Best Things To Do in Polignano A Mare
Are you thinking about going to Southern Italy and wondering what you can do in Polignano a Mare? Or maybe you’re wondering if it’s a good idea to include this very famous coastal town in your trip to Puglia? Well, the quick answers are: there’s a lot to do, and absolutely, it’s worth it. But let’s give you more details!
Polignano a Mare is probably the most pictured place in Puglia. It’s also one of the most beautiful spots in Southern Italy in general. As more and more people from other countries started coming to lovely Puglia, pictures of Polignano a Mare started showing up all over the internet. That’s how this charming seaside town became the most famous destination in the region.
How to get to Polignano a Mare
If you plan to explore Puglia using public transportation, the great news is that, unlike some less accessible destinations in the region, reaching Polignano is quite straightforward with public transport.
How to get to Polignano a Mare from Bari: Trains depart regularly from Bari’s central station throughout the day, taking around 30 minutes for the journey, and the fare is approximately €3, depending on the time of day. Although it’s possible to take a bus, we wouldn’t recommend it since it’s more expensive and takes longer.
From Monopoli: Trains from Monopoli station run every 30 minutes during the day, with a quick 12-minute journey time and tickets costing around €1.20 per person.
To find schedules, and availability, and book tickets for either of these routes, you can use either Trenitalia or Trainline, a website that lets you check train and bus options simultaneously and book tickets in your preferred language.
How to get from Brindisi and Bari Airport to Polignano a Mare
If your journey begins or ends in Polignano, you’ll likely be flying into one of two airports: Brindisi or Bari.
Bari Airport is the closest option, situated about 55 km away, while Brindisi Airport is roughly 80 km from Polignano a Mare. Your choice between them will depend on your flight connections from your hometown. We’ve personally used both airports and don’t have a strong preference.
The most convenient way to reach Polignano from either airport is by renting a car. In fact, on both of our visits to this town, we incorporated it into a Puglia road trip and highly recommend this as the ideal way to explore the region.
Both Bari and Brindisi Airports have numerous car rental companies, but it’s crucial to book your rental car in advance, especially during the peak season when the supply is ample but limited – Puglia is an immensely popular destination! It’s only a 40-minute drive from Bari. You can rent a car in Bari, but be sure not to enter the historic center with your car to avoid a hefty fine.
Top Tip | We typically don’t go directly to car rental companies; instead, we prefer using two well-known rental aggregators to compare prices and find the best deal. Our favorite company is RentalCars, both of which have provided us with excellent experiences.
Bari & Monopoli to Polignano by Car
If you have your own rental car, the journey from the center of Bari to Polignano a Mare takes a straightforward 35 minutes, and it’s just a 15-minute drive from Monopoli.
As with many of Puglia’s popular towns and villages, parking can be a bit tricky if you arrive later in the day. While there is limited paid street parking available, we recommend heading to one of the town’s several car parks. We suggest checking out this car park first, which charges €1.50 per hour.
Map Polignano a Mare
1. Wander Around The Historic Centre
The old part of Polignano a Mare is small, but its narrow streets are like a confusing puzzle with lovely buildings that remind you of the white houses on Greek islands. The towns along Puglia’s Adriatic coast have some of Italy’s oldest and most fantastic old neighborhoods, and Polignano a Mare’s is perched high above the sea, full of history and culture.
The twisty streets here have pretty white buildings and lead to nice squares and old buildings. You can walk around these charming streets, have a coffee, and watch people in big squares like Piazza Dell’Orologio. When it gets dark, you can enjoy the lively nightlife in Polignano a Mare with some tasty Italian wine.
Or, if you want to learn about the town’s history and culture, you can take a guided walking tour of the city.
2. Enjoy The View From Terrazza Santo Stefano
Polignano a Mare sits on cliffs that go down into the pretty green-blue sea. So, there are many amazing places where you can look at the town. But the most liked one is Terrazza Santo Stefano. People really love it, and it’s not hard to see why. This special spot overlooking the Adriatic Sea gives you the most amazing view of Polignano a Mare, with its beautiful beach and big cliffs.
3. Search for Poetry in the City's Streets
Walking around a lovely town that has poetry written on its walls and doors might seem like a dream. But in Polignano a Mare, it’s totally real. When you walk in the Old Town, you’ll find words that are like poems (they’re always in Italian) written on walls, doors, stairs, and pretty much everywhere else.
