Puglia - Heel of Italy

Italy Bike Tours

A food, wine, and bike tour in Southern Italy through sun drenched Apulia

  • You are in for a treat on this bike tour in Salento, the "heel" of Italy, known for its ancient farmlands crisscrossed with stonewalls, small authentic villages, and hundreds of kilometers of coastline.

    This is Apulia, the crossroads of civilizations and culture, the bridge between East and West, and a haven for those who love the sea. Tucked between the sparkling, azure waters of the Ionian and the Adriatic, this "sub-peninsula" showcases a varied coastline etched with glittering limestone precipices, outcroppings, and miles of first-class beaches, carved inland with lovely salt-water lagoons.

    The fine harbors and fertile plains made this region particularly vulnerable to attack and many conquering invaders penetrated its barriers. Today, Puglia maintains its own distinct and authentic identity, an eclectic mix of cultures.

    In a land where the cuisine is all-important, Puglia's cucina povera (peasant cooking) is legendary, featuring olive oil, grapes, tomatoes, eggplants, artichokes, peppers, mushrooms, olives, cheese, fresh seafood...and the wine is world renowned.

    Highlights:

    • The seafront jewels of Gallipoli and Otranto
    • Baroque and sophisticated Lecce
    • Luxurious Leuca
    • Apulian landscape and seascape
    • Simple but diverse cuisine and world-famous wines
    • Local wine and product tastings
    • True immersion in local arts, crafts, and family
    • Optional cooking class at local agriturismo

    Enjoy your 'slow travel' immersion in this sun-kissed land!

    If you are interested as well in biking Matera and Alberobello, ask us. We can provide you with a suggestion for an extended tour!

    Check out all our bike tours in Italy.

  • Self-guided:
    Twin/double: £ 1020 $ 2,260 1200 $ 1808 NOK 11300 kr 10431 $ 1,356 Single supplement: £ 170 $ 377 200 $ 301 NOK 1883 kr 1738 $ 226 Solo traveler supplement (in addition to single supplement): £ 85 $ 188 100 $ 151 NOK 942 kr 869 $ 113 Guided: 
    Twin/double: £ 1198 $ 2,656 1410 $ 2124 NOK 13278 kr 12256 $ 1,593 Single supplement: £ 204 $ 452 240 $ 362 NOK 2260 kr 2086 $ 271

    extra options

    Electric bike:
    Self-guided: £ 68 $ 151 80 $ 121 NOK 753 kr 695 $ 90 Guided: £ 119 $ 264 140 $ 211 NOK 1318 kr 1217 $ 158 Extra nights in Lecce or Bari:
    Twin/double: £ 56 $ 124 66 $ 99 NOK 622 kr 574 $ 75 Single room: £ 84 $ 186 99 $ 149 NOK 932 kr 861 $ 112 Airport transfers, one way, based on two people:
    Brindisi: £ 30 $ 66 35 $ 53 NOK 330 kr 304 $ 40 Bari: £ 64 $ 141 75 $ 113 NOK 706 kr 652 $ 85 Please ask us for solo traveler pricing.

    please note

    Rates are per person based on double occupancy.

    Information to read before you book.

    We recommend purchasing bike trip insurance.

    Please see our FAQ.

  • Travel

    One major airport close to your tour start in Lecce is Brindisi - Salento Airport (BDS), 51 km from the center of Lecce. Another option is Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (BRI) at 166 km distance.

    Local Travel

    Brindisi Airport
    You have a couple of options for arrival to the first hotel.

    • From the Brindisi Airport, air shuttle to Lecce. Upon arrival, you can take a taxi to your first hotel. Cost is about €10
    • Bus from the airport to Brindisi train station and then train to Lecce. Total travel time about 1 h 30 m to 2 h. hour. Cost, €8. Your first hotel is within walking distance of the train station.
    • Private transfer is available. See pricing.

    Bari Airport

    • Direct train from Bari airport to Bari Central station and then train to Lecce. Total travel time is 2 h 30 m to 4 h total, depending on the time of travel and train type (there are high-speed train options.) Once you arrive at Lecce train station, you can walk to first hotel.
    • Private transfer is available. See pricing.

