Explore Lecce: Top Activities, Food & Day Trips
Food & Wine
Arts & Culture
Lecce, Italy's 'Florence of the South,' stands out for many reasons. Its mix of Baroque beauty, lively streets and delicious food is unique. As a seasoned explorer of Italy, I adore Lecce's elegant yet approachable charm. The city offers a real taste of Italian culture, from meandering through historic streets to savoring local Pasticciotto. Lecce is ideal for both relaxation and adventure, making it a must-visit for authentic Italian experiences.
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Things to do in Lecce
Explore Lecce's Historic Center: Wander through the charming streets of Lecce's old town. I recommend visiting the Piazza del Duomo for its stunning Baroque architecture. It's a hidden gem that captures the essence of the city.
Visit the Roman Amphitheater: Discover Lecce's ancient Roman history at the well-preserved amphitheater. It's a fascinating glimpse into the past and a must-see for history buffs.
Attend a Paper Mâché Workshop: Lecce is famous for its traditional paper mâché crafts. Joining a workshop is a unique way to engage with local artistry.
Visit Basilica di Santa Croce: Marvel at the intricate details of this Baroque masterpiece. It's a testament to Lecce's rich architectural heritage.
Stroll Through Villa Comunale di Lecce: This public garden is perfect for a leisurely walk and to enjoy the local flora.
Experience the Local Market: Visit the Mercato Ortofrutticolo for fresh produce and regional specialties. It’s a lively spot to soak in the local culture.
Watch an Outdoor Performance at Teatro Romano: Check out the summer schedule for outdoor concerts and performances in this ancient Roman theater.
Take a Day Trip to Otranto: Just a short drive from Lecce, Otranto offers beautiful beaches and a quaint historic center.
Lecce's Street Art Tour: Take a guided tour to explore the vibrant street art in Lecce. It's a colorful journey through contemporary culture, showcasing local and international artists.
Ceramics Workshop in Grottaglie: A short drive from Lecce, Grottaglie is famous for its ceramics. Participate in a workshop to experience the traditional art of pottery-making, a craft deeply rooted in the region's history.
Otranto (Approximately 45 minutes from Lecce):
Otranto, a charming coastal town, is known for its beautiful beaches and the stunning Otranto Cathedral, featuring a large mosaic floor depicting the Tree of Life. A unique activity here is exploring the idyllic bays along the coast, such as Baia dei Turchi, which offers a more secluded beach experience compared to the main town. The drive along the coastline also provides breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea.
Gallipoli (Approximately 40 minutes from Lecce):
Gallipoli, set on a limestone island, is famous for its historic old town and pristine beaches. A visit to the underground olive oil mill, Frantoio Ipogeo, in the old town offers a unique glimpse into the city's history and olive oil production. After exploring the town, unwind at one of the less crowded beaches like Punta della Suina, which is popular among locals.
Alberobello (Approximately one hour and 30 minutes from Lecce):
Known for its trulli, traditional Apulian stone huts with conical roofs, Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage site. For a special experience, take a guided tour of the trulli to learn about their history and architecture. Afterward, explore the less touristy Aia Piccola district, where many of these unique buildings are still used as homes.
Santa Maria di Leuca (Approximately one hour and 10 minutes from Lecce):
At the southern tip of Puglia, Santa Maria di Leuca is where the Adriatic and Ionian seas meet. A boat trip along the coast offers an exclusive view of the region's dramatic cliffs and caves. Don't miss the iconic lighthouse and the Sanctuary of Santa Maria de Finibus Terrae, a pilgrimage site with stunning views of the sea.
Places to eat & drink in Lecce
Sud Kitchen: A favorite for its exceptional quality and affordability. Try their seven-course tasting menu filled with creative dishes, a true culinary delight in Lecce.
3 Rane Ristoro: Known for crafting imaginative tasting menus. Opt for their eight-course selection for a complete gourmet experience.
Animaterrae: Offers a beautiful courtyard setting and exceeds expectations with its food. Their tasting menu is a great choice for an adventurous palate.
La Cucina di Mamma Elvira: Perfect for experiencing a blend of traditional and modern Apulian dishes. Don't miss the Tagliatelle with donkey meat sausage, a local specialty.
Osteria Le Volte: A popular spot among locals, this osteria serves traditional dishes like Tagliata with arugula and cheese. Also, try their Pasticciotto Leccese for dessert.
Pizza&Co.: Renowned for the finest pizza in Lecce's old town. The garlic pizza is a must-try, loved for its unique flavor.
Mezzo Quinto: A great choice for street food with outdoor seating. Their burrata with vegetables is creamy and flavorful, a local favorite.
L'angolino di via Matteoti: Known for delicious puccia sandwiches. Try any of their puccia for an authentic taste of Salento street food.
Flow Bar & Bistrot: Ideal for breakfast, offering a variety of coffees and pastries. Their rustico, a savory pastry with cheese and tomato, is the best in town.
Baldo: For gelato lovers, this shop stands out with its wide range of flavors. The pistachio gelato comes highly recommended.
Need to Know
Lecce, a jewel in Italy's Puglia region, is easily accessible and a delight to explore. The nearest airport is Brindisi Airport, just about a 40-minute drive away, offering both international and domestic flights. Once in Lecce, the city's compact size makes it perfect for exploring on foot, especially the historic center with its baroque architecture. For longer distances, public buses and taxis are readily available. Renting a car can be a great option if you're planning to explore the surrounding countryside or coastal towns. The best time to visit Lecce is during the spring (April to June) and early autumn (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and the city is less crowded, allowing you to fully enjoy its charming streets, outdoor cafes, and vibrant cultural scene.
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Florence Like a Local: The City's Best Family Activities.
This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Italy.
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