An outright winner from the start, this self-guided seven night cycling holiday explores a sun-soaked region of empty beaches, unspoilt villages and low fertile hills rolling down into the clear emerald seas of the Adriatic.
Firmly tucked away 'on the heel of Italy's boot', Puglia offers extraordinary variety and beauty with a dramatically rugged coast, providing a total contrast to the lush green interior. Your holiday starts in Conversano and ends in the historic town of Monopoli. Here, you'll be intoxicated by the rich colours of the landscape, olive groves, fruit orchards, vineyards and ruby-red fields, all intensified by the wonderful limpid light of the Adriatic. Highlights include staying in unique Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visiting the postcard-pretty white village of Ostuni as you wind your way back towards the sea.
Your accommodation is as varied as the landscape, with each place specially chosen for its unique charm and character. In Conversano, your beautiful 12th century former court house, with barrel-vaulted ceilings, is just a stone's throw from the elegant Romanesque cathedral; in Alberobello, you cannot fail to be seduced by the authentic trullo houses (limestone dwellings with conical roofs that are the architectural symbol of Puglia); in Pezze di Greco, you spend two nights in a beautifully restored 17th century masseria (fortified farmhouse) with lovely pool, open courtyard and 200 hectares of ancient palms and olive trees and in Monopoli, you stay in characterful rooms set in various locations just 3 minutes from the beach.
Arrive at the Relais Corte Altavilla. There's time to explore the historic town before choosing one of the many restaurants for dinner (payable locally)
Stay overnight at Relais Corte Altavilla
Today's pedalling takes you through the rolling hills of the Valle d'Itria where the air is perfumed with wild mint and herbs. Stop off in the little towns of Putignano and Noci, and view their characteristic whitewashed houses and narrow alleyways. It's then off to unique Alberobello and its plethora of trulli houses, the architectural symbol of the region. On arrival you'll be met by one of the staff, who will show you to your own private trullo house.
Meals included: Breakfast
Overnight at Trullidea
Explore the narrow streets and kitsch souvenir shops, or visit the Museo del Territorio. Alternatively, cycle into the Itria Valley to visit stunning Locorotondo, with its panoramic views across the valley. Continue on to Martina Franca, with its beautiful Baroque architechture and stunning palazzi.
Meals included: Breakfast
Overnight at Trullidea
You'll spend this morning cycling along beautiful undulating country lanes lined with weathered stone walls, before enjoying a long downhill run with panoramic views of the Adriatic coastline and the lower fertile plains. This incredible descent will bring you down towards Capitolo and finishes through a patchwork of almond orchards, olive groves, vineyards and gloriously coloured fields of fresh tomatoes and peppers.
Meals included: Breakfast and evening meal
Overnight at Masseria Salamina
Relax by the hotel's pool, or cycle to the nearby beach. For the more energetic, ride to charming Ostuni whose whitewashed houses are neatly piled on hills rich in olive groves and vineyards.
Meals included: Breakfast and evening meal
Overnight at Masseria Salamina
This morning you leave the masseria and head back to the Adriatic coast on a gentle flat route. You will cycle past the colourful fishing village of Savelletri, a perfect stop for an authentic Italian espresso or to indulge in a delicious seafood lunch. Your ride will continue past the archaeological site of Egnazia, once the location of a Greco-Roman town, dating as far back as 4BC. You then reach the picturesque coastal town of Monopoli and the 3-star Albergo Diffuso in time for a stroll before choosing your evening restaurant from one of the many eateries in the heart of the old town.
Meals included: Breakfast
Overnight at Albergo Diffuso
Today's route takes you along the stunning coastline all the way to the beautiful Polignano a Mare. Take the time to explore this vibrant fishing village before continuing to the picturesque village of San Vito with its multi-coloured boats. Head back to Monpoli and enjoy an aperitivo in the old town's square watching the world walk past.
Meals included: Breakfast
Overnight at Albergo Diffuso
Please note: This tour has been given a 1 Bike + rating based on ascents/descents and distance; the cycling may feel harder over the hotter months.
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking. If you'd like to keep your bikes with you for any extra nights we can arrange this for you for just £ per adult per day and £ per child per day.
The 4-star hotel Corte Altavilla Relais & Charme is located right in the historic centre of Conversano, just off one of the main squares - Piazza Conciliazione. The hotel is in an old medieval building with inner courtyard that once served as an old medieval courthouse for the town.
Room upgrades: Junior Suite .
The Junior Suite has charming furniture with a living room and panoramic view.
A unique and authentic experience staying in a trulli, a traditional 15th century Apulian stone building with conical roof.
As an alternative to Trullidea, stays can also be taken at the Tipico Resort.
NEARBY:Masseria Salamina is a large 17th century fortified farmhouse, set in 173 acres of rich agricultural farmland. The property is surrounded by orchards of secular olive trees that are up to 400 years old, used in the production of their own high quality, extra virgin, olive oil.
Room upgrades: Farmhouse Suite, Double Room Superior, Junior Suite or Junior Suite Deluxe
The farm House suites are spacious and comfortable, pproximately 50m2, composed of a double room, living room with single bed, wide bathroom with bathtub, and a kitchen. They are located in the south-east wing, of more recent construction but always adjacent to the Masseria, all with a wonderful view and with their own outdoor space. The Superior Room is in the Manor wing of the Masseria, on the 1st floor, the owner's house since the 17th century, it has valuable antique furniture, with marble bathroom, it has a hall and an indoor balcony with view. The Junior Suite is in the Manor wing of the Masseria, on the 1st floor, the owner's house since the 17th century, it has valuable antique furniture, with marble bathroom and Jacuzzi. Deluxe Junior Suite is in the Manor wing of the Masseria, on the 1st floor, the owner's house since the 17th century, it has valuable antique furniture, with marble bathroom, it has a hall and a private balcony with view. The Superior Suite is in the Manor wing of the Masseria, on the 1st floor, the owner's house since the 17th century, it has valuable antique furniture, a living room with fireplace and balcony, and marble bathroom with Jacuzzi and showerbox.
