Partial view of Cathedral of Lecce and Bell Tower, Lecce, Italy

Brindisi Cruise Port to Lecce: DIY Day Trip to “Florence of the South”

If you’re looking for a charming and historically rich day trip from your Brindisi cruise port, Lecce is the perfect destination! Often called the “Florence of the South”, Lecce is a Baroque masterpiece with stunning architecture, lively piazzas and a unique cultural atmosphere. And the best part? It’s just a short train ride away from Brindisi, making it a great option for a DIY shore excursion.

Keen to stay in Brindisi? Then read my DIY Guide on Brindisi instead.

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Brindisi Cruise Port to Lecce: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž (Smooth Sailing)

Brindisi is compact and if you’re struggling to find things to fill your port day, then a day-trip to Lecce may be your answer. Here’s why I think planning a day trip there is smooth sailing ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž:

  • Walking Distance to Brindisi Train Station: Once you disembark your ship, walking to the train station takes only about 10 minutes.
  • Frequent Trains: Trains run frequently throughout the day. With journey times around 30-45 minutes each way, it’s a very do-able day-trip
  • Walkable Lecce: You can walk from Lecce train station to town centre but there’s also a convenient bus leaving right outside the station

Brindisi Cruise Port Essentials: All You Need To Know

  • Brindisi Cruise Port Address: Via Regina Giovanna Di Bulgaria, 72100 Brindisi BR, Italy – see this marked on my Brindisi Cruise Port Map below ๐Ÿ“Œ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘‡
    • Note MSC Cruises has its own terminal in Brindisi at “via Spalato – Varco Seno di Levante”. If you’re embarking on your cruise in Brindisi, be sure to check your final documentation on embarkation location
  • Currency: Euros
  • Language: Italian
  • Official Websites: Local buses are run by STP Brindisi with timetables available here. Local buses at Lecce is run by SGM – download timetables here
  • Recommended Transport App: Use Google Maps to walking directions around Brindisi. Note bus routes don’t seem to show well. You’ll need to use STP’s website, see above, for details.
  • eSIM for roaming in Italy: For a great data connection without the huge roaming fees, use an eSIM data pack from Airalo. I always recommend having a smartphone with a valid data connection when you’re at port touring independently. Get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo when you use ROXANN1666 when you sign up or apply it at checkout

Brindisi Cruise Port Map

  • On Desktop | Laptop? Use buttons on bottom left to zoom in/out. Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version.
  • On Tablet | Mobile? Pinch your screen to zoom in/out and use two fingers to move map around. If you have Google Maps installed on your tablet/mobile, my map will open in your Google Maps app if you click on the upper right hand corner.
  • If map is not loading correctly, click here to see it directly on Google Maps

Brindisi to Lecce By Train

  • Walk to Brindisi Station: Takes around 15 minutes – see the highlighted route in my Brindisi map above ๐Ÿ‘†
  • Timetables: Use Trenitalia to search for train times – note that there’s both regional services and intercity trains. Regional trains typically run once an hour and more frequently during peak hours.
  • Journey Time: Regional services take 30 minutes with intercity services typically around 20-25 minutes.
  • Tickets: One-way tickets is โ‚ฌ3.40 (regional services), intercity services varies depending on train, from โ‚ฌ9. Regional tickets don’t sell out, so purchase tickets from ticket machines at station

Getting Around Lecce: Your Options

  • Walk from Station: From Lecce train station, it’s about a 15-20 minute walk to the Basilica di Santa Croce – the heart of the city.
  • Bus from Station: Bus route M1 is very handy for day-trippers! The M1 route runs from the train station, through the city centre, to the bus terminal north of the city.
    • Lecce Station Bus Stop: It’s outside the train station – you’ll see the bus shelter straight ahead once you exit the station.
    • Tickets: One-way tickets โ‚ฌ1, day ticket โ‚ฌ2.50 – easiest is to buy it on the Dropticket app or find a tobacco shop. Onboard bus tickets are cash only for โ‚ฌ1.50.
    • Frequency: Run around every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends. Download M1 bus timetables here.
    • Where to Get Off: Alight at “Battisti” bus stop – see it marked on my map. On the way back to the station, the stop is “Castello” and is closer to the Roman open-air amphitheatre.

