Every region of Italy is special in its way, and Puglia is no exception!
Assaulted by Italians in summer, and increasingly discovered by more and more international tourists every year, this southern region has a lot more to offer than what meets the eye!
To name a few: the best olive oil in the world, an incredible tradition of seafood cuisine, intricate and photogenic white towns, an ever-present Bella Vita vibe, and of course, some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Italy!
I know Puglia particularly well as my girlfriend comes from this region, so over the years I had the chance to travel far and wide and slowly experience all of its uniqueness in the first person.
In this article, I will show you what I believe to be the 10 most gorgeous beaches in Puglia.
Note that in the whole region, there are over 350km of beaches (yes: 350 freaking KILOMETERS!!) so choosing just 10 beaches has been a very daunting task ;).
Let’s dive right in and let’s start discovering the beauty of Puglia! 🙂
“If you want to meet people,
there are three ways:
bad luck, wine and money“
– Old Proverb from Puglia, Italy
1. Where is Puglia?
If you ever saw Italy on a map, you probably noticed that looks a bit like a boot.
Puglia is the “hill” of the boot, located in the south-eastern part of Italy between two seas: the Adriatic Sea on the east, and the Ionian Sea to the South-West.
The region boasts a convenient and large international airport in the main city of Bari that connects it to several countries in Europe: the Bari-Palese Airport (BRI), which hosts both regular and low-cost airlines.
If you’re planning to visit Puglia from abroad, your best bet is to fly to Bari, rent a car with Discover Cars at the airport (an easy-to-deal-with company with very convenient offers compared to the competition), and move around from there!
As it is with most Italian regions, public transports connect only the main dots, leaving the most authentic places and the many gorgeous natural wonders (like the beaches that we are going to see in the next paragraph) out of reach for those without a private vehicle.
2. Why and How you should Visit Puglia?
In Puglia you breathe Bella Vita in every corner!
Here everything is slow: shops open at 10 am in the morning, close at 2 pm for lunch and re-open at 6 pm to stay open until midnight or more. A typical Pugliese lunch lasts about 3 hours (if you’re lucky, with bad luck it might stretch to 5! ahah).
Secluded bars, panoramic chiringuitos, disco clubs… they are damn everywhere! Puglia is music, food, and drinks. Everywhere. Anytime.
Then, in Puglia, you know that once you finish your Bruschetta with Pomodoro or your tasty Tagliatelle di Seppia, there’s always a place to relax nearby: Olive fields, white towns, and, of course, incredible, stunning, majestic beaches!
I hope that in these few lines, I gave you enough reasons to visit Puglia (cause believe me, it’s truly g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s!), and if you’re not convinced, let’s move now to see the top 10 Beaches you can find in this region!
3. The Top 10 Beaches in Puglia, Italy
1. BEACH OF PIZZOMUNNO, VIESTE
Most Beautiful Beach for Families
Let’s start from the northernmost beach on this list, the enormous beach of Pizzomunno near Vieste!
Here we are in Gargano county, a mountain region located in the northern part of Puglia, facing the Adriatic Sea to the east.
The beach of Vieste is as big as it can get: 3 kilometers of uninterrupted beach, where stretches of free beach alternate with organized lidos. All of this, is made of fine sand about 80-100 meters wide!
The beach ends with a sea stack of Pizzomunno (called in Italian “Faraglione”), a giant white rock located in the middle of the beach.
According to the local legend, the Faraglione is the body of Pizzomunno, a sailor that waited for his beloved girlfriend to come back from the sea. Sadly, the girl died drowned by sirens and never came back. Her lover nevertheless kept waiting for her on the beach of Vieste, until with time he turned to stone.
All in all, the beach of Vieste is an ideal place for families with children (but also for anyone looking for plenty of space too!): parking close to the beach is easy, the sand is fine (perfect for sandcastles), the waters are shallow and there are many organized lidos where you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas.
Last but not least, the nearby old town of Vieste is stunning to visit, a true haven for food and wine lovers!
2. BEACH OF CALA PORTO, POLIGNANO A MARE
Best Beach for: Panoramic View
If you’ve ever scrolled on Instagram in your life, probably you’ve seen a photo of Polignano a Mare and its iconic Cala del Porto beach!
Polignano is a quaint white town located right on the cliffs facing the Adriatic Sea, and surely one of the most photographed places in Italy!
In the middle of the town, there’s Cala del Porto, a charming beach that stretches from an old bridge straight into the sea.
The beach is rocky, not very big and especially in summer it gets crowded quite fast. Furthermore, to reach it there are quite some steps to walk down (and up when you leave).
Said that the colours of the waters, the lovely backdrop of the town, and the high cliffs make it a place not to miss on your journey through Puglia!
Polignano is also famous for its restaurants carved in stone and its many gelaterias (ice cream shops!), so if you get hungry at the beach, here you know that food is never far away! (you start to understand how Puglia works right? 😉 ).
