Puglia Gay Travel
The Gay Travel Experience: Puglia, Italy
Puglia is a classic favorite gay Italian destination. The region of Puglia makes up the heel of Italy’s boot. It has the longest coast of Italy’s mainland regions, spanning over 500 miles. Puglia sits between two seas, the Adriatic and Ionian, offering incredible beaches and views.
Year over year, Puglia’s reputation as a gay summer hotspot grows. The beautiful and the “gifted” (or “dotato” the word Italians use to describe being “hung”) can be found swimming all over the coast. And we’ll tell you exactly where to find them in this guide!
Salento, the southern part of Puglia, remains the most popular Puglia gay travel spot. Here, most visitors gravitate towards the towns of Gallipoli and Baia Verde.
It’s also not uncommon to see male friends walking arm in arm. Even men who identify as straight aren’t beyond a same sex experience, especially in Puglia’s salty summer heat.
Keep in mind, however, that while many Italians embrace a non-traditional “masculine” style and take pride in couture and personal grooming, not all Italian men with plucked eyebrows are looking for male company.
Puglia is especially known for its tolerance and inclusivity. The region hosts three annual gay pride parades. We owe this to Puglia’s rich and diverse history, which has always been a land of passage, a gateway to other cultures.
Long before the invasion of social media, Puglia was conquered by Greeks, Romans, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Normans, Aragonese, and French. Many of these influences can still be seen today.
Regions of Puglia
For the purposes of this guide, think of Puglia in three parts. At the northern end near the “spur” of Italy’s boot is Gargano. The southern peninsula forming its heel is Salento. Sitting in the middle is the glorious Valle d’Itria, with lush rolling olive groves stretching as far as the eye can see.
Puglia’s best-known destinations include Bari, Lecce, Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, Alberobello, Ostuni, Gallipoli, and Otranto, although most visitors experience Puglia somewhere between Bari and Lecce. But in this guide, we’ll focus on the best destinations for gay travelers.
Puglia doesn’t necessarily have any specific gay villages or areas. Gallipoli comes closest. But as with most of Italy, the LGBT community tends to keep a lower profile.
Puglia Gay Hotels, BNB’s & Vacation Rentals
While hotels are always an option, Puglia is better known for its masserie and trulli. A masseria is a fortified farmhouse. Many of these have been converted to privately owned boutique bed and breakfast accommodations.
Trulli (one trullo, two trulli) are the limestone “hobbit” homes with conical grey stone roofs that are unique to Puglia.
Whichever accommodations you choose, be sure they come with air conditioning. Daytime temperatures can exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the peak of summer.
If you’re mainly interested in sunny seaside beaches and don’t have time to visit the rest of the region, stay in Baia Verde, located in south Gallipoli. Renting a fairly generic apartment will suit you well if you aren’t too hung up on staying in a place with character.
Demand for places to stay in Baia Verde peaks in July and August, and accommodations here are some of the most expensive in Puglia. August 15th is Ferragosto, Italy’s main summer holiday around which most Italians take their two to four-week vacation.
It’s located right next to the historic center. Bellavista is a gay-friendly hotel in Gallipoli with panoramic views over the fishing port, the old town, and the Ionian Sea.
Places to Stay Around Gallipoli
Twelve miles to the north, Nardò feels like a gay village in summer. This area has less expensive vacation apartment rentals. It’s a pretty town with its own nature reserve with a gay nudist beach, located at Torre Uluzzo at Porto Selvaggio.
It has less of a boutique feel, with around 180 bungalow apartments within the masseria grounds.
Lecce Gay B&Bs
Staying Near Spiaggia d’Ayala
Puglia Gay Beaches
Puglia’s coastline is made up of sandy beaches, rocky outcrops, and secluded private coves. They’re extremely popular with the gay community and those who are a bit curious.
Gallipoli Gay Beaches
If OnlyFans had a section for beach porn, this video below is why you would subscribe:
On the Big Gay Puglia Podcast, we were surprised this beach area topped our poll with 34% of the vote. But we suspect the proximity to Gallipoli helps its popularity. The town does have some of Europe’s best gay beaches!
