Puglia has gained a fantastic reputation among tourists and tour operators for the beauty and charm of its unspoiled beaches and the crystal clear water. Puglia offers approximately 800 km of coastline of unique natural beauty: its beaches are the ideal retreat for those looking for relaxation and wellness, as well as for all those that desire a bit more of adventure and swim and snorkel through rocky sea bottoms. Here we have listed the top 10 most beautiful beaches that we believed every tourist should not miss while visiting the region and they have been chosen based on their uniqueness.
1. Tremiti Islands
The Tremiti Islands, which are part of the Gargano National Park, are an archipelago of small islands with white sandy beaches and a pristine sea. The Tremiti Islands are a protected marine reserve with a unique environment which makes them very popular destination for diving thanks to the high number of coves and underwater caves. Only San Domino and San Nicola are inhabited, although it is possible to visit the other three by boat. The archipelago is a jewel, literally a pearl in the Adriatic Sea, and makes for a splendid trip. The hour-long boat ride takes you to a world of raggedy cliffs, sandy coves and thick pine woods, surrounded by the cobalt-blue sea.
Photo Credits: Howtotouritaly.com
2. Pescoluse – Salve
Distance from: Gallipoli Km 39 – Santa Maria di Leuca Km 10
One of the most famous and also longest beaches in Puglia, Pescoluse beach stretches for 8 Km on the Ionian Coast; a breath-taking beauty also known as the Maldives of Salento. Sandy dunes create a natural barrier and separate the beach from the main road running inland. Pescoluse is an extraordinary and unforgettable location, the beach is characterizes by fine white sand, crystal clear sea with tropical shades of blue, blue and green, shallow waters and islets rising from the sea, dunes covered with acacia trees and white lily. The shallow waters make it perfect for families with children.
Photo Credits: Giglihotelsalento
3. Campomarino – Maruggio
Distance from: Taranto Km 40 – Gallipoli Km 62
All coast around the town of Maruggio is ox extraordinary beauty, however Campomarino deserves particular attention from a naturalistic point of view for its dunes. Driving south-east from the little village along the road that brings to San Pietro in Bevagna, we find the Park of the Dunes of Campomarino. The dunes are up to 12 meters and for a natural barrier between the beach and the road. The dunes are characterized by the Mediterranean scrub which has favoured the growth of thyme, rosemary and juniper. The shore is characterized by sandy stretches which alternate with rocks; the water is crystal clear with colour ranging from blue cobalt to green.
Photo Credits: Facebook – Campomarino di Maruggio
4. Torre dell’Orso – Marina di Melendugno
Distance from: Lecce Km 27 – Otranto Km 17
Easily reachable by following the road along the Adriatic coast of Salento, between San Foca and Torre Sant’Andrea we find the beach of Torre dell’Orso.
This beautiful beach is named after the watchtower dating from the sixteenth century and it has been awarded several times with the blue flag for the quality of its sand and water. It is about 800 meters long and it bounded by cliffs. In the south, just off the coast are the two famous cliffs, called the Due Sorelle (Two Sisters). According to an old legend, two sisters who lived in the area used to go to the beach every day because attracted by the beauty of this place. One day the sisters threw themselves into the sea and never came back; the gods took pity and turned them into the two cliffs. White sand, clear sea water and in part coming from the near Alimini Lakes, enough wind for surfing make of this beach one of the most beautiful in Puglia.
Photo Credits: Salentime
5. Porto Selvaggio – Nardò
Distance from: Gallipoli Km 18 – Lecce Km 40
Porto Selvaggio (literally Wild Harbour) has been instituted as National Park in 1980. It is located along the west coast of Salento between Sant’Isidoro and Santa Maria al Bagno, it can also be reached driving from the town of Nardò. It is a protected area, consisting of an extensive pine forest and eucalyptus trees, rich in plant species and animals. To reach the coastline you will need to cross the dense pine forest: a ten-minute walk through a pristine forest before reaching the beach, a little natural harbour with crystal blue waters, rocky seabed (often explored by divers) and reefs that reach up to 40 meters. The whole area is protected against tourist development and has various types of habits which are home to a wide range of wildlife including lizards, weasels, finches, foxes and birds like hoopoe, thrush and kestrels.
