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Best of Bari: Our Travel Guide, Tips & Favourite Spots

Ciao Bari! As the second-largest city in Southern Italy and the capital of Puglia, Bari greets you with a genuine Italian vibe. If you’re planning a road trip through Puglia, you’ll likely start in Bari, as most flights land here.

If we’re being honest, it took us a bit of time to warm up to Bari. Unlike other Puglian cities, it’s not as polished and neat. But, what Bari lacks in polish, it makes up for with some stunning sights (the massive Cathedral of Saint Nicholas is a must-see) and, of course, the authentic Southern Italian charm off the beaten path in Puglia.

In this travel guide, we’ll introduce you to the top attractions for your time in Bari. We’ll also share our personal travel tips, such as must-visit restaurants and great day trip destinations.

Bari Travel Guide

1. Bari: Handy Facts & Travel Tips Before You Go

Fascinating Facts & Useful Info About Bari

  • Bari, the bustling capital and largest city of Puglia, is home to around 300,000 people.
  • It’s a coastal city with a significant port.
  • The city can be divided into the Old Town (“Bari Vecchia”) and the New Town. The Old Town is an almost endless maze of dark, narrow alleys, while the New Town is pretty modern.
  • Until not so long ago, Bari had a bit of a reputation for being somewhat dangerous. However, this has drastically changed over the past 10 to 15 years. We never felt unsafe in Bari, but it’s still wise to follow common safety tips (keep your valuables safe, don’t leave anything in your car, etc.).
  • Surprisingly, compared to other cities in Puglia, Bari remains quite un-touristy. Sure, you’ll find the typical souvenir shops, but overall, the city has maintained a very authentic vibe.

How Much Time Should I plan for Bari?

As the largest city in Puglia, we recommend setting aside a full day for exploring Bari. This should give you plenty of time to check out the main attractions and soak in the city’s ambiance without having to rush anything.

If you want to stay longer (like overnight), that’s definitely doable. From Bari, you can make some day trips (e.g., to Polignano or Monopoli). But we reckon you don’t necessarily need to plan a stopover in Bari.

What Are the Must-Dos in Bari?

Before we delve into Bari’s attractions in more detail in the next section, here’s our compact yet handy bucket list for a perfect day in Bari:

  • Marvel at the gigantic Basilica San Nicola and visit the crypt below.
  • Stroll down the “Pasta Street” (“Strada delle Orecchiette”) and maybe even buy some pasta.
  • Walk along the ancient city walls and enjoy the view down to the harbour.
  • Treat yourself to a delicious ice cream at Gelateria Gentile.
  • Visit the Old Port at sunset and relish the seaside atmosphere.

2. Bari Travel Guide: Best Attractions & Our Tips

Old Town of Bari

Most of the attractions we’re about to introduce you to are located within Bari’s Old Town, also known as “Bari Vecchia”. We first want to share some general thoughts about this part of Bari.

The Old Town of Bari, situated on a peninsula, is largely closed to regular car traffic. What you’ll notice immediately is that “Bari Vecchia” is different from other old towns in Puglia. It’s less polished, with even narrower and darker alleys.

Wandering through this labyrinth of lanes, you can easily imagine what life must have been like here decades ago. In some spots, it feels like little has changed.

The Old Town of Bari has managed to preserve its largely authentic flair. You’ll find souvenir shops, but not nearly as many as in other Puglian cities. (This is also because Bari’s Old Town is somewhat more spacious.)

Bari Old Town

Basilica of San Nicola

The Basilica of San Nicola is the most significant sight in Bari and, as the name suggests, is dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Myra (yes, THAT Saint Nicholas).

As the largest and most important religious building in Bari, we definitely recommend not just admiring it from the outside but also taking a look inside.

The vast interior of the church is incredibly impressive, with its large size, massive columns and arches, and the stunning Baroque ceiling. For many, the real highlight is in the basement. There, you’ll find the crypt holding the mortal remains of Saint Nicholas.

Entry: Free

Cathedral of San Sabino

The Cathedral of San Sabino, the another significant church in Bari, should not be missing from your must-see attractions either. Its bright façade, made of white-grey limestone, immediately catches the eye.

The Cathedral of San Sabino is famous for its museum located in the basement. There, you can marvel at archaeological excavations, such as early Christian floor mosaics. Note: The museum’s opening hours are different from those of the cathedral.

