50 of Puglia’s best beaches

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Punta della Suina, Gallipoli. One of Europe’s Top 40 beaches and voted Italy’s best gay and nudist beach | Photo © The Puglia Guys

The beach is part of our life in Puglia. We spend our summer holidays here with our parents as toddlers. As teenagers we come with our friends. As parents we take our children.

With over 800km of coast, Puglia has some of the best beaches in Italy. Stretches of soft white and golden sand alternate with rocky shelves and hidden coves, surrounded by crystal clear waters. We include some of our favorite beaches in this guide. It is not exhaustive but we do add and update information when we can.

Puglia – drama in three parts

When planning a visit to Puglia think of our region in three parts.

To the north there is Daunia and Gargano. Foggia the major population centre of the former, the later a green and lush mountainous peninsula rising out of the Adriatic.

Rugged limestone cliffs, hidden caves and private coves, sea stacks majestically reaching into an infinity of blue and the trabuchi; wooden fishing platforms, a cross between grotesque spiders and steampunk oil rigs. The Gargano National Park extends across much of Gargano’s interior, within which sits the dark and prehistoric Foresta Umbra.

Al Trabucco da Mimì, Peschici | Puglia Guys restaurant review | Photo copyright © the Puglia Guys for The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia travel guides to Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination for LGBT+travelers

Central Puglia with green olive groves and ferrous-red soil, is contained by white dry stone walls and punctuated by trulli typical of the Valle d’Itria. It may be the least interesting part of the Adriatic coast as beaches go, but is not without drama, as a visit to Polignano a Mare will confirm.

Where the Salento begins exactly is open to interpretation. But geography guides us. It’s the peninsula surrounded by two seas – the Ionian and the Adriatic, each with its own shade of blue and mood, the heel of Italy’s boot.

First thoughts

When it comes to beaches, Puglia’s finest are in Gargano and Salento. The Gargano’s exceptional, long sandy beaches are as good as the award-winning beaches of Salento.

For those looking for fine sandy beaches during the day and a vibrant nightlife, all within walking distance, some compromise might be necessary. Whilst we have plenty of both, the combination of the two is harder to find – especially for those looking no further than the Valle d’Itria.

Vieste and Otranto are the best destinations if you want fine stretches of soft sand that you can get to on foot within a few minutes from vibrant old town hubs.

Polignano a Mare and Monopoli are often suggested for those looking for a base in the Valle d’Itria, but here sand is at a premium, with typically pebble beaches and rocky shelves. We are very happy here, but if your priority is soft sandy beaches, then neither is probably for you.

Polignano a Mare has one of Puglia’s most iconic views. Puglia is Italy’s top gay summer destination for LGBT travel with a variety of gay and nudist beaches, gay bars and clubs and a chilled gay scene. Photo by the Puglia Guys for The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia, Italy’s top summer destination for LGBT+ travellers

Barletta to the north of Bari and Pescoluse, the Maldive of Salento, whilst ideal for those looking to spend the day on a lounger, feel too much of a resort. The perfect combination for us would be to stay in the wonderfully quiet Santa Maria di Leuca and make the short drive to Pescoluse each day.

Tourist holiday and camping villages are popular coastal summer destinations. But these are typically self contained with a mini-market and coffee bar and an on-site pizza restaurant.

Be prepared to travel a little to discover the finest beaches by day and the most beautiful towns with wonderful bars and restaurants to explore by night.

Gargano

Most of the Gargano – which forms the spur of Italy’s boot – is a national park. Verdant and mountainous it remains unspoilt. The drive through the ancient oak and beech forest will offer glimpses of a dramatic coastline of coves and caves cut into the white limestone cliffs and long stretches of white, sandy or pebble beaches.

The coastline remains largely undeveloped and wild, apart from a few seaside resorts and fishing towns along the 170km mainland coast.

Marina di Peschici

Peschici’s town beach is set in a long crescent bay with soft golden sand underfoot. Busy and beautiful, sitting at the side of the marina, below the backdrop of Peschici’s old town.

Public beach is squeezed in between private lidos. All facilities are on offer.

Car parking is available, but the beach is easily accessible on foot.

