most famous and beautiful landmarks, discover its wealth of fascinating architecture, and learn about its rich history and traditions.
Alternatively, you can see all of the top places to visit in Ostuni by taking a private tour of Ostuni by tuk-tuk!
3. Visit Ostuni Cathedral
The Catholic Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta is an important landmark in the city and one of the top Ostuni attractions. It was built around the 11th century on the remains of a previous Orthodox church, with some parts dating back to the 5th century.
Be sure to take your time exploring this majestic building, admiring its intricate architectural details such as its Romanesque façade, Gothic portal, and Baroque bell tower. The ceiling of the cathedral is decorated with a number of beautiful paintings depicting scenes from the Bible.
The cathedral also contains a beautiful floor mosaic and an archive of 12th-century parchments.
4. Taste the Local Olive Oil (One of the Top Things To Do in Ostuni, Italy)
The Puglia region is known for its delicious olive oil and you should definitely taste some during your time there. It’s light and delicate yet incredibly rich and fragrant – perfect for dressing salads, drizzling over fresh pasta, or enjoying with a slice of freshly-baked focaccia bread.
This guided tour takes you to visit an ancient olive grove and Masseria (a traditional farmhouse) on the outskirts of Ostuni. Some of the trees here are believed to be over a thousand years old!
You will learn about the process of making olive oil, all the way from planting seeds to pressing the final product. Of course, you’ll also get to taste different varieties, and your guide will teach you about the various health benefits of olive oil, and why it is so important in southern Italian cooking.
5. Have a Beach Day
Ostuni is located a mere 8 kilometers from the sparkling Adriatic Sea, close to some of Puglia’s best beaches. Spending a day (or even an hour or two) on the beach is one of the most fun things to do in Ostuni for families.
While the beaches in Puglia aren’t as undiscovered or untouched as those just across the Adriatic on the Albanian Riviera, they are generally quieter and nicer than the beaches in many other parts of Italy.
One of the most popular beaches near Ostuni is Spiaggia di Pilone, a long stretch of golden sand and crystal-clear waters. If you’re looking for something a bit quieter, head to Spiaggia di Torre Pozzelle, which is wilder and has fewer facilities.
6. Check Out the Museums
Get an insight into Ostuni’s fascinating history and rich culture by visiting one of the many local museums.
The Museo Diocesano di Ostuni (Diocesan Museum of Ostuni) is housed inside an ancient Episcopal Hall, the former home of the town’s bishops. It contains a range of artwork, archaeological finds, and other local artifacts and treasures, and is one of the most interesting places to visit in Ostuni.
The Museo di Civiltà Preclassiche (Museum of Pre-Classical Civilizations) is located inside a former monastery and contains various archaeological remains, ornaments, and ceramics dating back to the Paleolithic era.
For lovers of contemporary art, the Orizzonti Arte Contemporanea gallery is also well worth a visit. This amazing gallery features stunning works by local artists and hosts regular events and exhibitions, which are advertised on its website.
7. Take a Traditional Puglian Cooking Class
I love the food in Puglia. Typical Puglian food is simple, hearty, and delicious, showcasing the region’s high-quality fresh local produce.
Learn how to make some of the best and most popular local dishes by taking this traditional Puglian cooking class. A professional chef will teach you to make Puglian classics such as orecchiette pasta from scratch, eggplant parmigiana, tiramisù, and other treasured local recipes.
At the end of the class, you’ll enjoy a 4-course meal of the dishes you’ve prepared. Note: this class takes place in the neighboring town of Cisternino, another great place to visit near Ostuni, which is only 20 minutes away from Ostuni by car (or 30 minutes by bus).
8. Sample the Local Wines
The Puglia region is home to some of the best wines in Italy, and there are numerous wineries and vineyards in the area where you can taste local wines and learn about the production process from knowledgeable guides
On this wine-focused tour, you will visit a 16th-century Masseria wine estate and a modern wine cellar and taste a range of their best wines. You’ll also get to visit a few other destinations in the Valle d’Itria, including Alberobello and Locorotondo, so this is definitely one of the best things to do near Ostuni.
9. Visit Alberobello
The UNESCO-listed town of Alberobello is just an hour away from Ostuni and is famous for its trulli – ancient houses built from limestone with conical roofs. Alberobello has hundreds of these fascinating buildings, and you can go inside some of them to get a better look.
One of the best ways to learn more about these iconic buildings and to see a range of the most spectacular ones is to take this 2-hour guided trulli tour.
