Aerial view of Brindisi's Forte a Mare sea fort, Italy

Brindisi Cruise Port Guide: Castles, Ruins & Boardwalks

Welcome to Brindisi, a charming port city nestled on the Adriatic coast in Puglia, the “heel” of Italy.

Calling all cruise passengers in Brindisi, a charming port city nestled on the Adriatic coast in Puglia, the “heel” of Italy! While often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbours, Brindisi does offer a mix of history, culture and coastal beauty. This guide is packed with DIY shore excursion ideas that are easy to navigate, from historic sites within walking distance of the cruise terminal to a scenic ferry ride to the charming Casale District. Let’s dive into the heart of Brindisi! (But Brindisi is compact, so you should manage your expectations accordingly.)

Brindisi is a rarely visited port, other than by MSC Cruises and “luxury” lines operating small ships such as Silversea, Seabourn and Explora (the new luxury brand of MSC). But as it turns out, many of my readers search for Brindisi on my site, because there isn’t much information out there. So here’s the DIY guide!

Interested in a day-trip? Then read my Brindisi Cruise Port to Lecce: DIY Day Trip to “Florence of the South”

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

Sorry to spoil the surprise but Brindisi is compact and many cruisers choose to do a day-trip excursion elsewhere. But if you choose to stay in Brindisi for your port day, then a DIY shore excursion is ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž straightforward! Here’s why:

  • Walk Off The Ship To City Centre: You can walk off the ship and be in Brindisi city centre in minutes!
  • Walkable City Centre: Brindisi’s city centre is compact and you can easily walk to all the attractions below.
  • Central Station close by: You can also walk from the cruise terminal to Brindisi central station, if you intend to take a day-trip elsewhere.

Here’s the “But”, there isn’t much to do if you have a full day at port. Beaches aren’t that close by. So if you have a busy port schedule on your cruise, Brindisi may be the port to relax and take things easy. Or just linger around the waterfront and eat gelato! ๐Ÿ˜‹

Brindisi (Italy) 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‘‡
    • MSC Cruises has its own terminal in Brindisi (via Spalato – Varco Seno di Levante) close by. If you’re embarking your cruise at Brindisi, be sure to follow your documentation as to where you need to go.
  • Currency: Euros
  • Language: Italian
  • Official Websites: Local buses are run by STP Brindisi with timetables available 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

What to See & Do in Brindisi: DIY Walking Tour

Here’s my suggested DIY Walking Tour of the city centre – use it in conjunction with my Brindisi DIY Excursion Map above ๐Ÿ“Œ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘†:

1. Roman Columns

Roman Columns landmark, Brindisi, Italy
Source: Wikipedia

These Roman Columns once marked the end of the Appian Way (Via Appia), one of the most important Roman roads, stretching all the way from Rome to Brindisi, approximately 350 miles (~560 km). It was a remarkable feat of Roman engineering, as it was known for its straight path and durable construction. Brindisi was a major port then (and still is today), making it a crucial gateway to the East for the Roman Empire.

There were originally two towering columns, each about 60 feet high (~18 metres). One column collapsed in 1528 due to an earthquake but the remaining column stands tall at the waterfront. Pieces of the fallen column were gifted to the nearby city of Lecce in 1659. They were used to build a monument dedicated to Saint Oronzo, the patron saint of Lecce. The columns remain on Brindisi’s city coat of arms.

2. Brindisi Cathedral

Exterior of Brindisi Cathedral, Italy
Image by tomek999 from Pixabay

Brindisi Cathedral dates back to the 11th century and is designed in a typical Romanesque style. The facade is relatively simple but the interior makes it worthwhile for a short visit. Look out for the Monumento alla Madonna Pellegrina (Monument to the Pilgrim Madonna) outside. The Cathedral is free to enter but may be temporary shut when services are being held.

3. Museo Archeologico Francesco Ribezzo

Just across the street from Brindisi Cathedral is, IMHO, Brindisi’s best museum. The museum mostly houses artefacts from the surrounding area but there’s a few things worth seeing:

  • Bronzes of Punta del Serrone – this is a collection of impressive bronze statues discovered by local divers in Brindisi’s harbour in the 1970s
  • Underwater Archaeology: Artefacts recovered from various shipwrecks off the coast of Brindisi. One particularly notable find was a well-preserved Roman ship discovered in 1992. It’s believed to have sun in the 2nd century AD and is keen as a valuable example of Roman shipbuilding techniques.

