Is Bari Worth Visiting? [2024 – It depends?…]

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is bari worth visting go to lecce
Bari – A place you just wanna dance while wandering around. From our last trip there when we explored Bari, Lecce, Polignano a Mare and Monopoli using the cheap and easy trains.

TL;DR: Bari Italy Travel:
Pros: Charming old town, delicious food, beautiful beaches, cheap, and vibrant culture
Cons: Busy, Gritty, port town, dreadful hot in summer, difficult to get to, organized crime

Best for: Shoulder season travel for people like love to wander and mix beachy nature and culture. Cheap hub to explore other Puglia towns.
Not great for: Hop on, hop off bus tour type travelers, non-walkers. People who hate crowds.

Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (Italian: Aeroporto di Bari-Karol Wojtyła) (IATA: BRI, ICAO: LIBD) is an airport serving the city of Bari in Italy.

Here’s my mini travel guide complete with where to stay, things to do, what to eat etc based on my experience eating, hiking and swimming around Bari in April. 

It’s a great second city in Italy that doesn’t get press like Rome or Naples, but has a lot to offer the seasoned traveler.

Prefer Video? Morgan’s Bari Trip Video

Welcome to Apulia!

is bari worth visting city street
I’ve made a bunch of tour rec’s…however, you can and probably should just wander around the alleys and soak in the vibe. It’s like stepping back in time.

I stayed right in the Bari Vechia old town and ate the yummy fried squid, meandered through ancient history and absolutely loved taking the train to all the seaside towns like Lecce, Polignano a Mare and Monopoli as daytrips.

is bari worth visiting central bari

We got very lucky and met Luigi from Lecce on the train ride from the airport to old town and his advice was to use the train vs rent a car and I’m so glad we did. The train is surprisingly good here for local travel along the coast.

No time to read? Here’s the Best Things to Do in Bari for Active Travelers

Is Bari Worth Visiting? An Honest Answer

is bari worth visiting

Is Bari worth visiting?

Yes, it’s a lovely grungy take on southern Italy with great food, italian drinks, views, delicious aperitivo, beaches visit for hiking, snorkeling and super cool sea caves and vibes. 

However, if you ask me if Bari is worth visiting in August, I would resoundingly say no. Go north to the Dolomites in August to a place like Lago di Braies to escape the heat.

It’s too hot and everyone is grumpy.  It’s much better in April – June and September through November.

Bari Italy Things To Do: Short on time?

Don’t have time to read the whole article? No problemo!

Popular activities in Bari

Bari Highlights Overview (Hint: take a daytrip to Lecce)

1. History: Trulli Architecture, UNESCO Sites

is bari worth visiting

If you are interested in history, Bari and the surrounding towns have a lot to offer. The city has a rich history, and its historic center is home to many ancient buildings, including the Basilica of San Nicola, which is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Italy and the patron saint of Bari.

One of the main reasons to visit Bari is its charming old town, Bari Vecchia. This historic district is a maze of narrow alleys and picturesque courtyards, where you can wander around and explore the quaint shops and cafes.

2. Food: Bari is a great destination for foodies.

is bari worth visiting
Foccacia from heaven. The lime zest on a burrata sealed the deal with teh bacon and zucchini.

Bari is also known for its delicious food, especially its seafood dishes and street food. You can try local specialties like orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe, or fresh fish cooked in a variety of ways. The city has plenty of authentic restaurants where you can savor the flavors of Puglia.

3. Beaches and Sea Caves: Restaurants INSIDE caves?!?!

is bari worth visiting

If you are a beach lover, Bari has plenty of options for you. The city is located on the Adriatic Sea and has some beautiful beaches nearby.

You can take a short drive or train to the stunning Polignano a Mare, a charming seaside town with crystal-clear waters and rocky cliffs.

4. City and Night Life

In addition to its natural beauty, Bari is also a vibrant and lively city. It has a rich cultural heritage and hosts many festivals and events throughout the year. You can experience traditional music, dance, and food at these events and get a taste of the local culture.