The town also offers plenty of other things to do, including wine tastings and cooking classes. Be sure to make time for a day trip to explore this unique destination!
10. Shop at Local Markets
Take home some souvenirs from your trip by shopping at one of the local markets. The Mercato del Sabato (Saturday market) is especially worth visiting if you are in town on a Saturday.
Locals come here to buy everything from fresh food and kitchenware to clothes and even antiques. You can pick up a range of fresh produce and handmade goods made by local artisans. Come early in the morning to snag the best items!
11. Enjoy a Gelato in Piazza della Libertà
This vibrant square is the bustling heart of Ostuni and a great place to relax and indulge in some authentic Puglian gelato.
There are several gelaterias in this area, but Cremeria La Scala is particularly good and offers a range of delicious flavors of gelato, granita, and sorbet with classic & seasonal flavors. They also have a lovely shaded patio to escape from the powerful midday sun.
This area of the Centro Storico is also home to several great cafes and restaurants.
12. Walk the City Walls
Ostuni used to be an ancient fortified city, and the remains of its old defensive walls are still largely intact.
You can walk along a few sections of these walls, which offer a unique perspective of the city and its surroundings. I’d recommend packing a comfortable pair of shoes for this, as there are quite a few steps, but it’s more than worth the effort.
Gazing out from Ostuni’s hilltop position, it’s easy to see why its founders chose this as the location for their city. You can see for a long way in each direction, including out to sea.
13. Enjoy a Private Dining Experience
If you’re staying in an apartment with self-catering facilities, one of the most special things to do in Ostuni at night is to indulge in an at-home private dining experience.
An expert chef will come to your apartment and cook up a feast for you of Puglian specialties using a range of top-quality local ingredients. The meal includes a range of appetizers, first and second courses, and a delicious dessert.
This experience can be customized to account for particular dietary requirements – see here for more information.
14. Explore Martina Franca
The quaint hilltop town of Martina Franca is just 23 kilometers away from Ostuni and an ideal spot for a day trip. The town is known for its baroque-style buildings and narrow, cobbled streets lined with trendy cafes and boutiques.
Martina Franca is home to the impressive baroque Basilica di San Martino cathedral which houses some beautiful paintings from the 16th century.
Wander around its narrow streets, enjoy a coffee or an aperitivo in one of its many cafes and bars, and soak up the atmosphere. You can take a walking tour of Martina Franca, or taste a number of local wines and other delicacies as part of this tasting experience.
15. Savor an Incredible Sunset
Ostuni’s sunsets are simply breathtaking, so make sure to take some time every evening you’re there to enjoy them from one of the many viewpoints around town.
My favorite place to watch the sunset in Ostuni is from the terrace of Dish Restaurant (see below). However, even if you don’t eat there, you can still enjoy an incredible view of the city from here.
The southern Mediterranean sunset paints the whitewashed Centro Storico with gold, orange, and pink rays. It’s really magical and a perfect thing to do in Ostuni for couples.
Quick Travel Itineraries For Ostuni
Here are a few suggested travel itineraries to help decide what stuff to do in Ostuni so that you get the most out of your time there.
1 Day in Ostuni Itinerary
You can see most of Ostuni’s top sights in one day. Begin the day by taking a walking tour and exploring the Centro Storico, before stopping for a leisurely lunch in one of the many traditional restaurants in the center.
In the afternoon, either head to the beach or to one of the local vineyards for a spot of wine tasting. Back in town, have gelato in Piazza della Liberta, then finish your day enjoying a world-class sunset and dinner at Dish Restaurant (see below).
2-3 Days in Ostuni Itinerary
Spend the first day exploring the city and visiting its various sights, as above.
On day two, take a trip to Alberobello to see the amazing trulli. From here, you can join this 2-hour guided trulli tour.
Lastly, on your final day, head to the coast for some beach time. In the afternoon, do a traditional Puglian cooking class. Finish off your time in the city with a few drinks, and enjoy the sunset.
1 Week in Ostuni Itinerary
Ostuni is a fairly small city and in one week you can comfortably see and do everything I’ve described in this post. You’ll be able to really take your time with each of these activities and enjoy the wonderfully relaxed pace of life that this part of the world is famous for.
The order you do things is totally up to you, but I would suggest starting with at least one day exploring the city (as per the above) to help you get your bearings.