    Rome Airport

    • For those who would like to do some sightseeing in Rome before their tour, there is a direct train from Rome to Lecce that takes about 5 h 30 m and costs from €30 - €70. Your first hotel is within walking distance of the train station.

    Climate

    The region of Puglia experiences a Mediterranean climate. Spring comes early here is with temps around 68 ° F (20 ° C) by the end of April. Summer arrives in May and lasts through to the end of September. July and August are the hottest months with temperatures reaching 86° F. October and November are lovely and temperatures in the 70s remain. Winter in Puglia is mild and therefore, still conducive for cycling. We advise checking local conditions before your arrival. A good website to use to research regional weather including average high/low temperatures, average rainfall is weatherbase.com.

    DOCUMENTS

    Before you travel, please check your country's passport and visa requirements and the passport and visa requirements of the country/countries you plan to visit. For US citizens, the US Department of State website is a good source of information. The Country Information tab in the International Travel section provides details about passport validity, blank passport pages required, etc. For our other international clients, please be sure that you research your own country's travel requirements. It is each traveler's responsibility to ensure proper documentation.


Tour Dates

Self-guided: 
Departures every Friday and Saturday from March 22 to July 6 and August 30 to November 2, 2019. 
Special tour dates can be requested for a supplement of €75.
Guided: 
June 8, September 14, and October 12, 2019
(minimum of 6 to confirm a completely guided departure. If you have less than 6, we may propose a partially guided tour. Do contact us with any inquiries, regardless of number in your group)

Skill Level

This tour is rated easy to moderate. Salento, in southern Apulia, is a region that is almost entirely flat, making the ride a pleasant journey for any level of rider. You will be cycling between 20 and 40 miles a day, mainly traversing secondary roads, with breaks to enjoy the sea and scheduled guided visits as per the itinerary. This is a tour that focuses on "slow travel", a mindset that encourages you to soak in your environment giving yourself permission to truly experience new things.

Where You’ll Stay

You will be accommodated in mainly 4 star villas, resorts, farmhouses, or B & B’s

What’s Included

  • Self-guided
  • 8 overnight stays in villas, resorts, farmhouses, or B & B
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 5 dinners, drinks included
  • 5 tastings with wine, cheese, and local products
  • Luggage transfer
  • GPS with preloaded tracks
  • Road book with cultural information and tips about the route
  • 24 hour assistance
  • Bike rental with accessories
  • Local hotel taxes
  • Guided
  • 7 overnights in villas, resorts or farmhouses
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 dinners.
  • 3 tasting with wine, cheese, and local products.
  • 1 homemade pasta cookery class
  • Bike rental with accessories
  • Bike mechanic
  • Luggage transfer
  • 6 days route support
  • Cycling guide
  • Local hotel taxes

What’s Not Included

Extra Stay

If you would like to book a pre-tour extension that would include Matera and Alberobello, just ask! We can provide some options for you!

TourBike
TypeBoth
SkillEasy–Moderate
Length8–9 days
From1200 Rates
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Day-To-Day Itinerary

Puglia - Heel of Italy Map

9 day self-guided

Day 1: Arrival in Lecce
Day 2: Lecce -  Otranto, 35 mi. (56 km)
Day 3: Otranto and surroundings, 19 mi. (30 km)
Day 4: Otranto – Leuca coast, 32 mi. (52 km)
Day 5: Leuca - Torre Suda, 26 mi. (41 km)
Day 6: Gallipoli and the Ionic Coast, 24 mi. (38 km)
Day 7: Gallipoli Surroundings, 30 mi. (48 km)
Day 8: Gallipoli - Lecce, 26 mi. (42 km)
Day 9: Departure

All distances are approximate.

Day 1: Arrival in Lecce
You will be met at your first hotel by our local representative for tour briefing and bike fitting. 

