I will start a series of articles about beautiful Italy with the first city of Bari, the capital of the Puglia region – the heel of the boot-shaped country. Hopefully the Bari travel tips in the article will be useful for those who are planning to travel to Bari. Just like any city in Italy, Bari is full of the taste of the sea, sometimes noisy and joyful, sometimes thoughtfully nostalgic for the past. At the age of 27 and having visited nearly a dozen countries, it’s hard for me flutter by a new city. But in the end, what does this important port city after Venice in the Adriatic Sea make my heart lost a beat? So, is Bari worth visiting, what to do in Bari, Italy and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Bari for the first-time? Let’s check out our Bari blog with the fullest guide to Bari (Bari travel guide, Bari guide, Bari tourist guide, Bari Italy guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat and things to do in Bari Italy to find out the answer!
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Bari blog: Overview of Bari
Where is Bari?
Bari is the capital of the Apulia (Puglia) region, located by the Adriatic Sea, Italy. It is the second most important economic center in mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is a famous port and university city. Moreover, Bari is known as a great tourist destination with its unique architectures and beautiful romantic scenes.
Bari is just a small port city, right in the heart of beautiful Puglia region. In Bari, life is not rushed, hasty, seems gentle like most cities in the south of Italy. Here, looking around, only old people and children, gathered at the station and squares, it was rare to see young people.
The people here are very lovely, if you ask for directions, they will lead you to the place. The street is large with many shops and shopping centers, but the rhythm is quite leisurely and quiet. In the region of Puglia, compared to neighboring villages, Bari can be considered a city, only inferior to Lecce. Bari has an airport, also has a seaport, yachts in and out, going down from Croatia, or going up from Greece. Therefore, tourists often come here, but not to visit this city, but only as a resting place before a journey to places like Alberobello or Ostuni, for example. But, Bari has its own beauty that you should visit once if you have an opportunity to come here. It would be most ideal, you should spend 1 night here.
Why should we travel to Bari?
Bari was first known by the name of the city’s football team of the same name. If you are a fan of the Serie A football league, you will definitely know this Southern Italian team.
Due to its prime location, Puglia was regularly annexed by empires, from the illustrious Byzantine empire in the East, and then back under the ruling of Rome. In the 9th century Bari served as a transit station for the slave trade route from Eastern Europe to Western Europe.
My Italian friend once said: Personally, he found that there are two regions with the most beautiful scenery in Italy, which are Tuscany and Puglia, myself after two visits to Italy, I agree with him 90% of the time. He also especially likes Puglia because the people here are very warm, a little bit of ‘wear one”s heart upon one”s sleeve’ because since ancient times, the Puglia people mainly lived by sailors, very generous and hospitable.
Guide to bari: When to come?
Referring to Italy is referring to the Italian Summer, so come to Italy in the summer to fully enjoy the beauty of this country. Bari is a port city, can’t go to a place with the sea in winter, it’s not suitable at all.
Bari travel guide: How to get to Bari?
Bari has Karol Wojtyła International Airport (BRI) (this is Pope Jean Paul II’s real name) connecting to many major cities around the world. When I went to Bari, I chose the low-cost airline Volotea, the service quality was good and there was no delay. If you depart from another country, you can choose Turkish Airline, transit in Istanbul.
Traveling to Europe, traveling by train is the most convenient and cheapest way. Italy has an affordable Trenitalia train system that can be booked and paid online very easily. Please stop at Bari Centrale station.
Bari guide: Getting around Bari
Bari’s central district is quite small, so you can explore this lovely city on foot. If you book a hotel in a new neighborhood or suburb, you can buy single bus tickets to go and return. Buses in Italy are generally not as modern as other European countries, but they are also very comfortable.
Bari blog: Where to rent a room?
