Top 13 Things To Do In Matera, Italy - Updated 2024

things to do in matera italy
| 4 min read

Go back in time to this ancient Sassi (stone) town of Matera, Italy. Hidden in a canyon, that you can only reach by train, this subterranean city might be among the first human settlements since the Palaeolithic times. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, this stone town consists of two neighborhoods: Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso. Originating with prehistoric cave dwellers, their habitations are carved into the rock, with homes on top of each other. So bring along your walking shoes and water bottle, for there are a lot of stairs to climb and caves to explore! For places to stay, you can also choose to unwind in one of the cave hotels here for a unique experience. Before this rock city becomes overcrowded with tourism, start planning your trip with this list of the top things to do in Matera, Italy.

1. Sassi di Matera (from USD 30.0)

Discover the ancient city of Matera is an immersive and enriching tour. This guided tour allows you to discover Matera’s unique heritage and ancient history, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Led by a knowledgeable local guide, this fun thing to do in Matera, Italy, takes you through the city’s famous Sassi, ancient cave dwellings carved into the rock, and their historical significance. You’ll learn about Matera’s cultural and architectural evolution from prehistoric times to the present day.

Walking through the charming streets and picturesque alleys, the guide will share captivating stories and insights into the city’s past and present life.

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Sassi di Matera Small-Group Walking Tour

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

1188 reviews

2. Private pizza and tiramisu masterclass (from USD 159.0)

Attending a private pizza and tiramisu masterclass is among the engaging and delectable activities in Matera that allow you to experience the authentic flavors of Italian cuisine. This hands-on culinary experience teaches the art of crafting two iconic Italian dishes - pizza and tiramisu.

Guided by an expert chef, you’ll receive personalized instruction on making pizza dough from scratch, selecting the finest ingredients, and creating unique pizza creations. Next, you’ll dive into the world of tiramisu, discovering the secrets behind this beloved Italian dessert. After the masterclass, you’ll have the pleasure of savoring the fruits of your labor, indulging in the delicious pizzas and creamy tiramisu you’ve prepared.

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Private Pizza & Tiramisu Masterclass at a Cesarina's home with tasting in Matera

Duration: 3 hours

5 reviews

3. Hot air balloon ride (from USD 1.0)

With this fun hot air balloon tour, you can drift gracefully through the skies and admire breathtaking panoramic views of Matera’s unique Sassi districts and rugged landscape. As you soar higher, you’ll witness the stunning sunrise casting warm hues upon the stone-carved architecture and winding streets, creating a truly magical atmosphere.

This experience not only provides an unparalleled perspective of Matera’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed beauty but also instills a sense of awe and wonder as you float serenely amidst the clouds. The tranquility and grandeur of the surroundings, coupled with the exhilarating sensation of flight, make this hot air balloon adventure an unforgettable and fun-filled activity. Not to mention, a nice breakfast is also included!

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Exclusive Private Hot Air Balloon Flight in Matera with Breakfast

Duration: 1 to 3 hours

8 reviews

4. Chiesa rupestre di San Pietro Barisano

Matera - Chiesa di San Pietro Barisano
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Luca Aless used under CC BY-SA 4.0

With the many rupestrian churches around Matera, the Stone Church of St. Peter Barisano looks simple on the outside but has a network of tunnels underground. Built around the year 1000, this surprisingly huge church is dug into the rock with facades of tufa on the outside. Get ready for a walk as this stone carved church lies further away from the stairs. This makes it less crowded and will be worth the walk as you will get to explore the labyrinth of tunnels all for yourself! It is recommended to get a combined ticket to visit the multiple rupestrian churches.

Chiesa rupestre di San Pietro Barisano

Website: Chiesa rupestre di San Pietro Barisano

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5. Palombaro Lungo

With its name deriving from “plumbarius,” the Latin word for plumbing works, this huge underground cistern lies right under the central city square. Known as “The Water Cathedral,” this tank was once the biggest water drinking reserve used by inhabitants of Sasso Caveoso. With a complex network of water collection systems made up of various water channels, this 19th-century cistern holds a big part of Matera’s troglodyte past.

Palombaro Lungo

Website: Palombaro Lungo

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6. Cattedrale di Matera

On the highest point between the two districts lies the Matera Cathedral. With an amazing view of the Sasso Barisano area, this 13th-century Apulian-Romanesque-style church has become a top tourist attraction in Matera, Italy. The amazing golden interior was restored during the Baroque period.

Here, you will find frescos, artwork, painted ceilings, and even two small chapels. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, this cathedral remains an important place of worship for Matera’s inhabitants.