You might think the town is doing this to attract tourists, but that’s not the case. The real story behind the town’s poetic touch is much more interesting.
Back in 1984, a man named Guido Lupori left his boring job in Bari and moved to Polignano a Mare. He did it because he wanted to be a writer, which was his lifelong passion and calling. We really respect and admire him for that.
Once he arrived in Polignano a Mare, he started decorating the town with lines from his favorite poems. These poems weren’t necessarily his own; they were also written by his favorite poets. He signs these special works of art as “Guido Il Flâneur,” which roughly means “Guido The Wanderer.”
The most Instagram-worthy spot for poetry in Polignano a Mare is definitely the “Vicolo della Poesia.” It’s a very small place with famous poetry steps among other things. As you walk around, your feet will probably take you there eventually. If not, the only way to find the Vicolo della Poesia is by asking someone for directions because it’s not on Google Maps.
4. Enjoy Some Leisure Moments by the Seashore
Undoubtedly, one of the top things to do in Polignano a Mare is to spend time at its fantastic public beach, which is incredibly close to the heart of the old town.
In the town center, there’s a small bay with a beautiful white pebble beach surrounded by tall cliffs and crystal-clear water.
The main public beach in Polignano a Mare is called Lama Monachile Beach, also known as Cala Porto. It’s easy to reach from the old town, and despite its small size, it feels relaxing and surprisingly spacious. You can find a nice spot to enjoy views of the houses perched above and the sea caves high up in the rocks.
As you make your way to the beach, you might even see some dogs having their photos taken.
At the beach, there’s a small bar where you can sip drinks while taking in the scenery and watching people have fun in the sea. There are also ledges by the sea where people can jump from.
To the north of Polignano a Mare, there are more beaches, but the best ones are a short drive away from the city of Monopoli.
5. Watch Ponte Lama Monachile
The Lama Monachile Bridge is a fascinating piece of history that makes Cala Port Beach even more wonderful. This bridge is like a picture-perfect frame for the beach, and it has a remarkable story. It’s one of the few parts left from a very old road called the Via Traiana.
Imagine a long time ago when Emperor Trajan ruled. He wanted to connect two towns, Benevento in Campania and Brindisi in Puglia. So, they built this road, and the bridge was a part of it. It’s like a treasure from ancient times that still stands today.
When you see the bridge against the backdrop of the beach, it’s like looking at history and nature together. It’s a beautiful reminder of the past, and it makes your visit to the beach even more special.
6. Visit Domenico Modugno
You might not recognize the name Domenico Modugno, but you’ve surely heard his most famous creation. Domenico Modugno is known as the first Italian singer and songwriter. His big breakthrough came in 1958 when he introduced the timeless classic song “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu” to the world, which you might also know as Volare.
Besides being a significant artist of his time, Domenico Modugno was also a strong supporter of human rights. Even though he left his hometown of Polignano a Mare when he was just nine years old, the town still honored him in 2009 by erecting a 3-meter tall statue facing the town with open arms.
Polignano a Mare, despite its small size, made a big impact on Italian music. Domenico Modugno, the famous Italian singer, was born here in 1928 and lived here for his first seven years. He’s best known for his song “Volare” (Nel blu, dipinto di blu), which won a Grammy and became famous worldwide in 1958.
The people of Polignano a Mare are very proud of the fact that he was born here, so they built a statue to honor his life and work. You can find the statue by the waterfront, just before the “Scalinata Volare” viewpoint. The statue faces the town with its arms wide open, just like in the song “Volare.”
Visiting the statue only takes a few minutes, but it’s definitely worth it. Plus, you can check out the viewpoint behind the statue for some beautiful sights.
7. Enjoy the View From Pietra Piatta
Right behind Modugno’s statue, you can go down the steps of the impressive Scalinata Volare. Soon, you’ll reach Pietra Piatta, a massive flat rock with stunning views of Polignano a Mare’s historic center, hanging from the tall limestone cliff. While Terrazza Santo Stefano might be the most famous viewpoint in town, this one happens to be our personal favorite.
This is another fantastic spot you should definitely make time for. To get there, just follow a small stone staircase called the ‘Scalinata Volare’ right behind Domenico Modugno’s statue. It leads to a large flat rock area. From here, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the old town sitting atop limestone cliffs and an alternative view of Cala Porto. You can find the Pietra Piatta viewpoint here.
