Otranto: Travel Guide to Italy’s Easternmost Town


Otranto is a typical old seaport of Italy that lost its significance to the international trade and economy but kept its charm and lovely atmosphere. The medieval walls of the Castle and the Cathedral have some stories to tell and some secrets to keep. This city is worth visiting when you are on a trip to Puglia, so it was a checkpoint of my road trip.

How to get to Otranto

By car

Otranto is connected to Lecce and Santa Maria di Leuca by the State highways (SS – Strada Statale) with a max speed limit of 110 km/h (68 mph). There are no tolls on these highways. When you arrive in Otranto, you need to avoid the restricted traffic areas (ZTL – Zona a traffico limitato), including the historic city center and some other streets. Check www.urbanaccessregulations.eu for more details about ZTL in Otranto.

There are several parking areas near the historic city center. For example, this one is a spacious parking near the Q8 gas station where I left my car during my road trip to Puglia. There is another one called Parcheggio Sant’Antonio that’s even a bit closer to the city center. The cost is 1,5 euro per hour.

By train

There used to be a train to Otranto, but it doesn’t seem like operating today. Instead, a bus can bring you to Maglie from where you can go to Lecce or Santa Maria di Leuca. Check the official website of Ferrovie del Sud-Est.

By bus

Depending on your route, you can choose different bus companies to arrive in Otranto. Check for the connections on www.omio.it/

By ferry

During the summer season, you can come to Otranto by ferry from Greece. Check the available connections on www.directferries.com.

What to do and see

The historic city center is relatively small, so you could explore it in 2-3 hours if you know where to go. If you don’t like spending time on planning and searching, take a tour and relax. You can choose a 2-hour tour or a 3-hour tour.

However, if you like planning everything by yourself and enjoying searching for all the needed info before going on your trip, here is the list of all the highlights of Otranto.

Otranto Cathedral

Otranto is the most eastern city of Italy, and it’s positioned at the very heart of the Mediterranean sea. Thanks to its location, the city once was an important port and an easy objective for the enemies’ attacks. The most important invasion was of the Ottoman empire in the 15th century.

The legend says that the Ottoman army took over the city in 1480, but the 813 survivors with the bishop, Stefano Agricoli, found a shelter inside the Cathedral. Regardless of the prayers, the Ottoman soldiers found the survivors and promised to save their lives if the 813 Otrantines would convert to Islam. No one agreed to do so, and later that day, all of the 813 people were beheaded. Only in 1771, Pope Clement XIV beatified them as the Blessed Martyrs of Otranto. Today, their relics are kept in the Otranto Cathedral.

Otranto Cathedral, dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, was consecrated in 1088. It’s the most known for its 12th-century mosaic floors with scenes from the Old Testament and Breton legends figures.

The Cathedral also has a crypt supported by the marble columns said to have come from a Temple of Minerva. The facade is simple with a rose-window that was added there in 1480 after the Turkish occupation of Otranto.

Castello Aragonese

Castello Aragonese is a 15th-century fortification that dominates the views of Otranto. The best thing you can do to explore the castle’s history is to take the optional underground tour, which costs an extra euro or two. Make sure you’re not claustrophobic, as the ceilings are low.

The interiors of the upper part are quite empty and usually used as a space for exhibitions. The castle also offers a beautiful view of the sea and marina. The entrance fee is 10 euro.

Church of Saint Peter

The church of Saint Peter in Otranto has beautiful Byzantine frescoes that I really wanted to see, but unfortunately, the church was closed by the time I arrived there. That’s a good reason for me to come back and spend some more time in the city.

Church of Saint Peter in Otranto

Cava di Bauxite

Cava di Bauxite is an artificial lake that used to be a place where people extracted bauxite from the 1940s to the 1970s. The red soil creates a stunning contrast with the emerald waters of the lake. The scene is absolutely breathtaking. Go for a little hike around the lake and take pictures.

Cava di Bauxite near Otranto

There is a private parking area that costs 3 euro, and it’s only 1 min walking from there to the lake.

Capo d’Otranto

Capo d’Otranto is Italy’s most easterly point. According to nautical conventions, Capo d’Otranto marks the point where the Adriatic Sea meets the Ionian Sea. The lighthouse Faro Della Palascìa is located on the cape.

