Grand Giro di Puglia – Guided Bike Tour
Guided Cycle Tour – 15 days
A guided Puglia bike tour to discover the most beautiful and unspoiled corners of the entire Puglia Region.
You don’t have to take care of anything except pedal along the most beautiful bike routes of our region.
Our guides will be looking after you at any time, thanks to their experience, professionalism and knowledge of the area.
The tour starts in Matera, the famous UNESCO city of the “Sassi” (“Stones”, i.e. the old town full of cave dwellings) and the European Capital of Culture for 2019.
This 15-day/14-night cycling holiday is the best option to know Puglia far and wide, starting from its beating heart, the country of trulli (the conic-roofed rural houses) and masserie (local fortified farmhouses).
To top off the tour, you will ride on the flat back roads of Salento, staring at one of the most beautiful coasts in Italy.
At the end of the journey, Puglia will have no secret for you anymore – or at least a few kept for your next tour!
DAY 1: MATERA (no bike)
Individual arrival and check-in at the hotel accommodation in Matera.
Matera is going to capture your attention with its thousand-year history, strolling through the “Sassi” neighbourhoods full of rock churches and cave houses, and its famous bread!
On the first day you have plenty of time to settle in, choosing to independently visit a few sites of cultural interest or simply relax by strolling along the main street or taking a break at one of the many cafes and bistros. For fans of handicrafts and local objects, there are plenty of opportunities to unearth small stone-working workshops or ateliers for pure made-in-Italy shopping.
DAY 2: MATERA (no bike)
Welcome Briefing with your Puglia Cycle Tours guide and then “all in the saddle” to test bikes and accessories so that everything is perfect for your adventure on two wheels!
Afterwards, we reserved for you an incredible 3-hour trek with a local guide to admire not only the most evocative corners of this unique Unesco city and European Capital of Culture 2019, but also to discover the Murgia Materana Natural Park by crossing the canyon of the Gravina stream and following one of the many paths that climb up to the scenic viewpoint.
In the evening, those who wish can join the guide for dinner at a typical restaurant.
DAY 3: MATERA – CASTELLANETA
The first stage enters the Lucanian countryside where the first part of the morning flows slenderly through wide valleys, rolling hills and straw-coloured clay wheat fields. The route continues through the Land of the Gravines, a regional scenic park. We start from the small village of Ginosa nestled in the ancient bed of the Bradano River. From here we continue to the renowned Laterza, famous for tasty baked goods and beautiful majolica tiles, as well as the deepest and most impressive Canyon in Europe. Past a forest after a few kilometres, the view opens up at your feet granting you a splendid view of the Gulf of Taranto. Few steps to reach the accommodation that welcomes you with a first taste of Puglia wines in a rural setting of extraordinary beauty.
A sumptuous dinner at the facility has been organized for you for this evening, allowing you to celebrate this first day in the saddle to the fullest!
↗ 730mt ↘ 990mt
DAY 4: CASTELLANETA – MARTINA FRANCA
+/- 60 km
The first kilometres are still in the “Land of the Gravines,” on one of the most scenic stretches this area has to offer. Climbing up the hill, we enter the typical Murgia of Trulli countryside, discovering the iconic scenery of Puglia: dry stone walls, ancient farms and trulli – the typical rural houses with conical roofs – built without cement or mortar. Pedalling up and down hills that wind through oak forests, pastures and masserias, you reach Martina Franca, a 14th-century town that sits in the middle of the Itria Valley. With its delightful historic centre, a memorable labyrinth of winding alleys, it impresses you with both the simple whitewashed dwellings and the Baroque extravagance of its noble palaces.
↗ 800mt ↘ 440mt
DAY 5: MARTINA FRANCA – MONOPOLI
+/- 62 km
Today’s stage allows you to reach Locorotondo after a few kilometres, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Following well-kept rural lanes, we are going to quickly reach Alberobello, a famous UNESCO site with its typical dry-stone trulli and conical roof. After a break and some free time, we continue through gentle ups and downs in the countryside of Castellana Grotte. This is the last offshoot of the karst Murgia before indulging in an exciting descent to the blue-painted Adriatic. Here you reach one of its most charming towns, Polignano a Mare, perched on the side of a cliff. Besides the dizzying cliffs and being the birthplace of Domenico Modugno, singer-songwriter of ‘Volare,’ did you know that Polignano is also very famous for its ice cream? So, we thought of a tasty stop before we set off again, try it to believe it! Back in the saddle, the last ten kilometres along the coast lead to Monopoli, a perfect mix of seafaring culture and history. Your lodging is in the historic centre, a short walk from the old port and the Castle.
