When people think of the best beaches in Italy, they generally think of Cinque Terre or Positano, but what most people don’t know is that one of Italy’s most beautiful and unique beach towns is on the southeastern coast—Polignano a Mare. Polignano a Mare is set right on the cliffs and overlooks the Adriatic Sea. It’s unlike anywhere else we’ve ever seen before, and we absolutely fell in love with the small town feel! With its perfectly turquoise blue water and stunning views, it’s the perfect place to relax on the beach and swim in the warm Adriatic Sea. And since Polignano a Mare is not as popular among tourists, which means it’s not as expensive or crowded as its west coast neighbors.
Here’s a complete guide to Polignano a Mare:
What to know before you go:
HOW TO GET TO POLIGNANO A MARE:
Polignano a Mare is in the region of Puglia, Italy. So to get to Puglia, you can fly into Bari or Brindisi airports. It might be a bit cheaper if you’re flying internationally to fly into Rome (or another major Italian city) first and then take a smaller European airline to Bari or Brindisi. You can also take the train from Rome to Bari, which is about a four hour train ride. From Bari to Polignano a Mare, it’s a 35 minute car ride. We suggest renting a car from Bari and driving to Polignano. We recommend renting a small car, because some of the streets and parking spaces are pretty small.
WHEN TO VISIT POLIGNANO A MARE:
The best time of year to visit is from May to September, but it’s sunny 300 days of the year with a Mediterranean climate, so you can honestly visit year-round. If you want to avoid crowds, we suggest visiting during the shoulder season (April-May and September-October).
HOW LONG TO SPEND IN POLIGNANO A MARE:
You can easily visit Polignano a Mare in a few days, but there is so much to see and do in the region that you could definitely spend anywhere from one to two weeks here exploring up and down this beautiful coast.
What to do:
RELAX ON THE BEACH AT LAMA MONACHILE:
The beach at Polignano a Mare is probably the most famous part of town and it’s absolutely stunning! It gets pretty crowded in the summer with locals and other Italian and European visitors, so get there early to grab a spot. The water is an absolutely beautiful turquoise blue and if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s a great spot for cliff diving too. Be sure to wear sandals, because the sand is made up of small pebbles rather than soft sand.
WANDER THROUGH THE STREETS:
Polignano is such a charming town with a true Italian feel to it. Spend some time wandering the streets, looking in the shops, and grabbing baked goods from the cafes.
EAT DINNER INSIDE A GROTTO:
One of the most famous and beautiful restaurants in Puglia is in Polignano a Mare, Grotta Palazzese. It’s built inside of a cave and has an absolutely gorgeous view, but you need to make a reservation in advance and be prepared for an expensive meal.
TAKE A PHOTO AT PIETRA PIATTA:
The best place to capture the beauty of Polignano a Mare is from the Piettra Piata, which is a rock that juts over the ocean and has a beautiful view of the town. It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset. We suggest grabbing some pizza from the restaurant Malidea for takeaway and having a sunset picnic here.
WATCH THE SUNSET FROM BALCONATA SUL MARE:
The view from Balconata Sul Mare is stunning. You get to see the entire beach and the famous bridge, Ponte Borbonico su Lama Monachile, and it’s truly a beautiful view of the ocean. It’s a great spot to go around sunset and watch the water and sky change colors.
TAKE A DAY TRIP TO MONOPOLI OR ALBEROBELLO:
The entire region of Puglia is absolutely beautiful, so it’s worth hopping in the car and driving around just to see what else is around. Monopoli is about 15 minutes south of Polignano, and Alberobello is about 30 minutes southwest, so they’re both close enough that you can easily hop over and spend a day exploring these other beautiful Italian towns.