Lecce: Ultimate Travel Guide to Puglia’s City of Baroque


Lecce is called the capital of Baroque in Italy because of its unique baroque architecture. I promise you will be amazed by the richness of churches’ decorations. But Lecce is not only about Baroque. It has unique archeological artifacts from the Messapian era, the Roman empire, and Medieval times. You definitely need more than one day to explore it all.

In addition, Lecce would be a great base for going around the south of Puglia, especially if you are on a road trip.

How to get to Lecce

By car

From all the major cities of Puglia like Brindisi, Taranto, Otranto, and Gallipoli, you can reach Lecce by the State highways (SS – Strada Statale) with a max speed limit of 110 km/h (68 mph). The highways are free, and you will surely enjoy the Apulian landscape during your trip.

Oberdan parking in Lecce

Lecce is a must-visit city on a Puglia road trip, but once you arrive in the city, you don’t need a car anymore. Even if you are in Lecce for one day, it’s safer to park your car in a private garage rather than leave it on the streets. I can recommend Oberdan Parking that is close enough to the city center. I left my car here and was quite pleased with the friendly staff.

By train

Fast trains like Frecciargento and Frecciabianca connect Lecce with many major cities like Rome, Milan, and Bologna. At the same time, there are also slower regional trains that go to Lecce from smaller cities in Puglia like Bari and Brindisi. Check the schedule and buy the tickets online on www.trenitalia.com.

By bus

For the bus connections to Lecce, always check www.omio.com as many bus companies are operating in Puglia. Make sure the bus stop is not too far from the city center before booking your tickets.

From Brindisi Airport

There is no airport in Lecce, and the closest one is Salento Airport near Brindisi. You can take a bus that goes directly from the airport to Lecce. Check the schedule on the official website of Salento airport. You can also buy the ticket online on the official website of Cotrap. This bus has several stops in Lecce, make sure you choose the closest to your accommodation.

Otherwise, take a bus to Brindisi that departs every 30 min and brings you to the city center at Piazza Crispi – FS Railway Station. You can explore Brindisi and then take a direct train to Lecce, which is about a 30 mins ride. Check the schedule and buy the tickets online on the official Trenitalia website.

What to do and see

Lecce is such an enjoyable city that you need to spend here as much time as you can. I also recommend staying inside the old town and contemplating the life of locals. From early mornings with empty streets and a cup of cappuccino with pasticciotto at the bar, move slowly and save your energy for the evening. The city center becomes crowded and lively as people go out for pre-drinks and enjoy the fresh air after a hot summer day.

Churches are the most important and popular points of interest in Lecce. There are four of them that charge a small entrance fee. The full-price ticket costs 9 euro and includes the Lecce Cathedral and its crypt, Basilica di Santa Croce, Chiesa di Santa Chiara, and Chiesa di San Matteo, as well as The ancient Seminary Palace with Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art. From 2021 this full-price ticket also includes the Roman theater museum, Museo Sigismondo Castromediano, and Fabbrica Delle Parole museum.

You can buy the ticket online or at the entrance of any site mentioned above, and it’s valid for two weeks. For more info, visit chieselecce.it.

Lecce Cathedral

Lecce Cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It’s considered to be the best work of a famous Baroque architect of Lecce Giuseppe Zimbalo. There are three naves and twelve side chapels with altars in each of them. The main nave is decorated with a beautiful wooden ceiling with paintings.

Lecce Cathedral

In contrast with the rich decorations of the upper church, its crypt is simple and minimalistic.

Seminary Palace with Diocesan Museum

Seminary Palace stands on the same square as the Cathedral, and there is a Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art inside.

Even if you are not a fan of religious art and history, the view on the Duomo square from above is why you visit the museum.

Chiesa di San Matteo

Chiesa di San Matteo or the church of Saint Mattew, was the first one on my way. Its facade is different from other churches in Lecce that are made in typical Leccese Baroque style. This church instead reminds a Boromini’s baroque in Rome. The unusual curvy lines of its facade make it a unique piece of art.

