Gargano Puglia: a beautiful and wild region for you to visit in South Italy

Aerial view of Italian city surrounded by the sea at sunset
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Every time we hear people talking about the region of Puglia, we normally hear about the south part. However, there is a hidden gem where people don’t visit as often as other parts of Italy, and that’s the Gargano Puglia, a beautiful and wild region in the North Puglia.

Gargano map – where is Gargano Puglia

First, where is Gargano in the map? Gargano is the part jutting out of the region of Puglia. So, if Puglia is the heel of the boot, the Gargano is the spur of the boot. The whole region is basically the Gargano National Park, one of the largest in Italy. This is, in fact, what gives the place an exceptional beautiful look, with plenty of paradisaical beaches, wonderful sights and many super charming historic towns.

Map of Gargano in Italy

What we liked the most about the Gargano region in Puglia is how preserved the whole environment is. It’s rather wild and original, mostly because its access and infrastructure are not so easy. After a week cycling all around the Gargano Puglia – and having many friends from the region as well – we tell you here all the info you need to better know the region, such as the most beautiful beaches in the Gargano, the cities you cannot miss, the local dishes you should try and much more!

*In here, we will talk specifically about the Gargano region. If you would rather read a complete guide about Puglia, read this post!

Best way to travel in Gargano

Two bikes alone next to each other with an attached trolley carrying a large yellow bag and a flag written Monday Feelings on top of a cliff overseeing the sea
Our way of transportation around the Gargano

As we have said in other posts about Puglia, Italy, car is the best way to travel around there. The public transport in South Italy is rather deficient and in addition, the Gargano’s roads are quite hilly and rough. We travelled over there by bike and, although it’s completely possible (we are alive, after all), we will not lie, the endless mountains make us ask for breaks every half-hour, really.

If you decide to go for for a road trip in the Gargano, you can look for a car with Rental Cars, a searching tool that will give you the best prices and deals. We always use them when travelling in Europe by car.

Cities to visit in Gargano Puglia

Vieste

Aerial view of Italian city surrounded by the sea at sunset
Vieste from above

The city of Vieste is an old fishing village by the Adriatic Sea. It has great beaches and a rather charming and lively historical city centre. Vieste is also one of the main cities of the Gargano. As it has better infrastructure than the other cities around, it may be a good place to base yourself on a trip in the region.

Vieste hotels: There is an enormous variety of B&B in Gargano, as well as hostels and hotels. There are also camping in Vieste, Gargano. To find the best hotel in Gargano Vieste, have a look here. We stayed in an awesome BnB called Il Giardino Stellato di Michella and we really recommend it.

What to do in Vieste

A large rock on the beach near the cliff at night
The Pizzomunno Rock
  • See the iconic Rock of Pizzomunno, the city symbol;
  • Walk around the historical city centre: in the morning to visit the monuments and in the afternoon for an apperitivo and to enjoy the bohemian side of the town;
  • Enjoy the beaches Long Lido and Pizzomunno Beach;
  • Visit the beautiful Tremiti Island – there are boat departing every day from Vieste Port;
  • And last but not least, the activity we liked the most: to do a yoga class in a historical trabuccho during sunset (if you don’t know what a trabuccho is, keep on reading). Have a look at this video to understand what we are talking about and why this is unique.
A overhead shot of people doing yoga on a trabuccho by the coast
Yoga class in a trabucco – what a unique experience

Peschici

Many houses from bottom to top of a cliff, all white and by the beach
Peschici old town

In Gargano, Peschici is another very charming fishing village. We were so mesmerised by the cosiness of this town that we nicknamed it “The Greece from Italy”, just to find out this nickname had already existed for it. Fair enough!

Peschici is village of white little houses scattered around between different mountains with one of the most beautiful historical city centres we have ever visited – that’s Peschici!

What to do in Peschici

A trabuccho by the rock and a large blue sea
Al Trabucco da Mimi Restaurant
  • Visit the Peschici Castle;
  • Walk around the historical city centre;
  • Go up in one of the viewpoints away from town to see the city from far away;
  • Visit the best restaurant in the region, the Al Trabucco da Mimi. This is a project of revitalisation of the historic trabucchi of the Gargano. The Trabucco da Mimi is famous amongst tourists and locals and has a delightful atmosphere, let alone the food. Don’t miss a visit to it, particularly during sunset while enjoying an apperitivo. You can have a look at their Instagram page to sense what awaits you over there.

