One day in Matera Itinerary – Top Things to do in Matera, Italy

Matera, Italy, enchants with its ancient allure and breathtaking landscapes. Carved into rugged cliffs, its ancient Sassi districts transport visitors to a bygone era, earning it UNESCO World Heritage status. Wander through narrow alleys lined with cave dwellings that have stood for millennia, each exuding a timeless charm. Discover the intricate cave churches adorned with frescoes, a testament to Matera’s rich cultural heritage. Sample authentic Italian cuisine in family-run trattorias, savoring local delicacies. Immerse yourself in the warmth of Matera’s hospitality, where every corner tells a story of resilience and tradition. A journey to Matera promises an unforgettable encounter with history and culture.

Oned day in Matera Itinerary

Matera: A Perfect Day Itinerary

Welcome to your one day in Matera! Prepare for an unforgettable experience in this captivating city by following our curated itinerary. Matera offers stunning architecture, rich history, and delightful cuisine for you to explore in just one day. Let’s make the most of your time with our top recommendations for sights and activities.

Begin Your Day with a Scenic Stroll Through the Sassi

As the sun rises over Matera, embark on a leisurely walk through the historic Sassi districts. Marvel at the ancient cave dwellings and stone-carved churches that cling to the cliffs, each one telling a story of centuries past. Wander through narrow alleyways, taking in the rustic charm of this unique cityscape.

Sassi di Matera
Sassi di Matera, Author: xiquinhosilva, Source: Flickr

Pause to admire panoramic views of the Gravina gorge, casting a golden hue over the landscape. Let the tranquil ambiance of the morning envelop you as you immerse yourself in Matera’s timeless beauty.

Sassi di Matera
Sassi di Matera, Author: xiquinhosilva, Source: Flickr

Explore the Fascinating Cave Churches

Step back in time as you enter Matera’s mesmerizing cave churches, each one a masterpiece of ancient architecture and art. Begin your exploration at the iconic Cathedral of Matera, known for its striking Romanesque façade and ornate interiors. Admire the intricate frescoes and Byzantine icons that adorn the walls, depicting scenes from biblical tales. Continue your journey to the Church of San Pietro Barisano, where ancient rock-cut chapels and underground crypts await discovery. Let the silence of these sacred spaces transport you to a realm of contemplation and awe.

Matera Cathedral
Matera Cathedral, Author: Kars Alfrink, Source: Flickr

Immerse Yourself in Local Culture at Casa Noha

Gain insight into Matera’s rich cultural heritage with a visit to Casa Noha, a multimedia museum located in the heart of the Sassi. Trace the city’s history through immersive audiovisual presentations, offering a glimpse into its evolution from ancient times to the present day. Learn about the traditions and customs of Matera’s inhabitants, whose resilience has shaped the city’s identity. Wander through interactive exhibits that highlight the architectural marvels and artistic treasures of this UNESCO-listed site. Let Casa Noha’s storytelling captivate your imagination and deepen your appreciation for Matera’s cultural legacy.

Streets of Matera
Streets of Matera, Author: Eduard Marmet, Source: Flickr

Indulge in Authentic Trattoria Fare

For a satisfying lunch in Matera, look no further than Il Rusticone. Renowned for its mouthwatering pizza, this cozy gem also offers taglieri (meat and cheese platter) and flavorful puccia sandwiches made with pizza dough . Rusticone’s prime location near Piazza Vittorio Veneto makes it an ideal lunch spot for exploring the city. With a limited number of tables and counter space inside, it exudes a charmingly intimate atmosphere. Whether you’re craving a quick bite or a leisurely dinner, Rusticone is the perfect place to indulge in authentic flavors while enjoying local wine.

Il Rusticone, Matera
Il Rusticone, Matera

Wander Through the Artisan Workshops of the Sassi

Venture off the beaten path to discover Matera’s thriving artisan community hidden within the labyrinthine streets of the Sassi. Explore workshops where skilled craftsmen practice ancient trades such as pottery, woodworking, and stone carving. Marvel at the intricate craftsmanship displayed in handmade ceramics, wrought ironwork, and traditional textiles. Engage with artisans as they demonstrate their techniques passed down through generations, offering insight into Matera’s living heritage. Purchase unique souvenirs to commemorate your visit, supporting local artisans and preserving Matera’s cultural legacy.