From the same spot you can watch the sun rise and set on the horizon. Work that one out!

More | The Puglia Guys road trip from Bari to Peschici

Marina di Peschici | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches | Gargano beach

Baia di San Nicola | Peschici

San Nicola beach, Peschici | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches | Gargano beach

The beach is framed on both sides by cliffs that reach out into the sea, each with their own Trabucchi fishing station come restaurant.

Sandy beach with a gently sloping shelf. Private lidos provide the necessary facilities, with some public bathing areas.

More | The Puglia Guys eat at Al Trabucco da Mimì

San Lorenzo | Vieste

The main beach, spiaggia di San Lorenzo, is a huge, deep stretch of sandy beach (about 1.5km long and up to 100m at the widest point) with public and lido areas.

It is in the centre of Vieste by the side of the tourist port with ample parking.

There are many bars, restaurants and facilities. Beach soccer and volleyball are popular and some water sports are available. 

More | The Puglia Guys guide to Vieste

San Lorenzo beach, Vieste | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches | Gargano beach

Punta San Francesco | Vieste

Punta San Francesco | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches | Gargano beach

Beneath the old town wall by the Carpenter bar on via Ripe is a small peninsula with rocky shelves leading to a beautiful shallow bay. A small public area with commercial facilities.

Accessible by foot only, there are bar facilities and during the main season, umbrellas and loungers.

The water is clear, warm and sandy underfoot, with a beautiful view of the old town and promontory.

More | The Puglia Guys guide to Vieste

Spiaggia del Castello | Vieste

3km of soft sand with a gentle rake into the sea. The beach takes its name from Svevo Castle above, though the 25 meter tall, legendary faraglione of Pizzomunno dominates the view. 

The beach has bars, restaurants and lido clubs, with ample public bathing areas. Easy access on foot from the centre of Vieste and public parking alongside the adjacent main road.

At the far end there’s a smaller bay (accessible by foot following the rocks) with a large large bat cave and quieter beach.

More | The Puglia Guys guide to Vieste

Spiaggia del Castello or Scialara or sometimes Pizzomunno beach, Vieste | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches | Gargano beach

Spiaggia di San Felice

Spiaggia di San Felice, Vieste | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches | Gargano beach

Two beaches lie between the Architiello arch of San Felice and the San Felice tower.

A quieter, shallow bay with public beach and commercial facilities. Accessible by car with limited parking available. 

Take the time to drive along to Torre San Felice for the best views of the Architiello and to explore the nearby caves.  From here you can also see Vieste in the distance.

Spiaggia di Baia di Campi

A pebble beach surrounded by pine forests and olive groves. Access from the road via a small and steep path towards the northern end of the beach.

Commercial facilities and public beach areas. Kayaks and small boats can be hired from the kayaking school at the end of the beach, to reach the nearby islets and caves.

Scuba diving is popular – an ancient Roman shipwreck lies nearby.

Spiaggia di Baia di Campi, Vieste | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches | Gargano beach

Spiaggia di Portogreco

Spiaggia di Portogreco, Vieste, Gargano beach | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

The small pebble beach is enclosed by white limestone cliffs. Access is from the main road, via a well trodden path through the pine forest behind the beach (about 5 minutes).

No facilities, and parking is hard to find (most park off road).

Vignanotica

A very attractive but narrow pebble beach, set against a backdrop of towering white cliffs. They do however cast a shadow over the beach for most of the afternoon.

The beach is 3km from the road, but there is a shuttle service.

Because it is quiet and hidden, naturists bathe at Vignanotica’s outer edges.

Vignanotica beach, Vieste. A difficile to reach but popular nudist beach, Gargano beach | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Baia delle Zagare | Mattinata

Spiaggia delle Zagare, Mattinata Gargano beach | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

One of Puglia’s best known and most photographed bays due to the popularity of the two sea stacks. The Arch of Diomede and the Scissors.

There are three beaches. The northernmost is accessible by boat only. A steep gully leads to the Spiaggia Nord. Stairs to the Spiaggia Sud lead down from the hotel.

Access is limited in summer – you need to pick up a day pass from Mattinata.