Entry: Free, 3 Euros for the church museum

Piazza Mercantile & Piazza del Ferrarese

Two of the most famous squares in the Old Town of Bari are Piazza Mercantile and Piazza del Ferrarese. They are located very close to each other, so we’ll cover them together in this section. Both squares are situated in the eastern part of the Old Town, close to the sea.

Piazza Mercantile has been used as a marketplace since the Middle Ages. Today, it’s filled with cafes, restaurants, and bars, making it a popular spot for gathering and relaxing. Here, you’ll also find the Colonna infame (Pillar of Infamy), the ancient pillory of Bari.

Walking further south takes you to the expansive Piazza del Ferrarese. This square is lined with several pretty buildings, such as the one that formerly housed the fish market. The tourist information office is also located here.

Bari Piazza Mercantile
Bari Piazza del Ferrarese

City Walls of Bari

Around the Old Town of Bari, parts of the historical city walls still stand. Along Via Venezia, on the eastern side of the Old Town, you can walk atop these walls.

From up here, you get a great view of the harbour (especially from the square near the Fortino di Sant’Antonio fortress) and can also spot some attractions from a new angle – like the backside of the imposing Basilica of San Nicola.

We personally really enjoyed this short walk. You can start, for example, at Piazza del Ferrarese (heading north from there) or near the Museo Archeologico di Santa Scolastica (heading south from there).

Santa Maria del Buon Consiglio

A unique attraction in Bari are the ruins of the Church of Santa Maria del Buon Consiglio, nestled amidst the maze of alleys on a small square.

The church was likely built in the 9th or 10th century. Today, only a few columns and remnants of the mosaic floor remain, hinting at its past glory. Overall, it’s a quite atmospheric spot that’s worth a quick visit.

Bari Santa Maria del Buon Consiglio

Castello Svevo di Bari

Just outside the gates of the Old Town stands another key attraction of Bari: the medieval fortress known as Castello Svevo di Bari. You can walk around the fortress along the former moat to get a sense of its size.

This imposing castle dates back to the 13th century. Its purpose has evolved over time, serving variously as a military base, a prison, and a barracks.

Today, its rooms host exhibitions, primarily featuring archaeological finds, ceramics, and sculptures. It’s definitely a spot for those interested in art.

Castello Svevo di Bari

Strada delle Orecchiette

Just a stone’s throw from Castello Svevo di Bari, you’ll find the so-called Strada delle Orecchiette, or Orecchiette Street. Its official name is “Arco Basso”.

And guess what you’ll find here? Orecchiette, the pasta specialty of Puglia. In this narrow, dark alley, you’ll see women sitting and making orecchiette and other pasta right before your eyes. They knead, shape, and chat with their neighbours.

Locals and tourists alike can take home fresh orecchiette. But be cautious: the pasta isn’t fully dried, so it needs to be cooked fairly quickly. Unfortunately, it’s not the best souvenir to bring back home.

Old Port & Fish Market

In the eastern part of Bari’s Old Town, you’ll reach the Old Port, known as Porto Vecchio. On a jetty extending into the sea (Molo San Nicola), Bari’s famous fish market (“N‘ dèrr’a la lanze”) takes place during the day.

You can watch the fishermen bringing in their fresh catch and preparing it for sale. There’s also the option to eat something on the spot.

We ourselves were there in the evening for the sunset, after the vendors had packed up. At that time, you can expect a truly stunning sunset atmosphere.

Bari old Port

Lungomare (Seafront Promenade) & City Beach

South of the Old Port, you’ll come across another of Bari’s attractions: the seafront promenade, known as Lungomare. It takes you southward to Bari’s city beach, named Pane e Pomodoro.

The promenade is one of the longest in Italy. However, it’s good to know that it doesn’t just run along the sea, but also beside a busy road. So, especially on a hot summer day, there might be more pleasant spots to pass time in Bari.

Also, it’s actually nicer to walk in the opposite direction (from the beach towards the Old Town) because you always have a view of Bari. The walk from the Old Town to the city beach takes about 20 to 25 minutes (one-way).

If that seems too long, you can just walk to the small viewing platform (“Largo Luigi Giannella”), which is a maximum of 10 minutes from the Old Town.

Shopping Street & Palazzo Mincuzzi

If you want to see the modern part of Bari, head south from the Old Town towards Via Sparano da Bari, the city’s top shopping street.

