If you are already in Puglia then you probably know that Puglia is Italy’s top gay summer destination. Puglia is one of only three Italian destinations chosen by the Rough Guide for their top LGBTQ+ friendly European destinations (Bologna and Milan are recommended as destinations to visit in Autumn).
Summer in Puglia is all about the beach. Hot, sweaty and salty all summer long, Puglia has Italy’s top gay beach – Punta della Suina, nearby Gallipoli which also regularly tops the list as Italy’s top gay summer destination.
It should come as no surprise then that the focus for most of Puglia’s gay cruising takes place at the beach.
Top of Puglia’s gay cruising destinations are the top gay and top nudist beaches: Punta della Suina, Torre Guaceto and our personal favourite, D’Ayala beach.
Note: the Italian Penal Code prohibits individuals from performing acts of indecency or lewdness in public places, which includes exposing one’s self or engaging in sexual acts in view of the public. In Italy, public nudity is generally not allowed, and those caught in the act can be fined. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Nudity is allowed in designated areas, such as private properties or official nudist beaches, as long as it is not intended to offend or cause public outrage. None of the beaches listed in this guide are officially nudist beaches, though nudist bathing has been tolerated for many years.
Punta della Suina | Gallipoli
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.
Punta della Suina was voted Italy’s best gay beach by Italy’s LGBTQIA+ community in 2021 and 2022.
Torre Guaceto | Brindisi
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. Nevertheless this is ignored!
More | Puglia by beach – Torre Guaceto gay beach
Spiaggia d’Ayala | Campomarion di Maruggio
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).
A popular beach frequented by committed naturists and dripping with good looking men searching for sun, sea and something else. A must visit if you want to experience Puglia’s finest.
Sandy beach with warm, blue water.
Our favorite of Puglia’s gay beaches and in 2021 voted one of Italy’s top 5.
More | the Puglia Guys D’Ayala gay beach guide
The best known local gay cruising spots are found at:
Lamaforca | Ostuni
Lamaforca beach, the last of Ostuni’s marinas, has a discreet gay section and a reputation as a popular gay cruising haunt. Extremely well known by locals, this is a place where men (some of them married men and men who do not identify as gay or bi) come for sex with other men.
As soon as you drive down the access road that takes you directly to the beach you will notice cars slowing down so the driver can catch your attention. Some cars may have stopped at the side, the driver standing out as if to take a pee, when in fact it is a convenient ruse simply to flash penis.
The heavier action takes place in the trails running through the pine forest behind the cove. You will notice gentlemen hanging around the forest entrance. Others will be wandering the trails.
Most people are likely to say hello and ask you what you are looking for before inviting you to follow them.
Be aware. Lamaforca is a popular family beach for visitors staying in the touristic village adjacent to the beach, and the same access road is used for the camping village. We have seen police cars drive up and down the stretch of road that leads to Lamaforca from time to time, pulling drivers over to check their documentation.
Take the Torre Pozzella exit off the main coastal highway (E55) and turn right for Lamaforca. The access road to Lamaforca is signed and is the first on the left.
More | Puglia by beach – Lamaforca
Torre Pozzelle | Ostuni
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
Away from beach locations, most gay cruising usually involves driving around for car sex. City cruising takes place in:
If truth be told, Taranto is our favourite city cruising destination. There is something about Taranto. The men are among the most exciting in Puglia.
The action takes place on the other side of the mar piccolo at Buffoluto just off the main highway. It can be hard to get to (due to the intricacies of finding the right exit roads) but is well worth it. Cruising takes place in the cars around the abandoned building, and inside the building itself. The industrial feel adds to the excitement. And if cruising isn’t your thing you can always go for the beautiful sunset over the mar piccolo!
The driver’s license test area around the Motorizzazione Civile di Lecce (outside business hours) is usually the best cruising spot. Otherwise, take a trip around the football stadium (Stadio Via del Mare). When we visited both after a night out (at around 2.30AM on Saturday morning) the stadium was busier.