Where to Stay in Bari Old Town

The absolute best place to stay in Bari is the stunning Palazzo Calò.

I loved that it is elegant, yet understated directly and less than 5 minutes walk to the Bari Cathedral and the Basilica of San Nicola.  The swimming pool, exposed wooden beams and rooftop terrace and wellness services are top notch.

Click here for more recommendations on where to stay in Bari.

Exploring Bari : You Wanted Authentic, right?

is bari worth visiting
You will have to manage gypsy encounters in central Bari.

When exploring Bari, you will notice the authenticity of the city. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and they take pride in their traditions and heritage.

One of the best ways to explore Bari is by taking a guided walking tour or just walk around aimlesslesly.

There are plenty of interesting places to visit and you can also stroll along the seafront promenade and enjoy the views of the Adriatic Sea.

Keep your purse close though. It’s a port city and they tend to be filled with organized crime and Bari is no different.

Bari the Port City

Bari is a city located in the Puglia region of Southern Italy.

bari city

It is a port city that connects Italy to other Mediterranean destinations, including Greece, Croatia, Albania, and Montenegro. If you are planning a trip to any of these destinations, you may want to consider visiting Bari as well.

Bari is an excellent starting point for exploring the Mediterranean region. From here, you can catch a ferry to Greece, Montenegro and more.

TOP 5 Non-Food Things to do in Bari

Best Tours in Bari

Today, Bari is a popular tourist destination, known for its beautiful scenery, historic architecture, and excellent wine.

1. See the Famous Trulli Houses : Alberobello

trulli houses by bari

Join your friendly guide at Largo Martellotta for a 2-hour sightseeing tour of Alberobello, exploring the historical center of Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola, where you’ll marvel at the unique architecture of the iconic Trulli buildings and learn about their history and significance, before ending at the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua, with free time for lunch and a return trip to Bari.

🌟 This private half day tour of Alberobello offers Italian and English language with a knowledgeable guide and pick up from Bari!

2. Tour Ancient Stone City of Matera: The 2019 European Capital Of Culture


This tour takes you from Bari to Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the 2019 European Capital of Culture, where you’ll explore the famous caves, old neighborhoods, and churches built in caves, with the assistance of a tour leader, and have some free time to explore the town on your own, before returning to Bari in the afternoon.

🌟 This van tour offers a Bari pickup and drop off and a FULL day tour of Matera. Drive yourself? Rent a cute fiat and go in style.

3. Explore the Electric Blue Sea caves of Polignano a Mare on a Boat

polignanao sea caves

Polignano a Mare is a picturesque town located on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy, in the region of Apulia. The town is known for its stunning cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and beautiful beaches, making it a popular destination for tourists seeking a relaxing and scenic getaway.

The old town of Polignano a Mare is perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea, and is home to narrow streets, charming alleys, and beautiful churches, as well as a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Experience the breathtaking beauty of the Grotta delle Rondinelle, grotta Azzurra, grotta Ardito, and grotta Palazzese on an exclusive and elegant cruise along the Polignano a Mare coast.

🛥️ Explore magnificent sea caves on this private speedboat tour.

4. Explore the busy and colorful Bari and Surrounding area on a bike.

Outdoor Bari

bike tour bari

It’s impossible to pick just one bike tour that is the best. You’ve got the choice of regular (bio) bikes and e-bikes, guided or self guided and in the city or in Nature. From honey farms, olive oil orchards, caves, seaside, and ALWAYS with a food and drinks stop, this is my favorite land activity in the Bari region. There’s not so many mountains so it’s very nice and easy.

🚲 Cycle around with a guide seeing all of the top Bari and Surrounding Sights

5. Marvel at Hidden Archaeological Gems in Ruvo di Puglia

tour in bari

The Jatta National Archaeological Museum is a must-visit attraction in Ruvo di Puglia, Italy, for history lovers and art enthusiasts. The museum houses a unique collection of ancient terracotta vases, Greek or local production vases, craters, and over 270 artifacts, including the vase of Talos, which is one of the most important ceramographic masterpieces.

