You will breathe the sea breeze since you step off the plane. Bari is one of the biggest towns in Southern Italy, still not well known.

There are so many things to do in Bari but thanks to our ultimate itinerary, you will be able to enjoy the city without any stress. Bari is the capital of the Puglia Region, despite still not being well known in summer it is the enjoyable and starting point of any good road trip in Puglia.

Bari, it’s a metropoli and like any other is easy to alget lost in the narrow streets of the old town. This is one of the most picturesque areas of the city, note on your list of places to visit in Bari the Marat District.

Often while strolling in Bari, we felt the same vibes of Naples. On one side you have a beautiful old town with the gorgeous and famous San Nicola Church and on the other side, you have the kilometric promenade overlooking the sea. I mean, Bari has it all, like Naples. 

Are you ready to discover what to do in Bari, Italy? Let’s go around this beautiful Apulia capital.

18 Things to do in Bari Italy | The little gem of Southern Italy 1

What to do in Bari

  • Get lost around the narrow streets of Bari’s Old Town
  • Admire San Nicola Basilica
  • Step inside San Sabino Cathedral
  • Walk along Bari’s promenade – Lungomare Nazario Sauro
  • Go for a street food tour
  • Admire the lady making fresh pasta at Orecchiette Street
  • Eat focaccia Barese
  • Mingle with locals at Piazza Mercantile
  • Visit Castello Normanno-Svevo
  • Go for shopping in Via Sparano da Bari
  • Admire the colourful Teatro Petruzzelli
  • Eat like a local and enjoy a sandwich from Zia Maria
  • Go for a free walking tour
  • Drink a beer along El Chiringuito bar
  • Explore Bari by bike while eating local food
  • Enjoy the glimpse of Largo Albicocca
  • Pane e Pomodoro Beach of Bari
  • Succorpo della Cattedrale of Bari

Bari what to see Map

Bari Things to do Map

Things to do in Bari

Get lost around the narrow streets of Bari’s Old Town

One of the best ways to understand this city is to get lost around the beautiful narrow streets of the old town. We spent our first day in Bari only strolling around the old town and getting involved in that beautiful atmosphere. The cute streets will inspire you to take so many pictures, don’t forget to bring your camera with you.

If you are looking for more inspirational places where to take pictures in Puglia, read our latest blog post about Apulia photography spots. I mean this is the place where you can find the old lady making fresh orecchiette pasta in front of you, but also the area of the amazing Basilica of San Nicola.

Admire San Nicola Basilica

San Nicola Basilica Square

The first thing that I thought about Bari was that all the touristic places would be the same and nothing special was there. I mean, the first impression of San Nicola Basilica was:” Wow!” I was speechless and I never thought that it would be so beautiful.

Built between 1087 and 1197, this church holds an important religious significance throughout Europe and the Christian world. The San Nicola Basilica is an essential pilgrimage destination for both Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe.

Step inside San Sabino Cathedral

San Sabino Basilica in Bari Old Town

If San Nicola Basilica was amazing, the first thing that I (Alessia) said when I stepped in the Cathedral of San Sabino was:” This is the place where I want to get married.” The inside of the Cathedral is stunning and there are no words to describe but maybe this picture will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

READ ALSO | Best places to visit in Puglia, Italy

Walk along Bari’s promenade | Lungomare Nazario Sauro

As Italian and especially from the south, we love any place with a promenade and seascape. Bari was the perfect location for a week in Puglia. Strolling along the infinite promenade, the Lungomare Nazario Sauro is one of the top things to do in Bari especially after dinner. Walking along the promenade you will find so many locals hanging out, eating, and drinking a beer while watching the incredible scenario. It is quite impressive during the day and at night. If you are an avid photographer, plan to shoot a lot around this area.

Go for a street food tour 

One of the best ways to enjoy Bari is to be with locals and walk around the city while trying the typical food. A street food tour in Bari will give you the chance to explore the city and in the meantime trying super delicious local products. Going off the beaten bath in Bari with a local is one of the best things to do while in the city.

You will enjoy the incredible food and wine traditions of Puglia and especially of Bari. Try the local “Puccia”, a tasty mix and pleasure at every bite. You might have heard of the Burrata, or Capocollo di Martina Franca, typical Olive Oil and the good local wine. If you want to taste more food from Puglia, read our guide on what to eat in Puglia Italy!

