While much of Puglia is best explored by car, the 200 kilometer section of Puglia’s coast from Trani to Lecce can easily be visited by train as you will see in this coast train trip itinerary. Many of the cities and towns along the sea have medieval historic centers and Romanesque monuments. Most coast towns have beaches that can be accessed easily as well. Taking the train is often easier than driving in towns and finding a place to park.
The city of Bari makes a good starting point for exploring the Puglia coast. Bari has an airport and it’s a major stop on the coast train line so it’s easy to get there on a fast train. You can use Bari as a base for day trips to other coast towns along the rail line. But if you don’t want to be in a big city, stay in one of the smaller towns. Each of these towns has good lodging options.
Bari is a historic city with an interesting old town center, a major shopping street that’s pedestrian-only, a seaside promenade, a harbor, and plenty of good restaurants and nightlife. For a good overview of the city’s highlights,take a historic Bari walking tour.
Going northwest from Bari along the rail line the first town to visit is Giovinazzo. Because it’s a great place to get a taste of local life, it makes a good base. If you’re staying for a few days, stay in a vacation apartment in the former Duke’s Palace.
Continuing northwest, visit Molfetta and Bisceglie, each with a small but interesting historic center, good cathedral, and Romanesque churches.
A little farther up the coast, Barletta is known for the Colossus of Barletta, a bronze statue from the Roman era. Its 10th century castle houses a museum and its cathedral has layers of history, built on top of each other.
Along the Puglia coast to the southeast of Bari, Mola di Bari is a lively town with a great fish market. Polignano a Mare is a striking town built atop a cliff overlooking the sea with a picturesque historic center, a restaurant and hotel in a cave in the cliff, and a good beach below. Monopoli is another town worth a visit along this part of the coast with a picturesque old port area, castle, and beach.
Continuing to the end of the Puglia coast rail line, you reach the city of Lecce, known for its Baroque architecture. Lecce is the start of the Salento Peninsula. From Lecce or Bari, take a day trip by train on the Trains of the Southeast to see the trulli of Alberobello or other inland towns.