Bari Travel Guide: Top 20 Things to Do in Bari, Italy

Ah, Bari… If you’re dreaming of an Italian getaway that combines the charm of seaside life with rich history and mouthwatering cuisine, you’ve found your next destination. Nestled on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in the Puglia region, Bari is a city that surprises and delights at every turn. Let’s dive into what makes Bari a must-visit spot on the map of Italy.

Strolling through Bari’s Old Town, known as Bari Vecchia, feels like stepping back in time. With its narrow winding streets, ancient churches, and historic buildings, this area tells stories of centuries past. The Basilica of Saint Nicholas, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, houses the relics of Saint Nicholas (yes, that Santa Claus!) and is a beacon for pilgrims and tourists alike. Don’t miss the Norman-Swabian Castle, where history buffs can geek out over the medieval fortifications and the breathtaking views of the sea.

Colorful boats on the water in Bari, Italy

The Flavorful Heart of Puglia

Bari is not just a feast for the eyes but also a paradise for food lovers. The city’s culinary scene is a reflection of Puglia’s rich agricultural heritage, offering dishes that are simple yet bursting with flavor. From the freshest seafood pulled directly from the Adriatic to the famous orecchiette pasta served with turnip tops or tomato sauce, every meal is a celebration of local ingredients. And let’s not forget the street food – panzerotti, focaccia, and sgagliozze are just a teaser of what you can expect.

Sea, Sun, and Breathtaking Views

One of Bari’s undeniable draws is its beautiful coastline. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on a sandy beach, take a leisurely stroll along the Lungomare, or embark on a sailing adventure, the sea is at the heart of Bari’s lifestyle. The city’s vibrant marina is a perfect spot to watch the sunset, gelato in hand, as the local fishermen bring in their catch of the day.

Bari, with its strategic location on the Adriatic, has been a melting pot of cultures throughout history. This cultural richness is evident in the city’s architecture, traditions, and even in the local dialect. The Teatro Petruzzelli, the fourth-largest opera house in Italy, hosts a variety of performances, from opera to ballet to classical concerts, showcasing both Italian and international talent.

Whether you’re wandering through the Old Town, indulging in Puglia’s culinary delights, or enjoying the azure waters of the Adriatic, Bari offers an authentic Italian experience away from the crowds of the more tourist-trodden paths. It’s a city where history and modernity blend seamlessly, where every meal is a joyous event, and where the sea seems to bless everything with its sparkling presence. So pack your bags, bring your appetite, and get ready to fall in love with Bari, a city that promises to steal a piece of your heart.

Street scene in Bari, Italy: People walking through the alleys of the old city of Bari.

Bari City Guide: A Brief History Of Bari, Italy

This bustling port city, with its maze of narrow streets in the old town and the modern vibrancy of its newer districts, tells a story of ancient civilizations, Norman conquerors, and a rich tapestry of art and tradition. Let’s embark on a journey through Bari’s past, exploring the epochs and influences that have sculpted this Adriatic gem into the captivating city it is today.

Ancient Beginnings and Roman Dominance

The Roots of Bari

Bari’s story begins long before written history, with evidence of Neolithic settlements. However, it was the Greeks who left the first identifiable mark, establishing Bari as a trading hub and gateway between the East and West. The Romans then fortified its role as a pivotal port in the region, laying down the architectural and cultural foundations that would define Bari for centuries to come.

The Byzantine and Norman Eras

A Melting Pot of Empires

As the Roman Empire waned, Bari caught the eye of the Byzantine Empire, becoming a crucial naval base and a center for Orthodox Christianity in the West. The city flourished, its architecture and art reflecting the sophisticated Byzantine influence. Yet, this was not to last; the Normans, drawn by Bari’s strategic and economic importance, captured the city in the 11th century, introducing a new layer of cultural and architectural richness, epitomized by the construction of the Basilica di San Nicola, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture.

The Swabian and Angevin Rule

Times of Turmoil and Prosperity

Under the Swabian dynasty, particularly under the reign of Frederick II, Bari enjoyed a renaissance of learning and culture, becoming a beacon of enlightenment. However, the Angevin rule plunged the city into periods of strife, with Bari’s strategic importance making it a constant target for conquest and rebellion. Through these tumultuous times, Bari’s resilient spirit endured, its cultural and architectural achievements continuing to shine.

The Modern Era and Beyond

A City Reborn

The unification of Italy in the 19th century marked a new beginning for Bari. The city expanded beyond its ancient walls, embracing modernity while preserving its rich heritage. Today, Bari is a dynamic blend of history and contemporary life, a place where ancient churches stand alongside bustling markets and where traditional Apulian cuisine is celebrated just steps away from innovative culinary establishments.

Bari Today: A Cultural Hub

Bari’s vibrant streets, characterized by the mingling scents of the sea and freshly baked focaccia, invite exploration and discovery. The city’s universities and cultural institutions breathe new life into its ancient frameworks, making Bari not just a keeper of history, but a living, evolving entity. The annual Festa di San Nicola, drawing pilgrims and tourists alike, epitomizes Bari’s enduring relevance and vibrancy. Bari, with its storied past and dynamic present, offers a unique glimpse into the soul of Italy’s deep south.