Book here you spot and enjoy Bari from a different point of view. 

Admire the lady making fresh pasta at Orecchiette Street

Talking about food, in the mind of every traveller already in Bari, there is this old Nonna, preparing fresh pasta in the old town. Along your way around the historical city centre of Bari, you will find yourself in Orecchiette Street. This is a very particular street and it’s absolutely one of the best things to do in Bari. 

There is nothing better than understanding the local culture so, be ready to stop by the Orecchiette stand where you have a lady showing you how to make fresh pasta. She set the table outside, in front of her door and made fresh Orecchiette while chatting with people. You will find this street across from the entrance to Bari Castle so it’s impossible to miss it!

If you want to learn how to make pasta, check this cooking class!

Eat focaccia Barese

During our Puglia road trip, we ate a lot because the food in this region is just so yummy that you can’t be on a diet. One of the things to do in Bari, Italy is to eat the local focaccia. Most likely, you’ve already tried to focaccia before but, nothing is compared to the real Focaccia Barese.  You can’t leave Puglia or even better Bari, without trying the delicious and crispy focaccia. You will find many shops around the city selling the focaccia, just look for a “Panificio” and you will be in the right place.

READ ALSO | Most beautiful places to visit in Italy

Mingle with locals at Piazza Mercantile

Bari Things to do - Hang out with locals in Piazza Mercantile

Locals are super nice and you will feel so welcome that you might end up making friends while in Puglia. One of the places where locals love to meet is Piazza Mercantile. In this beautiful square, you will find many people hanging out, chatting and having fun. If you are visiting Puglia in summer you will only see this place full around dinner time as during the day it would be too hot to stay there. This is the best access to the Bari old wall, along this part, you will find many bars and clubs open all night.

Visit Castello Normanno-Svevo

This might be assumed as one of the symbols of Bari, along with the Basilica. For sure the Castello Normanno-Svevo is the most popular spot for tourists in Bari.

The castle was built in 1132 and then destroyed. Rebuilt by Frederick II in 1240 who gave the name, it is today used for exhibitions. Considered one of the best attractions in Bari, you can visit the inside of the castle for only €9. Visiting this place will tell you more about its history and how it came to be part of the Aragon Crown.

Are you curious now? You can book here your tour and discover more about the castle.

Go for shopping in Via Sparano da Bari

It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s always time for some shopping. One of the best places to do it is along with Via Sparano da Bari. This huge street starts from Bari Train Station and goes toward the promenade. 

You will find the usual shops like Zara or H&M but even local shops selling cute stuff. This street can become really busy so make sure you go at the right time of the day.

5 more unique experiences in Bari | Things to do in Bari

Admire the colourful Teatro Petruzzelli

Teatro Petruzzelli - Bari City Centre

Another thing to see in Bari which is worth adding to your list, it is the beautiful and colourful Petruzzelli Theatre. We saw this building from the main street and we were wondering what it was. We never thought that it would be a theatre.

This is today considered the fourth largest theatre in Italy and is the largest in Bari. It lasted for almost a hundred years before a fire destroyed it. A few years ago it was reopened in better shape and is hosting international performances and incredible concerts.

Considered the fourth largest theatre in Italy and the largest one in Bari, in 1903 Teatro Petruzzelli opened its gate to the public. 

Check your schedule, you might make it on time for a show.

Eat like a local and enjoy a special panini from Zia Maria Food Truck

You might know the way we travel, always looking for the right spot, mostly frequented by locals. Especially when we are talking about food, we want to see where the people living there go and enjoy a meal. Bari was exceptional in this, heaven for street food lovers. Zia Maria was an incredible and unique spot.

If you are looking for the best things to do in Bari and feel the real essence of the country, you have to buy a panini in this old truck called “Zia Maria”. It was one of the best places where we ate in Bari and you have to try it. You can choose from many different things, from a regular burger to the typical roast suckling pig. If you don’t eat meat, don’t worry, they have vegetarian options as well.

READ ALSO | What to do in Ostuni, Puglia

BARI THINGS TO DO LIKE A LOCAL

Go for a free walking tour | Things to do in Bari

Are you traveling to Puglia on a budget? If so, this is the right tour for you. A free walking tour around Bari is the ideal way to start to get to know the city. Every Monday and Saturdays you can book your spot and enjoy Bari with a local. The tour will guide you through Bari Vecchia (Bari Old Town), here you will discover the cute and narrow streets around the city center until arriving at the beautiful Cathedral of Saint Nicholas.

