Home » Kids In Italy » Ostuni with Kids – Our Family’s Advice for Visiting the ‘White City’
Boy in red shirt walking toward famous blue door of Ostuni, Italy. Cacti in pots on either side of door and bicycle on right.

Ostuni with Kids – Our Family’s Advice for Visiting the ‘White City’

Updated on January 15, 2024

Puglia is an excellent destination to visit with kids and one of the main reasons is because the towns are manageable with little ones.

Ostuni, Puglia’s Città Bianca (the White City) is just one of many small cities and towns in the Valle d’Itria that are perfect for a quick stop during the day, for an evening walk and dinner, or even to use as a base for exploring the area.

I’ve visited Ostuni many times, for both work and play, on my own and with kids.  It’s much more popular now than it was when I first visited in 2004, but it’s still got a charming old city center and plenty of tiny lanes ripe for exploration.

Kids will love walking the small streets, finding the city’s ‘little doors,’ searching for the best views, and of course, seeking out the city’s best gelato.

Based on my visits here with kids, here are my top tips for visiting Ostuni with your family.

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Visit in the Spring or Fall

Summer in Puglia (and Ostuni) is crowded and hot.  It’s not fun to walk city streets in the heat, so visit in the cooler (but still often sunny and warm) months of May and September or October if you can.  

Thinking of hanging at the beach during the day and exploring Ostuni in the evening?  Yes, you can definitely visit the area’s beaches during the summer, but keep in mind they’re also very crowded.  This can be fun for kids who are looking for buddies, but it’s not fun if you’re a parent looking for a ‘chill’ family beach holiday. 

Winter in Ostuni is beautiful when the Christmas decorations and lights are up, but one of the main draws of the area for kids are the beautiful beaches (and it’s too chilly to swim in the winter).

Take an Ape Tour

Ape vehicle sitting atop steps in Ostuni, Italy.  Wall of church on left.
Our ape – lonely while we were checking out a viewpoint

Kids love ape tours, and as a parent I do too.  The ride saves little legs from getting too tired, and riding around in an ape with a local is a nice way to get a feel for the city and learn a little bit.

You can catch a ride in Ostuni at the parking lot in Via Specchia (I recommend parking here) or in the main piazza, Piazza della Libertà.  There are a couple of options when we visited recently – €20 per adult for a 40-minute trip (our pick) and €15 per adult for a 20-minute trip.

My 5-year-old loved squeezing through the small lanes in the ape and learning about Ostuni.  The tour went by so quickly that I had to check my watch and make sure we weren’t being cheated out of time (nope – time flies when you’re having fun!).

Good To Know:  You can fold up your stroller and place it in the back of the ape.

Important:  A small part of the tour is on a main road just below town (and there are no seatbelts).

Good To Know:  Ape is pronounced AH-peh.  It’s the word for ‘bee’ in Italian, and these little vehicles sound like the insects.

Get Pastries at Da Pasquale

Boy waiting in line to order pastries at Da Pasquale in Ostuni, Italy.  You can see pastries in glass display on left.
My son waiting to order at Da Pasquale

Your kids are sure to find a treat amongst the huge selection of pastries at Bar Pasticceria da Pasquale.  Don’t be turned off if there’s a line.  It moves quickly and the pastries are worth the wait.  There are a couple of small tables, or you can take your treats down to enjoy along the city walls.

Find a Cool Viewpoint

Boy looking at view from newer part of Ostuni.  You can see old city in the background and green foliage in the foreground.
Checking out the view of the old city from Piazza Martiri delle Foibe

There are quite a few viewpoints from the city.  My son and I loved walking along the city walls and looking out at the Adriatic Sea and the ‘sea’ of olive trees below town.

Fun Fact:  There are over 36,000 olive trees in the Ostuni area that are over 100 years old!

Some other nice views:

  • From the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Stella
  • From Piazza Martiri delle Foibe (a 10 minute walk from Piazza Libertà, amazing views of the old city)

Find the Famous Blue Door of Ostuni

Blue door of Ostuni on a sunny day. You can see two potted cacti and a bicycle.

This is a must for teens with social media, and the rest of your family will also find Ostuni’s blue door to be gorgeous.  You may need to wait in line to snap a foto, but it will likely be worth framing!

Walk Along the City Walls (Mura di Ostuni)

Boy in red shirt walking along walls of Ostuni, Italy.  Walls on left, buildings in background.
The city walls were the perfect spot for my son to run around and let out some pent-up energy!

The city walls are nice for a passeggiata, or if your kids need to run around.  The pavement is flat and there’s plenty of room, even if other people are out walking. 