Bari City Guide - BEST Things to Do, See and Eat traveling in Bari, Italy including accommodations, tours, day trips and restaurants: People walking through the alleys of the old city of Bari.

Bari Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Southern Italy

Start your visit to Bari by dropping by Basilica San Nicola. Local records aren’t clear on when this church was built, but historians believe construction was completed in the 11th or the 12th century. Local authorities named it in honour of Saint Nicholas, who reportedly wanted to be buried there.

In fact, this basilica owes its existence to the return of Saint Nichola’s remains to Italy from Turkey. Because of this, Basilica San Nicola is a pilgrimage site for both Roman Catholics and Russian Orthodox Christians.

After that, make the Cattedrale di San Sabino your next stop. This Romanesque church opened in the late 13th century and was named for Saint Sabinus, a Puglian bishop who lived in the 6th century. In this building’s crypt, you’ll find his relics.

More Attractions

Apart from that, the church itself is also an attraction. Despite its predominant Romanesque architecture, its arches, columns, and bell tower all have Byzantine features. But as you take pictures, do remember to be respectful of local parishioners.

Next, make your way over to Castello Normanno Svevo. Built in the 12th century by the Normans, this fortification has seen plenty of action over its life. For example, shortly after its completion, King William I of Sicily razed it.

However, Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire saw value in the structure, as he had it rebuilt and expanded in the 13th century. After that, it passed to the Kingdom of Naples, then to the Poles, then back to Naples. Within its walls, you’ll find pottery and other artifacts associated with this castle.

If you love live shows, take in one at Teatro Petruzzelli. Although it opened in the late 19th century, the current building is a reconstruction, after a fire consumed it in the 1990s.

source: Newstate Nomads on YouTube

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Bari, Italy

Bari coastal views with neat architecture in Italy

If you have time for another church while in Bari, check out Chiesa Russa San Nicola. Now, as you may recall earlier, Basilica San Nicola attracts loads of pilgrims every year. However, not all are Catholic, as Saint Nicolas is also a major saint in the Russian Orthodox church.

So, to give Russian Orthodox pilgrims a familiar place to pray in Italy, a Russian Orthodox church was built in the early 20th century. Even today, it stands out, as Roman Catholicism is the dominant form of Christianity in Italy.

Southern Italy gets hot in the summertime – like, really hot. So, if you are in Bari on a particularly steamy day, seek relief by spending an afternoon at Pane e Pomodoro Beach. This place, while a bit short, is really wide and is covered in fine white sand.

Swimmers will love this place. In peak season, the water temperature averages around 26 to 27 degrees Celsius, which complements the perpetual 30 degree days that Bari gets in August. Arrive early during this time, though, as the sands fill with people from all over the country.

After a long day of sightseeing, join locals in a walk along the Lungomare e Murat. This promenade follows the waterfront of Bari, so you’ll find people strolling, jogging, or enjoying life. Along the way, there are cafes, so take a seat and watch the beautiful people of this city go by.

End your time in Bari by exploring and enjoying La Città Vecchia. Translating to English as “The Old City,” this part of town contains the finest architecture in Bari. After you finish exploring its narrow, maze-like streets, stop in at a bar, restaurant, or cafe for a great meal.

Sunset views with magical glowing light from the port of Bari, Italy

Top 20 Things To Do in Bari, Italy For Visitors

If you’re visiting the vibrant city of Bari in the Puglia region of Italy, here are the top things you should do:

1. Explore the Vibrant Streets of Bari Vecchia (Old Town)

Stroll through the labyrinthine alleys of Bari Vecchia, where history seems to whisper from every corner. Visit the ancient Basilica of Saint Nicholas and marvel at its architectural beauty while learning about the saint who inspired Santa Claus. Don’t miss a chance to see local life up close, as residents open their doors to sell homemade orecchiette pasta right on the street.

2. Marvel at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas

This magnificent basilica is a jewel of Romanesque architecture and a pilgrimage site for both Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Inside, you can admire the gold ceiling, the stunning mosaics, and the crypt containing the relics of Saint Nicholas. The basilica also hosts an annual festival in December, drawing visitors from around the world.

3. Wander Through the Norman-Swabian Castle

Explore this imposing fortress that has stood guard over Bari since the 12th century. With its moat, drawbridge, and stone walls, the castle offers a fascinating glimpse into medieval military architecture. It now houses a museum with exhibits ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary art.

4. Relax on the Pane e Pomodoro Beach

Soak up the Mediterranean sun on this popular sandy beach, named for its simplicity – “bread and tomato.” It’s a perfect spot for a family day out, offering clear waters and facilities such as showers and snack bars. The beach also provides a beautiful view of the seafront and is a great place for a leisurely stroll in the evening.