Bari is divided into 2 parts: Bari Vecchia (Old Town), which we mainly visit here and Bari Nuova (New Quarter), this is a residential area so you can find cheaper hotels and B&Bs than in the old quarter. In my opinion, compared to the common price in Europe, the price in Bari is at a more comfortable level, so go ahead and book a room in Bari Vecchia. There’s nothing better than waking up in a beautiful little B&B with a balcony overlooking the thousand-year-old neighborhood. During the trip to Bari, I stayed at Uncle Gennaro and Anna’s house, so I can’t share more hotel information with you. I usually book a room at Booking.com because the refund option is quite flexible.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- The Nicolaus Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
- Hi Hotel Bari (Agoda, Booking)
- Mercure Villa Romanazzi Carducci Bari (Agoda, Booking)
- Parco Dei Principi Hotel Congress & Spa (Booking)
- iH Hotels Bari Oriente (Agoda, Booking)
- Zodiacus (Agoda, Booking)
- iH Hotels Bari Grande Albergo delle Nazioni (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotel City Bari (Agoda, Booking)
Check out more top and best hotels in Bari on Agoda.com or Booking.com.
Bari travel guide: What to do in Bari and top things to do in Bari Italy?
Strolling around Old Town of Bari
Bari’s Old Town is a bit smaller than Hanoi Old Quarter and you only need one day to visit all the most important sites. Bari today is probably not much different from Bari in the Middle Ages with rare Roman architectural features remaining. The characteristic of this architectural style is simple, solid lines, patterns and few cumbersome details or curves. In Europe, the important position of Christianity made all typical buildings more or less related to churches or monasteries.
Basilica San Nicola
Address: Largo Abate Elia, 13, 70122 Bari BA, Italy
Unlike every other city in Italy, the patron saint of Bari is Saint Nicolas, a saint of Russian origin. As I said above, because it is a port city, Bari’s cultural exchange with Eastern European countries is very strong and long in history. This is a rare case of a saint of foreign origin patronizing an Italian city. The inside of the church has an extremely impressive dome. Every year, Russians also make pilgrimages to Bari to visit the church. Even in 2009, Russian President Mervedev also visited Bari, enough to see the importance of Bari in East-West European diplomacy.
Cathedral of San Sabino
Address: Piazza dell’Odegitria, 70122 Bari BA, Italy
Another interesting thing is that Bari is patronized by up to two saints (normally just one). This church of Saint Sabino is the place of worship of the saint associated with Saint Nicola above. The architecture of these two churches is quite similar, even looking at the photos it is difficult to distinguish.
Swabian Castle of Bari
Address: Via Pier l’Eremita, 25/b, 70122 Bari BA, Italy
Hours: 8:30AM–6:30PM/Tuesday: Closed
This is an ancient fortress, if you like to explore deeply about military architecture, then come here. That day, my companions and I went in a hurry, so we skipped this place.
Typical Bari style apartment
A typical Bari family will live in an apartment in a small alley of 4 to 5 households, called Corte. All activities have share in common and separate but very cozy like the subsidized dormitory in Vietnam in the past. I didn’t ask Gennaro carefully whether had to be live with family to live in a Corte or not, but this is a very Baritian style of living, not common in all of Italy.
Pane e Pomodoro Beach
For those who love the sea, do not miss Pane e Pomodoro beach. Breathing in the fresh air, walking along the beach and listening to the breath of the sea will make your soul become calm and peaceful. The romantic Pane e Pomodoro beach will be an interesting destination for you.
Planetario Sky Skan
Address: Fiera Del Levante, Lungomare Starita, 4, 70123 Bari BA, Italy
If you are a science and natural history enthusiast, then the Bari planetarium will definitely be your first stop. This place will give you a complete look at the natural sciences and the history of their formation.
Provincial Archaeological Museum
Address: Via Venezia, 73, 70122 Bari BA, Italy
Hours: 9AM–7PM/Sunday: 9AM–1PM/ Monday: Closed
Another interesting place when you travel and explore the city of Bari is the Provincial Archaeological Museum. At the Provincial Archaeological Museum, you will be able to observe various artifacts in the natural environment as you across the exhibits.
People’s History Museum
Address: Left Bank, Manchester M3 3ER, United Kingdom
Hours: 10AM–4PM/Monday, Tuesday: Closed
If you want to learn about the history of Bari, don’t forget to visit the People’s History museum. As one of the region’s important historical museums, the museum offers visitors the opportunity to learn about its extensive collections.
Address: Piazza Castello, 70028 Sannicandro di Bari BA, Italy
Hours: Monday: 10AM–12PM, 6–8PM
Make a visit to an old castle in Bari intrigue you? Norman Castle with its ancient and quaint architecture will surely captivate you. More than that, it will be interesting if you learn about the historical stories about it.