Pietra Piatta is a beach in Polignano a Mare known for its dramatic limestone cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and charming medieval center.
Some of the best things to do at Pietra Piatta are swimming, sunbathing, and even cliff diving. This lovely beach town also has some great restaurants where you can enjoy delicious fried fish and bars, so be sure to give them a try!
8. Admire Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II
Every Italian town has at least one charming square where you can savor the essence of Italian leisure, known as “dolce far niente” (the sweetness of doing nothing). In Polignano a Mare, the perfect place for this delightful pastime is the incredibly charming Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
Once you’ve explored the Santa Maria Assunta Church and the medieval Clock Palace, take a seat at one of the lovely cafes and indulge in some quality people-watching.
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele serves as the main square in Polignano a Mare. From here, you can access a staircase that leads down to the beach.
While the beach may be small and get quite crowded during the summer, it’s undeniably worth a visit. The water is crystal-clear, and the views are absolutely breathtaking.
9. Find peace at the Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption.
In the middle of the old town, there’s a simple but lovely Church of Saint Mary. It may not have an extravagant front, but it’s really pretty inside.
They built it in the 13th century and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. Interestingly, it was constructed on top of an ancient Pagan temple.
When you approach the church, you’ll see that it’s not as fancy as some other Italian churches. It’s quite modest.
But when you go inside, it’s a different story. The church becomes a beautiful place filled with old art and sculptures.
You can visit the church for free on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s located at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
10. Enjoy a Boat Ride To The Sea Caves
One of the best ways to have a great day in Polignano a Mare is to join a boat tour that takes you to the many sea caves near the town’s cliffs. Looking at Polignano a Mare from the water gives you a special view that not many people get to see. If the weather is good, you can also take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea.
One of the most popular things to do in Polignano a Mare is to go on a boat trip along the coast. It’s not just a different way to see the historic city, but you also get to visit impressive caves and have the chance to swim in beautiful blue waters.
You can book these tours through various tour offices in the town, or if you prefer to plan ahead, there’s a 1.5-hour tour that’s really popular and comes with great reviews. They even give you a glass of Prosecco! It costs around €35 per person, and there are multiple departures every day. It’s a good idea to book a couple of days in advance during the busy season because it fills up quickly.
If you decide to visit Polignano at the last minute and the tour mentioned above is fully booked, there’s another two-hour option that’s a good alternative.
And for those who like being on the water but want a bit more exercise, there’s a SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) tour that offers a different perspective of the town.
11. Visit Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali
The Pino Pascali Foundation is conveniently located within walking distance of the Arco Marchesale and occupies a building with stunning views of the sea.
Born in Bari in 1935, Pino Pascali’s roots trace back to Polignano a Mare, making him one of Puglia’s most esteemed artists. The museum, founded in 1998, stands as the sole contemporary art museum in Puglia. It houses a permanent collection as well as regularly changing temporary exhibitions.
Polignano boasts the unique Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali, the sole contemporary art museum in all of Italy’s Puglia region, displaying both permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Dedicated to the artist Pino Pascali, who was originally from nearby Bari and is celebrated as one of Apulia’s most exceptional artists, the museum showcases his own creations alongside works from other talented Apulian artists.
Situated on the southeast edge of the town near the coastline, you’ll find the remarkable Museum of Contemporary Art Pino Pascali. What immediately catches your eye is its distinctive building set against a picturesque backdrop.
Originally a slaughterhouse, this structure was transformed into a contemporary art gallery in 1998. The museum pays tribute to the artist Pino Pascali, a native of Polignano a Mare, who tragically passed away at the age of 32 in 1968.
Pascali was renowned for his minimalistic style of contemporary art, creating many well-known sculptures and other forms of art, many of which are now on display at the museum.
The Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali is open to visitors from Wednesday to Sunday, between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., with an entrance fee of €5.
12. Admire Abbazia di San Vito
While the views from Ponte Borbonico and Terrazo Santo Stefano, along with the charm of Polignano’s Centro Storico, are truly special, it’s worth setting aside some time to visit the Abbazia di San Vito.
This abbey stands out as it gazes over the quaint fishing village and port, known for those delightful blue boats you’ll often see in Puglia.
