Bari: Ultimate Travel Guide to Puglia’s Capital


Bari is the capital of Puglia and one of the most important seaports of Italy. It has an international airport, so the city becomes the starting point for many travelers eager to explore the region. It has a reputation as a dangerous city (like any seaport in Italy), but don’t believe those rumors. Bari is a unique place. Being a popular tourist destination, it remains a traditional southern city with an authentic atmosphere.

How to get to Bari

By car

When you drive a car, the most difficult question is not how to get to Bari but where exactly to park your car. If you stay in the city for a night, ask your hotel if they have parking available. Note that Bari has a special area, so-called ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato), where no one without special permission can drive-in. In general, all Bari Vecchia, the old town, is a restricted area. Check this map of ZTL in Bari.

The nearest parking to the old town is on Via Ruggiero Il Normanno. It costs 1 euro per hour, BUT I don’t recommend parking your car on the streets of Bari. There are several private garages, like Parcheggio Saba Porto and Garage Vittoria, near the city center where you can leave your car without worrying that it gets damaged or stolen. The usual cost for the private garage is 2 euro per hour.

I left my car at Parking Quick St. Francis and was satisfied with the service. The guys were friendly and understanding. Don’t be afraid to leave your keys inside the car. The garage is not huge, so they might need the keys to move the cars. Imagine that their work reminds a Tetris game during the summer period when they need to fit as many cars as possible.

By train

You can get to Bari by train from any major city in Italy. For example, you can take a fast train Frecciargento from Rome and arrive in Bari in just 4 hours. Or take the Intercity train, which is slower and cheaper. Both Frecciargento and intercity belong to Trenitalia, so you can plan your trip and buy the tickets online. If you want to get to Bari from Matera (Basilicata region), you may want to choose direct trains or busses operated by Ferrovie Appulo Lucane.

By bus

If you need to get to Bari from a small city with no train station, you can go by bus. So, check for local bus operators.

By ferry

Bari is an international seaport, so that you can get to Bari by ferry. There are up to 12 ferries arriving to Bari every day from the following destinations: Durres and Saranda (Albania), Bar (Montenegro), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Igoumenitsa & Patras (Greece), Corfu and Zakynthos (Ionian Islands), and Sami (Kefalonia). You can check the connections on

By plane

Finally, for all the international travelers who arrive in Bari by plane, there is a Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (also called Palese airport), located just 8 km (~5 miles) away from Bari city center.

From the airport

From the airport to the city center you can get by bus line 16 that goes to the central train station Bari Centrale (~50 min). You can plan your trip online. Single ride ticket costs 1 euro if purchased before departure and 1,50 euro if purchased on board. A Terravision bus brings you from the airport to the city center a bit faster (~30 min). You can book your ticket online. A single ride costs 4 euro.

Bari Centrale train station

Even faster way to get from Bari Airport to the city center is to take a train. It brings you to Bari Centrale in only 20 min and costs 5 euro. Check the timetable and buy your tickets on the official website of Ferrotramviaria.

Don’t forget about a taxi. There is a fixed price for the Airport – Central station route that is 23 euro. However, if you would like to go somewhere else in the city, the price can go as high as 35 euro. Make sure that a taximeter is on before departure.

If you don’t want to be tricked by a taxi driver but still prefer comfort, check out this private transfer.

What to do and see

Take a tour

Bari has a relatively small old town so you can explore it in just 2-3 hours if you know where to go. So, I’d recommend taking a bike tour or a walking tour in Bari for those who don’t like too much searching on every attraction. You can even choose a tour with pasta making experience or a street food tasting.

Explore Bari Vecchia

Most highlights of Bari are located in Bari Vecchia, the old town of Bari. Here you can see the authentic life scenes here and the most touristic attractions together. Sometimes you can’t understand if local people live their lives this way or they play their roles like actors. Is it all authentic or fake?

Roaming through the winding streets of the old town, don’t miss a chance to see how a traditional pasta orecchiette is made. From Piazza Federico II di Svevia go through Arco Basso, and you will find yourself on a street where women make this amazing ear-shaped pasta.

Visit Bari Cathedral and il Succorpo Museum

Bari Cathedral that’s dedicated to Saint Sabinus was built between the late 12th and late 13th centuries on the ruins of the Byzantine church destroyed in 1156. During the restoration in 1995-1998, an early medieval church’s remains were found under the existing cathedral. It belongs to the period of the IX-XI centuries.

