Visit Lecce: Top 12 Things To Do and Must-See Attractions


Best Things to Do in Lecce (Puglia) + Where to Stay

You’re planning to visit Lecce during your next trip to Puglia and you’re looking for the best things to do?

You’re at the right place!

Nicknamed the “Florence of the South”, Lecce owes its popularity to its immense wealth of historical monuments. At every corner, Baroque palaces and churches await you, all built with the same material, “Lecce stone”, a very soft limestone that allows for elaborate carvings.

The city is particularly pleasant to explore on foot!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have written this guide of the best places to visit in Lecce, with all must-see attractions and points of interest.

At the end of the article, you will also find itineraries to visit lecce in 1, 2 or 3 days as well as my suggestions of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

So, what are the best places to visit in Lecce? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

All Best Places to Visit in Lecce

1. Piazza Sant’Oronzo

To start your visit to Lecce, head over to Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the largest square in the city.

Located in the heart of Lecce’s historic center, you can’t miss it. The square is huge and surrounded by numerous monuments in different architectural styles.

Here, you’ll be able to admire:

  • The Roman Amphitheatre. Unearthed only in the 20th century during construction work in the square, it could once accommodate up to 25,000 people at its peak. Only part of it has been exposed, with the rest still lying beneath nearby buildings. To fully appreciate the amphitheatre’s excellent state of conservation (it was built between the 1st and 2nd centuries!), you can book a guided tour. There, you can also attend concerts during summer, and in the evening, it’s even more beautiful thanks to the lighting.
  • The column of Sant’Oronzo. This column once marked the end of the Appian Way and stood in Brindisi. It was gifted to the city to honor Lecce’s patron saint, Saint Oronzo.
  • The Sedile or Palazzo del Seggio, a curious little building topped with a loggia, blending gothic and renaissance styles. Today it houses Lecce tourist office.
  • The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in the purest Baroque style.

All around Piazza Sant’Oronzo, you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants, gelato shops, and stores, perfect for dining and shopping in Lecce.  And in the evening, it transforms into the liveliest square in town!

Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to a gelato or pastry at Gelateria Tentazioni, one of the best in town and our go-to for desserts during our stay in Lecce.

Voyage Tips - Advice

While you’re at Piazza Sant’Oronzo, make sure to stop by the tourist office to pick up a map and tourist guide of Lecce.

If Lecce is a stop on your journey around Puglia and you’ve rented a car for your trip, it’s important to note that access to the historic center by car is restricted to residents only.

I thus recommend parking your car in the parking lot next to the cemetery, not far from Porta Napoli, the main entrance to the city. The fee is just 2€ for the whole day!

Piazza Sant'Oronzo Lecce
Piazza Sant’Oronzo Lecce

2. Piazza del Duomo

The Piazza del Duomo is one of the best places to visit in Lecce and any self-respecting Italian city.

Lecce’s Piazza del Duomo is actually one of the largest and most beautiful squares I’ve seen during my trips to Italy and Sicily.

Even if the ones in Milan or on the island of Ortigia, in Syracuse are really pretty and impressive, the one in Lecce has a unique charm as it is completely empty in the middle and enclosed by surrounding buildings.

It makes it very special, as you can enter from only one point.

Built using of Lecce stone for most of its monument, designed by the city’s greatest architects, the piazza is considered the baroque masterpiece of Lecce.

Piazza del Duomo encompasses the main religious buildings of the city:

  • The Cathedral or Duomo (I will tell you more about it below)
  • The Seminary Palace, which houses the Diocesan Museum with its collection of paintings, sculptures, and silverware.
  • The Episcopal Palace
  • The Campanile, standing at 70 meters high. Split into 5 floors, it dominates the city and its surroundings, and it’s one of the tallest in Europe.

Voyage Tips - Advice
Make sure to revisit Piazza del Duomo in the evening when it’s illuminated!

3. The Duomo of Lecce

The Duomo of Lecce is definitely a must-see attraction of the city.

As I’ve already mentioned it just above, it’s no surprise to learn that it’s located on Piazza del Duomo – That makes sense, right?

The Duomo, or Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, is considered one of the most important churches in Southern Italy, especially for its architectural wealth. It’s one of the best examples of “Lecce Baroque” architectural style.

Built at the end of the 17th century, the Cathedral features beautiful sculptures and statues on its north facade. Don’t hesitate to get close to appreciate all the subtle details made possible by the use of Lecce stone in its construction!

Inside, you can admire the 12 chapels, each dedicated to a specific saint.

For more information about the Duomo of Lecce, you should check the official website.

