Santa Cesarea Terme, Puglia is a town famous for its thermal baths and dramatic coastline. People love to come here and recharge their batteries thanks to the healing properties of the thermal water.
The location of Santa Cesarea Terme is perfect in itself to attract visitors from all over the world. As you walk up to the coast you will see a huge drop and a dramatic cliffside. The town is built upon this cliff. Below you, the rocks are riddled with caves of varying sizes.
If the location is not enough you also get the thermal baths. People are aware of the healing properties of such baths from the medieval ages. In fact, the town that started to develop here was developed due to the presence of thermal water.
Santa Cesarea Terme History
Although the presence of the thermal springs was known to the people living in the area, the effects of this hot water were unknown. People only started to realize the positive effects in the early 16th century.
This has led to an interesting development. Instead of your usual fishing town in Puglia, Santa Cesarea Terme started to develop into a holiday location right from the start. Noblemen in the area grew very fond of the hot springs and they enjoy the dramatic cliffside.
Villas, summer homes, and even palaces started popping up in and around Santa Cesarea Terme. Spending time in this charming town was a fun pastime for the nobility. These villas create a nice blend of architectural styles, colors, and provide a lavish environment.
Later, hotels and SPAs also appeared to take advantage of the healing water. You can find a great variety of treatments available in Santa Cesarea Terme today. Modern days have seen the town turn into a tourism hot spot.
Where is Santa Cesarea Terme?
The town is located south of Otranto. It lies on the coast where the Adriatic sea meets the Ionian sea. They are separated by the Strait of Otranto and this is exactly where you’ll find Santa Cesarea Terme.
Due to the southern location, you can usually expect great weather with many days of sunshine. The downside is that it’s pretty far from most other places. Cities that are close are Lecce and Otranto. If you are looking to visit any other place you would have to drive a lot.
Getting to Santa Cesarea Terme
Luckily there is a train station in the nearby settlement of Poggiardo. It’s a small town but it has direct buses to Santa Cesarea Terme, Puglia. So it’s possible to travel via public transport but if we are honest it’s a little bit of a hassle.
NOTE: you can check the bus schedule here. You’ll take Line 103 from Poggiardo. Please remember that this service runs only during summer.
The easiest way is of course via car. You can take the coastal road from Otranto. It’s not only practical but the coastal road has some superb views that might inspire you to stop the car and take some pictures.
Attractions in Santa Cesarea Terme
Now it’s time for the fun part. Let’s take a look at all the sights and attractions available when you visit Santa Cesarea Terme, Puglia. Yes, we are aware that you probably won’t spend all your time in this town as there are so many things to see in Puglia.
Thermal Baths & SPAs
Where else to start than the main attraction of the town? Come here and enjoy various SPA facilities, treatment opportunities, or simply wind off with a good massage.
You can find the main website for the thermal baths here. You can book all kinds of treatments and get full info on the facilities available. Even if you are not looking to get any specific treatment there are great options.
Our favorite is the sulfur pool. The pool is ‘carved’ into the cliffside. This creates a spectacular location for such a pool and we’ve loved relaxing in the warm waters.
Note: the spa is open from late May to the end of November. Always consult their website to make sure they are open.
The Villas and Palaces of Santa Cesarea Terme, Puglia
As the nobility loved to build residences in the town you can see multiple lavish exteriors here. During the 19th century, the wealthy people in Lecce were impressed by the Moorish architecture and they wanted to revive it in their villas.
It’s clearly visible in multiple buildings but the biggest example will surely draw your attention to itself. Palazzo Sticchi is a palace that stands on the shore and it’s built in Moorish style. The colorful walls and the big dome attract the attention of visitors.
You simply can’t take a picture of the shoreline without this building taking center stage. It has such a great location within the town that it will dominate over almost all coastal views. Unofrutnely for travelers it’s privately owned. This means no entry inside.
