Gallipoli City Guide by the Puglia Guys

Gallipoli | A Tale Of Two Cities Entwined in the Current of Tide and Time

The Greek influence on Puglia’s Salento peninsula is ever present. Road signs tell us we have arrived in “Magna Grecia” – greater Greece. There are directional signs to follow to Greece (via the Brindisi ferries). Griko, a dialect that can be traced back to classic Greek origins, is still spoken in the villages south of Lecce, particularly those around Otranto on the Adriatic coast to Gallipoli on the Ionian, where Greek cultural identity was at its strongest.

Spanning time and tide, Gallipoli’s name reveals its Greek origins: Kalè Polis (“beautiful town”), the ancient name given to the fishing village and port that comprise the old town. At the heart of Gallipoli’s narrative stands another bridge – a physical connection uniting two worlds, connecting the old and the new, the quiet and the vibrant.

On one side of the 16th century Ponte Città Vecchia old town bridge perched on a limestone island jutting into the Ionian Sea, Gallipoli’s old town whispers stories of a centuries old fishing village insulated by its ancient city walls. On the other modern Gallipoli radiates a different energy. A hub of contemporary life, brimming with vibrant shops, bustling piazzas, and a thriving cultural scene.

Gallipoli, Puglia. By day its fishermen residents sit in cool shade forged out of sun-soaked alleys lined by whitewashed facades, the Greek influence ever present. Photo the Puglia Guys.

But tide and time wait for no one and these days Gallipoli’s charismatic split personality spills over into the old town. By day its fishermen residents sit in cool shade forged out of sun-soaked alleys lined by whitewashed facades, to chat, drink and mend their nets, living out a past history. It seems as if modern life has failed to intrude upon them. But as the sun dips below the horizon, Gallipoli’s transformation is undeniable. During the summer season it undergoes a metamorphosis, transforming into a pulsating party mecca. 

From Whispers to Roars | Gallipoli Unleashed

Gallipoli has become a hotspot for travellers seeking both history and hedonism. The summer season sees a seismic shift as Gallipoli becomes synonymous with revelry and celebrations extending well beyond the old and new towns. Nearby beaches – especially those in and around Baia Verde – echo with the rhythms of music festivals, vibrant parties, and a diverse crowd. Beach clubs, bars, and open-air discos pulse with energy, their neon lights casting kaleidoscopic reflections on the waters. International DJs spin tunes that resonate with the waves, as revelers from around the world unite to dance beneath the stars.

A Stroll Through Time | Our Gallipoli To Do List

The old town stands testament to the town’s deep-rooted history. With each step nearer its heart it’s as if you’ve stepped back in time. The narrow winding streets, lined with pastel-colored buildings adorned with vibrant flowers, create a postcard-worthy scene.

The Castle of Gallipoli: Start your journey at the Castle of Gallipoli, perched on the town's eastern edge. Dating back to the 13th century to defend the town from invaders, this fortress is now a cultural centre. Climb its ancient ramparts for panoramic views of the surrounding sea and town.

The Castle of Gallipoli | Start your journey at the Castle of Gallipoli, perched on the town’s eastern edge. Dating back to the 13th century to defend the town from invaders, this fortress is now a cultural centre. Climb its ancient ramparts for panoramic views of the surrounding sea and town.

Walk the Sea Wall | Walking around the town’s perimeter to spot charming seafront cafes, restaurants, and observe fishermen at work in their colourful boats by the port is a good way to take in Gallipoli at the start of any visit.

Spiaggia della Purità: The city beach marks the half-way point around the old town perimeter. A favourite city beach, la purità is the perfect place to soak up the sun and sea breeze, and to watch the sun set of an evening. Photo the Puglia Guys

Spiaggia della Purità | The city beach marks the half-way point around the old town perimeter. A favourite city beach, la purità is the perfect place to soak up the sun and sea breeze, and to watch the sun set of an evening.

Baroque Splendors | Stroll through the old town’s labyrinthine alleys to discover its Baroque churches. Gallipoli boasts many churches. The Basilica of Sant’Agata and the Cathedral of Saint Agatha are architectural masterpieces, adorned with ornate facades and elaborate interiors. At la Chiesa della Purità you might pause to gaze at the mosaic inset in the paving. As you walk around the sea wall notice the many small Baroque churches squeezed into the spaces between buildings looking out toward the island of Sant’Andrea, with its lighthouse. It is easy to imagine them as fishermen’s chapels where the Madonna of the Angels and San Luigi listened to the prayers of anxious fishermen’s wives. In fact these churches were founded centuries ago by the town’s craft fraternities – coopers, rope makers and others – reflecting Gallipoli’s history as a bustling maritime hub when its port was the export point for the wine and olive oil of the whole Salento. The wealth accumulated explains the richness of its church interiors.

