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 travelers 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, over 300 days of sunshine and its inimitable capital Lecce, also known as the “Florence of the South”. 


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

Otranto

The area of the Alimini Lakes, north of the town of Otranto, is popular among families for its fine sandy beaches and turquoise shallow waters.  Unlike in many other parts of the world, Italian beaches are often private (“Bagni” or “Stabilimenti Balneari”). Private beach clubs vary in price and quality. Expect to pay from €25 a day to rent a sun umbrella and two loungers to over €100.

Castro Marina

A popular seaside resort. Ideal place for those who wish to 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
 

Porto Badisco

According to Virgil, Porto Badisco was the site of Aeneas’s first landing in Italy 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 snorkeling 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.

 

Le Maldive del Salento, photo courtesy spiaggesalentine.it


If you’re looking for an alternative to Italy’s private beaches filled with  sun beds and umbrellas, then Porto Selvaggio near Nardò 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.


 
Porto Miggiano, photo courtesy salento.it