Piazza del Duomo Lecce
Piazza del Duomo Lecce

4. The Basilica of Santa Croce

Let’s continue this guide of the best places to see in Lecce with The Basilica of Santa Croce.

Arguably Lecce’s most beautiful Baroque-style church, it’s famous for its elaborately adorned upper facade, decorated with fruits, flowers, mythological figures, and delicate carvings of men.

You’ll find it on every travel guidebook of Puglia and on numerous postcards!

As you admire its 3 doorways, balcony, hundreds of symbols, and the famous rose window, you understand why it took over a century and 3 different architects to build it.

Similar to the interior of Lecce Cathedral, the Basilica of Santa Croce contains 17 richly decorated and ornate altars. They are, alongside the facade, the most extravagant elements of the church.

Don’t miss this must-see monument in Lecce, especially since entry is free!

Voyage Tips - Advice

To make the most of your visit to Lecce, I strongly recommend you to book this 2-hour guided tour.

It includes the visit to the interior of Santa Croce Basilica, the Duomo and the underground Jewish museum. It’s the best way to learn interesting facts and anecdotes about Lecce!

You need to book by clicking here:

Lecce, Italy

5. The MUST

The MUST is the city’s historical museum, a 3,000 square meters complex located in the former Monastery of Santa Chiara.

It hosts a permanent exhibition of sculptures and regularly organizes temporary exhibitions.

The ground floor features a contemporary art gallery, while the first floor is devoted to the history of Lecce, from the Messapians to the Roman period and up to the present day.

During your museum visit, you can enjoy a lovely view of the Roman theatre located opposite the museum and watch a 3D film recounting the history of several historical monuments of Lecce.

If you have a few days to visit Lecce or if the weather turns bad, it’s a great place to visit.

You can find the current exhibitions on the official MUST website.

Voyage Tips - Advice

You’re going to Lecce?

You probably know it: the hardest part of planning your trip is to find an hotel offering a good value for money!

The closer you get to your travel dates, the harder it will be to get a good deal. Lots of people will be visiting Lecce on the same dates as you, so you can be sure that the best deals are booked extremely quickly!

Hopefully, there is a pretty simple solution to this problem: do like me and book your hotel as early as possible!

So, my best advice is to take 5 minutes (now) to have a look at the list of travelers’ favorite hotels in Lecce.

And if you see a good offer, book it!

Most hotels offer free cancellation, so it’s quick, easy, and you will avoid the the inconvenience of finding nothing but mediocre rooms at exorbitant prices.

To check the current best deals for your hotel in Lecce, simply click on the green button below 😎:

Once you’ve booked your hotel, it will be time to continue reading this guide and find out more about the best things to do in Lecce!

6. The Palaces of Lecce

Next, let’s continue this guide of Lecce with the numerous palaces of the city.

Once inhabited by the wealthiest families of Lecce and the Salento region, they are worth a look for their beautiful facades. As there are over 90 palaces just in the historic center, you can discover them just by wandering in the alleys of the old town.

Some are still residential or used for administrative functions, while others have been beautifully converted into hotels or splendid bed and breakfasts.

The most beautiful palaces to see in Lecce include:

  • Palazzo Vernazza, one of the oldest and most imposing in the city
  • Palazzo Guarini, in rococo style with sculpted portal and windows
  • Palazzo Paisiello, built in just 45 days
  • Palazzo Celestini, currently the headquarters of the Prefecture
  • Palazzo Marrese, featuring two spiral columns
Palais Episcopio Lecce
Palazzo Episcopio Lecce

7. The Churches of Lecce

Just like the palaces, there are numerous churches (about 30!) to visit in Lecce.

Here are the most beautiful churches in Lecce:

  • Church of Saint Nicolas and Saint Cataldo, founded by the Normans, it blends Romanesque and Renaissance styles
  • Church of San Giovanni Battista
  • Church of Santa Chiara
  • Church of San Matteo
  • Church of Sant Irene
  • Church of Carmine
  • Church of Gesu
Baroque church Lecce
Baroque church Lecce

8. Faggiano Museum

If you’re interested in the city’s history, Faggiano Museum is another museum worth visiting in Lecce.

This private museum located in an old house was opened completely by chance.

Its story is indeed quite unique!

While doing some plumbing work to change the pipes in their house, the Faggiano family discovered ancient ruins and everyday objects.

The house turned out to be over 2,000 years old: once home to Messapian people (the ancient inhabitants of the Salento region), Romans, Templars, and monks, a succession of history unfolded here up until today!