As an alternative to the Albergo Diffuso, stays can also be taken at the Palazzo Indelli.
Room upgrades: Superior Room, Junior Suite
NEARBY:This property is 3 minutes walk from the beach. Set in various locations around the historical centre, just a stroll from Monopoli's seafront and its beautiful beaches, Albergo Diffuso Monopoli offers elegant rooms, all air-conditioned rooms either have a terrace or balcony.
Room upgrades and extra nights: Contact us for details.
Transfers can be arranged at a supplement from Bari airport at 10:20 Sat, 11:30 Mon & 11:20 Wed departures and back to Bari airport at 08:05 Sat, 09:00 Mon & Wed departures
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted to our website, so that people can make an informed decision based on past experiences before heading off on holiday. We don’t edit the reviews, the only thing we do is proofread them and alter any typos, where necessary, to ensure they are easy to read for everyone. All reviews will be published (except in certain extreme circumstances), and a member of the Headwater team will respond to any constructive criticisms/comments under the reviews, at their discretion. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
lovely unspoilt region of Italy !
The personal care and attention provided by ALL staff throughout the holiday was excellent. The hotels were a haven of peace and sophistication after our energetic days. The trip to Puglia included highlights such as the Trulli houses and the ancient olive groves. In general the cycling was pleasurable and, when our cycle let us down, we were rescued swiftly. Of interest to us was the fact that the residents of Puglia took great pride in their houses, gardens, vineyards and fields however outside of this the roads were strewn with litter, the like of which we have never before witnessed. It detracted from our enjoyment and reflected badly upon the region as a whole. Thank you again to all who made our holiday so memorable. Phil & Kath
This was a first cycling holiday for us so we were apprehensive. However we definitely would recommend both Headwater and the Contrasts of Puglia tour. The organisation was excellent as were the hotels. In the end we took e bikes ( having deliberated about this) . We didn’t use the power so much but we felt that we definitely enjoyed the holiday more and did more on the bikes than we would have without the power. It was a very pleasurable and relaxed week.
The app works really well and is relatively easy to download and use though we found it useful to use the printed out route maps as well as a check. If you are not used to using apps etc it might be a little tricky to initially set up. We loved the routes that were chosen - mostly on very quiet country roads with minimal traffic situations. We found the car drivers very considerate, more so than in UK. The hotels were all in great locations and very nice.
Beautiful country area over Italy with lovely summer weather at the end of October. Lots to see, lovely little beaches. Pleasant cycling, especially with bikes for the occasional severe hill!
Headwater holidays are amazing! The hassle of scrutinising where I’m going on holiday is taken care of by Headwater as I know they would have chosen great places to visit and stay. Thank you Headwater
Very enjoyable but two of the rides were slightly more difficult than we anticipated from a 1+ rating
first night restaurant Kamera in puglia not friendly or good food should change this.
Our holiday was to celebrate a big birthday. It was as good as we hoped and we would travel again with Headwater
A lovely activity holiday, cycling through interesting countryside, on quiet roads, visiting interesting towns and staying in characterful and comfortable hotels. The distances of approx 40km each day were just about right for over 60’s and the GPS navigation was excellent. It would have been impossible with paper maps only.
A wonderful opportunity to explore another part of Europe. Cycling allowed us to see genuine ways of life in Puglia and to enjoy the excellent cuisine guilt free after active cycling.
Well organised and efficiently run with good choice of hotels.
Having taken several group and self-guided cycling holidays with Exodus and Headwater, the 'Contrasts of Puglia' self-guided holiday has to be ranked number one. The whole trip was wonderful, for the route through the various contrasting landscapes and the wonderful locations and excellent hotels. Best cycling holiday yet and would thoroughly recommend to anyone want a real insight into Puglia region of Italy. E-bikes were great up some of the hills !
This was a really delightful holiday in a most beautiful part of the world. The cycling was perfect for us.
Where dinner was provided we felt that the eating options were adequate rather than good. When we selected our own restaurants we fared much better.
A great holiday with good routes and accommodation. We really enjoyed the sense of freedom and variety.
This was our third cycling holiday with Headwater and, once again, it proved to be a very enjoyable experience. Transport to and from the airport was quick and efficient and the rep, Antonio gave us valuable advice on the week ahead. The accommodation provided was as good as ever and the navigation app proved to be invaluable. This app makes like so much easier and it is one of the main reasons we travel with Headwater; no more pouring over maps or guidance notes which can be quite dangerous on busy or poorly surfaced roads etc. This holiday offers the opportunity to stay in or visit five beautiful medieval towns which are quite breathtaking. The route is quite manageable for the average cyclist with a few hills to contend with but nothing very difficult. Don’t forget, that walking up a difficult hill is a perfectly acceptable option. The road surfaces were a bit dodgy at times and it’s clear that the economic situation in Italy is having some effect on road maintenance. None of this detracted from the enjoyment of cycling in some beautiful countryside and through some beautiful and fascinating towns. This sort of trouble-free cycling really is a wonderful way of visiting a country and the saunter through this is part of Puglia was no exception.
Not a part of Italy we knew much about but Puglia was a great region for cycling. All the places we visited were interesting and the hotels were of a high standard. The food and wine were also very good and, generally, good value for money. The cycling wasn’t difficult although the Day 2 journey from Conversano to Alberobello, was quite hilly and would have been very tiring had we not had ebikes. It is definitely worth visiting Ostuni while at Pezze di Greco; we didn’t fancy cycling there as the route was long and hilly but the hotel organised a taxi for us which worked well. All in all, this was one of the best Headwater holidays we have experienced and we are currently planning our next cycling holiday for 2020.
