Hello Bari! The second largest city in southern Italy and capital of Apulia awaits you with an authentic Italian flair. If you are planning a road trip through Puglia, you can hardly avoid Bari, because most flights land here.
Admittedly, we first had to warm up a bit with Bari. Unlike other cities in Puglia, Bari is not that “dressed up” by a long shot. However, some impressive sights await you in Bari (above all the gigantic cathedral of Saint Nicholas) and of course real, southern Italian flair off the beaten track in Apulia.
In this blog article we present you the most important sights for your time in Bari. We also reveal our personal travel tips, such as recommended restaurants or great excursion destinations.
1. Bari: Useful information & travel tips in advance
Exciting facts & interesting facts about Bari
- Bari is the vibrant capital and largest city of Puglia. A good 300,000 people live here.
- Bari is located on the sea and is an important port city.
- Bari is divided into the old town (“Bari Vecchia”) and the new town. While the old town is a seemingly endless labyrinth of dark, narrow streets, the new town is quite modern.
- Until recently, Bari had a reputation for being quite dangerous. That has changed a lot in the past 10 to 15 years. We never felt uncomfortable in Bari. Of course, you should still follow the usual safety tips (stow valuables away safely, leave nothing in the car, etc.).
- Compared to other cities in Puglia, Bari is surprisingly quite untouristy. Of course you will also find the typical souvenir shops here, but on the whole the city has retained a very authentic flair.
How much time should I plan for Bari?
Bari is Puglia’s largest city, so we would recommend a full day to visit. In any case, you have enough time to visit the most important sights and to let the flair of the city work on you in a relaxed manner.
If you want to stay longer (i.e. overnight) , that is of course also possible. From Bari you can do some excursions (e.g. to Polignano or Monopoli). However, we ourselves are of the opinion that you do not necessarily have to plan an overnight stop in Bari.
What can’t I miss in Bari?
Before we introduce you to the individual sights in Bari in more detail in the next chapter, we would like to present you with our small but fine bucket list for Bari . Here are a few tips for the perfect day in Bari:
- Marvel at the gigantic Basilica San Nicola and visit the crypt below the basilica.
- Stroll through the pasta street (“Strada delle Orecchiette”) and maybe even buy pasta.
- Stroll along the old city wall and enjoy the view down to the harbour.
- Eat a delicious ice cream at Gelateria Gentile .
- Visit the Old Port at sunset and enjoy the atmosphere by the sea.
2. Sights in Bari: Our tips
Old town of Bari
Most of the sights, which we will present to you separately in a moment, are located within the old town of Bari, also known as “Bari Vecchia” . First of all we would like to say a few general words about this part of Bari.
Bari’s old town lies on a promontory and is mostly closed to normal traffic. What quickly becomes apparent: “Bari Vecchia” is different from other old towns in Apulia. Less spruced up. Even narrower, darker alleys.
Strolling through the labyrinth of alleys , you can imagine what life must have been like here a few decades ago. In some corners you actually have the feeling that little has changed.
Bari’s old town was able to retain its largely authentic flair . Souvenir shops can also be found, but not to the same extent as in other Puglia towns. (Which is of course also due to the fact that the old town of Bari is a bit more spacious.)
Basilica of San Nicola
The most important sight in Bari is the Basilica of San Nicola, which – as the name suggests – is dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Myra. (Yes, exactly THE Saint Nicholas.)
The basilica is the largest and most important sacred building in Bari, so we would definitely recommend that you not only admire it from the outside, but also take a look inside.
The huge church interior is very impressive due to its size, the huge columns and arches and the magnificent baroque ceiling. For many, the highlight is in the basement. There is the crypt with the mortal remains of Saint Nicholas.
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Cathedral of San Sabino
The second important church and also an important sight that you should not miss in Bari is the Cathedral of San Sabino. With its bright facade made of white-grey limestone, it immediately catches the eye.
The Cathedral of San Sabino is famous for the associated museum in the basement. Archaeological excavations such as early Christian floor mosaics can be admired there. Attention: The opening hours for the museum differ from those of the cathedral.
