20 Best things to do in Bari, Italy

Bari is the capital of Apulia (Puglia) region in southern Italy and is a major port on the Adriatic Sea. Bari is a great base to explore the other towns in the Puglia region such as Monopoli, Polignano a Mare with its beautiful beaches, Alberobello with its traditional trulli houses, and Matera with its cave dwellings.

Some of the best things to do in Bari are exploring Bari Vecchia, or Old Town with its narrow cobblestone alleys and  historical & cultural attractions such as the Cathedral of San Sabino, Basilica of San Nicola, and Swabian castle.  

You can also explore the Murat district, which is a modern area with vibrant shopping and nightlife, as well as Lungomare of Bari, a seafront promenade with beautiful ocean views.

Bari is located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, so there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy fresh seafood. Don’t miss out on the chance to try some of the local specialties, like mussels, octopus, and fish stew.

20 Best things to do in Bari, Italy

1. Basilica of San Nicola

Basilica of San Nicola is one of the major sights in Paris and is known for its beautiful Apulian Romanesque architecture. The church is conveniently located in the historic Old Town of Bari.

The church was built between 1087 and 1103, during the Norman domination of Apulia to host the relics of Saint Nicholas, which was stolen in the Turkish city of Mira by sailors from Bari.

The Basilica of St. Nicholas is an example of Apulian Romanesque architecture style with a distinctive facade with three apses, and the interior features a nave with aisles and a transept. 

The church is an important place of pilgrimage for Catholics. It has undergone several renovations and expansions throughout the centuries.

2. Cathedral of San Sabino – the Cathedral of Bari

The Church of San Sabino is an impressive Romanesque church in Italy and is a significant cultural landmark in Bari. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Bari and dedicated to Saint Sabinus, a patron saint of Bari.

The cathedral was constructed in the 11th century and has undergone several renovations and expansions over the centuries. The current building dates back from the 12th and 13th centuries, was built by the will of Archbishop Rainaldo, on the former Byzantine imperial cathedral.

The Cathedral of San Sabino is situated in Piazza della Odigitria, in the historic Old Town of Bari, near Bari Centrale train station. 

3. Bari Castle (Castello Normanno-Svevo)

Bari’s Norman-Swabian Castle is one of the must-see attractions in Bari, located in the historic center of the city, close to Bari Cathedral.

Castello Svevo di Bari is an important example of Norman-Swabian architecture in the region, and has been recognized as a National Monument of Italy.

Bari Castle was built in the 12th century, by the Normans, and rebuilt by Frederick II, Duke of Swabia in the early 13th century after it was destroyed in 1156 by king William I of Sicily. 

Castello di Bari is now used as the headquarters of Puglia’s Directorate, as well as a museum and is open to the public for tours. The castle occasionally held art exhibitions and events. 

4. Bari Vecchia (Bari old town)

Bari Vecchia, or Old Town, is the historic heart of the city and one of the best things to do and see in Bari that you shouldn’t miss. It is bordered with the ocean in two sides, and the modern Murat district and its central train station on another side.

The old Town has labyrinths of alleys, as well as many important landmarks and cultural sites,  such as the Bari Cathedral, Castello Svevo di Bari, and Basilica of San Nicola. 

Bari old town is also home to numerous museums such as the Civic Museum of Bari, Nicolaiano Museum, and the Archaeological Museum of St. Colastic.

There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops in Old Town, especially in the area around major squares such as the Piazza del Ferrarese, Castel del Monte, and Piazza Mercantile.

5. Lungomare Nazario Sauro

Lungomare Nazario Sauro is seafront promenade and an extension of Crollalanza Promenade. Lungomare Nazario Sauro spans along the Old Harbor (Porto Vecchio) and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean sea.

The promenade is named after Nazario Sauro, an Italian naval officer and hero of World War I. It is a great place to take a stroll along its 1000 m length and enjoy the landscape, especially in early morning and late afternoon for sunrise and sunset.

6. Piazza Mercantile

Piazza Mercantile is one of Bari’s most popular squares because it has been a commercial and political center of Bari from the 14th century.

