Discover all the wonderful things to do and see on a trip to Ostuni Italy!
Stella from gutbeck.com is living in the area of Ostuni, and she shares all her top spots and must see places for visitors to the region.
Table of Contents
🧭 Where is Ostuni?
Ostuni is a beautiful city located in the region of Apulia, in southern Italy. It is in the province of Brindisi, on the southeastern coast of the country.
Known as the “White City” due to its whitewashed buildings in the historic center, Ostuni is famed for its charming medieval architecture, narrow winding streets, and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
It’s a popular destination for travelers seeking both cultural experiences and relaxing beach vacations.
The best place to view the White City is from the Viewpoint Corso Vittorio Emmanuel II. On the Piazzetta Martiri delle Foibe.
Tip: Take a guided walking tour and visit Ostuni’s Fairytail world.
🌁 Visit the historical Center
The historical center of Ostuni, also known as “La Città Vecchia” or the Old Town, is a captivating area that sets Ostuni apart.
It is perched on top of a hill and characterized by its stunning whitewashed buildings that gleam in the sunlight. The historical center is a maze of narrow, winding streets and alleys, lined with charming whitewashed houses adorned with colorful flowers and plants.
The architecture reflects influences from different periods, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. The city’s defensive walls, fortified gates, and towers add to its historical charm.
One of the most iconic landmarks in the historical center is the Ostuni Cathedral, or the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
What truly makes the historical center unique is its enchanting atmosphere. As you explore its labyrinthine streets, you’ll discover hidden nooks, picturesque squares, and charming cafés, restaurants, and boutiques.
The Old Town offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding olive groves, vineyards, and the Adriatic Sea in the distance.
Throughout the year, the historical center hosts various cultural events, festivals, and markets, bringing the streets to life with music, art, and traditional celebrations. It’s a place where history, culture, and vibrant community converge, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic and captivating experience.
Tipp: Take a private Tuk Tuk tour through the old town.
⛪️ The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
The Ostuni Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, is a prominent landmark in the historical center of Ostuni. It is a magnificent example of Apulian Romanesque architecture and holds great historical and artistic significance.
The cathedral was built in the late 15th century on the site of an earlier church. Its exterior is characterized by a stunning rose window, intricate sculptures, and decorative elements.
One of the highlights inside the cathedral is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, adorned with marble and featuring a tabernacle with a radiant golden sunburst design. The chapel is a peaceful and spiritual space within the cathedral.
The cathedral also houses important religious relics, including the relics of Saint Orontius, the patron saint of Ostuni. These relics attract pilgrims and visitors alike.
Visiting the Ostuni Cathedral allows you to appreciate the artistry, spirituality, and cultural heritage that it represents, offering a glimpse into Ostuni’s past and the role of religion in the community.
Located behind the Cathedral lies a trendy bar called Gipas 111 with great cocktails. You can enjoy sitting in the Square on a warm summer evening.
🖼️ Other Churches
Church of San Vito Martire: This ancient baroque church showcases beautiful architectural details and houses various religious artifacts. Its serene atmosphere makes it a peaceful place to explore. It also houses the Museum of preclassic civilizations of southern of Muglia showcasing, among various archeological findings, the 28 000-year-old Skeleton of a pregnant woman and her fetus. Entrance to both the Church and the Museum €5 per Person.
Church of San Francesco d’Assisi: Known for its stunning frescoes and intricate stonework, this church offers a glimpse into the rich history and artistry of Ostuni. The interior is particularly fascinating to admire. It is located directly on the Piazza della Liberta.
Church of our Lady ‘della Grata’: This beautiful church located about 300 meters from the Corso Vittorio Emanuel II viewpoint, outside the historic center of Ostuni, is surrounded by beautifully kept gardens. Built around the beginning of the 18th century, on a natural well, it has been used since ancient times to store water for irrigation of the neighboring gardens. To this day, the cistern is filled with water, causing significant damage to the church.
Church of San Giuseppe: Beautiful chapel whose first construction dates back to the 13th century and is dedicated to the passage of San Giuseppe. It was rebuilt for this purpose in 1870, replacing the small 18th-century Capoeetta, which was demolished to allow the construction of Corso Vittorio Emanuele. It is located just a few steps from Piazza della Libertà in the historic center of Ostuni.
🏰 Bishop’s Palace
Palazzo Ducale, also known as the Ducal Palace, is a notable historical building in Ostuni, Italy. This beautiful palace showcases architectural elements from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, making it a remarkable example of the city’s rich architectural heritage.
Located in the heart of the historic center just opposite the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Palazzo Ducale stands as an imposing structure with an elegant facade. The palace features ornate balconies, arched windows, and decorative details that reflect the grandeur of its time.
While the palace is privately owned and not open to the public, its exterior is still a sight to behold. Visitors can appreciate the architectural beauty and craftsmanship from the outside, taking in the intricate details and imagining the grandeur within.