Access the Gallipoli gay beach area from the Punta della Suina car park. Walk through the pinewood toward the sea and follow the coast back up towards Baia Verde and Gallipoli. Go for about 10 minutes to find the nude and gay section. You will definitely know when you get there.
It costs about 5 Euro for parking in the Punta della Suina car park as of 2020. And, yes, Punta della Suina does literally translate as Sow’s (as in female pig) Point.
We recommend ignoring the flashy white and gold of G-Beach Club. Historically this was one of the most popular gay-friendly beach clubs in Puglia. You might still find gay guides recommending it.
But following a change of management a few years back, they decided that while LGBT individuals were welcome to spend money there, this welcome ended if they wanted to display any public affection.
Same-sex couples were asked to leave on at least two separate occasions for kissing at G-Beach Club. We were also contacted by their PR who asked us to remove tags to them on our social media because they did not want to be identified as a “gay” beach club.
Planning Made Easier with wolfyy.
Add Your Email.
Spiaggia d’Ayala, Campomarino
Spiaggia d’Ayala is our favorite gay and nudist beach in Puglia. It is by far the easiest to get to, sitting on a long stretch of golden sand. Convenient pinewood trees behind the beach offer some necessary shade, too.
Sometimes there is a concession stand or bar further down the beach closer to Campomarino. Otherwise, there are no facilities. The nearest ones are in the town of Campomarino, which is a little over a mile away via the main road. The walk there along the beach though is shorter.
Torre Guaceto, Brindisi
Torre Guaceto on the Adriatic coast is especially popular with locals. But it’s difficult to reach since Torre Guaceto is in a protected nature reserve where vehicles are restricted. Once you park your car nearby, the gay section of the nude beach is still at least a 30-minute walk away.
Get there from the south side of the Torre Guaceto watchtower. Don’t pay attention to guides that take you from the north. This is even more cumbersome.
Pôr do Sol Lido Beach Club
Our Best of Gay Puglia survey also asked visitors and locals to tell us where their overall favorite beach was. 39% of visitors and 30% of locals said Pôr do Sol was their number one choice.
Gay-owned and operated, Pôr do Sol is our favorite summer hangout. If you want a cool beach vibe, an LGBT-friendly crowd, a fine sandy beach, and beautiful crystalline water, you have to visit. Dont forget to wear a sexy swimsuit!
Pôr do Sol draws a mixed crowd in every respect. You’ll find Italians (locals and vacationers), international visitors, friends and couples, gay and straight individuals, and a diversity of ages among them.
The facilities include beach loungers and umbrellas, food, drinks, showers, and toilets. A DJ set starts from mid-afternoon through sunset (which is amazing, by the way).
More Gay Beaches in Puglia
There are spots up and down Puglia’s coast where nude bathing coincides with predominantly, but not exclusively, gay and gay-friendly locals.
The Big Gay Puglia site has detailed directions and visitor tips for Puglia’s gay beaches, including what to expect once you get there.
For a little variety, other favorite beach clubs of ours are located at Torre dell’Orso (the Bear Tower). While they’re not specifically gay beaches, we love this location. And in any event, there are plenty of straight guys for gay eyes.
Want even more Puglia gay beach recommendations? Discover more local spots, from Gargano to the Salento Maldives, as well as how to get to them, in the Big Gay Podcast from Puglia’s curated Puglia beach guide.
Puglia Gay Bars, Restaurants & Cruising
Puglia’s best restaurants, gay bars, clubs, and cruising locations below are all segmented by town.
Bars and Restaurants
After a day on the beach at Baia Verde, the evening action shifts to Gallipoli’s old town located a little over 2 miles along the coast.
Gallipoli Gay Cruising
You can’t beat Gallipoli’s gay and nude beach for cruising at Punta della Suina and Spiaggia degli Innamorati (described in the beaches section above).
Most of the action takes place in the pinewood that runs behind the beach. Wear a sexy jockstrap and you’ll surely get noticed.
As is the case with most of Puglia’s gay beach locations, cruising is common among those sunbathing, and most hookups on the beach are arranged using apps, rather than by chance encounter. A case of try before you buy!
