Adriatic coast of Salento

The Adriatic coast, and in particular that of Salento, represents an authentic treasure chest of inestimable value; therefore a unique opportunity to be discovered, especially in summer when you travel by car, in the name of freedom and carefreeness.

Summer holidays on the Adriatic coast of Salento can fully satisfy tourists of all types, from couples to families with children, from young people looking for fun to those who simply want to relax.

Salento, as is known, overlooks both the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea, and it is precisely for this reason that this strip of Puglia is considered a truly unique territory. It is truly impossible to say which is the most beautiful coast of Salento, the Adriatic or the Ionian, since both boast so many breathtaking locations.

There is nothing left to do, therefore, but prepare for your car trip and discover which are the best itineraries in Salento!

Otranto ©EunikaSopotnicka via Canva

The seaside locations not to be missed along the Adriatic coast of Salento

Transparent waters, indescribable scents of Mediterranean scrub, sea caves and coastal towers are just some of the most evocative elements that you can find starting from the marinas of Lecce, such as Torre Rinalda (it is the northernmost marina which takes its name from the tower of the same name Spanish construction, today reduced to a ruin), Torre Chianca, Frigole (stands out for its sand dunes and the Acquatina basin) and San Cataldo (finally hosts a protected area, the Cesine Protected Reserve).

Moving south we find the marinas of Melendugno, San Foca, Torre dell’Orso and Sant’Andrea, each of them has a particularity.

From Otranto the most beautiful beaches of Salento are easily reachable, very close is Baia dei Turchi, so called for a tragic and bloody event, the landing of the Turks during the siege of Otranto and cause of the subsequent domination. The bay is a small beach of very fine sand where the sea is incredibly crystal clear, a wonderful natural landscape which the FAI in 2007 declared to be among the top 100 places to be protected in Italy. It has also been declared a site of community importance (SIC) and is part of the protected oasis of the Alimini lakes.

Torre dell'Orso
Torre San Giovanni ©diegofiore via Canva

The cultural locations along the Adriatic coast

  • Torre Sant’Andrea, a town characterized by a predominantly rocky coast, full of caves and small inlets, takes its name from the tower, where the lighthouse is located, which dominates the small port. Thanks also to the evocative show of lights and colors between sea and sky. It is much loved by tourists thanks to the presence of various clubs that make it one of the nightlife locations on the Adriatic coast.
  • Otranto is a small town located in the easternmost point of Italy, the ancient capital of the earth, which overlooks the Mediterranean with its oriental charm and its crystal clear sea; after passing the inhabited center you reach one of the most spectacular and uncontaminated scenarios of Salento, between the white spit of Punta Facì and the promontory of Capo d’Otranto (dominated by the lighthouse of Punta Palascia, the easternmost point of Italy) it extends the Baia delle Orte, with a series of small sandy coves protected by the pine forest. Nearby there are the “Russian lands”, old abandoned bauxite quarries that have been transformed into lakes of incredible colours.
Punta Balascia lighthouse
Punta Balascia lighthouse ©staraldo via Canva
  • A few kilometers south of Otranto, stands an ancient watchtower: the Torre del Serpe, one of many scattered throughout Salento, built to immediately spot the Saracen threat. Its name is linked to an ancient legend, which envelops the site in a veiled mystery and enveloping charm.
  • Continuing south, we recommend a dip in the small bay of Porto Badisco. Those who come here in summer can enjoy a unique landscape: the bay is covered by the yellow blanket of brooms that sprout on the rocks, reflecting in the green-blue, clear and crystalline sea. In Badisco you can also enjoy the priceless flavor of sea urchins, sold on stalls or in the typical trattorias of the small village.

The most beautiful caves along the Adriatic coast of Salento

  • San Foca is home to the famous Lovers’ Cave, according to legend so called because two young men took refuge there to shelter from the cold north wind. San Foca is a picturesque fishing center that offers a suggestive panorama: on the horizon, when the sky is clear, it is possible to see the outline of the mountains of Albania, about 72 miles away.
  • Torre Dell’Orso is a place loved by numerous visitors who choose it every year to spend their holidays. To the south of the cliff there is the cave of San Cristoforo and even further south, a short distance from the beach, there are two stacks, called “The Two Sisters“. According to legend, the name derives from two sisters who dived from a cliff into the stormy sea, losing their lives and the gods transformed them into stacks, so that they could admire their beauty forever.
  • Just 7 km away you enter the Castro area, in a suggestive setting between the green of the olive trees and an uncontaminated sea, with a jagged coast, with inlets and icy springs. Just before the town the famous Castro caves including the famous Romanelli cave inside which there are red graffiti, the oldest human representations in the field of figurative arts.
  • After a few kilometers Santa Cesarea Terme, a small town perched on the coast, famous for its spas and the beneficial qualities of its waters, and which in its countryside includes 16km of coastline rich in thick pine forests and deep, emerald waters, numerous stacks and coves (of which the most important is that of Porto Miggiano). The most famous cave here is certainly the “Zinzulusa Cave” whose name derives from the dialect “zinzuli” that is, rags, the particular limestone formations that ‘hang’ from the ceiling.

Santa Maria di Leuca: where the journey ends

Santa Maria di Leuca
Santa Maria di Leuca ©boerescul via Canva

The journey ends in Santa Maria di Leuca, located precisely at the top of what is the “heel of Italy“, and therefore also called “de finibus terrae“, where it has always been believed that the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea meet. Pearl of the extreme edge of Italy, it lies on a stretch of coast alternating with cliffs and small sandy coves, with caves of great historical and naturalistic interest and the seabed which is a true paradise for underwater tourism.

A hinterland full of history and culture, splendid landscapes to admire, sumptuous and colorful nineteenth-century villas that slope towards the seafront. Leuca stands on a promontory on which the basilica and the lighthouse stand, and from which you can admire the wonderful coast from above and enjoy the spectacle of the sea. Here at the edge of the earth, you look towards the horizon, you are silent and you admire the infinite.

The entire Adriatic coast of Salento is a succession of splendid seaside resorts concentrated in less than 100 km. A car tour is the best solution to have full autonomy when traveling and not miss those places that otherwise cannot be reached by public transport.

Le Torri costiere in Salento
Coastal towers in Salento

The coastal towers scattered throughout Salento are some of the most important historical testimonies of the period in which the region represented the frontier of Europe, the bridge from the Western world to the East.

Spiagge di Porto Cesareo ©
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Gallipoli ©Ladiras via Canva
Ionian coast of Salento

Between paradisiacal beaches of white sand and crystal clear sea, natural parks and pristine reserves, the Ionian coast of Salento will leave you speechless. Over 100 km of sandy coast, with clear and crystalline waters, awaits us on this tour from Leuca to Punta Prosciutto.