Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Monopoli and enjoy one of Puglia’s most beautiful towns.
Monopoli is one of the best places to visit in Puglia known for its blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Located along the Adriatic Coast of Italy, Monopoli is one of my favorite villages in Italy that has something for everyone! It is conveniently located in the heart of Puglia and just a short distance from the best day trips and other destinations in this magical region.
With its winding streets, charming harbor, and stunning coastal views, Monopoli has become an increasingly popular destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience. Whether you’re walking through the ancient alleyways of the historic center, eating pizza, pasta, or gelato, or relaxing on one of the town’s pristine beaches, Monopoli has everything you could need and more.
Below are the best things to do in Monopoli, Italy for the ultimate Puglia holiday.
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10 Best Things to Do in Monopoli, Italy
Explore the Historic Center
One of the best things to do in Monopoli is to explore its historic center, a place full of rich history, beautiful architecture, and local culture. Lose yourself in the maze of alleys lined with whitewashed houses, colorful flowers, and laundry hanging from balconies.
Exploring the historic center of Monopoli provides a small look into the authentic daily life of the Italian town. You can easily spend hours wandering the streets getting lost in the beauty and magic of Monopoli. Look for local restaurants and cafes when you want to relax and soak in the stunning surroundings.
Visit the Monopoli Cathedral
A must-visit attraction in Monopoli is the Monopoli Cathedral, also known as the Basilica Cathedral of Maria Santissima della Madia. This stunning religious monument, dating back to the 12th century, is a masterpiece of architectural and artistic beauty. As you approach the cathedral, you’ll be awed by its impressive details, featuring intricate sculptures and a rose window.
Step inside to admire the equally as impressive interior, complete with Baroque decorations, artworks, and a beautiful marble altar. The cathedral is also home to the icon of the Madonna della Madia, which is believed to have miraculous powers. Take your time to explore the various chapels and side altars, each with its unique artistic elements.
The cathedral’s peaceful ambiance and spiritual significance make it an ideal place for quiet contemplation and reflection. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, a visit to the Monopoli Cathedral is an amazing experience.
Relax on the Beaches
One of the best things to do in Monopoli is to relax and soak up the sun on its beautiful beaches. Monopoli has a long coastline full of charming coves and sandy stretches of beach that offer a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Head to Cala Porta Vecchia, Monopoli’s most popular beach located within the historic center, where you can relax with stunning city views and bright blue waters. If you are looking for a bigger beach you can visit Cala Cozze, located just west of the town. This beach offers clean shores, calm waters, and a relaxing atmosphere.
If you’re seeking a quieter spot, explore the surrounding coastline to discover hidden coves and a secret beach where you can enjoy a more intimate beach day. With its idyllic coastal setting, Monopoli provides the perfect backdrop for a beach day allowing you to relax and recharge while and embracing the natural beauty of the Adriatic Sea.
Explore the Castle of Charles V
Exploring the Castle of Charles V is easily one of the most interesting things to do in Monopoli. This historic fortress, located near the town’s harbor, offers you a journey through time. Built in the 16th century, the castle stands as a statement to Monopoli’s rich history and strategic importance.
Explore its sturdy walls and towers, which once served as a defense against attacks from the sea. Inside the castle, you’ll find a museum that showcases artifacts, archaeological finds, and exhibits depicting the town’s heritage. Climb to the top of the towers for panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the picturesque harbor and the Adriatic Sea.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply seeking a unique experience, exploring the Castle of Charles V in Monopoli promises to be an adventure that allows you to immerse yourself in the town’s past.
Enjoy Rooftop Drinks
One of the best things to do in Monopoli is to indulge in rooftop drinks. The town offers several charming restaurants with rooftop bars or terraces that provide breathtaking views of the old town, sea, and beyond all in a relaxed ambiance.
Find a rooftop spot overlooking the picturesque harbor or the historic center, and sip on refreshing cocktails while enjoying the panoramic vistas. As the sun begins to set, the rooftops of Monopoli become even more amazing, with the warm glow over the town. Take in the beauty of the Adriatic Sea, watch the boats in the harbor, and soak up the atmosphere of this coastal gem.