Salento’s main city is bursting with piazzas and palazzi built using creamy limestone in Barocco Leccese style. The Basilica di Santa Croce has one of the finest and most intricate Baroque facades in Italy. It took over 200 years to complete and its detail is exquisite.
Remnants of Lecce’s Roman history are still on display in Lecce. A theatre and an amphitheater are testaments to its importance as a flourishing Roman city.
Lecce Restaurants and Bars
The Lecce old town is packed full of amazing restaurants, busy bars, and some of our favorite boutiques. Be sure to visit the trendy and popular Zei Spazio Sociale, an LGBT-friendly bar and social space popular with Lecce’s student population.
Lecce Gay Cruising
Away from beach locations, most gay cruising usually involves driving around for car sex. Lecce’s best-known spots are on the city’s outskirts.
The driver’s license test area around the Motorizzazione Civile di Lecce (outside business hours) is usually the best cruising spot. Otherwise, take a trip around the football stadium (Stadio Via del Mare). When we visited both after a night out (at around 2.30 AM on Saturday morning) the stadium was busier.
Just pull up wherever you find some other cars parked. Asking for a cigarette, or a light, is a good start.
Bars and Restaurants
Ostuni Gay Cruising
You’ll find Ostuni’s local gay cruising scene near the beaches of Lamaforca and Torre Pozzelle, which are in close proximity to one other. They’re about 8 km from Ostuni itself, just off the main coastal highway. By the way, these are both popular family beaches, with dedicated tourist villages nearby.
You will see guys waiting in their cars, or standing by the paths that lead into the woods. Once in the woods, which only stretch back a short distance, just follow the paths and the men.
Both cruising areas are popular with men who identify as straight (Torre Pozzelle more so). Most people are likely to say hello and ask you what you are looking for before inviting you to follow them.
Beware though! We have seen police cars drive up and down the stretch of road that leads to Lamaforca from time to time, pulling drivers over to check their documentation.
If you do continue onto Lamaforca’s beach you will notice a gay presence close to the carpark-side of the beach.
Bari Vecchia, a knot of narrow streets and alleyways, was the highlight of a trip to our regional capital. Extensive urban revival has transformed the area into a vibrant hub for bars and restaurants centered around the piazzas Mercantile and Ferrarese. It’s a great destination for visitors.
Bari Gay-Friendly Bars and Restaurants
Check out Reverso Unconventional Bistrot on your way into the old town. They’re a small gay-friendly wine and cocktail bar.
Bari Gay Clubs
Pazzeska is Bari’s newest gay and gay-friendly night, drawing a young and happy crowd. Their nights feature house drag artists, plus male and female dancers. They rotate around different venues in different towns.
Bari Bathhouses & Cruising
Millennium Bath is Bari’s only traditional gay bathhouse. They’re located in Marconi on the northwestern side of the modern port. You’ll find clean facilities, showers, lockers, private rooms, and a blue-lit jacuzzi at Millennium Bath.
Popular central Bari gay cruising spots are along the lungomare Nazario Sauro (the sidewalk that runs along the seafront) and near the University of Bari’s Literature and Language Department building.
You will need a car to get to the main cruising spot by the Stadio San Nicola soccer stadium. Just drive around the car park, but not when there’s a game. Main cruising times here tend to be around 1 PM, just before 4 PM, and after sunset.
Barletta & Bisceglie
Puglia Gay Travel Tips
Grindr is usually the default. Many Italian guys will use Tinder though, especially if they are not out as gay. Scruff is typically underused.
Learning a bit of slang may come in handy. “Non ospito” (sometimes abbreviated to “nn ospito”) means I don’t host. “Ospiti” means you need to be able to host.
By way of reminder, public beaches are safe spaces open to all. While certain activities occur, these may be tolerated rather than lawful. Engaging in sexual activity in public can result in fines ranging from €500 to €30,000.
Where to Base Yourself
The beginning of this Puglia gay guide mentioned some great places to stay in the region, but here’s a little more information to help you figure out which areas of Puglia may be best for you.
Overall, staying in more than one location during your trip strikes a good balance. One for the surf, the other for the turf!
Nearby Monopoli on the Adriatic coast is fantastic too. It’s only a short distance away from its more popular and slightly more expensive neighbor Polignano a Mare.