Generally everything was fine
From the greeting by Antonio at the airport, throughout the holiday everyone was welcoming and helpful. The hotels we stayed in were quirky but excellent. They helped to make the holiday. The hotels location, mainly in the heart of the community allowed us to immerse ourselves in the Italian culture and feel a part of that community. The ride, at times was hillier than expected but our decision to hire ebikes made it so much more enjoyable and gave us extra time to go off route and explore the countryside more without putting any strain on us. We could also spend more time exploring the villages and towns that we passed through knowing that the pedal assist would help us getting to the next hotel without taking too much out of us to enjoy the evening and the next days ride. The RidewithGPS kept us on course but allowed us some leeway to go our own way but giving the ability to get back on course. The help and assistance from Morgan at Headwater before we left was excellent. She always got back to us with answers to our queries, which for us on our first cycle tour may have seemed silly but she always answered promptly and helpfully. We thoroughly enjoyed the cycling holiday and are looking forward to another one next year.
Beautiful countryside, friendly, full of culture and excellent food and wine. Cycling not too onerous but there are some hills which are well worth it for the view.
Great holiday. The route was full of contrasts between the coast and rural inland areas. We preferred the inland areas with the olive groves, stunning wildflowers, trulli and drystone walling. The coastal sections were tainted by the amount of rubbish everywhere. The routes were generally quiet. Sufficient challenge provided by hills and length of ride to make the cycling interesting without being exhausting. In the countryside motorists were considerate to cyclists.
We used the GPS in conjunction with the paper instructions. Be aware that your phone may overheat and shut down. The screen can be hard to see in bright sunlight. The battery may not have the capacity to last the day so you need to have a backup/charger. Excellent organisation from Headwater and the local operator - Antonio.
Puglia is a great place for cycling, and the food and accommodation were excellent. We used ebikes, which were revelatory for us, opening up the possibility of resuming cycle touring which it seemed our knees had put beyond reach. The GPS navigating system, while not perfect, did allow much easier navigation than with paper maps and written instructions, making for a more relaxing holiday.
The towns in this region are welcoming, interesting and attractive (especially Alberobello), all the accommodation was excellent, and we thoroughly enjoyed the cuisine and the wines. However, as the scenery is mostly olive groves and dry-stone walls, and the area is sparsely populated, the rides from place to place are less varied and hence slightly less interesting than other locations offered by Headwater. The most enjoyable ride was the "loop" from Alberobello through Locorotondo and Martina Franca.
My wife and I holidayed in Puglia in April, and are fair-weather cyclists. The grading we believe is more akin to 2 rather than 1+. The weather was sunny and warm; cycling in the higher temperatures expected later on in summer would have been tiring. Although there was one hiccup with a bike, the matter was resolved and the rep. helpful and attentive. Accommodation good throughout and at times pleasantly quirky.
Our trip was excellent. We have taken many enjoyable Headwater holidays and this is one of our favourites. We cycled through beatuful Spring countryside with flowering orchards and wildflowers. The accommodation was delightful and made the most of the historical features. The food at the Masseria was amazing. The local people were friendly and spoke a lot of English.
GPS application for navigation is excellent. But ensure you have backup battery
Brilliant hotels, great food, wine and beer. fabulous scenery good weather (could have done without the mosquitoes), fine bikes, excellent rep BUT you are let down by the quality of the paper cycling directions which were in places totally inaccurate. If the holiday is going to be based around an app on a smart phone then make that clear. We have been on several cycling holidays in Europe and are experienced at following directions but on each of the first four days we had instances where the directions made no sense. By the fifth day we had lost confidence in them and didn't go on the last round trip. Some of the inaccuracies were just irritating but at least two were very concerning! I have details of the main inaccuracies if you are interested. It's a shame because we both enjoyed the holiday and with better directions would certainly have gone with your company again.
Well organised and interesting range of accommodation. Interesting routes and good navigation aids.
Excellent but a bit hillier than expected.
We went on the PIedmont Gastronomic cycling 2 years ago so had a good idea what to expect this time. The accommodation was all of a very good standard and well chosen. All the accommodation had bags of character and made a fantastic change from staying in standard generic branded hotels. The cycling was easier than Piedmont but still a challenge in 30 - 32 degrees. Although, the bikes are fitted with non puncture tyres, we unfortunately suffered a puncture! We were unable to complete a roadside repair due to a combination of the extra thick tyre walls and flimsy tyre leavers supplied. However, Antonio from the support team quickly came to our rescue and we were soon back on the road. Overall, a very stress free, enjoyable holiday, cycling through beautiful countryside one moment and along side the Adriatic the next. Also great wine, superb food and lovely sunshine.
Excellent experience, so many lovely places and the accommodation was really good. Some of the hills were tougher than expected, but not impossible. The service from Donna when booking was outstanding. Great way to see Puglia which is largely unspoilt by tourism and the wine is fabulous. So many more memories than just a beach holiday,
Our first time to Puglia and we loved the rural relatively undeveloped charm of this part of Italy! Acres of cherry, fig and olive orchards, a pretty coastline and towns with narrow streets and ancient buildings that have been there for centuries.
Very good but you are not cheap.
An adventure and yes, it certainly provided "contrasts" of Puglia. We found Italian people (including drivers) friendly and very accommodating, they made us feel very welcome, especially the farmer who brought us 2 ice cold bottles of water and offered us a shaded bench in his garden to eat our lunch!