When inside, come closer to the high altar with the spiral columns and the wooden statue of Saint Mattew.

Chiesa di Santa Chiara

Chiesa di Santa Chiara or the church of Saint Clair, has a particular facade without an apex that perfectly matches the interior’s octagonal structure. There is a high altar and six side chapels with altars holding wooden statues brought to Lecce from Naples.

There is a particular secret in the ceiling of this church. At first glance, it’s a typical 18th-century wooden ceiling, but in fact, it’s made in the traditional papier-mâché technique and designed by Mauro Manieri.

Basilica di Santa Croce

Basilica di Santa Croce or the church of the Holy Cross, is a jewel of Lecce, famous for its richly decorated facade, dominated by a giant rose window. The church was built between 1549 and 1646, so the facade has Renaissance elements in the lower part and Baroque decorations in its upper part.

Facade of Basilica di Santa Croce in Lecce

The 16th-century dome illuminates the interior. Traditionally, there are several altars and the one of San Francesco da Paola is a particular piece of art, made by Francesco Antonio Zimbalo, the son of Giuseppe Zimbalo.

On the left of the basilica, there is a governmental building Palazzo dei Celestini. Go through it, and you will find yourself in a wonderful park with fountains and trees. Giardini Pubblici Giuseppe Garibaldi is a perfect place for the mid-day break.

Museo ebraico – Jewish Museum Lecce

The Jewish Museum in Lecce has a permanent exhibition called “Below the Baroque: discovering medieval Jewish Lecce” that will lead you through the history of the Jewish community of Medieval times. The museum is located in the heart of Lecce in Palazzo Personè, built on the ruins of an old Synagogue. There is a guided tour included in your 5 euro ticket. Book your ticket on www.palazzotaurino.com

Roman theater

Roman theater is located in the small hidden street of Lecce’s old town, and it’s hard to find. To look at the theater from the outside, go to a narrow street, Via Del Teatro Romano.

But if you want to explore the theater from inside, you can enter through the museum on the other side. The entrance fee is just 3 euro, and there is also a small collection of antique artifacts.

Fabbrica delle Parole

Fabbrica Delle Parole is a museum dedicated to the art of printing, from the ancient typographic machines to the first computers. Here you will see an example of a Messapian epigraph, different press machines from the 19th-20th centuries, a mimeograph machine, and Macintosh computers from 1976, the first personal computer in the world.

Museo Sigismondo Castromediano

At the Sigismondo Castromediano Museum, you can discover the history of Salento since prehistoric times and, in particular, the Messapian and Roman domination. Lots of archeological finds and artifacts are waiting for you here. The museum is located in the Old Town of Lecce not far from the Central train station. The museum is open from 9 am till 8 pm, Mondays closed.

Roman Amphitheatre

Ancient Roman amphitheater dates back to the 2 century AD, and it means that there was an ancient city where Lecce stands today. The ancient city was called Lupiae, and we can say that it was probably a big city because this amphitheater had about 25000 seats available.

Surprisingly it was not discovered until the beginning of the 20th century and won’t be fully uncovered because of the precious church standing very close. But luckily you can visit the amphitheater for free as it’s located in the city center near Piazza Sant’Oronzo.

Museo Faggiano

Archaeological museum Faggiono used to be a usual private house until 2001 when its owner discovered historical treasures under the floors during the restoration. The finds date back from the 5th century BC and belong to Messapians culture. The house was built in the 12th century during the Templars’ times, whose symbols you can see in the rooftop tower. For more info visit www.museofaggiano.it

Lecce Castle

Castello di Lecce, or the Castle of Charles V, is the fortress located in the heart of Lecce. It was built in the Middle Ages and then strengthened by Charles V in the 16th century. The castle was mostly used for military purposes, but today it’s a home for art initiatives and exhibitions.

