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If I said ‘Polignano a Mare’ I’m sure your response would be ‘Polig a what now’? I’d not heard of it either but luckily I’m married to an Italian and well, he just knows these things. And you need to learn this town’s name fast because JUST LOOK AT THIS BEACH.
Located in Puglia (the heel of Italy), around 50 km from Bari airport and around 8 km from Monopoli lies the beautiful seaside town of Polignano a Mare. Puglia is one of Italy’s most affordable holiday regions with an average two to three course meal with wine costing around €60 for two. You can buy a bottle of prosecco in a restaurant for €13! And with a Mediterranean coastline spanning hundreds of kilometres, it has beautiful beaches.
How to get there
You can fly direct to Bari, the capital of Puglia from various airports in London with Easyjet, British Airways and Ryanair in just under three hours. Then either take the train, a bus, taxi or hire a car to drive to Polignano a Mare. If taking a taxi, expect to pay around €60 but the bus and train are obviously your cheapest options and the train will get you there in around 30 mins for less than €3.
Where to stay
To be honest, you’re spoilt for choice as there are plenty of hotels, B&Bs and Airbnbs so choose depending on your budget and go for ones that are located in the centre so that you are close to shops, restaurants and the beach – especially if you’re not planning on having your own transport. We stayed in Nico and Guiseppe’s Airbnb and it was perfect. They even had a jacuzzi on the roof terrace.
At the moment there are no five star hotels but Grotta Palazzese is opening one soon. The Airbnb we stayed in was pretty luxurious and reasonably priced at around £120 per night.
The second time we visited Polignano a Mare, we stayed in a gorgeous AirBnB owned by Vittoria. It was beautifully decorated and had a bath tub in the bedroom!
What to do
You mean apart from enjoying the beaches? There is a cute historic centre with some shops and a contemporary art gallery but apart from that, there’s not that much. Of course, if you like looking at old churches there are plenty of those! I would really recommend hiring a car or scooter to explore nearby towns such as Monopoli, Ostuni (known as The White City because all the buildings are whitewashed) and the amazing Alberobello, where you will find the unique trulli. More on the trulli in another post.
Seriously, Polignano a Mare is the kind of town you go to to relax, eat good food, drink good wine, soak up some sun and just get away from it all.
Where to eat
You’re in Italy so I’m sure you can’t go too wrong wherever you choose to eat but it you want something truly spectacular then book a table at Grotta Palazzese. The food wasn’t the best we had whilst we were there but really, you don’t just go for the food, if you know what I mean…. We had the tasting menu with wine and it was close to €300.
Other restaurants in the town we enjoyed were Ristorante Il Bastione, Il Cavo and La Locanda Porta Picc. About 2 kms from the town centre in a place called San Vito is a lovely restaurant called La Colonna where we enjoyed a lunch and which has a gorgeous view of the old residence of the Marchese di Greco.
Close to La Colonna, in a place called San Giovanni, is Ai 2 Ghiottoni. This was recommended to us by our Airbnb hosts and was definitely the best food we ate. Plus the setting was also pretty spectacular. By the way, ‘ghiottoni’ means someone who is always hungry and can’t stop eating!
Most of the beaches are either pebbled or are basically just rocks so make sure you come prepared – read the top three of these 10 essentials things for visiting the South of Italy.
Don’t forget to enjoy the Italian tradition of aperitivo (number 10 in my list). There are some really beautiful spots to watch the sun go down, enjoy a drink and some snacks pre-dinner. I highly recommend booking the one balcony table at Serafini.
Puglia is one of Italy’s most affordable and rustic regions with beautiful beaches. Gallipoli is also really lovely so if you make a real holiday of it, you can travel around Puglia and see lots of the different towns – and they really do vary – from the hillside towns of Ostuni and Alberobello to the seaside towns of Polignano a Mare, Monopoli and Gallipoli.