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Boy walking on street in Monopoli, Puglia. White buildings on either side and laundry hanging from balconies above.

Monopoli with Kids – Why You’ll Love it as Your Home Base for Exploring Puglia!

Updated on January 15, 2024

Are you thinking of visiting Monopoli with your kids?  Whether for the day or as your base for a week of exploring Puglia, Monopoli is an excellent destination for a family visit.

I’ve been visiting Puglia with kids since 2004 (with clients’ children and now my own), and Monopoli is always on our itinerary.  There are many reasons for that, including:

  • Its excellent central location for exploring the Valle d’Itria
  • There’s a lot of space for kids to run around in the old town
  • We always see many local kids and visiting families
  • It’s an easy place to visit with kids (stroller-friendly, car-free areas, a few playgrounds, plenty of grocery stores, pharmacies, kid-friendly restaurants, etc)

I hope you enjoy this guide to visiting Monopoli with kids! I’ll include things to do, where to eat, where to stay, what to see and do nearby, and give helpful tips for families.

You may also want to read
Our General Guide to Monopoli
Puglia with Kids

Note:  These are things that we do and enjoy in Monopoli (or if we don’t enjoy them, I’ve noted that).  I hope you find our first-hand experience helpful.  I know I prefer it when looking for advice about a place (vs. just reading a list of things to do gathered off the internet).

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Best Things to Do with Kids in Monopoli

Explore the Old Town of Monopoli

Boy running down a cobblestone lane in Monopoli, Puglia.
My son on the streets of old Monopoli

While not completely car-free, many of Monopoli’s streets and piazzas are pedestrian zones, so your kids can run around and explore without you stressing out about traffic. 

Some of the best places to run around are in the piazza in front of the Cathedral, in Piazza Garibaldi, and the Lungomare (but be careful with little kids because they can squeeze through the railings next to the sea).

Helpful Tip:  Bring a couple of Hotwheels racecars, a bouncy ball, or our printable Italy map for kids or Italy coloring pages to your aperitivo or meal in Piazza Garibaldi.  That way, kids can play in the piazza when they’re done eating and you can linger a bit longer.

Check out the Gozzi at the Old Port

Old port and lungomare in Monopoli, Italy. You can see blue gozzi boats in water in foreground.
Monopoli’s gozzi

During the day or in the evening, walk down to the old port to see the historic gozzi fishing boats.  Have your kids note Monopoli’s gozzi colors and compare them to those in other towns.

Good To Know:  As you walk along the edge of the port, keep your kids close – there are no guardrails and there’s a drop off directly into the water.  I had to rein my 5-year-old in as he was loving running around the harbor.

Go To the Beach

An almost empty beach at Porto Rosso in Monopoli, Puglia. Sunny day, sandy beach, turquoise water.
Early morning at Porto Rosso

Our favorite beaches in Monopoli are Spiaggia di Porto Rosso and Cala Paradiso.  If you’re walking from the center of Monopoli, Porto Rosso is closer (about 10 min on foot), and you can stop at the playground in the Giardino del Fossato on your way.

Both of these beaches are sandy and have shallow entrances which are perfect for kids. 

Helpful Tip:  Head to the beach early in the morning to try to beat some of the crowds.  Your kids can play and then you can head back to town for lunch or back to your hotel to get out of the midday heat.

Good To Know:  These are public beaches and like all beaches in Puglia, they’re packed in the summer! 

Visit a Playground in Monopoli

We have a few favorite playgrounds in Monopoli:

  • Piazza Alessandro Manzoni – This small playground is just outside the old town, near the Duomo, so it’s convenient.  It’s best for small kids (swings, small climbing structure, padded ground), but it’s not fenced and cars drive around the outside of the piazza.  There’s also a small merry-go-round.  Fun place day or night.
  • Giardino del Fossato – Located just below the city walls, this grassy area has swings, spring toys, fun white discs to climb on, and a slide.  The ground is padded, and it’s enclosed by walls (yay!).  There are a few benches, but no shade, and it closes at night.  Point out the old cannons on the walls above.
  • Piazza Falcone-Borsellino – Younger kids will adore this colorful park with a small merry-go-round, slide, swings, and climbing
  • Porto Bianco – Best for little kids, with its spring toys, small slide, and swings, but there’s also a zipline.  Padded ground, a little bit of shade from the umbrella pines, and it’s on the Lungomare, so nice if you’re out for a seaside stroll or you’re walking to the nearby skate park or Porto Rosso beach (our favorite for kids in Monopoli).