The museum is located in the Palazzo Jatta, a beautiful 19th-century building that has remained unchanged since its original conception, making it the only 19th-century private collection in Italy that has remained unchanged. You can explore the historical center of Ruvo di Puglia, which is home to the Romanesque style Ruvo Cathedral, the hypogeum, and the remains of the castle and defensive ramparts, providing a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past.

🏛️ Check out the ancient history with a professional guide on this tour.

Top Food Things to do In Bari Italy

Bari’s Cuisine : This is Why You Should Really Come

If you are a food lover, then Bari is definitely worth visiting. The city is known for its rich culinary heritage that has been influenced by different cultures over the years. From street food to fine dining, Bari has something for everyone.

I would recommend adding extra walking into your itinerary to make more room for food.

1. Orecchiette – Little Ears

pasta in bari italy

Bari is famous for its delicious pasta dishes, and one of the most popular is orecchiette. You’ll even find ladies hand rolling it on the sidewalk.

This pasta is shaped like little ears and is typically served with cime di rapa, a type of broccoli rabe. Another must-try pasta dish is Spaghetti all’Assassina, which is spaghetti with spicy tomato sauce.

2. Seafood

street food in bari italy
I could never get a photo of the fried fish faster than we ate it except this one! The cones are scrumptious.

If you are a seafood lover, then you must try the local specialty, Riso, Patate e Cozze, a baked dish made with rice, potatoes, and mussels.

3. Street Food

street food bari

Bari has a rich street food culture, and you will find plenty of stalls selling delicious snacks like panzerotti, which is a type of fried pastry filled with tomato and mozzarella. You can also try other street food specialties like sgagliozze, which are fried polenta squares, and pettole, which are fried dough balls.

And absolutely get the cone of fried anchovies and/or squid.

4. Ice Cream and Gelato

beach by bari italy

The VERY best gelato I’ve ever had was in Lecce. Thankfully the French couple on the boat cave tour told us about the shop and since the I’ve never had as good!

5. Fish Market

If you want to experience the local markets, then head to Mercato del Pesce, which is a bustling fish market where you can buy fresh seafood. You can also visit Mercato Coperto, which is a covered market that sells everything from fresh produce to local cheeses.

6. Peasant Food

Bari’s cuisine is heavily influenced by cucina povera, which means “poor cooking.” This style of cooking uses simple ingredients to create delicious dishes. You will find plenty of dishes made with eggplant and mushrooms, which are both abundant in the region.

Nearby Attractions: Day Trips

While Bari has plenty to offer, there are also some amazing attractions nearby that you shouldn’t miss. Here are some of the top places to visit:



Puglia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy, and many of them are just a short drive from Bari. Some of the best beaches to check out include Pomodoro Beach, Polignano a Mare, and Monopoli. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in the sun or some water sports, these beaches have something for everyone.


Alberobello is a small town located about an hour’s drive from Bari. It’s known for its unique trulli houses, which are traditional dry stone huts with conical roofs. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a great place to explore if you’re interested in history and architecture.


Matera is another UNESCO World Heritage Site located about an hour and a half from Bari. It’s known for its ancient cave dwellings, which have been inhabited since prehistoric times. Today, many of the caves have been turned into restaurants, hotels, and museums, making it a fascinating place to visit.

Exploring Puglia Lecce, Monopoli and More

Monopoli at night. Wow.

If you have some extra time, consider exploring more of the Puglia region. Some other places worth checking out include Ostuni, Monopoli, Lecce, and the Gargano Peninsula.

Each of these places has its own unique charm and attractions, and they’re all within driving distance or an easy train ride from Bari.

Historical & Cultural Significance

is bari worth visiting

Bari is a city that is steeped in history and has a rich cultural heritage that dates back to ancient times. The city has been inhabited since prehistoric times and has been ruled by various empires and kingdoms throughout history. The most significant of these was the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, which ruled Bari from the 12th century until the 16th century.