Bari to Brindisi

Lama Monachile | Polignano a Mare

Lama Monachile’s pebble and stone beach is as iconic as it is uncomfortable to sit on for any extended period.

Rocky and rapidly deep, nothing beats the experience of swimming out beyond the cliffs that contain the bay.

We prefer to lie on the adjacent rocks that sit down from the Modugno steps, where you get the most wonderful view of the old town

Small, but perfectly formed, it’s particularly crowded at the height of summer.

Watch the children and teenagers – and the brave – jump and dive off them all day long.

More | The Puglia Guys guide to Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare’s iconic Lama Monachile | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches, Italy’s top gay summer destination for LGBT+ travel.

Pietra Egea | Costa Ripagnola

Pietra Egea, Costa Ripagnola. Known locally as Freak Beach, it is an alternative naturist beach | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Situated along the beautiful Costa Ripagnola between Cozze and Polignano a Mare. This section of coast is peppered with trulli, wonderful coves and has beautiful blue sea.

The naturist, ‘alternative’ beach (2km of rocky shelves and coved) is between Pietra Egea and Cala Capoti, a little beyond Cala Capoti in the direction of Cozze.

How to get there | Exit the SS16 and continue along the complanare | heading south towards Polignano at the Cozze exit | heading north towards Cozze at the Polignano a Mare Nord exit | continue to Cala Fetente where you take the road towards the sea, park and continue by foot.

Torre Incina | Monopoli

Cala Incina is the main beach, a narrow, rocky cove, dominated by the 16th century watchtower.

Torre Incina is popular with naturists, though they typically keep away from the main cove.

The gay / naturist area is on the Polignano side of the tower (i.e. on the left as you face the sea), a short walk along the wild rocky coast.

More | Puglia by beach – Torre Incina

Torre Incina beach, situated between Polignano a Mare and Monopoli is a narrow rocky cove. The beach is popular with nudists and has a gay nudist beach | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Cala Porta Vecchia | Monopoli

Cala Porta Vecchia is Monopoli’s main city beach | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Monopoli’s town beaches are busy, sand is at a premium, but if you don’t mind the rocks and the crowds, you will experience il mare like a southern Italian.

Cala Porta Vecchia has a small strip of sand and continues along from the foot of the defensive sea wall around the rocks under the Bastione di Babula. Like most of Monopoli’s town “beaches” it is incredibly popular and fills very quickly. 

A small bar sits between the small car park and southern access.

More | Puglia by beach – Cala Porta Vecchia, Monopoli

Monopoli City Beaches

Monopoli does have a number of small, but popular, city beaches within walking distance of the old town. These are mainly rocky coves and shelves with some sandy spots sandwiched in between them.

Sitting below the old town’s defensive sea wall is Cala Porta Vecchia.

Lido Bianco is a very small sandy public beach a few minutes walk away. Cala Porto Rosso, another small sandy cove, is about a 10 minute walk from the old town. 

More | Puglia by beach – Monopoli city beaches

Cala Porto Rosso beach, Monopoli | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Capitolo

Capitolo beach guide, Monopoli, the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia beach guide to Puglia | Photo © The Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia inclusive guides to Puglia’s best accommodation, beaches, restaurants and to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination for LGBT travel | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

The first stretch of sandy beach south of Bari (continuing, in stops and starts, south to Torre Canne, Specchiolla and Torre Guaceto).

Located nearby Egnazi Archeological Park, it has a variety of beach clubs for all budgets as well as some smaller free sections of beach squeezed in between them. 7km from the Monoploi’s old town.

Towards the north between Torre Cintola and Lido Azzurro are beautiful coves and low lying cliffs.

More | Puglia by beach – Capitolo

Savelletri

A small fishing village known for its seafood restaurants, private lidos and luxury resorts.

Rocky coastline is broken up by smaller sandy coves.

There are a few, smaller, public areas.

The restaurants in Savelletri mean a great selection of good seafood is available. Try some ricci (sea urchins), fresh polpo and Gallipoli red prawns at MòMò or Ristorante AlbaChiara.

