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Things to do in Bari: Bari is the second largest city in southern Italy and the gateway to the beautiful region of Puglia. Bari offers the perfect destination for a short stay before heading off to explore the highlights of the surrounding region.
The old town center of Bari sits around the harbor, while the business and residential area spreads into the mainland. The old town offers an amazing display of historical architecture, while the modern sections host some fine museums and shops. This striking combination of the old and the new is forever apparent in this delightful coastal city.
- Must pack items for Bari
- The best things to do in Bari, Italy on your upcoming vacation.
- Where to stay in Bari
- How to get to Bari
Must Pack Items for Bari, Italy
While it definitely depends on the season you visit, here are a few things that will serve you well in any season:
- A floppy hat – perfect for beach days or walking around the city
- Some cute sandals – something like these classic ones or these with more support.
- A cute dress for holiday dinners like this simple wrap dress, or this off shoulder chiffon dress.
Enjoy Fresh Seafood by the Sea
Every day at lunch time, the fishermen of Bari return from the sea on their boats with their daily catch. Meanwhile, tables are set up on the sea shore where the most incredible raw seafood lunch will be served.
Oysters, mussels, prawns, calamari, octopus, sea urchins and other fish are all available here alongside freshly baked bread and lemons. Next to the food tables there is a small bar selling beer and other drinks to wash down your lunch.
Visit the Basilica of San Nicola
A major city attraction, the Basilica of San Nicola is a large church that lies at the center of Bari. Located near the city’s old harbor, this Romanesque style basilica was constructed in 1197 and is dedicated to Saint Nicholas.
Famous for its amazing design and luxurious interiors, the church is an important place of pilgrimage for Catholics in Europe. Its front façade features fantastic miniature details and notable sculptures, while the interior boasts a gold ceiling with painted artworks.
Tour the Cathedral of San Sabino
A marvelous building in its own right, the Cathedral of San Sabino is also located at the center of Bari. Similar in design to Basilica San Nicola, its front façade is made of white stone with sculptures and ornate windows.
The San Sabino cathedral was constructed in 1292 and today serves as an important example of Romanesque architecture in Italy. Inside the building visitors can explore a myriad of white stone and marble designs, along with an elaborately decorated crypt.
See the Castello Normano Svevo
The Castello Normano Svevo, a Norman castle that lies outside the old town, offers a great exhibition of historical artifacts. The castle features a traditional design with a central courtyard, four main guard towers and is surrounded by a moat.
It’s also a great point for viewing the city from its elevated position west of the old town. Visitors can stroll through the courtyard, passages and interior rooms to admire the amazing architecture and displays of historical relics.
Stroll the Lungomare Nazario Sauro
No trip to the city of Bari would be complete without taking a picturesque walk along promenade Lungomare Nazario Sauro. The walkway stretches about 1km from the harbor and offers a gloriously scenic patch to soak up the Mediterranean sun.
You can watch the blue and white fishing boats bobbing in the calm waters and enjoy tranquil views over the horizon. The promenade is enjoyable at any time of the day, but is especially lovely at the golden hour of sunset.
Enjoy a Show at Teatro Petruzzelli
Bari is famous for its theatres, and until the mid-20th century, the city was known for its vivid artistic life. The largest theatre in Bari city and the fourth largest in the country, Teatro Petruzzelli is an important opera house.
Standing out from the modern buildings that surround it, the theatre boasts a magnificent orange façade decorated with detailed sculptures. The interiors of the theatre feature amazing décor with the impressive auditorium covered in endless red velvet and gold trimmings.
Day Trip to Polignano a Mare
This beautiful beach is only a 30 minute drive from Bari and is well worth a visit during your time in the city. The beach itself is relatively narrow and is flanked by cliffs and architecture on both sides making it quite the sight.
Sunbathe at Lido San Francesco
If you are looking to soak up the sun and enjoy some sea breeze, head over to Lido San Francesco. Situated to the east of Bari’s old town, this marvelous stretch of pristine beach offers many activities to get into.
You can sunbathe on the beach’s perfectly golden sands or enjoy a dip in the crystal clear azure waters. You have to pay a fee to visit this beach which gives you access to two sun beds and an umbrella.
Explore the Old Town
The old town center of Bari today remains pretty much intact and clearly distinct from the modern developments surrounding it. The old town is filled with a maze of cobbled streets, stairways, vespas and the smell of freshly washed laundry.
You’ll find it interesting to wander the narrow streets, immerse yourself in the local culture and check out the city’s architecture. You can also take a wonderful stroll along the city walls overlooking the sea and the harbor.
See Art at Spazio Murat
Located in Piazza Ferrarese, Spazio Murat is a contemporary art space that promotes modern art with emphasis on visual art. The gallery focuses on showcasing the leading pieces of creativity that come from the region of Puglia.
Spazio Murat also brings foreign art experiences to the local audience in the form of photo expositions, workshops and more. Puglia Design Store is the concept store of Spazio Murat and is also worthy of a visit.
Tips for Visiting Bari
- The best place to exchange money is at the local banks which normally offer more favorable rates than exchange offices.
- In Bari, the power supply voltage is 220V and all hotels are equipped with the standard European wall outlets.
- If budget is a real concern, head out a few kms out of town where accommodation prices can be cheap.
- Aside from the larger hotels, English is not that widely spoken so be sure to learn some basic Italian.
- Many restaurants charge “caperto”, which is an additional fee that is normally noted in the menu or on signs outside.
Where to Stay in Bari
Luxury: The Palace Hotel in Bari is a luxury accommodation located in one of the most refined areas in the city. The prestigious hotel overlooks Bari Vecchia, Svevo Castle and San Nicola Basilic and is ideal for a luxurious, discreet vacation.
Midrange: For midrange accommodation seekers, the Hi Hotel features a smart design that offers a comfortable stay for the modern traveler. The hotel is located in the trendy residential neighborhood of Poggiofranco, which is filled with buzzing restaurants, bars and pubs.
Budget: Hotel Palumbo offers cheap private rooms within an ancient fortification that keeps the timeless atmosphere of country residences in Bari. Situated in Marina di Palese, the budget hotel is the perfect base for discovering the city’s historic and cultural attractions.
How to get to Bari
- Fly: International flights land at Bari Airport in Palese from several European countries including the UK, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Greece.
- By rental car: Rent a car and enjoy a scenic drive to Bari via the A14 highway which runs along the Adriatic coast.
- By Bus: You can also use the Onbus Company to travel to Bari from Sicily or touring buses that connect from Germany.
- By Ferry: Bari can also be accessed via a ferry service that runs from the popular Greek ports of Patra and Igoumenitsa. There are also ships that connect Bari with Bar and Kotor in Montenegro, Dubrovnik in Croatia and Durres in Albania.