↗ 370mt ↘ 800mt
DAY 6: MONOPOLI – OSTUNI
+/- 50 km
Today’s ride begins through the courtyards and arches of Monopoli‘s historic centre, then continues along the coast alternating views of rocky coves and long sandy beaches. After about ten kilometres in which you pedal intoxicated by the smell of the sea, you reach the vicinity of the Archaeological Park of Egnatia, a majestic example of a Messapic-Roman city. A few snapshots before resuming the march south to reach Savelletri and Torre Canne, small fishing villages and holiday homes that are the perfect setting for a regenerating coffee break. From this point on, the itinerary winds again along rural paths, arriving in a marvellous setting: an expanse of centuries-old olive trees . In this land of enormous natural heritage, you have the opportunity to visit an ancient fortified masseria where a focus on extra virgin olive oil production follows with a final tasting!
Leaving the masseria, you slowly begin to climb catching sight of pedal after pedal of the outline of Ostuni, known as the “white city” for its lime-plastered houses and walls. A steep but short climb leads you there. You thus feel like you are in a sort of small Mediterranean Kasbah, made up of narrow alleys and white stairs, where it is pleasant to get lost while enjoying a drink or a glass of wine in the warm light of the sunset.
↗ 800mt ↘ 200mt
DAY 7: OSTUNI - BRINDISI - LECCE
+/- 52 km km
Today we indulge in a marvellous landscape with a leisurely ride still among the giant monumental olive trees to the small village of Carovigno. Here the elegant Dentice-Frasso castle perched on the hill becomes a worthy point of interest for a few photo shoots in the early morning light. From here down again through bucolic rural arteries to San Vito dei Normanni.
Getting back in the saddle, you continue south through a changing landscape . The last kilometres lead to Brindisi, an important port city since Roman times and known as the “Gateway to the East”.The last two kilometres in the city centre allow you to reach the train station from which you depart by train to Lecce, an important southern city and prized for its Baroque splendour. Upon reaching the accommodation located in the beating heart of the old town, all that remains is to say goodbye to your bike and toast to this well-deserved arrival!
↗ 160mt ↘ 360mt
DAY 8: LECCE (no bike)
Take a day off to relax in Lecce since from tomorrow you are going to pedal towards the amazing Salento area!
This late afernoon, we have reserved for you a 1 hour tour of the city in rickshaw!
DAY 9: LECCE - AVETRANA
+/- 45 km
The morning begins with a bike and accessories test, so that everything is perfect for your adventure on two wheels!
The first stage takes place totally inland, leaving behind the congested urban core and heading west through flat rural areas. They are marked by dry stone walls, olive groves and indigenous vineyards involved in the production of “red” wine. In fact, we start in the “Terre del Negroamaro,” cycling through the municipalities of Novoli, Salice Salentino, Guagnano and San Pancrazio.
After the visit to these small towns, where it is possible to stop for a winery visit, we proceed to the lower Ionian Murgia, famous for the production of Primitivo, in the direction of Avetrana.
The day ends at an extraordinary historic family-run masseria, where you are able to admire the large estate aimed at oil and wine production, relaxing by the pool and enjoying a taste of the local production, before the rich dinner reserved for you.
↗ 200mt ↘ 190mt
lecce – avetrana
DAY 10: AVTRANA - GALLIPOLI
+/- 63 km
This second day leads toward the Ionian coast. Past the centre of Avetrana, we follow a secondary road for a few kilometres to soon reach the sea in one of the most evocative settings of this area, the Saline dei Monaci. It is a nature reserve where it is possible to admire unique flora and fauna. Leaving the sandy path, we proceed to the mighty Torre Colimena, a splendid and very well-preserved example of a 16th-century watchtower. Once past the residential core, we proceed along the coast to Porto Cesareo, a characteristic small port that is home to a thriving fish market and an ideal place for a coffee and ice cream break. The day continues as we reach the scenic promontory of Porto Selvaggio (the only drop of the stage) and then head down to the bays of Santa Caterina and Santa Maria al Bagno, renowned centres of local seaside tourism. After a swim and a lunch break, the last 15 kilometres flow quickly to Gallipoli, the “beautiful city” (Καλλίπολις – Kallípolis – that’s the meaning in Greek), also known as the “Pearl of the Ionian Sea.”
In the afternoon you can devote yourself freely to pure shopping or a more cultural stroll, but don’t miss the striking sunset near the western bastion, where the silhouette of the island of Sant’Andrea with its small lighthouse will mark the end of another unforgettable day. Your guide will be happy to suggest the best places for a tasty aperitif or the most typical restaurants for a fish dinner.
↗ 310mt ↘ 370mt
avetrana – gallipoli
DAY 11: GALLIPOLI - LEUCA
51 km km
Today’s stop is the easiest of the entire heel: just hop on your bike and enjoy the south coast in all its authenticity, among lookout towers, beaches with crystal-clear waters and hidden bays, where in the warmer months there is the chance for a dip or a regenerating swim.