On our recent trip, I watched my 5-year-old run sprints back and forth while I admired the view of the countryside below.

Kids will like looking at the tower by Porta Nova.  It’s the military tower and partway up the walls you can see three slits where soldiers poured boiling water and boiling oil on unwelcome visitors.

Talk About Ostuni’s History

One of the best ways to make a visit to Ostuni more interesting for kids is to give them a little bit of history and a few fun facts:

Why Ostuni is White

Ostuni first started painting its walls because of a plague in the middle of the 17th century.  The residents of the lower, poorer part of Ostuni were forced to paint the insides and outsides of their homes with a white limestone mixture, which was supposedly a disinfectant.  Nowadays, the toxic limestone mixture isn’t used, and the walls are painted white to help maintain the city’s status as the Città Bianca (White City).

Colors and Sizes of Ostuni’s Doors

Boy in red shirt standing next to small green door and stone wall in Ostuni, Italy.
My son loved finding this tiny door in Ostuni

While you’ll see doors of many colors now, in the past, there were three main door colors in Ostuni:

  • Green for farmers
  • Brown for merchants
  • Blue for sailors and fishermen

Also notice some of the tiny doors in town.  Were the people of Ostuni much shorter in the past?  Nope!  After a major earthquake in 1743, the local government helped the people of Ostuni rebuild their homes – but they also taxed the construction based on the size of doors and windows.  So, you’ll see small doors, and tiny windows in the old part of town.  Kids will love standing by some of them that are even shorter than they are!

Ostuni’s Main Entrances

While only two remain, there used to be four main entrances to Ostuni:

  • For the poor (Porta San Demetrio, still exists)
  • For the rich
  • For the clergy
  • For the army (Porta Nova, still exists)

Make a Quick Stop at the Playground

Ostuni’s main playground is just outside the old city center, in the Parco Rimembranze.  It’s suitable for toddlers and older kids, as there are little kid play structures and swings, as well as climbing structures for older kids.  The ground is padded, and there are benches and shade for relaxing on a hot day.

Hug a Monumental Olive Tree

Boy in red shirt hugging a huge olive tree trunk in Puglia, Italy.

The gigantic olive trees in Ostuni are majestic, old, and deserve some love.  At one point on our drive, my son wanted to stop and give one a hug.  I ended up giving a hug too, and it felt great. 

Even if you aren’t a hugger, take some time to drive around and check out the olive groves between Ostuni and the sea. 

Visit the Beach Too

Boy playing in sand at beach.  Clear water and a few people swimming in background.
My son playing at the beach near Ostuni

Ostuni isn’t on the beach, but it’s really close (8 kilometers).  Many people flock to the Costa Merlata, but we think the best kids beaches near Ostuni are in the Parco Naturale Regionale Dune Costiere da Torre Canne a Torre San Leonardo (a Regional Natural Park of Coastal Dunes that run from Torre Canne to Torre San Leonardo). 

On our last trip, we spent time at Lido Morelli and loved its simplicity (umbrella and beach lounge chair rentals, small beach bar, showers, and toilets).  The water is crystal clear, calm, and shallow for quite a ways out.  The white sand made some excellent sand castles, and my son and I both had a blast.

Helpful Tip:  If you’re visiting between June and September, be sure to call ahead to reserve a spot (umbrella and lounge chairs) at the beach club.

Stay in a Masseria Outside the City

As much as I love Ostuni and the little villages nearby, I think the best place to stay with a family is in the countryside at a masseria (fortified farm). 

Masseria Il Frantoio, just a 10-minute drive from Ostuni, is located in an idyllic setting in the olive groves.  It has family rooms for up to 5 people, a children’s playground, and a swimming pool.  You can have an amazing multi-course dinner (one of my favorites in the area!), and you can hire a babysitter through the masseria if you want to have an adult evening.  Masseria Il Frantoio is close to Ostuni and the beach, and makes a perfect base in the countryside.

Good To Know:  Want to stay in a city or town?  We love using Monopoli as a base for our family travels in Puglia.

Don’t Bring Your Stroller

You can bring your stroller and see all of the main streets and walk up to the Ostuni Cathedral and the Arco Scoppa.  But, one of the best things to do with little kids is walk in the tiny lanes of the old town, and there are a lot of stairs!