Enjoy the beach
Did you think that just because the coastline is one big cliffside there are no beaches in Santa Cesarea Terme? Well, think again. The people of Puglia have always been great at improvising beaches in places where they really shouldn’t be. You can enjoy the sunshine and the sea even in this coastal town.
Porto Miggiano Beach
On the outskirts of town, there is a small opening in the cliff wall of the shore. In this small opening, there is a sandy beach that is loved by the tourists who are here for a holiday.
It’s probably the closest you can get to a traditional beach experience if you don’t want to drive around the Salento peninsula. It’s local and it’s actually a great beach. Just mind the crowds. If you don’t arrive early during the day you might end up without a spot.
Bagno Marino Archi
A beach and a restaurant at the same time. Bagno Marino Archi is a truly unique place. Instead of sand or pebbles, you are directly on the cliffside. You can rent sun loungers and enjoy a quiet time on this beach.
The water to access is provided via stairs and the whole beach is mostly artificial. We didn’t mind that it’s artificial because we’ve felt that it’s one-of-a-kind in its own sense.
Walk Along the Coast and Explore Torre di Porto Miggiano
It would be a mistake not to fully enjoy the rugged coastline here. Torre di Porto Miggiano is an old watchtower and you can see the remains today.
Park the car in the nearby lot and walk to the tower on foot. You’ll be able to see the sea and epic cliffside around you. Rocks and the water and caves under the cliffs. It’s mesmerizing to watch the sea slowly washing up against the big cliff wall.
Do some day trips
We highly recommend that you get out of town and explore more parts of the Salento peninsula. It’s full of amazing places from small towns to spectacular beaches. If you rent a car you’ll have the freedom of movement around the peninsula.
Places we recommend for visiting are:
- Pescoluse Beach
- Santa Maria di Leuca
Where to eat in Santa Cesarea Terme, Puglia?
Of course, we can’t let you leave without some nice restaurant recommendations. As the town developed so did the local restaurant scene. Here are our two favorite restaurants in Santa Cesarea Terme.
The perfect seafood place in town. It’s located on the coast so an impressive environment is guaranteed. They have all kinds of seafood platters and we were especially fond of the shrimp pasta.
It’s more of an upscale restaurant so you can expect the menu to be a little pricey but it’s an overall great environment and good food.
Il Triangolo Azzurro
There are days when you wish for some simple comfort food. These days Il Triangolo Azzurro will be your favorite restaurant. It’s a ‘gastro-pub’. You can get some great beers, tasty wine, and good burgers here. We loved to spend the nights at Il Triangolo Azzurro relaxing and getting great food.
Where to stay in Santa Cesarea Terme?
Finally, some hotel recommendations to make your trip perfect. Let’s some great places to stay in Santa Cesarea Terme.
East Santa Cesarea Terme
Superb upscale hotel with all the views you could want. The rooms are sleek and have a very modern style. Most of them have balconies that are overlooking the coast and the town below. The bathroom is super clean which is something we always like to see.
There is a nice breakfast each morning with a good selection of items. Whenever you need the best views you can always go to the hotel’s rooftop community area. We loved to enjoy the sunset from this place.
Grand Hotel Mediterraneo
Grand Hotel Mediterraneo is a modern building with comfortable rooms. It’s one of the obvious choices if you are looking to enjoy the thermal baths of Santa Cesarea Terme.
Located just opposite the thermal center you’ll have great access to every available amenity. The hotel itself is nice looking. It has the usual modern look of simplicity with style.
Santa Cesarea Terme B & B
As our last pick, we have an incredibly charming Bed & Breakfast place. It’s a little bit unfortunately named as the name is so generic! Regardless you can visit the official site of Santa Cesarea Terme B & B for booking.
For a simple B&B, it’s styled extremely well. The blue and white color mix is perfect for the coastal appeal. Although, if we are honest, the color scheme gives off a Greek vibe we didn’t mind. Greece is not that far from Puglia after all.