Our gaydar went absolutely crazy on the beaches in Puglia. Everywhere we looked, these metrosexual studs were posing and just looking absolutely gorgeous…Italian men sure know how to take care of themselves!
Puglia is located in the southeastern region of Italy – the heel of the country's boot. It's a popular holiday retreat and a prime hotspot for gay travellers, particularly Gallipoli. We came here to attend our first gay wedding, so took this as an opportunity to make it a road trip around the region to discover what gay Puglia has to offer.
How gay friendly is Puglia?
Although Italy is a conservative country with regards to LGBTQ rights, over the years, Puglia has become a bohemian playground for gay travellers. There are a handful of gay beaches across the region, as well as many gay hangouts in the main cities, particularly Gallipoli.
Obviously don't come here expecting to find Mykonos/Ibiza style Circuit beach parties. Instead there's a mix of remote beautiful beaches, delicious food, plenty of culture and of course, bronzed Adonises everywhere.
We focused on the sub region of Puglia called Salento, which is the Southern part. Salento stretches from Tarranto on the western side and Brindisi on the east, all the way to the coastal tip. For us we found the best gay beaches and gay hangouts in Salento, particularly around Gallipoli and Tarranto.
One tip for gay travellers to Puglia is to rent a car to get the most out of it. Public transport is very limited, and taxis are expensive. We flew into Bari airport and picked up our car here from Goldcar, who we recommend for the most cost effective prices.
Where to stay: best gay hotels in Puglia
There's a handful of gay friendly hotels to stay in Puglia, including one exclusively gay guesthouse:
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.
Tenuta Monticelli: luxury gay friendly resort in Alezio
Tenuta Monticelli is a hidden gem we were really proud to stumble on. It's set in a large plot of land in the small town of Alezio. Here you're surrounded with nature, olive trees and lots of wildlife. Right in the heart of this private space of land is the resort itself which has 5 luxurious rooms, and a separate building for the breakfast/reception area. There's an outside seating area with terrace and large swimming pool.
We stayed in their superior room, which we highly recommend because you have the entire rooftop area to yourself, which includes a Jacuzzi and stunning 360 views of the Italian countryside around Alezio. To get a feel for the beauty of this place, as well as how massive it is, check out our drone video below. Most importantly, we felt very welcome here as a gay couple.
Rooms at Tenuta Monticelli start from €172/$200. To find out more, check availability and prices, see their Booking.com listing.
Hotel Palazzo del Corso: luxury hotel in central Gallipoli
Hotel Palazzo is one of the best 5 star luxury boutique hotels in Gallipoli, just outside the old town. It's particularly popular with gay couples visiting the area who want a romantic base in Gallipoli. We were impressed by the many excellent reviews on Booking.com and recommendations by all online gay Italy directories about Puglia.
Hotel Palazzo has everything you'd expect from a luxury hotel – rooftop terrace restaurant, swimming pool, Sky Bar, Technogym, Solarium, and even it's own Winery.
Rooms at the Hotel Palazzo start from €170/$200 a night. Read more about it and check prices and availability on Booking.com.
For more, check out our gay hotels in Puglia guide.
Monteforte Resort: luxury gay friendly boutique hotel in Ugento
Ugento is a really cute town in the middle of the Italian countryside of Puglia. We stayed here because it's the ideal place to get a feel of local Italian life in Puglia. Of course it also helps that it's so stylish; every room is designed with a particular colour theme, decorated so that everything is beautifully matching.
Breakfast is served upstairs on the restaurant rooftop. Now this is a real treat. Not only is the food fresh and delicious (their pastries are orgasmic!), they have a Jacuzzi where you can lounge all day long and enjoy the views across Ugento.
Rooms at the Monteforte Resort start from €120/$140. Read more about it and check availability and prices on Booking.com.
Lune Saracene Gay B&B: exclusively gay hotel in Puglia
This was the only exclusively gay hotel in Puglia we could find. It's owned by gay couple Angelo and Umberto, located next to the gay beach of D'Ayala, around 1 hour drive north from Gallipoli and 45 minutes south from Taranto. Lune Saracene only has 3 rooms, which makes it very personable and homely.
Sotto Sopra: good budget gay friendly hotel in Gallipoli
The best gay friendly budget option we found in Gallipoli is Sotto Sopra, who openly advertise their guesthouse as being “gay friendly” on their website. It's located just outside of Gallipoli old town and has many excellent online reviews.
Rooms at Sotto Sopra start from €43/$50. To find out more and check availability/prices, see their Booking.com listing.
Best gay beaches in Puglia
There are a handful of gay beaches in Puglia, mainly scattered around the Salento region:
- D'Ayala Beach: the best gay beach we found in Puglia, located around 45 minutes drive south from Taranto city, or 1 hour north from Gallipoli. It's officially called “Spiaggia D’Ayala”, which is the best point of reference to use in your Google Maps GPS. We love D'Ayala beach because it's separated from the main road by a large forest, which gives it a lot of privacy. As such it's also popular with nudists.
- G Beach Club in Gallipoli: this is the main gay beach in Gallipoli, which is also part of a very posh beach club. This means it has a lot more facilities than D'Ayala beach, with a larger, younger crowd, but with the higher price tag to go with it.