If you prefer a local bus map, here’s one to download (PDF) onto your phone.

Lecce DIY Shore Excursion Map

  • On Desktop | Laptop? Use buttons on bottom left to zoom in/out. Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version.
  • On Tablet | Mobile? Pinch your screen to zoom in/out and use two fingers to move map around. If you have Google Maps installed on your tablet/mobile, my map will open in your Google Maps app if you click on the upper right hand corner.
  • If map is not loading correctly, click here to see it directly on Google Maps

What to See & Do in Lecce

Lecce has earned the nickname “The Florence of the South” thanks to its abundance of Baroque architecture, often crafted from the local golden-hued limestone known as “pietra leccese.” This soft, malleable stone allowed artisans to create incredibly intricate and ornate details, evident in the city’s churches, palaces, and even private homes. As you wander through Lecce’s historic centre, you’ll be greeted by a visual feast of swirling columns, playful cherubs, elaborate floral motifs, and expressive gargoyles.

1. Basilica di Santa Croce (Lecce Basilica)

Basilica di Santa Croce illuminated at night, Lecce, Italy
Image by Il Cantiere

The Basilica di Santa Croce is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. Dating back to the 16th century, its ornate facade took over 150 years to complete. The most striking feature of the facade is the large rose window, a masterpiece of stone carving that depicts the Tree of Life.

  • Opening Hours: 9am to 9pm from April to September, 9am to 6pm from October to March
  • Tickets: The Basilica now sells a “bundled” ticket of most of the churches in Lecce as the “Baroque Tour” – the ticket includes entry to Basilica di Santa Croce, Lecce Cathedral, Church of Santa Chiara, Church of San Matteo, Ancient Seminary and Museum of Sacred Art (MuDAS)
    • Entrance to Churches without Cathedral Bell Tower: โ‚ฌ11 adults, โ‚ฌ5 kids, โ‚ฌ24 for family
    • Entrance to Churches with Cathedral Bell Tower: โ‚ฌ21 adults, โ‚ฌ13 kids, โ‚ฌ48 for family
  • App: There’s an app for this “Baroque Tour” – download at https://www.chieselecce.it/en/app/. Or download the PDF map here.

Note: It’s possible to just purchase the entry to the Cathedral Bell Tower on its own but I’m not sure that you can just pay for the Basilica’s entry now. Ask at the ticket office if you only want to visit one church.

Virtual Tour: Not sure you want to spend the day looking at churches? Check the Basilica’s virtual tour to see whether you’d like to go inside.

2. Duomo Di Lecce (Lecce Cathedral & Bell Tower)

Lecce Cathedral (Duomo Di Lecce) Bell Tower, Italy
Photo by Gildo Cancelli

Known officially as the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the first cathedral was built here in 1144 but very little remains of this original structure. Many structural changes and renovations occurred through the centuries and most of what we see today, occurred in mid-17th century when a deliberate effort was made to rebuild the cathedral in the Baroque style.

There are two facades. The main facade, facing Piazza del Duomo, is relatively simple. The side facade, facing Piazza dell’Addolorata, is more ornate and features a tall bell tower. The bell tower is about 70 metres (~230 feet) tall. There’s stunning views at the top, as it’s the tallest building in the area.

If you choose to climb it, note that you are let into the tower in small groups due to capacity constraints. So it’s highly likely there’s going to be a queue, even if you’re just waiting to be in the next group to go up. There’s a lift to the third level but then you’ll have to walk up the rest of the way!

  • Cathedral Opening Hours: 9am to 9pm April to September, 9am to 6pm October to March
  • Bell Tower Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 8pm. Stays open till 9pm from June to August.
  • Tickets: Inclusive ticket (as above) cost โ‚ฌ21 adults but you can purchase just the ticket to the Bell Tower for โ‚ฌ12.

