I’m Daniela Mele – born and raised in Puglia. Welcome to my introduction guide to the charming Polignano a Mare. I have developed a visceral love for my land since childhood. I’ve always loved photography and travel too.
After a long period of lockdown due to Covid-19, I was finally able to visit Polignano a Mare again. This small town on the southern Adriatic coast of Italy is only 30km from where I live. I often go back to get lost in its quaint alleyways. I promised myself that I would be back here as soon as possible.
My Favourite Spots in Polignano a Mare
The first stop for me when I visit Polignano a Mare is always the statue of Domenico Modugno. He’s a well known Italian singer-songwriter born in Polignano a Mare. From that point, I like to go down to the Lama Monachile cliff and admire the ancient village of Polignano that overhangs the sea.
Often there are people who dive or swim in the sea and small boats that sail to the coast. A few steps away and you arrive at the Lama Bridge from where you can enjoy the view of the whole town. Many tourists and onlookers visit this spot to take souvenir photos and panoramic selfies.
Beyond the bridge, the arch opens up and gives access to the ancient village. From there you can get lost in the immaculate alleyways – many of which lead to the famous and unmissable balconies overlooking the sea. Polignano is wonderful to explore especially when there are fewer tourists.
My favourite place in Polignano a Mare is the Santo Stefano terrace. It’s a B&B with a beautiful terrace open to guests during the day. You can fully grasp the view of the Monachile Beach and the various shades of blue that characterise the sea. This is one of the most unique views in the world.
10 Best Things To Do in Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare is a must-see on any visit to Puglia or Italy. This town is the perfect destination in summer – offering beautiful beaches, romantic balconies and terraces, phenomenal restaurants and local cuisine, and much else. Below are my top 10 things to do in Polignano a Mare.
1. Relax at the Charming Cala Monachile Beach
Cala Monachile, otherwise known as Lama Monachile, is the main beach in Polignano a Mare located in the middle of the historic center. The beach is wrapped up by two rocky cliffs and in the middle of summer has stunning turquoise waters. Behind the beach is the famous Roman Bridge.
2. Admire the Legendary Hermit Rock
Hermit Rock rises 30 metres out of the sea and is a place steeped in history and legend. The rock/island is a special protected zone so you can’t actually step foot on it. Although, you can admire it from a distance and see the Corso Seagulls (a beautiful and rare bird species) fly around the rock.
3. Enjoy the Adorable Cala Sala (Portacola) Beach
Cala Sala is a small inlet/beach where it’s possible to admire small boats and the typical houses of local fisherman. In summer, many locals come here to sunbathe and enjoy a picnic beside the cute fishing boats and beautiful scenery. It’s one of my favourite places in Polignano.
4. Discover a Corner of Paradise at Cala Paura
Cala Paura is another characteristic beach of Polignano a Mare with a typical Mediterranean flavour. The beach is filled with pebble coves and traditional boats from the old port. Visitors can take a walk along the pebble beach, sunbathe on the dock or go cliff-diving into the water.
5. Visit the Beautiful Costa dei Trulli Ripagnola
Leaving the center of Polignano a Mare, you should definitely visit Costa dei Trulli Ripagnola. It’s an expanse of multi-coloured fields that slope down towards the sea. The landscape is dotted with many small trulli – traditional dry stone huts with conical roofs typical to this part of Puglia.
6. Venture out to the Stunning San Vito Beach
Another fantastic spot just outside the town center is San Vito. Here you will find the picturesque abbey of San Vito. I recommend visiting at sunset when the sun draws a silhouette of the ancient Benedictine abbey. The beach area of San Vito offers stunning views of a natural port too.
7. Meet the Wonderful People of Polignano a Mare
Like all the people of Puglia, the locals of Polignano a Mare are welcoming and friendly. This kind of hospitality has favoured the growth of tourism in this region of Italy. I especially love the hospitality at the boutique B&B’s and restaurants that overlook the ancient village and sea.
8. Try the Local Food of Polignano a Mare
One of the most unmissable and down right delicious foods of Polignano a Mare is the fish sandwich known simply as “Pescaria”. It’s a triumph of flavours and textures that is best enjoyed by the sea with a cold beer.
I also recommend trying the coffee from a place called “Super Mago del Gelo”. This special brew mixes coffee, sugar, lemon zest, cream and amaretto into one incredible local delicacy that is not to be missed.
For a totally unique dining experience you should have dinner at the enchanting location of Grotta Palazzese. It would be one of the most phenomenal restaurants in the world, entirely housed in a cave.
9. Spend the Afternoon at a Classic Rooftop Terrace
The terraces and balconies of Polignano a Mare are absolutely gorgeous. You can literally spend hours and hours at these terraces enjoying a spread of finger-food and a few cold beers or glasses of local wine. As I said before, the amazing Santo Stefano terrace is a great place to visit in summer.
10. Watch the Sunrise and Sunset over the Sea
Two things you have to do in Polignano a Mare are witnessing a sunrise and sunset over the sea. The best thing about waking up early for sunrise is that most locals and tourists will be sound asleep. You can take in the immaculate scenes in peace at this magical hour of the day.
Tips for First Time Visitors to Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare was one of the first destinations that opened up to visitors from other municipalities after the lockdown of Covid-19. Seeing her again without tourists and in an almost unreal silence was just beautiful.
Now that Italy is slowly opening its doors to tourism, this amazing little town will become a popular spot again. I recommend visiting as soon as possible to enjoy this destination without the normal summer crowds.
Obviously summer is the best season but spring, autumn and winter can also be magical times in Polignano a Mare. The only thing you will miss out on is swimming in the sea but all other attractions are still there for you.
As well as the 10 essential experiences that I discussed above, I also recommend taking a boat excursion to explore the many hidden gems found along the beautiful coast near Polignano a Mare. You won’t regret it!