Cycle route is definitely more than 1 bike
Contrast of Puglia - just as it says - contrast in accommodation, cycling inland and to the coast, food different in each area - perfect mixed holiday
We found the Trulli house rather dark, cold and uncomfortable but an experience. i would suggest that the tour only offers one night there. Eating well at night proved difficult, everywhere was booked the first night and the we did not know that Tuesday evenings is the night restaurants close there, so that night we has almost no choice along with most of the other tourists there.
Our party of 10 really enjoyed the Puglia cycling trip. The route is well chosen and delivered comprehensively by the GPS app. Logistics re luggage and bike support were excellent. Accommodation choices were spot on. We felt privileged to stay at these impressive locations and found a very warm welcome at each.
Headwater provide good all round holidays for active people. Their staff both in England and abroad are efficient, but I would suggest you be careful before you decide which level/grade of cycling holiday you chose. I have done 8 Headwater holidays and I think this one in Puglia should have been rated a 2 star, not lower. It was quite challenging in places - not too much so but this needs to be noted.
Puglia is a beautiful région which, in September isn’t crowded with tourists. The food and wines are delicious and the locals are very welcoming.
A pleasurable experience cycling in Puglia
Well-organised holiday, drawing on deep experience of the area, tried and well-tested, excellent hotels, supported by great staff.
We had a great holiday. The cycling was really good fun. The navigation system was brilliant. Most hotels were of a good standard and many were quirky and interesting
An excellent well thought out holiday, that undoubtedly made the best of a beautiful region whilst taking into consideration finding pleasant roads, interesting places, well-placed rest stops and good hotels. The route app on the phone made navigation really easy.
This was our fourth Headwater cycling holiday. All have been good, and this was at least as good, if not better, than the others. Contrasts of Puglia is an accurate description, and we feel we have got to know something of a previously unknown part of Italy. We enjoyed the routes, the accommodation and the food and wine of the area. We met some very friendly and courteous locals. We had a week of perfect cycling weather. It was a really good holiday.
From the moment our agent Antonio picked us up from the airport we have been looked after so well. The cycle route and accommodation was carefully thought out. My only concern is that the cycling in my opinion was not for beginners as there were some quite challenging inclines on a few busy roads. Overall a tremendous experience.
Of our 3 Headwater cycling holidays this was the best. The accommodation was better and the cycling was the right amount although we skipped the circular route around Alberobello. The hard copy route guides were better than previous ones and the GPS app with the handle bar bracket worked brilliantly once one had sussed it out. We were fortunate that the bracket was just big enough to hold our phones; it was not big enough to hold the larger smart phones.
We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday in Puglia. We were very pleased with all the accommodation. The route took us through beautiful and vary varied countryside from olive groves and cherry orchards to coastal villages - in other words truly 'contrasts of Puglia'. The people we met were very friendly and helpful and the drivers considerate giving us a warning beep before overtaking. The food and wine on offer was generally locally produced and we felt it was an important part of the Puglia experience. Travelling mid-May meant, however, that the weather was much warmer than was currently the case in England and therefore we found cycling the uphill stretches in 24 degree or higher full sun quite challenging and it gets warm early in the day. We cycled last year in the Veneto - level 1 - and found the Puglia holiday - 1+ - much more difficult with some very steep hills and some very hilly sections. We are all year cyclists not averse to hills but we are over 65. The people we met were very friendly and helpful and the drivers considerate giving us a warning beep before overtaking. Overall it was an enjoyable adventure with lot to see and learn which is what we look for in a cycling holiday. .
We have had a wonderful holiday with Headwater. Everything was well organised and thought out. We have cycled through gorgeous countryside, with great scenery and the majority on quiet country roads. Perfect as always somewhere nice to stop and have lunch on route and cheaply, eaten miles too much but then have cycled it off 🙂
We did have a good holiday but experience could have been much better for reasons stated above and below.
Mostly excellent, but disappointed there were more main roads than on previous cycling trips with Headwater.
In our opinion Alberobello should be dropped - too much of a tourist trap and not a 'Headwater' type destination.
A healthy way to explore a new part of the world, if you want it to be! Very easy to reward oneself after a cycle with fine wine and food, but after all it is a holiday! Travelling self guided allows one to be completely flexible, but others might prefer to have a leader to avoid unnecessary cycling, should one take the wrong route.
Would certainly recommend this type of holiday for a group of friends.
Great holiday. The cycling was easy with the odd tougher bits but they were short lived. Varied scenery with coast and countryside. The notes/directions were at times diddicult to follow and really need updating because signs have fallen down or gone altogether and new roads have been built with new layouts so the notes are out of date. Monopoli is really lovely Palazzo Indelli is well situated right in the pretty main square. The rooms vary so if you are booking a standard room ask for the larger ones at the back of the hotel because the one we were given at the end of our trip was tiny and noisy being on the side at the front. Corte Altavilla is nice too but the staff on reception were unhelpful and grumpy. I am a coeliac and despite telling them in advance it was the only hotel that did not provide anything for me at breakfast other than fruit. The restaurant in the hotel for the evening was very good. Alberobella unfortunately has rather sold its soul and is very over commercialised. The Trulli are nice but we would have preferred some outside space as they are rather dark. Masseria Salamina is fabulous we had a huge room and you really feel like you are staying in a castle. The swimming pool was lovely and we really enjoyed our stay here. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable trip and we are now looking for another one!
The holiday certainly lived up to its name: Contrasts of Puglia. We enjoyed beautiful places both in town and in country. Weather conditions ranged from bright sunshine and blue skies to thunder-storm deluges --- but with the offer of alternative transport on the wettest days. Italian food was wonderful. Overall, it was a memorable week, and we are looking forward to a next time.
Puglia is a fabulous area of Italy. A great variety of terrain with scenic routes.
Generally an excellent service but based on past experience will only go for future holidays with you where a Headwater rep is involved rather than an agent
Bikes excellent. Lunches en route excellent. Accommodation a bit mixed.