The Abbazia di San Vito, also called the Abbey of Saint Vitus, is a Roman Catholic abbey in Polignano a Mare, Bari, Puglia, Italy. It’s dedicated to the martyr Saint Vitus.
The current building was initially constructed in the 11th century and later rebuilt and expanded in the 16th century. It’s a large basilica with three aisles and a square layout, surrounded by a cloister.
The Abbey of Saint Vitus is a major attraction for tourists. Its splendid architecture and its location with breathtaking views of the vast ocean make it a popular destination for visitors.
13. Take a walking tour of Polignano
Exploring Polignano a Mare on foot with a guided walking tour is an enchanting journey through this coastal gem’s history, culture, and breathtaking scenery. As you meander through the town’s historic center, narrow cobblestone streets will lead you to picturesque squares adorned with whitewashed buildings, creating a postcard-worthy setting at every turn. Local guides, brimming with hometown knowledge and passion, regale you with tales of Polignano’s rich history, revealing hidden corners and stories that only a native would know.
One of the tour’s highlights is the opportunity to soak in the mesmerizing coastal views from vantage points like Terrazza Santo Stefano, where the azure waters meet the rugged cliffs in a stunning spectacle. You’ll also have the chance to immerse yourself in the town’s culture, visiting local shops to savor traditional delicacies, peruse handmade crafts, or even taste exquisite local wines and olive oils. Whether you’re interested in exploring historical sites, like the Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption, or gaining insights into Polignano’s famous residents, such as Domenico Modugno, a walking tour of Polignano a Mare promises an unforgettable experience, weaving together the town’s past and present in a tapestry of sights, stories, and sensations.
Where to stay in Polignano a Mare
Where to eat in Polignano a Mare
When it comes to dining in Polignano a Mare, you’re in for a treat. This picturesque seaside town along Italy’s Adriatic coast offers a delightful culinary journey filled with Mediterranean flavors and local specialties. From charming street-side cafes to cozy family-run trattorias, Polignano a Mare serves up a variety of dining experiences to suit all tastes and budgets. Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, delectable pasta dishes, or traditional Puglian fare, the dining scene in this coastal gem is sure to satisfy your palate and leave you craving for more.
Our top picks:
Olio Su Pane | Specializing in street food, this trendy eatery provides small dishes perfect for lunch, an early evening bite, or a light dinner.
Il Quadrifoglio | While they offer fresh seafood and pasta, it’s their pizzas that steal the show here. Popular among both tourists and locals, so be prepared for potential wait times during the peak season.
Buongustaio | If your time in Puglia is limited and you want to savor local specialties, this is the spot to visit. They also offer small plates, making it a carnivore’s delight with their meaty sandwiches as their specialty.
Baguetteria da Gianpiè | For those seeking a wallet-friendly plate of pasta, this is the place to go. Their simple orecchiette pomodoro is exceptionally delicious given the price.
Ruz – Cucina Confidenziale | A fantastic little restaurant serving up Puglian classics, small dishes, and even some international fare (their burgers are particularly tempting!). The menu also boasts a variety of vegetarian options.
Don't forget to try the traditional Focaccia!
When to visit Polignano A Mare
The most ideal period to plan a visit to Polignano a Mare is during the spring, early summer, and autumn seasons. While Polignano a Mare experiences hot temperatures during the high summer months of July and August, with temperatures soaring to the mid 30°Cs inland, it is also the busiest time of the year, resulting in inflated prices due to high demand.
For a more comfortable and enjoyable experience, consider visiting in May, June, or September. During these months, temperatures typically range in the pleasant 20°Cs, providing a delightful climate for various activities such as walking and cycling. The weather is generally favorable, allowing you to explore the region’s charming towns, countryside, and coastal areas without the sweltering heat and crowds. These shoulder seasons offer a more relaxed and authentic experience, with fewer tourists and a more reasonable pricing structure.
Is polignano a mare worth visiting?
We visited Puglia as part of our 40-day trip including Italy. It was our first stop and visiting the beautiful places we described above was the perfect way to start our road trip. It is a region that offers a compelling blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Here are a few reasons why you should visit Puglia:
Polignano a Mare is known for its warm and welcoming locals who take pride in their traditions and culture. You can see and experience the genuine hospitality of the people, either in a family-run trattoria or a local market, or during a traditional festival.