Admire the Sunset from Belvedere Murgia Timone

As the day draws to a close, find your way to Belvedere Murgia Timone. From this elevated perch, the entire expanse of Matera, along with its surrounding countryside, unfolds before you. As the sun dips low on the horizon, watch as its golden rays cascade over the ancient stone dwellings of the Sassi, casting long shadows across the rugged terrain. Take a moment to soak in the breathtaking sight, as Matera is bathed in a warm, amber glow, a fitting farewell to a day in this historic city.

Matera Sunset
Matera Sunset

Experience Unforgettable Dining at Trattoria del Caveoso

Indulge in an unforgettable dinner at Trattoria del Caveoso. This charming eatery offers a quintessential taste of Italian cuisine amidst the historic ambiance of the Sassi di Matera. Savor traditional dishes crafted with locally sourced ingredients, including homemade pastas and succulent meats. From the rich flavors of their signature pasta dishes to the tantalizing aromas of grilled specialties, each bite is a culinary delight. Pair your meal with a selection from their impressive wine list, featuring regional favorites. With its warm hospitality and authentic fare, Trattoria del Caveoso promises an evening of culinary excellence in the heart of Matera.

Trattoria del Caveoso, Matera
Trattoria del Caveoso, Matera

Where to stay in Matera?

Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita, Matera

Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita

Via Civita 28, 75100 Matera

Immerse yourself in luxury at this unique hotel located in ancient caves, offering a blend of modern amenities and historic charm. With its high ratings, guests can enjoy elegant rooms, attentive service, and a stunning setting in the heart of Matera’s Sassi district.


Palazzo Gattini Luxury Hotel, Matera

Palazzo Gattini Luxury Hotel

Piazza Duomo, 13/14, 75100 Matera

Experience comfort and style at this mid-range hotel housed in a beautifully restored 16th-century palace. Guests can enjoy well-appointed rooms, a rooftop terrace with panoramic views, and convenient access to Matera’s attractions, all at a reasonable price.


Caveoso Hotel, Matera

Caveoso Hotel

Piazza San Pietro Caveoso, 75100 Matera

For budget-conscious travelers, Caveoso Hotel offers affordable accommodations without compromising on quality. Located in the heart of the Sassi district, guests can stay in traditional cave rooms while enjoying modern amenities and friendly service, all at a wallet-friendly price.


Ostello dei Sassi, Matera

Ostello dei Sassi

Via Casalnuovo 50, 75100 Matera

Perfect for solo travelers or those on a tight budget, Ostello dei Sassi offers comfortable dormitory beds and private rooms at budget-friendly rates. Located within walking distance of Matera’s main attractions, guests can enjoy a social atmosphere, communal kitchen facilities, and helpful staff, making it an excellent choice for budget


A few facts about Matera

  • Ancient History: Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with evidence of human settlement dating back to the Paleolithic era. The city’s historic center, known as the “Sassi di Matera,” consists of ancient cave dwellings carved into the limestone cliffs, providing a unique glimpse into prehistoric life.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Matera’s Sassi district was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It is recognized for its outstanding cultural value and significance as a prime example of a troglodyte settlement, where humans have lived in caves for thousands of years.
Sassi di Matera
Sassi di Matera, Author: Giovanni Pracucci, Source: Flickr
  • Cultural Capital: Matera was designated as the European Capital of Culture for 2019, alongside Plovdiv, Bulgaria. This prestigious title brought international attention to Matera’s rich history, cultural heritage, and vibrant arts scene, showcasing its importance as a cultural hub in Italy and Europe.
  • Film Location: Matera’s unique landscape and ancient architecture have attracted filmmakers from around the world. It has served as a backdrop for numerous movies, including Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and the James Bond film “No Time to Die,” further highlighting its cinematic appeal.
  • Culinary Traditions: Matera is renowned for its traditional cuisine, which features locally sourced ingredients and rustic flavors. Visitors can sample regional specialties such as “cavatelli” pasta, “pane di Matera” (Matera bread), and “peperonata” (pepper stew), while exploring the city’s charming restaurants and cafes.

What’s the best time to visit Matera?

The best time to visit Matera is during the spring and fall seasons, specifically from April to June and September to October. During these months, the weather is mild and comfortable, perfect for exploring Matera’s outdoor attractions and historic sites without the crowds and intense heat of the summer months. Spring brings blooming flowers, adding to the city’s charm, while autumn offers beautiful foliage, creating picturesque landscapes around the ancient Sassi district. Additionally, visiting during these shoulder seasons allows travelers to take advantage of lower accommodation prices and fewer tourists, providing a more relaxed and authentic experience.

