15 Best Things To Do in Gallipoli in 2023
In this post, I’ll share with you the 15 best things to do in Gallipoli. Not to be confused with the Gallipoli in Turkey (of World War I fame), Gallipoli, Italy, is located in the southern Italian region of Puglia.
This beautiful coastal town was founded by the ancient Greeks. It retains a strong Greek influence today and features gorgeous views of the Ionian Sea. Although many people visit Gallipoli as a day trip, there’s enough to see and do here to keep you busy for at least a few days.
From swimming and sunbathing on its pristine beaches to exploring historical sites, there’s no shortage of places to visit in Gallipoli. It’s one of my favorite towns in Puglia and is a great place to base yourself when exploring more of the stunning Salento peninsula that forms the “heel” of Italy.
Best Things To Do in Gallipoli
Whether you’re a beach lover, a culture vulture, a foodie, a history buff, or a fan of watersports, it’s hard not to fall for Gallipoli’s stunning natural setting and its rustic charm.
Read on for a comprehensive guide to the best things to see and do in Gallipoli.
1. Explore the Centro Storico
The Centro Storico is the historic heart of the city. It’s located on an island that’s linked to the mainland by a 16th-century bridge and is home to many of the top Gallipoli attractions.
Surrounded on all sides by the sparkling Ionian Sea, and home to an ancient fishing harbor, the Centro Storico is extremely picturesque and atmospheric. It’s a maze-like network of narrow cobblestone streets, historical buildings, and little squares and courtyards that are perfect for exploring.
A great way to familiarize yourself with the Old Town, and learn more about its more significant sights, is to take a guided walking tour. It’s one of the best things to do in Gallipoli when you first arrive to help you get your bearings. Click here to book a walking tour of the Centro Storico.
2. See Some of the Other Churches
While the Cattedrale di Sant’Agata is the most famous, there are several other beautiful churches in Gallipoli that are well worth visiting too. The Chiesa Rettoria Santa Maria della Purità is whitewashed and plain on the outside, but the interior is simply incredible.
Virtually every square inch of the inside is covered with elaborate stuccos, colorful eighteenth-century paintings of biblical scenes (including Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and David and Goliath), frescoes, canvases, and carved wood. It’s an amazing sight.
There are plenty of other attractive churches in Gallipoli. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anywhere with quite so many churches packed into such a small area. Two other churches I’d recommend visiting include the Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi and the Santuario di Santa Maria del Canneto.
3. Admire the Greek Fountain
Gallipoli is home to a beautiful, historic Greek fountain that’s famous for its detailed and intricate carvings and sculptures. It’s about 5 meters tall and is located near the bridge that connects the Centro Storico to the New Town, not far from the castle.
This fountain was long believed to be the oldest fountain in Italy, dating back to the third century BC. However, recent studies have shown that it’s actually much younger and was instead most likely created at some point during the Italian Renaissance period.
Its exact age is unknown and is the subject of fierce debate among local residents and historians. Either way, it’s a beautiful landmark and a tranquil spot to sit and rest for a while during a busy day of sightseeing in Gallipoli. I love people-watching here!
Address: Corso Roma, 73014 Gallipoli LE, Italy. Get directions here.
4. Check out the Cattedrale di Sant’Agata
The Cattedrale di Sant’Agata is one of the top things to see in Gallipoli. Located in the heart of the Centro Storico, this stunning cathedral dates back to the 1600s and is dedicated to Saint Agatha of Sicily.
The exterior is a Baroque masterpiece of ornately carved statues and decorations. Inside, it’s a blend of Renaissance and Byzantine architectural styles, with large columns, sculptures, frescoes, colorfully-painted ceilings, and lots of gold.
The cathedral’s main altar is made of a slab of marble that dates back to ancient Roman times. Whether you’re religious or not, this is a beautiful place to visit and you shouldn’t miss it during your time in Gallipoli.
Address: Via Duomo, 1, 73014 Gallipoli LE, Italy. Click here to see it on a map.
5. Wander Around Castello Angioino-Aragonese
Almost entirely surrounded by the sea, the Castello Angioino-Aragonese is an imposing medieval fortress. It guards the entrance to the Old Town and the ancient harbor and defended the town against attack for hundreds of years.