Where to eat

Exploring a new city is not possible without visiting a local restaurant. Surprisingly, all the good restaurants in Otranto are quite expensive. But if you are not on a budget, the service and food quality are really worth the money.

ArborVitae is a luxury restaurant in the historic city center. The place is a bit overpriced, but the food and wine are excellent. The setting is perfect for a romantic dinner.

Al Tartufo is a family-run restaurant located right outside of the historic city center. Upper-medium prices and traditional Italian dishes.

Alla Risacca is a Mediterranean and seafood restaurant near the historic city center. The service is excellent and friendly.

Where to stay

Otranto is definitely a must-visit point when traveling around Puglia, and it’s a nice base to explore the most southern part of the region. As usual, you can choose to stay right inside the city in a hotel or apartment, or a Masseria (a farm stay) in the countryside.


Le Terrazze offers modern apartments with free parking in an underground garage and free wifi. The apartments are near the city center, but you can also rent bikes for free.

Appartamenti Porta Mare is located near the historic city center. Their guests especially love the rooftop terrace with the city and the sea view. Private parking is available onsite for 10 euro per day.

OtrantoCasa combines the traditional Italian authenticity with the modern style. All apartments have a balcony or a terrace.


Hotel Club Koiné 5* is a luxury resort with three swimming pools and a SPA center. It’s located a bit outside of the city, but it offers free parking and a free shuttle service to the beach.

Hotel Degli Haethey 4* is located in the modern part of Otranto, and it’s only 2 min walk from the beach. Every room has a balcony that’s a great advantage in summer.

Hotel La Punta 3* is close to the beach, and it takes only a 10 min walk to reach the city center. You can also rent a bike at reception and relax in the inner garden.

Hotel Miramare 3* has a perfect location, almost at the seafront with a sandy city beach and near the city center.

Hotel Albània 3* is located near the Porta Terra, a gateway to the city center. From the top-floor restaurant where the breakfast is served, you can enjoy the city and the sea view.

Masseria near Otranto

Masseria Muntibianchi AgriResort is a luxury farm-stay near Otranto that offers a seasonal swimming pool, free parking, and a restaurant with local dishes.

Agriturismo La Palascìa Masseria Agreste is a typical small masseria that you will fall in love with. It takes only 10 min driving from Otranto.

Masseria Lacco can be your perfect base to explore not only Otranto but all the rest of south of Puglia. You will remember the relaxing atmosphere of this place and the breakfasts with fresh-baked pastries forever.

Masseria Montevergine produces its own olive oil and wine. It’s only a 5 min drive to the nearest beach and Otranto city center.

Beaches near Otranto

The southern part of Puglia is famous for its crystal clear waters, even near the cities. So you can enjoy the Adriatic without going too far from Otranto. Beach of Scaloni is located right in the city. It’s a free sandy beach with lots of bars and restaurants around.

Up north starting from Faro di Punta Cràulo there are many beaches and lidos including Lido Castellana and the free Spiaggia di Rinule. There is a hiking route that you can follow and reach, even the famous Baia dei Turchi.

Baia dei Turchi

The bay Baia dei Turchi got its name after the Turkish invasion of Otranto in the 15th century. Today it’s a beautiful beach with crystal clear water. The nearest official parking is quite far from the beach, but they offer a shuttle at no additional price. The parking costs 5 euro for the whole day.

Spiaggia Alimini

Alimini is a long beach with almost white sand and turquoise water. There are many beach clubs, lidos, and beach activities to choose from. There is a paid parking area on both sides of Ponte dei Laghi Alimini.

Price list on Spiaggia Alimini

Here is a price list that I found on one of the lidos in Alimini during my trip in 2020.

Porto Badisco Beach

The small beach of Porto Badisco is a hidden place for nature lovers. You can rent a sunbed to rest in the shadows of old pines. There are also a couple of caves to explore during the summer period. The private parking costs 4 euro per day.

Map of Otranto

On the following map, I’ve put all the mentioned places, so you can easily visualize where they are located.

I hope this guide helped you plan a perfect trip to Otranto. If you have any questions, feel free to write them in the comments below.

Jana J.
Italy Travel Expert
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