Watch the sunset in Lungomare
As the sun began to sink into the deep blue sea in the distance, Uncle Gennaro and Uncle Anna took us for a walk down Lungomare Road, which is actually like a main street looking towards Bari Harbour, where the sun was dyed yellow each brick every afternoon. The sea breezes from the Adriatic Sea will help you cool off immediately.
Bari guide: What to eat in Bari?
Speaking of Bari, we must immediately mention Orecchiette, a signature pasta made by Bari women sitting on the porch in every small street. The name orecchiette means small ears, reflecting the shape of this pasta. Orecchiette pasta have more flour than normal pasta, so they are quite dry and must be eaten with a lot of sauce.
Italians always proud of the quality of their seafood. In Bari that pride still exists in the most intact form: eating raw. Yes, the Bari are proud because they have a type of sushi as unique as the Japanese: octopus sushi. Octopus is put in a bowl, served with salted olives and white wine. OMG, I almost made a joke when I put that raw octopus piece in my mouth in front of my Italian friends. When you pass by the seafood shops, you will be invited to try raw clams. Yes, I lived those “eating raw” days without diarrhea. In addition, during my stay at Uncle Gennaro’s house, I ate seafood pasta every day. Life will be paradise when you can eat fresh seafood every day, right?
I got to eat bread at a bakery that dates back to 1508 called Boulangerie Fiore (Panificio Fiore) (Address: Strada Palazzo di Città, 38, 70122 Bari BA, Italy/Hours: 8:30AM–1:30PM, 5–8:30PM; Thursday: 8:30AM–1:30PM; Sunday: 9AM–2PM), which is listed in the Lonely Planet book. You also call Pizza here. The bread here is sandwiches, inside including fresh tomatoes and lettuce with sauce. Sometimes, a bakery is as simple as that but becomes a symbol of the cuisine of that city.
This is a deep-fried pockets of dough which quite similar to the fried dumplings in Vietnam, inside with cheese, tomatoes and meat. Panzerotto is a popular street food in Bari. Here is the restaurant you should come The Big Panzerotto (Address: Via Sergio Pansini, 2D, 70120 Bari BA, Italy/Hours: 6PM–12AM; Monday: Closed)
Guide to Bari: What to buy in Bari as a gift?
There are two things you should buy as gifts in Bari: white wine and olive oil. The soil and climate here have created the best quality grapes and olives in the country.
Family of Uncle Gennaro and Anna
Uncle Gennaro and Aunt Anna were always smiling as if the Bari were born with a kindness that could not be hidden. Together they travel around the world and take photos as well as young people. Uncle Gennaro is a very good in cooking, he can make beer, bake cakes at home and assign us to help in the kitchen for him. Italian men cook so well that the kitchen has never been the domain of women. Uncle Anna is small but extremely resourceful. The two of them have been to Vietnam and after the Covid epidemic they will come to Vietnam, intending to stay for a month to explore.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Bari and Puglia you can refer to
- Private Bari Old City Guided Walking Tour
- Bari City Walk, by Bike or Segway
- Matera Tour from Bari
- Bari Street Food Walking, Bike, or Segway Tour
- Alberobello Walking Tour from Bari
- Castel del Monte Tour from Bari
- Bari City Walking, Bike, or Segway Tour with Pasta Making Experience
- Lecce: Baroque Architecture and Underground Walking Tour
- Polignano a Mare: Speedboat Cruise to Caves with Aperitif
- From Bari: Pasta Experience Walking Tour
- Alberobello: 2-Hour Guided Trulli Tour
- Ostuni: Olive Oil Tasting Tour
- Polignano a Mare: 1.5-Hour Boat Cave Tour
- Alberobello: History Walking Tour with Olive Oil Tasting
- Bari Walking Street Food Tour
- Apulia: Bike Tour through the Treasures of Bari
- Lecce: Walking Tour
- Lecce: Guided Rickshaw Tour
- Bari Rickshaw Street Food Tour
- Bari: Segway Tour & Gelato Tasting
- Bari Walking Tour
- Bari Street Food Tour by Bike
- Bari: Bike-Rickshaw City Tour
Read more Italy guide here.