Today, this impressive structure is one of the top sights in Gallipoli. It’s amongst the town’s most recognizable landmarks and dominates the skyline of the Centro Storico.
The castle stands on the site of an ancient Roman fortress and has been rebuilt and modified several times over the centuries. It’s amazingly well preserved and contains various historical artifacts, including some of the original cannons and catapults used to defend Gallipoli from its enemies.
Inside, you can explore many of the vast rooms and narrow tunnels and passageways. There’s also a museum to browse with a series of exhibits and other artifacts documenting the history of the castle and of the city it was built to defend.
Address: Piazza Imbriani Ingresso dal mercato coperto, 73014 Gallipoli LE, Italy. Click here for directions.
6. Sample the Local Cuisine
Gallipoli is a great place to sample some delicious, traditional Puglian food. There are many excellent restaurants in town, from small family-run trattorias to fancy fine-dining establishments. I’ve listed a few of my top recommendations below.
Look out for classic local dishes such as orecchiette pasta, panzerotti (fried pastries stuffed with mozzarella and tomato), frisella (a twice-baked bread loaf topped with tomatoes, olive oil, and capers), sfogliatelle (pastry filled with sweet ricotta cream), and of course focaccia and burrata.
Being a coastal town, Gallipoli is also known for its top-quality fish and seafood. You can feast to your heart’s content on freshly caught grilled fish, stuffed mussels, clams, lobster, mixed seafood pasta, and a whole host of other delicacies, straight from the sea to your plate. It’s a foodies’ dream!
7. Spend an Afternoon at Parco Naturale Regionale Porto Selvaggio
The Parco Naturale Regionale Porto Selvaggio is a nature reserve found just outside of Gallipoli. This stunning park is one of the best places to visit near Gallipoli and is famous for its crystal-clear waters, lush pine forest, and abundance of local wildlife.
Keep an eye out for kingfishers, seabirds, lizards, freshwater turtles, and colorful fish. Explore one of many hiking trails, take a swim in the turquoise sea, or simply relax on the pristine pebbly beaches. Do as the locals do, bring a picnic and a bottle of local wine, and enjoy this beautiful spot.
Porto Selvaggio is a paradise for outdoors lovers and makes a great day trip from Gallipoli. Getting there takes around an hour by bus (take the 104 bus) or is a 30-minute drive if you have your own car.
Address: Via Litoranea Sant’Isidoro – Santa Caterina, 73048 Nardò LE, Italy. Click here to see it on a map.
8. Head to the Beach (One of the Best Free Things To Do in Gallipoli)
The area around Gallipoli is blessed with several beautiful beaches, most of which are free to access. As well as being a great budget activity, taking a trip to the beach is also one of the best things to do in Gallipoli for families.
Spiaggia della Purità is the most popular beach in the town itself. It’s a clean sandy beach located on the western edge of the Old Town and has calm, shallow water that’s safe for swimming.
However, my favorite one is Lovers’ Beach (Spiaggia dei Foggi), which is located a few kilometers south of Gallipoli, in the stunning Baia Verde (Green Bay). The water here is an amazing turquoise color, and the beach is a mixture of pebbles and sand.
Lovers’ Beach is a popular spot with local families, but the sweeping bay is large enough that it’s usually easy to find your own quiet spot away from other people. There aren’t many facilities in the area, but that’s why I like it. The whole place feels natural and wonderfully unspoiled.
Address of Lovers’ Beach: Via Pavia, 73014 Gallipoli LE, Italy. Click here for directions.
9. Take a Day Trip to Lecce
The beautiful city of Lecce is often described as the “Florence of the South” on account of its stunning Baroque architecture. This city is located less than an hour away from Gallipoli, making it a great destination for a day trip.
Lecce has many interesting sights to explore including an ancient Roman amphitheater, a gorgeous Baroque cathedral, a medieval castle, and an incredibly atmospheric Old Town. It’s also known for its delicious street food, excellent local wines, and the olive groves that surround the city.
