Why Puglia Boasts Italy's Best Beaches

by Christopher Atwood


On Puglia’s 87 kilometers of coastline, Italian fisherman still toss rope nets from their wooden boats. Unlike popular beach destinations in Italy, like the Amalfi Coast or Capri, Puglia gifts you a slower way of life when you travel to Italy. Just as pretty as Positano, Puglia is Southern Italy’s best-kept secret — vaunting Italy’s most beautiful beaches. Even better, hardly any foreigners know about Puglia; travelers here will savor the best beaches in Italy all while skipping the cruise-ship crowds that clog other Mediterranean Sea ports of call.

Puglia Gallipoli beach

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Offering you some of Italy's most striking coastline, Puglia is home to natural rock coves like the Salento area's Grotta della Poesia. These sea-carved grottoes -- called grotte in Italian -- are the perfect place to sun and swim when you travel to Southern Italy. Locals like to plunge into the cool pools below from the grottoes' rocky rims. Other areas worth visiting in Puglia, especially along the Gulf of Taranto, boast some of Italy's best sandy beaches -- including wind-swept gems like Punta Prosciutto, Marina di Pulsano and Campomarino di Maruggio.

Italy’s Puglia region is a land of monti (mountains) and mare (sea) – where seaside settlements dot the sapphire coast. So, if you prefer a little more bustle with your beaches, port cities like Monopoli, Castro and Polignano a Mare proffer travelers the best of both worlds. You’ll get scenic seascapes alongside boutique shops and Italian restaurants frequented by the locals.

Whether you want an Italian vacation filled with natural beauty or cities strung like pearls along the sea, Puglia bestows travelers with the best beaches in Southern Italy – keep reading down below to find See Italy’s 5 Top Beach Towns in Italy:

GALLIPOLI

Gallipoli means "beautiful city" in Greek. And, for good reason! Located on western Puglia's Gulf of Taranto, Gallipoli brags crystal-blue waters, a medieval fortress and sandy beaches.  Jutting out into the sea, Gallipoli's historic center is actually housed on an island -- ideal for exploring by foot. Baroque architecture meets the Mediterranean Sea in gorgeous Gallipoli. Nearby, sea lovers can enjoy the pristine beaches of Punta Pizzo and Punta della Suina. There, you'll find some of Italy's bluest waters in the protected nature preserve.

Gallipoli Puglia beach

OTRANTO

Otranto, on Puglia’s east coast, is one of Italy’s prettiest beach towns. Otranto is famous for light blue water, stone cliffs and charming whitewashed homes. Strolling Otranto’s seaside promenade (lungomare), you’ll spot fishermen hauling in the day’s catch and sailboats anchored in the bay. Just outside of Otranto, you’ll find the stunning beaches of the Salento region – including Baia dei Turchi, Torre dell’Orso and Torre Sant’Andrea.  Wind-carved promontories jump from the bright blue sea here – exposing protected coves and sandy inlets.

Torre Orso beach

VIESTE

Northern Puglia’s Gargano Peninsula is a green gem framed by the sea. Its most scenic seaside town is Vieste – crowning a coastal cliff and facing the Adriatic Sea, Vieste’s old town is a maze of whitewashed houses, al fresco balconies and carved staircases that dip into the bright blue Adriatic. Northern Puglia offers travelers lush nature for hiking (including the ancient Foresta Umbra) and tranquil coves like the Baia delle Zagare. The undisturbed natural beauty here is no mistake -- as most of the peninsula is a protected national park.  

Vieste beach

POLIGNANO A MARE

Built atop a flat sea bluff, Polignano a Mare is a living postcard – made up of white stone buildings and a pebble beach that hugs an azure cove. Polignano’s historic center juts – strikingly – above Cala Porto – a beach of coin-shaped stones, which is protected from winds by the tall stone walls. Nearby, you can enjoy a day exploring the inland towns of Alberobello(famed for the cone-roofed trulli) or Ostuni (a hilltop town overlooking vineyard-draped valley). It's also possible to enjoy a slow sailboat cruise from Polignano's port to the scenic city of Castro.

Polignano Puglia beach

CASTRO

On a clear day, you can actually spot the Greek Isles from Castro’s port. Found deep in southern Puglia, Castro has been a center of seafaring since the middle ages. The Old Town still sports a labyrinth of sandstone streets and staircases chiseled into the sea cliffs.  In the sunny season, locals gather along the port’s main promenade – enjoying al fresco dinners at authentic ristoranti or raising a glass of wine at a bay-facing bar. In Castro’s ancient marina, travelers can eye wooden fishing boats bobbing in a charmed emerald bay. 

Castro Puglia beach

Craving more Puglia travel tips? Click below to download your free PUGLIA & MATERA sample Italy trip:

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Is Southern Italy tickling your travel bug? You can also check out all there is to see and do in sunny Sicily -- Italy's largest island.

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