5. Enjoy the Lungomare Nazario Sauro

Take a leisurely walk along Bari’s picturesque seafront promenade, Lungomare Nazario Sauro, where the gentle sea breeze and stunning Adriatic views await. This promenade is lined with cafes and gelaterias, perfect for enjoying an espresso or gelato while watching the sunset. It’s also a popular spot for cyclists and joggers, offering a refreshing route for exercise enthusiasts.

6. Discover the Treasures of the Bari Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Sabino)

Dive into the history and spirituality of Bari by visiting the Cattedrale di San Sabino, a beautiful example of Apulian Romanesque architecture. The cathedral boasts a striking façade, an impressive rose window, and a crypt with archaeological finds. It’s a peaceful sanctuary that offers insight into the city’s religious heritage.

7. Taste the Local Street Food

Embark on a culinary adventure by tasting Bari’s delicious street food. From sgagliozze (fried polenta) to panzerotti (stuffed fried dough), these treats are a delight for any foodie. Many vendors can be found in the Old Town, offering an authentic taste of local cuisine.

8. Shop at the Mercato di Poggiofranco

Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Mercato di Poggiofranco, one of Bari’s bustling markets. Here, you can find everything from fresh produce to seafood, meats, and cheeses, all sourced locally. It’s an excellent place to sample regional products and engage with friendly local vendors.

9. Take a Cooking Class

Learn how to cook traditional Apulian dishes by joining a cooking class in Bari. These classes often include a visit to the local market to pick fresh ingredients, followed by hands-on instruction from local chefs. It’s a fun way to immerse yourself in Italian cuisine and culture.

10. Enjoy a Performance at the Teatro Petruzzelli

Visit the Teatro Petruzzelli, one of Italy’s most renowned opera houses, for an unforgettable evening of music or theater. This elegant venue hosts a variety of performances, from operas and ballets to concerts and plays. The beautiful interior and world-class acoustics make every show a memorable experience.

11. Explore the Pinacoteca Provinciale di Bari

Art lovers should not miss the Pinacoteca Provinciale di Bari, a gallery housing a rich collection of Italian paintings from the 11th to the 19th centuries. The collection includes works by renowned artists such as Tintoretto and Veronese, offering a journey through Italy’s artistic legacy.

12. Visit the Museo Archeologico di Santa Scolastica

Dive into Bari’s ancient past at the Museo Archeologico di Santa Scolastica, where artifacts from the region’s prehistoric, Roman, and Medieval periods are on display. The museum is housed in a former monastery, adding to the historical ambiance.

13. Attend the Fiera del Levante

If you’re visiting Bari in September, don’t miss the Fiera del Levante, Italy’s largest trade fair. This event showcases a wide range of products and technologies and includes exhibitions, workshops, and cultural performances, providing insight into the economic and cultural vibrancy of the region.

14. Take a Day Trip to Polignano a Mare

Just a short drive from Bari, Polignano a Mare is a picturesque coastal town perched atop limestone cliffs. Famous for its stunning sea views, beautiful beaches, and the iconic Lama Monachile beach, it’s an ideal spot for photography, swimming, and enjoying fresh seafood.

15. Relax in the Parco 2 Giugno

Take a break from the city’s hustle and bustle in the Parco 2 Giugno, Bari’s largest public park. With its lush greenery, walking paths, and ponds, it’s a serene spot for a picnic, a leisurely walk, or simply unwinding in nature.

16. Join a Boat Tour

Experience Bari from a different perspective by joining a boat tour along the Adriatic coast. These tours offer stunning views of the city skyline, opportunities for swimming in crystal-clear waters, and a chance to explore nearby caves and coves.

17. Sample Apulian Wines

Puglia is known for its excellent wines, and Bari offers plenty of opportunities to sample these delights. Visit local enotecas (wine shops) or join a wine tasting tour to savor regional varieties like Primitivo and Negroamaro, and learn about the winemaking process.

18. Cycle Along the Coastal Road

Rent a bike and explore Bari’s scenic coast along dedicated cycling paths. The route offers breathtaking views of the sea, passing through beaches and quaint fishing villages, making for an enjoyable and active day out.

19. Visit the San Nicola Stadium

Sports enthusiasts can catch a football match at the San Nicola Stadium, home to the FC Bari. The stadium, designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano for the 1990 FIFA World Cup, is an architectural marvel and a hub of local passion for the beautiful game.

20. Indulge in Gelato by the Sea

No visit to Bari, or Italy for that matter, would be complete without indulging in gelato. Visit one of the many gelaterias by the seafront for a refreshing treat, choosing from a variety of flavors that capture the essence of Italian summers.

Traditional orecchiette pasta from Italy. What you can eat in Bari, Italy. The orecchiette pasta was for sale in street stalls in the city of Bari for tourists.

What To Eat and Drink in Bari, South Italy

Bari, the capital of Italy’s Puglia region, is a treasure trove of culinary delights. Its cuisine is deeply rooted in local traditions, celebrating the freshness of its ingredients from both the sea and the land. Here’s a detailed guide to what you should eat and drink when you find yourself in this vibrant Southern Italian city.

