Last updated on April 28th, 2023 at 07:53 am

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.

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There are quite a few amazing things to do in Polignano a Mare, among which a boat tour in the caves is one of the most popular. 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.

If you’re headed to Rome, check out our complete Rome Travel Guide and 4-Day Itinerary!

This is a panoramic view of Polignano a Mare. There are many people on the beach. The historic centre looms above in a gorgeous way.
Polignano a Mare

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.

This is a photo of the Vicolo della Poesia in the Old town. It is a charming courtyard-like space filled with plants and flowers.
Vicolo della Poesia in the Old Town

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.

This photo shows crowds of people walking along a narrow street in the Old town.
Easter Monday in Polignano a Mare

How To Get To Polignano a Mare

By train

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. If your entry point to Italy is not Bari, check out the Trenitalia website to see how to get to Bari first.

By car

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 from Bari. Book your car in Bari and 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.

This photo shows a picturesque square in the Old Town. Wandering around the historic centre tops the list of what to do in Polignano a Mare.
DON’T drive within the Old Town! Just walk.

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.

Check out the best hotels in Polignano a Mare here!

This is a photo of a courtyard in the Old Town. There are gorgous old buldings and there isn't anyone around.
No better place to stay than the charming centro storico!

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.

This is a photo of a quaint narrow alley in centro storico, the historic centre.
The narrow alleys of the historic centre

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 of Polignano a Mare with its gorgeous beach and imposing cliffs.

This is a panoramic view of Polignano a Mare. It was shot from Terrazza Santo Stefano, the most popular viewpoint in the town. We can see the beach with the dramatic cliffs above it. It's a cloudy spring day.
View from Terrazza Santo Stefano

3. Look For Poetry on 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.

This is a close up of a poem written on a small metal door on the wall. It reads: La farfalla non conta gli anni ma gli istanti, per questo il suo breve tempo le basta. This translates to: the butterfly does not count the years but the moments, for this reason its short time is enough.
The butterfly does not count the years but the moments, for this reason, its short time is enough…

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.

This is a photo of Poetry Steps Polignano a Mare. There's a verse from P. Neruda's Sonnet 44 written on the steps: la parola è un'ala del silenzio. This translates to: the word is a wing of silence.
Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet 44 on Poetry Steps

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.

This photo was taken from Lama Monachile Beach. There are many people on the beach. Nobody's swimming because it's a cold and cloudy spring day. The Old Town looms above the beach as it sits atop a dramatic limestone cliff.
On Lama Monachile Beach

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.

Read our thorough guide to the best Puglia beaches here!

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.

This photo shows the impressive Lama Monachile Bridge. It is a bridge with tall arches. There are people walking along the bridge. You have to walk below the bridge to get to Lama Monachile Beach. The latter is visible in the background.
Ponte Lama Monachile

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 of 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.

This image shows the statue of Domenico Modugno. The statue is surrounded by many people who stand to admire it.
Domenico Modugno is quite popular!

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 of 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.

This photo shows two men sitting on the edge of Pietra Piatta, the flat rock. In the background, the gorgeous Old Town of Polignano a Mare stands atop a limestone cliff.
View from Pietra Piatta

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.

This photo shows what to do in Polignano a Mare on a busy day. People watch at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II! The square is lined with gorgeous old buildings. There are many people walking around.
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II

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.

This photo was taken while we walked along the promenade. It shows part of the promenade as well as the view to the Adriatic Sea.
Walking along the 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.

This is a close up of focaccia ripiena. This means stuffed focaccia and it's one of hundreds of variations of this staple street food in Puglia.
Focaccia ripiena

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.

Book one of the best boat tours in Polignano a Mare here!

This is a photo of the old town hanging on the cliff above the sea. The bulidings are carved on the rock and they face the Adriatic Sea beyond. At the foot of the cliff there are numerous sea caves.
Sea caves at the foot of the cliffs

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 Gatsby, keep in mind that Grotta Palazzese is also a luxury hotel with gorgeous views of the Adriatic Sea.

This photo shows a row of tables set inside a cave. This is Grotta Palazzese the most high-end restaurant in Polignano a Mare.
Grotta Palazzese

Planning a trip to Polignano a Mare?
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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 on 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!

Travel Resources For Polignano a Mare


  1. planning a trip to Italy this summer, saving this blog post, thank you so much!! Will be basing our 1 day daytrip on it 🙂

    • Hey Sim, thank you for your comment! We’re sure you’ll love your trip to Italy and do keep coming back to our website as we have loads of Italy content 😉

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