The family themselves took care of the excavation work and set up the current museum. True, it’s quite small and a bit more explanations about the exhibited objects would be welcome, but you will find yourself immersed in centuries of Lecce’s history.

Entrance to the Faggiano Museum costs 5 euros, and it’s open every day from 9:30 am to 8:00 pm. More information can be found on the official website.

9. Charles V Castle

In 1539, Charles V decided to build the castle of Lecce on the foundations of an old Norman fortification.

As the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, he had inherited lands across Europe and all over the Southeast of Italy. Fearing an attack from the Ottoman Empire, he started a vast reorganization of the region’s defense system, building towers and fortifications along the Apulian coast.

The castle of Lecce is part of this plan, with monumental ramparts, four bastions, curtain walls, and a deep moat completing the structure. This key defensive element for Lecce is today considered one of the finest examples of military architecture in Apulia.

During your trip to Lecce, you will see that everything is extremely well-preserved.

You can visit the inside of the castle, but unfortunately, most of the rooms are empty, and the castle could be much better showcased.

Charles V Castle also houses the Museum of Papier-Mâché, a craft typical of Lecce. Using just a bit of water, straw, paper, plaster, and glue, craftsmen bring to life real works of art.

About a hundred of these, made by Lecce’s most famous artists, are displayed in the castle.

Lecce Castle ramparts
Lecce Castle ramparts

10. Cemetery of Lecce

Before talking about the best things to do in the City’s surroundings, let’s talk about one last thing to do in Lecce: Visit the cemetery.

And no, there’s no need to wait for Halloween to do so! 😋

Similar to the famous Monumental Cemetery of Milan known for its extravagant tombs, the cemetery of Lecce (Cimitero monumentale di Lecce, in Italian) is home to tombs with impressive architectural features.

Here too, you will encounter the famous Lecce Baroque style throughout the beautiful chapels.

I didn’t find the place to be gloomy or oppressive, it feels more like a stroll through a park amidst the cypress trees.

Lecce Cemetery
Lecce Cemetery

The 2 Best Things to Do Around Lecce

After visiting Lecce, you will probably want to explore the city surroundings during your trip to Puglia.

Near Lecce, you can visit the beautiful small town of Otranto and/or relax or swim(depending on the season) at the most beautiful beaches of Salento.

Here is how!

11. Otranto

Located just 35 minutes from Lecce and flanked by the sea, Otranto is the perfect town to visit on foot.

You can spend the morning there and visit the castle, the ramparts, and the cathedral. The historic center may not be very big, but it’s really charming!

It’s also a great place to have lunch, for example at one of the seafood restaurants.

In Otranto, you’ll also find a beautiful fine sandy beach with clear waters, perfect for a dip when the weather allows.

It’s really the ideal day trip from Lecce!

If you haven’t rented a car or don’t want to bother with transportation, you can still visit Otranto with a guided tour from Lecce. It includes a visit to Otranto, Leuca and Gallipoli.

You can find all the information about this tour by clicking on the button below:

Voyage Tips - Advice

As I’m not a fan of fish and other seafood, we had lunch at Martunecci, a restaurant chain we found throughout our stay in Puglia. They offer a wide selection of economically-priced sandwiches or pizzas and especially delicious ice cream and cakes for dessert!


12. The Beaches of Salento

Both the East and West coasts around Lecce, in the Salento region, are known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in Puglia.

It would be a shame not to enjoy them!

Here are the top spots for a beach day in Puglia:

  • Torre dell Orso on the East, with its large sandy beach and the photogenic Due Sorelle faraglioni
  • Baia dei Turchi, quite narrow but located in a superb setting
  • Alimini Beach, a large sandy beach with crystal clear water
  • Porto Badisco and its small cove
  • Baia Verde, another large sandy beach to the West of Lecce, though somewhat overtaken by beach cafés and private spots
  • Punta della Suina, another beautiful place to take a dip
  • Porto Selvaggio Natural Park and its pebble cove surrounded by pine trees
Torre dell Orso
Torre dell Orso

How Many Days to Visit Lecce?

To visit Lecce, you should plan 2 days, as even if everything is within walking distance, there’s an impressive number of historical monuments to discover.

And if you also want to visit Lecce surroundings, you should plan 3 days or more!

To make the most of your visit to Lecce, you should get the Lecce City Card.

Valid for 3 days and priced at 12€, it gives you free access to all museums, including the Faggiano Museum or the papier-mâché museum, as well as discounts on activities and at certain restaurants in Lecce.

Plus, it’s also valid in Otranto and Gallipoli.