Must-Try Foods in Bari

1. Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa

A hallmark of Bari’s cuisine, orecchiette are “little ear” shaped pasta served with cime di rapa (broccoli rabe), anchovies, garlic, and a sprinkle of pecorino cheese. This dish balances the bitterness of the greens with the saltiness of the anchovies beautifully.

2. Focaccia Barese

Unlike its thicker cousin from other parts of Italy, Bari’s focaccia is thin, crispy, and often topped with tomatoes, olives, and oregano. Its dough, made with potatoes, ensures a moist center, making it irresistible.

3. Panzerotti

These fried turnovers filled with tomato and mozzarella are a popular street food in Bari. Crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, panzerotti are perfect for a snack while exploring the city.

4. Tiella Barese

A comforting baked dish made with rice, potatoes, and mussels, layered and seasoned with fresh tomatoes and pecorino cheese. Tiella encapsulates the flavors of the Apulian coast in every bite.

5. Grilled Octopus

Seafood is a staple in Bari, and grilled octopus is a delicacy. Marinated in olive oil, lemon, and herbs, it’s grilled to perfection and served as a tender, flavorful dish that seafood lovers will adore.

6. Burrata

While not exclusive to Bari, burrata cheese finds one of its best expressions here. This creamy, buttery cheese is often served with fresh tomatoes and basil, drizzled with local olive oil.

7. Cozze Gratinate

Mussels are coated with breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, and pecorino cheese, then baked or grilled. This dish showcases the freshness of Bari’s seafood, elevated with simple, aromatic seasoning.

8. Cavatelli ai Frutti di Mare

A delightful seafood pasta dish featuring cavatelli pasta tossed with a medley of fresh seafood in a light tomato sauce, embodying the essence of the Mediterranean Sea.

9. Risotto alla Pescatora

A seafood risotto that combines the flavors of various seafood like shrimp, mussels, and clams, cooked with tomatoes and saffron. Each spoonful offers a taste of the sea.

10. Taralli

These crunchy, ring-shaped snacks are made from flour, olive oil, and white wine. Often flavored with fennel seeds, taralli are the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine.

Must-Try Drinks in Bari

11. Primitivo Wine

Produced in the Puglia region, Primitivo is a robust red wine with notes of dark fruits, making it an excellent pair for the region’s rich dishes.

12. Negroamaro Wine

Another cherished red wine from Puglia, known for its earthy and slightly bitter (amaro) notes. It complements seafood and pasta dishes wonderfully.

13. Limoncello

While not unique to Bari, limoncello is a popular digestif in the region. This lemon liqueur is sweet, tangy, and refreshing, perfect after a hearty meal.

14. Orzata

A refreshing almond-flavored drink, orzata is often enjoyed in the hot summer months. It’s a sweet treat that can be found in cafes and bars throughout Bari.

15. Caffè Speciale

Not your typical coffee, the caffè speciale is a Bari specialty combining espresso with lemon peel, amaretto, and cream. It’s a unique blend that coffee lovers should not miss.

Dining in Bari offers an authentic taste of Southern Italy’s culinary traditions, with each dish and drink telling a story of the region’s history, culture, and local produce. From the simplicity of fresh seafood to the complexity of its wines, Bari promises a gastronomic journey that delights and satisfies.

Restaurants in Bari, Italy with craft tables outside on the streets of Bari

Top Restaurants In Bari, Italy

Bari, a coastal city in Italy’s Puglia region, is a paradise for food lovers. The city’s restaurants offer an array of dishes that reflect the rich culinary traditions of Southern Italy, utilizing fresh, local ingredients from the sea and the land. Here’s a comprehensive list of top restaurants in Bari, where you can savor the best of local cuisine.

1. La Uascezze

  • Location: Old Town, Bari
  • Specialty: This charming restaurant in the heart of Bari Vecchia is known for its traditional Pugliese dishes, especially the orecchiette con cime di rapa. The cozy ambiance and friendly service make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

2. Al Pescatore

  • Location: Bari’s Port Area
  • Specialty: Considered one of the best seafood restaurants in Bari, Al Pescatore offers fresh, beautifully prepared seafood dishes. The setting overlooking the sea provides the perfect backdrop for a memorable dining experience.

3. Grotta Bianca

  • Location: Bari Vecchia
  • Specialty: Set in a converted cave, Grotta Bianca serves up classic Apulian cuisine with a focus on fresh ingredients and traditional flavors. Their antipasto selection is a highlight, offering a taste of various regional specialties.

4. Terranima

  • Location: Near the Central Station
  • Specialty: Terranima is dedicated to showcasing the richness of Puglia’s agricultural produce through inventive dishes. The restaurant’s modern take on traditional recipes, paired with a selection of local wines, makes for a delightful culinary journey.

5. Osteria del Tempo Perso

  • Location: Old Town, Bari
  • Specialty: This quaint osteria offers a dive into the past with its rustic decor and a menu packed with heritage dishes passed down through generations. Their hand-made pasta dishes, particularly the cavatelli, are a must-try.

6. Biancofiore

  • Location: Bari’s Seafront
  • Specialty: Biancofiore stands out for its elegant setting and sophisticated menu that blends local flavors with international cuisine. The seafood dishes here are exceptional, prepared with an innovative touch.