3. Anfiteatro Romano (Roman Amphitheatre)

Roman Amphitheatre in Lecce, Italy
Image by giovanasousa from Pixabay

This is the larger of the two Roman Theatres in Lecce. This is considered a National Monument in Italy. This amphitheatre wasn’t discovered until 1901 when construction workers supposedly stumbled upon it while digging the foundations for a bank! It’s believed to have been built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD.

The amphitheatre is estimated to have held between 15,000 to 25,000 spectators. It has a classic elliptical shape, with a partially excavated arena surrounded by tiered seating. Parts of the original walls, including some with reliefs depicting gladiators and animals, are still visible.

The amphitheatre remains partially underground but you can view the exposed section from street level in Piazza Sant’Oronzo. It’s free to view. For history buffs, watch the video below for historical footage on when they discovered this amphitheatre! (Turn on captions, then change to auto-translate to see English subtitles).

4. Teatro Romano (Roman Theatre)

The smaller Teatro Romano is located on Via Arte della Cartapesta, just a short walk away from the amphitheatre. Historians believe that it’s likely also built in 2nd century AD. It’s significantly smaller and would have had a capacity of around 5,000 spectators.

The Roman Theatre is better preserved than the amphitheatre, with much of its original structure still visible. Occasionally, there are concerts being held here. It’s free to view and you can easily take photos through the railing.

5. Museo Faggiano

Let’s continue on this theme of Roman architectural finds! Around the corner is the Museo Faggiano. The museum started in 2001 when Luciano Faggiano, a local resident, started renovations on his property. And he stumbled upon a hidden underground world beneath his house!

As he dug deeper, they discovered a labyrinth of tunnels, cisterns, tombs and artefacts dating back over 2,000 years. So this museum was born! What they found goes all the way back to the Messapian period (an ancient civilisation that inhabited the region before the Romans), through the Roman and Medieval eras, up to the 19th century!

So there’s ancient Messapian tombs, complete with skeletons and burial objects. There’s Roman cisterns (water storage systems), and granaries for storing grain. There’s even evidence of a 19th century Franciscan Covent! Members of the Faggiano family are still around – they’re very friendly!

  • Opening Hours: Daily 9:30am – 8pm.
  • Tickets: โ‚ฌ5 entrance fee

Once you finish, walk around the corner to see the Porta San Biagio, again in Baroque style. This is a good example of the local “pietra leccese,” the warm-toned limestone that gives Lecce its distinctive golden glow.

6. Castello Carlo V

Castello Carlo V (Castle of Charles V) dates back to the Middle Ages, with the first structure likely built in the 12th century. During the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the castle was significantly renovated. There’s many defensive features like a moat, ramparts, bastions and a drawbridge.

Access to the internal courtyard is free. But to see the inside, It’s only possible to visit via a 60-minute guided tour.

  • Opening Hours: Closed Mondays. 10am to 8pm Tuesday to Sunday. You’re free to walk into the courtyard.
  • Interior Tours: Tours only operate from Wednesday to Sunday, so booking recommended on the website. Tours are โ‚ฌ8 adults, โ‚ฌ4 for kids aged 12-17. Free for kids under 12.
  • Live Tour in Italian! Note that the live tour guide speaks in Italian. You’ll be given an audio guide in English.

7. Museo Ferroviario della Puglia (Railway Museum of Puglia)

For train buffs, there’s a train museum close to Lecce Station! The museum houses a collection of vintage steam, diesel and electric locomotives, as well as various types of carriages and wagons used in the region throughout the 20th century. There’s also memorabilia on display, from uniforms, tools and old photographs.

  • Opening Hours: Only open on weekends. 9am to 1pm, then 5pm – 9pm, Saturday & Sunday from June to September. From October to May, 9am to 1pm and 4pm – 8pm, Saturday & Sunday
  • Tickets: โ‚ฌ5 adults, โ‚ฌ2 for kids aged 6-18 and for seniors 65+. Free for kids under 6.

Featured Image by Joรซlle Moreau from Pixabay

I hope your day trip to Lecce leaves you with a heart full of Baroque beauty. Have a fantastic port day exploring this unique destination. Drop me a line if you have questions. Happy cruising and safe travels!

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