After that, you can spend a full day each in both Alberobello and Martina Franca, and another one on the beach. Use your remaining three days to tick off the remaining activities on this list.
Don’t forget to visit Ostuni’s main market on Saturday, and allow yourself plenty of time to sit and people-watch in the city’s attractive squares and plazas.
Where to Stay in Ostuni
These are a few of the best neighborhoods in Ostuni for tourists.
Old Town – Best for First-time Visitors
The Centro Storico of Ostuni is the ideal choice for first-time visitors, as many of the town’s most popular historical sites and attractions are located here. With its charming cobblestone streets and lively atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to get a feel for the city.
This is a great hotel close to the center.
Outskirts of Ostuni – Best for Budget Travelers
If you’re looking for budget accommodation, this can mostly be found on the outskirts of town. It’s not a particularly large place, so you’ll likely be able to walk from your hotel or apartment to most of the main tourist attractions in Ostuni, Italy.
Check out this fantastic budget apartment.
Masserias Near Ostuni – Best for a Peaceful Rural Retreat
The area around Ostuni is home to numerous Masserias (traditional farmhouses), nestled among the ancient olive groves. A few have been converted into guesthouses and luxurious hotels that make for a perfect rural southern Italian retreat.
This one is gorgeous.
Best Restaurants in Ostuni
Don’t miss these great places to eat in Ostuni.
Upmarket Dish Restaurant has a terrace with one of the best views in the city. The food is also fantastic, offering a range of inventive and delicious dishes that are expertly presented.
Osteria Madre is a traditional Puglian restaurant just south of the historical center of Ostuni. It’s mid-priced and serves a number of local specialties, including fresh pasta and seafood.
Ristorante La Vecchia Terrazza
The thing I love most about Ristorante La Vecchia Terrazza is its spacious outdoor terrace with sweeping views out to the Adriatic coast and across to the Old Town. Their mixed seafood platter is particularly good, and they have a great selection of local wines to enjoy with your meal.
Impasto Napoletano Pizzeria Napoletana
If you’re in the mood for good value, high-quality Neapolitan pizza in Ostuni, look no further than Impasto Napoletano Pizzeria Napoletana. They have an outdoor terrace that’s lively and buzzing in the evenings.
Getting To Ostuni
For many visitors, the easiest way to get to Ostuni is via Bari, the capital of Puglia.
Bari has an international airport with flights from a variety of destinations throughout Europe. If you’re coming from further away, you will probably have to fly to either Rome or Milan first and then take a connecting flight (or train) to Bari.
From Bari, you can reach Ostuni by train or bus. The train is quicker than the bus, although bear in mind that Ostuni train station is located about 2 kilometers away from the center of town. You can either walk, take a local bus, or hail a taxi to take you into town.
It’s also possible to travel to Puglia by ferry from various countries in the Balkans, including Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, and Greece. Most ferries arrive in either Bari or Brindisi.
Once you’ve arrived in Ostuni, the city center is small and best explored on foot.
Things To Do in Ostuni: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about what to see and do in Ostuni.
Ostuni is known as the “White City” due to its beautiful whitewashed houses, which make for stunning views from many points in the city.
Ostuni is a great destination year-round. I think the best time to visit is during the spring or early summer months when temperatures are warm, but not too hot, and the days are long.
Yes! There are plenty of things to do in Ostuni, from exploring its cobbled streets and enjoying great food and wine to soaking up the sun on its nearby beaches.
I recommend staying at least two or three days to make the most of your visit. You can easily fill a day exploring Ostuni’s charming center, another day relaxing at the beach, and then a third day visiting local vineyards and olive groves.
Ostuni is generally a very safe place to visit. However, as with any destination, it’s always best to be aware of your surroundings and take the usual precautions.
Exploring the beautiful whitewashed Old Town is one of the most popular things to do in Ostuni.
The best beach close to Ostuni is Spiaggia di Torre Pozzelle. It’s quiet and unspoiled, with crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Ostuni is renowned for its delicious cuisine, with a hearty mix of seafood, vegetables, cheeses, and pasta. Some of my favorite dishes include seafood pasta, focaccia, and grilled freshly-caught local fish.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to see in Ostuni, Italy. Despite its beauty, the city also receives fewer tourists than many of the country’s other famous destinations. It’s a perfect place to get away from it all and truly experience southern Italian life.
Ostuni is an incredibly beautiful destination and a fantastic place to base yourself when exploring more of the wider Puglia region. I couldn’t recommend it more.