Looking to visit Ostuni, Italy? Here are all the best things to do in Ostuni, for the perfect stay in Puglia’s White City.
Ostuni, Italy is one of the most beautiful spots in Puglia. Perched on a hilltop and surrounded by oceans of olive trees, you’ll no doubt see Ostuni, Italy long before you arrive.
Famous for its white-washed buildings and labyrinth alleyways that snake across the historic center, Ostuni or the ‘White City’ (La Città Bianca) is the place to just lose yourself.
It’s for those that are looking to slow down, stroll, and peer and those looking for simple, quintessential Italian moments.
The beauty of the white city lies in being open to finding your own, personalized experience, through wandering around and being present with what you might come across.
Having said that, however, Ostuni Italy does still have some pretty great things to do. From visiting the historic cathedral to visiting the squares and palaces and even doing a few local tours, there’s plenty here to fill your time.
*This ‘things to do in Ostuni Italy’ post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top-quality content for free.
How to Get to Ostuni Italy
You’ll probably be visiting Ostuni from other, nearby Puglian towns or you’ll have driven in as part of your Puglia road trip itinerary. Either way getting to Ostuni Italy is fairly easy.
By car – Ostuni is located 52 miles southeast of Bari in the Itria Valley and takes about 70 minutes to drive. The drive could not be easier however you’ll want to use a GPS or Google Maps to better guide you.
If you want to get the most out of the area I highly recommend renting a car for total flexibility. I always use Auto Europe to rent a car in Italy. They have some of the best rates, especially in the summer high season. Find a rental car with Auto Europe here.
Once in Ostuni Italy, you’ll need to find parking outside of the ZTL (Limited Traffic Zone) which limits unauthorised traffic from passing through the historic center.
The signs will tell you at which times you can pass through but I’d avoid it altogether as the fines are pretty nasty and the streets are hair-raisingly narrow.
We parked here and the location couldn’t have been better- parking here is also free before 9 am.
By Train – Another way to reach Ostuni from Bari is by train. There are regular departures early in the morning and in the afternoon. The trip takes between 40-55 minutes depending on the train you take.
Ostuni is also easily reachable by train from Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, and Cisternino. It’s a little more complicated from Martina Franca, Alberobello and Locorotondo from where it’s easier to take a local bus.
Make sure to also note that Ostuni’s train station is a 30-minute walk from town. It’s not a pedestrian-friendly walk along the side of the highways so I don’t recommend walking.
There are limited taxis and buses available instead.
A good idea is to check the Tren Italia website here to plan your trip and buy tickets.
There are also some local bus options from nearby towns but in general public transport isn’t that great in Puglia and I encourage you to hire a car if you can.
Top Things to Do in Ostuni Italy
Explore the ‘Centro Storico’ in Ostuni Italy
The historic center of Ostuni is a maze of narrow, stone alleyways, stairways leading to no-one-really-knows-where and viewpoints providing gorgeous views of the Itria Valley all the way to the sea.
The center begs to be explored and it’s so easy to get lost in these labyrinth streets, but, that’s quite the point.
Exploring the streets, peeking into doorways and around corners, and taking turn after turn is part of the beauty of La Città Bianca and is one of the best things to do in Ostuni.
You’ll soon find vibrant boutiques to head into or a terrace that’s perfect for grabbing a quick espresso before continuing.
Ostuni also has many white arches connecting the streets together and while you can’t walk over them, make sure to look up every once and a while.
Walk the Fortified City Walls
Around many points encompassing the historic center, you’ll find the old fortified city walls of Ostuni.
While exploring you’ll most certainly be drawn downwards towards the outer walls that kept out invaders for so many years in the past.
The walls have some of the best views you can find in the city of the surrounding northern countryside and the coast.
On a clear day, you can see the sea from here and this is also one of the best spots in the city for sunrise. There are one or two cafes on the walls – perfect for grabbing a coffee and admiring the gorgeous view for a while.
Visit Ostuni Cathedral
Sitting proudly at the top of the hill is Ostuni’s Duomo, Santa Maria Assunta, a 15th-century gothic cathedral whose first origins date back to 1000. It was rebuilt in the 15th Century in the Gothic style after an earthquake in 1456 damaged it.
The facade is fairly minimal, yet beautiful.
All focus is on the stunning rose window in the center but you’ll really have to go inside to admire the ceiling frescos, dramatic altar and a number of significant artworks in its side chapels.
Shop for Local Produce at the Saturday Market
If you’re a foodie or an Italian gastronomy lover and you happen to be in Ostuni on a Saturday you’ll need to get yourself down to the Saturday Market.
Located towards the outskirts of town on Via Nino Sansone, it’s here that you can wander around and have a more local experience.
You’ll find a lot of second-hand clothing here as well as random knick-knacks but the best part is all the local, fresh produce.
Walking around you can learn more about Italian produce, local flavors, and products as well as buy some regional snacks to take home.
You’ll be able to try some fresh bread, cured meats, and local cheese but my advice is to go for the fresh Puglian olives.
If you’re staying in an Airbnb and self-catering then a visit here is a must to pick up some local olives, sundried tomatoes, and bread for an impromptu aperitivo. Note that the market closes at 1 pm so it’s best to go early.
Relax on the Piazza della Libertà
Ostuni’s main square Piazza della Libertà is a beautiful space to stroll through or relax on for a while.
You’ll find a number of restaurants and bars whose terraces spill out onto the piazza, the Colonna di Sant’Oronzo, an 18th Century monument to Ostuni’s Saint as well as the grandiose Palazzo Municipale.
There really is nothing more quintessentially Italian than enjoying this spacious Piazza, probably one of the most beautiful in Puglia.
In the evening the square fills with locals and tourists alike, enjoying the warm evening and sipping wine or spritz. You might also be able to catch some local street performers or musicians.
Visit Ostuni’s Palaces
Ostuni Italy has a few noteworthy palaces or palazzos worthy of a glance as you explore. Their Baroque or neo-classical facades add grandeur and elegance to the focal points of the White City.
In the Piazza della Libertà, you’ll find the Palazzo Municipale which started out as a convent back in the 12th Century.
The palace has seen numerous amounts of transformations and rebuilds over the years including a completely new Baroque facade. Today the palace functions as Ostuni’s town hall.
Two more palaces are located a little higher up on the Piazza Cattedrale- the same small square as the city’s cathedral.
On one side you’ll find the Palazzo Vescovile and opposite Palazzo del Seminario. The two are joined together by an arched loggia which is quite elaborately decorated from the outside.
Right next door you’ll also find the Museo Diocesano di Ostuni which has some pretty interesting artefacts from the local area.
Spend Some Time Eating
It’s no lie that Ostuni has some of the best restaurants in Puglia so you’re going to want to assign some quality time and stomach space for gorging on some deliciousness. We ate some of the best food of our whole trip here.
There’s also a real variety of food in Ostuni compared with other small Puglian towns.
Here you’ll be able to find fine dining as well as local trattorias, traditional Puglian fare as well as more creative Italian cuisine. There’s amazing antipasti, pizza, gelato, sandwich joints, scenic spots for Aperol, and the list goes on.
Like most spots in Puglia, there aren’t many exclusive vegetarian or plant-based restaurants but Ostuni is qu