Looking for things to do in Polignano a Mare, Puglia? Want to know where to stay, how to get there - or just trying to work out whether it's somewhere you'd like to visit on your own Puglia road trip? Then our guide to Polignano a Mare should have you covered!
A handful of years ago, back when Puglia was yet to reach the imaginations of non-Italians, an image surfaced that forever changed the course of the region’s tourism; a photo of a small pebble beach edged by limestone cliffs, white-washed houses, and the most vibrant of aquamarine waters.
This image was of Cala Porto in Polignano a Mare.
Puglia is a vast and stunning land, where aquamarine waters are the norm, limestone cliffs trace the border between land and sea, and white-wash houses proliferate, yet after two trips to Puglia, this view from the Balconata sul Mare remains one of the most beautiful, and certainly the most iconic we encountered.
Things to do in Polignano a Mare
Sitting just thirty minutes away from Bari, one of Puglia’s main transport hubs, Polignano a Mare has proven itself to be a destination in its own right. Whether you’re passing through on a longer road trip of the region, or visiting on a weekend break, the town has plenty to entertain - especially on a warm summer’s day.
| Grab a drink in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. Every Italian town has a main square, and this is Polignano’s. Busy in the warmer months of the year, it’s still a wonderful place to grab a morning coffee or an late afternoon aperitif and watch the world go by!
| Visit the Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali. Founded in 2010, and housed in a spectacular building overlooking overlooking the sea (in what used to be the town’s ancient abattoir) is Puglia’s only contemporary art museum, created to honour one of Italy’s leading 20th century artists. Open every day 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., and 4 – 9 pm, except Mondays, entry costs €2.
| Hang out at Polignono’s picturesque beach, Cala Porto (also known as Lama Monachile). Whilst this beach may actually be better enjoyed as part of the town’s iconic view (the pebbles make it impossible to walk on bare foot), if you’re spending more than a day here in the warmer months, it’s a nice enough spot to throw down a towel and read a book. The water is also glorious in summer.
| Test your adventurous side with a spot of cliff jumping. Not one for the risk-averse amongst you, but legend has it that the limestone cliffs surrounding the waters of Cala Porto are an excellent spot from which to take a leap of faith!
| Have a dining experience you won’t forget at Grotta Palazzese. Hidden within an ancient cave, this restaurant with spectacular terrace overlooking the water has been used for banquets and parties since the 1700s. Definitely not for those on budget, but if you’ve got the money to splurge, you’ll unlikely find a more magical restaurant in all of Puglia.
| Take in the view from Balconata sul Mare. Those beach photos that we mentioned earlier? They’re all taken from this spectacular vantage point in the old town. Don’t leave Polignano a Mare without checking it out.
| Follow the poetry. The streets, walls and doors of Polignano’s centro storico are punctuated with poetry; poetry by a man known as ‘Guido Il Flâneur’. Whether all (or indeed, any) is his own, but it certainly makes this writer from Bari a bit of a local celebrity. Hang around the town long enough, and you may even bump into him in a local bar.
| Discover the Vicolo della Poesia. One of Guido’s most famous works is his ‘poetry steps’, a photogenic stairway tucked down a small street not far from Balconata Sul Mare. They shouldn’t be too difficult to find, and any local you ask will know exactly where to point you.
Read Next | Seven of The Best Airbnbs in Polignano a Mare
| Have a quick bite at our favourite focaccaria. As travelling vegetarians, we’re some times a little limited in food options. If we’re hungry in Italy, we know we simply need to find the nearest focacceria - not all are as good as La Focacceria di Delle Noci Marco in Polignano a Mare. Seriously.
| Take a walking tour. Unsurprisingly, the old town is full of history, but it’s not always easy to grasp the depth of this from a guidebook. If you’d like to know a little more about Polignano’s past, consider taking this two hour walking tour.
| A drink at Mylo. We only found did this nice little bar and cafe by accident, mainly because we parked close by. Great for a rooftop Aperol Spritz with a view.
Did you know?
The famous song ‘Nel blu dipinto di blu’ (you probably know it as Volare) was written by Domenico Modugno, a chap from Polignano a Mare. There’s even a statue of him in town!
Where to Stay in Polignano a Mare
From luxury boutique hotels to family run B&Bs, and everything in between, if you’re travelling with a little more cash in your pocket, Polignano a Mare has lots of accommodation options to choose from.
Marea B&B | Family owned and run, Marea is a new B&B in the old town. Good amenities including a fresh breakfast in your room each day, as well as that elusive private parking (difficult to find in Polignano). Doubles from £70 a night. For more information and to check availability, see this link.
Palazzo Maringelli | Clean and sleek contemporary design in the centro storico, Palazzo Maringelli comes highly rated. The location is ideal. Rooms are super clean and renovated with class and high-quality furnishings, and the service, excellent. Doubles start from £99 per night. For more information and to check availability, see this link.
B&B Minerva | This hotel is just wonderful. Beautiful design (reminiscent of Wes Anderson in parts), good location and friendly and helpful staff. Doubles start from £70. For more information and to check availability, see this link.
Polignano is not short on Airbnbs, but its offerings for those on a little more of a budget are somewhat lacking, with decent options below £60 a night for two people practically unheard of.
To make the whole thing a little easier, we’ve gone through hundreds of listings and put together a selection of seven of the Best Airbnbs in Polignano a Mare for under £100 a night. So head on over there for some ideas!
As mentioned above, Polignano a Mare is not terribly budget friendly when considering accommodation options. If you’re watching the pennies, we’d suggest visiting the town as a day trip on your Puglia road trip and picking a base somewhere a little less popular. The good news is that there are plenty of other amazing little towns and villages nearby, and you may well find somewhere that you love that little bit more.
How to get to Polignano a Mare
We first visited Polignano as part of our Puglia road trip, and we highly recommend this as the best way to discover the region. Car rental is available at Bari and Brindisi airports via Auto Europe (the only guys we rent with worldwide), but for more info be sure to check out our road trip itinerary and our post on driving advice for Puglia.
If you will be navigating Puglia by public transport, the good news is that unlike some more out-of-the-way destinations in the region, Polignano is very easy to reach with public transport.
Bari to Polignano a Mare by Train | Trains leave from Bari central station very frequently throughout the day. Journey time is approximately 30 minutes and you can expect to pay around €3 (depending on time of day). To check times, availability and book your ticket, click here.
If you’re visiting Bari, then why not check out our Bari city guide.
Bari to Polignano a Mare by Bus | Whilst this is certainly an option, at twice the price of the train, we don’t recommend this option.
If you're using public transport to travel in Puglia, then check out Omio which is a fantastic free app for anyone travelling independently in Europe. It gives train and bus times, designs the easiest or cheapest route from A to B, and lets you book tickets centrally and easily in your own language.