The museum is free to enter. Open daily from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 7pm, Monday 4:30 – 7:30pm, during summer season.

4. Stroll along the Lungomare

Head out to the waterfront area and enjoy a stroll along the Lungomare – the pedestrian-friendly promenade. There’s restaurants and cafes and will eventually lead you back to Brindisi cruise terminal.

5. Castello Alfonsino di Brindisi

Also known as the Forte a Mare (Sea Fort) is the impressive fortification at the entrance of Brindisi harbour – see photo at the top. Built in the 15th century by King Alfonso V of Aragon, the castle is a complex structure with multiple layers of defences, including ramparts, bastions and a drawbridge. There’s even several underground chambers and a lighthouse was added in the 19th century.

While it’s open to the public via a 50-minute guided tour, I’m not sure that it’s worth the hassle of trekking out there. You have to pre-book the guided tour (via phone!) and I couldn’t find easy public transport to get there. So I’d recommend that you stay on the top deck and see it when the ship sails in or sails out of Brindisi.

Also, don’t confuse this with the Castello Federiciano di Brindisi to the west of the town centre. It also is a prime example of medieval military architecture dating back to the 13th century but it’s being used by the Italian Navy and is completely fenced off. You’ll see all the signs asking you to keep out!

Exploring Across the Harbour: The Casale District

I’m pretty sure that the above DIY walking tour wouldn’t have taken you more than 2 hours, so if you’re keen to continue being in the Mediterranean sunshine, then jump onto a quick ferry to the Casale District across the harbour.

1. How To Get To Casale

The easiest way to reach Casale is by taking the small passenger ferry that leaves from the top of Via Sant Chiara, along the Lungomare – see it marked on my map above.

  • Frequency & Timetables: Ferry typically leaves every 20 minutes and the ride is only a few minutes. This ferry service is run by the local transit authority. Timetables available for download here.
  • Tickets: Cash tickets are โ‚ฌ1.50. If you walk past a tobacco shop (Tabacchi), you can grab tickets for โ‚ฌ1 – just ask for local bus tickets, which are valid on this ferry, too. (The closest Tabacchi is around the corner from the Roman Columns – Tabacchi Alemanno – see it marked on my map).

On the Casale side, you have a choice of two stops:

  • Banchina Monumento al Marinaio: This is the first stop across the harbour and is closest to the Monumento al Marinaio d’Italia (Sailor’s Monument)
  • Banchina Villaggio Pescatori: This is the second stop and is literally a few minutes walk (on land) from the first stop. So I would just get off at the first stop and explore.

2. What to See & Do in Casale

Monumento al Marinaio d'Italia (Sailor's Monument) in Casale District  of Brindisi, Italy
Photo by Valerio Giannattasio on Unsplash

Here’s a few suggestions on what to see in Casale:

  • Monumento al Marinaio d’Italia: The best views of Brindisi across the harbour is undoubtedly from the top of the Sailor’s monument. Tickets are โ‚ฌ3. If you’re not keen on stairs in a confined space, then walk up to the elevated section connecting it with the park, Parco del Casale. You can see it on the photo above.
  • Walk along the Waterfront: The walk along the waterfront (very pedestrian friendly) is just as stunning!
  • Parco del Casale: Enjoy a quick walk in this park too.

What to Eat in Brindisi

Plate of Burrata with different kinds of baby tomatoes
Photo by Sebastian Coman

Note: I’ve marked the recommendations below on my map too!

  • Orecchiette: This ear-shaped pasta is a regional specialty, often served with broccoli rabe or tomato sauce. Indulge! Try it at Trattoria la Brasciola in Old Town.
  • Burrata: Burrata is world famous but did you know that it originates from Puglia? Eat it on fresh bread and a drizzle of olive oil to highlight its creamy texture and delicate flavour!
  • Seafood: Fresh catches are a staple, so don’t miss trying dishes like “riso, patate e cozee” (rice, potatoes and mussels) or grilled fish – La Locanda del Porto in Old Town is famous for seafood (with or without pasta).
  • Local Wine: Puglia is known for Primitivo and Negroamaro.
  • Gelato: Obviously not unique to Brindisi but there’s always room for gelato! Try Chocoloso in Old town.

Gluten Free? Head to Il Botteghino for gluten free pizza and baked calzones.

Featured Image by Myriam from Pixabay

I hope your day in Brindisi is filled with endless sunshine, warm hospitality and fascinating discoveries! Have a fantastic port day! Please drop me a line below if you have any questions!

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