7. Mastro Ciccio

  • Location: Central Bari
  • Specialty: For something more casual, Mastro Ciccio offers an array of gourmet sandwiches and panzerotti, making it an ideal stop for a quick yet delicious meal. Their creative fillings and fresh bread are a testament to the quality of Bari’s street food scene.

8. La Cecchina

  • Location: Near Petruzzelli Theatre
  • Specialty: La Cecchina offers a menu that reflects the seasonal bounty of Puglia. The restaurant’s interior, combining elegance with warmth, complements the excellent food and wine on offer.

9. Ristorante PerBacco

  • Location: Close to the Lungomare
  • Specialty: Known for its refined ambiance and exquisite cuisine, PerBacco specializes in seafood dishes with a contemporary twist. The wine list is carefully curated to pair beautifully with the menu.

10. Vini e Cucina

  • Location: Old Town, Bari
  • Specialty: A traditional trattoria with a homely atmosphere, Vini e Cucina serves hearty Pugliese meals at great value. It’s a perfect spot for those looking to enjoy classic dishes like braciola and tiella in a laid-back setting.

11. Giampaolo Ristorante

  • Location: Just outside Bari’s city center
  • Specialty: This upscale restaurant is celebrated for its creative interpretations of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. The elegant presentation and innovative flavor combinations provide a unique dining experience.

12. Il Guazzetto

  • Location: Bari Vecchia
  • Specialty: Il Guazzetto wins hearts with its cozy vibe and excellent seafood pasta dishes. Located in a picturesque piazza, it’s an ideal spot for a romantic dinner or a relaxed evening with friends.

Cathedral Basilica of San Sabino in Bari, Italy views from the ground level

Tours For Visitors To Bari, Italy

Here’s a comprehensive list of tours for visitors to Bari, catering to a variety of interests from historical explorations to culinary adventures.

1. Bari Vecchia Guided Walking Tour

  • Discover the charm of Bari’s Old Town (Bari Vecchia) through a guided walking tour. Learn about the area’s history, architecture, and traditions as you wander through narrow streets, visit ancient churches like the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, and explore the Norman-Swabian Castle.
  • Duration: Approximately 2-3 hours.

2. Street Food Tour of Bari

  • Dive into the flavors of Bari with a street food tour. Sample local specialties such as focaccia barese, panzerotti, and orecchiette pasta, and learn about the city’s culinary traditions from a local guide.
  • Duration: Approximately 2-3 hours.

3. Bike Tour Along the Adriatic Sea

  • Experience the beauty of Bari’s coastline on a guided bike tour. Ride along the seafront promenade, visit beaches, and enjoy the scenic views of the Adriatic Sea. It’s a great way to cover more ground and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Duration: Approximately 2-4 hours.

4. Olive Oil Tasting Tour

  • Puglia is renowned for its olive oil, and this tour offers a visit to an olive grove and mill. Learn about the production process, from harvesting to pressing, and enjoy a tasting session of high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
  • Duration: Approximately half a day.

5. Cooking Class with a Local Chef

  • Join a cooking class to learn how to prepare traditional Pugliese dishes. These classes often include a market visit to select fresh ingredients, followed by hands-on instruction in making dishes like orecchiette pasta, all enjoyed together at the end.
  • Duration: Approximately 4-5 hours.

6. Wine Tasting Tour in the Countryside

  • Explore the vineyards of the Puglia region on a wine tasting tour. Visit local wineries to learn about the winemaking process and sample a variety of regional wines, such as Primitivo and Negroamaro.
  • Duration: Approximately half a day to a full day.

7. Historical and Cultural Tour of Bari

  • Gain deeper insights into Bari’s rich history and cultural heritage with a tour that covers key historical sites, museums, and galleries. Learn about the city’s Byzantine, Norman, and Romanesque influences and explore cultural landmarks.
  • Duration: Approximately 2-4 hours.

8. Sailing Trip Along the Coast

  • Set sail on a guided boat tour to enjoy Bari’s stunning coastline from the water. These trips often include opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing, providing a relaxing and scenic way to spend the day.
  • Duration: Half day to full day options available.

9. Farm and Market Tour

  • Visit local farms and markets to learn about Puglia’s agricultural products. These tours provide insight into the region’s farm-to-table practices and offer tastings of fresh produce, cheeses, and other specialties.
  • Duration: Approximately half a day.

10. Craftsmanship and Artisan Workshop Tour

  • Explore Bari’s artistic side by visiting workshops where traditional crafts are made. Learn about the skills and techniques behind handmade ceramics, textiles, and other crafts, offering a unique perspective on the city’s creative heritage.
  • Duration: Approximately 2-3 hours.

Small boat moored to Bari port, Italy, during a storm at sea in Italy on a very cloudy day

Bari Accommodations: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

Here’s a guide to some of the best places to rest your head in Bari, ensuring a memorable visit to this enchanting city.