Inside, you will find not only beautifully decorated interiors but also a Papier Mâché Museum (Museo Della Cartapesta) that is a great part of the culture and history of Lecce. The ticket costs 5 euro.

Where to eat

Caffe Alvino is a great place to start your day with a pasticciotto and cappuccino. It also has other delicious pastries. But be ready that the service could be a little slow.

Pizza&Co is one of the best pizzerias in the Old Town of Lecce. Check it out!

L’Angolino di Via Matteotti offers the best puccia – a local sandwich that originates in Salento. It’s a great option for a quick lunch break.

Blu Notte is a great choice for dinner in the Old Town. The restaurant offers seafood and local dishes.

Arte dei Sapori is a bit more pricey, but the food and service are really worth it. Here you will find some seafood and local dishes as well.

Quanto Basta is the right place if you’re looking for delicious cocktails and a funky atmosphere. It’s a great choice for a pre-drink or an after-dinner small party.

Where to stay


Patria Palace Lecce 5* is a modern luxury hotel located in the heart of Lecce in the 18th-century building. There is a rooftop restaurant, and superior rooms also have private terraces.

Palazzo de Noha 4* is also located in the Old Town of Lecce. A great advantage of the hotel is a small seasonal swimming pool on a rooftop terrace with sunbeds and a lounge area.

Palazzo Dei Dondoli 3* is a bit like a B&B type of stay, but the design, room cleanliness, and service quality won’t disappoint you. The hotel is located just outside Old Town.


VicodellaCavallerizza offers its visitors Boutique Apartments with high ceilings and authentic design. Each apartment has a kitchen, a living room, a bedroom, and a balcony.

Don Giuliano offers a nice studio in the Old Town of Lecce located close to the train station.

New Suite Lecce is a fully equipped apartment located in the modern part of Lecce.

Masseria near Lecce

Masseria Stali, The Originals Relais is located 15 mins driving on the south from Lecce. Here you will feel like in a luxury hotel with 2 open swimming pools, a SPA and wellness area, fitness classes. Masseria produces its own olive oil that you should try.

Relais Tenuta Campì offers a comfortable stay in its relaxing atmosphere outside of the city. It has a great location between Lecce and Otranto to explore the whole south of Puglia.

Masseria Berzario is located in Melendugno, near Torre dell’Orso, an area with beautiful beaches and natural rock formations. I wrote about it in my Puglia road trip article, and I highly recommend this location.

Tenuta Kyrios offers an affordable farm stay in the heart of Salento. It’s located between Lecce and Otranto, also close to the sea.

Beaches near Lecce

San Cataldo is the nearest town by the sea that is only 20 min drive from Lecce. On the beach, you will find typical Italian lidos that offer sunbeds and parasols. One of the most popular lidos is Spiaggia Soleluna. A bit south of the town, there is also Lido Mancarella.

On the other side of Puglia, there is one of the best beaches in the region. Porto Cesareo is a city beach, but the water is crystal clear, the sea is calm and shallow.

From Porto Cesareo, go up along the coast, and you will find Spiaggia Libera Le Dune, also called Scala di Furno Beach.

Going further along the coast, there are more beautiful bays with free sandy beaches. Spiaggia di Torre Chianca is a narrow free beach with golden sand and turquoise waters.

Spiaggia di Torre Lapillo is the next bay, but it’s much bigger, with a much longer sandy beach. Here you will find lots of bars and restaurants, and lidos, as well as free areas for sunbathing.

Spiaggia di Punta Prosciutto is the most famous beach near Lecce on the West coast of Puglia. It’s a long and narrow sandy beach that has both free areas and lidos.

Map of Lecce

Here is the map of Lecce that I’ve created for you. I’ve put together all the places that I mentioned in this guide. I hope it will help you to plan a better trip to Lecce.

Also, if you have any questions about traveling to Lecce, please ask in the comment below!

Jana J.
Italy Travel Expert
Add a comment