Polignano A mare

Two days in Polignano a Mare and Monopoli

Polignano a Mare is a picturesque town perched on the Adriatic coast in central Puglia. Located 40km southeast of Bari or 40 minutes by train, Polignano a Mare is an easy day trip. Better yet, why not make it a multi-day stopover?

The coastal town is famous for its towering limestone cliffs, picturesque beaches and its famous son, Domenico Modugno. You may recognize one of his famous songs Volare (or its Italian name, Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu).

With two days and two nights you’ll have time to enjoy the town at a leisurely pace. So why not visit its beaches, stroll the back streets of the centro storico and fit in a short afternoon trip to neighbouring Monopoli.

Polignano a Mare’s Highlights

What should you see and do while you’re in Polignano a Mare?

  • The beaches! Keep in mind these are definitely not the white sandy type. Instead, you’ll find large pebbles or concrete. Don’t worry, the surrounding views are pretty spectacular and make up for the lack of sand. If you’re looking for white sand, head to Salento.
  • Walk along the coast (I think the pictures below speak for themselves)
  • Wander through side streets and see what you can find. For such a small town there’s lots to discover, such as a terrace overlooking the ocean which is also the location of Red Bull’s cliff diving competition.
  • People watch in the large piazza (Piazza Aldo Moro), with or without a takeaway pizza
  • Take an afternoon trip to Monopoli with its grand walls and peaceful harbour

We visited Polignano a Mare and Monopoli during the first week of October. Keep in mind the photos below may not be reflective of the crowds that arrive in July and August. 

The Beaches

The beach closest to the town centre is the very famous Lama Monachile located a few minutes walk from Piazza Aldo Moro. Be warned, the stony beach may not be very comfortable without some cushioning. To make up for it though, it’s flanked by limestone cliffs on two sides and the Ponte Di Polignano from behind. An absolutely stunning part of the region.

If sitting on the stones isn’t for you but you still want views, there are a few bars to choose from overlooking the beach. I can think of a worse way to spend an hour or two!

For another beach experience, follow the coast westward until you reach a small boat launching area and Lido Cala Paura. While you could lay on the small sandy beach area, follow the concrete pathway to the left and you’ll find another ‘beach’. This area has calm, protected water and lots of concrete to stretch out on. Maybe a little uncomfortable, but the sunbathers didn’t seem to care (and neither did we!).

Lama Monachile beach with cliffs on both sides
Lama Monachile
Upclose of the large stones of Lama Monachile's beach
The beach at Lama Monachile. Bring something comfortable to sit on!
Lama Monachille beach with cliffs on both sides and a kayaker
The perfectly calm waters of Lama Monachile
Lido Cala Paura swimming area
Lido Cala Paura

Walking along the coast

With the town perched on the top of limestone cliffs, the surrounding scenery is very dramatic and worth taking in from different vantage points. Walking west over the bridge and past Lama Monachile, you’ll find more restaurants and accommodation and the statue of Domenico Modugno (and most likely a crowd!). There may or may not be some singing!

Lama Monachile from the Ponte Di Polignano 
Polignano al mare white and beige buildings with ocean
Centro Storico
Statue di Domenico Modugno
Statua di Domenico Modugno

Continuing along the coast, there are several vantage points to see the old town centre and also a swimming pool carved into the rock. Following the water, you’ll arrive at Lido Cala Paura. The total walking time (without stopping for multiple photos) is about 10 – 15 minutes from the bridge to Lido Cala Paura.

Faraway view of Polignano's centro storico
Centro Storico
Swimming pool carved into the rocks near Polignano al Mare
‘Swimming pool’
Close up view of mom and I
We couldn’t help but smile with this view in the background!

Wandering around the Centro Storico

My favourite way to enter Polignano’s Centro Storico (historic centre) is through the gate near Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. From there, follow the narrow street until you reach Piazza Vittorio Emanuele IIlined with several restaurants and bars.

Polignano A Mare's main piazza in the centro storico
Polignano A Mare’s main piazza in the centro storico. A good option at aperitivo time.

For views of Lama Monachile from above, weave your way through the laneways to the left to find Bastione di Santo Stefano.

Lama Monachile and Bastione di Santo Stefano (terrace) overlooking the limestone cliffs and ocean below
Lama Monachile and Bastione di Santo Stefano (terrace) overlooking the limestone cliffs and ocean below

Wandering through Polignano’s streets and laneways, you’ll find many inviting restaurants and shops. One of my favourite spots is a cute and busy wine bar called La Cueva Café.  This place was very popular around aperitivo time, but bring cash (no credit cards accepted)!

Polignano a Mare's centro storico at night
Polignano a Mare’s centro storico at night

Eating pizza while people watching in Piazza Aldo Moro

Just outside the centro storico, you’ll find the large piazza called Piazza Aldo Moro. With several places to sit, it’s a popular place for people watching and eating a takeaway pizza from Casa Mia Trattoria Pizzeria. On Sunday morning, the piazza turns into a large farmers’ market.

Uncles photo of a takeaway pizza from Casa Mia Trattoria
Takeaway pizza from Casa Mia Trattoria

One of my other favourite meals involved picking up supplies at a salumeria (deli) on the other side of the bridge from the main square. They sell a variety of cheeses, antipasti, meats and other goodies for a takeaway picnic lunch.

Afternoon trip to Monopoli

With Monopoli a five minute train ride from Polignano A Mare, it makes for a very enjoyable and easy half or full day trip. While trains are frequent, Polignano a Mare is serviced by regional trains only, so the high speed trains stopping at Monopoli do not stop at Polignano a Mare. For more information check the Trenitalia website here and check the departures board so you don’t end up in Bari by mistake!

Monopoli’s historic centre is an easy and flat 10 minute walk from the train station. The historic town is a maze of windy streets lined with whitewashed buildings that are pretty in every direction, complete with clothes hanging out the windows and potted plants lining small courtyards.

After finding your way out of the maze of streets, grab a gelato and stroll around the small boat harbour, Via Porto and its walls and Castello Carlo V.

Laneway in Monopoli
Monopoli is filled with picturesque streets and laneways
Old stone church in Monopoli surrounded by white buildings
The old churches seem out of place with all the white buildings on either side
Laneway in Monopoli
Countless beautiful streets in Monopoli
Archway in monopoly with the harbour in the background
Monopoli’s harbour
Monopoli's harbour
Monopoli’s harbour area
Large gate in the wall of Monopoli
The walls are huge. My mom was kind enough to pose to provide a reference for their scale!
Monopoli's huge walls
Monopoli’s walls are pretty imposing

Polignano a Mare ended up being one of my favourite towns in Puglia. Have you visited the region? Is there any highlights I’ve missed? Leave me a comment below 🙂

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