Are you looking for the best things to do in Ostuni? I’ve got you covered!
Ostuni, affectionately known as the ‘White City’, is a treasure located in the heart of Southern Italy, in the Province of Brindisi.
In this travel guide, I invite you to explore Ostuni, Puglia, and discover the best things to do in this incredible this city!
Throughout this article, you will find suggestions on what to see and do in Ostuni, guidance on the best neighborhood to stay and essential information for planning your visit.
I also answer visitors’ most frequently asked questions, such as how to get there, how much time to spend in the city and when is the best time to visit.
Plus, I uncover the intriguing reason behind the nickname ‘White City’ and reveal whether there are paradisiacal beaches nearby.
Get ready for a unique and exciting journey as we explore the charms of Ostuni together.
Best Things To Do in Ostuni
Exploring the Historic Center of Ostuni
A visit to Ostuni’s historic center is an absolute must!
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the imposing Colonna di Sant’Oronzo, erected in 1771, which serves as the perfect starting point for your exploration of this enchanting place.
As you wander through its winding streets, you’ll encounter the Scoppa Arch.
Originally constructed in wood and later rebuilt in stone following its destruction in 1750, it’s said that Bishop Scoppa sponsored this restoration to create a direct passage between the cathedral and his residence, eliminating the need to cross the street.
Make sure to step inside the Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta, a remarkable church distinguished by its grand architecture. Entry is free, so don’t miss the opportunity to explore its interior.
Another essential stop is the Museum of Pre-Classical Civilizations of Southern Murgia, also known as the Museo Civico di Ostuni.
While navigating the historic center, savor the views and immerse yourself in the charming ambiance of its narrow streets.
Local shops are brimming with souvenirs, crafts, high-quality olive oil, and regional wines.
Take your time to appreciate every detail, and if you can, indulge in a meal at one of the local restaurants, where you can savor authentic Puglian cuisine.
Discover the History and Legend of Sant’Oronzo
Saint Orontius, also known as Sant’Oronzo, holds the revered position of patron saint in both Ostuni and Lecce.
According to the legend, an intriguing tale unfolds. One day, Oronzo was riding along the seashore with his uncle, Fortunatus when they stumbled upon the wreckage of a recent ship. This vessel had belonged to Justus, a disciple of Saint Paul, who was en route to Rome but met his fate in a shipwreck off the Salento coast.
Oronzo and Fortunatus heroically rescued Justus, who, in gratitude, shared the teachings of Jesus with them. Touched by his words, Oronzo and Fortunatus converted to Christianity and embarked on their mission of spreading the faith.
However, their newfound beliefs led to persecution, and they were eventually captured, imprisoned, and tragically beheaded for their unwavering commitment to Christianity.
It’s even said that the head of Saint Orontius resides in the Duomo of Lecce, a testament to their enduring legacy
Indulge in Gelato at Gelateria Borgo Antico
Italian ice cream is renowned across the country, but when you’re in the White City, the ultimate destination is Gelateria Borgo Antico, conveniently located right next to the Scoppa Arch.
What sets this gelato shop apart is its ever-changing array of flavors throughout the year, ensuring there’s always something new to discover.
Moreover, Gelateria Borgo Antico offers more than just gelato.
You can also savor a Pugliese pasticciotto or opt for a platter featuring cheeses, sausages, and traditional Taralli biscuits.
Where to Stay: Accommodation Recommendations
While it’s possible to explore the city in just one day, I highly recommend staying in the city center, and here’s why.
Ostuni is incredibly popular with tourists who flock to other cities during the day, leaving the center quieter and mostly populated by locals in the evenings. This makes strolling through the center after dinner a much more pleasant experience with fewer crowds.
Moreover, the warm yellowish lights contrasting against the white facades of the houses create a mesmerizing ambiance, making Ostuni even more charming. It’s an experience worth savoring!
If I’ve convinced you to stay overnight, I recommend choosing accommodations in the city center. Consider the luxurious Dama Bianca Boutique Hotel Ostuni, which offers Deluxe Suites with Jacuzzis on the terrace, or experience royal treatment at Palazzo Rodio.
If none of these options pique your interest, feel free to explore the map and link below to discover accommodations that best suit your preferences.
Frequently asked questions about Ostuni
Is Ostuni Worth Visiting?
Absolutely, Ostuni is a city that should not be missed!
As previously mentioned, Ostuni is often referred to as the “White City” due to its characteristic whitewashed buildings that stand out against the azure Mediterranean sky.
