Heading to Puglia and wondering if Bari is worth visiting? I have collected the top things to do in Bari to inspire you to visit this beautiful gem in Puglia.
Bari is the capital of Puglia located in Southern Italy, but somehow it is often left behind as tourists head straight to places like Alberobello or Polignano a Mare. It makes it one of the best underrated destinations in Italy and there are a lot of fun experiences that you don’t want to miss.
During my trip to Puglia, I decided to use Bari as a base and I got to discover it inside out. There is something charming about this city and I want to share it with you, so let’s see what are some of the best things to do in Bari.
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But before we dive in…
The most popular tours in Bari:
- 🍝 Team a walking tour of Bari with a cooking class in a local home, and discover the secrets of the local orecchiette pasta
- 🏰 Visit the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, Bari Cathedral, Swabian Castle and other highlights on this rickshaw tour
- 🍲 Tantalize your tastebuds and discover the great eats of Bari with this guided street food tour
- 🏞️ Explore Bari and visit other important and beautiful cities of Puglia on this tour
- 🚲 Pedal through Bari on a bike tour, then finish in the home of a local signora, cooking a pasta dish typical of the Puglia region
Where to stay in Bari?
It is essential to find the right accommodation for your trip, so I have prepared a list of the best hotels in Bari for every budget. Depending on your travel style, I am sure you will find something suitable, so take a look and decide where to stay in Bari.
LUXURY: B&Z LUXURY
B&Z Luxury lies in the heart of Bari, close to the central station, and offers the chance to their guests to park their cars a few meters away from the property. It has stylish and fully equipped rooms to make your stay as comfortable as possible and give a guest a luxury treatment.
If you are looking for something extravagant and stylish, Sisuites boasts delightful suites decorated with taste and character. It is strategically located a few steps away from the Bari central station and offers parking. Also, the guests love the delicious Italian breakfast.
MID-RANGE: B&B Murex
B&B Murex stands in the heart of Old Bari and you can reach the train station in approximately 15 minutes walk. It is located in a very typical house of Puglia with great charm and character. Some rooms even offer a wonderful view.
AFFORDABLE: Residence Hotel Moderno
Residence Hotel Moderno is an affordable yet great choice if you base yourself in Bari. All the rooms are decorated in a fantastic and modern style and the hotel is located just a few steps away from the Bari Centrale.
Best things to do in Bari
Eat orecchiette Italian way
Let me tell you… this is one of the best things to do in Bari and it was the highlight of my entire Puglia trip. If you are staying only one day in Bari, make sure you add it to your to-do list.
In Bari, there is a street where Italian nonnas make orecchiette – local pasta – with their own hands. Put on your Google Maps Strada Arco Basso 11 and you will find Nunzia – she is the one that opens her house, invites you inside her kitchen, and cooks a simple dish of orecchiette for you.
But it is more than just food. Connecting with locals, getting an insight into their daily lives, and discussing their traditions & Italian recipes. Better than any guided tour!
The price is 10 euros per person and it includes unlimited wine as well. You can also buy her pasta and taralli to bring home with you. Great souvenir to keep the memories alive!
Find the square of lovers
Also known as Largo Albicocca, Square of Lovers is the heart of Old Bari. You have to visit to understand the magic of this place. Especially once the sun goes down and lights come up.
Small square, but has a lot of character. Children playing around and locals chatting on the doorsteps. The smell of pizzeria and freshly done laundry hanging on the windows. You become part of the scene as you stand there and admire the surroundings. Scene from a romantic Italian movie I would say… maybe that’s why they call it the square of lovers?
Visit it and see it for yourself. But if you ask me, this is one of experiences in Bari that you don’t want to miss.
Visit Basilica San Nicola
Bari is known for holding the body and relics of St. Nicholas in a majestic church and it is called Basilica San Nicola. The people of Bari are deeply devoted to St. Nicholas. In fact, you will notice altars all around the city and they celebrate him every year.
Apart from that, Basilica is massive inside. Make sure you pay attention to the roof and visit the tomb downstairs. It is Bari’s signature basilica and you can visit it for free. I advise you to plan around 30 minutes for this local treasure. Even more, if you are passionate about churches and religious attractions.Get your entrance with tour of Basilica di San Nicola here
Try local goodies in the Fish Market of Bari
Fish Market of Bari is located on the promenade, so the seafood doesn’t get better than this – fresh out of the water. Come here to indulge in the chaos of the South of Italy and buy some local goodies.
You should try sea urchins – a huge Italian delicacy. You might recognize them as Ricci di mare in the market and you can eat them raw straight from the market. Some of the fishermen have lemons ready, so you can try them on the spot. Widely used with pasta as well.