Day 2: Lecce -  Otranto, 35 mi. (56 km)
A relatively flat route stretches before you today with many interesting cultural sights. First on the agenda is Acaya, a fortified city with a huge castle. The route descends then to “Le Cesine”, a World Wildlife Federation area, and a crossing point for many species of migratory birds. From here, you head towards the coast, along the ruins of Roca Vecchia, an archaeological site located on the Adriatic coast from which excavations have uncovered some of the best-preserved monumental architecture of the Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC) and the largest set of Mycenaean pottery ever recovered west of mainland Greece.  As well, you cycle to Alimini Lakes with its stunning white sand beach. This area is also a stopping point for various migrating birds such as white storks, flamingos, cranes, greylag geese, swans, and many others. The final destination is Otranto, a once-thriving Roman port.  Highlights include the small domed church, San Pietro, with its Byzantine frescoes, the 15th century Aragonese Castle, and the 11th century Otranto Cathedral, with an ornate mosaic flooring. Stroll the ramparts overlooking the sea, meander the old walled historic center, with its intricate web of alleyways and whitewashed homes, and simply enjoy! Dinner based on seafood in one of the best restaurant in the town.

Day 3: Otranto and surroundings,  19 mi. (30 km)
Riding along the little River “Idro”, the route leads to Casamassela, to “Le Costantine” foundation, an agriculture education center. This peaceful oasis is enclosed by olive tree groves and Mediterranean scrub. The weaving studio here creates textile products with ancient wooden looms.  After a guided tour, you continue to Giurdignano, a beautiful town with ancient origins. Here you can find the remains of an imperial age necropolis from the II - III century as well as one of the most important sites where Megalithic findings were discovered. You will visit La Cutura botanical garden. The variety of plants, trees, and herbs will astound you, including the agaves, cacti, roses, myrtle, and much, much more. One of the highlights of the day will be a stop to have a wine and cheese tasting in a local wine cellar. 

Day 4: Otranto – Leuca coast, 32 mi. (52 km)
Your route today leads along the wildest Salento coastal stretch. You visit the Palacia lighthouse, located at the easternmost point in Italy and the narrowest point of Strait of Otranto at the mouth of Adriatic Sea. The lighthouse was built in 1867 and abandoned in the 1970s, however, was reopened in 2008. Your route continues following the coast, weaving amidst the cliffs above the sea, overlooking the Strait of Otranto. On a clear day, you can actually see the mountains of Albania and Greece. There is opportunity to visit the Zinzulusa cave, a dramatic seafront cave system with colorful rock formations and teeming with marine wildlife. As you continue to cycle to Leuca, the day's destination, you will pedal through a typical landscape littered with boulders, Mediterranean scrub, lavender bushes, and laced with the high dry-stone walls and terraces typical of this area. As well, you can observe the ingenious devices of peasants to get arable land into barren and impervious areas. After crossing the bridge over the “ciolo”, a canyon, carved by the waters, you reach Santa Maria di Leuca, where the Ionian and the Adriatic Sea meet. The name of the village comes from the Greek "leucos", meaning light or luminous. Once a sleepy fishing village, it showcases a fascinating seascape and incredible panoramas. It became the summer residence of many aristocratic Pugliesi who built splendid villas, decorating the seafront with their varying styles. 

Day 5: Leuca - Torre Suda, 26 mi. (41 km)
Today you discover Leuca Cape, the southern part of Apulia. In the 16th century, Emperor Charles V ordered the construction of a system of watchtowers along the entire length of the Puglian coast to protect citizens from constant invasions. The towers were built in strategic positions along the coast, close enough that each tower could communicate with the towers on either side of it. You will make a stop at one of the defense towers situated in the center of a small village. Next is Patù and the megalithic monument called Centopietre (100 stones), created from massive blocks of stone taken from Vereto. Next on the agenda is  Leuca Piccola (Little Leuca), an important pilgrimage station which still maintains a vast underground area.  Through olive groves lined by stone walls, the route leads to Ugento, where it is possible to visit its archaeological museum. You will spend the night in a beautiful "masseria" (farmhouse), overlooking the sea. Dinner will be served here.

