Until recently, the Salentina Peninsula — that’s the name of the Apennine «heel» — was considered a secret vacation spot by the Italians themselves: a rare tourist made it here, to a poor and touristy undeveloped region. Those times are gone, getting to the very south of Puglia is getting easier, and there are more and more tourists every year. Don’t put off visiting the beaches of Puglia while they are not yet as crowded as the beaches of Rimini.
In this article I will talk about the beaches of the Ionian Sea of Salento from Torre del Orso to Marina di Ginoza. Beaches of the northern part of Puglia — in the article about the northern beaches of Puglia and the central beaches of the region in and around Bari.
Beaches of the province of Lecce
Lecce is considered to have the largest concentration of the best beaches in Puglia: wild and public, pebbly and sandy. Lecce itself is a little away from the coast, so it has no beaches. The closest beach to the town is in the town of San Cataldo. Although you can stop with a towel almost all along the coastline. I will tell you about the most picturesque and famous beaches of the province.
Torre dell’Orso (Melendugno)
Torre del Orso beach is located on the coast of Melendugno. Nearby is a 16th century tower. The beach is 1 km of sand dunes fringed by a pine forest. Thanks to the flowing Otranto Canal, the sea water is clean and clear.
Torre dell`Orso is named after the twin rocks that stand in the water at the western end of the beach. They are so picturesque that they have become the main subject of postcards from Salento. Another name for the rocks is «Two Sisters».
- Price: a place with a sunbed and umbrella in the front rows costs 23 € for half a day, in the back rows 20 € (open until 19:00). Showers are not included in the price, paid separately. There are free plots, but without facilities.
- Infrastructure: there are umbrellas and sunbeds, showers, toilets and a cafe.
- How to get there: in Lecce, take bus 101 from Camera di Commercio/Stazione station. Travel time is 1 hour. The cost is 1—3 €.
Torre Sant`Andrea (Melendugno)
A quiet and peaceful beach in the middle of the wilderness. Part of the coast consists of sand with a smooth entrance to the sea. If there are many vacationers on the sandy beach, you can go to the rocky shore.
- Price: free of charge, including parking.
- Infrastructure: none.
- How to get there: from Lecce central station (City terminal) you can get directly to the beach in an hour by bus no. 101.
Exceptionally clean public beach with clear water and sand shoreline. The shoreline is so large that even on weekends there is plenty of room. There are dunes and a huge pine forest with several settlements.
- Price: admission is free, 2 sun loungers and 1 umbrella cost 13 €, shuttle from the parking lot (pay there) to the beach is 3,5 € or walk 500 meters through a pine forest.
- Infrastructure: toilets, bars and restaurant, showers, parking in the immediate vicinity of the coast. To the beach you can walk 500 meters through the forest or use the shuttle service.
- How to get there: from Lecce from the City Terminal stop to Otranto by bus 101, stop Laghi Alimini- Ponte, then take a cab to the beach.
Baia dei Turchi (Otranto)
The coastline on the Adriatic coast of Salento is incredibly beautiful. It is located in the protected area of the Alimini lakes. The beach stretches for 1.5 km — part paid and part free. Not far away (within 300 meters) is a pine grove.
This is a really picturesque and popular beach of the Lecce coast. It offers a coastline of white fine sand surrounded by dense Mediterranean vegetation.
- Price: parking 3 €, entrance to the beach is free.
- Infrastructure: no umbrellas and sun beds, there are cafes and bars.
- How to get there: from Lecce to Otranto from Central Terminal there is bus 101 to Ingresso Club Med and the Marozzi bus to Porto (Via Orto). Travel time is 55 minutes. It is then a 1.7 km walk. Ticket prices vary from 1.5 to 6.5 €.
Porto Badisco (Otranto)
A small but picturesque sandy beach that is easy to reach. It is located between the cliffs and is an ideal place for beach vacations, diving in the crystal clear water and cliff diving. Sea urchins are also caught and cooked here.
The beach has a Blue Flag and 5 Legambiente sails. Near the coast, the bottom is shallow. If you swim a little further, the bottom disappears and the water becomes cobalt-colored.
- Price: admission is free, parking 3 €, umbrella+lounger for only 2,5 €.
- Infrastructure: umbrellas and sun beds in large numbers, bar, cafe, rent boats and kayaks, shower.
- How to get there: from Otranto from Via Alimini stop (pressi Eurospin) take the 105 bus to Piazzetta Consiglio stop and then walk 200 meters.
Santa Cesarea Terme
South of Otranto and about 35 km from Lecce lies the pearl of the Adriatic coast, the thermal sulphur springs right on the coast. The water flows out of four caves and runs along the coastline. People come to the beach not only for recreation, but also for treatment.
The beach is a rocky shore going into the blue sea with clear water. The ledge is convenient for sunbathing and jumping into the water. There is a small sandy coastline.
- Price: admission is free of charge, umbrellas and sunbeds are available for rent, the cost of visiting the thermal springs depends on the season and the type of service.