3. BEACH OF ISOLA DEI CONIGLI, PORTO CESAREO
Most beautiful Wild Beach to find Tranquillity
The Isola dei conigli (“Rabbit Island” in English), is an island off the coast of Porto Cesareo, on the Ionian Sea. The island gets its name from the rabbits that inhabit it (every year less sadly, not because of humans but because of a virus that is decimating the rabbit population).
The island offers pristine beaches without any organized lidos. Reaching the island requires parking the car on the mainland and walking the shallow waters (or taking a boat).
The beautiful characteristic of this island and its beaches is that they never get crowded, not even during July and August. If you seek tranquillity, this is the place you should go for 🙂 Waters here are shallow and for swimming properly you need to move sometimes even 40-50 meters from the beach.
Because there is virtually no human activity on the island, there are also no bars (bring water and what you need with you) nor trash cans (so bring back with you your trash when you leave!).
All in all, a corner of tranquillity worth checking out!
4. BAIA VERDE BEACH, GALLIPOLI
Best Beach for Young People and Movida
Are you looking for something to do day and night? At Baia Verde, you can’t go wrong!
Years ago (when I was a kid), Baia Verde (“Green Bay” in English) was a renowned destination for families seeking tranquillity.
Because of its incredible sea and sand though (which I believe to be one of the best in Italy, period!), the popularity of Baia Verde increased with the years and so did the tourist industry. Today, this location is a vibrant destination loved by younger people (read good: vibrant, not chaotic!).
Bars, Lidos, Free Beaches, Volleyball fields, Restaurants, Bowling, whatever you might need, here is close by!
Reaching Baia Verde by car is slightly complicated, as in the bay is applied a “ZTL” (“Traffic-Limited Zone) and parking close to the beach is not always possible (especially in the main season). An easier place to park is directly on the road near Hotel Costa Brada (a huge hotel staying at the southernmost part of the 2km beach.
5. BEACH OF SANTA MARIA AL BAGNO
Most Beautiful Beach for Emerald Sea without Waves
Being located on the Ionian Sea coast, the beach of Santa Maria al Bagno offers shallow waters and incredible colors (especially in the morning, when the sea is quietest and the sun sends its rays from east to west).
If you’re looking for a seaside repair from the wind and with fewer waves, Santa Maria al Bagno could be a good bet.
While of course, windy days upset the sea everywhere by some degree, this beach is enclosed within a small bay repaired from the wind and here you could find a tiny haven.
The surrounding town is not huge, but damn pretty. The beach is sandy, conveniently located within the village. There are some showers and changing rooms too!
If you’re driving down the Ionian coast, you should make space in your schedule to have a stop (and space in your stomach to try some local fish specialties…do you remember? You are in Puglia right!).
6. THE MALDIVES OF SALENTO, PESCOLUSE
Most Beautiful Beach for Relaxing and Camping
In the Southernmost part of Puglia (the “Salento” county), there is a place that has been renamed itself as “The Maldives of Salento”, and which actually can hold up to such an ambitious nickname.
We are very close to Santa-Maria di Leuca (the southernmost town of Puglia) on the Ionian Sea coast, between the villages of Pescoluse, Salve, and Torre Pali.
Between these towns, there’s a long stretch of sand that extends for over 4km and where it is possible to admire one of the most clear waters in all of Puglia.
Parking for free here is pretty simple, as it is parking a camping car, a caravan, or finding space to mount a tent for the night. There are huge lidos but also huge stretches of free beach with trash cans.
Due to its south position, this beach might get crowded in summer but never to an annoying point (after all, nobody passes through this area, if not with the purpose to go to this beach!).
The white sand of the Maldives beach is very thin (which gets a bit sticky on the body), while the azure waters dive in the sea very slowly. Because of the thin sand, I would not suggest you come here on windy days.
7. BEACH OF TORRE DELL’ORSO
Most Beautiful Beach for Drone Photography
Torre dell Orso holds a very special place in my heart: it’s a place we discovered by chance that left me speechless the moment I saw it.
The beach is large, half-organized, and half-free. The water shades go from light-blu, to aqua-marine to green and dark blue. Parking near the beach is very easy (in high season you need to pay, but it’s cheap) and taking a bath here is gorgeous.
On the southern side of the beach, two rock formations are coming out of the emerald sea called the “two sisters”.
According to the local legend, one sister went bathing in the sea when a storm came to the beach. The other sister jumped into the water to save her, but eventually, both drowned. At that point, in their memory, the god of the sea turned their body to stone and created the two sea stacks hugging one another.
To this day, the “two sisters” are one of the most photographed places in Puglia by drones (I did it too and it’s just so gorgeous from above and passing in between!). If drones are not your thing, don’t worry: also swimming around them and in between is an experience if you like snorkeling or simply chilling while swimming in the colors of summer 😉
Last but not least, on the southern part of the beach there’s also a tiny path where you can climb on top of the cliffs to see the whole beach from above and take gorgeous pictures. All in all, Torre dell’Orso is truly a natural marvel!