Cattedrale di Matera

Address: Piazza Duomo, 75100 Matera MT, Italy

Website: Cattedrale di Matera

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7. Musma

The Musma Museum of Matera holds an extensive collection of sculptures, pottery, artifacts and more displayed in cave houses. Located in the Palazzo Pomeraci, the “Palace of the one hundred rooms” holds two different themes. The main floor exhibits the history of sculpture since 1800, and the lower floors hold the theme of “Dug”. With hunting scene frescos and rooms cut into the rock, this 17th-century cave palace is a top pick of the many museums in Matera.

Museum of Contemporary Sculpture of Matera

Address: Palace Pomarici Via San. Giacomo (Caveoso), Matera, Italy

Website: Musma

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8. Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario

Of a couple of houses in Matera, the Cave House of Vico Solitaire depicts the troglodytic dwelling conditions realistically; where an average family of up to 6 members live together, sometimes sharing their room with animals such as pigs, chickens and mules. There is a documentary which will give you historical insight about Matera before it was restored. Opposite the house on the other side of the ravine is a wonderful view of a group of Neolithic cave houses dug into the rock.

Historical house cave of Vico Solitario

Address: 11 Sasso Caveoso, Matera, MT75100, Italy

Website: Vico Solitaire House

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9. Chiesa rupestre di Santa Lucia alle Malve

The Rocky Church of St. Lucia of Malve stands out as it’s completely carved into the hillside. Excavated from the calcareous stone, it was used as a monastic complex for Benedictine nuns. Multiple 12th-century frescos adorn the interior of the walls. A great stop to visit, next to the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario.

Chiesa rupestre di Santa Lucia alle Malve

Address: Rione Malve, 75100 Matera MT, Italy

Website: Chiesa rupestre di Santa Lucia alle Malve

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10. Parco della Murgia Materana

Gravina presso Matera
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Luca Aless used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you’re feeling adventurous, one of the exciting places to go in Matera, Italy, is Murgia Materana Park. Go down to the opposite side of the ravine and cross the Tibetano bridge to find the magnificent park. Continue on your adventure and explore this park where you will find ancient Neolithic caves, churches, and ruins.

Be prepared to work up a sweat as the steps are steep, and the paths unmarked. The breathtaking view of Matera from this perspective will be worth the effort of this rocky hike.

Murgia Materana Park


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11. Cripta del Peccato Originale

To stretch your adventurous side further, go out to the far end and find yourself in The Crypt of the Original Sin. Covered in thousand-year-old breathtaking frescos, “The Sistine Chapel of Rupestrian Art” holds examples of early medieval painting in the Mediterranean. This old crypt in the rock might not be easy to find or reach, but rewarding once you’ve arrived. It is recommended to book your tickets before going.

Crypt of Original Sin

Website: Crypt of Original Sin

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12. Sassi di Matera (from USD 141.0)

This is the reason why Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site. With extensive cave networks since the Paleolithic era, some parts of the older neighborhood in Sasso Caveoso are still uninhabited. With movies such as “The Passion of the Christ” being filmed here, this city gained international recognition for its ancient atmosphere. It was once considered “Italy’s shame” due to unsanitary conditions, now it is restored and transformed into bars, restaurants and hotels.

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Discover Matera Walking Tour

Duration: 2 hours

10 reviews

13. Casa Noha (from USD 7.0)

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

The most recommended place to start in the Sassi is the Noha house. Located in the centre of Matera, this modest 16th-century home used to belong to the noble Noha family. Now it is transformed into a multimedia exhibit featuring a documentary about the poor conditions of the cave-dwelling life. Start your adventure in the Noha house as you gain insights with a moving introduction to the troglodytic life in the Sassi.

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Casa Noha Admission Ticket in Matera

Duration: 30 minutes

1 review

Stones of Matera

As this remote stone town remains relatively unknown, the transformation from shame to wonder leaves you with a sense of fascination. Being one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in history, descendants reclaimed it into a welcoming city. Find yourself among the grey stone houses, archaeological sites, rock churches and caves! At the end of the day, experience the magical evening of the Sassi and the sunset rays hitting the rock.

Frequently asked questions about the top things to do in Matera, Italy

  • What are the top tourist attractions in Matera?

    No trip to Matera is complete without setting foot in famous landmarks and hotspots such as: i) Matera Cathedral, ii) Cave House of Vico Solitaire, iii) Musma Museum of Matera, and iv) Murgia Materana Park.

  • What underground sites are best to visit in Matera?

    For a one-for-the-books experience in Matera, be sure to explore its underground scene that is most stunning at sites such as: i) Stone Church of St. Peter Barisano, ii) Palombaro Lungo, iii) Musma Museum, and iv) Cave House of Vico Solitaire.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Roselle is a 3D Artist originally from Singapore. She is currently living as a Digital Nomad in Bali with her Husband. She plans to continue her journeys to Thailand, Vietnam and more. She has been...Read more

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