People traveling to Puglia rarely stop and visit Brindisi. However, this lesser-known city is well worth spending a day or two.
Even for Italians, when thinking about the Puglia region, Brindisi is not the first destination that comes up to mind. For many, it is just the embarkation point to Greece or the arrival airport. But I discovered that the city is indeed well worth spending a few days. And there are plenty of things to do in Brindisi and around.
Whether you’re traveling to Italy for the first time, or are a returning visitor, find out my 7 reasons to visit Brindisi
and the surrounding area.
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1. The old town
In Brindisi, you can see ancient palaces, a beautiful cathedral, narrow alleys, and old houses full of charm.
The best way to explore Brindisi old town is by getting lost in the maze of charming alleys. After all, the center is quite small, so you’re likely at some point to come back to the starting point. Indeed, missing Brindisi cathedral and the beautiful Palazzo Arcivescovile (the Archbishop’s Palace) overlooking the square is almost impossible. It’s the heart of the city, there are many signs and whoever you ask will show you the right way.
The cathedral dates back to the 11th century, although it was severely damaged during the 1743 earthquake. However, inside, you can still see a portion of the late 12th-century mosaics decorating the floor and the wooden choir created by local carvers at the end of the 16th century.
Art lovers shouldn’t miss to visit the Archaelogical Museum, right in the cathedral square (Piazza del Duomo). It stores all the archaeological finds discovered in the area, including magnificent sculptures and bronze statues.
Finding the superb Church of San Giovanni al Sepolcro can be a little more tricky, as it is a bit hidden in a small alley near the Cathedral. I confess that I stumbled across it totally by chance and couldn’t be happier. It is a must-see when you visit Brindisi. Therefore, ask the hotel where you’re staying for a map, marking for you the exact point where the church stands. Spend a few minutes outside, admiring the finely carved old capitals, and then move inside, where you’ll see a beautiful example of Romanesque style in this beautiful round-shaped small church.
Another must-see is the Roman column, standing tall in a small piazza at the end of a flight of steps. The Roman Column was erected in the 2nd century AD to mark the end of the Appian Way, an ancient road that connected Rome to Brindisi. The column is a testament to Brindisi’s importance as a trading port towards Greece and the East during ancient times.
A private tour of the historic center of Brindisi is a good option if you want to be sure not to miss the main landmarks and if you want to learn more about this overlooked Italian city.
2. The laid-back lifestyle along the pretty waterfront
Take a stroll, look at the sailing boats moored along Brindisi waterfront, stop for a drink at one of the cafés, and enjoy the exhilarating scent of the sea. There’s often a gentle breeze making it a great place to escape the heat and chill out.
You can also catch a shuttle boat to reach the opposite side of the bay (as you’ll see, Brindisi harbour does not overlook the open sea but an inner fjord). From there, you’ll see waterfront from a different perspective, and walk to another Brindisi attractions: the Monument to the Italian Sailor.
3. The view of the waterfront from the top of the Monument to the Italian Sailor
The top of the Monument to the Italian Sailor – shaped like a helm – is likely the best viewpoint on the beautiful Brindisi waterfront. From there, you’ll enjoy a different view of the city, with the pastel-colored houses overlooking the seafront and the boats waiting to take the sea. Pure marine bliss. While you’re there, don’t miss looking at the stunning spiraling oval staircase.
4. Amazing food and excellent wine
Like everywhere else in Italy, in Brindisi, you’ll taste delicious food and good wine. The area is a land of olive oil, tasty vegetables, and great cheeses. Puglia also boasts excellent wines, like Negroamaro, Sussumaniello, and the now well-known Primitivo. As a result, you can expect a delicious meal in almost every restaurant.
If you are staying in a self-catering place, ask for a local market where you’ll find lots of fresh products at surprisingly reasonable prices.
4. Old houses, a little crumbling but enchanting
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m fascinated by old houses, even when they are a little crumbling. It’s not that I don’t like the restored ancient buildings, but I sometimes feel like perfection – as it happened to me when I visited Alberobello – end up being a bit too aseptic for my taste. When I look at peeling facades, I can feel life, and my imagination starts to run freely.
6. Ostuni, the ‘White City’
Wander along the tiny cobblestone streets of the ‘White City,’ have a look at the small shops, and stop for lunch, dinner, or a drink in one of the lovely cafés and restaurants with inviting alfresco tables, for an unforgettable day. I had a wonderful time in Ostuni, albeit too short, and would love to go back.
7. The countryside, olive groves, and Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve
There’s no need to go far away from the city to discover the countryside typical of the Brindisi area.
A nice spot is the Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve, home to beautiful olive groves, pretty creeks, dunes, and marshes. There you can hike, bike, swim (but only in the designated areas), and snorkel but beware in summer as the reserve can be very hot, and there’s very little shade, if any, on the seashore. Bring with you a lot of water and possibly a beach umbrella to protect yourself from the sun and the heat.
Useful information to Visit Brindisi
How to get to Brindisi:
Brindisi airport has flights from/to many Italian and European cities, operated by main carriers as well as low-cost airlines. You can check the cheapest airfares on Trip.com. The airport is close to the center and very well connected by a regular bus service.
The easiest way to explore Brindisi surroundings is to hire a car at the airport. Check out here to find the best car rental rates.
Where to stay in Brindisi:
There are several charming Bed&Breakfast in Brindisi.
The small B&B I Templari Dimora Storica has two nicely decorated rooms (about 50 and 55 sqm, respectively) in a historical building recently renovated and located in the center.
Check more Hotels in Brindisi
Books about Puglia and travel guides
Old Puglia: A Cultural Companion to South-Eastern Italy (Armchair Traveller)
Lonely Planet Southern Italy (Travel Guide)
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Note: ‘Brindisi is My Destination‘ invited me to discover this overlooked area of Puglia. As always, opinions are mine. This post contains a few affiliate links. That means that if you make any purchase, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.