You can observe some parts of its walls, arches, and mosaic floors in the archeological museum (called il Succorpo) under the cathedral. Some of the ruins even belong to the Roman period of the I-IV centuries AD. The entrance ticket costs 3 euro, and you can explore the museum on your own, as the signs are both in Italian and English.

The present building is an example of the Apulian Romanesque style, with a simple facade, three portals, and a rose window. Inside there are three aisles divided by sixteen columns with arcades. Even though there are not many decorations in the interior, the simplicity, height of the ceilings, and the natural light make it incredibly beautiful and sublime.

Visit Basilica di San Nicola

Basilica di San Nicola is even more popular than the Cathedral because it’s an important destination for pilgrims from all over the world. The basilica’s crypt houses the relics of Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Clause or Nicholas the Wonderworker, for many miracles attributed to him. He is the patron saint of children, students, unmarried people, sailors, and merchants.

The basilica was specially built to shelter Nicholas’ remains that were brought here in 1087 from Myra, located on today’s territory of Turkey. The building was officially consecrated in 1197. It is a great example and a prototype of Apulian Romanesque architecture. The interior is simple yet breathtaking, with a gilded 17th-century wooden ceiling.

Get to know the history of Castello Svevo

Castello Svevo, or the Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle, was built in 1132 by Norman King Roger II, destroyed in 1156, and then rebuilt and reinforced in 1233. During its history, it served as a castle, a prison, barracks, and today different kinds of exhibitions take place here.

Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle in Bari

The castle is mainly composed of the Aragon walls and the main tower. There is also a moat that surrounds the castle from all sides. You can visit the castle every day, except for Tuesdays, from 8:30 am till 6:30 pm. The entrance fee is 6 euro or 9 euro if an exhibition takes place.

Go backstage of Teatro Petruzelli

Teatro Petruzzelli is the fourth largest theater in Italy. Its history started in 1903. Today the theater offers its visitors to admire operas, ballets, and symphonic concerts. You can discover more during a guided tour inside the theater.

Contemplate art at Pinacoteca Provinciale di Bari

Pinacoteca Provinciale di Bari is one of the most important art galleries in Puglia. Visitors can admire the collections of paintings from the 15th century to the modern and contemporary arts. For more info, visit the official website.

Enjoy fresh seafood

The best way to start your day in Bari is to eat some fresh seafood on Lungomare Araldo di Crollalanza. A small fish market is located right next to Teatro Margherita. It’s perfect for seafood lovers as a second breakfast. Come between 9 am and 12 noon.

Where to eat

Mastro Ciccio is one of the best street food restaurants in Bari. Here you can try such a local specialty like a sandwich with octopus. So tasty and affordable.

Bakery Santa Rita offers the best focaccia in Bari.

Ristorante Opera is a great place for seafood lovers with a nice atmosphere and friendly staff.

Ristorante La Muraya offers local, Mediterranean, and seafood dishes. If you look for a fancier place, don’t miss this restaurant.

Mamapulia Food & drink was my personal choice in Bari. It’s an affordable restaurant with local food and nice service.

La Ciclatera is a nice bar for a late-night cocktail. Friendly service and good music.

Where to stay


San Sebastiano Apartment is affordable yet authentic. Located in the very heart of Bari Vecchia, the apartment is perfect for anyone who wants to experience the real life of the old city. You can enjoy the atmosphere on a balcony, drinking your morning coffee.

As you can guess from its name, Central Station Suite Apartment is located near the Bari Centrale train station. It’s perfect if you prefer to travel by train. It takes only a 10 min walk to reach the city center.

Filioli Apartment is small and authentic, located right near the Bari Cathedral in the very center of Bari Vecchia.

Just Here Apartments – La terrazza is a stylish apartment located near the central train station. It’s fully equipped and has a nice terrace with a city view.

Cattedralflats offers luxury apartments in Bari Vecchia near the Cathedral. Some of them have a terrace with a city view.


iH Grande Albergo Delle Nazioni 5* is a modern hotel located right on the seafront, just 15 min walk from the old city center. Some of the rooms have an amazing sea view. There is also a great rooftop restaurant and an open-air swimming pool.

iH Hotels Bari Oriente 4* is located next to the Petruzzelli Theatre, 10 min walk from the old city center, and close to the seafront. The hotel offers a rooftop bar with a beautiful city view. Note that there is no free car parking (blue line or a car valet service available).

Hotel Moderno 3* is located near the central train station and only 15 min walk from the old city center. Perfect for the overnight stay if you travel by train.

Hotel City 2* is an affordable but very nice and old-style hotel near the central train station. Ask for a room facing the inner yard if you’re sensitive to street noises during the night.

