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A Short Guide To Bari – Your Gateway To Puglia


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Jo-Ann Haag



Welcome to Bari, the picturesque coastal city in the region of Puglia, Italy. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes, Bari is a destination that should not be missed. Nestled on the Adriatic Sea, this enchanting city offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities.


As the capital of Puglia, Bari is a bustling metropolis that serves as a gateway to the region’s beautiful towns and attractions. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a food lover, or a beachgoer, Bari has something to offer everyone.


Getting to Bari is easy, as the city is well-connected to other major Italian cities and has an international airport. You can choose to arrive by plane, train, or even by ferry, as Bari has a busy port that connects it to several Mediterranean destinations.


Once you arrive in Bari, make sure to explore its captivating old town, known as “Bari Vecchia” in Italian. This ancient quarter is a maze of narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and hidden courtyards. Stroll through the winding alleyways and immerse yourself in the local atmosphere, where the scent of freshly baked focaccia fills the air.


Bari’s old town is also home to one of the most important religious sites in the region, Bari Cathedral. Dating back to the 12th century, this stunning Romanesque-style cathedral houses the relics of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of Bari. Marvel at the intricate details of the architecture and soak in the spiritual atmosphere as you explore the cathedral.


Another must-visit landmark in Bari is Castello Svevo, a medieval fortress that dominates the city’s skyline. This well-preserved castle offers panoramic views of Bari and the sea. Explore its vast courtyards, climb the towers, and learn about the history of the castle through its informative exhibitions.


Getting to Bari

Bari is well-connected to various Italian cities and international destinations, making it easily accessible for travelers. Here are the main options for getting to Bari:


By Air: Bari has its own international airport, Bari Karol Wojtyla Airport (BRI), located approximately 8 kilometers northwest of the city center. The airport serves numerous domestic and international flights, making it convenient for travelers from around the world. From the airport, you can reach the city center by taxi, bus, or train.


By Train: Bari is a major rail hub in southern Italy, with frequent train connections to other Italian cities. There are regular direct trains from Rome, Naples, Florence, and other major cities to Bari’s central train station, Bari Centrale. The train journey offers scenic views of the Italian countryside and is a comfortable and convenient way to reach Bari.


By Car: If you prefer the flexibility of driving, you can reach Bari by car. The city is well-connected to the Italian highway network, making it easily accessible from various regions. From Rome, take the A24 and A1 highways to reach Bari. However, be aware that driving in the city center can be challenging due to narrow streets and limited parking options.


By Ferry: Bari has a busy port with ferry connections to several Mediterranean destinations. You can reach Bari by ferry from Greece, Albania, and Croatia. The ferry terminals are located within walking distance of the city center, allowing for easy access to the city’s attractions.


Once you arrive in Bari, getting around the city is relatively easy. The city center is best explored on foot, as many of the main attractions are within walking distance of each other. Bari also has a reliable public transportation system, including buses and a metro line, which can take you to different parts of the city and nearby towns.


If you plan on traveling to other towns in Puglia, such as Alberobello or Polignano a Mare, you can easily reach them from Bari by train or bus. Both the train and bus stations are located near the city center, making it convenient to embark on day trips or longer journeys to explore the beauty of the region.


Exploring Bari’s Old Town

One of the highlights of visiting Bari is exploring its enchanting old town, known as “Bari Vecchia” in Italian. This historic quarter is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and charming squares that transport you back in time.


As you wander through the ancient alleys, you’ll encounter hidden courtyards, small local shops, and bustling cafes where you can sample the local cuisine. The aroma of freshly baked focaccia and the sound of locals chatting in their animated Italian language create an immersive atmosphere that captures the essence of Bari’s old town.


A key attraction in Bari Vecchia is the Basilica di San Nicola, dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of Bari. The basilica is a stunning example of Romanesque architecture, with its intricate details and beautiful rose window. Inside, you’ll find the crypt where the remains of Saint Nicholas are preserved, making it a pilgrimage site for many Christians.


As you explore further, you’ll come across the Piazza del Ferrarese, a lively square lined with quaint restaurants and bars. This is a perfect spot to take a break, sip on a refreshing Aperol Spritz, and indulge in some local delicacies.