More | Puglia by beach – Savelletri

Savelletri, the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia beach guide to Puglia | Photo © Ristorante AlbaChiara Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination for LGBT travel | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Torre Canne

Torre Canne beach nearby Ostuni, the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia beach guide to Puglia | Photo © The Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia inclusive guides to Puglia,s best accommodation, beaches, restaurants and to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination for LGBT travel | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

The sandy beach stretches along the Adriatic coast for several kilometres from Torre Canne (a town known for its thermal baths).

Running all the way to Pilone, and known as the Trulli Riviera, due to its popularity with visitors to the Valle d’Itria.

Clear blue waters, soft sand set against Mediterranean scrub, it gets busy – especially at weekends.

More | Puglia by beach – Torre Canne

Pilone | Ostuni

A long stretch of sandy beach runs to the San Leonadro watchtower. Mediterranean scrub runs behind the length of the beach.

There are some private lido clubs offering umbrellas and sun beds for hire, with bar facilities open to the public.

Limited parking is available on the roads running behind the beach. Pay car parking is available in a large field from 2€, with easy access to the beach, only a short walk away.

Popular and busy, especially at weekends.

More | Puglia by beach – Pilone

Pilone beach nearby Ostuni, the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia beach guide to Puglia | Photo © The Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia inclusive guides to Puglia,s best accommodation, beaches, restaurants and to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination for LGBT travel | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Torre Pozzelle | Ostuni

Torre Pozzelle beach, Ostuni. A family beach nearby Ostuni well known locally for its gay cruising | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Torre Pozzelle takes its name from the Aragonese watchtower at the side of the bay.

Around 8km from Ostuni, there is a small sandy beach with rocky shelves running along either side and an extensive pine forrest behind.

Popular with families, due to the large touristic village behind the beach, it is also a well known local gay cruising area often frequented by men who identify as straight but enjoy occasional sex with other men from time to time.

More | Puglia by beach – Torre Pozzelle

Lamaforca | Ostuni

Lamaforca beach, the last of Ostuni’s marinas, has a discreet gay section and a reputation as a popular gay cruising haunt (the action takes place in the trails running through the pine forest behind the cove).

It is a popular family beach for visitors staying in the touristic village adjacent to the beach.

Take the Torre Pozzella exit off the main coastal highway (E55) and turn right for Lamaforca.

More | Puglia by beach – Lamaforca

Lamaforca beach, Ostuni. A family beach nearby Ostuni well known locally for its gay cruising | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Torre Santa Sabina

Torre Santa Sabina beach, Carovigno | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Coves, cliffs and small islands with a small sandy beach in the centre of this sleepy little fishing town.

Overlooked by an imposing Aragonese tower, the selection of nearby seafood restaurants is equally impressive. We often eat at Miramar da Michele, at the side of the tower with impressive views over the sea from the inside.

Mezzaluna, Scoglio del Cavallo and Camerini beaches are found here.

Specchiola

A long stretch of sandy beach with three private beach club lidos that for the nearby touristic villages as well as public bathing areas in between and either side.

The lido clubs are open to paying members of the public, bar facilities can also be used.

Plenty of parking is available, including free limited parking on the road. Alternatively pay in one of the private car parks.

Specchiola beach, Serranova © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Punta Penna Grossa | Torre Guaceto

Punta Penna Grossa beach, situated in the Torre Guaceto nature reserve, is one of Puglia’s most popular family beaches | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Punta Penna Grossa is the main beach at the Torre Guaceto nature reserve. It has a backdrop of sandy dunes, wetlands and marshes inhabited by a range of wildlife including amphibians and birds. There is even a marine reserve for turtles.

An extremely popular family beach with locals and visitors. The further down the beach you walk towards the tower, the quieter it becomes.

Parking is some distance away with a trolley bus service connecting the car park and beach.

More | Puglia by beach – Punta Penna Grossa

Torre Guaceto gay beach

Torre Guaceto is a huge nature reserve lying to the north of Brindisi, not far from Ostuni. It is home to one of Puglia’s most popular gay and naturist beaches, frequented by locals and visitors.

But its secluded location means that it takes a little time to get there – and most gay guides take you the long way round. Locals have a quicker and easier way to get there.

There are no facilities on the beach, and swimming is prohibited (this is ignored)!