No comment - the unseasonal weather curtailed cycling on one day (thunderstorms) so this did affect the overall holiday experience with another day that was also wet.
Thoroughly enjoyable holiday in a beautiful unspoilt part of Southern Italy. The people here are incredibly friendly, not just in the hotels but everywhere. The cycling wasn't too strenuous and the 7km descent into Capitolo was exhilarating ! All the hotels were of a very good standard. Enjoyed staying in the Trulli house even though Alberobello can become very busy with day trippers but our favourite place was the Masseria Salamina, (keep some space in the luggage to stock up on their excellent home produced extra virgin olive oil) ! The food in this region is wonderful with a good choice of restaurants at all the locations except Prezze di Greco where the evening meal is included. This was our 12th Headwater cycling holiday and it lived up to expectations.
Puglia is a fantastic part of Italy to visit - a real hidden gem - and a perfect location for cycling. We were lucky with the weather and got a good week but the weather in April can be variable (i.e. cooler and wetter than we had). Beautiful countryside and lovely coastline with proper beaches. Excellent food and friendly people, We would go back again.
April was a beautiful time of year to travel to Puglia; lovely weather for cycling and the fields were full of wildflowers, cherry blossom, flowering mimosas etc. Although the cycling was all on roads, they were mainly very quiet, country lanes and we found the Italian drivers surprisingly patient and respectful of cyclists. The route deserved its 1 1/2 bike rating; it certainly seemed a bit more strenuous than the previous '1 bike' holiday we had done and we were very glad not to be tackling it in the heat of summer. This was our second Headwater holiday as a family and we think the formula works well for both us and the children (aged 11 and 13). They particularly embraced the Italian love of gelati!
A beautiful part of the world made even more special by great hotels, great food and great cycling
We were well looked after in all aspects of the holiday, from the comprehensive introductory talk, which was both entertaining and full of useful bits of information, through the well-planned and comprehensive route notes, to the excellent accommodation and surroundings of the rides.
Pleasant cycling through mix of peaceful rural landscapes and historic coastal and plateau towns. Although experienced cycle tourists we found the cycling more tiring than expected due to the heat, even in early October, so were glad that the distances were relatively short. Puglian food lived up to its reputation and the local wines recommended by the rep were enjoyable. All the hotels had spacious and well equipped rooms - though we did benefit from an upgrade for the base hotel as the normal one was full. Detailed route notes a great relief after getting minimal and inaccurate ones last year with another company. Unplanned highlight was doing the 7km downhill run while road closed to cars as a proper cycle race came up.! Although not mentioned in the brochure, Monopoli is well connected to the rest of Italy by train, and the station is within walking distance (20 min) of hotel. So we negotiated a reduction in package cost as not needing a transfer to Bari, and made the cycling week the centre of an Italian / French train tour.
Very good holiday overall, in a very interesting area. Route notes were at times inaccurate and ambiguous, which made the ride more like a treasure hunt!
All the hotels and accommodation were of a high standard and staff very friendly and helpful. Bikes were ok but not as good as the Headwater branded ones that we had in Burgundy last year. We would strongly recommend a Headwater holiday.
Good accommodation, clear instructions and good cycling. Met interesting people. Guides were very friendly and helpful.
Really enjoyable, few small comments, maps were hard to read, water bottles ideally insulated, stands of bikes needed, lovely holiday, expensive especially because of euro/sterling exchange
This is our 7th cycling holiday with Headwater and once again we have had a really enjoyable holiday.
Puglia is a great destination for a cycling holiday. Hotels were welcoming, helpful and of good standard.But you definitely need better arrangements for route checking/updating and translation of self-guiding instructions, which misrepresented a number of key instructions, resuling in errors and distress. You continue to give paper instructions which don't fit the holders. Other companies provide mileometers and satnavigation
Lovely cycling trip, local agents, hotels and bikes were very good. The Trulli hotel was interesting, but dark and lacking in facilities.
The Italians could be encouraged to look after their surroundings better .The amount of rubbish by the sides of the roads is awful .It's such a shame and detracts from the unspoilt countryside.The historic centres of the town's are really interesting and not crowded.
An Italian adventure. Excellent bikes, fabulous food. Sometimes the instructions were a challenge but generally ok. Accommodation was varied which added to the overall experience, The Masseria Salamina was exceptional. Our rep Dave was a joy .
The welcome briefing was far too long, we expected it to last for about 15 minutes and it went for over 2 hours. We could have read the notes ourselves, rather than having the rep read them to us. The route notes were excellent and easy to follow. Puglia is a varied part of Italy, some parts are stunningly beautiful, other bits less picturesque. Alberobello has been spoilt by the number of tourists and souvenir shops, we would have preferred to stay in Locorotondo, which is a far more beautiful town without the hoards of cruise ship tourists, although staying in a Trullo was a great experience. The people of Puglia that we came in contact with were incredibly friendly, helpful and kind, and the food and wine were amazing. All in all it was a good cycling holiday with lots to see and varied cycling.
It was our first cycling holiday - we both really enjoyed it. Just the right amount of cycling. The suggestions of what to do on the non cycling days were very helpful. Unfortunately we got lost in Potigano - maybe you should recheck the route notes for leaving the old town. One of the highlights of our holiday was a boat trip on the final day on the Yasemin Sultan.
A well planned and run cycle tour through a beautiful part of Italy with good accommodation.
