7 Best Things to Do in Bari, Italy

Bari, Italy

Before I give you my full list of best things to do in Bari, let me tell you a very short story. I was walking around Bari, Italy with a friend on our last day there, still discovering new corners to photograph, watching the fishermen go out to the sea in their boats, smelling the fresh grass and pine trees. While we stopped to take a photo, a man passing by stopped and smiled at us. “Bari is magic,” – he said and walked on. And yes, I fully agree, Bari is indeed magic.

I have started writing this post about the best things to do in Bari, Italy still on the plane to Vilnius, which officially makes it the freshest post on my blog. And it probably is so because Bari is an inspiring town, where you will find pretty much anything you want. So to all of you asking the question: “What to do in Bari, Italy?” – let me tell you now, what I myself have found there.

So, what are the best things to do in Bari, Italy?

1. Explore the Old Town of Bari, Italy

The old town of Bari is full of white and narrow streets, stairs, Vespas and smell of freshly washed laundry. The main sights, such as the Basilica of Saint Nicholas and the Cathedral of San Sabino (also called Bari Cathedral) date all the way back to 11th century.

In general, the whole old town looks and feels as if you have been transported to some time in the past (well, except for the Vespas). Passing through the narrow streets, you will see women rolling pasta, families having dinners, neighbours talking to each other.

The Old Town of Bari is very walkable, but there are other options to explore it if plain walking feels boring. Try out a bike tour or even a rickshaw city tour around Bari. Or – if you are feeling adventurous – how about a segway and gelato tasting tour

Right outside the old town, you will also find another Bari must-see: Castello Normanno Svevo – a Norman castle in a perfect condition. If you are after historical artefacts, visit the exhibition inside. Or just go all the way up the tower for the view over the town and the sea.

And if you get hungry while you walk, grab a focaccia at the Panificio Santa Rita or sit down for a proper lunch at the Piazza del Ferrarese.

old town bari, italy
Typical view of the Old Town in Bari, Italy – you can hardly take a photo without any laundry in it.

2. Have some fresh oysters by the sea

During the lunchtime, the fishermen come back from the sea and bring fresh seafood. They set up tables to sell it right at the shore (Lungomare) not far from Bari Ferris wheel. You will see tables covered with simple plastic plates filled with all possible fresh-out-of-the-sea luxury: oysters, calamari, sea urchins, prawns and other creatures, which I do not yet know by name. Raw, of course.

You can get a plate with either just one type of seafood, or mix them up according to your wishes. Each plate costs 5 euro, and you usually get some lemon and bread to go with it. Next to the tables, you will also find a little bar selling beer and other drinks to wash down this lunch.

We took a mix of everything and liked some of the things more, and some of the things less. They all tasted of the sea though, and together with the sea right next to me and the sun on my face, it was one of those lunches to remember.

Sea Urchins in Bari
Here is a picture of sea urchins instead of oysters, because oysters taste heavenly, but look disgusting. Sea urchins are much more photogenic.

3. Go shopping

Have you heard that Italians are the most stylish people? Well, maybe you have heard that about some other nation, but don’t jump to a conclusion before you actually see Italians – they certainly have a sense for fashion. Which makes Bari a perfect place for shopping.

Cross Corso Vittorio Emanuelle and walk around the central Bari to check the shop windows. Instead of looking for big brands, as it is the case in many other countries, go rather for small shops with the looks you find most appealing. It is very popular in Italy to have small boutiques, where you can shop everything from shoes to coat to sunglasses.

And while you are shopping, pop into the local store of Apulian designers to buy a Pumo: a typical Apulian ceramic decorative element in various sizes, which symbolizes fertility and abundance.

shopping trolley bari italy
Someone has done their shopping already and forgot the trolley.

4. Have a stroll on the Lungomare Promenade

Bari is a coastal town, so do use all the sea-related benefits it has to offer. I miss the sea so much that I could not get enough of just walking the promenade, enjoying the sunshine or the dusk and the smell of the sea. The most obvious answer to the question: “What to see in bari?” is to see the sea. From the Lungomare you can see fishing boats and stop for a second to watch the fishermen go out to the sea.

While we were walking along the shore with a friend, a middle-aged Italian couple stopped us and pointed at the water: “Can you see the reflection of the sun on the sea? Sparkling like stars. Beautiful!” And it was indeed beautiful.

So, slow down, take a stroll and prepare to absorb the beauty.

 Lungomare bari italy
Boats resting in the harbour.

5. Enjoy a proper Apulian meal

If you are like me, the answer to the question: “What to do in Bari?”, can always be: “Eat!” For a snack, get a bag of friselle – crunchy oven-baked pieces of bread with olive oil and sometimes extra additions, like fennel. In addition, grab some fresh fruits or vegetables. For example, winter is the season for citrus, and the oranges and clementines taste amazing.