More | Puglia by beach – Torre Guaceto gay beach

Torre Guaceto gay and nudist beach, one of Puglia’s most popular gay and clothing optional naturist beaches | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia. Local guides to Puglia’s best beaches, bars, restaurants and accommodation | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Lecce to Santa Maria di Leuca

San Cataldo

San Cataldo beach, Lecce | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

15km from the centre of Lecce, the small sandy beach on the lungomare is busy until the end of August when the Italian summer holiday ends and sleepy San Cataldo suddenly empties.

Shallow waters extend from the beach for some distance.

Enjoy an aperitivo and nibbles from Il Molo as the afternoon slips by into evening.

The larger beach at San Cataldo is located in the nature reserve immediately to the southeast in the direction of the architectural site of Roca Vecchia.

More | Puglia by beach – San Cataldo

Torre dell’Orso, Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle

Overlooked by the ruins of the Torre dell’Orso (the Bear Tower) it is one of the most famous beaches in Puglia with its stunning natural rock formations.

Beach clubs and lidos run along the length of the beach, frequented by young Italians

With soft, white sand, crystal clear sea and its gently undulating dunes dappled with maquis scrub, the Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle (Two Sisters beach) at the other end has a wonderful pine grove behind it.

More | Puglia by beach – Torre dell’Orso

Torre dell’Orse, Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Otranto

Otranto city beaches along the town’s seafront | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Otranto has great city beaches that extend along the seafront and below the old town walls.

The water is perfect.

Bars, private lidos and public bathing spots are in plenty supply, with all the necessary facilities.

On street and private parking is available in town.

More | Otranto, porto d’amore (in Italian)

Santa Cesarea Terme

Sitting on a plateau that plunges into the sea Santa Cesarea Terme will remind you of Polignano a Mare.

Bathe in the thermal waters, or enjoy the north African ambiance of the Palazzo Sticchi.

Wild, natural bathing spots, public baths with sulphur pools and lidos on the rocks make this an interesting experience.

On street and private parking is available in town.

More | our Otranto to Leuca road trip

Santa Cesarea Terme | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Porto Tricase

The local beach for Tricase. Small, but perfectly formed. Rocky shelves and concrete surface don’t put off the locals who lounge around all day.

Nearby restaurants and bars are in plenty supply.

On street parking is available a few minutes away.

More | our Otranto to Leuca road trip

Castro Marina | Castro

A public beach with rocky shelves and concrete piers, popular with locals and visitors all summer long.

Still a working harbor, Castro Marina comes alive in summer. Expensive yachts and glamorous power boats join the small fishing fleet.

Busy bars, restaurants and cafés extend along the seafront.

On street pay parking is available. Finding a space is challenging. Expect to drive around for a while. Take one as soon as you see it!

More | Puglia by beach – Castro Marina

Castro Marina an extremely popular Salento swimming spot | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Cala dell’Acquaviva | Marittima

Cala dell’Acquaviva - one of Puglia’s most beautiful swimming spots | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Cala dell’Acquaviva is a hidden heaven. The small channel that runs through rocks and lush vegetation. The water sparkles turquoise and blue against a background of rock.

Cold water springs feed into the channel that runs between rocks and lush vegetation, making for a refreshing swim in the Salento summer heat.

An onsite bar provides refreshments and seating.

More | Puglia by beach – Cala dell’Acquaviva

Marina Serra

Marina Serra. A wonderful place to watch the sunrise over the Adriatic while taking an early morning swim in the piscina naturale and observe the natural pulse of life in Italy’s sud.

This is a place for baking on the rocks, and frequent dipping. Sharp rocks extend beyond the natural swimming basin – be sure to bring ciabatte shoes to protect from the sharp rocks that extend beyond the swimming basin, as also the ricci di mare – the sea urchins that lie below.

More | Puglia by beach – Marina Serra

Marina Serra’s natural swimming basin | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Il Ciolo | Gagliano del Capo

Il Ciolo, a secret beach and swimming spot where a small channel runs through a canyon under the bridge | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

The drive along the coastal route from Santa Cesarea Terme to Santa Maria di Leuca is one of our favorite #WeAreInPuglia journeys. The route is one of the most dramatic in Puglia, sandwiched between prickly pear lined cliffs and shimmering sea. 

