The 10 things to do in Salento

Are you planning your next holidays in Salento? Here are the 10 things to do during your stay in this peninsula jutting out into the Mediterranean.

It’s difficult not to fall in love with Salento. It is capable of fascinating you even before visiting it and there are many places crowded every year, both in summer and winter, by Italian and foreign tourists from all over the world. Salento is a very large land, so rich in interesting places and wonderful landscapes, that it is not always easy to be able to move in the right way, especially when you have only a few days of vacation available.

1) Visit the historic center of Lecce

Roman amphitheater, Lecce
Roman amphitheater, Lecce ©Planetix via Canva

A fascinating city, rich in history and tradition, characterized by a historic center as beautiful as few in the world. A triumph of Baroque style decorations and constructions, made with the refined Lecce stone, golden and extremely resistant. The masterpiece of the city is the Basilica of Santa Croce, symbol of Lecce’s baroque. The streets are always alive, with a very friendly atmosphere full of people in cafes and groups of friends enjoying an ice cream or street food. Anything else to see? Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the elegant living room of Lecce, the Roman amphitheater and the Palazzo del Seggio, or Seat, home to art exhibitions and exhibitions, together with the Carlo V castle. All immersed in a unique and evocative atmosphere.

2) Our delicacies

Mostaccioli ©sara-tm via Canva

To the delight of those with a sweet tooth, who don’t want to give up a little indulgence even on holiday: pasticciotto is a typical dessert from the area, made of shortcrust pastry and filled with custard. Indeed, this is the original and delicious recipe for pasticciotto, although today other variations have spread which offer pasticciotto flavored with chocolate cream, cream and Nutella, or jam, up to the “Obama pasticciotto”. The latter was invented by the Cherì pastry shop, from Campi Salentina, which to pay homage to the president of the United States created a pasticciotto with cream and chocolate filling.

Certainly, all almond-based desserts are very famous: from “dry pastries” to the typical mostaccioli, without forgetting the almond paste used as icing on cakes or as the main ingredient for the Easter lamb. We also find puccia with olives which is one of the delicacies of the Salento bakery. Fragrant and genuine, it will surprise you with a unique taste, perfect for a quick meal on the beach or for a tasty snack.

3) Otranto

Gallipoli ©Ladiras via Canva

After Lecce, let’s head further south and reach the Otranto area: there are many places to visit in these parts. Let’s start from the Alimini lakes, two bodies of water close to the sea surrounded by greenery and a few steps from beautiful beaches of fine sand.

Next, the characteristic Bauxite lake is worth a stop, a place out of this world that will surprise you with its surreal colours. Finally, absolutely not to be missed is the Punta Palascìa lighthouse, the most eastern place in Italy, perched on a very spectacular rocky and jagged coast.

And, after visiting the surroundings, don’t miss the beautiful ancient village of Otranto: the port, the castle and above all the cathedral, with its spectacular Byzantine floor mosaics, will leave an indelible mark on your mind.

4) Take a bath in the Maldives of Salento

Gallipoli ©Ladiras via Canva

An obligatory stop for every self-respecting tourist, in Marina di Pescoluse you will find very fine white sand and a crystal clear sea welcoming you. Characteristics that have earned this magical place comparison with the famous exotic location, so renowned for its beauty.

5) Attend a local festival

Apulian festivals
Apulian festivals ©

Many are organised: we are talking about local festivals which are usually the celebration of a Salento specialty, local delicacies, accompanied by a triumph of music and lots of fun and we also find the popular village festivals, often dedicated to the patron saint. You just have to choose the one you like best, there is fried fish, frisa, aubergine, horse meat, watermelon and much more.

6) Enjoy the view from the Ciolo bridge

Ciolo Bridge
Ciolo Bridge ©tagstiles via Canva

A scenic location in the Gagliano del Capo area, on the eastern coast of Salento, Ciolo takes its name from the “ciole“, the dialect name of the crows that populate the small canyon, circling over the intense blue of the sea. Carved out over the millennia by meteorite waters, the Ciolo is crossed by a bridge approximately 30 meters high and in front you will have a breathtaking view, which overlooks the very small beach where the sea is almost always calm and where, in summer, you can admire the pirouettes and acrobatics of the divers who choose the high cliffs for their exploits.