Admission: Free, 3 euros for the church museum
Mercantile Square & Ferrarese Square
Two of the most famous squares in Bari’s old town are the Piazza Mercantile and the Piazza del Ferrarese. They are in close proximity to each other, which is why we summarize them in this chapter. Both are located to the east of the old town, near the sea.
The Piazza Mercantile has been used as a marketplace since the Middle Ages. Today, many cafes, restaurants and bars are located here. The square is a place to come together and linger. Here is also the Colonna infame (column of shame), the ancient pillory of Bari.
If you walk further south you will reach the spacious Piazza del Ferrarese. This square is lined with some pretty buildings, such as the former fish market building. The tourist information can also be found in the Piazza del Ferrarese.
City walls of Bari
Around the old town of Bari there are still parts of the historic city walls. Along the Via Venezia you can walk on the city walls in the east of the old town.
From up here you’ll have nice views of the harbor (particularly from the square near Il Fortino di Sant’Antonio) and you’ll also get a new perspective on some of the sights – such as the back of the mighty Basilica San Nicola.
We personally really enjoyed this short walk. You can get on, for example, at the Piazza del Ferrarese (from here you go north) or at the Museo Archeologico di Santa Scolastica (from here you go south).
Santa Maria del Buon Consiglio
A special kind of sight are the ruins of the church of Santa Maria del Buon Consiglio, which can be found on a small square in the middle of the labyrinth of streets.
The church was probably built in the 9th or 10th century. Today, only a few columns and the remains of the mosaic floor are reminiscent of the church of that time. All in all, a very atmospheric place that is worth stopping by for a moment.
Swabian Castle of Bari
In front of the gates to the old town towers another important sight of Bari, the medieval fortress called Castello Svevo di Bari. You can walk around the fortress along the former moat to get a feel for the size.
The mighty castle complex dates back to the 13th century. Its purpose has varied over time, including from a military base to a prison and barracks.
Today the premises are used for exhibitions . Archaeological finds, ceramics and sculptures are mainly on display. Overall, definitely something for people interested in art.
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Street of Orecchiette
Just a stone’s throw away from Castello Svevo di Bari you reach the so-called Strada delle Orecchiette, i.e. the Orecchiette street. The official street name is “Arco Basso”.
What awaits you here? Yes, that’s right: orecchiette, the pasta specialty of Apulia. Ladies sit in this narrow, dark alley and prepare orecchiette and other pasta in front of you. They knead, shape and chat with their neighbours.
Locals and tourists can take the fresh orecchiette home with them. But be careful: the pasta is not completely dried, so you have to prepare it as quickly as possible. Unfortunately not a souvenir to take home.
Old Port & Fish Market
To the east of Bari’s old town you come to the old port, called Porto Vecchio . During the day, Bari’s famous fish market (“N’ dèrr’a la lanze”) takes place here on a mole (Molo San Nicola) jutting out into the sea.
You can watch the fishermen as they get the fresh catch from the boat and prepare it for sale. There is also the possibility to eat something directly on site.
We ourselves were here in the evening at sunset, when the traders had already packed up. Then you can look forward to a really great sunset atmosphere .
Lungomare (seafront) & city beach
South of the Old Port you get to the next attraction in Bari, the beach promenade – called Lungomare. It takes you south to the city beach of Bari called Pane e Pomodoro.
The promenade is considered one of the longest in Italy. However, good to know: It not only runs directly along the sea, but also next to a busy road. So there are probably more pleasant places in Bari, especially on a hot summer’s day.
And: Actually, it’s nicer to go in the opposite direction (from the beach towards the old town), because you always have Bari in view. The walking time (old town to the city beach) is about 20 to 25 minutes (one-way).
If that is too long for you, you can only walk to the small viewing platform (“Largo Luigi Giannella”). It only takes a maximum of 10 minutes from the old town.
