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The Gargano Peninsula is an area of northern Puglia that differs from the rest of the region in that it is mountainous, with forests inland and magnificent beaches hidden within bays protected by high cliffs. In the Gargano there are some of the best things to see in Puglia! Here is our list of the best places to visit in Puglia on this amazing peninsula, from the caves and beaches on the coast to the hinterland and the small villages of this peninsula!

Gargano National Park: a must see in Puglia!

Located in the northern part of the region, the Gargano peninsula is a wild area where long white sandy beaches, typical of the southern part of the region, are replaced by coves surrounded by cliffs covered in rich green vegetation.

From coves to sea caves, and from small villages to the Umbra Forest, the this region offers a wide variety of places to explore and it’s a must see in Puglia. This peninsula is perfect for an active vacation, allowing you to discover the entire coast and hinterland.

The list of places to see in Gargano National Park is diverse, including hidden beaches and coves along the coast, sea caves, the rich hinterland with masserias, the Foresta Umbra, villages, and trabucchi overlooking the sea. We went to visit Gargano peninsula twice and in this article we offer you our list of the places to visit in Puglia, in the north, to discover all the wonders that are absolutely worth your visit!

Must see in Puglia: Vieste

Vieste is one of the beautiful towns along the coast of this beautiful peninsula and is absolutely one of the best places to visit in Puglia on the Gargano.

The historic center of Vieste is located on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea and is a succession of alleys surrounded by small white stone buildings, where you can find many typical stores, clubs and restaurants.
Along the historic center of Vieste you can find small squares on terraces overlooking the sea, where many clubs and restaurants offer outdoor tables for dining under the stars.

The most famous places in Vieste are:

  • the famous stairway of love, consisting of many white steps painted with red hearts and verses of poems inspired by love;
  • the Pizzomunno, a huge monolith that stands on the beach at the foot of the town;
  • the San Francesco point, the end of the peninsula on which the historic center of Vieste is located and from which you can admire the beautiful view of the sea;
  • the port area, where there are various clubs and restaurants, as well as the embarkation for the Tremiti Islands.

Vieste is one of the most famous towns in this area and one of the must see in Puglia!

Parco Nazionale del Gargano cosa vedere - vista su Vieste - Visit Gargano

One of the best places to see in Puglia: Vieste

Visit Gargano Caves

This peninsula and, in particular, the stretch of coastline stretching from Mattinata to Vieste, is full of ravines and sea caves to discover, an alternative way to visit Gargano.

Riding your kayak or stand-up paddleboard you can set off on a journey within a journey, discovering these caves, which can only be reached by sea and, for the most part, are accessible only by small craft and not by boat.

There are about twenty caves on the coast and they have been discovered since the mid-1900s, when this area was still unknown to large crowds of tourists.
Among the most famous sea caves in the coast of the peninsula to see are Grotta Sfondata Grande, Grotta Sfondata Piccola, Grotta dei due Occhi, Grotta della Campana grande, and Grotta del Purgatorio. If you want to learn more about the magnificent caves of the Gargano and how to reach them, we recommend reading the article below.

Parco Nazionale del Gargano cosa vedere - Grotta dei due occhi nel Gargano - Visit Gargano

The Grotta dei Due Occhi

Parco Nazionale del Gargano cosa vedere - Grotta sfondata nel Gargano - Visit Gargano

The Grotta Sfondata

Parco Nazionale del Gargano cosa vedere - La Grotta della Campana Grande nel Gargano - Visit Gargano

The Grotta della Campana Grande

One of the best things to see in Puglia inland: Foresta Umbra

The Foresta Umbra is a nature reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the hinterland of the Gargano National Park, with the characteristics of a typical mountain environment and vegetation so dense and lush that it is shady, and to which it owes its name. The flora and fauna found in the Umbra Forest are extremely varied, and the trees reach considerable size.

The Foresta Umbra is one of the things to see in Puglia inland!

At the Visitor Center you can find maps with trekking trails to explore this area and enter the fir and pine forests, starting from the Falascone Umbra Pond. A great alternative for visiting the Umbra Forest is to rent a mountain bike and follow one of the designated trails.
If you feel like taking a break from the beautiful beaches of the Gargano coast, the Umbra Forest is the place for you!

The best places to visit in Puglia: the beaches and the coves of Gargano

The Gargano peninsula is a very wild area, where each beach is different from the others and has unique characteristics: some are easily accessible and well served by parking lots, while others are small paradises hidden in the cliffs and reachable only by sea or after a long walk on paths winding through the vegetation. Certainly, among the best places to visit in Puglia there are the beaches and the coves of this amazing peninsula, each one different from the others.

In general, the beaches found in the stretch of coastline between Vieste and Mattinata are wilder, harder to reach, more set in the cliffs and mostly pebbles. In contrast, the beaches north of Vieste are sandy, more accessible and serviced.

In our personal opinion, the most beautiful and fascinating beaches are the former, precisely because of their evocative and wild atmosphere but, the others definitely offer unquestionable advantages if you are looking for equipped and easily accessible beaches or if you have children in tow.