6. Porto Badisco – Otranto
Distance from: Otranto Km 11 – Santa Maria di Leuca Km 42
Porto Badisco is a small sea village inhabited mostly by fishermen and frequented mostly by locals. According to the legend Porto Badisco was the site of Aeneas’s first landing in Italy after his escape from Troy. Porto Badisco can be reached driving south from Otranto along the SP87 or north from Santa Cesarea Terme along the SP358. Porto Badisco has a small sandy beach surrounded by cliffs making it a beautiful natural harbour. The entire cove is surrounded by sweet fragrances of myrtle, thyme and fennel, prickly pears, oleanders. With its crystal dark blue water, Porto Badisco is perfect spot for snorkelling.
Here we also find the famous Grotta dei Cervi an underground caves complex that hosted first inhabitants of the area and still preserve thousands of inscriptions and paintings.
7. Polignano a Mare
Distance from: Bari Km 35 – Fasano Km 25
35 km south of Bari we find Polignano a Mare, is a pearl on the Adriatic Sea, Polignano a Mare. It has often received the Blue Flag (from the Foundation for Environmental Education) for its clean bathing water, beaches and tourist facilities that offer. The oldest part of the town lies on limestone cliffs and overlooks the sea. Few minutes walking from the old town is the beach called Spiaggia Cala Porto or Spiaggia Lama Monachile, it takes the name from the old bridge that was part of the Roman Via Traiana. The beach is pretty small and made up of small white pebbles with green-blue crystal water. The whole area is surrounded by cliffs and caves which make the place perfect for diving and snorkelling lovers and for boat excursions through the caves. Among these the Grotta Nera and the Cavernone dei Monumenti.
Photo credits: Stefano Ciccocioppo – Flickr
8. Baia dei Turchi – Melendugno
Distance from: Otranto Km 5 – Lecce Km 44
Baia dei Turchi (Turks Bay) is one of the most beautiful beaches in Puglia. It is located on the Adriatic Coast of the Salento peninsula just a few Km north of Otranto. Its name derives from the Turks who choose this place in 1480 for the siege of Otranto and it is part of the protected Oasis Area of Alimini Lakes. It can only be reached on foot or cycling, so if you are driving to the area you better park the car in one of the parking area along the main road. A pinewood forest of typical Mediterranean scrub separates the beach from the road; it will take only few minutes to cross it. A fabulous sea in front of a white beach protected by the cliffs behind and surrounded by the scent of Mediterranean vegetation coming from the pine forest.
Photo Credits: Greenme
9. Vignanotica – Vieste
Distance from: Vieste Km 23,29 – Mattinata Km 22,85
Vignanotica is a pebble beach, well known for its white and high cliff, plunged into lush nature, between the Santa Tecla Park and the Monte Barone Park. The beach can be reached from the municipal road “Vieste/Mattinata”, taking a walkable path of about 3 Km. Due to the surrounding cliff, the beach gets in the shade early afternoon.
10. Zagare Bay or Mergoli Bay – Mattinata
Distance from: Mattinata Km 14,62 – Vieste Km 26,2
The Zagare Bay, also called Mergoli Bay, is about 1 Km long and has soft white sand, nestled within an enchanted cove. This beach can be reached by sea or by land through two hotels, the Baia delle Zagare Hotel and the Baia dei Faraglioni Hotel. Considering the beach can only accommodate a maximum of 30 visitants per day to protect the site, if you wish to visit Zagare Bay, without being a guest of the hotel, it is recommended planning your visit ahead and getting a personal pass from the Mattinata City Council. More info here.