Piazza Mercantile is surrounded by historic buildings and structures  including the Palazzo del Sedile, the 16th century Palazzo della Dogana, and the Fontana della Pigna.

There are also several restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it a great place to relax and enjoy the local culture.

Piazza Mercantile is located in the city center, at the intersection of Vittorio Emanuele II, the Augusto Imperatore, and Piazza del Ferrarese square.

7. Bari Provincial Art Gallery

Bari Provincial Art Gallery is one of the best things to do in Bari for art lovers. It is an  art museum that displays artworks including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The museum is housed in a historic building that was once the convent of San Francesco della Scarpa, on the Lungomare promenade. 

8. Via Sparano

Via Sparano is a great place for retail therapy as it is Bari’s major shopping street, packed with many shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Via Sparano spans from Corso Vittorio Emanuele to the Piazza Aldo Moro in the Murat district. 

It is also home to landmarks such as the church of San Ferdinando and the Art Nouveau Mincuzzi Palace.

9. Lido San Francesco

Lido San Francesco is a great place for swimming and sunbathing, located only 2.6 km north from the city center of Bari. 

The beach has white sand and crystal clear water with beach amenities such as sun loungers & chairs, seafood restaurants and bars. It is a big beach, so it is not crowded even in peak season.

10. Altamura

Altamura is one of the most popular day trips from Bari, 40 km southwest of Bari. The city is known for its Altamura Cathedral, Museum of Archaeology, and its bread.

Altamura bread, also known as Pane di Altamura, is traditionally made in Altamura. It is known for its distinctive flavor and texture, which is the result of using a specific type of durum wheat that is grown in the region. The bread is made using a traditional, slow fermentation process, and it is baked in wood-fired ovens.

You can find the Altamura Cathedral in the center of the city. It was built by Frederick II of Swabia in the 13th century. It has a façade with two towers, a rose window, and a portal sided by two lions.

11. Egnazia

Egnazia is an ancient town in the province of Bari. The town was founded by the Messapii, an ancient Italic people, and was later conquered by the Romans, who built the town’s walls, gates, and amphitheater.

Egnazia is known for its well-preserved ruins, which include a temple, a forum, and a theater, as well as a number of other ancient buildings. 

The town is also home to the National Archaeological Museum of Egnazia, which contains a collection of artifacts from the ancient town and the surrounding region.

12. Parco Nationale Alta Murgia

Parco Nationale Alta Murgia is a national park located in the province of Bari, Italy. It was established in 2004 and covers an area of approximately 20,000 hectares. 

The park is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including numerous species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. It also features a variety of landscapes, including forests, grasslands, wetlands, and karst formations. 

The park is popular with hikers, birdwatchers, and nature enthusiasts. It offers a range of amenities, including walking trails, observation points, and educational exhibits.

13. Borgo Murattiano

The Murat district is the business and commercial center of town. It is divided into two 2 sections by Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.

It is lined with 19th and early 20th centuries gorgeous architecture. Popular buildings are the Teatro Petruzzelli, Fizzarotti Palace, Piazza della Libertà, and the Prefecture Palace.

Corso Cavour, Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Sparano are some of the main streets in the Murat neighborhood, packed with shops, restaurants, and bars.

14. Museo del Succorpo della Cattedrale

The Museo del Succorpo della Cattedrale is an archaeological site, beneath the Basilica Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Sabino. 

The museum has the crypt and the relics of Saint Sabinus, as well as Christian and Roman archaeology. If you are interested in the history of the city, this is a place to visit.

15. Teatro Petruzzelli

The Teatro Petruzzelli is one of the most prestigious cultural attractions in Puglia, and is the 4th largest theater in Italy. 

The Teatro Petruzzelli is located in the center of Bari, on Corso Cavour, close to the Apulian Aqueduct. It is named after the Petruzzelli family, who were the original owners and developers of the theater.

The Teatro Petruzzelli was built  in 1903, and was rebuilt later after an arson attack. The Teatro Petruzzelli is home to the Orchestra Sinfonica di Bari and the Ballet Company of the Teatro Petruzzelli.

If you want to watch performances, concerts, plays, and operas, The Teatro Petruzzelli is a place to visit.