One of the typical dishes of Bari is called “orecchiette” – a type of pasta shaped like shells or ears, which is the translation of their name from Italian. You can probably find them in many different variations, but they are most frequently served with broccoli rabe. This rabe you will see growing all around Bari if you go outside the city on a day trip.

Pair your meal with some local wine. Here I might not be the best adviser, so go with anything you already like or try some new ones. Typical grapes to try would be Primitivo, Salice Salentino and Negroamaro. After your trip, please let me know, which one you preferred!

And of course, Bari is a coastal town, so try some fish, octopus, prawns and other frutti di mare. If you do not want to have a proper high-end dinner, go for the casual (and low cost) option, which is panini: sandwiches with all possible filling of fish, meat, fresh mozzarella and vegetables. This way you get the best of both: the seafood, but also the bread, which Puglia is rather famous for. I really liked Mastro Ciccio, and judging by the size of the crowd, many Italians agree with me.

Food in Puglia
An artichoke smiling into the camera

6. Take a ride on Bari Ferris wheel

This one is a tricky one. The observation wheel of Bari is very well-placed between the sea and the town, so you get quite a view. The problem for me was that I only remembered that I am afraid of heights after I have talked my friends into getting on the wheel and it stopped somewhere at the very top.

So I (probably) got pale in the face and tried to take some pictures with my hands trembling, while my friends took turns laughing at me and saying something supportive to calm me down. Yeah, I guess this is what the true friendship is about.

But anyway, from the wheel you will see amazing view over Bari. I would especially recommend going there during the sunset, as the light then is the most beautiful.

view from bari ferris wheel
Despite my shaking hands, I did manage to take a decent picture. Look at the view from Bari Ferris Wheel!

7. Go to the beach

If it is summer, this sounds like an obvious choice, really. But do go to the beach even during the winter. If you just continue from Bari Ferris wheel on Lungomare, you will arrive at the first beach called Spiaggia Pane e Pomodoro – a beautiful sandy one, and empty during the winter too.

In January I sat on this beach and watched people canoeing and paddle-boarding. One of my friends even went into the sea to check the water (and surprisingly found it cold), but later we saw a man swimming. And again after my snowy and frosty Lithuania, I could not believe that January can be like this. Although it may not be one of the best beaches in Puglia (and probably not even the best of Bari, Italy beaches), it certainly felt like one at that time.

At the beach itself, you will find a little cafeteria. With all the strict eating times in Italy and half of the restaurants closed for the winter, I was surprised to find it open. And then even more surprised that it offered almost everything a simple tourist like me wanted to have on her last day in Italy: focaccia, espresso and Aperol-spritz.

No matter what day this is in Bari for you and which season it is, just imagine this: sitting at the beach, watching the sea, sunshine on your face, sipping an Aperol or an espresso. Sounds like a proper dolce vita, right?

things to do in Bari italy
The water was so tempting, although a little bit too cold. But still, count swimming into those top things to do in Bari. This one is Spiaggia Pane e Pomodoro.

Looking for more things to do in Bari, Italy? Here are some ideas: 

Practical information about Bari, Italy

I am sure all you want is to book your tickets to Bari now. So, let me share some final tips with you.

First of all, stop by the Bari Tourist Information office at Piazza del Ferrarese 29 to get a map and some more general tips about travelling around.

Getting to and from Bari airport to Bari Centrale (Bari Train Station):

Bari Airport is also called Palese Airport or Karol Wojtyla Airport, just that you know and not get confused on arrival. Yes, it is Italy, not Poland. The airport is just 15 km away from the centre of the town. You can choose between these transport options:

1. Train from Bari Airport to Bari Centrale costs 5 euro and departs ca. every 20 minutes. The journey takes around 20 minutes as well, making it the fastest way to travel from Bari Airport to Bari Train Station.

2. Bari Airport Bus #16 is a much cheaper and slower option. The ticket costs 1 euro (or 1.5 euro, if you buy it on the bus), and the journey takes 40 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Private transfer from Bari Centre to Bari airport. Check with your hotel, as many hotels offer this option for about 10 euro per person.

Where to stay in Bari:

If you are planning to travel around Puglia, not only staying in Bari, it is worth checking the hotels close to Bari Train Station. Although the town is not very big, and it is easy to walk from the train station to Bari old town, you might still choose something closer.

Budget: B&b Bari Old Town – a place where I actually stayed this time. Very good value for money, a little place situated right on the edge of Bari old town.
High-end: Palazzo Calo – Very stylish, but still traditional, it also has a terrace with a view. Definitely one of the best of Bari.

