Are you planning a trip to Southern Italy and wondering what to do in Polignano a Mare? Or perhaps you’re contemplating whether it’s worth adding this super popular coastal town to your Puglia itinerary? The short answers to these questions would be: plenty and a thousand times yes. But we’re here to give you the longer version!
Polignano a Mare is perhaps the most photographed place in Puglia. It is also one of the most gorgeous destinations in Southern Italy in general. Ever since stunning Puglia started to become all the more popular with foreign visitors, photos of Polignano a Mare have been flooding the Internet. This is how the charming seaside town became the most recognisable destination in the region.
There are quite a few amazing things to do in Polignano a Mare. Gasping at its breathtakingly beautiful Old Town which is perched atop the most dramatic limestone cliffs definitely tops the list. Undoubtedly, Polignano a Mare is as pretty as it looks in photos. In fact, it’s not. It’s even prettier.
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What To Do in Polignano a Mare in One Day & When To Go
Although not a destination packed with must-sees and top-rated sights, there are still lots of fantastic things to see in Polignano a Mare. Most of these revolve around the Old Town and reflect the beauty of one of the most jaw-dropping destinations in Italy.
The fact that the Old Town is very compact means that it’s super easy to check out all Polignano a Mare attractions in just one full day. That said, Polignano a Mare could definitely keep you busy for more days. It all depends on how slow you like to/can travel.
Sadly, we know first hand that it’s almost never easy to spend as much time as you’d like at every place you visit. Especially when planning a multi-day itinerary, it’s logistically impossible. In our case, there was absolutely no room for more than one day in Polignano a Mare during our 2-week road trip across Puglia.
As far as the best time to visit Polignano a Mare is concerned, we’re pretty sure that this place looks stunning all year round. If you want to enjoy the sea, though, you should visit in the summer. But keep in mind that this is also the busiest time for the beautiful coastal town.
We believe that the best time to visit Polignano a Mare is spring and autumn. However, even then, try to avoid visiting at weekends and on public holidays. The town tends to get really crammed on those days. We, regretfully, visited Polignano a Mare on Easter Monday and, boy, was it crowded.
How To Get To Polignano a Mare
It’s super easy to get to Polignano a Mare by public transport. Trains from Bari to the seaside town run very frequently. The journey lasts about an hour and a one-way ticket costs as little as 2,50€. If your entry point to Italy is not Bari, check out the Trenitalia website to see how to get to Bari first.
If Polignano a Mare is just another stop on your road trip across Puglia, like it was for us, the town is just a 40-minute drive to get to from Bari. Just make sure you DON’T enter the historic centre by car or you will pay a painful fine.
Where To Park in Polignano a Mare
Park your car at one of the designated areas which are scattered just outside the Old Town. Last but not least, keep in mind that parking in Polignano a Mare costs 1,50€/hour. This is by far the highest we had to pay for parking in the entire region.
Where To Stay in Polignano a Mare
The best place to stay in Polignano a Mare is definitely the heart of its historic centre. The beyond words gorgeous Old Town is even more enchanting in the evening when the hordes of visitors are long gone. Sadly, we didn’t have time to overnight in Polignano a Mare during our first trip to Puglia. However, we will most definitely do so next time we’re in the region.
12 Fantastic Things To Do in Polignano a Mare Italy
1. Wander Around The Historic Centre
The historic centre of Polignano a Mare is very compact. Yet it’s so maze-like that you will most certainly get lost in its quaint narrow alleys which wind their way among beautiful buildings. The latter vaguely remind of their whitewashed counterparts that adorn the Greek Islands.
2. Enjoy The View From Terrazza Santo Stefano
Polignano a Mare is built atop cliffs that drop into the emerald waters below. This means that there is no shortage of jaw-dropping viewpoints across the town. Yet the most popular of all is Terrazza Santo Stefano. For good reason. This balcony to the Adriatic Sea offers the most breathtaking view to Polignano a Mare with its gorgeous beach and imposing cliffs.
3. Look For Poetry in The Streets
Walking around a charming town which features poetry on its walls and doors sounds like a dream. Yet in Polignano a Mare this is 100% real. As you wander around the Old Town, you will stumble upon poetic words (always in Italian) written on walls, doors, stairs and pretty much everywhere else.
You may think that this is one of Polignano a Mare’s initiatives to attract tourists or something but it’s not. The true story behind the town’s poetic touch is far more fascinating.
It was back in 1984 when Guido Lupori left his boring day job in Bari and moved to Polignano a Mare. He did that so that he could follow his life’s passion and vocation which was to become a writer. For that alone we respect and love him to the moon and back.
Once in Polignano a Mare, he soon started to adorn the town with verses from his favourite poems. These are not necessarily his own but also written by his favourite poets. He signs these unique works of art of his as Guido Il Flâneur, which loosely translates to Guido The Wanderer.