- Torre Guaceto: located a 25 minutes drive north from Brindisi. This is a large nature reserve, with a long stretch of beach. Due to the privacy given by the nature reserve, it is popular with nudists as well as the local gay boys. The gay area is quite far to reach. First you need to park your car in the first beach you reach called “Penna Grossa” as you drive in from the Torre Guaceto junction. From here, walk south for around 45 minutes and you will eventually reach it.
- Lido Zen in Gallipoli: this is a popular beach club in Gallipoli, not exclusively gay, but with a young and open minded crowd. If you want decent beach facilities, didn't like G Beach Club and can't be bothered to venture out too far from Gallipoli, then this is the place to come.
For more, check out our article about the best gay nude beaches in Italy.
Best gay bars and clubs in Puglia
Most cities across Puglia have a gay bar or club. We've listed the ones we could find in order of the city we located them in, starting with the most popular – Gallipoli:
- LED Cafe in Gallipoli: the main gay bar in Gallipoli, a great place to start the night with a few cocktails with friends. We like coming here to chat with other gay locals and find out where the hottest parties are taking place. LED is located at “Corso Roma 13/G” and is open everyday from 6:30pm until 4am.
- Village Picador in Gallipoli: gay club just outside Gallipoli, around 10 minutes drive away, near the city of Taviano. It's huge, with 2 dance floors and its own car park. Picador is located at “Sp 289 Località Fontana Gallipoli/Taviano“. It is open only during the busy summer months from 10pm everyday. Our advise is to hang out first at LED Cafe and get an idea if it's on of there's another party happening elsewhere.
- Marilyn Bar in Lecce: Lecce is the pretty Baroque town of Salento, around 40 minutes drive from Gallipoli. This is Lecce's main gay hangout, open throughout the day for food, and in the evening for drinks. Marilyn Bar is located at “Via G. Presta, 23/A, 73100 Lecce” and is open everyday from morning until 4am the next day.
- Makumba parties in Bari: this is a fortnightly Saturday event at the Bari Aquapark with GoGo dancers and drag queens. It's been a popular staple in the Bari gay scene for over a decade.
- Nordwind Disco Pub in Bari: another popular gay club in Bari with live acts. Saturday is the best night out at Nordwind with hilarious karaoke. It is located at “Via P. Giannone 18, Bari” and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30pm until 4am.
- Pacha Mama gay club in Bari: one of the best gay clubs in the region, only on Saturday evenings. It has nights like “Men At Work” with drag animation, live DJ sets and hot Go Go dancers. It takes place at the beach club called “Lido Spiaggia Verde”.
- Millennium gay sauna in Bari: the most famous gay sauna in Puglia located in Bari. The “Bears at Work” event on Saturday nights is their most popular evenings. Millennium is located at “Via Adriatico 13, Bari” and is open Tuesday-Sunday from 3:30-10pm.
Gay events in Puglia
These are the two main gay events in Puglia we could find:
- Italy Gay Travels Summer Party: Sergio's company runs an annual gay summer party which is definitely worth joining. It takes place in late August/early September and is 3 days of fun, parties and lots of Prosecco.
- Salento Pride: takes places in Gallipoli in mid-August every year and includes a rainbow music party as well as a large beach parade. Definitely worth planning your trip around if you're thinking of coming here during the summer months.
Touristic highlights of Puglia
Most of our favourite tourist attractions in Puglia are in and around Salento. For a more detailed guide, check out our sightseeing highlights of Puglia for gay travellers.
- Gallipoli Old Town: we love the atmosphere of Gallipoli's old town. It's buzzing with life, lots of cool bars, buskers, excellent restaurants and little boutique shops.
- Lecce: Lecce is an open air museum and in our opinion, the cultural highlight of south Italy. It was founded over 2,000 years ago and famous for the many Baroque style buildings, Roman ruins and pretty impressive churches. As such it is nicknamed “the Florence of the south” and became a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in 2006.
- Alberobello: a trullo is a stone Hobbit-like hut with a conical roof. They are also UNESCO listed and unique to the Itria Valley of Puglia. The majority of the trulli can be found in Alberobello, which has over 1,500, some dating back to the 1300s. Today the trulli are preserved as inns, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants in Alberobello.
- Otranto: a coastal town, famous for its 15th-century Aragonese Castle and Cathedral dating back to the 1000s. We loved getting lost in the small cobblestone winding streets of Otranto, then having a romantic drink at the harbour area.
- Polignano a Mare: another popular coastal town, famous for one particular spot where the waves come crashing onto the rocks, painting a very picturesque picture. We also loved the small old town of Polignano a Mare, which is great for a pizza+coffee and
perving on the hot Italian guyspeople-watching.
- Poetry Caves: the “Grotta della poesia” in Roca Vecchia is another picturesque landmark of Puglia, comprised of two caves, with crystal clear waters.
- Yacht Tour in Leuca: Leuca is located at the southern tip of Puglia and a common starting point for yacht tours. We tried and loved Leuca Explorer, who we found on Tripadvisor.
OUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL TIPS
⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.
⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers (gay or not) can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.
⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where gay dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.
⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.
⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.
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