Lecce is only 40 minutes away from Gallipoli by bus – take the 108 bus from the modern town center. You can also take the train from Gallipoli to Lecce, although this takes almost twice as long. The train winds its way through a number of smaller towns and villages along the way though so it’s a much more scenic option.
Address: 73100 Lecce LE, Italy. Get directions here.
10. Explore the Gallipoli Fish Market
The Gallipoli Fish Market is another famous place to visit in Lecce. It’s located close to the castle, at the edge of the bridge that separates the Centro Storico from the New Town.
Early in the morning, restaurant owners and other locals gather here for the daily auction to buy freshly-caught fish and seafood direct from the fishermen. It’s noisy, hectic, and a great spectacle to watch and be a part of.
Later in the day, vendors set out tables and chairs and you can enjoy incredibly fresh, tasty seafood, cooked to order. Take your pick from the stalls piled high with colorful fish, prawns, razor clams, oysters, and more, then sit down to enjoy your feast with a glass of crisp local white wine.
Overall, this place isn’t as cheap as I’d expected it to be, given the informal vibe of the place. However, the quality honestly couldn’t be better, and it’s a fantastic experience. If you’re a fan of seafood, coming here is a must.
Address: Riviera Cristoforo Colombo, 28, 73014 Gallipoli LE, Italy. Click here to see it on a map.
11. Hire a Private Yacht
An unforgettable way to see the stunning Gallipoli coast is by boat. You’ll get a totally different perspective of the coastline, and it’s a lot of fun. There are several operators in and around the Old Town who’ll happily arrange a boat trip for you, either as a private tour or as part of a shared group trip.
If you’re traveling in a group, it might even make sense to hire a private yacht all to yourself. It’s a little pricey, but if you have a group of people to split the cost with, this is a really awesome thing to do. A private yacht trip can take up to 9 people and lasts all day.
You’ll enjoy truly breathtaking views, visit untouched islands and secluded bays, discover some fantastic local swimming spots, and may even spot a pod of dolphins if you’re lucky! Click here to book now.
12. Learn How to Scuba Dive
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to scuba dive, Gallipoli is a great place to do it. The town is surrounded by the calm, clean waters of the Ionian Sea, and there are many fantastic dive sites close by.
With crystal clear waters offering amazing visibility, and a lack of currents and other hazards, the coast around Gallipoli is an ideal spot for an introduction to scuba. You can explore reefs, sea caves, and shipwrecks, and spot a variety of colorful marine life.
There are several diving centers in the town and the surrounding area that offer courses for beginners and experienced divers alike. Click here to book a highly-reviewed introductory scuba diving lesson.
13. Go Snorkeling
As well as scuba diving, snorkeling is also an excellent way to explore Gallipoli’s beautiful coastline. It’s a much cheaper option, you don’t need to hire any expensive equipment or have any lessons to get started, and you can do it all by yourself.
For those looking to keep costs down as much as possible, you can rent a snorkel and mask for a few Euros per hour and head off straight from the beach. Lovers’ Beach (mentioned above) is a great spot to do this, but you can also snorkel off the town’s main beach too.
If you’re looking to see as much as possible, you’re more likely to find a greater variety of marine life and corals by joining a guided snorkeling trip. These typically take you out on a boat to snorkel in spots that would otherwise be inaccessible, and the guide will be able to point things out that you might otherwise miss.
Some trips even include food and drinks. This is one of the most relaxing, fun things to do near Gallipoli and I’d highly recommend it. Click here to book a guided snorkeling trip.
14. Take a Wine Tour
Puglia is known for its delicious wines, and this area of Italy has been producing the stuff since ancient times.
Gallipoli is located close to a few excellent wineries that specialize in making Salice Salentino, a distinctive variety that’s made with Negroamaro grapes native to the region. Some of these wineries run tours and tastings, which can be really fun things to do in Gallipoli for couples.
On this full-day tour, you’ll visit several vineyards where you will taste and learn about a few different local varieties, including Negroamaro, Primitivo, Bombino Bianco, Aglianico, and Sussumaniello.