Shopping street & Palazzo Mincuzzi
If you want to see the modern part of Bari , you should walk south from the old town and head for Via Sparano da Bari, so to speak the top shopping street in the city.
Personally, we came mainly for a very special sight: The Palazzo Mincuzzi. This magnificent Art Nouveau building was built in the 1930s as a posh department store and now houses a Benetton store.
A detour to the Teatro Petruzzelli , which is only a stone’s throw away from the shopping street, is also highly recommended . It is a famous opera house that was destroyed by fire in 1991 and then rebuilt.
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3. Food & Drink: Culinary tips for Bari
Gelateria Gentile: Excellent ice cream is available in this traditional gelateria, which is located directly at the Castello. Ice cream has been made here since 1880. The shop is now designed very hip and the prices are correspondingly rather high. Our favorite: Pistachio!
Vettor Ristorante: If you want to treat yourself to a special dinner, this is the place for you. Italian fusion cuisine (e.g. with an Asian touch) is served in a stylish ambience. The price level is high, as is the quality.
Flowerburger : This tip goes out to all those who eat vegan/vegetarian. This fast food place has very good burgers. Everything is purely plant-based and very delicious. Perfect for a no-fuss lunch or dinner.
4. Excursion destinations around Bari
Polignano a mare
About 40 minutes by car south-east of Bari you will reach one of the most famous places in Puglia: Polignano a Mare. Due to its imposing location on the steep coast, the town has developed into a magnet for visitors.
In the middle of the old town is one of the most photographed beaches in Puglia, the Lama Monachile. You have a great view of the beach from the viewpoint “Belvedere su Lama Monachile”.
A little tip: for dinner we can highly recommend the Mint Cucina Fresca restaurant . There is no classic Italian cuisine here, but rather modern, very creative fusion cuisine.
Check out our detailed article for more tips: Polignano & Monopoli
Monopoli is only about 15 minutes drive further than Polignano, so it is perfect to combine these two places.
A really spruced up, charming coastal town awaits you here , which is simply photogenic with its whitewashed house facades. Classic sights are not so much in focus here, although the Monopoli Cathedral is admittedly quite worth seeing.
In our opinion, however, it is more the special flair of Monopoli with the really nice city beach, the many cacti and pretty alleys that makes the town so special.
Check out our detailed article for more tips: Polignano & Monopoli
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5. Overnight in Bari
Our tip: stay overnight in Putignano
We ourselves pitched our tents in the small town of Putignano and from there explored various travel destinations and sights in this part of Puglia – including Bari (about 45 minutes away). It was perfect for us to visit Bari “only” as a day trip and we would do it that way again at any time.
We stayed in the wonderful Dimora Clementina – a gem of accommodation that we can only warmly recommend. Here you get the highest standard at a really fair price.
In terms of design and equipment, many a hotel chain can learn something from it. Starting with the most comfortable bed of our trip to Puglia, slippers and heating/air conditioning – you really feel at home here.
The accommodation is run by an incredibly lovely lady who is very accommodating and serves a great breakfast in the morning . Everything is homemade with lots of love. And if you also have tiramisu: definitely try it! It tastes delicious.
The only small downside: Our room was quite poorly soundproofed due to a connecting door. But that’s whining on a high level. Overall we were really excited.
You can book accommodation here: Dimora Clementina
Hotel tips for Bari
Would you rather stay overnight in Bari? We have selected two great accommodations in different price ranges for you.
VIS Urban Suites&Spa
This stylish, small design hotel only opened in autumn 2022. It’s quite central so you can walk to all the main attractions in Bari.
Here you can book the hotel: VIS Urban Suites&Spa
A lovingly furnished Bed & Breakfast with a very good price-performance ratio. It is located in close proximity to the old town of Bari.
Here you can book the hotel: B&B Murex
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6. Map: Sights and tips for Bari at a glance
To make it easier for you to find your way around, we have marked all the sights and our tips for Bari on this map. A little tip: click on the rectangle at the top right to save the map in the Google Maps app on your smartphone.
Transparency: Affiliate links
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!