Perched on the edge of a craggy ravine on southern Italy’s coast, you’ll find the incredibly scenic village called Polignano a Mare.
Things to Do in Polignano a Mare
Warm summer days in southern Italy have the same vibe as they do in Greece, especially in the quieter places. Walking through Polignano a Mare was like being back in Greece. Locals gathered to relax, sit or have a coffee in the little picturesque squares, neighbors gossiped outside their windows or doors, little old women hung laundry as kids zoomed around chasing either a dog, cat or soccer ball.
Polignano a Mare is a that simple kind of place. Ideal for unhurried exploration, there aren’t any “major” sights here.
The village is just a simple sea facing town with its own charms to offer those that make the trip to stroll its lanes and swim in its sea.
Here are the top things to do in Polignano a Mare.
Walk through Centro Storico
Experiencing a quiet walk through the Centro Storico, the historic center, is one of the top things to do in Polignano a Mare.
The Centro Storico is car traffic free, a series of cobbled and stone paths lined with small homes and churches. Get “lost” making your way through the small paths and walkways. You won’t get lost anyway, they all eventually lead to one of three gorgeous sea viewing terraces. I didn’t need a map or a map app to find my way around. Just go and explore.
In the Centro Storico Look For:
Porta Vecchia Gate
This archway at the main gate of Polignano a Mare was once the only way to get into the town. The town was one of the most important ancient settlements in the Puglia region. Back then, various cultures and communities met here and were eventually taken over by invaders including the Huns and the Normans.
See the Churches
There are many churches dotted around the Centro Storico. The Our Lady of the Assumption church dates back to 1295. The Church of Santa Maria Assunta is in the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II
This is one of the main squares of the Centro Storico, named after the 19th-century King of Sardinia. It is lined with cafes, restaurants and seems to be a great local meeting point.
A Poetic Staircase
Another one of the interesting things to do in Polignano a Mare is look out for an unusual “poetic” staircase in the Centro Storico.
Swim at Cala Paura Beach
From the Centro Storico there’s a viewing terrace that frames a gorgeous view of the Adriatic Sea and Cala Paura, the most charming little beach tucked between two cliffs.
Up close, this Blue Flag beach was a sight to take in: clear waters and a small pebbly coast.
I had read that beach goers love to dive off the cliffs. There were tons of rocky crags for anyone willing to climb up and take a dive. (That would never be me!)
The Red Bull diving competition held its event here attracting tens of thousands of visitors.
Ponte Lama Monachile
On your way to and from Cala Paura, admire the impressive Roman bridge called Ponte Lama Monachile.
Statue of Domenico Modugno: You Know the Song…
Check out the animated statue of the town’s famous son, the singer Domenico Modugno.
Considered the first Italian cantatore, he rose to fame for his 1958 international hit song Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu also known as Volare. Here he was performing on the Ed Sullivan show.
See the Sea Caves
The town is famous for its half-submerged sea caves and there are numerous boat excursion tours to see them up close.
You can also eat in one. Reserve a table at the Grotta Palazzese. In Italian, grotta means cave. This particular grotta was used for royal banquets dating back to the 1700s and now it is a unique cave restaurant that is part of the Grotta Palazzese hotel.
Enjoy a Gelato
You have to have a gelato here. They are famous for it. There are shops on every other corner.
How to Get to Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare is closest to Bari. it is in the Puglia region of southern Italy.
Polignano a Mare is 34km south of Bari on the S16 coastal road.
There is a train from Bari (20 minutes). Under 3 euro/one way ticket.
This sums up my list of top things to do in Polignano a Mare, a quaint little coastal destination that’s easy to explore and admire.
Pin For Later
Have you been to the Puglia region? Would you add anything to my list of the top things to do in Polignano a Mare?