Blue Flag Beaches of Southern Italy: Puglia

Puglia is home to some of Italy’s most exquisite beaches, not just for its crystal clear waters but also for its rocky coastlines, lagoons, grottoes and underwater marine-life.  It shouldn’t really be a surprise since the region is bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast and the Strait of Otranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south.  Whether you enjoy lying out on the beach, playing water sports, going swimming or diving, it isn’t hard to find the perfect spot but it is hard deciding on just one.

Here is a look at the 2014 Blue Flag Beaches in Puglia to give you an idea of what you can expect if you plan to visit this enchanting region of Southern Italy.

BARI

puglia-polignano

Polignano a Mare
This small town, situated on a rocky cliff overlooking the sea in the Province of Bari, is famous for being the birthplace of Italian singer Domenico Modugno – you might know him as that guy that sings “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)”.  It’s also renowned for its beautiful pebble beach enclosed by cliffs on two sides where you will typically find young people diving into the crystal clear waters below.  This Blue Flag beach is a popular bathing spot for both locals and tourists.

Monopoli:  Lido Rosso, Castel S. Stefano, Capitolo
Monopoli is divided into different areas.  This year’s Blue Flag award went to Lido Rosso, Castel S. Stefano and Capitolo.  Lido Rosso lies at the end of the town and is popular due to its location and size.  This is an ideal beach for families because it has shallow waters that continue for quite a distance from the shore.  Castello S. Stefano was an important coastal fortification for the city of Monopoli.  Behind the Abbey of S. Stefano you will find a sandy bay with clear green waters.  Capitolo is located on the southern coast of the city and on this long sandy beach you will find many private beaches (establishments that offer umbrellas and sunbeds at a price).  The beach is great for its accessibility from the city and is a great place for young people because of the clubs, bars, and other hotspots open late into the night.

BARLETTA-ANDRIA-TRANI

Margherita di Savoia – Centro Urbano Canna Fesca
Margherita di Savoia is a small city in the Province of Barletta-Andria-Trani.  Originally known as Saline di Barletta, it was given its current name in 1879 to honour the Queen Margherita of Savoy.  The same queen that legend says the famous Margherita pizza was named after. The town offers a long sandy coastline and shallow waters and is surrounded by gorgeous natural landscape.  There are many services here and it’s a great place for children as many private beaching offer playgrounds, dancing, sports tournaments and entertainment specifically catered to children.

BRINDISI

Fasano
Located in the Province of Brindisi, Fasano is found in a region dominated by secular olive trees and rich landscape.  Here you will find a long coastline with soft golden sandy beaches.  For those travelling on a budget, this is a great place to go because long stretches of the coastline are free.  There are private beaches offering umbrellas and sunbeds, which are usually set up in front of hotels, masserie and other accommodation facilities.  This is also great spot for water sports because the sea bottom is sandy.

puglia-ostuni

Ostuni
Ostuni is often referred to as “La Città Bianca” or the White City for its white-washed buildings.  This enchanting medieval town also offers visitors long beaches, small coves and dunes.  Lido Morelli is located just 9 km from the city and has gorgeous soft white sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters and a sloping bottom which is great for swimmers.  A little closer to the city, you’ll find Torre Pozzelle Beach.  This beach has a more wild or rugged feel to it with its cliffs and dunes.  The sea is so clear blue it is almost transparent and is a great place for swimmers.  With these two beautiful bathing spots it’s no wonder that this is Ostuni’s twentieth Blue Flag since 1994.

LECCE

puglia-otranto
Otranto
This town sits along the east coast of the Salento peninsula and just three kilometers from Otranto you can find a lighthouse which marks the easternmost point of Italy.  The soft sandy beach of Otranto is shaped like a half moon and beach goers will enjoy the crystal blue waters of the sea, great for swimming or just taking a dip.  This beach is very popular for locals and visitors and you will find it well equipped and organized.

puglia-castro

Castro
The name of this town comes from the Latin words meaning “Minerva’s castle” and it is said that this is the first place Trojan hero Aeneas, son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Venus (Aphrodite), landed in Italy.  It’s situated on a small bay dominated by a castle.  You won’t find long stretches of sandy beaches here.  The area is made of rocky cliffs that plunge into the blue and turquoise sea below.  This is a diver’s paradise because not only does it have a deep seabed but under the sea you can see a wide array of colourful marine wildlife.  There are beautiful caves that you can visit by boat, like the Zinzulusa with stalactites and stalagmites hanging from the cave’s ceiling.  This is definitely a treat for nature lovers!

Salve
This small town is home to three gorgeous beaches:  Le Maldive del Salento, Pescoluse and Torre Pali. Le Maldive del Salento is adequately named for this white sandy beach and blue sea make you feel like you are actually in the Maldives.  The sea bed is shallow which is great for wading and the dunes covered with trees surround the beach making you feel like you are in paradise.  Pescoluse Beach is a long soft white sandy beach and for the most part is free.  It’s a great place for families because the crystal clear turquoise waters are shallow.  Torre Pali, much like the other two beaches, offers sandy white beaches and clear calm waters.  Once a small fishing village, it has slowly become a tourist spot.  The characteristic of this beach is the ruins of a tower growing out of the sea just off the coast that was built in the 1500s to defend the region from invasions.

puglia-torresantandrea

Rock “stacks” of Torre Sant-Andrea

Melendugno
Melendugno has a very unique landscape and is known for its marine life and beaches – Torre Sant’Andrea, Torre Dell’Orso, Roca Vecchia and San Foca. If you are visiting the Province of Lecce in the summer months, a trip to the rock “stacks” located on the north side of Torre Sant’Andrea should be on your list.  You can explore the clear blue waters, navigate the “stacks” and find small coves and beaches along the way.  Torre Dell’Orso beach is located in a bay dominated by a 16th century tower.  The beaches are not very wide but the water is crystal clear and there are two rock “stacks” called “Le Due Sorelle” (The Two Sisters) which can be seen from the beach.

TARANTO

puglia-ginosa
Marina di Ginosa

Located on the western coast of the Gulf of Taranto, not far from the border with Basilicata, is the Marina Ginosa Beach.  This particular beach has been awarded the Blue Flag many times because of its clear blue waters and slow gradual sloping sea bottom; perfect for swimming and wading.  The beach offers lots of facilities for its visitors so it’s great for families but also young people looking for good nightlife.

If you haven’t already, hop on over to our round-up of the 2014 Blue Flag Beaches in Calabria and Sicily.  Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Are you traveling to Puglia? Ask about how I can help you plan a custom vacation!

Image Credits:Patrick Nouhailler, Simone Zucchelli, Nicola Sapiens De Mitri, Fiore Silvestro Barbato, Freddyballo, GH Network

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Contributing Writer for:

DKTravel1Michelin