Luxury Hotels

1. Grande Albergo delle Nazioni

  • Right on the seafront, this luxury hotel offers stunning views of the Adriatic Sea, an outdoor swimming pool, and rooms styled with modern elegance. Guests can enjoy a rooftop terrace and a refined dining experience at the on-site restaurant, making it perfect for those seeking comfort and sophistication.

2. iH Hotels Bari Oriente

  • Located in a beautifully restored historic building, iH Hotels Bari Oriente provides guests with a taste of Italian luxury, combining traditional architecture with contemporary comforts. Its central location makes it an ideal base for exploring Bari’s attractions.

Mid-Range Hotels

3. Hotel Boston Bari

  • Situated in the commercial heart of Bari, Hotel Boston offers comfortable accommodations with easy access to both the old and new parts of the city. With friendly staff and a hearty breakfast included, it’s a great value option for travelers.

4. The Nicolaus Hotel

  • The Nicolaus Hotel impresses with its stylish rooms, spa facilities, and excellent customer service. Located slightly outside the city center, it provides a peaceful retreat with a shuttle service for easy access to Bari’s main sites.

Budget Accommodations

5. Olive Tree Hostel

  • Olive Tree, Bari’s beloved hostel, offers a social and welcoming environment for backpackers and solo travelers. With dormitory and private room options, a communal kitchen, and organized events, it’s a fantastic choice for those looking to meet fellow travelers.

6. Guesthouse City Center Bari

  • This guesthouse presents a budget-friendly option without compromising on location or comfort. Situated in the heart of Bari, it provides cozy rooms and easy access to local dining and sights.

Guesthouses and B&Bs

7. La Muraglia B&B

  • Set in a historic building in Bari’s charming old town, La Muraglia offers beautifully decorated rooms that reflect the character of the surrounding area. Guests can enjoy a delicious breakfast and the rooftop terrace with panoramic city views.

8. Villa del Mar

  • A bit further from the city center, Villa del Mar is a serene escape offering spacious rooms and a warm, family-like atmosphere. The beachfront location and homemade breakfast make it a delightful choice for a relaxing stay.

Unique Stays

9. Palazzo Calò

  • Combining the charm of historic architecture with modern design, Palazzo Calò provides unique accommodations in the heart of Bari. Each apartment is equipped with kitchen facilities, making it ideal for longer stays or those who prefer a more independent experience.

10. B&B La Uascezze

  • Located in the vibrant old town, La Uascezze offers a true Apulian experience with its traditional stone rooms and an inviting courtyard. The B&B’s proximity to local landmarks and its authentic decor make it a memorable place to stay.

Day trip from Bari, Italy to Trulli of Alberobello. These are typical houses street view. Town of Alberobello, village with Trulli houses in Puglia Apulia region, Southern Italy.

Day Trips From Bari, Italy

Here’s a list of compelling day trips from Bari, providing experiences that range from delving into ancient history to savoring Puglia’s culinary delights and natural beauty.

1. Alberobello

  • Distance from Bari: Approximately 55 km (34 miles).
  • Highlights: Famous for its trulli, distinctive stone huts with conical roofs, Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town offers a glimpse into traditional Apulian architecture and local crafts. Don’t miss the Trullo Sovrano and the Trulli Museum to fully appreciate the area’s cultural heritage.

2. Polignano a Mare

  • Distance from Bari: About 35 km (22 miles).
  • Highlights: This stunning coastal town is renowned for its dramatic cliffside views, crystal-clear waters, and charming old town. Polignano a Mare is also the birthplace of Domenico Modugno, famous for the song “Volare.” Enjoy a walk along the beach, explore the caves, or dine in a cave restaurant for a memorable experience.

3. Matera

  • Distance from Bari: Roughly 65 km (40 miles).
  • Highlights: Known as the “City of Stones,” Matera is famous for its ancient cave dwellings in the Sassi districts, another UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the rock-hewn churches, visit the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario for a look at life in the Sassi, and enjoy the panoramic views of this unique landscape.

4. Ostuni

  • Distance from Bari: Approximately 85 km (53 miles).
  • Highlights: Ostuni, the “White City,” is famous for its whitewashed houses set against the backdrop of the Adriatic Sea. Wander through the narrow streets of its medieval old town, visit the Ostuni Cathedral, and enjoy the olive groves and vineyards that surround the city.

5. Lecce

  • Distance from Bari: Around 150 km (93 miles).
  • Highlights: Often referred to as the “Florence of the South,” Lecce is celebrated for its Baroque architecture, including the Basilica di Santa Croce and the Lecce Cathedral. The city’s historic center, with its intricate stonework and charming cafes, provides a deep dive into Southern Italian culture and history.

6. Castel del Monte

  • Distance from Bari: About 55 km (34 miles).
  • Highlights: This 13th-century castle, another UNESCO World Heritage site, is known for its unique octagonal shape and mysterious history. Built by Emperor Frederick II, Castel del Monte offers fascinating insights into medieval architecture and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

7. Trani

  • Distance from Bari: Approximately 50 km (31 miles).
  • Highlights: Trani is a picturesque seaport town known for its beautiful Romanesque cathedral, positioned right by the sea. Enjoy a stroll along the marina, explore the historic Jewish quarter, and sample the local Moscato di Trani wine.