You’ll have the opportunity to buy wines you might not find anywhere else and learn about how each is made. You’ll also get to taste some delicious local food and enjoy the hospitality that this part of the world is known for. Click here for more information and to book.
15. Catch the Sunset From the Porto Antico
Gallipoli’s Porto Antico is the town’s historic harbor. It’s the perfect spot for a stroll at any time of day or night, with its picturesque fishing boats, timeless atmosphere, and gorgeous views of the castle and the historical buildings of the Old Town.
During the day, you’ll see fishermen fixing their nets, painting their boats, and unloading their catch. But the early evening is when I think this place is most magical. As the sun sets, it paints the ancient harbor pink, orange, and gold.
Linger for a while to watch the colors fade away and the stars come out to take their place. Then, enjoy the peace and tranquility before heading out for a meal at one of the local restaurants. It’s one of my favorite things to do in Gallipoli at night and is a perfect way to end the day of adventure.
Address: Via della Cala, 73014 Gallipoli LE, Italy. Get directions here.
Quick Travel Itineraries For Gallipoli
Whether you have a day or a week to spend, here are some suggested travel itineraries to help you get the most out of your time in Gallipoli:
1 Day in Gallipoli Itinerary
You can see most of the main places to visit in Gallipoli in one day. If this is the only time you have, I’d recommend sticking to the attractions located within the town itself.
Start off by exploring the Centro Storico, stopping off to admire the Cattedrale di Sant’Agata and some of the other churches mentioned above along the way. Then, check out the Castello Angioino-Aragonese before heading over to see the Greek Fountain.
Grab lunch from one of the vendors at the famous fish market, and spend some time on the town’s main beach, Spiaggia della Purità in the afternoon. Head to the Porto Antico for sunset, and then finish the day by enjoying dinner in one of the excellent restaurants mentioned below.
2-3 Days in Gallipoli Itinerary
With two or three days to enjoy, you can comfortably see all of the main sights in the town, and you’ll also have time to check out some of the great things to do around Gallipoli too.
I recommend spending your first day exploring the town, as above. On your second day, you can either go scuba diving or snorkeling. In the afternoon, join a wine tour and enjoy sampling some of the region’s superb wines.
If you have a third day, head over to Parco Naturale Regionale Porto Selvaggio for a hike, possibly a swim, and to enjoy the pristine nature.
1 Week in Gallipoli Itinerary
In a week, you’ll be able to do all of the things recommended in this post and have some time to spare for chilling and just soaking up the vibe of this pretty little town. Don’t rush, one of my favorite things about Puglia is the laid-back lifestyle and a week is perfect to get to know the area properly.
The order you choose to enjoy all of these fun things to do in Gallipoli and the surrounding area is totally up to you. But I’d definitely recommend spending a full day at Parco Naturale Regionale Porto Selvaggio, hitting up a few of the local beaches, and going both scuba diving and snorkeling.
Also, be sure to leave (at least) one day totally unscheduled. That way, you can wake up and do whatever you feel like on the day – what a treat!
Where to Stay in Gallipoli
When it comes to deciding where to stay in Gallipoli, you have two main options:
Centro Storico (Old Town) – Best for First-Time Visitors
Gallipoli isn’t a very big place, and all of the main sights in the town itself are within easy walking distance; whether you stay in the Centro Storico (i.e. the island) or the New Town (the mainland). That said, the Centro Storico is super atmospheric and it’s a wonderful place to stay.
Check out this amazing B&B Corte Casole in the heart of the Old Town.
New Town – Best for Families and Budget Travelers
The New Town is larger, and there’s a greater range of apartments and hotels here compared with the Centro Storico. You generally tend to get more for your money in the New Town, and accommodation is often larger and cheaper, making this a good area for families and budget travelers.
The B&B Secret Suite is a great budget place to stay on the edge of the New Town and is just a 5-minute walk from Gallipoli Via Agrigento train station.
Best Restaurants in Gallipoli
Don’t miss these great places to eat in Gallipoli:
Ristorante La Vinaigrette
Ristorante La Vinaigrette is a friendly, relaxed restaurant in the Centro Storico. It’s one of the most popular places in town and is well known for its top-quality seafood. They have a beautiful outdoor terrace that’s a wonderful spot to enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner with a great ambiance.