The Fishing Port | Make your way to the picturesque fishing port. Here, you can watch hard-working fishermen at work, and if you arrive early enough, you might even witness the daily fish auction. The port is also dotted with charming seafood restaurants where you can find the freshest catch of the day. There is a small retail fish market next to the bridge on the old town side most mornings. The wholesale market can be found by Piazza Aldo Moro by Santa Maria del Canneto of an evening. Beware the hazards of vespa scooters balancing boxes of fresh fishes weaving in between the people, and the swordfish snouts poking out from in between!

Explore the Centro Storico | Having navigated the perimeter, discover the heart of Gallipoli’s centro storico. Take your time to meander through its winding streets, alleys, and hidden corners. Here you can discover the longtime residents going about their daily business, the fishermen mending their nets or weaving lobster pots and fishing baskets.

Corte Gallo di Gallipoli | a traditional courtyard famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture. Surrounded by narrow cobblestone streets, with whitewashed buildings adorned with plants and colourful flowers, archways and terraces delight the eye, you’ll feel as if you have stepped back in time. Discover quaint shops, artisan boutiques and local artisans showcasing traditional crafts.

Gallipoli Sunsets | Gallipoli offers breathtaking sunsets. Savour this daily spectacle with a glass of local wine and olives from a rooftop terrace or on a nearby beach.

Day Trips | Gallipoli’s location makes it an ideal base for day trips. Head south to Santa Maria di Leuca, which has a unique belle epoque feel, or cross over to Otranto on the Adriatic. It’s an easy drive to Lecce, or head up the Ionian coast to Nardò and the wonderfully wild Porto Selvaggio beach and nature reserve.

Taste Gallipoli | Where to Sip and Savour:

As usual, good for is only just around the corner wherever you are in Puglia. Bad food is hard to find. We encourage you to follow your nose rather than fret over fear of missing out. But by way of appetiser we keep going back to:

  1. Trattoria La Puritate: For lunch or dinner, head to La Puritate, a rustic trattoria known for fresh, top quality seafood dishes, all while enjoying the serene views of the sea. The restaurant is next to the Chiesa della Purità, sitting above spiaggia della Purità. Popular with locals, we suggest linguettine alla Puritate as primo (small linguine with small prawns, thin strips of courgette and cherry tomatoes) followed by the theatrical gamberoni al sale. | Via Sant’Elia, 18 |
  2. Ristorante Il Bastione – Terrazza sul mare. Family run restaurant whose fresh seafood comes from the fishmarket stall of their fisherman brother. Beautiful panoramic views over the sea, and a perfect view of sunset | Riviera Nazario Sauro, 28 |
  3. Martinucci: No visit is complete without gelato. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Martinucci where you can indulge in a variety of artisanal gelato flavors | Riviera Armando Diaz, 129 |

If you arrive in Gallipoli by car, you can’t drive over the bridge into the centro storico. Park in the ‘new city’ and walk over the bridge.

More Puglia | where is the best base for your vacation in Puglia?


  1. Ciao.

    We took your advice and will stay in Ostuni as a base for our first 3 days, but we are thinking about heading south for our last few days. We are interested in checking out the Ionian coast. We understand that late April is not beach season but are wondering if going to Gallipoli or along the coast north or south of Gallipoli is a good idea. Or, are we better off staying in Ostuni and taking day trips?



    1. Ciao. I think Gallipoli is a fine choice for April. It is a great city, and popular, but in April it will still feel ‘local’, with some but not too many visitors. You certainly will be able to sit on the beach there when the sun shines, even in April. And it may well be ok to swim. Gallipoli is a good choice because of the nice, sandy city beaches, as you can see. La purità will not be busy in April. The old town is so pretty, and you are on the sea. The season starts after Easter, so there certainly will be plenty restaurants, bars and other places open. It will be good to have the contrast between Ostuni and Gallipoli in terms of countryside and coast.

      From Gallipoli there is plenty to see too. Porto Selvaggio, Punta della Suina, and Lecce is very close. It’s a good choice for 2nd base!