You can purchase it at the tourist office, or you can pre-order it by email or phone, as there’s no option to buy it online.

One Day in Lecce

To visit Lecce in 1 day, here is my optimized itinerary:

  • Start your city tour at Piazza Sant’Oronzo and the Roman amphitheater
  • Then head to Piazza Del Duomo to admire the cathedral and the other historic monuments on the square
  • Finish the morning with a visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce
  • Lunch break
  • Visit the Faggiano Museum, where 2000 years of history await
  • Spend a relaxed afternoon wandering the historic center and discovering the baroque palaces and churches of Lecce

2 Days in Lecce

To visit Lecce in 2 days, I suggest following the 1-day itinerary and adding:

  • Start the day with a visit to MUST to learn more about the city’s history
  • Stop by Charles V Castle
  • Discover the baroque tombs at Lecce’s cemetery
  • Lunch break
  • Spend the afternoon in the surroundings of Lecce, perhaps in the lovely town of Otranto, just a 35-minute drive away
Porte Napoli Lecce
Porte Napoli Lecce

3 Days in Lecce

To visit Lecce in 3 days, follow the 2-day itinerary I mentioned above, and for the 3rd day, you can:

  • Go on a day trip around Lecce to discover the most beautiful beaches of Salento. Whether towards Otranto, to the east of Lecce or towards Gallipoli, to the west, you’ll for sure find the perfect sandy beach with crystal-clear waters.

If you prefer, you can also opt for a guided tour with transport included from Lecce to visit Alberobello, Ostuni, and Polignano.

You need to book your day trip by clicking the green button below:

Where to Stay in Lecce

When traveling, it’s important to find a good place to stay, to ensure a restful night.

To help you out, I have selected the best hotels in Lecce, ordered by budget category.

  • Casa Balmes: Located just 100 meters from the Santa Croce Basilica and 400 meters from the Duomo. Spacious and comfortable double room starting from 80€ per night, but you might find cheaper. In March, we only paid 100€ for three nights in a deluxe suite (breakfast included)! Strong points: the quiet location in the heart of the historical center, the comfort of the rooms, and the excellent breakfast with fresh pastries still warm from the oven! Highly recommended for an affordable stay in Lecce.
  • 8PuiHotel: Located a 15-minute walk from Lecce’s center. Modern and comfortable double room starting from 130€, breakfast included. Strong points: the friendly staff, the parking facilities, the modernity, the comfort of the beds.
  • Arryvo Hotel: Located 600 meters from the cathedral. Well-equipped and modern double room starting from 150€, breakfast included. Strong points: the location, the delicious breakfast, the kindness of the staff.
  • Risorgimento Resort – Vestas Hotels & Resorts: 5-star hotel located right in the historic center of Lecce. Modern and comfortable double room from 200€ per night, breakfast included. Strong points: the superb location, a rooftop terrace with a view of the cathedral, the attentive staff. It’s the best choice for a luxury stay in Lecce!

Where to Eat in Lecce

  • Il Pizzicotto: Located right next to the entrance of MUST. Not a restaurant, strictly speaking, but you can still sit down to eat. They offer a wide selection of pizza slices, so you can try a bit of everything! The pizzas are delicious and some are quite original. Plus, it’s really affordable – we paid 6.90€ for two! Ideal for a quick bite.
  • A’Roma L’Osteria: Located on Via Cesare Battisti, next to the park of Villa Comunale. A typically Italian restaurant with a good selection of pasta. Homemade dishes and desserts, all delicious, the hardest part is choosing! The owner is very friendly, as is the staff. Excellent value for money.
  • Tabisca Il Vico dei Tagliati: Located on a street next to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. The specialty of the restaurant is meat cooked on a hot stone! Black Angus, Kobe, bison – all quality meats that melt in your mouth. Add a good glass of wine and a homemade tiramisu, and you get one of the best meals in Lecce!

Tourist Map of Lecce

The tourist map of Lecce is available at the tourist office, located at Piazza Sant’Oronzo.

Lecce tourist map
Lecce tourist map

What about you? Are you planning to visit Lecce during your stay in Puglia?

Book your trip now and save money!

Italy travel Guides

You’re traveling in Italy? These articles will help you!

Discover all my articles about Italy: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Italy are listed there.


Rest of Italy

  • Rome in May: The definitive guide to plan your visit: weather, things to do, itineraries and more!
  • Rome in June: Guide + All my best tips

You’re using Pinterest? Here is the picture to pin!

best places to visit in Lecce
best places to visit in Lecce

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

Leave A Reply