Ostuni: Ultimate Travel Guide to the White City


Ostuni is one of the most popular destinations in Puglia, and it should be on your list if you want to explore the beauty of Itria Valley.

The name of the town comes from the ancient greek Αστυνέον (Astu néon), which mean “new town.” According to historians, the greeks rebuilt an earlier existing town, established in the pre-classic period, that Hannibal destroyed during the Punic Wars.

Since then, Ostuni was under the Romans, then the Ostrogoths and the Longobards, the Normans, Isabella D’Aragona and Bona Sforza, Duke Zevallos, and the Bourbons. Everyone has changed Ostuni in some way. So today, the town is like a colorful mosaic, full of many different elements that create a beautiful picture.

Ostuni is commonly known as the White Town due to the numerous whitewashed buildings in the historical city center. The main reason people painted their buildings with lime whitewash is that it helps disinfect the town. It was crucial in medieval times when the plague and other diseases killed many people.

Today, whitewashed buildings are more like decorations that attract thousands of tourists every year. But there is much more to do apart from just getting lost in the narrow streets of the old town of La Città Bianca. So let’s explore Ostuni together.

How to get to Ostuni

Ostuni is located in Itria Valley, in the province of Brindisi. You can quickly get to Ostuni by car if you are on a Puglia road trip. But you can get here by train or bus as well. The nearest airport is Aeroporto di Salento, located in Brindisi. There are many international flights, like from Frankfurt, Eindhoven, London, Geneva, Zurich, and Brussels. Most flights are operated by low-cost airlines like RyanAir, EasyJet, and WizzAir. To see all the connections visit the official website of Brindisi Airport.

By car

The state highways connect Ostuni with Brindisi on one side and Fasano and Bari on the other side. They are no tolls, and the maximum speed limit is 110 km/h (68 mph).

Like many other beautiful towns in Italy, Ostuni’s historical city center is a ZTL (Zona a Traffico Limitato) – an area where only cars with special permission are allowed. Usually, it’s only for the residents. So avoid driving inside the city. Luckily, Ostuni has several parking areas right outside the city center.

During my Puglia road trip, I visited Ostuni by car and left it on the nearest parking to the city center. There is a regular parking machine with standard city tariffs. What surprised me a lot, there is even a charging slot for eclectic cars!

Be careful with other parking areas that are “private.” They can be overpriced with a fixed price for the whole day, no matter how many hours you stay.

By train

If you choose to explore Puglia by train, you can quickly get to Ostuni from bigger cities like Bari, Lecce, Brindisi and smaller towns like Monopoli and Cisternino.

But please note that the train station is about 2,5 km (1,5 miles) away from the historic city center. Right at the exit from the train station, there is a bus stop from which the bus supposedly will bring you to the city center. To check the schedule and buy the tickets online, go to the official Trenitalia website.

By bus

You can also get to Ostuni by bus from Bari, Taranto, Fasano, and Brindisi. The bus stop of the Ferrovie del Sud-Est operator is on Via Pola, in front of a gas station. To check all the connections, schedules, and tickets, go to www.omio.com.

What to do and see

Go to Piazza della Libertà

Piazza della Libertà is the largest and the liveliest square in Ostuni. Take a seat in one of the cafes and contemplate life around.

Piazza della Liberta in Ostuni

The 20 meters high column of Sant’Oronzo stands on the square. In the 18th century, it was Sant’Oronzo who helped Ostuni survive during the plague.

Explore the Old Town

Take a ride on Piaggio Ape Calessino – a legendary three-wheel vehicle that looks like a bigger scooter and fits even up to 5 people!

Another way of exploring the old town is to take a guided tour. Remember that only a local licensed guide can give you a comprehensive understanding of art and history.

And if you prefer exploring new cities by yourself, the best way to feel Ostuni is to get lost in its winding streets. Don’t worry, as the Old Town is relatively small and very safe. Don’t forget to count how many cats you’ve seen on your way. They are everywhere and look very photogenic on the white walls of Ostuni.

Visit the Cathedral

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption has a very unusual Gothic-Romanesque-Byzantine facade. It was built here in 1228-1229, but the earthquake partially destroyed the Cathedral. So in 1469-1495, it was rebuilt in a Gothic style. Also, in the 15th century, a magnificent rose window appeared on the Cathedral’s facade.

The interior of the Cathedral is quite simple, with massive columns separation the three naves. On the ceiling, there are beautiful paintings of The Martyrdom of St. Biagio, Jesus Healing a Paralytic at the Pool, and The Preaching of St. Horace.

Go through the Arco Scoppa

Arco Scoppa is located right in front of the Cathedral, and it connects the two buildings: Bishop’s Palace (Palazzo Vascoville) and the Seminary Palace (Palazzo del Seminario). Once it was made of wood, but with time people felt insecure to use this passage. So in 1750, the cardinal Scoppa transformed the arch into stone.

Take a walk along Ostuni’s wall

After exploring the historical city center, you can walk along Ostuni’s city wall to enjoy the view of the Adriatic sea and the olive grooves. There used to be four entrance gates to the city: Porta Nova, Porta San Demetrio, Porta San Francesco, Porta del Ponte, but only the first two are still there today.

Enjoy the view of the old town

The most iconic view of the old town is from Piazzetta Martiri delle Foibe. It takes only a 10-15 min walk from the city center, and it’s worth it. Especially if you come during the sunset, the White town will look magical with the warm light and the pink sky.

Of course, driving around Ostuni you will see many beautiful views of the White Town. For example, the second picture I took from Chiesa della Madonna della Grata which is not far from the parking.