Delectable cuisine, is characterized by fresh ingredients, simple yet flavorful dishes, and a strong focus on local produce. Indulge in traditional dishes like orecchiette pasta, burrata cheese, olive oil, and seafood specialties. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of Primitivo or Negroamaro, two of the region’s excellent wines.
Crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches. There are countless spots to enjoy the sun, sea, and stunning views.
Where is Polignano a mare?
Polignano a Mare is situated in the Apulia (Puglia) region, which is in the southeastern part of Italy. It’s specifically located along the Adriatic Sea coast.
Polignano a Mare is part of the Province of Bari, which is one of the five provinces in the Apulia region.
Polignano a Mare is easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Visitors can reach the town by car, train, or even by boat if coming from nearby coastal areas. The Bari-Palese International Airport is the nearest major airport, offering domestic and international flights.
Polignano a Mare is surrounded by other picturesque towns and cities in the Apulia region, such as Monopoli, Alberobello (famous for its trulli houses), and Ostuni (known as the “White City” due to its whitewashed buildings).
How many days in Polignano a Mare?
The ideal duration of your stay in Polignano a Mare can vary depending on your travel preferences and the experiences you want to enjoy. We visited Polignano a Mare as part of our road trip to 3-week road trip in Italy and for that reason we stayed only a day but here are some recommendations based on different interests:
- Short Getaway (1-2 Days): If you’re short on time or planning a quick weekend escape, spending 1-2 days in Polignano a Mare can still provide you with a taste of its beauty. You can explore the old town, visit the main viewpoints like Terrazza Santo Stefano, and relax on the beaches. This is suitable for a brief introduction to the town’s charm.
- Relaxed Exploration (3-4 Days): To fully immerse yourself in Polignano’s atmosphere and explore its surroundings, consider staying for 3-4 days. This allows you to discover the old town’s historic streets, take boat tours to sea caves, dine at various local restaurants, and even venture out to nearby towns like Monopoli or Alberobello for day trips.
- Extended Stay (5+ Days): For a more leisurely experience and the opportunity to take your time enjoying each attraction, a stay of 5 or more days in Polignano a Mare is recommended. This extended visit allows for relaxation on the beaches, in-depth exploration of the town’s cultural sites, and the chance to participate in local events or festivals if they coincide with your visit. You can also use Polignano as a base for further exploration of the Apulia region.
Ultimately, the duration of your stay should align with your interests and the pace at which you like to travel. Keep in mind that Polignano a Mare’s stunning coastal setting and relaxed ambiance make it an appealing destination for a longer stay, allowing you to soak in its beauty and culture at a comfortable pace.
How to get from Polignano a Mare to Alberobello?
To travel from Polignano a Mare to Alberobello, you have several transportation options. Alberobello is a nearby town famous for its unique trulli houses and is a popular day trip destination from Polignano a Mare. Here’s how to get there:
- By Car: The most convenient way to reach Alberobello from Polignano a Mare is by car. The distance between the two towns is approximately 24-28 kilometers (15-17 miles), and the journey takes about 30-40 minutes, depending on the route you choose.Take SS16 (Strada Statale 16) south from Polignano a Mare and follow the signs to Alberobello. The road is well-marked, and you’ll find parking options in Alberobello.
- By Train: While there isn’t a direct train connection between Polignano a Mare and Alberobello, you can take a train from Polignano a Mare to Bari Centrale train station and then transfer to a train heading to Alberobello. From Polignano a Mare, take a regional train to Bari Centrale. The journey takes around 30 minutes. At Bari Centrale, look for trains bound for Alberobello. The train ride to Alberobello takes approximately 1 hour. Be sure to check the train schedules, as they can vary depending on the time of day and season.
- By Bus: You can also take a bus from Polignano a Mare to Alberobello. Several bus companies operate this route. The bus station in Polignano a Mare is located near the train station. Bus schedules may vary, so it’s advisable to check the latest timetables and routes with the local bus companies or at the bus station.
- Organized Tours: Another option is to join an organized tour that includes transportation from Polignano a Mare to Alberobello. Many tour companies in the area offer guided tours that make it easy to explore Alberobello and its trulli district.
- Taxi: Taxis are available in Polignano a Mare, and you can hire one for a direct ride to Alberobello. Make sure to negotiate the fare with the driver before starting the journey.
Choose the transportation option that best suits your schedule and preferences, and enjoy your visit to Alberobello’s charming trulli houses.