If you want to find a place to stay in Peschici, look at these options here.

Mattinata

an overview of a beach with many tress and a rock arch on the water
The arch rock formation of the Baia dei Zagare

This is another of the Gargano’s town in Italy worth a visit. Besides its historical centre being very cute, the beaches and views around Mattinata are one of the most beautiful of the region.

What to do in Mattinata

The sun rising from the inside a tent showing our feet
Watching the sunrise from our tent in Mattinata
  • Climb up the Monte Sacro, the tallest mountain of the Gargano with almost 874 meters high;
  • Walk around the historical city centre;
  • Do a boat trip to get to know the most beautiful beaches and caves of the region.

Find a place to stay in Mattinata here.

Monte Sant’Angelo

It´s a little town visited mostly by pilgrims from everywhere because of its important sanctuary.

What to do in Monte Sant’Angelo

  • Visit the Santuario di San Michele, built in the name of the Archangel Michael, who has emerged and commanded the construction of a temple over his name during the V century. The place has been an important Christian pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages and is on the Unesco´s list of World Heritage Sites;
  • Visit the Sant’Angelo Castle that is not just an interesting visit, but also offers a great view to the whole vale;
  • Walk around the historical city centre.

Pro tip: Despite not making it, we heard really well about Vico del Gargano. In fact, the city is known as Vico del Janeiro as an allusion to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. We guess it is worth visiting. If you make it to Vico del Gargano, don’t forget to let us know what you thought!

Did you know the majority of the museums in Italy are free on the first Sunday of each month? Check it all about it on this post!

Beaches in Gargano Italy

beach stall with chairs and table written Baia dei Gabbiani
One of the beaches you should visit – Baia dei Gabbiani

The Costa Gargano (coast of Gargano) is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea and counts with some of the most beautiful – and wild – beaches of Puglia Gargano. There are many of them that should be on the must-go list and some with almost no infrastructure for tourism at all. Therefore, be prepared when visiting Puglia mare (seas of Puglia), taking enough water and sandwiches with you, for instance.

This is the list of beaches you should focus when visiting Gargano in Puglia.

  • Vignanotica;
  • Baia delle Zagare;
  • Portogreco;
  • Pugnochiuso;
  • Baia dei Gabbiani.

Find out the best beaches in Puglia in this article here.

What to do in Gargano

Visit a historical trabucco and watch a fishing demonstration

a trabuccho in the horizon framed
One of the trabucchi of the Gargano

The trabucchiplural of trabucco – are structures used for fishing and are scattered all around the whole coast of Gargano. They are a fundamental part of the history and culture of the region. A trabucco was once used for up to 8 families that would take their living from it. That was the way for many years until the beginning of large-scale fishing that, amongst many other related issues, reduced the amount of fishes and leading to the disuse of the trabucchi. As such, this important part of the Gargano’s culture became dormant.

The La Rinascita dei Trabucchi Storici organisation has been working for 6 years now on reviving and preserving the use of the trabucchi, thus preserving their history. They promote knowledge exchange between generations. The reconstruction of some trabucchi happened from the hands of some old fishermen together with the youth generation.

You can get hold of the La Rinascita dei Trabucchi organisation via email and ask for a visit or even a demonstration of how it was used to fish.

Visit the Umbra Forest

The Umbra Forest has this name because of its notorious high trees that project shades on the surface of the woods (“umbra” means “shade” in Italian). It’s a remarkable place with a great diversity of fauna and flora. You can explore the Umbra Forest by foot, horse or bike. Now, it’s up to you!

Mouth-watering dishes of the Gargano

a dish of orecchiette in red sauce
The famous orecchiette

It’s no secret every Italian town has its own dish. In the south, this is even more evident. In the Gargano, there are many specialties you have to try in order to have a complete experience of the local gastronomy. Amongst them there are:

  • Orecchiette – A handmade pasta that looks like an ear (hence the name. Orecchio means ear)
  • Paposcia – It’s like a sandwich of pizza. Stop your weird face right now, it’s delicious!
  • Fogaccia – We tasted the best fogaccia ever in a small town called Zapponeta. Oh, that taste…
  • Pancotto – It’s like a soup of bread.