If you’re planning a trip to Puglia with your family, make sure Polignano a Mare is part of your itinerary. With its famous beach, whitewashed lanes and piazzas, and excellent gelato, it’s worth a stop!
I’ve been visiting Italy since 2004, as a guide, vacation planner, and now mom of three. My children look forward to spending time in Polignano a Mare, and I’ll list some of our favorite things to do below.
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One Day in Polignano a Mare – A Realistic Itinerary
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Where is Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare is a small town in Southern Italy, at the ‘heel of the boot’ in the Puglia region. It’s located on the Adriatic Sea coast in Puglia’s Valle d’Itria (Itria Valley).
Why Visit Polignano a Mare with Kids
We enjoy and recommend visiting Polignano with kids because it’s an easy place to visit logistically (parking’s easy, you can also arrive by train, you can bring a stroller in most parts of town, etc), it’s beautiful, and it’s a lot of fun for kids and adults.
A visit has a lot of variety – you can spend some time at the beach or in the sea, strolling around town and enjoying the local food.
I also love that Polignano is a ‘real’ town. Yes, there are tourists, but you’ll also see local families with kids playing in the piazza, getting their groceries, or hanging out with friends.
When to Visit Polignano a Mare on a Family Vacation
Our favorite time to visit Polignano a Mare (and Puglia in general), is in the late spring (April or May) or early fall (September or October). You’ll miss the big summer crowds and heat, and the stresses that come with them if you’re traveling as a family (long lines, kids get really hot and tired, crowded beaches).
However, you’ll likely visit in the summer because of school breaks, and that’s fine too. I’d recommend visiting in the morning or evening, so you can avoid the hottest part of the day. Or, take an ape tour during the midday heat – the breeze from riding around feels great!
We usually spend a half day to a full day exploring Polignano a Mare.
Things to See and Do in Polignano a Mare with Kids
Spend Time at Lama Monachile
This is the photo you’ve likely seen of Polignano a Mare – the classic shot of the tiny beach with turquoise water tucked in between two cliffs of the town’s buildings.
It’s gorgeous and worth a walk down to see it and let your kids splash in the water.
You can see the beach from the main road (Ponte Borbonico), but to walk down to it, walk down the steps: If you’re looking at the beach from the main road, turn around, cross the street, and walk to the left side of the bridge. You’ll see steps going down behind the café. Walk across another bridge and keep walking down the steps until you get to the wide path leading to the sea.
Good To Know: It’s not stroller friendly, but you could carry a stroller down if you had to. It can be slippery, especially if parts of the path or steps are wet.
Heads Up: We’ve visited on days when the sea wasn’t calm – you may want to avoid the water if there are waves. It gets deep (for kids) fairly quickly. There are plenty of other more kid-friendly beaches in the area, so don’t rely on this one for your kids’ beach time.
Good To Know: On our recent visit, there weren’t any toilets down by the beach and the public toilets in town were closed. We used the toilets at our lunch restaurant (Pescaria) and a bar later on.
Go on an Ape Tour
I’m a huge fan of ape (like a tuk tuk) tours. Kids love the small vehicles and they’re a fun way to either get an overview of a place or let kids rest their little legs – or both!
Our ape tour in Polignano a Mare was a hit – our guide, Francesco, was enthusiastic, entertaining, professional, friendly, and passionate about his city. We loved our time with him as we explored the center of Polignano, the outskirts, and beautiful viewpoints.
Get Pugliese Snacks
Katia and Francesco have a little stand full of olives and taralli in the shaded area between the Ponte di Polignano and the entrance to Via Roma. Grab some snacks for the beach, your drive in the car, or for aperitivo later.
See the Volare Statue
You may not know the name Domenico Mondugno, but you definitely know his famous song, Volare! It’s just a 3-5 minute walk from the main bridge.
Say hi to Domenico, take your photo with him, and then walk behind him and down the steps to check out the views of the sea and Polignano a Mare.
Play at the Playground
The best playground in Polignano is the Pinocchio Park, a large shady area with a play area and café. There are benches for parents and lots of toys for the kids (slides, swings, climbing structures). It’s fenced, and the café has snacks and drinks, so you can come here and relax and let your little ones play for a while. On our recent trip, my son loved meeting some local kids and I kicked my feet up for a bit.
Walk a Loop Through the Center
To go on a nice (and easy) walk through town, start in Via Roma, turn left on Via San Benedetto, and then turn left into Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Along the way, check out the shops, look for street poetry, and delight in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele’s clock tower and cozy setting.
Helpful Tip: To extend the walk, from Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, walk down Via Annunziata to Via Porto and the terrace with a view of Lama Monachile.
Get Gelato at Il Super Mago del Gelo
This gelateria is on the main road (you’ll surely pass by it a few times) right across from the Porta Vecchia entrance to the old town. Your kids will love the gelato, and you can try the caffè speciale (coffee with panna, lemon peel, and amaretto).
Watch the Cliff Divers
If you’re planning a trip to Polignano a Mare, look up the calendar for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. This is the only place in Italy for professional cliff diving! The schedule changes every year (in 2023 it’s on July 2nd).
Helpful Tip: The diving takes place on the right side of Lama Monachile. Don’t fight the crowds at the beach – watch from the Pietra Piatta by the Domenico Modugno (Volare) statue. The view is amazing!
Good To Know: Not in town for the Cliff Diving World Series? It’s usually on ESPN+ or a major sports channel, so you can watch from home!