See the Mermaid Statue

There’s a large mermaid statue in town, so if you have a child that’s a mermaid fan, be sure to walk by it.  It’s not in the historic center, but you can walk to it, and stop at the excellent little playground in Piazza Falcone-Borsellino.

Walk Around the Castle

We’ve never been inside, but admiring the outside from the walkway on the sea does the job. 

If your kids love castles, check out our Favorite Italian Castles to Visit with Kids!

More Things to Do with Kids in Monopoli

  • Older kids may want to watch the skateboarders (and people on scooters) at the skatepark.  It’s in an amazing spot on the water, just south of town. 
  • Get gelato at Bella Blue Gelateria.
  • See the skeletons, skull-and-crossbones, and ‘mummies’ at the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Suffraggio o del Purgatorio.  This strange and unique church is best for older kids.
  • Browse the shops in the historic center.  My kids enjoy looking at the colorful pottery (from a distance) and checking out the small stores as we wander the city streets.

Where to Eat with Kids in Monopoli

We do a mix of cooking in our apartment and eating out in Monopoli. 

Pinsotti (Via Santa Caterina, 9) – This restaurant is ideal for families.  It serves pinsa – a type of Roman-style hand-pressed pizza, and it’s delicious!  The setting is also light and fun, and we love the location just off the busy Via Garibaldi.  There are a few rooms inside, or you can sit on the outdoor terrace.  Kids love the pasta straws for their drinks!  They have other options besides pinsa too, and they have gluten-free pinsa.

Piazza Garibaldi – This is a great spot to eat with kids because they can play in the piazza when they’re done eating and you can finish up your meal or enjoy a glass of primitivo wine.  Vini e Panini is a good spot for panini or appetizers with aperitivo, while we enjoy our relaxed family breakfasts at Caffè Venezia (they serve more than just cornetti and coffee)Bella Blu Gelateria, on the corner of the piazza, is our family’s favorite gelateria in town.

La Locanda dei Mercanti (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 44) – This place serves delicious seafood in a casual setting.  We didn’t eat here on our most recent trip but I’ve had meals here with kids before.  My boys recommend the spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams).

Self-Catering – If you want to self-cater, stock up at one of the grocery stores in Monopoli (like Carrefour Express or Despar, outside the historic center).

Food Stands – Fresh fruit stands are amazing in Puglia! You’ll find them in the center of Monopoli, and also roadside while you’re out exploring in the area. Fresh fruit makes a great snack, along with the local taralli (like little mini ring crackers) and olives.

Monopoli Family-Friendly Hotels and Apartments

  • Palazzo Cesare – We stayed here on our latest trip and we loved the proximity to the old town and the gorgeous rooftop terrace.  We also liked having a small kitchen here.  There are multiple apartments that work well for families.
  • Hotel Don Ferrante – My pick for the best luxury option in Monopoli.  Don Ferrante is right on the water and even has a pool with a spectacular sea view.  A dear friend (who has high hotel standards) and her husband recently stayed here for her honeymoon, and they loved the simple, elegant décor and bright atmosphere.  Best for a couple with a small child or a family with older kids.
  • Kees Apulian Stay – We’ve always been very happy staying in these self-service apartments with our family.  They’re clean, comfortable, and walkable to the historic center.  They don’t have a ton of space if you’re traveling with a few kids, but these make a great option if you’re just using the apartment as a base (and you’re out exploring during the day)

Want more space for your kids to run around?  Think about staying in a masseria (a fortified farm) out in the countryside near Monopoli. 
I’ve stayed at and can recommend:

Masseria Il Melograno – Luxury masseria south of Monopoli.  This would be a nice spot if you’ve got a baby or older kids.  It’s a pretty quiet property, and there are a lot of obstacles for early walkers (steps, some drop offs).  Kids will love the ancient olive trees that have been built into the property (there’s one in the breakfast room).