We personally were drawn to it mainly by one particular attraction: The Palazzo Mincuzzi. This splendid Art Nouveau building was constructed in the 1930s as a luxury department store and today houses a Benetton shop.

Also highly recommended is a detour to the Teatro Petruzzelli, which is just a few steps away from the shopping street. It’s a famous opera house that was destroyed by fire in 1991 and subsequently rebuilt.

Bari Teatro Petruzzelli

Tours in Bari

Are you looking for unique experiences in Bari? We can recommend these tours.

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3. Food & Drink: Bari Culinary Travel Guide

Gelateria Gentile: For outstanding ice cream, head to this traditional gelateria located right by the Castello. They’ve been making ice cream since 1880. The shop has a very trendy design now, and the prices are on the higher side. Our favourite: Pistachio!

Vettor Ristorante: If you’re up for a special dinner, this is the place. Italian fusion cuisine (e.g., with an Asian twist) is served in a stylish setting. The prices are high, but so is the quality.

Flowerburger: This one’s for those who eat vegan/vegetarian. In this fast-food joint, you’ll find some really good burgers. Everything is plant-based and delicious. Perfect for a hassle-free lunch or dinner.

4. Day Trips Around Bari

Polignano a Mare

About a 40-minute drive southeast of Bari, you’ll reach one of the most famous places in Puglia: Polignano a Mare. This town has become a magnet for visitors, thanks to its stunning location on the cliffs.

In the middle of the old town, you’ll find one of the most photographed beaches in Puglia: Lama Monachile. For a great view of the beach, head to the viewpoint “Belvedere su Lama Monachile”.

A little tip: For dinner, we highly recommend the restaurant Mint Cucina Fresca. They don’t serve classic Italian cuisine; instead, it’s more modern and very creative fusion cuisine.

For more tips, check out our detailed travel guide: Polignano & Monopoli


Monopoli is just about a 15-minute drive further than Polignano, making it perfect for a combined visit to these two places.

Here, you’ll be welcomed by a really polished, charming coastal town that’s simply photogenic with its white-limed house facades. Classic attractions aren’t the main focus here, although the Cathedral of Monopoli is admittedly quite worth seeing.

In our opinion, though, it’s more about the special atmosphere of Monopoli with its really nice city beach, the abundance of cacti, and pretty alleys that make the town so special.

For more tips, check out our detailed travel guide: Polignano & Monopoli

Monopoli Puglia

5. Staying in Bari

Our Tip: Stay Outside in Putignano

We set up camp in the small town of Putignano and explored various destinations and attractions in this part of Puglia from there – including Bari (about 45 minutes away). For us, visiting Bari as a day trip was perfect, and we’d do it again in a heartbeat.

We stayed at the wonderful Dimora Clementina – a gem of an accommodation that we highly recommend. You get top-notch standards at a really fair price here.

In terms of design and amenities, many hotel chains could take a leaf out of their book. From the comfiest bed of our Puglia trip to slippers and heating/air conditioning – you really feel at home here.

The place is run by an incredibly lovely lady who is very accommodating and serves up a fantastic breakfast in the morning. Everything is homemade with lots of love. And if there’s Tiramisu: you must try it! It’s delicious.

The only tiny downside: Our room was quite noisy due to a connecting door. But that’s nitpicking at a high level. Overall, we were absolutely thrilled.

You can book the accommodation here: Dimora Clementina

Dimora Clementina

Hotel Tips for Bari

Prefer to stay right in Bari? We’ve picked out two great accommodations for you in different price ranges.

VIS Urban Suites&Spa

This stylish, small design hotel opened in Autumn 2022. It’s quite centrally located, so you can easily walk to all the important sights in Bari.

You can book the hotel here: VIS Urban Suites&Spa

B&B Murex

A lovingly furnished bed & breakfast offering great value for money. It’s located very close to the Old Town of Bari.

You can book the hotel here: B&B Murex

6. Map: Attractions and Tips for Bari at a Glance

To help you get your bearings on-site, we’ve marked all the attractions and tips of our Bari travel guide on this map. Little tip: Click on the rectangle in the top right to save the map to your Google Maps app on your smartphone.

Disclaimer: Affiliate Links

This travel guide contains our personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you book or purchase something through these links, we receive a small commission. This doesn’t change the price for you at all. A massive thank you from us both!

Have you been to Bari? How did you find the city? Do you have any more tips for attractions, restaurants, or other places you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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