Defining it as a suggestive town is an understatement. Even the most inventive artist could not have imagined such a picturesque and poetic place as Polignano a Mare. This little corner on the Adriatic Coast of southern Italy is a perfect composition of white and honey-colored houses, clinging almost desperately to a rocky promontory kissed by the crystal clear waters of the sea. Do you want to discover what to see and do in Polignano a Mare? We take you on a visit to one of the most beautiful towns in Italy!
- We started singing, and what a song! Voooolare, oh oh, sing oh oh oh, Nel blu dipinto di blu. Italian songs of all time, and you have undoubtedly heard it a thousand times. But did you know that its author, Domenico Modugno, was inspired by his hometown, Polignano a Mare? In a small square, next to a viewpoint with spectacular views, a statue honors him.
- The next step is to fully enter the heart of Polignano a Mare, in its historic center, a network of narrow streets full of poetry (we will talk about it later), craft shops, restaurants that seduce with their appetite aromas and, if like us you visit the town on a summer Sunday people! The most extraordinary charm of the historic center of Polignano is that, over the centuries, it was inhabited by a melting pot of cultures: Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Arabs, Spaniards passed through here
The best thing is to be guided by your instincts and walk the streets of the center, see the souvenir and handicraft shops (in Puglia, the artisans are all great artists), try some typical dish (below, we suggest some places to eat BBB), discover corners full of charm and hunt poetry. Still, point these places on the map:
The Arch Marchesale, the main gateway to the old part, and in the past, the only one! It was a drawbridge; if you look, you can see the holes through which the chains passed. Inside there is a mural of the anonymous Crucifixion of Christ dating from the 16th century.
The Palace of the Clock, a building of medieval origin that, as you will understand, is decorated with a giant clock. It is located in the beautiful Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the liveliest in Polignano.
The Church of Purgatory, whose main door is decorated with two skulls and several crossed bones. When we visited Polignano, it was closed, so we wanted to go inside.
- Go hunting for poetry! If we say that Polignano a Mare has something poetic about it, we are not speaking in a figurative sense: the old town is full of little poems that “Guido, il Flâneur” has written in various areas of his adopted city. You will find them decorating doors, stairs, and walls, and they give Polignano even more charm.
Guido, il Flaneur, is actually Guido Lupori, an artist born in Bari but always attracted to Polignano, so he moved here as soon as possible. The term “Flâneur” is a nod to the poet Charles Baudelaire, who used it to refer to all those who were capable of being moved by what they saw.
- Although it is clear that the symbol of Polignano a Mare is the Lama Monachile, a beach protected by two rock walls that embrace it, almost safeguard it. Find a little hole on the beach (but, luckily, these are not lacking in Puglia :-p). As a curiosity, this small beach was used as a port where ships from the East arrived.
Tip: if you are determined to swim here, you could use some booties since the beach is quite large pebbles.
- And of course, do in Polignano a Mare is to visit its famous viewpoints. If you are one of those who have vertigo, get ready! Because what awaits you are a few minutes of good adrenaline (cheer up, eh, I’m shit alive, and still I enjoy it hehe). The ones we liked the most were:
- Santo Stefano Terrace, probably the most famous, with a fantastic view of Lama Monachile, and even more impressive if you think Red Bull Cliff Diving takes place next door. Look.
- Scalinata Volare is just behind the statue of Modugno. These stairs allow you to quickly go down to them and take a wonderful photo of Polignano and its coastal profile.
- Largo Ardito panoramic point, a vast terrace that offers good views of the sea and the houses on the cliffs. We did not go, but at sunset, it has to be magic.
- If you can rent a boat (or a kayak), we recommend exploring the rest of the coast surrounding Polignano. It is full of sea caves, and the waters are so transparent that it is almost impossible to resist a dip, significantly when the summery warmth tightens. Some of the most spectacular caves are the Grotta Azzurra or the Grotta di San Lorenzo. Tours usually cost about € 30 per person (more info here). Come on, if you have time, don’t hesitate; this is one of the best things to see and do in Polignano a mare.
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- There is a cave, in particular, that is especially striking, and you don’t even need a boat to see it as it is accessed through a staircase. We are talking about the Grotta Palazzese, a hotel and a luxurious restaurant of the most curious. And is that, when have you eaten in a cafe overlooking the sea? It is not suitable for all budgets: the menu costs about € 200 and the night is around € 900. You are warned XD We leave you the menu so you can go cheating.
- On the other hand, if you want to eat well without costing you a kidney, write down these places to eat well and cheaply in Polignano a Mare:
Pescaria: specialized in gourmet fish-based sandwiches. The fried octopus (€ 10) is one of the most typical.
La focaccia di Delle Noci Marco: where they make the best focaccias in the area. The original is the focaccia base (it has cherry tomatoes and olives), but there are several types. Just take away.
La Rotella: here for about € 2, you can try the authentic panzerotti Pugliese, a kind of fried dumpling stuffed with tomato and mozzarella. Deliciousooooo.
And if you have a larger budget, we recommend you try one of the most typical dishes of this area of Puglia: raw fish. No, sushi, huh. Da Pasqualino restaurant is quite famous and offers fresh fish at a reasonable price.
- If you can’t find a place on Lama Monachile beach, but you don’t want to miss the opportunity to take a dip in the calm waters of this part of the Adriatic, take note of these other beaches and coves: Cala Paura, Ponte Lapillo, Porto Cavallo and Cala Portalga.
- Do you have more time? Well: in Puglia, there is no shortage of plans, and there are a handful of places close to Polignano that you should point out on the map, such as the Abbey of San Vito, located next to a beach full of fishermen’s boats at the mercy of the waves. The abbey is made up of a church and a convent that, curiously today are private houses. Other recommended excursions are Alberobello (and Valle dell’ Itria), Monopoli, or Bari.
what to see and do in Polignano a mare
:: Tips for visiting Polignano a Mare::
Here are a few tips for planning your visit in the best way:
How to get there from Bari?
We did it comfortably by car, but if you do not have the possibility of renting one, you should know that there is a train that leaves you at the Polignano a Mare station in about half an hour. Ticket price: € 2.5. More info.
Where to sleep in Polignano a Mare?
We did the visit during the day, but there is enough accommodation if you want to spend one night, that is, it is an expensive destination. Some of the top-rated and decently priced ones are:
Malù Bed & Breakfast
Covo dei Saraceni
Where to park in Polignano a Mare?
Polignano is not known for having a lot of parking, but private pay parking is a short distance from the center, which is quite good. Considering that the parking issue is usually VERY complicated in high season/weekends, we certainly recommend leaving your car in one of these car parks (they are guarded open spaces). We go it in about 10 minutes walk from the historic center (location on the map). Price: € 3 all day, you get rid of the problem and ala! to enjoy all the things to see and do in Polignano a mare!
collage Polignano a Mare
So far, our guide to enjoying a day (or several) in this emblematic enclave. Do you know more things to see and do in Polignano a Mare? Have you been there?