Brindisi is a port city in the Salento region of Puglia, Italy’s heel. The region is known for its beautiful beaches as well as some gorgeous towns, including Brindisi, Gallipoli, Ostuni, Lecce and Otranto.
We’ve flown into Brindisi many times to stay in other towns so we thought it was high time to explore Brindisi itself. It makes a great base to travel around Salento if you’re staying for a week or two.
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How to get to Brindisi
Brindisi Airport is known as Papola Casale Airport or Aeroporto del Salento and is located just 6km from the city centre. A taxi will cost around €25 or there is an airport bus that costs just €3 and runs every 30 minutes. There are just two pick-up points however, at the railway station and Costa Morena Harbour.
Getting around Brindisi
Brindisi itself is actually fairly small and easy to walk around so if you’re just going for a weekend and don’t want to venture further out, to Ostuni for example, then there is no need for transport.
If you want to visit the beaches and explore some other towns, you will need transport so it’s best to hire a car.
Where to stay in Brindisi
We stayed at Filia Solis – Old Town suites & spa, which was in the perfect location and excellent value for money. It was just a few minutes walk to the main streets where all the shops and restaurants are and about a 10 minute walk to the marina area.
The room was really spacious and even had a little kitchen. I loved the small touches such as fruit, a bottle of wine, bar of chocolate, water and breakfast items available. As it’s a spa aparthotel, it had an amazing spa bath as well as dressing gowns and slippers. There was also a TV in the bathroom with Netflix!
Top things to do in Brindisi
Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or a week, here’s the top things to do in Brindisi.
Visit the Monument to the Italian Sailor
The Monument to the Italian Sailor was built in 1933 and is in honour of those who fought and died in both World Wars. It’s also called ‘big rudder’ because the design is the rudder of a ship.
At the bottom of the memorial is a chapel in memory of fallen sailors, as well as a bell from a battle ship, which sank in the port of Brindisi in 1915. There are 6,000 names engraved on the walls to commemorate those who died.
In 1954 a marble statue of Mary was added to the monument. Visitors can go up to the top of the monument, for free, to get a panoramic view over Brindisi.
Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (San Giovanni al Sepolcro)
To give thanks for the success of the Crusade, a Norman Prince commissioned the build of the church of the Holy Sepulchre in the late 11th century. It’s a circular church which replicates the Anastasis Rotunda of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Inside the church are frescoes of Saints and the life of Christ, which date back to the 13th – 15th century. Some are very faded and hard to make out but others are in quite good condition. At the back of the church is a lovely garden which you can walk around or sit in and relax for a bit.
It costs €3 per adult to visit the church and they only accept cash.
Admire the Colonne Romane (Roman Columns)
From the waterfront, ascend Virgil’s staircase to reach the Colonne Romane, which are considered to be the symbol of Brindisi. Their origins are not entirely clear but many believe that they marked the end of the Via Appia, which was a long Roman road that connected Rome to Brindisi.
One of the columns fell in 1528 and only the base and a rock remains. The fallen part was given as a gift to the city of Lecce, to form a part of the column to St. Oronzo who was a saint who relieved Brindisi of the plague.
The poet, Virgil, whom the stairs are named after, apparently died in one of the houses next to the columns when he caught a fever on his way back from Greece.
We actually stumbled upon the Cathedral by accident. We were looking for a restaurant we had booked for dinner and the directions took us through the Piazza Duomo – which is stunning! The Cattedrale San Giovanni Battista is dedicated to St John the Baptist and was consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1143.
We walked from the waterfront towards the Piazza Duomo and the street leading up to it is just charming. You walk under the bell tower, straight into the piazza.
Head to the beach
There are lots of beaches close to Brindisi centre. One of our favourites was Torre Santa Sabina, which is a lovely little seaside town which has a tower dating back to the 12th century. There are lots of restaurants and bars here too so a great spot to spend the day at the beach and have a lovely lunch.
Another beach we enjoyed was Torre Guaceto, which is in a nature reserve so you need to walk about 15 minutes or get the little shuttle bus (that looks like a train). There are actually three beaches here and our favourite was the middle one. Note that it costs €8 a day to park your car. The beach that we went to was free but there is also a beach club where you can pay for sunbeds and umbrellas.
Torre Guaceto is about 15 km from Brindisi centre and Torre Santa Sabina is a bit further at around 27 km.
Do a day trip to Ostuni, the White City
If you’re in Brindisi for longer than three days, I highly recommend a day trip to Ostuni. Located around 40 km from Brinidisi, Ostuni is famously called ‘the white city’ because of its abundance of whitewashed buildings.
Built on a hill for protection from invaders, Ostuni is thought to have been inhabited since the Stone Ages! It was almost completely destroyed during the Punic Wars and then later rebuilt by the Romans.
We visited Ostuni in mid-June and it was already unbearably hot at 38 degrees! Luckily there are lots of bars to cool off in and enjoy a refreshing drink.
Have a wander and explore all the beautiful little streets! There is also a cathedral whose origins as an Orthodox church date back to the 1000s. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Visit a castle in Carovigno
Carovigno is a beautiful town with only 17,000 residents so you get a taste of local life. It has a castle,
Castello Dentice di Frasso di Carovigno, although its origins aren’t quite clear. The cylindrical tower on the west side, however, dates back to the 15th century whilst the north tower was built in the 16th century. You can pay to visit the castle but unfortunately for us it had just closed when we arrived!
Whilst the town is quite small, it’s definitely worth a visit as it’s so very pretty. We had a lovely lunch here too before heading to the beach afterwards.
Whilst Brindisi isn’t necessarily the prettiest city or town we’ve been to in Puglia, there is lots to see and do – especially if you hire a car and venture out a bit further.