Puglia sits way down in Italy’s southernmost tip, taking up the ‘heel’ of the country’s ‘boot’. This gives it a longer coastline than any other region, not to mention a fabulous Mediterranean climate. The beaches in provinces like Salento are some of the best in Italy – huge Caribbean swathes of pristine white sand and perfectly clear water.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Puglia any time soon, we’ve rounded up the best of the bunch for your must-see list. Before you go, don’t forget to read our post on six things not to miss in Lecce and the Salento peninsula.
Punta Prosciutto Beach, Lecce
Punta Prosciutto’s white sands are legendary across Puglia. One of only 20 protected marina areas in the country, it’s a secluded and relatively untouched beach, with very shallow, clear waters that make it a hit with families. Punta Prosciutto is distinctive for its backdrop of sand dunes, too, with some topping eight metres. Less than 30 minutes’ drive from the centre of Lecce, it’s perfect day trip material for a little seaside peace and quiet.
Looking for a local gem? Pescoluse beach in Leuca is about as far south as you can go in Italy, right down in the tip of the region. It’s a favourite with holidaying Italians, and once you get here, you’ll see why it’s nicknamed ‘the Maldives of Puglia’. The silky white sand stretches on for nearly four kilometres, with Caribbean-style clear water and a handful of sandy coves and dramatic cliffs. You’ll find it around an hour outside the lovely seaside town of Otrano.
Torre Guaceto, Brindisi
Another protected marine area nestled into a nature reserve, Torre Guaceto is a huge sandy stretch fringed by marshes, olive trees and sand dunes. It’s a quiet spot, so it’s best to bring a picnic or packed lunch with you. Right next door you’ve got a beautiful 16th-century tower and museum for when you need to take a break from the beach, while the nature reserve has wonderful pathways for cycling and walking. There are also some fantastic coral reefs in this area, making is popular for snorkelling. Located in the Brindisi province, Torre Guaceto is 25 minutes’ drive from picturesque Ostuni.
Torre Dell’Orso, Melendugno
Torre Dell’Orso is one of the prettiest spots in Puglia, with a narrow but picture-perfect beach. It’s best-known for the ‘two sisters’; twin rock formations that soar from the sea and have long since been the stuff of legend. Backed by a thick, green pine forest and boasting stunningly clear waters, it’s no surprise the beach is a popular spot. There are free stretches of the beach for anyone to enjoy, as well as some classy lidos that charge a small fee for their loungers and amenities, and you’ll find a good choice of beach cafes and restaurants with a pleasantly buzzing atmosphere.
Torre Lapillo Bay
Salento in southern Puglia is one of the best beach destinations in Italy, and Torre Lapillo is one of its finest pieces of coast. The waters are a photo-worthy shade of turquoise, and look especially vibrant against the pale gold sand. Peaceful and utterly gorgeous, it’s a must-see for beach lovers and a favourite with families – as such, it’s quieter during the week than at weekends. It’s placed at the edge of the vibrant town of Porto Cesareo, around half an hour from Lecce, so you’re close to some lovely local eateries with plenty of places for wander.