You chose Salento to enjoy a week of relaxation, sun, sea and beaches, but you haven’t planned the things to do yet. Here it is a useful guide to enjoy 7 days of vacation, without forgetting any place worth seeing!
Let’s start from Lecce, and then we travel along the entire Ionian coast. You can choose to travel by car (the roads easily connect all the towns), or you can rely on public transport (if you come in summer, there is the excellent “Salento in Bus” service that connects all the marinas of the Salento). If you need to understand which transport means is right for you, read here.
DAY 1, LECCE – Let’s start from Lecce, a baroque city that is worth visiting in any season of the year. The town offers not only the visit to historical monuments but also many attractions and activities to do, from visiting museums to going for shopping or taking part in the nightlife in the many clubs in the old town.
The first place to visit is Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the heart of the city’s public life, the result of architectural styles from different historical periods. The column with the statue of the patron saint at the top, which gives its name to the square, dominates the scene from the height of its 29 meters, the “Sedile” of the sixteenth century and the “she-wolf” represented on the oval of the square are the symbols of Lecce. A few steps from the column, there is the Roman Amphitheater, dated between the ages of Augustus and Hadrian, which together with the historic Palazzo dell’Ina, a typical example of fascist architecture, complete the skyline of the square.
Leaving the column behind you, passing the square, you can walk to the Basilica of Santa Croce, emblem of the Baroque of Lecce. By wandering through the historic center, you can reach the Duomo, crossing Corso Vittorio Emanuele, one of the main walking streets, ideal for shopping and a coffee break. In the evening, you can stop to eat something in one of the characteristic pubs between Piazzetta Santa Chiara and Via Federico D’Aragona or you can taste excellent wine in one of the very popular bars near Santa Croce.
DAY 2, PORTO CESAREO – After an intense day of culture and fun, we can finally spend a day to the beach. From Lecce, we move towards the Ionian coast and reach Porto Cesareo. A small fishing village, very popular in summer, the Ionian marina mixes the relaxation of the paradisiacal beaches with the excellent gastronomy, with numerous restaurants where to eat fish. Among the “must try” things, there is certainly a boat ride to the Isola dei Conigli (which, if you are skilled swimmers, you can also reach by swimming).
If you are not fond of crowded places, you can make a stop to Sant’Isidoro and enjoy its white and calm beaches, and doing some snorkeling.
DAY 3, PORTO SELVAGGIO – For the third day of vacation in Salento, we still recommend a trip to the sea, but with a completely different landscape. From Porto Cesareo, driving for about 20 km towards south along the Ionian coast, you will reach Porto Selvaggio, an oasis of peace. The bay is a natural park whose beach, made up of pebbles and low rocks, can be reached along the footpath (or on board of an electric shuttle) inside the pine forest.
You will be enchanted when, at the end of the path, immersed in the nature, you will see the blue sea that glitters on the horizon. After taking a refreshing swim, we suggest you to explore the reserve until you reach the Torre Dall’Alto, from which you can see the breathtaking panorama of the entire bay. If you still want to explore the natural park, you can reach Uluzzo Bay, a Paleolithic field, by walking in the woods.
DAY 4, GALATINA – At this point of the itinerary, we take a little break from the sea to enjoy the hinterland of Salento. In this regard, a stop to Galatina, a jewel of history, is highly recommended even by the American magazine “Forbes”.
A town of multiple influences, from the pre-Roman era to the Byzantine era, Galatina is the place where art, history and architecture meet. The Basilica of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, one of the most famous monuments of Apulian and Gothic Romanesque art in Puglia, is a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles and is among the most characteristic examples of southern Italy, for its architecture and its frescoes.
Also worth visiting is the Chiesa Madre, dedicated to the apostles Peter and Paul, made of pietra leccese in a late-baroque style and the Torre Dell’Orologio, dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II. If you are in Galatina, you can’t help tasting a pasticciotto, a typical dessert of Salento made of short pastry, stuffed with custard and baked!
DAY 5, GALLIPOLI – The pearl of the Ionian Sea is an essential stop when you arrive in Salento: here you will find the right mix of beautiful beaches, excellent fish-based food and entertainment. Let’s go by order: start the day by going to the sea. Gallipoli has some of the most beautiful beaches of all Salento. We recommend, among all, Punta Prosciutto and Punta della Suina.
Continue the day by getting lost in the alleys of the historic center of the “beautiful city”, enclosed within fortified walls and surrounded by the sea. You will notice an oriental charm throughout the streets, the result of the influences of Byzantines, Swabian and Angevin Normans. Jump in the harbor area, one of the most important in Europe in the 16th century, and stop to eat in one of the many restaurants where fresh fish is cooked.
DAY 6, UGENTO AND PESCOLUSE – For the last 2 days of travel, we go towards the very South of Italy, still enjoying the beaches and the sea. Ugento, Messapian city, is renowned for its sandy coast with shallow waters that gently slope down. Torre San Giovanni and Torre Mozza are two of the most famous seaside resorts of this stretch of coast and their names take origin from the sighting towers.
Driving for 20 km towards South, we set off for Pescoluse, Torre Vado and Torre Suda. The first village is now famous with the name of “Maldives of Salento“, a name that reminds to the tropical paradise landscapes that we find here in all their beauty, thanks to the white sandy beach and crystal clear waters.
DAY 7, SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA – Our weekly itinerary closes at the end of Italy. Leuca is on a promontory (where the Sanctuary and the lighthouse are located), while its marina, located lower down, includes Punta Méliso, which, according to a nautical convention, is the point of separation between the Adriatic coast (to the east) and the Ionian coast (to the west).
Take a full day to visit the village: the atmosphere of being at the end of Italy and at the end of your journey will give you a sweet melancholy. Take a trip to the Ciolo, a rocky inlet that recalls the fjords of Scandinavia. Its bridge is famous for the high-altitude dives of some fearless divers.
If you don’t know where to sleep in Salento, here you will find some useful advice:
holiday houses -> www.casesalento.com
Holiday luxury villas -> www.villesalento.it
email -> firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile Phones -> (+39) 392/0202233 – (+39) 328/461763