Dolcevita Gourmet Restaurant
If you’re celebrating a special occasion, or just feel like pushing the boat out a little, I can highly recommend Dolcevita. It’s a fancy gourmet seafood restaurant located on the roof garden of the glitzy Palazzo del Corso hotel. The presentation is exquisite and everything is delicious.
KUMI Japanese Fusion Restaurant
The majority of restaurant menus in Gallipoli focus largely on seafood. However, if you’re in the mood for something a little different, check out KUMI. This stylish restaurant serves a range of classic Japanese and Asian-fusion dishes (as well as sushi), all expertly prepared and beautifully presented. Click here for the location.
Don Vincenzo Pizzeria Napoletana
You can’t come to Italy and not eat pizza, right? Don Vincenzo Pizzeria Napoletana is the real deal, serving authentic Naples-style pizza with perfect light crusts and quality toppings. Their Margherita pizza is one of the best I’ve ever eaten, and they also offer a range of traditional Neapolitan appetizers.
Gallipoli Fish Market
I’ve already mentioned this place above, but the Gallipoli Fish Market is without a doubt one of my favorite places to eat in Gallipoli. It’s a great spot to come for a cheap, informal lunch or dinner, and the quality of fresh fish and seafood on offer is excellent. Try the fritto misto (deep-fried mixed seafood).
Getting to Gallipoli
The easiest way for most visitors to get to Gallipoli is by plane. You can either fly into Brindisi or Bari, but I recommend trying to get flights to Brindisi if possible as it’s much easier and quicker to travel to Gallipoli from there.
From Brindisi, you can reach Gallipoli by bus and/or train, which takes anywhere from 3-5 hours. The train is faster but the bus is cheaper. You’ll need to travel via Lecce, which is a major transport hub for the region.
If your budget allows, the most convenient option is usually to rent a car, although definitely check the options for parking at your accommodation – it’s famously tricky to find parking spaces in the Centro Storico! You could also book a private transfer from Lecce, or from Bari.
If you’re coming from another major Italian city, you should be able to reach Gallipoli using Italy’s excellent high-speed railway network. Once in Gallipoli, most places in the town are easily accessible on foot.
Things To Do in Gallipoli: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Gallipoli:
Gallipoli is known for its atmospheric Old Town, stunning beaches, laid-back atmosphere, delicious local food and wine, as well as its historical significance.
I think the best time to visit Gallipoli is either in the late spring (May) or early autumn (September). You can expect warm, sunny weather, but it won’t get too hot, and best of all, you’ll avoid the worst of the summer crowds.
Yes, Gallipoli is definitely worth visiting. As you can see from this post, there are plenty of great places to see in Gallipoli and many excellent things to do near Gallipoli.
You could see all of the main tourist attractions in Gallipoli in one day. However, there’s enough stuff to do in Gallipoli and the surrounding area that it’s definitely worth spending at least two or three days there if you can.
Yes, Gallipoli is a very safe place to visit. Of course, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and take the usual precautions such as not leaving valuables unattended, keeping an eye out for pickpockets, and sticking to areas that are lit at night.
Exploring the Centro Storico, including the castle, is the most popular thing to do in Gallipoli. Other top things to do in Gallipoli include tasting local wines, taking a boat trip along the coast, and sunbathing on one of the many stunning beaches.
Spiaggia della Purità is the most popular beach in Gallipoli. However, I think the best one is Lovers’ Beach (Spiaggia dei Foggi).
Gallipoli is known for its delicious seafood, so I definitely recommend trying as much as possible during your stay. Other local dishes to try include orecchiette alle cime di rapa (traditional Puglian pasta with turnip tops) and focaccia.
Gallipoli is one of the prettiest towns in southern Italy, which is saying quite a lot! There are more things to do and places to visit in Gallipoli than its small size might suggest.
I hope this post has helped you plan your time sightseeing in Gallipoli. It’s somewhere that I’d love to spend more time in the future – once you visit you’ll understand why.