Day 6: Gallipoli and Ionic Coast, 24 mi. (38 km)
In the morning you will head towards the coast for a dip in the sea off St. Andrew’s island and Punta Pizzo natural park. Once you arrive in Gallipoli, you can enjoy a rich aperitif. .Gallipoli, a beautiful seaside town, a mixture of old and new. The center of its ancient village is perched on an island, and connected to the mainland and the new city by a twentieth-century arched bridge. After delicious ice cream, you ride again toward the San Mauro church, one of the hidden treasure of this country, hosting an ancient Byzantine frescoes cycle. Enjoying the sunset, you cycle to Santa Caterina, a quiet village on the borders of Porto Selvaggio Natural Park. In the afternoon optional kayaking in the Park of Porto Selvaggio. Dinner served in Villa or in a nearby restaurant (depending on the size of the group). 

Day 7: Gallipoli's Surroundings, 30 mi. (48 km)
This is a day dedicated to Gallipoli's surroundings. The first stop is in Sannicola to discover its underground oil mill, then Tuglie with its amazing “rural culture museum”. Then you ride through Neviano, to visit the ruins of Macugno abbey, and then Cutrofiano, where you can step in the “fossil park. Organic lunch at “Piccapane” a little farmhouse, where Giuseppe will cook the vegetables you will have picked yourself! In the afternoon it is off to Galatina where you can contemplate the church of Santa Caterina, totally painted with frescoes, in Giottesco style, and then visit the beautiful old town. Later, you stop in the winery “Santi Dimitri”, to discover the secrets of oil and winemaking…followed by a wine and cheese tasting, of course! 

Day 8: Gallipoli - Lecce, 26 mi. (42 km)
You will not want your bike tour to come to an end but alas, today is your last cycling day in this beautiful land. You will pass many 19th century fortified farmhouses and villas on your way back to Lecce. You stop in Nardò to visit its baroque style historical center and then Copertino to discover its impressive Norman castle. Some km before Lecce, you can make a stop at a local establishment, a traditional pottery workshop, the Martina brothers, skillful keepers of this ancient art. Late afternoon arrival in Lecce and in the evening and dinner in one of the best restaurants in town.

Day 9: Departure

8 day guided:

Day 1: Arrival in Lecce
Day 2: Lecce -  Otranto, 35 mi. (56 km)
Day 3: Otranto and surroundings, 19 mi. (30 km)
Day 4: Otranto – Leuca coast, 32 mi. (52 km)
Day 5: The Iconic Coast to Gallipoli,  38 mi. (61 km) 
Day 6: Gallipoli’s surroundings, 19/37 mi. (30/60 km)
Day 7: Gallipoli - Lecce, 26 mi. (42 km)
Day 8: Onward travel  

All distances are approximate.

Day 1: Arrival in Lecce
If you have booked an airport transfer you will be met by our local representative. If not, please refer to our travel detail section for details on how to arrive to Lecce. 

Day 2: Lecce -  Otranto, 35 mi. (56 km)
A relatively flat route stretches before you today with many interesting cultural sights. First on the agenda is Acaya, a fortified city with a huge castle. The route descends then to “Le Cesine”, a World Wildlife Federation area, and a crossing point for many species of migratory birds. From here, you head towards the coast, along the ruins of Roca Vecchia, an archaeological site located on the Adriatic coast from which excavations have uncovered some of the best-preserved monumental architecture of the Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC) and the largest set of Mycenaean pottery ever recovered west of mainland Greece.  As well, you cycle to Alimini Lakes with its stunning white sand beach. This area is also a stopping point for various migrating birds such as white storks, flamingos, cranes, greylag geese, swans, and many others. Final destination is Otranto, a once-thriving Roman port.  Highlights include the small domed church, San Pietro, with its Byzantine frescoes, the 15th century Aragonese Castle, and the 11th century Otranto Cathedral, with an ornate mosaic flooring. Stroll the ramparts overlooking the sea, meander the old walled historic center, with its intricate web of alleyways and whitewashed homes, and simply enjoy!

Day 3: Otranto and surroundings,  19 mi. (30 km)
Riding along the little River “Idro”, the route leads to Casamassela, to “Le Costantine” foundation, an agriculture education center. This peaceful oasis is enclosed by olive tree groves and Mediterranean scrub. The weaving studio here creates textile products with ancient wooden looms.  After a guided tour, you continue to Giurdignano, a beautiful town with ancient origins. Here you can find the remains of an imperial age necropolis from the II - III century as well as one of the most important sites where Megalithic findings were discovered. You will visit La Cutura botanical garden. The variety of plants, trees, and herbs will astound you, including the agaves, cacti, roses, myrtle, and much, much more. One of the highlights of the day will be a stop to have a product tasting of typical bread cheese prepared in a traditional stone oven.  

