Post updated in July 2022
Gallipoli is a small seaside town in Puglia, in the province of Salento, and I highly recommend it for a long weekend break or as part of a wider tour of Puglia. Three days is enough to explore Gallipoli but if you want a longer break, combine it with nearby Lecce and Otranto. If you’ve got a couple of weeks to explore Puglia, definitely include a trip to beautiful Polignano a Mare and visit the trulli in Alberobello!
We’ve visited Gallipoli three times now, so here’s a guide to Gallipoli to make the most of your time in this beautiful town.
How to get there
To get to Gallipoli you need to fly to Brindisi and then either hire a car and drive, get a taxi or the train. We always get a taxi as it’s the fastest option, but a top tip is to do your research and book it in advance, otherwise it can be really expensive. And if you book a return trip with the same company, you will get a better deal. A taxi is around €100 each way and takes around an hour. The trains to Gallipoli are quite limited and take around 2.5 hours but they are much cheaper than a taxi.
Where to stay
There are two options really – to stay in the new town or to stay in the old town (centro storico). The old town is essentially like a little island and it’s full of locals so if you like to live amongst the locals, choose to stay in the old town.
We have stayed in both the old and new town and they both have their benefits. The new town was quieter, however the old town has such charm and you’re only a stone’s throw away from all the best restaurants.
You are very close to a beach, wherever you stay. As we always like to explore a bit further afield, we always rent a scooter but having transport in Gallipoli is not essential at all. You can also hire bicycles, which are perfect for cycling along the beachfront in the new town.
Palazzo del Corso is in the new town and has a lovely rooftop pool and restaurant. Even if you don’t stay here, definitely book dinner one night.
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We also stayed in a gorgeous AirBnB in the old town which had a big terrace and views of the sea. It was also less than a 5 min walk to some of our favourite restaurants!
What to do in Gallipoli
Explore the beaches
Gallipoli has lots of public beaches as well as some beaches where you have to pay an entry fee, many of these are a bit like a club with DJs and can be really fun if you’re with a group of friends. There is only one beach in the old town, called Spiaggia della Purità, and it is completely free.
There are many public beaches along the coastline in the new town so you will be spoilt for choice. Wherever you decide to lay your towel, you’ll find cafes and restaurants nearby or even just food trucks selling drinks and paninis.
Two beaches further out, which are definitely worth exploring are Santa Maria al Bagno near Santa Caterina and Punta della Suina. You will need transport to reach both of these.
Santa Maria al Bagno is a free beach, however there are sunbeds and umbrellas if you wish to pay for them. There is also a beach cafe as well as restaurants and bars nearby.
Punta della Suina is actually referred to as the Maldives of Salento (I kid you not). There are places to lay your towel down for free as well as sunbeds and umbrellas. There is only one cafe and it’s really expensive so it’s advisable to bring your own food and drinks. It is an INCREDIBLE swimming spot!
Hire a boat
If you want to explore the coast, in comfort, hire a boat! There is a boat rental company right by the Angevine-Aragonese Castle that’s not too expensive. There’s a small island, called Isola del Campo, that you can sail to, throw your anchor down and then swim to, get out and explore.
Visit the castle
Whilst the castle probably isn’t the prettiest you’ve ever seen, it’s definitely worth a visit. It was built in the 13th century by the Byzantines and was a medieval fortress.
It doesn’t take very long to visit – expect to spend around 30 minutes to an hour. You also get to descend down into the depths of the castle and it’s very cool!
Walk around the old town (Centro Storico)
There is so much history in the old town. Just take a wander and admire the old buildings, whilst getting lost in cobbled alleyways – the best part of exploring! In the old town you will find the cathedral, which was built in the 1600s and is very beautiful.
A highlight for us was the absolutely breathtaking Chiesa Rettoria Santa Maria della Purità. I don’t think I’ve seen a more beautiful church. It is so ornate and decorative. I could have spent hours admiring it.
Where to eat and drink
You’re in the south of Italy and right by the sea so expect lots of fresh seafood. Be sure to have an aperitivo before dinner as it’s an Italian tradition. In Gallipoli, we love La Spingula Wine & Lounge Bar where we always order their tuna tartar with a couple of glasses of prosecco. It’s outside and the tables are actually wine barrels. If you go just before sunset, you will have the most stunning view of the sun setting. If you’re in luck, you may even see the prosecco opened with a sword!
Another fabulous place to have an aperitivo is Mivida as it overlooks Spiaggia della Purità and is exactly where the sun sets.
Restaurants I’d recommend are Ristorante DolceVita in the Pazzo del Corso hotel (also great for an apperitivo), Amu (pictured below) and PagliaLunga in Santa Caterina.
So those are my recommendations for what to do in Gallipoli. Have you been? Share your tips in the comments.