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Puglia Family Holidays & Breaks

Beach on the GarganoBeach on the Gargano
Flying Time 3hrs
Timezone GMT +1
Currency Euro

Today

Overview

Occupying the heel of Italy’s famous boot and the coastline to the north of it, Puglia – or Apulia to the natives – has been ‘discovered’ by overseas tourists over the past few years but is still a great bet for those seeking to avoid the crowds of more popular regions such as Tuscany. When it comes to family holidays, Puglia's strengths are its lovely coastline (Italy’s longest) and its sun-drenched landscape with its silvery olive groves. This largely agricultural region produces nearly half of the county’s olive oil, as well as much of its wine.

As with the rest of Italy, Puglia is relaxed, with child-friendly folk who don’t bat an eyelid at tantrum-prone toddlers or sulky teens. And the food is fantastic even by Italian standards!

Things to do with kids in Puglia

Head for the gorgeous Promontorio del Gargano with its shimmering sea, limestone cliffs, chalky grottoes, fragrant maquis and primeval forests and its seaside resorts of Vieste and Peschici. Within the Parco Nazionale del Gargano you can take guided walks and Jeep, quad-bike and mountain-bike tours. The park also includes the Tremiti Islands, named for the many earthquakes in the area; surrounded by amazing clear Adriatic waters, they’re accessible by ferry.

Make a beeline for the white-sand beaches of the Salentina peninsula, the actual heel of Italy, strewn with olive trees and vineyards. Top beauty spots here are the Alimini lakes (Adriatic Coast), Porto Selvaggio (Ionian Coast) and Otranto harbour.

Don’t miss Alberobello with its famous UNESCO World Heritage listed trulli  – dry stone huts with conical roofs. Some are rented out as self-catering cottages or opened up as B&B accommodation.

Explore the regional capital Bari, especially its medieval quarter, Bari Vecchia, where you can stroll along the waterfront on the old city walls. In Bari province, don’t miss the spectacular Castellana Grotte calcite caves.

Check out Lecce, dubbed the ‘Florence of the south’, with lots of baroque architecture to ogle and some great places to sample rustic local cuisine.

Eat

As befits its agricultural heritage, Puglia is a great place for food. The rustic cooking makes the most of local produce including tomatoes, artichokes, fava beans, rocket, courgettes, fennel, peppers and durum wheat, the latter the main ingredient of the delicious local bread and also the local pasta speciality, orecchiette – ear-shaped shells that are often served with meat ragu. Don’t miss maccheroni al forno, a pasta mixed with meatballs, hard-boiled eggs and other ingredients and baked in a pie crust. 

Roast lamb is another culinary highlight, and the local pecorino cheese and ricotta are excellent. On the coast, freshly caught seafood treats include sea bass, red mullet, cuttlefish, anchovies and mussels.

Desserts here often take the form of sweetened ricotta. Many sweet dishes feature local almonds, honey and/or fig essence.

When to go to Puglia

July and August are naturally Puglia’s busiest months – many Italians choose to take their summer holidays here, and there are events galore, including festivals (sagre) and concerts.

Cost

Flight and hotel packages for 4 people on a 7-day family holiday in Puglia vary from around £200pp to more than £700pp, depending on season and accommodation choice.

Low-season flight prices start at £40 each way but expect to pay at least £200 return in high season. Add £180 a week for car hire.

By Rhonda Carrier

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