Make sure to visit the Cittadella dei Musei, a complex of museums that showcases the rich history and culture of Bari. Here, you can delve into the city’s past through exhibitions featuring archeological artifacts, ancient art, and historical documents.


One of the most iconic landmarks in Bari’s old town is the Castello Svevo, or the Swabian Castle. This medieval fortress stands tall and proud, offering panoramic views of the city and the Adriatic Sea. Explore the castle’s towers, walk along its massive walls, and imagine the medieval life that once thrived within its walls.


Finally, don’t miss out on a visit to the Teatro Petruzzelli, one of Italy’s most prestigious theaters. This grand opera house is an architectural masterpiece, showcasing ornate decorations and a stunning auditorium. Catch a show or simply admire the theater’s exterior, which is particularly enchanting at night when it is illuminated.


Exploring Bari’s old town is like stepping into a living museum. The blend of history, culture, and local charm makes it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience.


Bari’s Cathedral

Bari Cathedral, also known as the Basilica di San Sabino, is a magnificent church located in the heart of the city. This Romanesque-style cathedral dates back to the 12th century and is considered one of the most important religious sites in the region.


The cathedral’s exterior is an architectural masterpiece, showcasing intricate details and ornate decorations. As you approach the entrance, you’ll be greeted by the sight of its impressive rose window, which is admired for its delicate tracery and stained glass.


Step inside the cathedral, and you’ll be greeted by a serene atmosphere and the scent of burning candles. The interior of Bari Cathedral is adorned with beautiful frescoes, impressive sculptures, and intricate mosaics that depict biblical scenes.


A key highlight of the cathedral is its crypt that houses the relics of Saint Sabino, the patron saint of Bari. The crypt is a sacred space where visitors can pay their respects and connect with centuries of history and devotion. The relics of Saint Sabino are brought out for veneration during special religious occasions, attracting pilgrims and locals alike.


Bari Cathedral was also the resting place of Saint Nicholas, the beloved saint who inspired the legend of Santa Claus. However, in the 11th century, his remains were spirited away to the Basilica di San Nicola, located just a short distance away from the cathedral.


As you explore Bari Cathedral, take a moment to admire the craftsmanship of the pulpit, created by the renowned sculptor Nicola di Bartolomeo. The ornate pulpit features intricate carvings and depicts scenes from the life of Christ.


Visiting Bari Cathedral is not just an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of religious art and architecture, but also to experience the spiritual significance this place holds for the people of Bari. It is a place where faith and history intertwine, offering a glimpse into the religious traditions and cultural heritage of this enchanting city.


Whether you are a devout Catholic, an art enthusiast, or simply curious about the history of Bari, a visit to Bari Cathedral is a must. As you stand within its hallowed walls, you’ll feel a sense of reverence and awe, immersing yourself in the spiritual and cultural fabric of this remarkable city.


Castello Svevo

Perched on the edge of Bari’s old town, Castello Svevo is a majestic medieval fortress that towers over the cityscape. Built in the 12th century by the Norman conquerors, the castle has stood as a symbol of power and protection for centuries.


The architecture of Castello Svevo is a testament to its storied past. Its imposing walls and fortified towers reflect the military strategies employed during medieval times. As you approach the castle, you’ll be struck by its grandeur and the sense of history that emanates from its stone walls.


Inside the castle, you’ll find a fascinating museum that delves into the history of Bari and the castle itself. Explore the well-preserved courtyards and ascend the towers to enjoy panoramic views of the city and the Adriatic Sea.


One of the most intriguing aspects of Castello Svevo is its underground chambers. These hidden passageways and dungeons allow visitors to uncover the secrets and mysteries of the castle’s past. Discover the prison cells, torture chambers, and even a medieval cistern that supplied water to the castle during times of siege.


The museum within the castle showcases a collection of artifacts and exhibits that provide insight into Bari’s history. Learn about the city’s cultural heritage, maritime traditions, and the various historical events that have shaped its evolution over the centuries.


Castello Svevo is not only a historical gem but also a cultural hub. It hosts various events and exhibitions throughout the year, ranging from art exhibitions to concerts and theatrical performances. Be sure to check the castle’s schedule during your visit to see if there are any special events taking place.


