There’s a whole host of child-friendly things to do with your family in Puglia. If your little ones are crazy for nature, you’ll find some fantastic protected environments to see Puglia’s impressive flora and fauna at its most impressive. If your kids are more into high-octane fun, there are plenty of waterparks to zoom around, and incredible atmospheric caves to dive into.
1. Get hands-on at the farm with Polignano Made in Love
Why go: Day trips, boat tours and spa days are all available from the passionate tour guides at Polignano Made in Love. But for a real taste of Puglia from these local experts, sign up for their farm day experience. Cheese is one of the stars of Puglia’s cuisine and you can go home an expert in the stuff after a visit to a lab, where you’ll magic milk into cheese and taste-test the results. The highlight of the trip, especially for youngsters, is getting hands-on at a real working farm, where you will lend traditional farmers a hand with harvesting the rich local produce of Puglia.
2. Go on a bear hunt at ZooSafari Fasanolandia
Why go: Tigers, black bears and lions aren’t what you would usually expect to sightsee on a jaunt to Italy, but that is exactly what animal-loving kids will find at this giant safari and theme park. Sprawling across 150 acres of hillside in the coastal town of Fasano, ZooSafari Fasanolandia is a full-on family day out where you can drive safari-style through free-roaming wildlife and go on to clock an ark-full of creatures from around the globe, from elephants and giraffes, to bison, camels and flamingos. A tropical centre houses the likes of snakes and alligators, while the zoo’s train chugs past monkeys and lemurs. There’s also a penguin house, dolphinarium and a host of roller coasters, water rides and fairground-style attractions.
3. Head deep underground at the Grotte di Castellana
Why go: Proving that age is nothing but a number, the spectacular caves of Grotte di Castellana date back some 90 million years – and are looking pretty good for it. One of Puglia’s best-known natural wonders, the cave network descends 60 metres underground into a world of spiky stalactites and stalagmites, ancient fossils and deep canyons. Take a tour and guides will walk you along a winding three-kilometre stretch of the caves, where you can see up-close the incredible, colourful formations that have been naturally carved out of the earth over millions of years.
4. See the countryside on horseback with CEAS Centro Equitazione Altosalento
Why go: Adults and kids alike can saddle up for a ride throughout the rustic landscape of Serranova with this family-run horse riding school. Natural treasures not accessible by car, such as caves, olive groves and nature reserves, are all waiting to be explored on horseback in this rural corner of Puglia. Rides are offered to families or small groups, or even individually if you prefer. Children are warmly welcomed, and the team always love introducing youngsters to the world of horses and horse riding. Everyone’s given a lesson prior to heading out into the countryside too, so you don’t need any former experience to have a go.
5. Become a marine explorer with Jonian Dolphin Conservation
Why go: Dolphin watching is a special day out for the whole family, and there’s no more exciting way to do it than with a crew of scientific researchers. Jonian Dolphin Conservation is an award-winning marine research team that power up their catamaran and take to the waters around Puglia to observe and protect the mammals that call the Ionian Sea home. Become a marine researcher for the day as you jump aboard the 12-metre-long Lady-Hawke and get to grips with its hi-tech monitoring gear, including probes, HD video equipment and hydrophones. You’ll help the crew identify different dolphins by photographing their fins, register their distinctive whistles and clicking noises, and gather environmental data from the ocean itself.
6. Whizz down water slides at Carrisiland Acquapark
Why go: Waterbabies will be in their element at Carrisiland, an enormous water park in Cellino San Marco, just north of Lecce. With 13,500 square metres of swimming pools alone, this giant attraction has plenty to keep the whole family entertained. There is a huge pirate ship and a castle, a bunch of waterfalls and a wave pool, as well as numerous rides and adrenaline-pumping water slides spread throughout the grounds. You can take a break from the splashing on sun terraces, lawns and sunbeds. And, when you’ve dried off, head for the park’s ancient forest, miniature train, live entertainment centre or petting zoo.
7. Picnic at the unspoiled beauty spot of Torre Guaceto
Why go: With completely untouched and undeveloped sands, Torre Guaceto is no ordinary stretch of beach. You won’t find the usual clusters of bars, shops and water sports centres here thanks to its status as a protected nature reserve. Various plant and animal species, including turtles, thrive here and there are plenty of opportunities to see them on nature walks, snorkelling trips or cycle treks. You can get clued up on what creatures to expect at the small local museum. The lack of development also means a lack of conveniences; so don’t expect luxuries like sun loungers or restaurants, just a snack bar or two. But it’s worth the effort of packing up a cool box with drinks and a picnic to enjoy such peaceful, natural surroundings.
Are you planning a family villa holiday to Puglia? Check out our brilliant range of villas and traditional ‘trulli’ houses or ask our concierge team for advice on the best place for you. Now that you’ve seen the best things to do with kids in Puglia, round out your planning with the best foodie experiences and the most fun things to do with your whole group.