Just pull up wherever you find some other cars parked. Asking for a cigarette, or a light, is a good start.
Popular central Bari gay cruising spots are along the lungomare Nazario Sauro (the sidewalk that runs along the seafront) and near the University of Bari’s Literature and Language Department building.
You will need a car to get to the main cruising spot which is by the Stadio San Nicola soccer stadium. Just drive around the car park, but not when there’s a game. Main cruising times here tend to be around 1:00 pm, just before 4:00 pm and after sunset.
Other gay and nudist beaches and bathing spots around Puglia’s coast are also the focus of gay cruising. The most popular local spots include:
Pietra Egea | Costa Ripagnola
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 coves) 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
San Cataldo | Lecce
San Cataldo is 15km from the center of Lecce, so this is a popular cruising beach.
Take the SP364 (exit 7A/B) from the Lecce Tangenziale to San Cataldo. At the lighthouse turn left towards “Darsena”. Take the 2nd right off Via Palinuro to the head of a small fishing lake. Park there then head to the beach. The nudist area is located about 1.5km north (turn left when you reach the beach), the gay section a little further on.
Busiest during the summer months, peaking in July and August.
More | Puglia by beach – San Cataldo
Grotta del Cavallo | Porto Selvaggio
Porto Selvaggio is beautiful. But getting to the gay beach is hard work. However, it is one of Puglia’s best known and among our region’s top 5.
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.
Lido Sud Siponto | Manfredonia
The beach at Lido di Siponto lying south of Manfredonia, at the beginning of the Gargano promontory, has kilometers of sandy beach.
A popular local gay-friendly nudist beach is located by Spiaggia Libera litorale Sud Siponto (located in the section between the Lido Aeronautica military beach and the Candelaro stream). Head towards the dunes.
More | The Puglia Guys road trip from Bari to Peschici
Boccadoro Spiaggia | Trani
This beach is located between Trani and Barletta, located in the Boccadoro nature reserve. Some sand and pebbles, though not the finest of beaches.
From the SS16 take the Trani Zona Industriale Boccadoro exit. Continue directly to the sea. Busiest times | mornings | afternoons | to and from work | summer season.
Torre Calderina naturist beach | Molfetta
The local naturist beach is located by the tower, with a gay area just beyond. Access from the tower. Torre Calderina is a narrow, pebble beach. One for the die hards.
Puglia Sex Clubs, Gay Bathhouses and Saunas
HOTPARTY ITALY Disco&Cruising, Fasano
Monthly cruising disco party club, with gogo dancers and dark rooms. At Margo Club, Fasano. Follow on Twitter or Facebook for information. The club is Members Only, but you can join for a one-off annual membership fee (usually around 20€) on the door.
Millenium Bath, Bari
Bari’s only traditional gay bathhouse is Millennium Bath. They’re located in Marconi on the northwestern side of the modern port. You’ll find clean facilities, showers, lockers, private rooms and a blue-lit jacuzzi at Millennium Bath.The club is Members Only, but you can join for a one-off annual membership fee (usually around 20€) on the door.
Only Men Sauna, Ceglie Messapica
Puglia’s premium bathhouse and sauna. Don’t let it’s location in the quiet countryside of the Valle d’Itria fool you. This is a modern, comfortable and large spa and sauna. Currently open on Sunday afternoons from 16:00 to 22:00, booking is required. Details here.
The club is Members Only, but you can join for a one-off annual membership fee (usually around 20€) on the door.
Our favorite gay and nudist beaches in Puglia, in this order:
2. Torre Guaceto
3. Punta della Suina
4. Torre Incina
5. Grotta del Cavallo
Our favorite gay lido beach club is Por do Sol, Gallipoli.
Although some gays can often be spotted bathing at Lamaforca it is, alongside the adjacent beach resort Torre Pozzelle, mainly a cruising spot.
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 LGBTQ+ travel.
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.