On the beautiful stretch of east Puglia coast between Bari and Brindisi, the little town of Monopoli is our favourite base for making the most of it.
Its stunning historic harbour is big factor in this – the perfect place to sit with a panzerotte watching boats painted red and blue bobbing away in the water – but its pretty backstreets, good restaurants, and range of affordable accommodations also help.
However, it’s Monopoli’s proximity to several of the best beaches in Puglia, as well as easy access to a cluster of small coves and swimming spots in the town itself, that elevates it as an excellent choice as a base for a few nights on the Adriatic Sea, or even a standalone holiday destination if you’re not doing a Puglia road trip.
With nearby Polignano a Mare on the verge of becoming too busy to enjoy at times, Monopoli is the place we’ve recommended to many readers over the years and our return to it last summer only reinforced that opinion.
You can read our Monopoli travel guide for more travel tips, inspiration, and accommodation recommendations, but in this short post we wanted to share all of our favourite Monopoli beaches, calas (coves), and swimming spots.
A few are in and around the town, so accessible on foot or by bicycle, whilst the others are best visited by car or scooter (you can rent one for the day here). Our favourites are to the south, whilst there are a couple excellent options to the north, including one of the most famous in Italy.
Importantly, we’ve been realistic about our parameters and curated this down to our very favourites no less than 45-minutes drive away, rather than just dumping each and every beach in the region. We’ve travelled in this part of Italy three times, and several of our Monopoli beach picks are amongst are favourite beaches in Puglia! However, if you’d like to know more of our absolute favourite, then make sure to read Our 16 Favourites Beaches in Puglia later.
As we explain in that post, and over in 17 Things To Know Before You Visit Puglia, it’s very important for first-timers to know that Italians have a wonderful ability to christen any sliver of sand, rock, or pebble by the sea a ‘spiaggia’ (beach), which is why simply following what you see on Google Maps isn’t a good idea. Also, many of the best beaches in southern Italy are not the traditional long stretch of golden sand many Brits and Europeans prefer; it took us one trip to adjust though, and now we’ve gone fully native.
These are the best beaches…
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