There are many highlights to take in along the way. 

Our last stop is Ponte Ciolo, the bridge spanning Baia del Ciolo. The small channel that runs through the canyon marks a secret swimming spot. Here the water sparkles turquoise and blue against a background of rock.

More | Puglia by beach – il Ciolo, Salento

Santa Maria di Leuca

The end of Puglia, the tip of the heel of Italy’s boot.

Lidos on stilts sit along the lungomare. Ciabatte – rubber soled shoes – are a necessity. Crystal clear waters lap over jagged rocks peppered with sea urchins, whose spines present another hazard to the bare footed.

There are small sandy beach areas.

Enjoy some freshly landed seafood as you watch the local youth snorkel for the urchin and polpo to be served at the next meal.

On street parking is available along the lungomare.

More | World’s End – Santa Maria di Leuca

Santa Maria di Leuca lungomare | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Ionian Coast

“Beaches on Puglia’s Ionian coast have more than a hint of the Seychelles, with multihued water and soft white sand.”

40 OF THE BEST BEACHES IN EUROPE, THE GUARDIAN 30 APRIL 2022

Torre San Gregorio

White sands border the marina. Low cliffs, discreet coves and a sea of turquoise blue and acquamarine.

On street parking is available with facilities in this small seaside town.

Torre Vado

Salen…to (!)

Bathers sit alongside the marina pier. The beach area includes rocks and shelves, before a series of long sandy beaches.

On street parking is available alongside the marina and in town.

Punta della Suina, Gallipoli

Punta della Suina was voted Italy’s best gay beach. Gallipoli has a well known reputation for being one of Italy’s top gay destinations, drawing a cosmopolitan and sophisticated international gay crowd. Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia gay travel guide | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

One of Puglia’s most beautiful and most popular beaches. Punta della Suina is part of a larger coastal nature reserve located in the lower half of the Bay of Gallipoli, a crescent shaped bay extending from Gallipoli to Punta Pizzo.

In 2022 it was one of only five Italian beaches to be included in the list of 40 of the best beaches in Europe.

Italy’s LGBTQIA+ community voted Punta della Suina Italy’s best gay beach in a 2021 poll.

More | Puglia by beach – Punta della Suina, Gallipoli

Por do Sol, Baia Verde, Gallipoli

Gallipoli has a well known reputation for being one of Italy’s top gay destinations, drawing a cosmopolitan and sophisticated international gay crowd.

If you want a cool beach vibe, a gay friendly crowd and some fine sandy beach around Gallipoli head here. It draws a mixed crowd in every respect. Italians and international visitors, younger and older, friends and couples, gay and straight.

Be sure to stay to watch the sunset behind the old town. It’s spectacular.

More | Pôr do Sol, LED Beach Gallipoli

Sunset at Por do Sol, Baia Verde, Gallipoli. One of Puglia’s best gay beaches. Gallipoli has a well known reputation for being one of Italy’s top gay destinations, drawing a cosmopolitan and sophisticated international gay crowd. Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia gay travel guide.

La Purità, Gallipoli

La Purità, Gallipoli’s city beach Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

La Purità is Gallipoli’s main town beach.

The ”bosom of purity” is a small half-moon sandy beach, lying just below the old town defensive wall. It takes its name from a nearby church.

There are wide variety of bars and restaurants nearby, including Café del Mar on the pier with seats overlooking the beach.

Both are perfect spots to watch the sunset over the Ionian Sea.

Spiaggia di Porto Selvaggio, Nardò

Porto Selvaggio is a nature reserve filled with thick, pine forest, covering an area of 1100 hectares in the comune of Nardò.

A little less than 20km north of Gallipoli, Porto Selvaggio is one of Puglia’s most beautiful nature reserves.

The main beach is a rocky and pebble beach. Concessions sell refreshments and snacks.

More | Puglia by beach – Spiaggia di Porto Selvaggio | hike the nature reserve

Porto Selvaggio, situated in a nature reserve, is a popular local beach with rocks | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Grotta del Cavallo, Porto Selvaggio

Porto Selvaggio gay and nudist beach, situated in a nature reserve, is a popular local beach with rocks | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Porto Selvaggio is beautiful. But getting to the gay beach is hard work.