Among the most beautiful beaches on the coast of the peninsula are:

  • Baia delle Zagare, or Baia dei Mergoli: a long white pebble beach topped by a high cliff, famous for the stacks that emerge from the sea;
  • Cala della Sanguinara: a tiny cove that lies within a long, narrow inlet surrounded by vegetation;
  • Portogreco Beach: a small pebble bay protected by the cliff and surrounded by vegetation;
  • Vignanotica Beach: a beautiful beach surrounded by the white cliff overlooking the sea.

In addition to these beaches there are many others and we recommend that you stay connected with us because we will soon publish an article on the beautiful beaches of this peninsula located in the north of Puglia.

Visit Gargano and discover wine and food tradition: the “Masserie”

Masserie are small clusters of rural buildings, usually made of stone, typical of southern Italy, found mainly in Sicily, Apulia and Campania. They owe their name to the term “massaio” or farmer, the owner and conductor of the farm.

In recent years these buildings have been recovered from the state of abandonment in which most of them were in, in order to create activities such as farms, bed and breakfasts or even small luxury relais, with the further aim of safeguarding this important historical heritage of our country.

In Puglia there are several masserie, especially in the hinterland, and in order to visit Gargano and learn more about its food and wine tradition, it is essential to visit a masseria, perhaps taking the opportunity to enjoy an excellent lunch or dinner based on local gastronomic products.

We would like to point out Masseria San Salvatore, located inland amidst hills covered with olive groves where farming is still carried out and where you can also buy locally produced oil. Here an exceptional dinner is offered with a multi-course tasting menu, based on typical and km 0 products. In addition to this, the courtesy of the owners is incredible, and if you have a chance to chat with them, you will understand the love and dedication they have for their land and territory.

Things to see in Puglia coast: the “trabucchi”

Trabucchi are typical wooden constructions, located along the coast, from which it was possible to fish through large nets that were lowered into the sea and pulled up intercepting schools of fish.

Along the coast of the peninsula there are several trabucchi that are now abandoned (but still the subject of many photos), others that are still in use, and still others that have been used as restaurants, while also maintaining their fishing function. These are extremely fascinating places where the seafood cuisine is excellent, which is why the trabucchi are part of our list of the best places to visit in Puglia.

We recommend Trabucco da Mimì, an excellent restaurant with a trebuchet still in operation, from which you can admire an exceptional view at sunset while sipping an aperitif, and Trabucco Monte Pucci, located near Peschici.

Parco Nazionale del Gargano cosa vedere - trabucco sul mare al tramonto nel Gargano - Visit Gargano

Trabucco da Mimì at the sunset

The mot romantic village: Vico del Gargano

Vico del Gargano is part of the list of Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages and it is a must see in Puglia. This charming village is located inland on the peninsula near the Umbra Forest, on the top of a hill, from which you can admire the beautiful panorama that stretches as far as the eye can see over the olive and citrus groves that cover this area.

It is the land of love, so much so that the patron saint of Vico is celebrated on February 14 and is St. Valentine.

The historic center of Vico is a succession of small alleys surrounded by small stone houses starting with the Norman Swabian Aragonese Castle.
We recommend that you stop and ask for information and the very useful map for exploring Vico at the Trappeto Maratea Museum or the Vico del Gargano Pro Loco office.
The Trappeto Maratea Museum is an exhibition space where all the ancient tools and machinery for olive harvesting and oil production are on display, and it was built inside an original mill carved out of the rock.

In Vico del Gargano is the famous Vicolo del bacio, a very narrow alley to which it owes its name: couples who passed through it had to stand so close to the point of kissing and, for this reason, it is one of the most famous lovers’ alleys.

We point you to a restaurant in Vico where we had the pleasure of enjoying an excellent lunch with panoramic views of the surrounding olive groves, cheered by the tales of the charismatic owner, passionate about theater and acting: the Orto del Conte.

The most unique of places to visit on the Gargano: Peschici

The wonderful village of Peschici is definitely one of the best places to visit in Puglia. The origins of the town of Peschici date back to the Middle Ages, traces of which remain in the walls and towers, which are still partially present.
The historic center of Peschici is smaller in size than that of Vieste, but it is just as evocative and fascinating, to the point that in some small alleys it seems that time has stopped.

One can discover small corners hidden among the small houses that line the narrow streets where there are some very special places, such as a house where the environment where fishing families lived has been recreated. The historic center of Peschici is closed on the coast by the Castle of Peschici, where you can arrive to admire the view.

A very curious feature of this town and what makes it special is that, thanks to its location, during the summer solstice period you can see both sunrise and sunset over the sea. 

Parco Nazionale del Gargano cosa vedere - il vicolo del bacio a Vico del Gargano - Visit Gargano

The Vicolo del bacio in Vico del Gargano

Parco Nazionale del Gargano cosa vedere - i vicoli di Peschici - Visit Gargano

Peschici alleys

In this article we tried to tell you which are the best things to see in Puglia and presented you with our list of the most beautiful places in Gargano. As you may have read, this peninsula has a wide variety of places to discover, from the coast to the hinterland. A vacation in the Gargano can offer you a well-rounded experience, and if you are interested in discovering more, we will soon give you an itinerary idea that you could follow to visit all these magnificent places.

Stay connected with us via the newsletter and social channels, but most importantly…trip to try!

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