Brindisi Airport and flights
Brindisi Airport is at Casale, just outside Brindisi in Puglia, southern Italy. Brindisi is in the area called the Salento, the heel of Italy’s boot. With flights from the UK, it is a good airport for exploring this southern area, and particularly for visiting the Baroque town of Lecce, a short bus ride away. Very unusually, there is a top-notch tourist sight close to the airport, so you might want to allow a bit of extra time for a visit to the frescoed church of Santa Maria del Casale.
As well as a number of internal flights to Italian cities, Brindisi also has flights to the UK, Germany, France and Switzerland. The UK flights are operated by Ryanair to and from London Stansted; currently running four days a week in the evenings.
The airport’s official name is Aeroporto del Salento, although it is also sometimes called Aeroporto Papola Casale. Its IATA code is BDS. It’s a small airport, which means that although not many flights use the airport, you may still face long queues since the staffing levels are low. Brindisi is not a particularly comfortable place to catch a flight, but the facilities and services are clean and modern.
There are a few shops at the airport, including a newsagents and a handbag shop. There is a cafe in the main airport hall (before you go through the gate to departures) which sold rolls and pizza slices, although the choice wasn’t vast and before our evening flight they had nothing vegetarian left. When the security gates were opened to let us through we joined our fellow passengers scouring the expensive little duty-free shop for nibbles, and waiting by the shutters of the small bar for its promised opening.
In the long main hall of the terminal building, you’ll find a bus ticket office, to the right of arrivals as you exit, and an airport information desk (with bus timetables pinned up) to the left.
Travel into Brindisi
A city bus connects the airport with central Brindisi, just a few miles away. Operated by STP, the service has several stops in Brindisi, including one on Via Colombo close to the railway station. Buses run every 15 – 30 minutes and the last service leaves the airport at 11:30pm. Tickets can be bought inside the terminal building (to the right of the arrivals area).
Bus to Lecce
There is a convenient coach service between Brindisi Airport and Lecce, the biggest tourist destination in the area. The bus skirts Brindisi and heads swiftly for Lecce: a fast and easy connection for tourists arriving for a city break.The only drawback is that the bus stop in Lecce is a short way outside the city centre. The bus stop is grandly titled Lecce City Terminal, and boasts a small office with an air-conditioned waiting area with seats. You could walk between the Lecce City Terminal and the heart of town, though it would be an uncomfortable trek with luggage. On arrival in Lecce you could catch bus 21 the ‘Navetta Foro Boario’, which is a shuttle service for the big car park over the road from the Lecce City Terminal building. These city buses stop alongside the car park, and also a short distance along the road into the centre (to the right), which is indicated by signs to the centro. The office at the terminal closes at 5:30pm at the time of writing; when open the staff should be able to provide you with any additional advice about reaching your accommodation.
The Lecce-Brindisi Airport service runs several times a day. A one-way tickets cost 5. The journey is scheduled to take up to 45 minutes, but depends on traffic. Our nearly-empty bus raced there in much less time.
A summer initiative called Pugliairbus provides free bus connections from Puglia’s airports. The service currently operates only between mid-June and mid-September, and is rather limited. In the past, from Brindisi Airport there were services only to Taranto and to Bari Airport; at times which didn’t work for Ryanair passengers. However, if you are planning a future summer visit, it is worth checking the official airport website for the latest timetables and information. You should book ahead online, providing your flight booking reference.
Car hire and taxis
Many travellers arriving in Puglia will have chosen to explore by car, and hire cars can be picked up at the airport – although you should confirm that the office will be open when your flight arrives.
> Auto Europe – our car hire partners
Santa Maria del Casale
The Church of Santa Maria del Casale is an important tourist sight, and is just a few minutes’ walk from the airport building (since check-in wasn’t open, we trundled our suitcases along with us). The church is to the left as you leave the terminal building. Follow the road along the airport’s perimeter fence (there is pavement). You can see the barn-like church building as you walk. There is free airport parking outside the church. Inside the building, with its strange and dramatically-decorated facade, are some impressive frescoes. They include a Last Judgement with vivid colour and detail, and several scenes appearing to show the Madonna with attendant knights – a reflection of the importance of this church to Crusaders passing through Brindisi on their way to and from the Holy Land. Around the corner from the church are some charming cloisters.
Brindisi Airport accommodation
Although Ryanair flights (at the time of writing) arrive at Brindisi Airport in the evening, you should still be in time to catch the bus to Lecce, so could bypass Brindisi altogether. The drawback of this would be in the case of a seriously delayed flight, when your best option would probably be to club together with other passengers to take a taxi to Lecce.
Brindisi and other destinations
Brindisi and Lecce are the principal city destinations for Brindisi Airport. It is, however, convenient for the rest of southern Puglia, the area called the Salento. Brindisi is not much of a tourist city, but it does have one or two sights, including an archaeological museum and the end of the Roman Appian Way (Via Appia) which begins in Rome. One of the two columns which marked the road’s end can still be seen in Brindisi; the other is now in Lecce. Brindisi is on the mainline (FS) Italian railway network. Lecce is one of the big tourist destinations of southern Italy; a historic town famous for its overblown baroque architecture. There is a lot more to see in Puglia for those with the time to explore; the Salento is renowned for its coastline and beaches; one of the most attractive seaside towns is Otranto, south of Lecce. A service called Salento in treno e bus (Salento by train and bus) connects many tourist destinations and seaside resorts in the summer months. Travelling in the other direction from Brindisi, you’ll find the Valle d’Itria, a countryside region which is dotted with picturesque trullo dwellings. Alberobello and Martina Franca are among the towns to visit in this area, and can be reached by travelling to Lecce or Francavilla Fontana (a bus-ride away) and then changing to trains run by local firm FSE. Further up the coast is Bari Airport, also served by flights from the UK (Ryanair and British Airways), so travellers can plan a tour which involves flying into one airport and out of the other.
Useful external links
Brindisi Airport – official website
STP Brindisi buses – look under ‘orari’ for ‘Linea Aeroporto’
Salento in treno e bus (timetables are under orari)