Some of the rockiest, most jagged coast, and few flatter shelves to lie out on comfortably.

If you love nature at its most authentic, and a sense of isolation by all means try it out. But if cruising trumps nature, you might have more fun staying in Gallipoli.

More | Puglia by beach – Grotta del Cavallo gay beach | hike the nature reserve

Torre Chianca

Four sandy coves lie between Porto Cesareo and the Torre Chianca watchtower to the west.

White sands run the length of the largest of these crescent bays. A gentle rake makes for shallow, clear and calm waters.

Lido bars have facilities – and get busy throughout the summer season. Many lidos are attached to nearby beach and hotel accommodation.

Beaches around Porto Cesareo are also popular with locals.

Torre Chianca beach, Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination

Punta Prosciutto

Punta Prosciutto beach, Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination

A long stretch of soft white sand with large dunes and Mediterranean scrub running behind it, located in a protected marine area

Most of the beach is public though there are some private lidos with facilities.

Like many of the beaches around it the water is clear blue and remains shallow for some time.

Torre Colimena – San Pietro in Bevagna

Torre Colimena’s watchtower is one of the best known in Puglia. The long stretch of beach runs from the west of the town along the beachfront of San Pietro in Bevagna.

The public beaches are well served with local facilities and on street parking is available if you can find a space.

The Salina dei Minaci reserve is behind the lower section of beach, which has flamingo colonies stop over.

San Pietro in Bevagna beach | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

Spiaggia D’Ayala | Campomarino

D’Ayala beach, Campomarino is our favorite gay and nudist beach in Puglia and was voted Italy’s 5th best gay beach | Photo © the Puglia Guys for the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to gay Puglia, Italy’s top gay summer destination | Puglia by beach guide to Puglia’s best beaches

D’Ayala beach is easy to access. It’s a 5-minute walk from parking your car to hitting the gay section (the most extensive part of D’Ayala’s naturist beach).

Be in no doubt, this is a popular beach frequented by committed naturists and dripping with good looking boys looking for sun, sea and – very openly – something else. A must visit if you want to experience Puglia’s finest.

Sandy beach with warm, blue water.

More | the Puglia Guys D’Ayala gay beach guide

Where are Puglia’s best beaches

Beaches on Puglia’s Ionian coast have more than a hint of the Seychelles, with multihued water and soft white sand. The Puglia Guys guides to Puglia’s best beaches, local reviews and guides, list some of Puglia’s best beaches with additional information on facilities and access.

When it comes to beaches, Puglia’s finest are in Gargano and Salento. The Gargano’s exceptional, long sandy beaches are as good as the award-winning beaches of Salento.

For those looking for fine sandy beaches during the day and a vibrant nightlife, all within walking distance, some compromise might be necessary. Whilst we have plenty of both, the combination of the two is harder to find – especially for those looking no further than the Valle d’Itria.

Vieste and Otranto are the best destinations if you want fine stretches of soft sand that you can get to on foot within a few minutes from vibrant old town hubs.

Polignano a Mare and Monopoli are often suggested for those looking for a base in the Valle d’Itria, but here sand is at a premium, with typically pebble beaches and rocky shelves. We are very happy here, but if your priority is soft sandy beaches, then neither is probably for you.

Barletta to the north of Bari and Pescoluse, the Maldive of Salento, whilst ideal for those looking to spend the day on a lounger, feel too much of a resort. The perfect combination for us would be to stay in the wonderfully quiet Santa Maria di Leuca and make the short drive to Pescoluse each day.

Tourist holiday and camping villages are popular coastal summer destinations. But these are typically self contained with a mini-market and coffee bar and an on-site pizza restaurant.

Be prepared to travel a little to discover the finest beaches by day and the most beautiful towns with wonderful bars and restaurants to explore by night.

The Puglia Guys guides to Puglia are written from Puglia by local residents. Most of the team are Italians who have lived in Puglia for many years. Some were born here.

Puglia is Italy’s top gay summer destination for LGBT travel. This beach guide is an inclusive guide including family friendly beaches, gay beaches and nudist beaches, as well as other parts of Puglia’s coast where naturism takes place.

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