PWk: Prod, Tlk: GS2, Datacash: Live
Polignano a Mare is a postcard town settled on Puglia’s Adriatic coast. Its old town clusters on a clifftop, with the newer part of town unfolding behind. The limestone cliffs on this part of the coast are honeycombed with caves. You can swim to some of them straight from the white-pebble beach of Cala Porto; to see those further away, hire a kayak to paddle along the coast.
The old town’s maze of narrow streets are edged with whitewashed houses. Radiating out from the café-lined Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, they twist and turn before emerging out onto panoramic terraces overlooking the coast (perfect spots for watching the cliff divers jumping and somersaulting into the clear waters).
Polignano a Mare puts you in a great position for exploring more of Puglia. Historic Monopoli is only 10 minutes along the coast, the Castellana Caves are 20 minutes’ drive away, and Alberobello’s iconic trulli can be reached in half an hour.
Spend a day on the beach
The zig-zag coastline around Polignano a Mare means the beaches tend to come pocket-sized rather than supersized.
In the centre of town is Cala Porto. This is the beach you’ll see on all the postcards – a narrow inlet of white pebbles and glass-clear waters, watched over by the clifftop old town. Swim out to the little grotte along the cliffs, or join daredevil locals in jumping off the rocks into the water.
Around 10 minutes’ walk from the old town is Cala Paura, an even smaller beach with a Blue Flag award and calm, warm waters sheltered by the cliffs.
Unique dining in Puglia’s cave restaurant
For a meal with a difference, book a table at Ristorante Grotta Palazzese. This restaurant is a Pinterest and Instagram favourite thanks to its spectacular setting – housed inside an ancient cave looking out over the Adriatic Sea.
Linen-dressed tables are set up between an impressive natural indoor waterfall and the mouth of the cave, with an extra row set up on a higher level where diners can literally eat on a cliff edge. The menu is a mix of modern European cuisine and is on the pricey side, but it’s worth it to dine in such a stunning location.