Covering three hills in the heart of Puglia, Ostuni is known as the 'white city' for its whitewashed houses that tumble down the hillsides. The drive here is impressive, twisting through a landscape of low hills and rich Mediterranean vegetation until the town reveals itself with a white glow.
Within the ancient city walls a tangle of lanes flanked by palazzi and churches lead to the top of the tallest hill where a 15th-century cathedral dominates the view.
The oldest part of the town, which dates back to Greco-Roman times, covers the loftiest hill. The greatest joy of a visit is in simply wandering the maze of cobbled lanes that make up this part of the town. It's easy to lose yourself as the alleys twist and turn, but inevitably you'll end up on a handsome square flanked by stone houses, a chapel and a quiet cafe.
As you walk, you catch glimpses of the surrounding olive groves that span out below the town between the rows of houses. Turning a corner, you happen upon a sweeping view of the hills and plains leading down to the sea, most memorably at the Largo Castello.
Head uphill and eventually the town's alleyways all lead to the 15th-century cathedral that sits on a square surrounded by palazzi. A Romanesque church damaged in an earthquake in 1456, it was rebuilt in Gothic style. Elements of Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine design are all visible on the façade. Inside, wood panels, carved wooden altars and 18th-century artwork grace the walls.
In late August, the three-day Cavalcata di Sant'Oronzo (Ride of Saint Orontius) starts at the cathedral in celebration of the town's patron saint, who’s said to have saved the residents from the plague by instructing them to wash with lime. The vibrant event includes a parade of riders and horses dressed in medieval costumes making their way through the historic centre of the town.
Piazza della Liberta, the main square at the bottom of the hill on the south side of town, is dominated by an 18th-century obelisk with Baroque detailing. Alongside it are two churches and the town hall. On summer evenings, the square is a lively gathering place for locals who throng the restaurants, cafes and bars. High-quality olive oil and wine are the main products of the region, and the local bars and restaurants are a great place to try them.
Best time to visit Ostuni
With warm and sunny weather, May to October is a great time to visit Ostuni. The town is busiest in July and August with the three-day celebration of the town’s patron saint in late August a particularly lively time to visit. To see the grape harvest in action, come in September.
Suggested Ostuni itinerary
This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Ostuni, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Ostuni
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Ostuni
- Fasano 14 miles away
- Alberobello 19 miles away
- Puglia 26 miles away
- Lecce 41 miles away
- Matera 52 miles away
- Otranto 63 miles away
- The Amalfi Coast 157 miles away
- Pompeii 162 miles away
- Sorrento 169 miles away
- Herculaneum 170 miles away
- Naples 175 miles away
- Capri 177 miles away
- Taormina 234 miles away
- Mount Etna 249 miles away
- Sicily 271 miles away
- Rome 277 miles away
- Syracuse 282 miles away
- Palermo 289 miles away
- Villa Romana del Casale 291 miles away
Accommodation choices for Ostuni
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Ostuni. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
Ideas for experiencing Ostuni
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Ostuni, and which use the best local guides.