8. Gargano National Park

  • Distance from Bari: Roughly 200 km (124 miles).
  • Highlights: For nature enthusiasts, the Gargano National Park offers lush forests, hiking trails, secluded beaches, and the stunning Umbra Forest. It’s a perfect destination for outdoor activities, including trekking, bird watching, and exploring the beautiful coastline.

9. Monopoli

  • Distance from Bari: About 45 km (28 miles).
  • Highlights: Monopoli combines the charm of a fishing port with historic significance, offering lovely beaches, a picturesque old town, and the Castle of Charles V. The town is also a great place to enjoy fresh seafood and relax by the sea.

10. The Itria Valley

  • Distance from Bari: Approximately 80 km (50 miles).
  • Highlights: The Itria Valley is home to picturesque towns like Locorotondo, Martina Franca, and Cisternino, offering a serene countryside dotted with trulli houses, vineyards, and olive groves. It’s an ideal spot for wine tasting and enjoying the slow pace of rural Italian life.

Bari remarkable coastal views with a jagged rugged cliffs in Italy

Bari Transportation Guide

Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s historic center, venture out to the picturesque towns along the coast, or head inland to the verdant countryside, here’s a detailed and comprehensive guide to transportation in Bari, Italy.

Getting to Bari

By Air

  • Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (BRI): Located approximately 8 km northwest of Bari city center, the airport offers both domestic and international flights. Shuttle services, buses, and taxis connect the airport to the city center and the central train station.

By Train

  • Bari Centrale Railway Station: Bari’s main train station is a hub for regional and long-distance services, including high-speed trains (Frecciarossa and Frecciargento) to major Italian cities like Rome, Milan, and Florence. It also serves as the starting point for local trains to Puglia’s smaller towns.

Getting Around Bari

On Foot

  • Walking: Bari’s city center is compact and pedestrian-friendly, especially the Old Town (Bari Vecchia) and the seafront promenade, making walking one of the best ways to explore the city’s attractions.

By Public Transportation

  • AMTAB Buses: Bari’s local bus network, operated by AMTAB, covers the city and its suburbs. Tickets can be purchased at kiosks, some tobacco shops, or directly from the driver.
  • Metropolitan Train Service: The Ferrotramviaria and Ferrovie del Sud Est lines operate trains connecting Bari to nearby towns and suburbs, such as Bitonto, Ruvo di Puglia, and Polignano a Mare.


  • Bike Sharing: Bari offers a bike-sharing scheme with stations throughout the city, providing a healthy and eco-friendly way to get around. The city has been expanding its network of bike lanes, making cycling a viable option for short trips.

By Car

  • Car Rental: Several car rental agencies operate in Bari, with offices at the airport, train station, and city center. Renting a car gives you the flexibility to explore the Puglia region at your own pace, though parking in the city center can be challenging.
  • Taxis: Taxis can be hailed on the street, found at designated taxi stands, or booked via phone. They’re a convenient option for direct travel, especially outside the operating hours of public transport.

Day Trips from Bari

  • Regional Trains: Trenitalia’s regional trains connect Bari to destinations across Puglia and beyond, such as Alberobello, Lecce, and Matera, making them an excellent choice for day trips.
  • Private Tours: Various companies offer private tours from Bari to popular sites in Puglia, including vineyards, olive groves, and historical towns. These tours often include transportation in comfortable vehicles, providing a hassle-free way to explore the region.

Travel Tips

  • Plan Ahead: Especially during peak tourist season, it’s wise to check timetables and book tickets or rental cars in advance.
  • Tickets and Passes: For public transportation, consider purchasing a daily or multi-day pass if you plan to use buses and trains frequently.
  • Driving: If you choose to rent a car, familiarize yourself with local driving laws and parking regulations. The historic center of Bari is limited traffic zones (ZTL), where driving is restricted or subject to fees.

Navigating Bari offers an insight into the diverse and vibrant life of this Southern Italian city. Whether you’re meandering through the ancient streets of Bari Vecchia, venturing to the surrounding countryside, or exploring the picturesque towns of Puglia, the various modes of transportation available ensure that your journey will be as smooth as it is memorable.

Ostuni is a must visit destination after Bari, Italy

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Bari?

Here’s a travel guide to captivating places to visit after your journey in Bari, each offering its unique charm and wonders.

1. Alberobello

  • Just an hour away from Bari, Alberobello is renowned for its trulli, distinctive cone-roofed houses that are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Strolling through the town’s narrow streets feels like stepping into a fairy tale. Alberobello is also a great place to taste local wines and olive oils. Don’t miss the chance to stay overnight in a trullo to experience these unique buildings firsthand.

2. Matera

  • Known for its ancient sassi dwellings carved out of the rock, Matera is a mesmerizing city with a history that spans over 7,000 years, making it one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Located just a 90-minute drive from Bari, it offers breathtaking views, especially at sunrise or sunset. Matera’s complex of cave dwellings, churches, and monasteries is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city’s cultural landscape and its recent revival offer a remarkable journey through time.