The most Instagram-perfect poetry corner in Polignano a Mare is definitely the Vicolo della Poesia. This is a super tiny space which boasts the town’s famous poetry steps among others. Your feet will eventually lead you there as you stroll around. If they don’t, the only way to find the Vicolo della Poesia is by asking someone for directions as it’s not on Google Maps.
4. Spend Time On The Beach
Hands down one of the best things to do in Polignano a Mare is to spend time on its superb public beach. The latter is located a stone’s throw from the very heart of the historic centre.
Cala Porto or Lama Monachile, as the beach is called, is where you will go swimming in the summer. That said, a visit to the beach is mandatory any time of year. This is the perfect place to hang out among locals while enjoying the view of a lifetime.
5. Admire Ponte Lama Monachile
The magnificent Lama Monachile Bridge serves as the perfect backdrop to the gorgeous Cala Port Beach. The bridge is one of the few remnants of an ancient Roman road, the Via Traiana. The latter was built by the emperor Trajan in order to connect Benevento in Campania to Brindisi in Puglia.
6. Take a Selfie With Domenico Modugno
Perhaps the name Domenico Modugno doesn’t ring any bells. But his most famous work definitely will. Domenico Modugno is considered the first Italian cantautore (singer – songwriter). He rose to fame in 1958 when he presented the all-time classic hit Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu to the world. Another title to the song is Volare. Those bells must be ringing like crazy now.
Apart from being one of the most important artists of his time, Domenico Modugno was also a passionate advocate of human rights. Born in Polignano a Mare in 1928, he left his hometown at the age of 9. Yet this didn’t stop Polignano a Mare from paying tribute to Modugno in 2009 by erecting a 3m tall statue of him facing the town with open arms.
7. Marvel At The View From Pietra Piatta
Just behind Modugno’s statue, descend the steps of the majestic Scalinata Volare. Soon, you will find yourselves at Pietra Piatta, a huge flat rock with gorgeous views to the historic centre of Polignano a Mare as it hangs from the tall limestone cliff. Terrazza Santo Stefano may be the town’s most famous viewpoint but this one is our personal favourite.
8. People Watch At Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II
Every single Italian town has one (or more) picturesque squares where you can experience the quintessentially Italian dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing). The best place to do so in Polignano a Mare is the irresistibly quaint Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
After having checked out the Santa Maria Assunta Church and the medieval Clock Palace, grab a chair at one of the pretty cafés and people watch to your heart’s content.
9. Walk Along The Promenade
We know it’s hard but try to leave the Old Town’s charms behind for a while so that you take in the beauty of the Adriatic Sea and its stunning views that extend for as far as the eye can see. The best way to do so is by taking a walk along the Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo, Polignano a Mare’s splendid promenade.
10. Eat All The Focaccia
Polignano a Mare is home to many amazing restaurants. However, if you are in the city for just one day or a few hours, we’d strongly recommend spending as much time outdoors as possible. So, what to do in Polignano a Mare when your stomach starts complaining as a subtle reminder that you’re hungry?
Head to any of the town’s bakeries and buy as many versions as you
want can eat of Puglia’s signature street food: focaccia. You can then enjoy your brunch/lunch/dinner at the most gorgeous setting imaginable: the beach.
11. Take a Boat Ride To The Sea Caves
One of the best ways to enjoy a day in Polignano a Mare is by joining a boat tour to the countless sea caves that are situated at the foot of the town’s cliffs. Seeing Polignano a Mare from the water will offer you a unique view that few have seen. If weather permits, you can also enjoy a swim in the Adriatic’s crystal clear waters.
12. Splurge on a Special Dining Experience
If you feel like splurging on an, admittedly, unique experience, then you should consider dining at Grotta Palazzese, a high-end restaurant situated inside a beautiful cave. We feel the need to let you in on the drawbacks though. A 3-course meal will set you back about 200€ per person, you can’t sit at your table for more than 2 hours and there is a strict-ish dress code.
These were kind of deal-breakers for us. But if you’re in Polignano a Mare to celebrate a special occasion, perhaps you should treat yourselves to such an experience. If you feel like channelling your inner Great Gatsbys, keep in mind that Grotta Palazzese is also a luxury hotel with gorgeous views to the Adriatic Sea.
What To Do in Polignano a Mare If You Have More Than Just One Day
With all these amazing things to do in Polignano a Mare, it’s pretty obvious why we think that one full day is the absolute minimum time to spend there. However, if you have more time in your hands, you should consider using this town as your base to explore the rest of Puglia.
Whether you’re driving or using public transport to travel across the region, Polignano a Mare enjoys a convenient location from where it’s easy to get to many of the region’s most exciting destinations, such as Bari, Monopoli, Ostuni or Lecce, to name but a few. After all, when it comes to beautiful places to visit in Puglia, the sky’s the limit!
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