If Italy is a boot, then Puglia is its heel. A foodie haven, the southern Italian region prospers from a coastal Mediterranean clime and iron-rich soil that contributes to the production of quintessential Italian ingredients such as olive oil, calabrian chilis, wine grapes, mozzarella cheese, and durum wheat that’s used to make classic Puglian pasta types including orecchiette.

The scenery in Puglia is as delicious as the cuisine. The region has more than 500 miles of coastline and houses a stunning array of seaside resorts and fishing villages. Picturesque whitewashed buildings overlook ancient churches, and Puglia’s countryside has hills that roll as far as the eye can see. From exploring ancient human settlements to swimming in secret grottoes, there’s always something magical to see in Puglia.

Frankly, that’s a lot of pressure. To help you figure out where to go in Puglia first, here are five unforgettable towns to prioritize.

@visit We sent @visit #CreatorInResidence @ameliastraveldiaries to explore the stunning Italian region of #Puglia 🇮🇹 From the breathtaking coastline to ancient ruins, here are 5 must-see places in Puglia you won't want to miss out on! #traveltok #italytok #italytravel #visititaly #travelitinerary ♬ original sound – Visit

Monopoli

Perched on the Adriatic Sea, Monopoli is a Puglian town of historic landmarks and archaeological treasures. Among the most important sites to see are the 12th-century Monopoli Cathedral, the 16th-century Castello Carlo V seaside fort, and the old port where red and blue “gozzo” boats dock between fishing trips. Later in the day, when the sun’s at its highest, there are several hidden coves and beach clubs where you can relax and enjoy the view.

Alberobello & Locorotondo

Slightly inland, Alberobello is a town composed of a unique form of architecture called trulli buildings. Trulli are traditional white stone houses with conical roofs. This type of building dates back centuries and led to the town’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Ten minutes southeast of Alberobello, Locorotondo has its own characteristic houses known as Le Cummerse, which are similarly whitewashed but have steeply sloping triangular roofs. Many of these traditional structures now operate as hotels. Locorotondo is also known for producing a specific white wine that’s been granted denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) status.

Polignano a Mare

Nicknamed the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Polignano a Mare is a magnet for beachgoers who flock to its pebbled shores. Lama Monachile is the most popular beach — and likely the most photogenic — with limestone cliffs on either side and vibrantly blue-green waters.

Ostuni

Yet another limestone town, Ostuni is sometimes called “the White City” for its impressively bright and cohesive color scheme. Whitewashed buildings trickle down the hillside on which the city sits, woven together by narrow alleys, arches, and stairways. Nearby, on the coast, save some time to explore the balmy waters and serene sand dunes of the Parco Naturale Regionale da Torre Canne e Torre S. Leonardo.

Trani

Trani is often called a hidden gem. Less touristy than some of the other towns in Puglia, Trani is a pretty town with interesting historic sites like Castello Svevo, a 12-century Swabian castle, and Trani Cathedral with its looming bell tower. To experience daily life in Trani, head to the bustling harbor to watch boats — both fishing vessels and yachts — sail in and out, then fill up at your pick of the many waterfront cafes, restaurants, and gelaterias.