It looks like visitor numbers to Italy might have reached a record high in 2017 and Puglia is definitely leading the way in attracting tourists to this wonderful country. However, despite being explored by a growing number of people, the region remains relatively undiscovered.
Whilst no one would argue what the region has to offer for it’s adult visitors, does it offer as much for the younger generation? Well, it certainly does! This region has an incredible range of activities to offer families.
First and foremost, this is a region dominated by it’s coastline. With around 500 miles of wonderful coast to explore, there are numerous beaches to enjoy, from long sandy stretches of pale white sand to small rocky coves, some of which can only be discovered by approaching from the sea. Whether you are staying on the Adriatic coast or on the coast on the other side of Italy’s heel, you will find crystal clear turquoise seas and an abundance of opportunities to enjoy snorkelling and swimming amongst the fish. What youngster doesn’t enjoy a day spent on the beach building sandcastles or swimming in the sea?!! However, for older children that might have outgrown the sandcastle building phase, there is the opportunity not just to snorkel but also to try their hand at various other watersports including sailing.
Whilst at the beach, your children may even find themselves lucky enough to be swimming amongst sea turtles or to catch a glimpse of a pod of dolphins making their way along the shoreline. I’m yet to meet a child who does not love to discover all that nature has to offer and the wildlife on offer in this region is exceptional. Not only is the sea life going to fascinate them but there is just as much on offer inland too. No doubt they will find themselves marvelling at the flamingos who live in the salt basins at Margherita di Savoia in the South of the region whilst further North, they will surely be blown away by the scenery in the Gargano National Park.
The scenery below ground is just as impressive. Children will love a trip to the caves at Grotta di Castellana. Descending to around 70 metres below ground and with the option of exploring either a 1 km or 3 km route dependent on how far their legs can take them, it’s the chance for children to come across stalectites, stalegmites and fossils.
Children will also love the architecture of Puglia. For any child familiar with the Lord of the Rings, Puglia’s ‘trulli’ will quickly remind them of the hobbit style houses in Tolkein’s famous trilogy of books. Alberobello is the best place to see them, home as it is to over 1000 trulli. A UNESCO world heritage site since 1996, children can enjoy the opportunity to go inside and explore what it would have been like to have once lived in a trullo at the town’s excellent museum.
Puglia has no shortage of history to share with its visitors and there are plenty of other museums to visit during your stay. Ranging from a museum which is home to the most complete skeleton of Neanderthal man ever to be found in Europe to a museum celebrating the process of making sweets (not surprisingly this is particularly popular with kids), there is plenty to excite your child’s imagination and plenty to pique their interest.
Puglia’s climate can also work very much in its favour when it comes to holidaying with children. On average, Puglia enjoys a staggering 300 sunny days every year. There is no denying that temperatures can soar in the peak Summer months so, of course, if you are restricted to travelling in the school Summer holidays and your children do suffer from the heat, then it’s worth making sure you find accommodation with air conditioning.
But whatever time you visit, you can easily adapt your sightseeing schedule around the heat. When the day is at its hottest, head to the Puglian coast for the cooler sea air or opt from one of the many activities on offer that allow you to cool down from the heat of the sun. These include the many waterparks that this region can boast. These stretch from the Aquapark Ippocampo in the North down to Carrisiland in Cellino San Marco and to Splash in the West. All are enormously popular with families.
And then, after a day at the waterpark, visit some of the towns and villages in the evening rather than in the peak of the Summer sun. This will work in your favour too… the towns and villages literally come alive here in the evening, with a real Mediterranean culture. It may mean having to ditch the normal bedtime routine but let the children stay up later and hopefully you will also be rewarded with a lie in the next morning!
Once children reach their teenage years, they are often happy to join in some some of the more ‘adult’ sightseeing activities without complaint but it’s easy to put a younger ‘twist’ on these traditional activities. For example, why not enjoy some creative ways to sightsee by exploring Ostuni on segways or in a tuk-tuk? Children will enjoy the novelty of both modes of transport.
Last but not least, Puglia also has a number of adventure and amusement parks that will allow you to entertain the children and allow them to burn off some energy! These include the zoo safari and amusement park at Fasano. This has plenty to keep children of all ages entertained including plenty of rides, a drive through safari and petting zoo.