- Infrastructure: the coast is filled with cafes and small stores, pizzerias and restaurants where you can have a coffee or dine al fresco on open terraces overlooking the sea.
- How to get there: from any major city to Lecce by Trenitalia train, then take an ESF bus to your destination.
Castro Marina (Castro)
Castro Marina has a harbor, a promenade and a beach. The water is clean and clear, so you can swim, dive and explore the bottom. Along the shore are pine trees, opuntias and olive trees. The beach has been awarded the Blue Flag and 5 Legambiente flags.
Castro Marina has several beaches along the coast. The popular and free ones are on a concrete platform: Punta Corrente and Argentiera. Nearby private beaches with amenities are La Sorgente and The Roccia Hotel with beach resort.
- Price: on private beaches, an umbrella and two sun loungers on the terrace are included in the price.
- Infrastructure: there is no infrastructure on public beaches.
- How to get there: from Lecce take the 107 bus to Maglie to the FSE Railway Station. Then take bus 103 to Via Panoramica (Parcheggio) and walk 700 meters to the beach.
Localita Ciolo (Gagliano del Capo)
The miniature beach in Galliano del Capo is a small cove that falls into the cobalt-colored sea. Above it rises an ancient bridge. The coastal water is shallow, but go a little farther and you can’t reach the bottom.
This place is visited by hiking, climbing and diving enthusiasts.
- Price: free.
- Infrastructure: none.
- How to get there: from Lecce from City Terminal station to Galliano del Capo on the 107 bus in 1.5 hours. Get off at the Via 2 giugno / incrocio Ospedale stop.
Marina di Felloniche (Santa Maria di Leuca)
Marina di Fellonica has several sandy beaches: private and public. The public one is unequipped, on the reefs and less crowded. The private ones, like Water Park and Blue Night, have a sandy shoreline, sunbeds and umbrellas.
- Price: rental of an umbrella and two sun loungers 7 €.
- Infrastructure: the private beach has a convenient entrance to the sea, inflatable playground right in the water, inflatable boats for adults, several cafes and restrooms.
- How to get there: from Lecce from the City Terminal stop take bus number 108 to Giardini pubblici / edicola, then 600 meters to the beach.
Torre di San Giovanni (Ugento)
People from all over the world are willing to travel long distances to be on the beach of Torre di San Giovanni. The white sand and the emerald green to blue sea are reminiscent of the Caribbean, but the water is even more transparent.
The beach is long and wide, but you can always find a secluded section. Part of it is equipped with a snow-white terrace. The seabed is sandy and shallow for several tens of meters.
- Price: admission is free of charge. Rent 1 umbrella and 2 sun loungers for 25 € on the sandy beach and 50 € on the terrace. You can bring your own towel or blanket. Cold shower — 0,5 €, parking — 4 €.
- Infrastructure: there are umbrellas, deck chairs and tables, cafe, shower, toilet, lifeguards.
- How to get there: in 1.5 hours from the City Terminal in Lecce take the 108 bus to Corso Annibale.
Porto Selvaggio (Nardo)
A small pebble cove on the coast of the regional park in Nardo. The path to it runs through a well-maintained forest. The smell of the sea and pine trees is all around. The road can be covered on foot in 20 minutes (700 meters), starting from Torre dell’Alto. A shuttle runs from the parking lot near the entrance to the Regional Nature Park Porto Selvaggio e Palude del Capitano. The cost of the ride is 2 €.
The bay is a combination of warm sea water and cold fresh water. There is no infrastructure on the beach, but you can hide from the heat under the wide pine branches and immediately lay down a towel.
- Price: free, including parking in front of the park.
- Infrastructure: there is no infrastructure, but in front of the park there is a store, cafe and parking. There are barbecues on the coast.
- How to get there: from the City Terminal in Lecce, take bus number 104 to Villaggio Vacanze Serene and then walk to the park.
Porto Cesareo (Lecce)
The beach of Porto Cesareo is located in one of the most important tourist resorts of the Ionian Sea and a regional nature reserve. The white sand and clear sea with a shallow bottom for a few meters is ideal for families with small children.
The beach is surrounded by cafes and stores, with a promenade along which you can stroll. Free umbrellas are available on weekdays, but at weekends the coast is crowded and there may not be enough.
- Price: free.
- Infrastructure: umbrellas only.
- How to get there: take the 104bus one hour from Lecce (City Terminal) to Via Piccinni (scuola Media) and then 10 minutes (500 meters) to the beach.
Torre Lapillo (Porte Cesareo)
The entire coastline of Torre Lapillo has public and private white sand beaches. Public ones are clean and spacious, umbrellas and sunbeds can be rented. The paid ones belong to hotels and do not differ much from the free ones. The sea is crystal clear and transparent everywhere.
- Price: admission is free, parking 5 €, umbrella and 2 sun loungers 15 €.
- Infrastructure: parking (shower there), umbrellas, deck chairs, near bars and cafes.