Courtyard at Masseria Torre Coccaro in Puglia. You can see white hotel structure, lights strung across courtyard, trees on left. Stone floor in courtyard. Blue sky with no clouds.
Masseria Torre Coccaro on a sunny spring day

Masseria Torre Coccaro – A little more casual (but still very luxurious), Masseria Torre Coccaro also has a kids club for kids ages 4 and up.  It’s open all day and there’s a special play area for kids.  The masseria also has a beach club at the sea, and there’s a kids section there as well (plus the beach is sandy and has a shallow entry).

Monopoli with Kids Basics

Man pushing kids on a stroller down a narrow lane in Monopoli, Puglia. Child looking back at camera.
Exploring Monopoli with our stroller

Strollers – Monopoli is stroller friendly, and we’ve used strollers here with no problem (both a large stroller with standing board and an umbrella stroller).  You’ll be rolling over a lot of large cobblestones. 

Changing Diapers – Many Monopoli restaurants and cafés have changing tables.  Still, bring a portable changing mat so you can change on the go.  You’ll always be able to find a bench to change your baby’s diaper

Baby Supplies – You can get diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, baby food, diaper cream, etc at pharmacies and grocery stores in town.  If you’re staying in Monopoli for a while and you want to stock up or you’re want a nice selection to choose from, drive just outside of town to the Famila Superstore (Via Conchia, 1).   Prénatal (Via Umberto I, 37) is your best option for other baby supplies like baby toys, clothing, and baby equipment like car seats and strollers).

Sleep Schedule – Monopoli (and Puglia in general) runs on a later schedule, and this include kids.  You’ll see families with kids (even babies and toddlers) out late

Shoes – Monopoli is almost all cobblestones and some of them are very slippery, so make sure your kids’ shoes have good tread.  You may want to read my guide to Kids Shoes for Italy.

Things to See and Do Near Monopoli with Kids

Grotte di Castellana – kids love exploring these caves!; read our guide to Visiting the Grotte di Castellana

Beaches – our favorite kid-friendly beaches in the area are the sandy beaches in the Capitolo area and further south by Ostuni

Alberobello – the UNESCO World Heritage site and home of the trulli is a must-see if you’re traveling in the area with children; use our guide to Alberobello with Kids

Locorotondo – kid-friendly town; spend an afternoon at the hilltop town using our guide to Locorotondo with Kids

Ostuni – another whitewashed town that’s fun to explore with kids; take an ape tour; use our Guide to Ostuni with Kids

Cisternino – this small town often has kid-friendly events and activities, and our little ones love the playground (with a view!)

ZooSafari Fasano – drive-through zoo; if you’re already not a zoo fan, definitely skip this one; we visited once and my kids loved seeing the animals up close

Good To Know:  There are other kid activities in the area like the Dinosaur Park, Acquapark Egnazia, and the Indiana Adventure Park.  Unless you don’t have these at home, I’d stick to the beaches and towns of the area and special activities like the caves of Castellana.

Monopoli with Kids FAQ

My kid wants to know, is Monopoli related to the Monopoly board game?

No, the Monopoly board game gets its name from the economic term ‘monopoly,’ which is when a single player (like a company) dominates a market.  There is an Italian version of Monopoly, with Italian street names.

Is the beach at Cala Porta Vecchia family-friendly?

If you’re visiting in the off-season, the Spiaggia Cala Porta Vecchia can be a fun stop for kids.  However, it gets really crowded in the summer and the sandy portion is small and narrow, so it fills up fast.  I recommend walking just south of the historic center to Porto Rosso, or even driving south to Capitolo’s beach clubs (or public beaches).

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