Visit one of Italy’s best kept secrets! This weekend break in Matera includes flights and a hotel stay in this captivating old city.
Matera might be an unknown destination for some of you, but believe me a weekend break in Matera needs to be on your bucket list. Some may have seen it in the opening scene of the new James Bond movie – No Time To Die, but it is even more impressive in person.
Matera is located about an hour’s drive from Bari in the southern tip of Italy, and Ryanair fly twice weekly from Dublin, making it an ideal destination for a short break. Many think it is located in Puglia, but it is actually located in Basilicata. However, both regions are next to each other so Matera can also be visited if you are holidaying in Puglia.
Matera is not just visually stunning, it has a remarkable story to go with it. It was home to the third oldest continually inhabited settlement in the world, and up to 70 years ago Matera was labelled the ‘shame of Italy’.
However, its transformation from rags to riches has been incredible. It became Europe’s capital of culture in 2019 and is now one of Europe’s most unique places to visit. You can read more about Matera and why I think your should visit in my blog post:
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We visited about five years ago and were lucky to be able to stay inside the ancient town or Sassi as it is called – the literal translation of Sassi is Stones. It is perched on top of a rocky mountain, with caves, houses and streets all piled on top of each other. There is a lush green valley below so it is a remarkable sight when you see it for the first time.
Matera also has a pretty new town, and you can walk from the old to the new town in minutes. Hotel prices are lower in the newer part of the city and many hotels have parking. The old town, or Sassi is a pedestrianised zone so you can not drive here and parking is difficult to secure.
I suggest taking a taxi transfer from Bari airport (approximately €100) or the cheaper bus and train services – see more here. Car hire is very affordable and handy if you want to explore Puglia, but if you just want a weekend break in Matera and not venture further, it is not necessary.
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Return flights from Dublin to Bari are available from €127. There are many different hotels or guest houses to choose from, however, hotels are small, as many are built inside caves, so there may only be one or two rooms available at any one hotel.
I found two hotels that are highly recommended, but there are many more available. The 4-star Hotel Casino Ridola is located at 600m from the Sassi and offers great value. Price is just €222 per person for a three-night stay including breakfast, making this weekend break in Matera very affordable.
If you prefer to stay inside the Sassi, the Cenobio Hotel is a great choice. This 4-star stone hotel boasts a hot-tub, terrace and complimentary breakfast, and is rated as Excellent on TripAdvisor.
For the ultimate holiday experience and a unique stay, the 5-star Sant’Angelo Luxury Resort is hard to beat. I stayed in its sister property during my visit and had the pleasure of dining here – it is a stunning hotel.