As you explore Castello Svevo, take a moment to appreciate the stunning views of the city and the sea. The castle’s strategic location provides a panoramic vantage point, allowing you to soak in the beauty of Bari’s coastline and get a sense of its maritime history.


Visiting Castello Svevo is like stepping back in time, as the castle’s architecture and exhibits transport you to the days of knights, sieges, and legends. It’s a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and anyone intrigued by the captivating allure of medieval fortresses.


So, make sure to include a visit to Castello Svevo in your itinerary when exploring Bari. Immerse yourself in its rich history, marvel at its architectural splendor, and let the castle’s stories unfold before your eyes.


Bari’s Promenade

Bari’s promenade, known as the Lungomare, is a beautiful stretch of coastline that offers breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea. This picturesque area is a favorite spot among locals and tourists alike, with its refreshing sea breeze, stunning sunsets, and vibrant atmosphere.


Stretching from the Bari Old Town to the modern part of the city, the promenade provides a perfect escape from the bustling streets. Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll, go for a jog, or simply relax and enjoy the scenery, the Lungomare offers a serene and captivating setting.


As you walk along the promenade, you’ll pass by a variety of landmarks and attractions. One of the highlights is the iconic Bari lighthouse, known as Faro di San Cataldo. This historic lighthouse stands tall at the edge of the sea, offering a unique vantage point and a perfect spot for capturing memorable photos.


The Lungomare is also dotted with charming beach clubs and cafes, where you can sit back and unwind while enjoying a refreshing drink or savoring traditional Apulian cuisine. Try some freshly caught seafood, indulge in a plate of orecchiette pasta, or enjoy a creamy gelato as you bask in the coastal ambiance.


During the summer months, the promenade comes alive with street performers, musicians, and artists, creating a lively and vibrant atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if you stumble upon a local band playing traditional Puglian music or witness captivating street art along the way.


For those seeking some relaxation and rejuvenation, there are several public beaches along the Lungomare where you can soak up the sun and take a refreshing dip in the sea. Rent a beach umbrella and lounge chair, or simply lay out a towel and enjoy the warm sand beneath your feet.


As evening approaches, the Lungomare transforms into a romantic setting, with the mesmerizing hues of the sunset painting the sky. It’s the perfect time to take a leisurely stroll hand-in-hand with a loved one or sit on one of the benches overlooking the sea and savor the beauty of nature.


Whether you visit Bari during the day or in the evening, a walk along the promenade is a must-do experience. It provides a welcome break from the city’s hustle and bustle, allowing you to connect with nature, indulge in delicious food, and immerse yourself in the captivating coastal charm of Bari.


So, don’t forget to include Bari’s promenade in your itinerary. Let the sound of the waves, the sea breeze, and the stunning views of the Adriatic Sea transport you to a place of tranquility and serenity.


Bari’s Food and Cuisine

Bari is a true culinary gem, offering a delightful array of dishes that showcase the flavors of Puglia. The region’s rich agricultural heritage and proximity to the sea have greatly influenced its cuisine, resulting in a diverse and delicious culinary tradition.


When in Bari, one must indulge in the local specialty, orecchiette. These small, ear-shaped pasta are typically served with a hearty tomato sauce and often accompanied by fresh broccoli rabe, known as “cime di rapa.” This simple yet flavorful dish is a staple of the Puglian diet and is best enjoyed in one of the traditional trattorias that can be found throughout the city.


Seafood lovers will be in heaven in Bari. The city’s coastal location ensures a bounty of fresh seafood options. Feast on grilled or fried fish, succulent mussels, and juicy octopus. Don’t miss out on the delicious panzerotti, a deep-fried turnover filled with mozzarella, tomato sauce, and sometimes other ingredients like olives or ham. This street food delight is a must-try in Bari!


No visit to Bari is complete without experiencing the local street food culture. Head to the old town’s streets and markets to find stands selling delectable treats such as “sgagliozze,” which are cubes of fried polenta, or “bombette,” which are flavorful pork rolls filled with cheese, cured meat, or vegetables.


