Gargano is the part jutting out of the region of Puglia. If Puglia is the heel of the boot, the Gargano is the spur of the boot. Almost the whole region is made by 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.
What we liked the most about the Gargano is how preserved the whole environment is, rather wild and original, mostly because its access and infrastructure are not of high standard. We spent a week in the Gargano and in this post, we will give you 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 instead!
Which is the best way to travel through 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 now and again.
*If you decide 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). Compare prices and get an estimate on the box below:
Which cities to visit in the Gargano, Puglia?
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 hotel: There is an enormous variety of B&B/hostel/hotel in Vieste (click here to see what are the latest deals). We stayed in an awesome Bed and Breakfast called Il Giardino Stellato di Michella. We really recommend the place. You can read our full review about in here.
What to do in Vieste?
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.
This 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! A 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?
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 anapperitivo. You can have a look at their Instagram page to sense what awaits you over there.
*Planning on staying in Peschici for a night or two? Have a look on the best hotel deals then!
This is another of the Gargano’s town 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?
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.
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!
The best beaches in Puglia, mostly in the Gargano:
The Costa Gargano (coast of Gargano) is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea and counts with some of the most beautiful beaches – and wilds – of Puglia. 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.
Baia delle Zagare;
Baia dei Gabbiani.
What else to do or visit in the Gargano?
Visit a historical trabucco and watch a fishing demonstration
The trabucchiare structures used for fishing and scattered around the whole coast of the Gargano. They are a fundamental part of the history and culture of the region. A trabuccowas 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, an important part of the Gargano’s culture became dormant.
The La Rinascita dei Trabucchi Storiciorganisation has been working for 6 years now 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 youths.
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!
Enjoy the mouth watering dishes of the Gargano
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…