Quick Itinerary for Ostuni with Kids

  1. Park in the parking lot on Via Specchia.
  2. Take an ape tour (directly from the parking lot).  You’ll see the small streets of Ostuni, the walls, a couple of nice viewpoints, and you’ll finish in Piazza della Libertà.
  3. Check out the Colonna dell’Oronzo in Piazza della Libertà.
  4. If needed, get a gelato at Cremeria La Scala, just off the piazza.
  5. Walk uphill past the trinket shops to the Cathedral.
  6. See the rose window of Ostuni’s Cathedral.  Have your kids find the representations of time – 24 rays, 12 apostles, 7 angels.
  7. Turn around and look at the Arco Scoppa, a bridge that connects the Seminary to the Bishop’s Palace.  If you’ve been to Venice and seen the Bridge of Sighs, this will look familiar.  The design of the Arco Scoppa was based on the famous Venetian Bridge.
  8. Walk down to Piazza della Libertà.  On the way you’ll pass souvenir shops, so it may take a while if your kids like to stop and look at all of the ‘shiny objects.’
  9. Have a gelato at Cremeria La Scala or grab a cold drink and sit in a café on Piazza della Libertà.  People watch and check out the towering Colonna di Sant’Oronzo.  
  10. Make your way back to your car and say arrivederci to Ostuni!

I hope this helps you have a wonderful trip to Ostuni with your kids!

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Map for Your Family Visit to Ostuni

What to Do After Visiting Ostuni with Kids

There are plenty more kid-friendly destinations and activities nearby, including:

  • Towns and villages like Locorotondo, Cisternino, Monopoli, Ceglie Messapica, and Polignano a Mare
  • The Caves of Castellana Grotte
  • The trulli town of Alberobello
  • Sandy, family-friendly beaches

Read more about
Locorotondo with Kids
Alberobello with Kids
Grotte di Castellana
Polignano a Mare with Kids
Monopoli with Kids

Need help deciding where to go in Italy with your family? Read
Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids
Best Things to Do in Italy with Kids
Realistic 10 Day Itineraries for Italy with Kids

Boy walking on an empty street in Alberobello, Italy.  You can see trulli ahead on the left.
Exploring Alberobello

Ostuni with Kids Logistics

Diaper Changes – We saw quite a few changing tables in Ostuni, in both restaurants and public toilets. One of the most convenient ones is in the public bathroom at the Via Specchia parking lot – perfect for an arrival and departure diaper change.

Water – There are water fountains spread throughout the city so you can refill your water bottle when needed.

Toilets – You can use bathrooms in restaurants or cafés that you frequent, or pay a small fee to use one of the public bathrooms in Ostuni.  There are a few sprinkled throughout town.

Strollers – Ostuni isn’t super stroller friendly, so I’d leave the stroller in the car.  But, if you need it (for example, you want your baby to take a nap while you explore town), you can stick to some of the main streets and have your stroller with you). Read more about Strollers in Italy.

Glare – Like many of the towns in Puglia with white streets and walls, the glare on a sunny day can be extreme.  If you can, have your kids wear sunglasses while walking around Ostuni.

Baby Supplies – You can find diapers, wipes, diaper cream, baby food, etc at the pharmacy or grocery store. There is a pharmacy on Piazza della Libertà. There aren’t any main grocery stores in the old part of town, but you can find a Despar and Carrefour Express (among others) in the newer part of Ostuni (10-15 minute walk from Piazza della Libertà or a quick taxi ride). Read more about Diapers in Italy.

Ostuni with Kids FAQ

Are there places to change diapers in Ostuni?

Yes, you’ll find diaper changing tables in some restaurants and public toilets.  A handy place (with plenty of space) for changing diapers on arrival and departure is the public toilet at the Via Specchia parking lot.

Can we visit Alberobello and Ostuni in the same day with our kids?

Alberobello and Ostuni aren’t that far from each other, so you definitely could do it, but I recommend choosing one town per day to visit with kids.  Fill the rest of the time with a beach visit, a different activity (like a cooking class, mozzarella demo, or time at the playground), or just resting at your hotel.

Is there a sandy beach near Ostuni?

Yes, if you want to visit a sandy beach close to Ostuni, skip the Costa Merlata and head to the Parco Naturale Regionale Dune Costiere da Torre Canne a Torre San Leonardo (a Regional Natural Park of Coastal Dunes that run from Torre Canne to Torre San Leonardo).  You’ll find sandy beaches that are perfect for families.

Is there any parking in the Ostuni centro storico?

I know you want to park close to the historic center when you’re visiting with kids.  While you can’t park inside the centro storico, you can park very close, at the Via Specchia parking lot.  It’s convenient for families because there’s also a public toilet with changing tables, a water fountain, and you can reach the center by road (vs steps).  If that lot is full, try the parking lot ‘Al Giardino’ on the other side of town.

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