See the View at Largo Ardito
There are a few nice viewpoints in Polignano, and this is our favorite one. From the Punto Panoramico Largo Ardito, you can see Poliganano a Mare, the Grotta Palazzese (the famous cave restaurant), the Scoglio dell’Eremita (Hermit Island), and even all the way to San Vito.
Fun Fact: This isn’t a parking lot because underneath there are caves!
Good To Know: We also like the views from the terrace that overlooks Lama Monachile (via Porto, 30) and from around the Scalinata Volare (the steps that go down to the sea from the Volare statue). I don’t recommend letting your kids run around the rocky area because it drops off to the sea. Our kids are perfectly fine checking out the view from the steps.
Go on a Boat Tour of the Caves Underneath the Town
Take a boat trip to see the grotte (caves) of Polignano a Mare. You can see them from above from viewpoints like at Largo Ardito, but it’s exciting for kids to see them up close and explore them by boat.
The boats leave from the port at San Vito, just north of Polignano a Mare. The tours generally last from 1.5-2 hours.
Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Polignano a Mare
This place shot to fame as a simple seafood sandwich shop and they haven’t looked back. The atmosphere is fun and chic and the food is delicious and high quality. We stopped in on our recent visit and while the wait is long (at least 30 minutes), we’d gladly wait again. They have kids meals (my son loved his fish sandwich and fries) and tons of sandwiches or other options for adults. I had the panino con tartare di tonno (sandwich with tuna tartare) on gluten free bread (a little tough on the teeth).
We picnicked at Lama Monachile, but you can also eat inside the shop or out on the piazza in front. The piazza’s also a great place to let the kids run around while you’re waiting. We had a bouncy ball and race cars – perfect!
Good To Know: This is the original location, and there are also shops in Bologna, Verona, Rome, Milan, Padova, Trani, and Torino.
L’Osteria di Chichibio
I’m not normally a fan of taking kids to Michelin-starred restaurants, but some friends brought us here on a previous trip and we had an amazing meal with our two small kids. The staff was friendly and accommodating, the food was delicious and fun, and little touches like the whimsical lamps and interesting décor made the evening fly by.
The house specialty is seafood, and our kids had pasta and risotto and sampled some of our dishes.
I’d even go back with all three of our kids (that’s saying a lot).
Family-Friendly Accommodation in Polignano a Mare
If you want to stay in Polignano a Mare, there are plenty of apartments for rent in the residential areas to the east and southeast of the city center. These areas are close to the main playground and a short walk to the main sites of Polignano.
You can check out available hotels in Polignano a Mare on Booking.com and filter for family rooms, interconnected rooms, and family-friendly properties.
What We Do: We make our home base in nearby Monopoli.
Family-Friendly Things to See and Do Near Polignano a Mare
San Vito – A friend and part-time local gave me the tip to head 5 minutes north of Polignano a Mare to San Vito. Her tip: Head to the charming café Da Giselda and sit out on the outdoor patio. It’s by the old abbey and kids can get snacks, watch the boats, and have a stroll.
Monopoli – Our favorite base and town to explore during the day and night with our kids. Beaches, kid-friendly piazzas and restaurants, playgrounds, and a castle! Read more in our Guide to Monopoli with Kids.
Beaches – Some of our favorite beaches in Puglia for families are along the coast south of Polignano a Mare in the Capitolo area – one of the best areas if you’re looking for a sandy beach for your kids.
Castellana Grotte – Explore these huge and fascinating caves with your child. Read more in our Guide to the Grotte di Castellana (Castellana Caves).
Polignano a Mare Transport with Children
Driving to Polignano a Mare
I recommend having your own car while traveling around Puglia, for all types of travelers, and especially for families. You have much more flexibility and you can reach so many more places than you can with public transportation.
There is a large parking lot (Parcheggio San Francesco) within walking distance of the center. Pay in the machine and display your ticket on your dash, or do what I do and use the aptly named EasyPark app.
Good To Know: During the summer high season (usually June through the beginning of September), the main road is a ZTL (limited traffic zone). Pay attention to the (large) signs and make sure you stay out of these areas or you’ll receive a fine.
Taking the Train to Polignano a Mare
You can also reach Polignano a Mare by train easily from nearby places like Bari (Bari Centrale) or Monopoli. The train station is about a 10-minute walk from the main sites in town like the bridge that overlooks Lama Monachile.
Read more about Train Travel in Italy
Polignano a Mare with Kids Logistics
Strollers – You can bring your stroller in most places in Polignano, with the main exception being the stairs down to the Lama Monachile beach. Also, you’ll find large crowds in the city center in the summer months, which makes navigating with a stroller difficult.
Breastfeeding – You can breastfeed anywhere you feel comfortable. There are benches throughout town and you can also find a place in a restaurant or café. There are plenty of shady spots and benches in the Pinocchio Park.
Changing Diapers – Use restaurant toilets or your portable changing pad.
Toilets – We didn’t find any public toilets open in Polignano a Mare, but you can always use the bathrooms in restaurants or cafés.
Polignano a Mare with Kids FAQ
We’ve been to the ZooSafari in nearby Fasano. It’s interesting to get up close to the animals (my kids loved driving by the animals and having some get close to our car), but if you are already not a fan of zoos, you’ll probably want to spend your time elsewhere.
Most of Polignano’s beaches are rocky, which aren’t fun (or even safe) with kids. I recommend heading to sandy Spiaggia di Porto Cavallo, which is just north of Polignano a Mare, in San Vito. Or, take your pick of beautiful sandy beaches in the area of Capitolo, further south.
Yes, a day trip to Polignano a Mare is doable and a great way to spend a day (or even a morning or afternoon if you’re crunched for time).