16. Street Food Tour

Taking a street food tour is one of the great ways to explore the city and enjoy its local cuisines. Some of the popular food you must try are:

  • Focaccia Barese
  • Sgagliozze 
  • Popizze 
  • Panzerotto
  • Panino con polpo
  • artisanal gelato ice cream

You can find popular street food destinations in Bari in the Bari Vecchia neighborhood.

17. Segway Tour

Taking a segway tour is a cool & fun way to explore the city and its famous tourist attractions. You can rent a Segway and explore the city by yourself and take a guided tour.

If you take a guided tour, you will be led by a trained guide who provides information about the local sights and landmarks.

There are a number of companies that offer Segway tours, which typically last for a few hours and take you to various points of interest in the city. 

If you are interested in taking a Segway tour in Bari, you can search online for local tour companies or ask at your hotel or visitor center for recommendations.

18. Monopoli

Monopoli is one of the popular day trips from Bali. It is easy to reach in around 40 minutes by a regional train from Bari Central Station, and a 5 minutes ride from Polignano a Mare.

Monopoli has a beautiful old town with narrow streets, small houses, and churches dating back to the Middle Ages. The city is also known for its production of wine and olive oil. 

In the surrounding area, there are many farms and countryside landscapes that offer the opportunity to discover the local traditions and food.

Some of the attractions to do and see in the fishing village of Monopoli are:

  • 16th-century Castle of Charles V
  • Porta Vecchia
  • Cathedral
  • Piazza
  • relaxing on the beach
  • Take a luxury boat trip

19. Alberobello

Alberobello is a popular day trip from Bari that you can reach by trains. The town is famous for trulli houses which are traditional Apulian conical-roofed whitewashed stone houses. 

Trulli was created in the 14th century to avoid paying property taxes to the King of Naples. The trulli of Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

There are plenty of trulli, souvenir shops,cafes, and small museums to explore. You can even stay for a night to experience the life of a trulli living.

If you want to learn more about the history of Alberobello and trulli, you can take guided walking tours.

20. Matera

Matera is known for its ancient cave dwellings, which have been inhabited for thousands of years and have been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 

The city has a rich history and cultural heritage, and is also known for its beautiful architecture and natural surroundings. 

Some of the best things to do in Matera are:

  • Stay In A Cave Hotel
  • Walk Along the Main Road
  • The Curves Of Palombaro
  • Do a tuk-tuk tour of Matera
  • The Matera Cathedral
  • The Frescoes Of Matera Rock Churches

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Bari worth visiting?

Bari is definitely worth visiting because this capital city of Puglia region has a beautiful Old Town with a maze of narrow alleyways, churches, and picturesque courtyards, as well as delicious cuisine, and stunning beaches nearby. It is also a good base to explore Puglia’s towns such as Monopoli, Alberobello, and Matera.

What is Bari best known for?

Bari is known for being the capital city, major port, and economic hub of the Apulia region in southern Italy and. It is also known for its delicious food, beautiful beaches, and its rich history and cultural heritage with attractions such as the Basilica of San Nicola and Castello Normanno-Svevo.

How many days are enough for Bari?

The amount of time you need in Bari will depend on the individual’s interests and the amount of time they have available. In general, three or four days could be sufficient to see the main attractions and get a sense of the city.

How do I spend a day in Bari, Italy?

Spend a day in Bari by strolling through the old town and visiting the Basilica di San Nicola, exploring the Bari harbor and trying fresh seafood at a local restaurant, and ending the day with a walk along the Murat neighborhood and a gelato from a street vendor.

What to do in Bari at night?

There are many things to do in Bali at night, such as sample some of the delicious local cuisine at one of the many restaurants, visit the city’s many bars and clubs, or catch a show at a theater or music venue.

What are the best day trips from Bari?

Some of the best day trips from Bari include visiting the beautiful town of Alberobello, known for its trulli houses; exploring the stunning beaches of the Puglia region in Polignano a Mare and Monopoli; and visiting the ancient city of Matera, known for its cave dwellings and rich history.

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So there you have it, the best things to do in Bari, Italy for your next trip. If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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