The Old Town of Bari, also known as Bari Vecchia, is a testament to the city’s rich history. It is a maze of narrow streets and alleys that are lined with traditional houses and ancient buildings. The Old Town is also home to several historical landmarks, including the Swabian Castle, which was built in the 12th century and is now a museum.

Bari Vecchia is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which highlights the city’s historical significance. The site was inscribed in 1996 and is recognized for its unique urban fabric and the preservation of its historical monuments.

The Swabian Castle is one of the most significant historical landmarks in Bari. It is a fortress that was built by the Normans in the 12th century and was later renovated by the Swabians in the 13th century. The castle is now a museum that showcases the history of the city and the region.

🏰 Check out the Swabian Castle on this Tour.

Shopping in Bari

food. inbari italy

Bari is a great place to shop for souvenirs and gifts. The old town is home to many small shops and boutiques that sell traditional Puglian products such as olive oil, wine, and ceramics.

You can also find handmade jewelry and leather goods. If you are looking for more modern shopping options, head to the city center where you will find a variety of shops selling designer clothing and accessories.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Bari is a lively city with a vibrant nightlife scene. There are many bars and clubs that stay open until the early hours of the morning. The city also hosts a variety of cultural events and festivals throughout the year.

One of the most popular events is the Festa di San Nicola, which takes place in May and celebrates the city’s patron saint. During the festival, the streets are filled with music, food, and parades.


lecce italy cathedral

Bari and Lecce are home to many beautiful churches that are worth visiting. One of the most famous is the Basilica di San Nicola, which houses the relics of Saint Nicholas. The church is a popular pilgrimage site and is known for its stunning architecture. Another notable church is the Cattedrale di San Sabino, which dates back to the 12th century. The church is known for its intricate stone carvings and beautiful frescoes.

Lecce: Best Day Trip from Bari

While not technically in Bari, the city of Lecce is a short train ride away and is definitely worth a visit. Known as the “Florence of the South,” Lecce is home to many beautiful baroque buildings and churches. The city is also known for its traditional crafts such as papier-mâché and lace-making.

Travel Logistics

If you’re planning a trip to Bari, you’ll need to consider the logistics of getting there. Fortunately, there are a variety of transportation options available to you, including trains, ferries, and cheap flights.

Getting There by Train

Bari is well-connected to other cities in Italy by train, making it a convenient destination to reach if you’re already in the country. There are frequent trains from Rome, Naples, and other major cities, with travel times ranging from 3-5 hours depending on your starting point.

Taking the Ferry

If you’re coming from Greece or other parts of the Mediterranean, taking the ferry to Bari can be a scenic and enjoyable way to arrive. There are several ferry companies that operate routes to Bari, including Grimaldi Lines and Ventouris Ferries.

Finding Cheap Flights

If you’re coming from further afield, finding a cheap flight to Bari is your best bet. Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (BRI) is served by several budget airlines, including Ryanair and Wizz Air. You can often find flights for under €50 if you book in advance.

Planning Your Itinerary

If you’re planning to spend 10 days in Italy and want to include Bari in your itinerary, there are plenty of things to see and do in and around the city. You might consider spending a few days exploring Bari’s historic old town, visiting the Basilica di San Nicola, and sampling the local cuisine.

From there, you could take day trips to nearby towns like Alberobello, Ostuni, and Matera, all of which are within easy reach by train or car.

When you book your transport online, I personally recommend and always use OMIO. They search for trains, buses, flights and ferries, so you get the easiest way to your destination! 

Geography and Weather

Just outside the city is incredible water!

Bari is a port city located in the Puglia region of Southern Italy. It is situated on the Adriatic Sea and is the capital of the Bari province. The city is located on the eastern coast of the Apulia peninsula, which stretches out into the Adriatic Sea. The city has a rich history, and its position on the Mediterranean has made it an important trading hub for centuries.

Seasons in Bari

Bari has a Mediterranean climate, which means that it has mild winters and hot summers. The city enjoys a longer summer season than most of Italy due to its southern location.