Day 4: Otranto – Leuca coast, 32 mi. (52 km)
Your route today leads along the wildest Salento coastal stretch. You visit the Palacia lighthouse, located at the easternmost point in Italy and the narrowest point of Strait of Otranto at the mouth of Adriatic Sea. The lighthouse was built in 1867 and abandoned in the 1970s, however, was reopened in 2008. Your route continues following the coast, weaving amidst the cliffs above the sea, overlooking the Strait of Otranto. On a clear day, you can actually see the mountains of Albania and Greece. There is an opportunity to visit the Zinzulusa cave, a dramatic seafront cave system with colorful rock formations and teeming with marine wildlife. As you continue to cycle to Leuca, the day's destination, you will pedal through a typical landscape littered with boulders, Mediterranean scrub, lavender bushes, and laced with the high dry-stone walls and terraces typical of this area. As well, you can observe the ingenious devices of peasants to get arable land into barren and impervious areas. After crossing the bridge over the “ciolo”, a canyon, carved by the waters, you reach Santa Maria di Leuca, where the Ionian and the Adriatic Sea meet. The name of the village comes from the Greek "leucos", meaning light or luminous. Once a sleepy fishing village, it showcases a fascinating seascape and incredible panoramas. It became the summer residence of many aristocratic Pugliesi who built splendid villas, decorating the seafront with their varying styles. 

Day 5: Leuca - Gallipoli, 38 mi. (61 km) 
Today you discover Leuca Cape, the southern part of Apulia. In the 16th century, Emperor Charles V ordered the construction of a system of watchtowers along the entire length of the Puglian coast to protect citizens from constant invasions. The towers were built in strategic positions along the coast, close enough that each tower could communicate with the towers on either side of it. You will make a stop at one of the defense towers situated in the center of a small village. Next is Patù and the megalithic monument called Centopietre (100 stones), created from massive blocks of stone taken from Vereto. Next on the agenda is  Leuca Piccola (Little Leuca), an important pilgrimage station which still maintains a vast underground area.  Through olive groves lined by stone walls, the route leads to Ugento, where it is possible to visit its archaeological museum. In the afternoon, following the ionic coast once again, until  St. Andrew’s Island and Punta Pizzo natural park. Final day's destination is Gallipoli, a beautiful seaside town, a mixture of old and new. The center of its ancient village is perched on an island, and connected to the mainland and the new city by a twentieth-century arched bridge.

Day 6: Gallipoli’s surroundings, 30 mi. (48 km)
This is a day dedicated to Gallipoli's surroundings. The first stop is in Sannicola to discover its underground oil mill, then Tuglie with its amazing “rural culture museum”. Then you ride through Neviano, to visit the ruins of Macugno abbey, and then Cutrofiano, where you can step in the “fossil park. Organic lunch at “Piccapane” a little farmhouse, where Giuseppe will cook the vegetables you will have picked yourself! In the afternoon it is off to Galatina where you can contemplate the church of Santa Caterina, totally painted with frescoes, in Giottesco style, and then visit the beautiful old town. Later, you stop in the winery “Santi Dimitri”, to discover the secrets of oil and winemaking…followed by a wine and cheese tasting, of course! Guided cyclists will enjoy a farewell dinner.

Day 7: Gallipoli - Lecce, 26 mi. (42 km)  
You will not want your bike tour to come to an end but alas, today is your last cycling day in this beautiful land. You will pass many 19th century fortified farmhouses and villas on your way back to Lecce. You stop in Nardò to visit its baroque style historical center and then Copertino to discover its impressive Norman castle. Some km before Lecce, you can make a stop at a local establishment, a traditional pottery workshop, the Martina brothers, skillful keepers of this ancient art.

Late afternoon arrival in Lecce and in the evening, a farewell dinner in one of the best restaurants in town.

Day 8: End of tour
You will be offered a guided walking tour of Lecce.

 

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