Book here you spot and enjoy a free tour of Bari!

Drink a beer along El Chiringuito bar

While walking along Bari’s promenade we found this cute and small chiringuito bar selling beers. The funny thing behind this bar is that locals, after taking their beer (An iced traditional Peroni) from the bar, are going to sit along the platform enjoying the moment. This is a very popular spot in Bari, mainly frequented by locals and not far away from the food track “Zia Maria”. If you are not sure of where this place is, ask a local where it is “N’ derr’ a la Lanze” or click the location below.

LOCATION | Chiringuito on Bari Promenade

Explore Bari by bike while eating local food

I mean this is a must-do everywhere. In Bari this can be even more attractive, with a long promenade, you can drive your bike and enjoy the beautiful panorama. There is nothing better than enjoying Bari’s narrow streets on a bike while trying some local food. You will meet food and wine producers and experience typical products from southern Italy. 

Don’t miss this opportunity and enjoy this tour with a local expert. Book here your spot and enjoy Bari.

READ ALSO | Where to stay in Puglia, Italy

Enjoy the glimpse of Largo Albicocca

This is one of the most renowned places in Bari, it’s giving the city a new shape and attracting locals and tourists. The atmosphere is intimate and the vibes are unique like just southern Italy can give. Largo Bicocca is a square sign of the new way Bari is living the city and welcoming tourists. After a renovation sponsored by Ikea, the area now sees a mix of Scandinavian culture into a pot of Southern Traditions. Over 240 meters of led lights are covering the surface, which is hosting also secular olives trees and a few urban gardens.

Grab a drink and enjoy the atmosphere, you will end up hanging out with some locals.

LOCATION | Largo Albicocca, la Piazza degli Innamorati

Pane e Pomodoro Beach of Bari

It might be not one of the best beaches near Bari, but it’s the most enchanting for the local atmosphere. This stretch of sand and sea is close to the city centre. You can walk from the Bari’s Old town, 15 minutes toward the south. The Pane e Pomodoro is an easy beach in Bari, with showers, little bars and changing rooms for free. Enjoy your last day in Puglia, lying on the beach of Bari.

Succorpo della Cattedrale of Bari

This is our latest tip about what to do in Bari, The Succorpo della Cattedrale of Bari might say nothing to you, but it’s an incredible place to see in Bari. Entering the Cathedral, go down the stairs on the right of the altar. Head toward the crypt, just before entering, you will discover a beautiful old church. On the left, there is a small metal gate, the fee to enter is 3 euro, but it’s a donation not needed always. The Succorpo are the reconstructed ruins of the old religious site, a fascinating place to discover in Bari. This is a hidden gem in Bari.

READ ALSO | Best day trips from Bari Italy

Where to Go from Bari | Things to do in Bari

Day trips from Bari, Italy

While in Bari there are a couple of places that you can’t miss visiting. Located maximum 30 minutes away by train from Bari, you will have Monopoli and Polignano a Mare

Both places are really popular and absolutely beautiful and very easy to reach from the big capital. Not only sea villages but also a few nostalgic valleys. In about one hour you can reach the Unesco World Heritage Site of Alberobello, further away from the Stone city of Matera. If you want to tour around the Valle d’Itria, you can also check out a day trip from Bari to Martina Franca, Ostuni, Locorotondo, or Cisternino. Check our blog posts about Puglia for many other inspiring Day trips in Apulia.

READ MORE | Check out Alberobello itinerary, including all the things to do and see!

From Bari to Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare landscape | A week in Puglia itinenrary

A day trip to Polignano is a must-do while in Bari. Recently, Polignano a Mare has become really famous thanks to Instagram and a popular Italian movie.

You might also know the Italian song Volare, by Domenico Modugno, which was inspired by the infinite blue sky of Polignano. Believe it or not, Polignano has a lot to offer and that’s why we suggest you go there.

There are trains from Bari to Polignano very often and you can check here the tickets. As far as you can buy tickets last minute to the main train station off Bari, you can also plan your trip and book the ticket online for peace of mind.