7) Visit Santa Maria di Leuca: Finibus terrae

Santa Maria di Leuca lighthouse
Santa Maria di Leuca lighthouse ©diegofiore via Canva

Among the most beautiful cities in Salento, Santa Maria di Leuca is certainly not to be missed. In the last strip of Puglia only the sea marks the edge of the horizon. In summer, the emerald sea teems with life and white boats. The jagged coastline runs from Punta Mèliso to Punta Rìstola: sandy coves, ravines, caves, small inlets draw the line of the Ionian and Adriatic coasts which meet in front of the lighthouse of Punta Mèliso and the Sanctuary. From here you will have a fantastic view of the entire coast and the marina, truly unforgettable, especially at sunset.

On the promontory of Santa Maria di Leuca you can still see traces of ancient settlements, magical caves and splendid nineteenth-century villas. After the rocks overlooking the sea we will find Santa Cesarea Terme, the wild nature of Castro and the port of Tricase. The most famous caves? The Devil’s Cave, near Punta Rìstola, the Giants’ Cave and the Nativity Scene Cave.

8) Walk in the Salento countryside

Itria Valley
Itria Valley ©batock via Canva

During a holiday in Salento, it is worth taking long walks on the outskirts of the towns, all surrounded by large green spaces, dominated by centuries-old olive trees with twisted shapes, vineyards, red earth and plants typical of Mediterranean vegetation. Don’t miss a nice regenerating walk among the various dry stone walls that intersperse one property with another and why not, take a short break or a picnic accompanying the meal with a good new red wine and some typical delicacies of the area. The countryside is also suitable for trekking lovers and hikers who want to explore the area, get to know a part of Salento’s biodiversity and come across some ruined farmhouse or trullo, if you are in the Alberobello areas.

9) Dancing the pizzica

Salento Pizzica
Salento Pizzica ©

The Taranta Festival is certainly the Salento event par excellence, which every year, in the month of August, sees many squares in the Salento villages packed with people dancing to the sound of tambourines and guitars. The Taranta Festival is a traveling festival that takes place within some Salento municipalities, almost all belonging to Grecìa Salentina. Towns such as Martano, Sternatia, Cutrofiano, Galatina, ending, as usual, with the famous Notte della Taranta, in Melpignano it is an extraordinary folkloristic event with popular music that aims to enhance and spread Salento culture and traditions.

10) Boat excursion

Boat Tour in Puglia
Boat Tour in Puglia ©kentarus via Canva

Among the things to do in Salento whether you are on the Ionian side or on the Adriatic side, a boat tour is always highly recommended, as along the coast there are often cavities dug by the incessant action of the waves and agents atmospheric.
The coast of Salento is wonderful and varied and small boats often allow you to stop in the most beautiful places for swimming in crystal clear waters.

Carved into the rocky coast you will find a series of caves: the Poesia cave, in the Roca Vecchia area, between San Foca and Torre dell’Orso. Near Porto Badisco, the Deer Cave, decorated with Neolithic pictograms depicting deer hunting. Towards Castro, the Azzurra cave, the Palombara cave and the Zinzulusa cave, up to the Romanelli cave, a few hundred meters apart. Between Castro and Santa Maria di Leuca, the Dragon Cave, known for a stalactite in the shape of a prehistoric monster. Still towards the south, the Cipollane cave, with its seabed colored by red coral.

So, have we convinced you to pack your bags and move here for your summer in Salento?

Santa Maria al Bagno ©diegofiore via Canva
Itineraries in Puglia

A holiday in the land of Salento is never forgotten. Between architecture, beaches, festivals and gastronomy, Salento and the Itria Valley are destinations that attract tourists of all ages. It is therefore possible to organize different itineraries in Puglia according to your needs: our region has such a varied offer that makes it ideal for any type of holiday.

Amalfi Coast ©ezupix via Canva
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Those who live in Salento are already very lucky because they have beautiful places within reach where they can go on excursions, trips to the seaside, explore the historic centers or have fun during the summer nightlife. However, there is no shortage of those who also want to visit the beauties outside the Salento area, starting from the closest ones such as the cities, towns and villages of the Itria Valley.

Valle d’Itria ©tagstiles via Canva
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Puglia is a region to be discovered not only in summer! Towns, villages and cities have so much to offer in all seasons, including unmissable events and relaxing stays in luxurious farms.