Palazzo Ducale serves as a reminder of Ostuni’s illustrious past and the influence of noble families in the region. Its presence adds to the overall charm and historical significance of the city, making it a notable landmark that contributes to Ostuni’s unique character.
Continue past the Bishop’s Palace and enjoy the panoramic view of the Olive Trees and the Adriatic Sea in the Distance, from the Top of Ostuni.
The main square in Ostuni is called Piazza della Libertà, also known as Piazza Sant’Oronzo. It is a vibrant and bustling square located in the heart of the historic center.
The square holds great significance as a central gathering place and a focal point for social and cultural activities in Ostuni. Piazza della Libertà is named after Sant’Oronzo, the patron saint of the city. In the center of the square, you’ll find a statue dedicated to him, depicting the saint standing atop a column.
The statue is a symbol of Ostuni’s devotion to its patron saint and serves as a meeting point for locals and visitors. The square is surrounded by beautiful buildings, cafes, restaurants, and shops, creating a lively atmosphere. It is a popular spot for people to gather, relax, and enjoy the vibrant ambiance of the city.
Many events, concerts, and festivals take place in the square, especially during the summer months, adding to its liveliness and charm.
Visiting the main square allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture, observe the daily life of residents, and experience the vibrant energy of Ostuni. It’s a place where locals and tourists come together, making it an integral part of the city’s identity and a must-visit location during your exploration of Ostuni.
Enjoy walking along the Corso Giuseppe Mazzini towards the Piazza della Liberta. Lined with colorful Oleander.
Take a drink or an Apéritif on the stairs down from the Piazza della Liberta in the Pausa Cafe. I just love to hang out on the main square in the morning hours for a coffee.
🎨 Museums to See
Ostuni is primarily known for its picturesque streets and historic architecture, rather than its museums. However, the Museo Diocesano is worth paying a visit.
The Museo Diocesano is located in the historic center of Ostuni and showcases a collection of religious art and artifacts. The museum displays a range of items including religious paintings, sculptures, liturgical objects, and vestments that represent the cultural and artistic heritage of the region.
🌳 Old City walls
The old city walls of Ostuni are an important part of its historical heritage. They surround the historic center, also known as the “Città Vecchia,” and are a significant feature of the city’s architecture.
The walls were built as a defensive structure to protect Ostuni from invasions and attacks throughout history. They date back to different periods, with some sections originating from medieval times and others added or modified in subsequent centuries.
Walking along the city walls provides a unique perspective of Ostuni and its surroundings. From certain vantage points, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city, the surrounding countryside, and even glimpses of the Adriatic Sea in the distance.
Visitors to Ostuni can take leisurely strolls along the city walls, admiring the architecture and enjoying the scenic vistas. It’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the history and beauty of this enchanting city.
Ostuni features several markets where you can experience the lively atmosphere and find various local products. Here are two markets worth visiting:
Farmers’ Market (Mercato del Sabato): Held on Saturday mornings on the street: Via Nino Sansone. It offers a wide selection of organic and locally grown products. You can find fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, homemade bread, honey, olive oil, and other artisanal goods. It’s an excellent opportunity to support local farmers and taste the flavors of the region.
Antiques Market: Held around the city Park (Parco Rimembranze), an antiques market takes place every 2nd Sunday of the month. The Address is Via Martiri di Kindu.
⛱ Beaches close to Ostuni
Ostuni is fortunate to have numerous beautiful beaches nearby. Here are some of the best beaches close to Ostuni:
Torre Guaceto: Located about 15 kilometers northwest of Ostuni, Torre Guaceto is a protected marine reserve. Its pristine sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and natural surroundings make it a popular choice for beach goers seeking tranquility and natural beauty.
Pilone Beach: Situated on the Adriatic coast, Pilone Beach is known for its fine white sand and turquoise waters. It’s located approximately 13 kilometers east of Ostuni and offers amenities such as beach clubs, restaurants, and parking facilities.
Rosa Marina Beach: Just a short drive south of Ostuni. The beach is known for its golden sand, shallow waters, and well-maintained facilities.
Lido Morelli: Situated south of Ostuni, Lido Morelli offers a wide sandy beach and clear waters. It features beach clubs with loungers and umbrellas, as well as restaurants and bars for a relaxing seaside experience.
🍜 Try Apulian food and drink specialities
When visiting Apulia, there are several food and drink specialties that you should try to fully experience the region’s culinary delights. Here are some Apulian specialties worth sampling:
Orecchiette: A type of pasta that is typical of Apulia, orecchiette are small, round, ear-shaped pasta shells. They are often served with local sauces, such as tomato and ricotta, or with vegetables like broccoli rabe.
Fave e Cicorie: A traditional, simple yet delicious dish made with fava beans, also known as broad beans and chicory greens. A favorite for vegetarians.