Bari Airport Hotels

Parco Dei Principi Hotel Congress & SPA is located right next to the airport and offers a free shuttle and free parking. It’s a modern hotel with clean rooms, a gym, and a swimming pool. Perfect for the airport stop-over.

Vittoria Parc Hotel is only 2 km from the airport, located in the small town Bari Palese from which you can get to Bari city center by train. It also offers a free shuttle and parking.

Beaches near Bari

Puglia is famous for its beautiful beaches with crystal clear water. However, beaches in Bari are not like this. I recommend you not wasting your time sunbathing here, but rather going to the south part of Puglia and enjoy the sea there. In the following list, you will find the nearest beaches to the city center where you can go if you really can’t wait anymore.

Spiaggia Libera Provolina is a tiny free beach, the closest to the city center. Not recommended for proper sunbathing and swimming, but if you can’t wait to dip your toes into the sea, you can do it here.

Pane e Pomodoro is the most famous beach near Bari. It can be very crowded and noisy during the high season as tourists and local people like it here.

Spiaggia Torre Quetta is a pebbly beach that in July 2020 became municipal property. After that, it stays abandoned and is not recommended to visit. Once, it was a great alternative to more crowded Pane e Pomodoro. I hope they will reopen it again in the new beach season.

Lido San Francesco is a classical italian “lido” where you need to pay for lettino and ombrellone. Right next to it, there is a tiny free beach Spiaggia Libera Lato S.Francesco.

Spiaggia Canalone is another small free beach, and Lido Adria is right next to it.

Lido ilmaredentro is a beach club with restaurants and a saltwater pool, the sea can be dirty here. The lido stands on a concrete platform, so there is no real beach here.

Spiaggia libera Riva del Sole is a wide free beach, placed on rocks.

Lama Monachile is the most famous beach in Puglia located in Polignano a Mare that is only 30 min by train from Bari.

Places to visit near Bari

If you have extra days on your journey, you can visit some places near Bari. Not all of them are on my must-see list in Puglia, but some are real gems of the region, such as Castel del Monte, Monopoli, and Polignano a Mare.

Castel del Monte

Castel del Monte is a 13th-century castle that Emperor Frederick II built. Today, it belongs to UNESCO world heritage. It’s a unique piece of medieval architecture of a perfect octagonal shape full of symbolic significance.

As there are no trains or buses that go from Bari to Castel del Monte, it’s very hard or even impossible to get here. If you are not traveling in a car, the best way to visit Castel del Monte is to get a tour with a transfer from Bari.

If you travel from Bari to other towns along the sea, you can catch the trains of Trenitalia. Check the schedule and buy the tickets online.


Trani is a beautiful town located by the sea. The city’s main sights are the Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Nicholas the Pilgrim, and an old fort Castello Svevo, commissioned by Frederick II of Swabia. Don’t forget to roam around the city center and you will see that many streets remain almost as they were in medieval times.


Giovinazzo is a small town with a fishing port. Enjoy slow life, fresh seafood, and medieval architecture here. One of the main sights of the city is the Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. Located by the sea, it has a typical Apulian Romanesque architecture.


Monopoli is one of the must-visit cities in Puglia with an old port, medieval castles, and beautiful churches. It was one of my Puglia road trip highlights, so read more about it in my guide to Monopoli.

Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare is probably the most famous city in Puglia with one of Italy’s most beautiful beaches. Read more in my guide to Polignano a Mare.

If you decide to explore the inland part of Puglia, choose the train of Ferrovie Appulo Lucane.

Gravina in Puglia

Gravina in Puglia is the city that stands on the rocks, connected by the old Roman bridge, dating to at least 1686. The word gravina comes from Latin and means rock or shaft. The city got such a name probably due to the unusual landscape. If you visit the town in April, don’t miss the Saint George’s Fair, one of the oldest fairs in Europe, celebrated each year since 1294.


Altamura is located on one of the hills of the Altopiano delle Murge plateau. The city is famous for its special bread called Pane di Altamura that in 2003 received a PDO (Protected designation of origin) status in Europe.


Matera is one of the hidden gems of Southern Italy. It’s located in the region Basilicata, close to the borders with Puglia. If you don’t plan to go back to this area of Italy after your trip to Puglia, you should include this city in your itinerary.


On the map below I’ve put all the places mentioned in this article. You can switch between the layers to see only the needed points. I hope this map will help you orientate in Bari and plan a perfect trip.

Jana J.
Italy Travel Expert
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