Well organised , enjoyable and healthy
Everything ran smoothly, with no problems with the transportation of luggage or airport pickup and drop off. The initial briefing by Davide was very thorough and informative. We found the route notes straightforward on the whole but there were a few inaccuracies. Hotels were of a good standard, but we were glad to have taken the option to upgrade, particularly at the Palazzo Indelli where our junior suite had a large terrace overlooking the lively piazza. Having outdoor space at the Trullo was also beneficial. Alberobello is interesting but very touristy and on the leisure day there, we opted to take the train to nearby Martina Franca, via Locorotundo and would recommend this. Italian trains are cheap and easy to use - just don't forget to validate your ticket before boarding! The cycling generally was perfectly manageable, although there was the odd challenging climb. On the last day, we chose to go our own way and followed the coastal route back to Monopoli, rather than go inland. This gave us an enjoyable but shorter ride, allowing us to enjoy the rest of the day in Monopoli.
Very good accommodation in interesting buildings; friendly people; interesting towns; remarkable ancient olive trees; some days are very hilly.
This was our 13th holiday out of 15 with Headwater and the best yet! You are ahead of your competitors that we have tried.
The location of the trip was ideal.
Accommodation and transfer/transport arrangements were good and enjoyed. We thought a Grading of 2 would be more appropriate ; the first two days were difficult. However the route directions were disappointing and in one place wrong. Although the directions were recently revised, I suggest they are reviewed, in particular:
Page 9: the ERG petrol station has been replaced by a building site. On the same page, the 2 electric poles are on a right turn and the Via Marascelli sign is not there. The directions in and out of Noci were confusing and need clarity, probably by removing choice of routes around the town.
Page 28. Conchia to monopoli at the junction with the give way sign , it should say turn left! At present no direction is given. There were other minor errors along the whole route but as you say, signs change !
Marvellous trip. Good that you arranged no rain and temperatures of 32 degrees
This experience allowed us to see the delights of Puglia at our leisure. The route took us through the most beautiful countryside and was made perfect with the excellent food, wine and accommodation
Loved Puglia and everything about the region - scenery, cycle rides, food and especially the negro amaro wine we discovered. The accommodation was brilliant especially the Masseria although we did also really like the vibe of the main square in Monopoli.
There were just 3 slight disappointments
1. The spa at the Corte Altavilla in Conversano was all style over substance and was over-priced
2. The food at the Corte Altavilla was also slightly disappointing after our experience in Monopoli
3. The town and local maps provided by the local agent were utterly useless. Google was much better! They also didn't sometimes tally with the Headwater accurate directions
The cycling was more challenging than expected from the description mainly because of the many climbs involved. One of our party struggled with this, the fitter members of the party found it hard at times but more manageable
Puglia is a lovely uncommercial area of Italy and I would like to visit it again. The people are very friendly and helpful.
The bikes are very good but would benefit from the water bottles more easily accessible instead of having to be stored in the panniers. This is not allowed because of some ridiculous health and safety rule. There is a worry that you will try and drink from your water bottle when cycling.
Good with one serious caveat below
We have just had a wonderful week cycling in Puglia with Headwater. We would highly recommend going in late April/May as the countryside was covered in wild flowers and the weather was perfect for cycling at around 18C. The bikes were just right for the routes which are all on roads. Most roads are quiet but some were busier than I was expecting especially coming into the towns but the Italian drivers were surprisingly deferential and careful around cyclists. The hotels chosen by Headwater were all excellent. All the evening meals we had were delicious, both those provided and those we found ourselves. Not one disappointing lunch or dinner in the whole week! Some of the route instructions need clarification and personally I would have preferred them to be a bit shorter but overall an excellent weeks holiday. I'm sure we will be booking again with Headwater next year.
We loved this holiday. Dave provided comprehensive information on the routes and accommodation at our initial briefing, and could not have been more helpful. He also gave us lots of background information to help us make the most out of our holiday. Puglia is a beautiful area ideal for cycling, and the hotels (which were all excellent) all had very different characters, which added extra interest to the holiday.
Well organised holiday. Lots of places to visit and experience as a result of thoughtful planning. Good, comfortable accommodation and food.
This was our first time with Headwater and the impressive, friendly and efficient service, together with very good hotels in a variety of beautuful locations, ensured our total enjoyment. The routes suggested were good and we had the option of extending our rides (in particular an extension to the coastal ride on Day 1). A slight criticism would be that the directions could be clearer and presented in specific instructional order rather than paragraph narratives; we were not sure that anyone had actually cycled these routes 'blind' and thus we made some mistakes. neverthelessall rides were completed successfully. Puglia is something of a gem and the programme ensure that we enjoyed a full flavour of its varied geography and history. We would have no hesitation in booking another of your holidays and thank you for such a pleasureable experience.
We are not regular cyclists and this was our group's (6 of us) first experience of a cycling holiday and of using Headwater.
The organisation was very good and the suggestion of Puglia for this adventure was first class.
We had excellent weather to enjoy lovely countryside and well chosen locations and accommodation.
Really excellent trip. Cycling was great and not too strenuous although cycling every day a reasonable distance. Beautiful scenery passing through coastal areas with shimmering sea and quiet coves, on to endless olive groves with not a person in sight. The Puglia towns are delightful in character. Hotels are undoubtedly excellent especially Masseria Salamina (a gem - what a location, luxurious pool area, fabulous dinners) and Trulli stay was also a delight, with very friendly but not intrusive staff. The cycling is all on surfaced roads which means that the provided bikes were more sporty and made cycling easier (lighter frame, thinner tyres, gearing better, no mudguards or bell). Southern visions, your local partners, were really helpful - we were travelling on to Dubrovnik by ferry and the transfer driver spent quite some time locating the left luggage for us, which would have been impossible for us without good Italian. Thus was really appreciated as we were able to relax in Bari for the day. Finally the Spa in a Corte Altavilla was a great bonus - each of us had a well-earned massage from Andreas after steam room and soaking in the hot tub. Weather was excellent (iPhone weather suggests cloudy and thunder storms but neither was accurate - sunshine daily in mid to late September.