Focaccia Barese: Focaccia in Apulia is a regional delight. Focaccia Barese, in particular, is a fluffy and savory flatbread topped with cherry tomatoes, olives, and olive oil. It’s often enjoyed as a snack or part of a meal.
Taralli: These small, round, and crunchy baked snacks are similar to pretzels. They come in various flavors, like fennel, black pepper, and olive. Taralli are perfect for snacking or as an accompaniment to wine and cheese.
Friselle: Friselle, also known as frise, are hard, twice-baked bread rolls. They are typically soaked in water, topped with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, and other ingredients like capers or olives. Friselle make for a refreshing and light dish during the hot summers.
Primitivo Wine: Apulia is known for producing excellent wines, and one of the most famous is Primitivo. It’s a red wine with robust flavors of dark fruits and spices. Enjoy a glass of Primitivo to accompany your meals or visit local wineries for tastings.
Pasticciotto: Pasticciotto is a traditional pastry from Lecce, a city in Apulia. It consists of a flaky pastry shell filled with sweet, creamy custard. It’s a popular dessert choice and best enjoyed with a cup of coffee.
Visit Trattoria Fave & Fogghje for to taste many traditional dishes in one set Menu. Or visit a pasta making cooking class with Nonna Rosa and learn to make traditional Pasta.
💡 Day Trip ideas
If you’re staying in Ostuni and looking for day trip ideas, here are a few suggestions for nearby destinations worth exploring:
Olive Oil Mills:
Visiting olive oil mills as a day trip offers a chance to learn about the production process, participate in guided tours, and sample different varieties of olive oil. It provides an educational and immersive experience, allowing you to appreciate the flavors and quality of locally produced oils. Additionally, you can purchase olive oil directly from the mills to bring home a taste of the region.
Visiting a Winery around Ostuni can be a worthwhile experience for wine enthusiasts or anyone interested in learning about the region’s winemaking traditions and tasting its unique wines. Apulia is renowned for its excellent wines, such as Primitivo, Negroamaro, Verdecca among others.
A day trip to Cisternino in Apulia offers a delightful experience with its charming old town and picturesque surroundings. Enjoy panoramic views of the countryside From vantage points like the Belvedere Santa Lucia, you can appreciate the rolling hills, olive groves, and vineyards that characterize the Apulian landscape. A day trip to Cisternino promises a blend of history, culture, culinary delights, and scenic beauty, providing an authentic taste of Apulia’s charm.
A day trip to Savelletri offers the opportunity to enjoy beautiful beaches, indulge in fresh seafood, explore a traditional fishing village, and experience the charm of a picturesque coastal town. You can relax by the sea, savor delicious local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the authentic maritime culture of the area.
Alberobello: Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello, famous for its unique trulli houses. These traditional whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs create a picturesque and enchanting atmosphere.
Polignano a Mare: Explore the stunning coastal town of Polignano a Mare, known for its dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and charming old town. Admire the breathtaking views, stroll along the narrow streets, and relax at one of the seaside cafes.
Lecce: Discover the “Florence of the South” by visiting Lecce, renowned for its Baroque architecture and rich history. Explore the intricate details of the Basilica di Santa Croce, the Roman Amphitheatre, and the charming streets lined with beautiful buildings.
Locorotondo: Experience the charm of Locorotondo, a picturesque hilltop town with narrow streets and whitewashed houses adorned with flower-filled balconies. Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and savor the local wines produced in the area. These are just a few suggestions for day trips from Ostuni, each offering its own unique attractions and cultural experiences. Consider your interests and preferences to choose the destinations that resonate with you and make the most of your time in the region.
🚗 How to get there?
By Plane: The nearest airport to Ostuni is Brindisi Airport (Aeroporto del Salento), located approximately 40 kilometers away. From the airport, you can take a taxi, rent a car or take the train to reach Ostuni.
The main international airport is Bari Airport (Karol Wojtyla Airport) located approximately 85 kilometers away. From the airport you can take a taxi, rent a car or take the train to reach Ostuni.
By Train: Ostuni has its own train station, Ostuni Train Station (Stazione di Ostuni), which is well-connected to other cities in Italy. You can take a train to Ostuni from major Italian cities like Bari, Brindisi, or Lecce.
The train station is located near the city center, making it convenient to reach the main attractions.
By Car: If you prefer to drive, Ostuni is easily accessible by car. The city is well-connected to the Italian road network. Ostuni has parking options available, but keep in mind that parking within the historic center may be limited.
By Boat: While Ostuni itself is not directly accessible by boat, you can consider arriving at nearby ports and then continuing by land. The ports of Brindisi and Bari, both situated along the Adriatic Sea, are the closest options. From there, you can choose to travel by train, bus, or rent a car to reach Ostuni.