Bari is also known for its fantastic bakeries, where you can savor a variety of freshly baked goods. Try the famous “focaccia barese,” a fluffy and savory flatbread topped with tomatoes, olives, and sometimes capers or onions. Pair it with a local wine, such as Primitivo or Negroamaro, to truly savor the flavors of the region.


For dessert, indulge in the heavenly pasticciotto, a pastry filled with smooth custard cream. These little sweet treats are irresistible and can be found in many pastry shops and cafes in Bari. Another must-try dessert is the ricotta-filled “cartellate,” a crispy and intricately shaped pastry that is often enjoyed during the holiday season.


To truly immerse yourself in Bari’s food culture, consider joining a cooking class or food tour. These experiences offer the opportunity to learn traditional recipes and techniques, as well as gain insight into the local food culture and traditions.


Whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply love indulging in delicious cuisine, Bari’s food scene will delight your taste buds. From simple street food to refined dishes, the city offers a culinary journey that celebrates the abundance of flavors and ingredients found in Puglia.


So, come hungry to Bari and let your taste buds explore the unique and mouthwatering flavors that this vibrant city has to offer!


Day Trips from Bari

While Bari itself offers a plethora of attractions, the city also serves as a perfect base for exploring the surrounding towns and scenic destinations of Puglia. Here are a few day trips you can take from Bari:


Alberobello: Just a short drive from Bari, Alberobello is renowned for its unique trulli houses. These traditional limestone dwellings with cone-shaped roofs are a UNESCO World Heritage site and offer a fascinating glimpse into local architecture and culture. Wander through the narrow streets of the trulli district and learn about the history and significance of these charming structures.


Polignano a Mare: Located on the Adriatic coast, Polignano a Mare is a charming seaside town known for its stunning cliffside views and picturesque old town. Explore the narrow cobblestone streets, visit the famous beach of Lama Monachile, and enjoy a meal at one of the cliffside restaurants overlooking the azure sea.


Matera: While technically not in Puglia, the ancient city of Matera is worth a day trip from Bari. Famous for its sassi, cave dwellings carved into the rock, Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site that offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Explore the labyrinthine streets, visit the churches and cave houses, and learn about the fascinating history of this one-of-a-kind city.


Trani: Situated on the Adriatic coast, Trani is a charming port town renowned for its medieval castle, picturesque harbor, and stunning Romanesque cathedral. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, visit the elegant Villa Comunale, and enjoy fresh seafood at one of the local trattorias.


Ostuni: Known as the “White City,” Ostuni is a stunning hilltop town characterized by its whitewashed buildings and narrow, winding streets. Explore the maze-like historic center, visit the beautiful cathedral, and enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding countryside from the ancient town walls.


These are just a few examples of the many day trips you can take from Bari. Each offers a unique experience, whether it’s exploring historic towns, relaxing by the sea, or immersing yourself in the fascinating cultural heritage of the region. So, take advantage of Bari’s central location and embark on unforgettable adventures to discover the beauty and charm of Puglia.



Bari, the gateway to Puglia, is a city that captivates visitors with its rich history, vibrant culture, and irresistible cuisine. From its enchanting old town to its stunning coastline, Bari offers a diverse range of experiences that make it a must-visit destination in Italy.


Exploring Bari’s old town is like stepping into a living museum, where winding alleyways, whitewashed houses, and historic churches reveal the city’s ancient past. Must-see attractions such as Bari Cathedral and Castello Svevo provide a glimpse into the city’s architectural heritage and religious significance.


Bari’s promenade, with its refreshing sea breeze and breathtaking views, is the perfect place to relax and soak up the coastal ambiance. Indulging in the city’s culinary delights is a must, from savoring the local pasta specialty of orecchiette to enjoying fresh seafood and delightful street food.


But Bari is not just about the city itself. It also serves as a hub for exploring the surrounding areas of Puglia. Day trips to destinations like Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, Matera, Trani, and Ostuni allow you to delve deeper into the region’s beauty and charm.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or a nature enthusiast, Bari offers something for everyone. From its ancient landmarks to its sumptuous cuisine and stunning landscapes, this captivating city will leave you with lasting memories.


So, pack your bags, immerse yourself in the warmth and hospitality of Bari, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the wonders of Puglia. Let the charm of this city and the beautiful region it belongs to capture your heart and inspire your wanderlust.