Nardò is the perfect holiday destination, with its beautiful Baroque town centre, 23 miles of lovely coast close by, including the Porto Selvaggio nature reserve, vast vineyards and olive groves, and southern Mediterranean climate. There are also historic monuments to admire, excellent wine and food to savour, lots of beaches to laze on, crystal-clear seas to dive into, and clear skies full of stars to gaze at in the evening.
The town’s geographical position enables holidaymakers to easily access a variety of experiences. The nearest seashore is just 5 miles away at Santa Maria al Bagno, the beautiful Baroque city of Lecce – aka The Florence of the South – is a 17-mile drive along the fast road, and the charming port of Gallipoli is 12 miles away.
There are numerous other attractive old towns to discover, such as Galatina, Maglie, Cutrofiano, Otranto and Manduria, all within 30 miles of Nardò.
If you want to venture further south you’ll find more beaches, towns and villages to explore. The small town of Specchia, with its panoramic views across the tip of Salento, has been almost totally restored, and from the Basilica Santuario at Santa Maria di Leuca, where the Adriatic and the Ionian seas meet, there’s nothing but water until the shores of North Africa.
Porto Selvaggio and the beaches around Nardò:
Porto Selvaggio is the name of the protected coastline near Nardò, which stretches from the seaside town of Santa Caterina to beyond Torre Uluzzo.
The coast road that cuts through part of the park is a lovely scenic drive and at certain points, there are car parks and roadside parking so you can get into the forest and head down to the beach.
Baia di Porto Selvaggio is not accessible by car but you can walk to it, along paths through a magnificent pine forest, accompanied by an orchestra of a million cicadas. Some inspiring trekkings on Wikiloc. Your efforts will be rewarded with an idyllic bay where you can bathe in some of the cleanest water in the Med.
The cliffs and rocky terrain of the Porto Selvaggio coast are popular with teenagers who put their nerves to the test by diving from great heights into the deep water. La Grotta del Cavallo, a cave in the side of the cliffs, was one of the earliest homes of prehistoric man. Unfortunately, it’s closed to the public and you can only peep at it through a metal gate. But fortunately, a very interesting museum opened in the old town of Nardò, with lot’s of information regarding several prehistoric sites in the area, and organized tours. More on museodellapreistoria.com.
Other stretches of the coastline are less rugged and easier to access, with parking just behind the beach or at most a three minute walk through the pine trees. For a sandy beach with shallow water, head to Sant’ Isidoro 12 miles north of Nardò, or carry on a further 10 miles to Le Dune above Porto Cesario for long beaches of golden sand and turquoise sea. In both of these locations you’ll find restaurants on the beach, deckchairs and sun shades if you need them.
South from Nardò:
If you travel south from Nardò, you’ll first come to the beaches of Lido Conchigle just before Gallipoli then beyond the town, La Baia Verde’s beaches stretch for a couple of miles.
Beyond these beaches, the shoreline becomes craggy, the water appears more beautiful than ever and the pine trees grow almost to the water’s edge. The first two beach bars you’ll come across are Neesh and G-Beach gay bars . In the next bay Lido Punta della Suina has a bar and a small sandy beach that look upon a swimming pool created by mother nature.
The last beach before the next town starts is Punto Pizzo where the well-to-do of the area book there spot for the entire season.