Or check out some deals here:

Booking.com

Where to eat in Bari:

Pazzeria Dregher – A simple pizzeria with a twist: an owner, who on a good evening will sing you songs like an opera star.
Mastro Ciccio – Best of Bari sandwiches with fresh local ingredients. Once you try, you will have a different idea of what a “sandwich” is.

Day trips from Bari, Italy:

In addition to all these awesome sights in the town itself, Bari in Italy is also the perfect base for you to explore the nearby area. From Bari you can easily travel to Matera, Polignano a Mare, Ostuni, Locotrondo and Alberobello. If you have 3-4 days or more, I have a suggestion on planning your 4-day itinerary in and around Bari, Italy in this guide.

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35 thoughts on “7 Best Things to Do in Bari, Italy

  1. theobvious says:

    Here’s a tip someone gave me about wine that’s never failed yet. If you don’t know wines too well, try and get a few grapes you like and go by that – and by the label design! If you like the way the bottle is designed, it is likely you’ll like the taste of the wine too.
    Also, Bread And Tomato Beach??? Is that what the name means and if so – why?

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      Good one! I heard the same tip (the bottle design) about chosing perfume and it does work for me (and Zsolt), but I never thought to use it for wine. But I’m not very picky with the wine, so it makes me a bad expert. Any decent wine at a right temperature and in a nice glass makes me happy 🙂

      The beach – good question. I could never find an answer to that. Will need to go once again and ask the locals.

      • theobvious says:

        With perfume I read an additional thing: apparently, perfume types are sorted by color. I know I like some yellow and most green perfumes (citrusy and foresty, to put it in very blunt terms), and stay away from red, purple and white – they are too sweet, too heavy, or too adult for me. Shay likes green and blue.

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      :)) There is actually very little to eat in the sea urchins. There is only the shell and a little bit of substance, which you take out with a piece of bread. It tastes salty.

  2. josypheen says:

    Gorgeous photos!

    Do you really think oysters are unphotogenic though? I guess they are not half as ‘pretty’ as the urchins, but they have such cool, interesting shapes! Did you try those urchins as well? I have never tried it straight from a shell…only balanced on top of sushi!

    p.s. well done on the photos from the ferris wheel, despite your fears! Those views are beautiful!

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      We tried the urchins and I actually liked them. Salty! And oysters – I have seen very nice photos of them, but my photos didn’t look good. So yes, maybe the problem was just with my hands. 😉

  3. waitingforrain28 says:

    I have never heard of Bari before, and it looks like a nice alternative destination in Italy. The food looks great and the landscapes are beautiful. Wonderful guide. PS Ferris wheels freak me out too!

  4. Haley says:

    Bari sounds and looks like such a lovely place. Especially the Lungomare ! I will definitely be adding this place to my must sees in Italy! The beach and harbor look absolutely beautiful !

  5. Candy says:

    I’ve never been to Bari, Italy and it sounds like there is so much to do. I love fashion and would love to go shopping there! The beaches look gorgeous too ?

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      Oh yes, for fashion it is a nice place. It’s much less crowded than Milan and you can get some completely unique clothes from the local designers for a good price.

  6. Teja says:

    I saw sea urchin remains in Easter Island last year – before that I didn’t know people ate them! Now from your photo I know what the flesh looks like inside, that you’d eat!

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      I was also looking at them with suspicion now: like, is there anything inside to actually eat? 🙂

  7. Georgia McGrath says:

    Bari looks stunning! I have always loved Italy and you’ve captured the simple details so perfectly in your photos like the beautiful streets! I tried Sea urchin pasta when I was living in Sardegna, Italy and really liked it!

  8. Richa says:

    I didn’t even know there was a place called Bari in Italy, so thanks for introducing me to it ? Now I need to look it up coz it looks like there is a ton of awesome stuff to do there.

  9. Kaylie | Happiness Travels Here| says:

    This looks like a fabulous place to visit and your photos are gorgeous. Looking forward to seeing more of your photos in instagram.

  10. Angie Saunders says:

    I have just bought ones to go to Bari in October, and found your article via a Pinterest search! Brilliant information, can’t wait to go ?

    • merrygoroundslowly says:

      I’m so happy you wrote this! I’m happy it helps and I’m sure you’ll have a great time there in October. 🙂

  11. Dawn says:

    While in Bari for the first time in September-October 2018 I suggest to take a stroll through old town and the cathedral at night . It is beautiful. Also, don’t miss trying the local panzerotti. A fried sandwich stuffed with different combinations of meat , cheeses and vegetables. Delicious .

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