- How to get there: first take the 104 bus from Lecce (City Terminal) to the Via Piccinni stop, then take the 110 bus to Chiesa.
Marina di Pescoluse (Maldive del Salento)
The name of the beach speaks for itself. Azure sea water and snow-white sand make you feel like you are in the Maldives. The sea is shallow, there are small islands emerging from the clear water.
The area is surrounded by dunes with tamarisk and acacia trees. Salento Maldives is ideal for a family vacation: bars, restaurants and all infrastructure are located on the territory, there are hotels and campsites nearby.
- Price: the beach is public, admission is free.
- Infrastructure: there is no toilet and shower on the territory. An umbrella and a sun lounger are issued to hotel residents.
- How to get there: in Lecce from Camera di Commercio/Stazione take bus #108 to the Marina di Pescoluse stop for about 2 samosas. Cost from 3—7 €.
Punta Pizzo (Gallipoli)
Punta Pizzo is the southernmost beach in Gallipoli and has a typical Salento coastal landscape. The view of the clear azure sea and the white fine sand is breathtaking. The beach is surrounded by a pine forest where you can hide from the scorching summer sun.
- Price: it’s a wild beach with free access.
- Infrastructure: none.
- How to get there: from Lecce from the City Terminal stop take bus number 108 to the Parcheggio cimitero stop in Gallipoli. Travel time is 1 hour. Cost from 3—7 €. If traveling by car, the landmark is Lido Pizzo. Here you can leave your vehicle and walk 10 minutes to Punta Pizzo.
Isola Dei Conigli (Porto Cesareo)
Isola Dei Conigli (Hare Island) is a large island (2.5 km long and 300 m wide) of a small archipelago about 1 km off the coast of Porto Cesareo.
There are several picturesque sand dunes, shallow sea with clear water and complete unity with nature.
- Price: free.
- Infrastructure: none.
- How to get there: in Lecce, at the City Terminal stop, take bus number 104 to the Via Piccinni (scuola Media) stop. Travel time is 1 hour. Then walk 500 meters to Porte Cesare and from there take a boat to the island.
Beaches of the province of Taranto
Taranto has plenty of spacious beaches with organized coastlines and clear sea water. They are close to public transportation, but tucked away on islands and in regional parks.
Spiaggia d`Ayala (Maruggio)
One of the most beautiful beaches of Salento with free access to a white sandy coastline and crystal clear turquoise-colored sea water. Nearby magical landscapes of sand dunes and lush greenery.
The beach is perfect for those who want a break from the noisy and expensive beaches of Salento. Here you are guaranteed peace and tranquility. At the entrance to the water there are large stones, but the coast is completely sandy.
- Price: free.
- Infrastructure: several gazebos to shelter from the sun, ping-pong table, volleyball court, boat and canoe rentals. There are showers, changing cabins.
- How to get there: from Taranto station to Maruggio by bus 295 per hour of the transportation company Ctp Trasporti Pubblici Locali Spa, then to the coast by cab 5 km.
Castellaneta Marina (Taranto)
A long and wide coastline with public and private beaches on golden sand just 15 km from Taranto. The private beach has umbrellas and sun loungers set in four rows. There is a bar, toilet, terrace with sea view, showers, lifeguards and inflatable boats on site.
The free beach is spacious, suitable for walking, jogging and sports. The sea is crystal clear everywhere — ideal for swimming. Nearby is a well-maintained pine park.
- Price: public free, on the private coast 18—25 €.
- Infrastructure: there is no infrastructure on the free one, the paid one is equipped with everything you need, including wi-fi.
- How to get there: from Taranto take the Trenitalia train to the Castellaneta Marina stop and then walk to the site.
Punta Prosciutto (Porto Cesareo)
The beach is located along the coast of the Ionian Sea between the provinces of Lecce and Taranto. It resembles a tropical beach thanks to its white sand dunes and clear blue water.
Punto Prosciutto is suitable for family vacations or water sports. Windsurfing, diving and snorkeling are available.
- Price: admission is free.
- Infrastructure: free umbrellas and sunbeds are installed on the territory, but because of the abundance of people, it is not always possible to get on them, it is better to take a towel with you. Nearby there is a cafe with local cuisine. There are lifeguards. There is no parking, but you can park your car on one of the streets.
- How to get there: from Lecce, from Via Bernardini/Stazione stop, take bus no. 104 to Via Piccinni, then take bus no. 110 to Villaggio stop. Then walk 300 meters towards Punta Prosciutto.
Marina di Ginosa (Ginosa)
The long sandy coastline with crystal water is ideal for families with children. The beach has been awarded the blue flag several times for its infrastructure and wonderful sea.
The beach is located just west of the Gulf of Taranto, 17 km from the town of Matera, a few steps from the railway station. It is surrounded by pine trees and Mediterranean vegetation.
- Price: the beach is public, so admission is free.
- Infrastructure: none.
- How to get there: Trenitalia trains depart from Taranto to Ginosa every hour. The fare is 2.5 €. Travel time is 27—40 minutes.