The Salento area of Apulia can quite possible claim the best beaches in the Mediterranean. Situated at the very end of Italy’s famous heel of the boot, Salento is only now starting to be recognized by travellers and the press as a land of treasures and natural beauty. Rich in history, art and culture, this region has much to offer: crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, coves, caves, tiny “bleached-white” villages perched on rocky cliffs, delicious food, wine and extra virgin olive oil. Not to mention its warm hospitality and best of all, over 300 days of sunshine.Its capital is Lecce, also known as the “Florence of the South”.

We have compiled for you a list of the best beaches in Salento. You are spoilt for choice, bathing one day on the Adriatic Coast (East) and on the Ionian Coast (West) on the following.

Torre dell’Orso

The magnificently sea-sculpted chalky-white cliffs, transparent waters and sandy beaches of Torre dell’Orso are not to be missed.

Torre dell’orso, photo courtesy torredellorso.com


The area of the Alimini Lakes, north of the town of Otranto, is popular among families for its kilometres of fine sandy beaches and turquoise shallow waters.  Unlike in many other parts of the world, Italian beaches are often private (“Bagni”). Bagni vary in price and quality. Expect to pay around €25 a day to rent a sun umbrella and two loungers.

The most popular Bagni in the Alimini area are Lido Tropea (Dario Pappadà,  www.lidotropea.it ,+39 3282648643), Bagno Lucia (Federico, +39 0836 805203; www.bagnolucia.com) , Acquachiara (+39 0836 58 72 22), Balnearea (www.balnearea.it), Bahia, Atlantis. The most exclusive bagni are ‘La Castellana’, owned by the fashion designers Costume National, Localita’ La Punta in Otranto. Tel +39 0836 80 30 46.

The beaches at Baia dei Turchi (or Turkish Bay) are of dazzling beauty, wild and uncontaminated. This tiny stretch can only be reached on foot. Bagni Baia Dei Turchi in Localita’ Baia dei Turchi – +39 329 40 93 432.

Castro Marina

A popular seaside resort. Ideal place for those who wish to intensly live the sea with its coastal beauties rich in caves, cliffs and depths to be explored. Castro is known for the incomparable scenery of the Zinzulusa caves, worth a visit, www.grottazinzulusa.it . Zinzulusa is open from 10.00am to 4.00pm during the winter months and until 6.00pm during the summer months.

Castro Marina, photo courtesy Salento.it

Santa Cesarea

Located between Castro and Otranto, Santa Cesarea is a spa town known for its therapeutic waters and for its Islamic architecture. Rent a boat from Santa Cesarea and explore bays and coves only reachable by sea: www.ondablusrl.net 

Porto Selvaggio, photo courtesy thepuglia.com

Santa Cesarea Terme, photo courtesy Wikipedia.org

Porto Badisco

According to Virgil, Porto Badisco was the site of Aeneas’s first landing in Ialy after his escape from Troy. A secluded cove offering arguably one of the best sceneries in Apulia. Its beach is secluded and tiny. During the busy months of July and August, it is best to reach the bay by boat. Porto Badisco is the ideal spot for snorkelling around the cliff edges or picnic in the pine grove.

Porto Badisco, photo courtesy Wikimedia.org

Santa Maria di Leuca

Situated on the southernmost tip of the Salento Peninsula, where the Adriatic sea meets the Ionian, Santa Maria di Leuca, also known simply as Leuca, is a delightful art-nouveau town, popular with wealthy “Pugliesi”. The sandy beaches and shallow waters of Torre Vado, Torre Pali and Marina Di Pescoluse, also known as ‘The Maldives of Puglia” for its crystal clear waters and fine sandy beaches,  are excellent for families and well equipped with lidos, restaurants and other amenities. Most popular Bagni (Lido) in the area are: Lido Tropical in Torre Pali; Lido Le Cinque Vele in Pescoluse.

Le Maldive del Salento, photo courtesy spiaggesalentine.it

If you’re looking for an alternative to Italy’s private beaches or “lidos” full of sunbeds and umbrellas, then Porto Selvaggio near Nardo could be the place for you. This amazing natural park  is characterised by a lush pine forests and typical Mediterranean vegetation (“Macchia Mediterranea”). You will bath in one of the cleanest shores of Italy packed with fish, including octopi and starfish.  It is also a great spot for walking, birdwatching or living in contact with nature.

Edited by Passepartout Homes in cooperation with Maria Grazia Sozzo, an expert of the Salento region, and Albarosa Macri, owner of Palazzo Poggiardo. Palazzo Poggiardo is a large and comfortable residence, situated in an authentic palazzo in the town of Poggiardo (LE), close to Castro and Otranto strategically located to visit Salento with its picturesque towns, fine sandy beaches and turquoise waters, not to mention excellent wine, delicious food and warm hospitality.

Porto Miggiano, photo courtesy salento.it