Best Time of Year to Visit Bari

The best time to visit Bari is during the spring and autumn seasons when the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller.

In the summer months, the city can get quite hot, with temperatures reaching up to 40°C. If you plan to visit during this time, make sure to pack light clothing and stay hydrated. The winter months in Bari are mild, with temperatures rarely dropping below 10°C.

How long to Stay In Bari

You can take public transport to Bari and I would not recommend driving within the city.

Most people coming to Bari may only be here as a daytrip from Rome and that’s totally fine. You can see quite a few things in the space of an afternoon.

However if you really want to soak in the genuine Italian ambiance I would suggest 4-5 days to really see all that it has to offer.

With a Car

When you book your car online, I personally recommend and always use Discover Cars. They search for both local and international companies, so you get the best deal! 

Accommodation Options Bari

girl walking through bari

Hotels and Inns

Looking for a cozy place to rest your head after a day of exploring Bari? You’re in luck! There are plenty of places to stay in Bari Italy. From hotels, to guesthouses and inns – the area that offer comfortable accommodations and a touch of local charm.

Best Accommodation for Families Exploring Nature

We recommend the Rosso Petruzzelli Apartments if you are coming to Bari with your family. It has excellent family rooms so you can spend quality time together. The apartments are located in the old town and only a short distance to the Pane e Pomodoro Beach, so you have unlimited access to swimming and water activities in the ocean. You can simply relax and connect with your family while enjoying the beautiful sights of the majestic ocean.

Best Eco-Friendly Luxury

Palazzo Calò: This luxury hotel is located in the quiet neighborhood of San Pasquale and offers a private garden and pool. You can sip a martini at the rooftop poolside while basking in the city’s glorious views.  The hotel also features a bar, restaurant and meeting rooms.

Best Budget

The Travel Station is the best budget stay accommodation in Naples, Italy. It is just a 10 minutes walk from the Bari Central Train Station. The rooms are spacious and aesthetically done. The balcony offers some good city views. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi and washing machine facilities.

Each hotel has its own unique features and amenities, so be sure to do your research and find the one that best fits your needs and preferences.

Can’t find what you need? Click here to find more accommodations in Bari.

Frequently Asked Questions

polignano a mare italy
Bari is the perfect launchpad to see all the best of Puglia.

What are some must-see attractions in Bari?

Bari is a city rich in history and culture, so there are plenty of attractions to see. Some of the must-see attractions include the Basilica of San Nicola, the Castello Svevo, and the Bari Cathedral. You can also explore the narrow streets of the old town, known as Bari Vecchia, and visit the local markets to experience the local way of life.

How many days should I spend in Bari?

Bari is a relatively small city, so you can see most of the main attractions in one to two days. However, if you want to explore more of the surrounding area or take day trips, you may want to spend three to four days in Bari.

What is the best time of year to visit Bari?

The best time to visit Bari is in the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and there are fewer tourists. The summer months can be hot and crowded, while the winter months can be rainy and cold.

What are some recommended day trips from Bari?

If you have extra time in Bari, there are plenty of day trips you can take. Some of the most popular day trips include visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello, exploring the white-washed town of Ostuni, or relaxing on the beaches of Polignano a Mare.

What is the food like in Bari?

Bari is known for its delicious seafood and pasta dishes. Some local specialties include orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe and anchovies, and the famous panzerotti, a deep-fried turnover filled with tomato and mozzarella.

Where is the best area to stay in Bari?

The best area to stay in Bari is in the old town, Bari Vecchia, where you can experience the local way of life and avoid crime hot spots. Alternatively, you can stay in the modern city center, which is more convenient for transportation and has a wider range of accommodation options.

Planning Tips

Final Thoughts: Is Bari Worth Visiting?

is bari worth visiting

There are many ways to experience the romantic beauty of Southern Italy and Bari is one of my absolute favorites. You’ve got a variety of transportation options, including boats, bikes, trains, and walking tours, to explore the region and take in its breathtaking scenery, food and history.

Bari Trip Planning Essentials

Planning your trip?

Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.