8. CALA PARADISO, MONOPOLI
Most Beautiful Secluded Cove
Cala Paradiso (“Paradise Cove” in English) is another drop-dead stunning place we randomly stumbled upon while driving the Adriatic Coast of Puglia. We found it by chance and we have been very lucky to find this place 🙂
Here we are close to the town of Monopoli, about 20 minutes south of Bari and 30 minutes from the airport Bari-Palese.
Cala Paradiso is a cove not so well-known by tourists and often off the list of most itineraries. When we were there, we found mostly local people from Monopoli spending their Sundays at the beach.
Here there are two tiny coves (about 200m apart from each other), a bigger one divided between an organized lido/restaurant, and a smaller one entirely free.
In between the two coves, there’s what is called “Cala Paradiso”, an incredible stretch of the sea so azure that hurts the eyes. The sea bottom is sandy, and it descends very slowly (so you can walk for a long part!).
If you’re looking for a place where to chill on the Adriatic coast with only a few people around, this has to be the place! Parking for free on the adjacent road is possible too!
9. PUNTA PROSCIUTTO BEACH, PORTO CESAREO
Most Famous Beach in Puglia, feels like Carribbean
Porto Cesareo is an Italian village famous for its unique pool-like beaches. We have seen before on this list the beach of Isola dei Conigli, and now moving a few kilometers West, we come to Punta Prosciutto (“Ham Cliff” in English).
The curious name comes from a cliff on the border of the beach that kinda resembles a huge piece of ham 🙂
If you wish you would find the Caribbean here, well… you have them! White sand, shallow waters, crystal clear waters, few waves, spectacular views, a 2.5km long sandy beach… Punta Prosciutto ticks all the boxes!
Being so famous, the beach gets also pretty crowded though… so in high season, it’s better to arrive early (before 10 am) to park and get a good spot. On the beach, there are some organized lidos too and showers (for a cost).
10. BEACH OF PURITY, GALLIPOLI
Most Beautiful Beach for the Experience
Gallipoli is one of the liveliest cities in Puglia. Carousels for children, concerts for youngsters, parties for adults, and a splendid old town filled to the brim with traditional shops, bars, and restaurants for everyone to enjoy!
I’ve been to Gallipoli eight times in my life, and I’ll never get tired of this place: to me this place it’s the true essence of the slow Bella Vita in Puglia: authentic natural products, a lot of fish cuisine, music and sea vibes.
After visiting the old Gallipoli town and crossing the tiny alleys, by descending the old walls of Gallipoli just at the feet of the old town, you can find one of the hidden gems of this city: the beach of Purità (“Purity Beach” in English).
This beach is not reachable by car (you need to park quite far away in the new Gallipoli part of the city) and thus is never too crowded nor visited by tourists (that nevertheless take a lot of pictures from the walls above).
If you got the chance to sneak a swimming suit in your backpack though, I would suggest you take a break from visiting Gallipoli here: the beach is made of fine sand and the views of the walls and the port are just worth the way. Furthermore, it’s a conveniently placed beach to take a refreshing bath before going back to your car or apartment 😉
4. When is the Best Time to Visit the Puglia Region?
The tourist season in Puglia goes from May to the end of October.
The warmest and most vibrant months (when everything is open) are from June to August, and this is also the period I would recommend you visit. Temperatures get pretty high (even beyond 35-40°C in some cases), but as you have probably noticed in this article, you’ll get plenty of chances to refresh yourself 😉
The low season is great to visit the cities, but there are not many events around while a large part of restaurants and bars close completely. If you got the chance, come in the summer and experience the true essence of this fantastic region 🙂
5. Note on the Poseidonia Algae: What is it? Don’t be Scared 🙂
Sometimes on the beaches of Puglia (and well… on all of the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea too!), you might notice some brown dunes of algae.
This algae is called Poseidonia, and it’s a natural plant that inhabits the sea bottom of our sea.
Depending on the water currents and the weather, these algae might emerge and drift ashore.
Sometimes people see this algae day the sea is dirty while noticing this plant in the water is a synonym for a healthy ecosystem. Furthermore, the Poseidonia is beneficial for the skin and not harming at all 🙂
Said that, indeed, this algae doesn’t add to the bathing experience: it’s pretty annoying swimming in algae, we all want emerald waters after all!
The pity is, that we cannot predict where the Poseidonia will land: it could be on the Spanish coast one year, on the Costa Azzurra another, on the Tyrrhenian coast or in Puglia too!
The good thing about the Puglia region is, that by being touched by two seas (the Adriatic and the Ionian), if one coast presents too much Poseidonia, the other probably doesn’t. If you got your car (or rented one), you can simply switch beach to find better waters in case the Poseidonia levels are too high (which sometimes happen!). One more point for Puglia! 🙂
And here we are at the end of this article 🙂
In this article, I shared with you my passion for the Puglia region and showed you what I believe to be the 10 most gorgeous beaches on its coasts (there are many many many more!).
What do you think about the article? Has it been useful? Do you know other places that you think should make the list? Would you like to share your experience?
Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading and, as always, see you in the next article 🙂
Here I leave you other pages you might want to check out too:
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