 Check ticket prices and timetable

READ ALSO | A guide of all the things to do in Polignano a Mare

Take a day trip to Monopoli from Bari

Best beaches in Puglia | Puglia one week itinerary

Monopoli was a wonderful surprise for us. We were not supposed to go there but glad Alessia suggested to give it a try. Completely different from Polignano and even better from our point of view, Monopoli will be your next favorite destination in Italy.

The narrow streets of the city center, sandy beaches, and amazing landscape give Monopoli the title of the best place to visit near Bari.

Check here the trains and plan your Monopoli day trip from Bari.

More of our Bari Guide

Where to stay in Bari

Apulia Rooms Bari

From €54 | £49 | $63
– Free Cancellation
– Walking distance from the centre
Superbe Reviews
– Rooms with Private Bathroom

iH Hotels Bari Grande Albergo delle Nazioni

From €105 | £95 | $122
5-star Hotel
– Free Cancellation
– Close by the beach
– Pool, Gym & Parking

The Nicolaus Hotel in Bari, Apulia

From €126 | £114 | $147
– Free Cancellation
– Free Airport Shuttle
– Amazing Indoor Pool

How to get to Bari Airport

BY TRAIN | Another way to reach the airport is by train. There are two ways: the normal train or the metro. The train (Ferrovia Regionale FR2, grey) will take less than a bus but sometimes you have to change trains before reaching Bari train station. The same is for the tube (Ferrovia Metropolitana FM2, yellow) and the price is the same for both, €5,00.

BY BUS | If you are traveling to Puglia on a budget, the cheapest way to reach the airport or the city center is by bus 16. With only €1.00 you can make it to the airport or Bari main station. The travel time is about 50 minutes depending on traffic but at least is one of the cheapest ways to travel from the airport to Bari Centrale.

BY TAXI | If you have a lot of luggage and you don’t want to stress yourself with public transport, you can book your transfer from the airport to the city centre here.

Q&A about things to do in Bari, Italy

Is Bari worth visiting?

Yes. This is a large city and has got everything you want. From the Traveller point of view, you can find great food, a breathless artistic heritage, the locals are friendly, and it’s close to many other activities. We left the capital as our last destination because our flight to come back to London was from Bari airport. We didn’t plan anything but we realized that Bari is absolutely worth visiting. There are so many beautiful places to discover and is one of the most underrated cities in Italy. 

How many days should you spend in Bari?

If you want to feel the vibes of the city, plan to spend at least 3 days in Bari. This amount of time will also give you the chance to explore the city in its traditional shapes, explore local food, and meet incredible locals. You might still have time for a few day trips. I know it might sound crazy but it’s true. You can spend the first couple of days strolling around the city centre of Bari and the last day you can take a day trip to Monopoli or Polignano a Mare
If you don’t have enough days, you can see Bari in two days and those would be sufficient.

What is Bari famous for?

As said, Bari is an underrated gem in Italy, not yet well known by travelers. This incredible city in Puglia is well known for the routes to Greece and East Europe, over Turkey as well. The Metropolitan Area is huge and second only to Naples on the opposite side of the boot. Bari hosts important universities and it’s rich in culture and architecture. Tourists can find anything they want in Bari for a relaxing holiday.

Is Bari safe for tourists?

Overall we felt safe in Bari but, like every city in the world, there are some neighborhoods that you might want to skip or visit with a local. Keep in mind Libertà, Madonnella, and Japigia especially when looking for a place to stay in Bari.

What food is Bari known for?

Bari and the surrounding area is famous for the production of olive oil, fresh vegetables, and garlic. The local wine is also amazing, coming from the vineyard you will see exploring the nearby Valle d’Itria. If you want to try something special, go for a Puccia or a Focaccia Barese, the first is a fried mix really tasty, the second is a variation of the traditional Neapolitan Pizza. Know more about Puglian Food in our ultimate guide of things to eat in Puglia, Italy!

How far is Bari airport from the City centre?

Bari airport is located 11 km circa from the city center. It’s the main airport in Puglia which offers direct flights from many European destinations. You can reach the airport by Train in about half an hour, by bus in about 50 minutes depending on traffic, but also go by taxi for an upgrade fee.

Is Bari a good place to vacation?

Overall yes. Bari itself is a short vacation, which can be good if associated with day trips to nearby places. For many Bari is the gateway to Puglia, with many underrated attractions to visit. We suggest you treat Bari as a point of arrival, and from there rent a car and enjoy the beautiful natural beauties of this Region.

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