3. Lecce

  • Often dubbed the “Florence of the South,” Lecce is a Baroque masterpiece in the heart of Puglia. Its limestone streets and elaborately decorated churches and buildings gleam under the southern sun. Lecce is also famous for its paper-mâché crafts and vibrant café culture. The city serves as a gateway to the idyllic beaches of the Salento peninsula.

4. Ostuni

  • Perched on a hill and crowned by a Gothic cathedral, Ostuni, the “White City,” is famous for its whitewashed houses that sparkle against the blue Mediterranean sky. This city offers a maze of narrow streets, panoramic views, and an inviting atmosphere for leisurely exploration. Ostuni is surrounded by olive groves, and its location provides easy access to the beautiful beaches of the Adriatic coast. The city is also a great place to enjoy Puglia’s exquisite cuisine.

5. Polignano a Mare

  • Polignano a Mare captivates visitors with its dramatic coastal cliffs, pebble beaches, and the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea. The birthplace of the famous Italian singer Domenico Modugno, its streets and squares pay homage to his legacy. The town’s charm is complemented by its vibrant dining scene, including the renowned Grotta Palazzese, a restaurant set inside a sea cave. Adventure seekers can enjoy cliff diving and exploring sea caves.

6. Gargano Peninsula

  • The Gargano Peninsula offers a diverse natural landscape of sandy beaches, limestone cliffs, and the ancient Forest Umbra. It’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering hiking, swimming, and exploring quaint coastal towns like Vieste and Peschici. The area is also home to the Monte Sant’Angelo, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a sanctuary dedicated to the Archangel Michael. The peninsula’s diverse ecosystems make it a unique destination for nature lovers.

7. Trani

  • Trani stands out with its picturesque harbor, Romanesque cathedral right by the sea, and a lively atmosphere that blends the maritime with the medieval. The town’s historic center, with its elegant mansions and Jewish heritage sites, offers a peaceful exploration. Trani is also known for producing Moscato di Trani, a sweet dessert wine. The waterfront provides a perfect backdrop for dining al fresco.

8. Taranto

  • Taranto, known as the “City of Two Seas,” is rich in history, from its Greek origins to its role as a strategic naval base. The Aragonese Castle and the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto, which houses one of Italy’s most important collections of Greek artifacts, are must-visit spots. The city’s old town reveals layers of history, while the surrounding seas offer beautiful spots for relaxation. Taranto’s revival in recent years has brought new life to its ancient streets.

9. Castel del Monte

  • A UNESCO World Heritage site, Castel del Monte is a 13th-century castle known for its unique octagonal shape and mysterious history. Built by Emperor Frederick II, its precise purpose remains a topic of debate among historians. The castle offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and is an architectural marvel for visitors to explore. Its isolated location adds to its enigmatic allure.

10. Salento’s Beaches

  • The Salento peninsula boasts some of Italy’s most beautiful beaches, with crystal-clear waters and golden sands. Destinations like Torre Dell’Orso, Santa Maria di Leuca, and the Maldives of Salento offer breathtaking coastal landscapes for relaxation and water sports. The area is dotted with historic towns and vibrant nightlife spots. Salento’s beaches are a perfect way to unwind after exploring the cultural and historical richness of Puglia.

Afternoon view of seafront in Bari, Apulia, Italy on an absolutely gorgeous day in Italy.

Bari Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Bari is a fantastic destination for travelers looking for a mix of history, culture, and delicious cuisine. With its stunning architecture, charming old town, and excellent seafood, Bari has something to offer every type of traveler.

Visitors should make sure to explore the Basilica di San Nicola, the Old Town, and the Castello Svevo to get a sense of the city’s rich history. A leisurely walk along the Lungomare Promenade is also a must-do for its spectacular sea views. And, of course, foodies will want to sample the local cuisine, including orecchiette pasta, focaccia barese, and fresh seafood from the Mercato del Pesce.

Bari is also an excellent starting point for exploring the surrounding area, with several fascinating day trip options within easy reach. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient cave dwellings, sipping local wines, or simply relaxing by the sea, there is something for everyone just a short trip away from Bari.

Overall, Bari is a hidden gem of a destination, with plenty to offer visitors looking for an authentic Italian experience.

Ode To Bari

Bari, land of sun and sea, A city filled with history. From ancient ruins to modern art, There’s something here for every heart.

The winding streets of the old town, Where time has left its ancient crown. Cobblestones and colors bright, A charming scene to catch the light.

The Basilica, a holy place, With relics and a sacred grace. A symbol of devotion true, A pilgrimage for me and you.

The castle stands in stately pride, Its walls protecting all inside. A fortress strong, with tales untold, A piece of history to behold.

The sea that laps upon the shore, Its waves a song forevermore. A tranquil haven, peaceful bliss, A place to pause, to dream, to wish.

Oh Bari, land of sun and sea, Your beauty fills our hearts with glee. A city rich in culture and art, Forever will you steal our heart.

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