Definately worth a try and nice varied holiday. It was good to experience a different part of Italy. Whilst for us it doesn't quite match up to the scenary of home and other parts of Italy such asTuscany and Umbria, it has its own charm. Our cycling route took in a good mix of the coast, the coastal planes and the plateau and some lovely little towns. The cycle down from Alberobello was lush. As we live in God's own countyclose to the Yorkshitre Dales all the miles of dry stone walling made us feel quite at home. Luckily we don't have anywhere near the problems the Italian's have with roadside litter and fly tipping. It's a real shame. However, it's not all like that by any means. It certainly isn't something in Headwater's control as isn't the weather, which was indifferent but we managed not to get wet whilst riding, which was good and we did see some sun - just thought it might have been a bit better in early September, but your in the lap of the gods . There's some fantastic old olive vines throwing up some weird and wonderful trunk shapes to feast your eyes on. We saw very few animals despite there been a plentiful array of meat on the evening meal menus. The people we met from Southern Visions your local agent were all very friendly and they provided an excellent service. Manopoli was a wonderful place to start and the Palazzo Indelli a nice little hotel right in the thick of the old historic quarter in a lovely little square, which came alive at night, and close to the waterfront with its fortifications and castle. Worth doing the extra short loop on the first day if you want a bit of fish for lunch. Corte Altavilla was a nice little hotel also and well located just off the square by the cathedral and near the castle in Conservano. I just thought the hotel restaurant on the top floor lacked a bit of atmosphere, but we were only there for one night, so no great shakes. This hotel looked to have a good spa, but it was fully booked, so if you want to partake best to book in advance. Staying in the Truli house was an experience, as were the bangs on the head I gave myself on the low doorways! However, previous reviews on your website weren't wrong that you had saved the best until last - the Masseria Salamina. I dont think I've ever felt so relaxed so quickly on arrival at a hotel and I've stayed at many. We were so pleased that after reading the other reviews we'd opted for another night. In fact if we went back and did this trip again I'd be looking to rejig things to stay in Arerobello and the Trulli House for just 1 night instead of 2 and have a further night at Masseria Salamina. What a lovely place. There's opportunities for those who want to mix cycling with a bit of train travel with the bikes, such as the round journey from Alberobello where we actually chose in the end to take the train back from Marta Franca. Be aware Italian drivers seem to like to honk their horns I guess to tell you they are coming even though you've already heard them. Overall a very pleasurable experience well worth a go.
Puglia as a region is over-hyped. You will mainly be cycling along dusty roads through olive trees. The southern Italian towns have very messy litter strewn outskirts with disused factories and omnipresent graffiti but once you get to the centres you will find lovely old walled towns with stone pavements - completely closed as you are most likely to arrive in the middle of the afternoon siesta!
you did ask!!
We celebrated our wedding anniversary with this holiday. Overall we had a wonderful experience despite the unseasonably wet weather in Apuglia this September. We flew independently and organised ourselves 2 days in Lecce which we would recommend. We arrived in Monopoli by train and walked to the hotel - from there on we were welcomed and looked after by Southern Vision rep Davide who was extremely informative. We were a bit concerned that we would end up on a group tour but the other headwater guests were lovely and everyone had their own plans and did their own thing. The cycling was just the right level for us, the hotels great! The inclusive food was very good standard and elsewhere we did not have one course of food that was not delicious! Highlights were the pretty town squares, the Esspressini, the Vongole, the Negramero wine, the sea food at Savelletri, the afternoons lazily cycling through olive groves, the quiet routes and the friendly people of Southern Italy. When we arrived at Bari airport with the wrong passports with 50 minutes before the gate closed, Southern Vision contacted Salamina, and then the young Boss Phillipo (apologies for spelling) broke the land speed record, and every level of service and commitment to get our passports to us! while the Southern Vision team worked on a backup plan the accommodate us and rearrange flights - All in under 45 minutes! We made our flight, sweating, tired, but very happy that we had chosen Headwater for a great fun way to celebrate.
The holiday was very enjoyable and the suggested places to visit/eat and short town guides were very helpful. The food in this part of Italy was amazing and there was a lovely mix of Coast and hills.
our third Headwater holiday. Set dinners in the hotels often poor and we are really fed up with this. It is not a cheap holiday but we seem to get the dregs of the food. Our best meals were out in independent restaurants. On the first night when Pallatzo Indelli couldn't feed us they sent us out for a wonderful simple fresh supper at a restaurant. Dinner with them the second night was DISGUSTING. We felt like the poor relations.
Dear Mrs Alexander, Thank you for your constructive feedback, We were sorry to see that you were disappointed with the standard of meals served at some of the restaurants on this holiday . We have discussed your comments with our local suppliers and from this some new menus have been put into place with more choices available. Whilst the overall feedback for this holiday is positive, we realise we cannot afford to let our standard slip and thank you for bringing these points to our attention. We hope that by making these small changes our customers will continue to enjoy this lovely area of Italy.
Headwater Customer Service team
Good fun helped by good weather, hotels, food and wine.
Our stay in Monopoli was wonderful and the hotel was ideal - got a little lost on our way back on the first cycle ride as we mis-counted some of the 'Y' turns. Enjoyed the cycle rides along the side roads - pretty wild flowers in May.
Because of our ages (I am 80, my wife is 78) we decided not to do the Puglia trip on bikes but by car. This worked very well. The only problem was the very narrow streets and difficulty in finding the way in Monopoli. Doing it by car meant we had more time to explore the places where we stayed and time to drive to Lecce. We thought that Masseria Salamina would be a very good base for anyone wishing to explore Puglia by car. It is a lovely hotel, easy to find and in a good location for visiting other interesting places in that area. The sea food restaurants on the coast are excellent, especially one at La Forcatella. The remains of the Roman town and port at Egnazia and the museum are very intersting.
