Puglia has long been a favourite destination among Italians for a sea-side escape. And now more and more foreigners are discovering the coastal beauty of this southern region too. The heel of Italy has a spectacular coastline, complete with stunning (hidden) beaches and turquoise waters. Don’t expect many long stretches of sandy (and packed) beaches here though. Instead Puglia’s rocky coast is characterised by little bays and countless smaller, more intimate beaches. Every day, there’s a new beach to discover. And that’s exactly what I think makes this region so attractive for a seaside holiday.
Interestingly, unlike in some other countries, beaches in Italy need to be freely accessible. Which is why even private beaches always have a (small) stretch of public beach. Private beaches, though, offer services such as deck chairs, umbrellas, toilets and showers. So, apart from the fact that you simply have more space, renting a chair at a private beach can be quite convenient. In high season (July and August) it’s probably wise to book a chair in advance. These days there’s even a handy app to do so: Coco Booking enables you to pick the best spot at your favourite beach (and no, I’m not paid to promote them, I just think it’s a useful tool in this digital age!).
Planning your next Italian seaside escape? From the small golden beaches of the Salento Coast, to the coves of the Gargano National Park, here are five Apulian beaches that I believe are worth exploring:
If you’re staying near Monopoli, this beach is the place to be if you’d ask me! It’s small and the public area is tiny, but there’s a larger private area with deck chairs and umbrellas higher up in a sandy semicircle overlooking the cove. There are toilets, showers as well as a small bar and restaurant that serves brilliant seafood pasta. In contrast to some of the neighbouring beaches, Lido Colonia doesn’t massively hike up its prices in summer and for €20 you get two deck chairs and an umbrella for the entire day. Parking (in the shade) costs another €5 but there are also free parking spaces on the street.
Spiaggia di Pescoluse
Spiaggia di Pescoluse is better known as the Maldives of Puglia, which gives you a bit of an impression of this gorgeous beach. Fine white sand, shallow and incredibly clear waters that turn turquoise as you swim further… Perhaps the only thing missing are the palm trees. Don’t expect to be here by yourself though. It’s likely you’ll be sharing this beautiful stretch of beach with quite a few others, BUT it’s not (yet) overcrowded. And although ‘Maldives di Puglia’ is also the official name of one of the resorts here, a large part of the beach is public and accessible free of charge. Dream away!
Baia dei Turchi
Another favourite of mine. Not just because this beach on the Salento Coast has some of the most stunning turquoise waters I’ve seen, but also because it’s hidden between pinewood trees and only accessible via a rocky path. The 10 minute walk is beautiful but it also means that fewer people make it down here. Which in turn means more space for you and I! There’s a small stretch of sandy beach with deck chairs and a beach bar, alongside some more rocky bits. Take me back, *sigh*…
Lido Baia San Felice
During our last trip to Puglia we stayed in Trani, which is a lovely seaside town but unfortunately not immediately surrounded by nice beaches. That’s why we decided to head north for a day and visit the Gargano National Park. This peninsula has a spectacular coastline with lush pinewood forests and rocks that plunge into the sea. The coastal road is long and windy, but the views are to die for. Make a pit stop at the Torre di San Felice to take pictures of the stunning panorama (I shot the picture that’s on the top of this page there!). A few kilometres down the road is Lido Baia San Felice. It’s a little bay tucked away behind the trees with a sandy beach that has a small private area and a larger public area. The water is quite shallow, but if you go in far enough it gets deeper – you can even go all away around the corner and swim underneath the breath-taking rock arch!
Sabbiadoro means golden sand and that’s exactly what you’ll find at this beautiful beach not far away from Monopoli. There’s a large private area with deck chairs and umbrellas (access to which comes at a small price, especially in high season) as well as a public area. Sabbiadoro is particularly popular with families as it’s easily accessible and is made up of a relatively long stretch of sandy beach.