Puglia is a really family-friendly region of Italy, but it’s an area perhaps overlooked for family vacations in favour of sight-seeing.
However, the region has a lovely family-centric atmosphere; on Sundays, during the late afternoons and evenings, head into towns to enjoy the traditional passeggiata (evening stroll). It’s usually a social occasion as the cafes and restaurants re-open with children playing and music in main piazzas. You’ll also find plenty of opportunities in the form of day trips, excursions and family activities to spend some quality time together in this beautiful part of the world.
1) Head to the Zoo Safari
You’ll find this joint safari and theme park in Fasanolandia; a mix of rides and drive-through safari. You’ll encounter giraffes, tigers, lions, elephants and camels… before heading across to the theme park for waterslides, rollercoasters, theatrical shows and a Jurassic-Park-style interactive dinosaur show (minus the real-life dinosaurs, though).
2) Hunt for trulli
A world-famous UNESCO world heritage site, Alberobello is a popular destination for tourists — and you won’t be disappointed. You’ll find hundreds of cone-shaped trulli lining the streets, and can turn the day into a treasure hunt — many of the trulli still have mythological symbols painted on their roofs. Challenge yourselves to try and hunt down the most unusual symbols, or compile a list of family favourites.
3) Explore some caves
Puglia is a region where you really need to head underground — trust us. Near Bari, you’ll find the caves of Castellana Grotte, or head to Matera to explore the old cave-dwelling districts (the ‘Sassi’) which were still inhabited until the mid 20th Century. If you prefer your caves surrounded by the sea, head to Grotta della Poesia near Otranto or Zinzulusa caves in Salento; they make an idyllic location for swimming and water sports.
4) Go to Acquapark Egnazia
The largest waterpark in South Italy, this park is the perfect destination for kids of all ages (including the big ones). There are more waterslides than you could ever wish for, a giant wave pool, and a big lagoon-style pool. It makes a fun day out, and a great escape from the summer sun.
5) Get on a bike
Puglia is reasonably flat, which makes it ideal for a family bike ride. As with most of Italy, the countryside is wonderfully picturesque, and you’ll easily find a farm or olive grove open for lunch (and maybe a tasting or two).
6) Spend the day at the beach
The region has a simply incredible coastline, and even in the peak summer season the beaches can be surprisingly quiet. Head to Torre Canne, Pescoluse or Torre Guaceto.
7) Enjoy a culinary workshop
Orecchiete — ‘little ear’ — pasta is a local specialty, and you can learn to make it from scratch as part of a pasta making workshop. Alternatively, plump for a traditional pizza — a family-friendly favourite for kids of all ages. A fantastic hands-on experience, you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labour too; and you might just be able to persuade the kids to cook when you return home too…
Feeling inspired? Check out our family-friendly villas in Puglia >