Gallipoli, Italy is a serene seashore town along the western coast of the Salentina Peninsula (which is better known as the Heel of Italy’s Boot). The quaint Old Town occupies an island, which is connected to the mainland via a bridge. Besides the turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea, the historic town boasts just a handful of sights. The town is an ideal seaside escape in the Puglia region – and we planned a day trip to Gallipoli from Lecce during our month-long stay.
Day trip to Gallipoli, Italy
Once only accessible by drawbridge, the old walled city of Gallipoli, Italy contains a labyrinth of alleys. Sights are found within the lanes – like the recently resorted castle, century-old churches and the fish market.
Although our visit was in the off-season when the town was quiet, the weather was perfect. With the sun shining and endless views, we happily explored the streets and discovered 10 must-see Gallipoli sights on our day in the city.
Gallipoli and Lecce are connected via a highway and a train. From Lecce, it’s just a short (and inexpensive) train ride to Gallipoli, Italy. We hopped on the old diesel locomotive for the one-hour journey to Gallipoli and the Ionian Sea.
From the Gallipoli train station, it is a pleasant walk through the modern mainland town to the bridge that crosses over to the historic island. Our Self-Guided Gallipoli Walking Tour begins before walking across the bridge to the Old Town.
Things To Do in Gallipoli, Italy: 10 Sights
During our one day in Gallipoli, Italy, we routed our way through the Old Town to the top sights. The sights are listed in order so that you can follow in our footsteps on your own Self-Guided Gallipoli Tour. Use the helpful map at the end of the post to find your way!
#1 The Fountain
The large 16th century Greek fountain features stone carvings. One side is etched with characters from mythology, while the town’s coat of arms graces the side facing north.
#2 Chiesa di Santa Maria del Canneto
The small church on the mainland seaside, Chiesa di Santa Maria del Canneto, dates to the 17th century. A destructive fire in the port left an image of the Virgin Mary unscathed. To honor the miracle, the church was built. Inside, the simple interior has embellished stone arches and a designed, wooden ceiling.
#3 Gallipoli Fish Market
Crossing the bridge, enter the historic walled island. The 14th century walls, which at one time had 12 lookout towers, are no longer needed for protection, so they only extend from the sea up to road level.
Gallipoli has long been a fishing town – and the Fish Market sits right at the end of the bridge. Heaps of fresh fish is brought into the market daily – and small on-site restaurants cook up seafood feasts.
#4 Castle – Castello di Gallipoli
Over the many centuries, the Castello di Gallipoli and its uses have changed drastically. The Gallipoli Castle dates to Medieval times – and today serves as a history museum, allowing visitors a glimpse into the past.
Castle guest can explore the various rooms; each one has excellent explanations of what the room would have been used for. Sights at the castle that should not be missed are the castle’s original entrance point, remnants of the drawbridge, the salt warehouse and the echoing towers (where the cannons were located). Visitors can also access the roof top for astounding views. (Hours vary depending on season and there is a small entry fee. Find more info on the Castle Facebook Page.
#5 Fishermen Port
From the castle, stroll clockwise along the water’s edge, admiring the endless sea views. Pass the port filled with fishing boats and notice the fisherman working on their boats. The thriving little port is evidence that Gallipoli is still very much a fishing town!
#6 Chiesa di San Domenico al Rosario
The Chiesa di San Domenico al Rosario was built in the 17th century facing the sea. The facade was constructed using the local carparo stone.
#7 Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi
Parts of the Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi date back to the 13th century, but it was renovated in the 17th and 18th centuries.
#8 Gallipoli, Italy Beaches and Marina
Continuing in a clockwise direction, make your way to the picturesque Gallipoli beach, Spiaggia la Puritate. During our wintertime visit, the beach was empty (except for a few birds!), but we are certain it is the place to be in the height of the summer! Next to the beach is the Gallipoli Marina; wander through the marina for fabulous views of the city back over the water.
#9 Gallipoli Cathedral – Cattedrale di Sant’Agata
From the marina, head into the town’s interior. Ramble through the narrow alleys, past traditional Gallipoli restaurants and city center B&Bs. Make your way uphill to the cathedral, which is located on the highest point of the island (on an area thought to be sacred land since the island was originally inhabited).
The Cattedrale di Santa’Agata was built between 1629 and 1696, replacing a previous church. The church architecture was designed by Giovan Bernardino Genuino, but constructed by local builders, who used local stone. Inside, paintings adorn the interior…but the church was unfortunately closed during our visit.
Nearby: Convent and Church of St. Teresa
Just around the corner from the cathedral is a small convent and church, St. Teresa. The church was also designed in the Leccese Baroque style.
#10 Old Town Lanes and Modern New City
Spend some time walking aimlessly, not looking for anything in particular, but simply seeing where the next turn might lead. After exploring the Old Town, make sure to go back across the bridge and do a loop through the new, more modern part of town – which sits in striking contrast to the historic island.
Gallipoli, Italy Map
Does your Puglia trip include Lecce, too? Check out our tips for the Best Things To Do in Lecce, Italy!
More Tips for Your Trip
Staying longer than a day? Use our tips for planning your trip!
Gallipoli, Italy Hotels
There are many choices for accommodation in Gallipoli, Italy. Although we didn’t stay overnight, we noted the many guesthouses, holiday apartments and hotels throughout the Old Town – which we think would be the best place to stay. Visitors can find vacation apartments and hotels in Gallipoli, Italy on Booking.com.
Restaurants in Gallipoli, Italy
Italian cuisine – focused heavily on seafood – is the most popular fare in the city. Whether looking for fine dining or fast food, there are numerous Gallipoli restaurants to satisfy your craving! Find top-rated places to eat on TripAdvisor.
Gallipoli, Italy Weather
The city enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with hot sunny summers and mild winters. Find the current weather forecast on Weather.com.
We want to know: Have you visited Gallipoli, Italy? Is there anything you would add to our list of Gallipoli things to do? Tell us in the comments!
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