  2. Ciao. Heading to Gallipoli in Aug for 3 nights over Feragosto, 1st time visitors on honeymoon, interested in both Baia Verde and old town not sure where the best area to stay in? Will need to park a car as well. Then off to either Ostuni or Monopoli (still can’t decide best base) for 3 nights. We love the beach but also want to experience all the touristy areas too. Any help would be great, Grazie Mx

    1. Ciao. Baia Verde is pretty soulless, especially compared with Gallipoli’s old town. It’s basically holiday homes and summer houses resort, right by the beach. You can eat there, the beach lido clubs are fun, though it is a beach resort with semi modern housing apartment blocks and no atmosphere. But the benefit is that you can walk to the great beaches. Gallipoli’s old town has the charm of an old town, has some city beaches though they will be jam packed – ferragosto is the height of the holiday season – and at that time of year the evening life is also on the busy side. But you can still soak up old town atmosphere during the day, and it has a wide choice of restaurants and charm. Baia Verde is 3km away. Parking around both will be challenging around ferragosto!! We think you would find Gallipoli’s old town more memorable for honeymoon, especially in the evening – and Baia Verde has no atmosphere in the evening. It’s a lively day beach resort destination. Most people would go into Gallipoli for dinner or night life. So, I suppose it comes down to that: Baia Verde for an easy walk to the beach, then at night drive into Gallipoli, then drive back after dinner. Or Gallipoli with a drive to Baia Verde in the morning and back in the evening. Though, as I said, Gallipoli does have city beaches.

      For contrast maybe Ostuni would be better than Monopoli, in the sense that Monopoli is on the coast and is another busy beach destination, though more rocks than sand. Ostuni has a bit more green to it, for contrast. We take friends on a loop of Ostuni/Cisternino/Alberobello, Monopoli and Polignano a Mare from our Ostuni base. But you can do that the other way from Monopoli.

      Take a look at our Monopoli city guide and Ostuni city guide. They list the nearby beaches. To find the better ones, it really is much of a muchness from either. One tip: if you can’t find the perfect accommodation in Ostuni, if you choose there, try nearby Carovigno. It is charming, perhaps with better value accommodation at that time of year and has good access to nearby beaches too! Buone vacanze!


      1. Thank you so much, really appreciate the reply. We’ll go for the old town in Gallipoli – unless you suggest we stay further out if its going to be super busy and ill have a look at Carovigno too. Grazie 🙂

  3. Hi, I will be in Puglia for 12 nights with my family of 5 (3 kids 11/13/15). We love the sea so are think of 3-4 nights in Gallipoli, 4-5 nights around Ostuni at a Masseria and cannot decide on the 3rd base. Would you recommend Monopoli or Otranto for the 3rd home base? Also, do you recommend to stay in the city center in Otranto, or at a Masseria that is not within walking distance to the city? Thank you, your advice is greatly appropriated!

    1. Hi Giulia. We have three guides that contain the information to help you make this decision. Because we don’t know what your personal travel priorities are, the time of year and whether you will have your own transport, the articles try to anticipate which bases best suit certain criteria:

      1. The Puglia Guys Guide to finding the best base for vacation in Puglia. Taking account of beach vs countryside, public transport vs vehicle hire and time of year. In August we would try to avoid city beaches because they will e extremely busy, but until June and from September it is a completely different experience. In August we would be looking for beaches out of town accessible by private transport.

      2. The Puglia Guys Guide to Essential Puglia Day Trips and Road Trip Planning. This is a supplemental guide to the first one. If road trips are something you want to do our absolutely favourite road trip start is from Otranto down the Adriatic coastal route. It is a stunning drive with superb seascapes all along the way. Santa Cesarea Terme, Castro Marina, Cala dell’Acquaviva, Tricase Porto, Marina Serra, il Ciolo and Santa Maria di Leuca. Likewise just north of Otranto you have Torre Sant’Andrea, Torre dell’Orso, Grotta della Poesia. But if you just want stunning, sandy beaches, without the stunning geography then the Ionian coast south of Gallipoli might suit you better.

      3. For that reason, take a look also at the Puglia Guys Guide to 50 of Puglia’s best beaches.

      One final thought. If your main aim is relaxing on beach, then think about Vieste in Gargano. Our Vieste guide explains why for city beaches, and remote beaches, and also for countryside, Gargano is hard to beat. Here are long stretches of sandy beach, up to 3km long, accessible from the centre of town. But Gargano is itself 2 hours from Bari and whilst there is plenty to do in and around Gargano, and again, some of the best beaches in Puglia, it does mean Salento and the Valle d’Itria if you want to visit popular destinations like Polignano a Mare, Alberobello are away. But instead of splitting 12 nights over the 3 destinations mentioned, you could add a bit more distance between them and consider Vieste, then head south for the rest of your vacation.

      Buone vacanze. LuigiM.

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