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Things to do in Matera

Things to do in  Matera

Welcome to Matera

The southern Italian city of Matera looks as if it is frozen in time—and parts of it are. The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most popular attraction in the small region of Basilicata (a roughly 2.5-hour drive from Naples) owing to its hillside series of prehistoric cave dwellings that are believed to date back thousands of years. It is thought that the so-called Sassi di Matera were occupied by some of Italy’s first humans, and many are still in use today, serving as restaurants, bars, hotels, and even art galleries. While travelers can visit many of the sassi (stones) independently, signs and information plaques are sparse so it’s best to go with an expert guide who can shed light on the area’s long history. Just outside Matera, the Murgia Materana Park is home to some 150 ancient churches that were carved right out of the limestone. Take a sightseeing tour that includes entrance fees, the services of a guide, and round-trip transport from Matera for a hassle-free visit to the rupestrian churches. If you’re visiting Matera from elsewhere in Italy, the small city is located about 1.5 hours away from Bari, the capital of Puglia, by train.

Top 3 attractions in Matera

Sassi di Matera

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A European Capital of Culture, the UNESCO-listed Sassi di Matera are one of Basilicata’s most fascinating destinations. The cave dwellings and caverns carved into the hillside of Matera date from prehistoric times and were inhabited until the 1950s. Today, they host unique hotels, restaurants, churches, and museums.More

Murgia National Park (Parco della Murgia Materana)

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The UNESCO World Heritage–listed Murgia Materana Park is one of the most important attractions in the region of Basilicata. Located near the Sassi di Matera, the park is famous for its prehistoric sites, rupestrian churches, and varied wildlife—and is a fascinating testament to the historic relationship between humans and nature.More

Madonna delle Virtù Church (Chiesa di Madonna delle Virtù)

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Madonna delle Virtù in the heart of the UNESCO–listed Sassi di Matera is one of the most important rupestrian churches in this European Capital of Culture, a warren of caverns dug from the cliff in the 12th century and subsequently frescoed. With its Romanesque interiors and cupolas, this architectural treasure is a highlight of the city.More

Top activities in Matera

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Recent reviews from experiences in Matera

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Great way to see Matera...
Kathleen_R, Sep 2022
Long Private Panoramic Tour with Ape Calessino in Matera
Great way to see Matera with less walking up and down.
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Matera tour
Dianne_G, Sep 2022
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
Great knowledge and fascinating history of Matera presented well in clear English with a good sense of humour.
star-5
Fun way to explore Matera
DAVID_T, Aug 2022
Ape Calessino Tour Matera Lungo
Wonderful place to visit and a great way to get around in a smaller vehicle.
star-5
Fun family ride
Lina_M, Jun 2022
Ape Calessino Tour Matera Lungo
It’s a fun way to see Matera.
star-4
Excellent!!!
Solange_A, Jun 2022
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
My only feedback is for him to improve his English, sometimes it was difficult to follow.
star-4
It was a nice way to see...
Wil_v, May 2022
Ape tour Matera - Guided tour in ape calessino
It was a nice way to see Matera.
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Matera tuktuk tour
Glenn_D, May 2022
Ape Tour Matera - Panoramic tour in ape calessino
Vireo spoke great English.
star-5
Great Guide and Way to See This Amazing City
Sarah_T, Sep 2022
Ape Tour Matera - Panoramic tour in ape calessino
Our first visit to Matera and this is a great way to see the amazing city.
star-5
Fun way to explore Matera
Rachel_S, Oct 2020
Private Panoramic Tour with Piaggio Ape Calessino in Matera
It was a fun way to see Matera.
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THE BEST TOUR EVER
Sarah_T, Sep 2021
Secret Matera Sassi (Private Tour)
She even took the time after the tour to book us in for a drink at one of the most gorgeous hotels over looking an incredible view to see matera at night.
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Knowing Matera with Vincenzo Di Modugno (Excellent Tour Guide)
GORDON_M, Aug 2021
Scopri i Sassi di Matera
It is also good to mention that Vincenzo also speaks clear and fluent English, which was highly appreicated!
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A must.
Carol_Z, Mar 2022
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
Her English was very good.
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Get to know Matera!!
DionneB, Sep 2022
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
He spoke perfectly in English and kept checking on the group.
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Best and most informative walking tour ever!
Maria_J, Aug 2022
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
The tour was so informative and much better than mainstream tours that just cover the main churches and attractions.
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Just loved the tour
Victoria_L, Jul 2022
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
I would recommend to all my friends to see Matera with this tour.
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From Shame to Fame!
Abigail_B, Oct 2021
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
His English was brilliant, and he was very funny.
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Great tour in Matera..2.5 hours
Heather_B, Aug 2021
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
Our tour guide was very thorough and spoke great English!
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Gaetano was great!
Jason_M, Jul 2019
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
It was our favorite place to visit in Italy.
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English tour
M_Sch, Aug 2021
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
We booked for the English tour in a group.
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Tour of Matera
Robin_Y, Sep 2019
Discover Matera, the ancient city - Tour in Italian or English tour
All English speaking along with our tour guide.
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All about Matera

When to visit

Though slightly cooler than its southern Italian neighbors, Matera is still hot in the heart of summer, with average July highs hovering around 86°F (31°C). Travelers braving the heat can see the costumed processions and fireworks of the Festa della Bruna—the town’s most important religious festival—in early July. April tends to be rainy. May and June are drier, warmer, and beat the high travel season by a month or two.

Getting around

Matera is served by buses and trains, but it’s in a relatively remote part of the Basilicata region where public transportation is not always reliable. Renting a car makes the most sense, but know that parking in the center of Matera is limited. Guided tours on foot or on Italian tuk-tuks (called Api) are a great way to experience the famed sassi—cave dwellings that were inhabited for nearly 7,000 years.

Traveler tips

Nothing completes the Matera experience like spending the night in the sassi. Once dishonoring Matera with the nickname “the shame of Italy” for their squalor, the cave dwellings are now a local point of pride, with some having been converted into hotels. Accommodation options range from modest to luxurious—the budget-minded Locanda di San Martino and the four-star Hotel Sant’Angelo are good places to start.

Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
CEST (UTC +1)
Country Code
+39
Language(s)
Italian
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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