It would be a push to still call Puglia the ‘untouched’ corner of Italy, but if you know where to look (hint: we do) there are plenty of idyllic hidden gems dotted along the region’s coast where you can soak up the summer sun without the crowds you might find on the Amalfi Coast or in Sicily. Our experts have had the tough job of exploring the coast and painstakingly putting together a list of the best beaches in Puglia. Read on to discover their favourite spots…
Isola di Sant'Andrea Nature Park
Just south of the town of Gallipoli, on the western coast of Puglia, is the Isola di Sant'Andrea Nature Park, a protected wildlife area, which is bordered by two beautiful beaches: the Punta Della Suina and Lido Pizzo, both perfect for swimming and relaxing. Alternatively, make your way through the pine tree forest to the nearby Torre del Pizzo or to Punta Pizzoto to admire the unspoiled coastline and sea views.
Maldive del Salento
Just south of the ‘heel’ of Puglia, in Marina di Pescoluse, Maldive del Salento, is a long, sandy stretch of sand with clear blue waters (hence the name, ‘The Maldives of Salento’). Dotted with lines of umbrellas offering up wonderfully shady spots and with safe shallow waters, it’s very popular with families so it can get busy, but handily there is a large car park right behind the beach.
The Grotta della Poesia
The Grotta della Poesia is a large natural rock pool set within the limestone cliffs where you can jump into the crystal-clear water and swim through a tunnel into the sea. Leave your car in the nearby village of Torre dell Orso or Roca Vecchia and wander along the coast to spend an afternoon at this cool clifftop pool.
Torre dell'Orso Beach
Torre dell’Orso, located around 20 miles from Lecce, is home to what is easily one of the best beaches in Puglia. This long stretch of sandy beach is the perfect spot to spend a day relaxing in the sun, enjoying the beautifully blue water and admiring the Due Sorelle, a double rock formation that emerges from the sea.
Slightly further south, right at the mouth of Lake Alimini Grande, you’ll find Lido Balnearea. With a fleet of umbrellas and deckchairs facing the clear blue sea, this is the prime location for some serious relaxation. It can be a little tricky to find, but once you dive into the sea it will all be worth it.
Coco Village Beach Club
If you’re after the perfect swimming spot, Coco Village Beach Club in Cozze - a village not far from Polignano a Mare - offers just that, with its huge swimming pool and Blue Flag beach. The club boasts a large wooden terrace overlooking the rocks, all the comfortable sun loungers you could want and a beach bar to keep you suitably well fed and watered.
Coccaro Beach Club
For another sandy beach, head a little further south to Capitolo and the Coccaro Beach Club. Here you'll find a restaurant, a massage area and plenty of places to sunbathe on the beach. This spot is a popular wedding venue, and it’s not hard to see why once you step onto the sun-drenched terrace.
Not far from Ostuni are two fantastic family options: Pilone, a lovely sandy beach surrounded by cliffs and Mediterranean vegetation which is the perfect spot for swimming; and Viar Beach Club, which is a fantastic option for families with plenty of activities to keep little ones amused.
Guna Beach Club
Even further south, down towards Brindisi, you’ll find Torre Guaceto - home to Guna Beach Club, an exclusive club on a beautiful stretch of white sand. Lounge on the deckchairs set up on the lawn behind the beach or head down to the water and try your hand at kitesurfing, which is particularly popular here.
Quarto di Monte Beach
Another more intimate option is the perfectly petite Quarto di Monte beach. This serene stretch of sand is set just in front of the White Ostuni Beach Club in Monticelli, which is lovely and sheltered thanks to surrounding rocky outcrops.
Located just south of the town of Vieste – right in the north of Puglia - is the most extensive stretch of sandy beach in the area. It's a popular beach with a family atmosphere and a large selection of restaurants, bars, and sunbeds - ideal for a lazy afternoon in the sun.
It's hard to find secret beaches in Puglia, however the sandy Portonuovo Beach is one of the most secretive and intimate spots you’ll find in the region. Come prepared with a picnic hamper of foodie treats and a good book and indulge in a sedate afternoon in the sun.
If it’s a serious dose of tranquility you’re after, make a beeline for the remote pebble beach of Vignanotica, which you’ll find nestled between Pugnochiuso and Mattinata. Here you can rent a deckchair for the afternoon or go for a stroll along the shore to soak up the peace and quiet.
San Lorenzo Beach
North of Vieste, you’ll find San Lorenzo beach, which is brilliant for families thanks to its restaurant, children’s play area and safe, shallow waters. While the children splash around in the water, you can sip your aperitifs in the sun: what more could you want?
In between the towns of Vieste and Peschici is the sandy beach of Crovatico, the perfect end to our round-up of the best beaches in Puglia. Backed by pine groves and sand dunes that slope towards the shore, this is the ideal destination for young couples or families seeking peace and privacy in nature.
Cover image: Lucy Laucht