If you choose to stay in Salento, (where you find Gallipoli, Lecce, and Otranto), be sure to head south to visit lesser-known spots. Santa Cesarea Terme, Castro (the original), and one of our favorite destinations in Puglia, Santa Maria di Leuca, are here.
Because stopping and taking diversions en route is recommended, here are some inspiring suggestions – Bitesize Puglia #1, including a visit to the rather splendid and stylish cocktail bar co-owned by British actor Dame Helen Mirren who has a summer home nearby.
Vieste and Peschici have beautiful historic old towns and fine town beaches. Eating at Al Trabucco di Mimì is still one of the best experiences we have had in Puglia for the location.
A road trip from Bari to Vieste or Peschici will take you along some stunning coast. Our own road trip adventure – Bitesize Puglia #2 tells you exactly which route to take to make the most of it.
How to Get to Puglia
Puglia has two international airports, Bari Airport and Brindisi’s Salento Airport. Main car hire companies operate from both.
Trenitalia express trains run along the national network connecting Bari, Brindisi, and Lecce (and Foggia) with Rome, Milan, Venice, Turin, Bologna, Naples, and the north (as do national bus services). Bari and Brindisi both have major ferry ports. Ferry connections include destinations in Croatia and Greece.
Getting Around Puglia
Renting a car is undoubtedly the best way to get around our region. Train connections away from the main travel hubs of Bari, Lecce, and Foggia can be erratic and cumbersome. Traveling by bus is possible, but requires planning and patience. It will also limit your choice of destinations and where you can stay.
Most of the gay and nudist beaches around Puglia are in secluded locations. Even the main ones will be difficult if not impossible to reach via public transport.
For detailed information on arriving in Puglia and getting around by public transport (including links to train and bus services and timetables) see our Big Gay Podcast from Puglia Guide to Getting Here and Getting Around. For insider tips on driving in Puglia, check out our Driving in Puglia Guide.
Puglia's Siesta: “La Pausa”
We have a very long midday “siesta” in Puglia referred to as la pausa, from around 12:30 PM/1:00 PM to 4:30 PM/5:00 PM when most places are closed. Restaurants will generally stop serving lunch around 2:30 PM. We suggest that you get there before 2 PM to be sure you’re able to get service.
Tips for Ordering Coffee in Italy
Italy doesn’t have coffee shops. For a coffee, you go to a “bar”. If you order a coffee (un caffè) you’ll be given a shorter, blacker, and stronger than usual espresso. Offered with some water, still or sparkling, which you should drink before your coffee.
If you are recognized as a foreigner you might be asked if you want an americano or espresso, just to save you the surprise of a potentially unexpected short espresso.
Most of us drink our coffee while standing at the bar. It’s a social occasion. If you sit down you might pay 10% more, but considering a coffee is usually 90 cents, it’s nothing to get worked up about.
Puglia Travel Safety
We wouldn’t consider Puglia to be an unsafe destination for tourists. Be cautious as you would in any other tourist destination. Though rare, pick-pocketing and robberies can happen in crowded spots.
But this type of crime is common in so many places around the world. Practice smart travel safety precautions and be remember to keep your valuables secure on the beach if you go swimming.
We have no personal negative experiences. We have left our cell phones on display on cafe bar and restaurant tables outside, in a parked car, and in an unguarded backpack on a beach while we swim, along with our wallets, without incident.
Nevertheless, that does not mean you should do so, and our advice as above stands.
The mafia (Sacra Corona Unita) exists in Puglia but isn’t something that should be a concern to travelers. Organized crime in Puglia is rarely in the public eye, except in Foggia. There are no public shootings or any obvious form of organized crime on the streets.
Stick to privately rented accommodation shutters. These are quite common to keep the sun out. Many villas are fitted with alarms and benefit from private security.
Travel forums regularly advise against renting cars in Puglia, but you should completely ignore this. These sources state that apparently, rental cars will be stolen and shipped abroad. This is not something we recognize.
And in fact, any cars that we have rented have no markings that would even identify them as such. We know of no one who has experienced any such incident. So don’t worry about it and enjoy your amazing holiday in Puglia!