I am planning a trip to the beautiful Salento Peninsula from August 25 to September 1. We are four adults and one 13 year old. My plan is to fly to Brindisi, rent an SUV and spend a day in Lecce. Then head to Otranto for three days and then drive south to Santa Mari di Leuca for a day, then go to Galliopli for two days. One question is whether to spend a night in Santa Mari di Leuca or just the day and then drive on to Gallipoli after dinner.
We will drive in the early afternoon from Lecce to Otranto. Would the best route be to drive east to San Cataldo, then go south or is there a better route to get to the stops you wrote about. I know you recommended some stops along the way; Grotta di Poesia and Torre dell’Orso. Do you think we could spend and hour or so at these places and then continue on to Otranto? In or near Otranto do you recommend Baia dei Turchi and Porto Badisco for the best beaches?
When we leave Otranto to drive to Santa Maria di Leuca what would be the best places to stop? Santa Cesarea Terme, Acquaviva di Marittima, Marina Serra? Any other places on the drive south that you would recommend?
I live in West Hollywood, CA and my apartment is one block from the center of gay life in Los Angeles. I'm straight but have lots of gay friends who would be happy to give you a tour of our town. Please let me know if you ever come to LA!
Thanks very much!
Nice to hear from you. That looks like a fantastic trip that you have planned.
Brindisi’s Salento airport is super easy to manage. It’s modern and efficient. The car hire desks are at the very top end (turn left from the arrivals into the main airport building and keep going; Sixt is in the main hall but all others are in the next door building).
The SUV is fine - you might find parking it a little tricky at times. Smaller cars are practical for parking, and the narrow streets in many of the towns, but with 5 on board we agree that comfort comes first!
A night in Leuca or 2 nights in Gallipoli?
In August Gallipoli will be buzzing at night. A lot of young people come to Gallipoli for the beaches around Baia Verde during the day and to party in town at night. Of course you can still find a quieter spot in the old town, but around the edges TukTuks with flashing lights and playing music will be driving around.
In comparison Leuca will be calm. There is really something special about Leuca. We want to say other worldly, but really its end of worldly. It sits at the very tip of the heel, and even at the height of summer it is never busy. We know this repeats what we say on our guides, but it is so true. It really has a special feel.
Do you ever listen to our podcast? Most of the time its irrelevant fun, but we just published 2 “grown-up” episodes, where a couple of friends from the London days now living in northern Italy, one Irish the other Italian, spent 3 weeks travelling all around Puglia. Part 1 ends as they arrive in Leuca. Part 2 picks up there.
You can listen to them here (or find it on your usual streaming service):
From Lecce to Otranto
You can certainly stop off en route to Otranto to see the Grotta della Poesia and Torre dell’Orso. We took this video at Torre dell’Orso (but at the Two Sisters opposite end of the beach)
Le Due Sorelle:
Alternatively you could go straight to Otranto and visit them once you are settled in Otranto.
If you choose the first option - and that way if you see them on your way to Otranto you might decide to go back from Otranto - you go the way you suggest. From Lecce to San Cataldo and then down along the coast, more or less.
If you decide to go straight to Otranto the SS16 is the quickest way and its a very good road, especially as you get nearer Otranto. About 30 mins.
Beaches around Otranto.
Otranto has a great city beach. Golden sand. But August is the height of the tourist season. The city beach will be busy. Our favourite beaches around Otranto other than Torre dell’Orso are at Baia dei Turchi and we love the coast around Sant’Andrea. Personally that’s where you would find me ahead of Porto Badisco.
En route to Leuca
We like to stop off for the views at Bagno Marino Archi in Santa Cesarea Terme.
We usually have lunch or something to eat at Bolina in Tricase Porto.
Although it means a little diversion the British actor Dame Helen Mirren has a really cool cocktail bar in Tricase - Farmacia Balboa. But better in the evening for aperitivo. It’s probably better to stop off at Marina Serra especially if you are in the mood for a swim in the natural basin.
The other fantastic stop off a spot is at Il Ciolo, Gagliano del Capo, for the views.
See travel hack #2 for heading south from Salento airport.
If there is anything else you want to know about, just ask. Feel free to follow us on twitter - we have travel hints and tips and thought all the time, and on Instagram.
Finally, there is an “Ask BIG” section on our website.