With its stunning architectural beauty, featuring winding streets adorned with white houses and historic churches, combined with a magnificent gastronomy scene offering traditional Puglian dishes, there’s no doubt that Ostuni is an essential destination.
Furthermore, Ostuni’s proximity to some of Southern Italy’s most beautiful beaches makes it an ideal hub for sun and sea enthusiasts.
In addition to its natural beauty, Ostuni boasts a rich cultural heritage, hosting events and festivals throughout the year and featuring historical sites waiting to be explored.
Which to Visit: Ostuni, Locorotondo, or Martina Franca?
Choosing between these charming cities can be challenging, as each possesses its own unique appeal.
To assist you, especially if you have limited time to explore, consider that Ostuni is larger than Locorotondo but smaller than Martina Franca.
With that in mind, my recommendation would be to prioritize visits to Ostuni and Martina Franca.
How to Reach Ostuni?
Traveling by car is the most convenient way to explore Italy, but if you prefer not to drive, taking a bus is a viable option.
Here are the approximate distances and travel times from various Italian cities to Ostuni:
- From Bari: 83 km, 1 hour.
- From Lecce: 75 km, 55 minutes.
- From Alberobello: 45 km, 35 minutes.
- From Naples: 340 km, 3 hours and 30 minutes.
How Long Should You Stay in Ostuni?
A full day is sufficient to explore the main tourist attractions of Ostuni.
However, if you wish to indulge in the nearby beaches and relish the evening when the crowds have subsided, consider staying in the city for two or three days.
This will grant you the opportunity to experience the historic center when it’s quieter and more tranquil. In summary, I recommend a two to three-day stay in Ostuni, Puglia.
What’s the Best Way to Explore Ostuni’s Historic Center?
In my opinion, the best way to explore Ostuni’s historic center is on foot.
The area isn’t extensive, making it ideal for leisurely walks that allow you to discover its charming corners step by step.
However, if you’re feeling tired or prefer not to walk, you’ll often find tuk-tuks available, and they’re quite popular among visitors.
Although they can be a bit noisy, they serve as a convenient alternative, particularly if you’re short on time or face mobility challenges.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Ostuni?
Ostuni is a year-round destination with something to offer every month. However, there are some factors to consider.
For instance, during rainy periods, the historic center’s stone stairs can become slippery.
If you’re looking to enjoy the region’s less crowded beaches, the summer months are the ideal time to explore Puglia.
Additionally, one of Ostuni’s major festivals, the Calvacata de Sant’Oronzo, typically takes place at the end of August (in 2023, it occurred on the 25th, 26th, and 27th of August).
I visited Ostuni in June and had an excellent experience with pleasant weather and manageable crowds, making it easier to explore the city’s attractions.
Why Is Ostuni Known as the White City?
The nickname ‘White City’ has deep historical roots in Ostuni.
It originates from a centuries-old tradition in which the residents of Ostuni are obligated to paint their houses white every year.
This tradition can be traced back to the 17th century when a devastating plague swept through the region.
To combat the outbreak, the locals believed that disinfecting the walls of their houses was essential.
As a result, they began whitewashing their homes, which led to the city’s enduring moniker, the ‘White City.’
Are There Beaches Near Ostuni?
Ostuni enjoys a strategic coastal location, allowing visitors to combine a beach day with exploring the city. Here are some nearby beaches:
- Spiaggia di Quarto di Monte: This sandy beach is approximately 10 km from Ostuni, a short 15-minute drive.
- Spiaggia di Torre Pozzelle: Located just 11 km from Ostuni, this beach offers rocky shores and is reachable in about 10 minutes by car.
- Spiaggia di Lamaforca: Another rocky beach, it is situated around 10 km from Ostuni, approximately 15 minutes by car.
These are just a few options, as there are more beautiful beaches to discover in the Ostuni region.
Notably, the beaches in Ostuni generally offer more space, some with sandy shores, making them a favorable choice for visitors.
Exploring Nearby Attractions in Ostuni
Ostuni is surrounded by an array of captivating attractions waiting to be explored.
Consider a visit to Alberobello, renowned for its enchanting trulli, which have earned it UNESCO World Heritage status. It’s just 35 km away.
Immerse yourself in the charming villages of Valle d’Itria, including Locorotondo, Cisternino, and Martina Franca.
For nature enthusiasts, the Parco Naturale Regionale Terra delle Gravine offers a delightful retreat, allowing you to connect with the region’s natural beauty.
*I traveled to Puglia at the invitation of Puglia Promozione as part of a press tour that included international journalists and travel bloggers.
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