Two great rooftop bars:
- La Terrazza dei Sogni
- L’Antico Borgo
Day Trip to Alberobello
One of the best things to do during your visit to Monopoli is to embark on a day trip to the nearby town of Alberobello. Known for its unique trulli houses, Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a true gem. The traditional white cone-shaped houses in Alberobello create a fairytale-like atmosphere that will transport you back in time.
Take a leisurely stroll through the narrow streets of the Rione Monti district, where you’ll find an impressive collection of trulli houses, many of which have been converted into shops, restaurants, and even museums. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Trullo Sovrano, the only two-story trullo in Alberobello, which provides an insightful glimpse into the life of the locals in the past.
Visiting Alberobello is a must-do while in Puglia and something I 100% recommend. Even if just for a few hours you will want to see it!
To reach Alberobello from Monopoli, you can drive by car for 30 minutes, take a train for 20 minutes, or take the bus for 30 minutes.
Enjoy Delicious Italian Food
One of the absolute highlights of visiting Monopoli is indulging in the delicious Italian food that the town has to offer. Monopoli is renowned for its fresh seafood, and you’ll find a plethora of restaurants where you can try the fresh flavors of the Adriatic.
Some must-try dishes are grilled fish, seafood pasta, and local specialties such as raw sea urchins or octopus salad. As a vegetarian myself, I enjoyed authentic pizza and pasta which was amazing! I also found the food and wine prices in Monopoli much lower than a lot of other places in Italy which is an added bonus.
Afterward, treat yourself to gelato or a traditional pasticciotto, a sweet pastry filled with custard. Monopoli is a haven for food lovers, promising a journey of unique flavors and Italian deliciousness.
Discover the Port of Monopoli
When visiting Monopoli, one of the best things to do is to explore the charming Port of Monopoli. This historic harbor is a hub of activity complete with countless colorful fishing boats dotting the crystal-clear waters. Take a walk along the promenade and admire the picturesque views of the sea and the charming buildings that line the harbor.
The port is home to numerous waterfront restaurants and bars, offering a perfect opportunity to indulge in Italian delicacies and sip on a glass of local wine while enjoying the coastal ambiance. Explore the maze of alleys surrounding the port, where you’ll find hidden gems like local shops selling crafts and souvenirs.
Take a Boat Trip
One of the best things to do in Monopoli for all kinds of travelers is to take a boat trip along the stunning Adriatic coast. There are several options available for boat tours, allowing you to explore the region’s breathtaking landscapes and hidden gems.
Cruise along the rugged coastline, admire the dramatic cliffs, and take in the panoramic views of the sparkling turquoise waters. Explore secluded coves, swim in secluded bays, and snorkel in the crystal-clear sea to observe the vibrant marine life. Many boat trips also include stops at nearby attractions like the famous sea caves of Polignano a Mare or the picturesque town of Ostuni.
Below are some great boat tour options.
Day Trip to Polignano a Mare
Taking a day trip from Monopoli to visit the nearby town of Polignano a Mare is easily one of the best things to do in Monopoli. Known for its stunning coastal scenery, Polignano a Mare is a picturesque destination that will take your breath away.
Explore its narrow, winding streets adorned with whitewashed buildings and charming balconies that overlook the iconic sea. The highlight of the town is its famous beach, Lama Monachile, located within the cliffs of the historic town. This is the perfect place for a day of relaxing and swimming in one of the most stunning settings on earth.
Where to Stay in Monopoli
The best place to stay in Monopoli is the Historic Center (Centro Storico). Staying in the heart of Monopoli’s historic center allows you to immerse yourself in the town’s charming atmosphere. You’ll be close to historic sites, quaint streets, and local restaurants. Look for boutique hotels, guesthouses, or bed and breakfasts in this area.
Best Time to Visit Monopoli
The best time to visit Monopoli depends on your preferences.
- Summer (June to August): This is the peak tourist season when Monopoli experiences its warmest and most sunny weather. It is also the busiest time, so accommodations and attractions might be crowded.
- Spring (April to May) and Fall (September to October): These shoulder seasons offer milder temperatures, fewer crowds, and more reasonable prices for accommodations.
- Winter (November to March): Monopoli experiences its off-peak season during winter. While the weather might be cooler and some tourist services could be limited, this is a quieter time to experience the local life, enjoy discounted rates, and explore attractions without crowds.
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