Leaving the urban centre of Gallipoli, you travel about 3 kilometres, adjacent to fine sandy beaches. Then we pass between Torre Suda and Torre San Giovanni, using an exciting bicycle/pedestrian stretch that runs winding and scenic over coves and wide rocky bays. It’s now time to stop for a coffee break with a pasticciotto (a typical Lecce pastry with cream and a thousand variations) or ice cream. A few kilometres further south, you reach Pescoluse, an area commonly named the “Maldives of Salento“. Once past the small port of Torre Vado with its circular turret, just a few kilometres separate you from the cape of Leuca, also referred to as ‘De Finibus Terrae’. It is the strip of land that with its imposing lighthouse and sanctuary square marks the end of Puglia and peninsular Italy before the Mediterranean. According to some, this is where the currents of the Adriatic and Ionian seas mix, but geographers claim that this happens at Capo d’Otranto. What is the truth? Once you reach Santa Maria di Leuca, try to guess it!
↗ 250mt ↘ 240mt
gallipoli – leuca
DAY 12: LEUCA - OTRANTO
From now on we go up exploring the Adriatic side, always heading north! Open your eyes because today’s stage, although being the most challenging of the week, is one of the most unique in beauty that southern Puglia can offer you.
Today’s landscape is really different from previous days, with elevation ranging from tens to hundreds of meters above sea level, offering panoramic views from the very first kilometres. The route winds up and down, opening on one side to sea caves, natural harbours and coastal towers and on the other one to perched and lonely villages. There are numerous attractions along the way, beginning with the vertiginous canyon on the Ciolo bridge that opens from the hill to the sea. Immediately after there is the picturesque Port of Tricase, a strategic stop for a coffee “with a view,” and then the beautiful town of Santa Cesarea Terme. The route then continues after a climb of a couple of kilometres reaching a plateau from which it is possible to enjoy a wide and wonderful view of the inlets to the north. Catch your breath and take the ritual photo that celebrates the end of the “climb,” off down to Porto Badisco. A few kilometres further on, we reach the lighthouse of Punta Palascìa, which towers imposingly over the Adriatic and the Bay of Orte, marks the most easterly point in Italy. We continue for a short off-road detour that leads to one of the most evocative places on the east coast, Bauxite Bay, an almost lunar landscape more unique than rare. In a few hundred meters and resuming the paved road, you finally arrive at your destination. Otranto, the “pearl of the Mediterranean,” welcomes you with its majestic Aragonese Castle overlooking the harbor and its mighty walls embracing the ancient citadel.
↗ 660mt ↘ 650mt
DAY 13: OTRANTO LOOP
Today you can opt for a day off (perhaps relaxing in a facility or at the beach), or join this loop. It introduces you to the hinterland by passing through Grecìa Salentina, a linguistic island in the heart of Salento, where the inhabitants speak Griko, a dialect derived from ancient Greek due to a massive migration that occurred around the 11th century. You pass through the towns of Melpignano and Corigliano d’Otranto, which surprise you with palaces and castles of great beauty. The route then winds toward Maglie, whose historic center shows churches and aristocratic palaces, alternating with big brands in the shopping street! After a stop for a coffee and a pasticciotto break, we take the way back through the countryside of Giurdignano, exploring dolmens and menhirs widely spread here and megalithic relics of prehistory. They contribute to this town’s appellation as the “megalithic garden of Europe.” A compelling descent into the Valle dell’Idro among olive groves and caves brings you back to the heart of Otranto.
↗ 363mt ↘ 363mt
DAY 14: OTRANTO - LECCE
The final itinerary encapsulates the best Salento has to offer: sea and olive groves, history and Baroque architecture, small villages, vibrant colours and intense flavours. This is be the best goodbye ever! A few kilometres after leaving Otranto, going into the countryside among olive groves and lush pine forests, you pass by the Alimini Lakes, small lakes of brackish water and a hidden oasis for those who want to relax, far from the coastal chaos. Immediately after, you cycle back to the coast, reaching the cliffs between Baia Sant’Andrea and Torre dell’Orso, unspoiled paradises where nature manifests itself in all its beauty. The ride then resumes streamlined until you reach the “Cave of Poetry,”. It has been recognized by National Geographic as one of the 10 most beautiful natural pools in the world, where you are able to explore the natural caves and the adjoining archaeological park of Roca Vecchia, an important medieval settlement, frequented since the Bronze Age. You thus continue along the coast, passing the bustling seaside village of San Foca and soon reaching the Cesine Nature Reserve, a green area a few kilometres wide and accessible only to pedestrians and cyclists. Leaving the reserve from this point, the itinerary continues entirely inland, passing through the splendid fortified village of Acaya, once an outpost against enemy raids, now a village suspended in time.
From here, following a quiet rural road for about ten kilometres, you reach Lecce again, the perfect location to celebrate your last day in Puglia at its best. Enjoy it!
↗ 230mt ↘ 190mt
DAY 15: LECCE
After breakfast, end of services.