South will be South. While markets usually start early, in Bari it is open from 11 am until 2 pm from Monday to Saturday.
Enjoy espresso with a view of San Sabino Church
Espresso is another thing that you need to try in Italy, and Stefy’s Cathedral Coffee is a place that you don’t want to miss. It is located in front of San Sabino Church – another tourist attraction in Bari.
The front facade of the church includes a comparable design and is made of white stone. It has a few models and luxurious windows. Since you are there, you should see the inside of San Sabino Church. It is very modest and simple, but certainly gives a feeling of something sacred.
I think it’s a perfect representation of Bari. White marble walls, beautiful details, and charm that you can’t explain. You simply have to see it.
See Piazza Mercantile
In the center of the old town, you will find Piazza Mercantile overlooked by the 16th-century clock tower. The place that once served as a market now is home to a number of lively restaurants and bars.
The square arouses the visitor’s curiosity also for the presence of a 13th-century Column of Justice, also known as the ‘’column of infamy’’, featuring a stern-looking stone lion.
The column was used to punish loan sharks, and slackers who didn’t pay their bills. The condemned had to sit on the lion with their bare backsides up in the air and their hands tied to the column. They were left there for a day or two while those they had offended, along with the townsfolk, circled around them and called them names. Sounds harsh, but it is an important part of history that you should know when visiting this square.
Don’t miss the sunset on the lungomare
Bari is located on the sea and maybe it is not the first choice for beach lovers, you still should visit the promenade of Bari. Add sunset to make it even more magical. Look up Lungomare Araldo di Crollalanza and head to the coastline.
You can also grab a gelato at Antica gelateria Gentile (suggested by the nonna!), pass The Castello Svevo, and enjoy your walk with spectacular views.
At the beginning of lungomare, you will have a wonderful view of old Bari, so don’t forget to snap a photo and keep it as a beautiful memory from your trip to Bari.
Go shopping in Murat
Via Sparano da Bari is famous for shopping. I personally liked this street, because it offers a bit of everything – local brands, fast fashion, and even luxury designers.
It is one of the busiest streets of Bari – even though it is for pedestrians only. In fact, locals call it the living room of Bari, because that’s where all the action is happening for locals.
This street also connects old Bari and the train station, so you might cross it at some point if you are moving around with public transport.
Taste your way through street food
Wondering where to eat in Bari? Let’s talk about street food in Bari. Options are endless, but you can’t leave Bari without trying panzerotti, sgagliozze, and focaccia Barese. Same with orecchiette and taralli, but I assume that you already tried them from local grannies.
Old Bari offers many famous pastry shops and friggitorie where you can try these tasty (and unfortunately unhealthy) things. Then again, you are on holiday, so who cares, right?
I can suggest Bakery Santa Rita, Maria delle Sgagliozze, and Rosticceria Dirello. If street food is not your thing, I highly suggest La Tana del Polpo in Bari. It is hands down one of the best restaurants in Bari.
You can also discover the great eats of Bari by joining one of the food tours:
Don’t miss Museo Teatro Margherita
Established in 1914, Museo Teatro Margherita is a beautiful museum that is located by the Adriatic Sea. Overlooking the port, the museum sits on stilts and is surrounded by water.
Until the year 1979, this museum was used as a theater. Built in Art Nouveau style, it is known to showcase artworks by the renowned Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. They also offer space to host interesting photography exhibitions.
If you are looking for an actual theater in Bari, look up Teatro Petruzzelli. The design inside is spectacular!
Considering to rent a car in Puglia?
I always use Rentalcars which is an international online car booking service. They match you with the best prices and have a flexible cancellation policy – you can cancel or change most bookings for free up to 48 hours before the pick-up. I only had the best experience with them, so I can recommend this company, but there are endless opportunities online or at the airport arrivals.
Looking for travel insurance for Italy?
Take advice from someone who travels full-time and get travel insurance. Unexpected situations can happen at any time, so having travel insurance will give you a piece of mind during these situations and won’t ruin your travel experience or break your wallet. Especially during these unpredictable times.
After long research, I decided to settle with Heymondo and I highly recommend that you check them as well. Heymondo offers:
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- Heymondo assistance app
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Even after leaving Bari and visiting the highlights of Puglia, I couldn’t stop thinking about Italian nonnas making orecchiette, beautiful churches, getting lost in the bright streets of the old town, and enjoying the street food scene in Bari. I hope that once you try these top things to do in Bari, you will leave with the same feeling as I did.
If you are planning to travel beyond Puglia, make sure you check the most beautiful places in Puglia.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.