Matera, Author: xiquinhosilva, Source: Flickr

However, Matera’s mild Mediterranean climate makes it a year-round destination, so visitors can still enjoy the city’s cultural events, culinary delights, and historic ambiance throughout the year.

Day Trips from Matera


Embark on a picturesque day trip to Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its unique trulli houses. Located just over an hour away from Matera, Alberobello boasts hundreds of these distinctive limestone dwellings with conical roofs, offering a glimpse into traditional Apulian architecture. Explore the charming streets of the Rione Monti district, where trulli houses line narrow cobblestone lanes, and visit the Trullo Sovrano, the only two-story trullo open to the public. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample local delicacies and browse artisan shops showcasing handmade crafts and souvenirs.

Matera’s Park of the Rupestrian Churches

Delve into Matera’s fascinating history with a day trip to the Park of the Rupestrian Churches, located just outside the city. This UNESCO-listed archaeological park is home to numerous rock-cut churches and cave dwellings, showcasing centuries-old frescoes and religious artifacts. Explore the intricate rock-hewn structures, marvel at the ancient artwork, and learn about Matera’s rich cultural heritage from knowledgeable guides. Additionally, enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere of this historic site.

Gravina di Puglia

Discover the charming town of Gravina di Puglia on a day trip from Matera, located approximately 30 minutes away by car. Perched on the edge of a deep ravine carved by the Gravina River, Gravina di Puglia boasts a rich history dating back to ancient times. Explore the town’s historic center, characterized by narrow alleys, medieval churches, and ancient cave dwellings carved into the limestone cliffs. Visit notable landmarks such as the Duomo di Gravina, a beautiful cathedral with a striking facade, and the Ponte della Gravina, a scenic bridge spanning the gorge. Don’t forget to indulge in local cuisine at one of the town’s charming trattorias, offering traditional Apulian dishes and regional wines.

Castel del Monte

Embark on a fascinating day trip to Castel del Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located approximately two hours from Matera. Perched atop a hill in the Apulian countryside, this iconic medieval fortress is renowned for its unique octagonal design and mysterious symbolism. Explore the castle’s interior, adorned with intricate stonework, vaulted ceilings, and historical artifacts, and admire panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from its elevated position. Learn about the castle’s enigmatic history and the legacy of its creator, Emperor Frederick II, who built it in the 13th century. Additionally, explore the nearby town of Andria, known for its charming historic center, vibrant street markets, and delicious local cuisine.

Extra tips for visiting Matera, Italy

  • Comfortable Footwear: Matera’s historic center, the Sassi, is primarily pedestrianized and features narrow, uneven cobblestone streets and stairs. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes to explore the area comfortably.
  • Sun Protection: Matera experiences hot summers with plenty of sunshine. Remember to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun while exploring the city’s outdoor attractions.
  • Water Bottle: Stay hydrated during your visit by carrying a reusable water bottle. There are several drinking fountains scattered throughout Matera where you can refill your bottle with fresh water.
  • Reservations: During peak tourist seasons, popular attractions and restaurants in Matera can get crowded. Consider making reservations in advance for guided tours, museums, and dining to avoid long queues and disappointment.
  • Respect Local Culture: Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich cultural heritage. Respect local customs and traditions, dress modestly when visiting religious sites, and be mindful of noise levels, especially in residential areas.
  • Explore Beyond the Sassi: While the Sassi district is the main attraction, don’t miss out on exploring other parts of Matera, such as the modern city center and surrounding countryside. Renting a car or joining a guided tour can provide opportunities to discover hidden gems and scenic viewpoints.
  • Local Cuisine: Indulge in Matera’s culinary delights by sampling traditional dishes and regional specialties. Don’t miss trying “cavatelli,” a local pasta variety, “pane di Matera,” a rustic bread, and “caciocavallo podolico,” a local cheese. Be sure to dine at authentic trattorias and osterias to savor the flavors of Matera’s gastronomic heritage.
  • Evening Strolls: Matera’s Sassi district takes on a magical atmosphere in the evening when the historic buildings are illuminated. Take leisurely evening strolls through the winding streets to admire the city’s enchanting beauty under the soft glow of streetlights.
Sassi di Matera
Sassi di Matera, Author: xiquinhosilva, Source: Flickr

Make sure you have everything you need

What to pack for your next trip?

Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.

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