Saturday local market

The Saturday market takes place on Via Nino Sansone between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Here you’ll experience local life, and maybe find something for yourself. The market offers not only food but also clothes, shoes, accessories, and home decor and furniture.

Where to eat

Borgo Antico Bistrot is a must-visit place for a sunset aperitivo. If you saw some pictures from Ostuni with a restaurant on the stairs with a view, it was this place.

Osteria Piazzetta Cattedrale is an excellent place for lunch and dinner at the very heart of Centro Storico, with a friendly atmosphere and good service. This place is included in a Micheline guide and is worth visiting.

Sax Risto Pub Pizzeria Pucceria is a charming palace with a beautiful terrace, tasty pizza, and Puccia – a traditional Apulian sandwich, an excellent option for a quick lunch.

Monna Lisa Caffe offers the best cocktails in town.

Where to stay

Ostuni is a popular tourist destination but not as popular as its neighbor Alberobello. Thus, the prices for accommodations should be a bit lower, which makes Ostuni a great base. It’s such a lively city, so I’d recommend staying in apartments right in the city center. But if you prefer a calm county life, choose a Masseria near the town.


Casa Vico Melles is a cozy apartment in the city center. It’s a lovely property made with attention to every detail in its design and equipment.

Dimore del TEMPO PERS0 Terrae Globus offers excellent accommodation in the historical city center of Ostuni. It’s a cozy and quiet apartment with a rooftop balcony to enjoy your morning coffee.

White Dream is a stylish apartment with some hidden gems like a rooftop terrace and jacuzzi. It will add to your experience of Ostuni.


La Sommità Relais & Chateaux 5* is a luxury hotel right at the heart of the Old Town, but with a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, chill-out areas, a swimming pool, and an internal courtyard. Some of the rooms have a lovely sea view and a balcony.

Hotel La Terra 4* is a beautiful newly renovated hotel located in the 13th-century building in the historic city center of Ostuni. Some rooms have a nice city view, and others have a balcony with a sea view.

OSTUNI PALACE – Hotel Bistrot & SPA 4* is an elegant hotel outside the historic city center, but with a fantastic view of the old town. The hotel has private parking, which is useful when you’re on a road trip.


Masseria Dagilupi was an olive oil production, remodeled now with attention to every detail. The hosts Danielle and Jean Louis, who speak German, English, French, and Italian, will make your experience here unforgettable.

Masseria Spetterrata is located on top of a hill and offers a beautiful sea view from its terraces and a swimming pool. The property is between Ostuni and Locorotondo, so it’s easy to reach all the highlights of Puglia.

Masseria Spesseto is a beautiful place located in the middle of the olive groves, as a true Apulian Masseria should do. A traditional Apulian homemade breakfast will add to your experience.

Beaches near Ostuni

From Torre Canne down to Torre San Leonardo, there is a long sandy beach with lots of lidos, beach clubs with bars, and restaurants. One of my favorite places for a quick lunch in Torre Canne is La Baia that offers sandwiches with fried octopus or fried fish.

Spiagge della Costa Merlata are the closest beaches to Ostuni. There are several small sandy beaches between rocky cliffs. They are free with no sunbeds and parasols to rent. There are also no bars or restaurants in the area.

Places to visit near Ostuni

Ostuni is a beautiful town, one of the most beautiful of the Itria Valley. But you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit other places near Ostuni, especially if you have a car.


This little town is much smaller than Ostuni, with no particular must-see attraction but a lovely atmosphere and breathtaking views of the Itria Valley. I always visit these two towns on the same day when I’m on a road trip to Puglia.

No direct trains or buses are going from Ostuni to Locorotondo. But if you travel in a car, don’t miss a chance to go to Locorotondo, as it’s only about 30 minutes drive from Ostuni.


Alberobello is a must-visit town in Itria Valley, the most popular destination in Puglia, and one of Italy’s most unusual and magical towns. You need to plan your visit accurately to Alberobello to arrive as early as possible to avoid crowds. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy it. The town is famous for the biggest concentration of cone-shaped houses called Trulli. Read more about it in my guide to Alberobello (coming soon).

Surprisingly,  there is no direct train or bus between the two most famous towns of Puglia, so it’s hard to visit them both on the same day without a car. But you can’t miss any of them! So please read my article on how to travel in Puglia without a car (coming soon).

Martina Franca

Martina Franca is another little town of Itria Valley that usually doesn’t appear on must-visit lists, which is a big mistake! This little town has a special place in my heart because of its beauty and unique, inspiring atmosphere. Also, because it’s less touristy and less expensive to stay in, Martina Franca is an excellent base for your Puglia trip.

There are no direct trains from Ostuni to Martina Franca, but there is a bus. It’s even more convenient because the bus stop is not far from the city center. You can check all the available bus connections on www.omio.com.

Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare is a beautiful Apulian town by the sea known for its beach Lama Monachile, probably the most famous beach in Italy. But there is much more to see! Please read about this beautiful town in my guide to Polignano a Mare (coming soon).

There are a couple of direct intercity trains a day that connect Ostuni and Polignano a Mare. The trip will take about 30 minutes. To check the schedule and buy the tickets online, visit the official Trenitalia website.


Another lovely town by the sea that should be on your list is Monopoli. You will fall in love with its winding streets, churches, old port, and castle. Read my guide to Monopoli (coming soon) to find out more.

You can reach Monopoli by direct train from Ostuni in only 20 minutes. To check the schedule and buy the tickets online, visit the official Trenitalia website.

Ostuni Map

As always, I prepared a map with all the places I’ve mentioned in this article. I hope this helps you plan a trip to Ostuni. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask me in the comments below.

Jana J.
Italy Travel Expert
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