A wonderfully authentic Puglian expeience -great locations, countryside, food, wine & cycling
We decided to book our own direct flights with BA instead of using the advertised Alitalia via Milan flights. The timings don't differ significantly and Headwater were happy to arrange non standard transfers at no extra cost. The standard of accommodation throughout the trip was of a high standard. We really enjoyed the stay in the Trulli house and were pleasantly surprised to be given a Trulli suite with a small patio garden! The highlight however was our stay in the Masseria Salamina. On booking we upgraded to a garden suite but on arrival we were delighted to be allocated the luxury suite complete with private balcony and sea views. We were made to feel really welcome by the family and the food was excellent. Simple, fresh and plentiful with much of it coming from their own farm.
The map of the area is only good for an overview but the route notes and briefing were excellent and at no point did we stray off route. Some of the roads (as has been mentioned before) are in a poor condition but this did not detract from the enjoyment of the cycling.
Another enjoyable, well organised and well supported holiday from Headwater. The next one is already booked!
This area of Italy proved to be lovely for cycling. Most of the routes were along very quiet lanes lined with dry stone walls, along side olive groves and vineyards. Staying in a Trulli in Alberrobello was a delightful experience, so much so that we wish we had been able to book an extra night: we didn't cycle on the middle day as we wanted to look round the town.
Your local agent organised a great tour through Puglia, linking key sights of interest via lovely quiet back roads where we observed rural life.
Great combination of exercise, exploration and recreation.
nice hotels, gentle cycling and wonderful surroundings....all makes for an enjoyable and relaxing break
On the whole all the hotels exceeded our expectations as did the bikes, which were very good, though I would recommend extra padded cycling shorts.
If you arent going to have lunch at a restaurant en route, buy your provisions early, because everything closes for lunch, we never did work out the closing times, as we always seemed to be on the road. Many of the roads are awful, so those padded shorts will serve you doubly!
The dinners are plentiful and wonderful food. The routes are delightful, mainly on small roads with little traffic. There was only one day which proved to be rather taxing with a lot of ups and downs from Alberobello to Martina Franca. Luggage transportation went without any hiccups and all in all it was a really enjoyable destination to catch the last of the summer warmth.
have spoken to joanne prior to your e mail but conform we thought the holiday was excellent in every respect. bikes were brilliant hotels and food better than expected. the area was fascinating and very unspoilt and great cycling routes.We were dismayed to hear of Ali accident just after our our meeting and hope she recovers quickly and fully because she was really great and helpful and knowledgeable and sensible. One set of directions per cyclist would have been better and advance warning of city taxes in two of the hotels might be wise. Otherwise a really great holiday.
Negatives first: Somewhat expensive for the type of holiday which will cause us to carefully evaluate 'rival' companies for next year. The countryside was too similar and the beaches poor unlike the Alsace tour we went on previously which was pleasantly varied with overall better hotels. The trulli experience was not to be recommended, no working air conditioning, light bulbs missing etc... On pointing this out told the air conditioning had been switched off as weather getting cooler ! In fact it could be switched on but did not work. Our friend next door discovered the air conditioning in his house had no plug. The plumber was to be told about the problem and we had a fan so clearly problem was longer standing.
Positives: the hotels were all good and staff helpful in most, the organisation of the tour by Southern Visions was excellent and the Salamina was to be particularly recommended. Weather perfect.
Overall we were happy with holiday but will be more careful over selecting the area we go to next year to ensure variety/interest. That is not the fault of Headwater!
Headwater were friendly, efficient and the holiday was well organised throughout with comprehensive directions. Rest days offered the opportunity to put the bikes on the train for part of the tours, or just cycle part of the routes and the hotels were well placed for this and other sightseeing. All in all, a very good holiday was had by all!
SShhsh! Don't tell anyone about Puglia ! After many years of travel in Italy , We have a new favorite region ! Wonderful food and wine,peaceful rural and coastal lanes, and each town is more beautiful than the last ! A real treat of a holiday - and few tourists ! Let's keep it like that !!!
This was our eighth Headwater holiday over 20 years and they have all been very enjoyable. Yet again, Headwater and their agents were very efficient throughout. We were particularly impressed by the Masseria Salamina which exceeded our expectations and was a perfect place to finish our holiday.
Puglia tourist people very welcoming and can be very helpful but be careful of gross overcharging.
Look at your bills and dispute perceived unfairness on the spot.
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday.
This 7 night self-guided cycling holiday includes:
Hotel-to-hotel accommodation in a mix of , and hotels
All continental breakfasts and 2 evening meals
Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
GPS route directions and maps
Headwater navigation app
High quality bikes
Standard transfers at the start/end of the trip (if booking inclusive flights)
Luggage transfers between hotels
How to book:
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Minimum group sizes
No minimum group size, however transfers are subject to at least 2 people (in total) booked on each departure.
This holiday is unsuitable for children.
Self-guided cycling Managed locally by Headwater appointed agent.
Selected Saturdays, Mondays & Wednesdays from 20th Sep 2021 to 24th Oct 2022, for 7 nights. All dates are subject to availability, please contact us to check.
All continental breakfasts and 2 evening meals
It is possible to hire electric bikes for this holiday at a supplement of £215 per person. As these are available on a first come first served basis, we recommend early booking to avoid disappointment.
It is possible to hire tandem bikes for this holiday at a supplement of £245 per bike. As these are available on a first come first served basis, we recommend early booking to avoid disappointment.
Airport transfers are subject to at least 2 people (in total) booked on each departure.
Transfers can be arranged at a supplement from Bari airport at 10:20 Sat, 11:30 Mon & 11:20 Wed departures and back to Bari airport at 08:05 Sat, 09:00 Mon & Wed departures