Visit Bari: Top 12 Things To Do + Where To Stay


Things to do in Bari: The 12 Best Places to Visit and Highlights

You want to visit Bari, the capital of Puglia region, during your next trip and you’re looking for the best things to do?

You’re at the right place!

Often the first and last stop on a trip to Puglia (as most flights land here), the city is especially known for its historical center, Bari Vecchia, which is home to most of the city’s best places to visit.

In order to help you plan your stay, I have written this guide of the best things to do in Bari, with all must-see attractions and points of interest.

At the end of the article, you will also find itineraries to visit Bari in 1 or 2 days as well as my suggestions of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

So, what are the best places to visit in Bari? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

Visiting Bari: All Must-See Attractions

1. Bari Vecchia District

The historic center (Bari Vecchia) is undoubtedly the most interesting part of the city.

It features most of the Bari’s tourist sites, such as the Basilica of San Nicola and the Swabian Castle. Its narrow medieval alleys, palaces, churches, and whitewashed houses that you come across at every corner make it a truly pleasant area to stroll through.

The old town of Bari is located between the two ports, the old and the new one. During your walk, you shouldn’t miss one of the specialties of Bari, the Orecchiette Street.

Orecchiette are the typical pasta of Puglia. On Via Arco Basso, dubbed “Orecchiette Street“, you can watch women hard at work making Orecchiette, sometimes right in the street or even inside their homes.

Of course, you can buy their pasta: homemade quality guaranteed!

A street dedicated to pasta, now that confirms you’re indeed in Italy! 😁

Voyage Tips - Advice

To explore the old town of Bari and learn more about the various monuments, you should book a guided tour.

Here are my 3 favorites walking tours. Simply click on the orange links for details and to book:

  • A pasta-themed guided tour, where you will attend an orecchiette making workshop! Plus, you’ll get to taste an authentic Italian gelato.
  • Bari street food tour, with several tasting stops to enjoy focaccia, salami, cheese, panzerotti, and homemade ice cream.
  • A more classic guided tour, with a local guide who will take you to see all the must-sees in the historic center.
Orecchiette, typical pasta of Bari
Orecchiette, typical pasta of Bari

2. The Basilica of San Nicola

The Basilica of San Nicola is the iconic landmark of Bari.

Built in a Romanesque style, the basilica was constructed between the 11th and 12th centuries on the ruins of a Byzantine palace. Today, it’s one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in all of Italy and Europe, for both Catholics and Orthodox believers.

From the outside, its architecture is remarkably imposing, characterized by a façade flanked by two towers. On its sides, be sure to admire the arches and the sculpted portals, especially the “Lions’ Door”, at the Northern façade.

The interior of the Basilica of San Nicola is known for its beautiful Baroque ceiling and some fine works of art, but most importantly for housing the tomb and relics of Saint Nicholas.

Legend has it that sailors from Bari stole them from Turkey in the 11th century to safeguard them in Christian lands. The story goes that Saint Nicholas himself, on his way to Rome, chose the location of his burial site.

For opening times of the basilica, you should check out the official website.

Voyage Tips - Advice

This very Saint Nicholas is the one who, in some parts of Europe, visits in December to distribute gifts and sweets to children!

Bari, Apulia
Bari, Puglia

3. Petruzzelli Theatre

Petruzzelli Theatre is another historical monument to see in Bari.

Located on Corso Cavour, it’s the largest private theater in Europe and the fourth largest in Italy (after those in Palermo, La Scala in Milan, and the opera in Naples) in terms of size.

Built in 1903 for an astronomical sum at the time, it has been owned by the Messeni Nemagna family for generations. Very modern for its time, it had heating and electricity. It has hosted international artists such as Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and Luciano Pavarotti.

Destroyed by a fire in 1991, it had to be completely rebuilt but has lost none of its splendor. You can of course take advantage of your stay in Bari to attend one of the current performances. It’s a chance to admire its interior all in gold and to see a quality show.

And contrary to popular belief, the prices are not so high with rates starting from 10€ for the seats with the least visibility.

All information about upcoming performances, schedules, and prices can be found on the official website (in Italian and English).

Even if you’re not a fan of theatre or opera, you should still visit, if only to take a photo of its facade.

Petruzzelli Theatre Bari
Petruzzelli Theatre Bari

4. The Swabian Castle

Among the must-see tourist sites in Bari, I recommend visiting the Swabian Castle.

Or at least go and admire it from the outside! It’s also known as the “Norman Castle” or Castello Svevo in Italian.

Built in 1131 by the Norman King Roger II of Sicily, it was partly destroyed in 1156, then rebuilt later under the orders of Frederick II.

But it wasn’t until the 16th century, with the arrival of Isabella of Aragon in the region, that it took on its current appearance with its square towers, wide moat, an internal courtyard and a sumptuous double-winged staircase in the style of Renaissance residences.

Today, it’s one of the largest fortifications in Puglia region and Italy.

The castle houses a gypsum collection with numerous sculpted casts reproducing other tourist attractions of Puglia. It also holds temporary exhibitions in some of its rooms.

The Swabian Castle is open every day except Wednesday, from 8:30 am to 7 pm, with an entrance fee of about 3€. Free for children under 18 and adults over 65.

Swabian Castle Bari
Swabian Castle Bari

5. San Sabino Cathedral

Near the Swabian Castle, you’ll find San Sabino Cathedral, the other church to see in Bari.

Built between the 12th and 13th century, on the ruins of the former Byzantine church destroyed in 1156 by William I of Sicily (“William the Bad”, the same who attacked the castle), the cathedral is a beautiful example of the Romanesque style of Puglia, the Apulian style.

It’s dedicated to the worship of Sabinus of Canosa, a 6th-century bishop whose relics are preserved in the crypt.

From the outside, you can admire its white stone facade decorated with a large rose window, around which strange mythical creatures and animals are depicted.

The interior, quite bare, is worth a visit for the crypt and the famous painting of the “Virgin of the Odigitria”, attributed to Saint Luke.

 You can freely visit San Sabino Cathedral when there is no mass or special ceremonies such as weddings.

San Sabino Cathedral Bari
San Sabino Cathedral Bari

6. Simi Palace

If you’re wondering what to do in Bari, you should make a stop at the Simi Palace, located just behind San Sabino Cathedral.

The palace houses the headquarters of the “Operational Center for Archeology” as well as a museum on this theme. Although quite small, the museum is interesting to learn more about the history of Bari.

You’ll be able to admire remnants of the city, including the ruins of the small Byzantine church upon which the current palace was built.

It won’t cost you anything to take a look, as the entrance is free. Simi Palace is open every day from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM.


Voyage Tips - Advice

You’re going to Bari?

You probably know it: the hardest part of planning your trip is to find an hotel offering a good value for money!

The closer you get to your travel dates, the harder it will be to get a good deal. Lots of people will be visiting Bari on the same dates as you, so you can be sure that the best deals are booked extremely quickly!

Hopefully, there is a pretty simple solution to this problem: do like me and book your hotel as early as possible!

So, my best advice is to take 5 minutes (now) to have a look at the list of travelers’ favorite hotels in Bari.

And if you see a good offer, book it!

Most hotels offer free cancellation, so it’s quick, easy, and you will avoid the the inconvenience of finding nothing but mediocre rooms at exorbitant prices.

To check the current best deals for your hotel in Bari, simply click on the green button below 😎:

Once you’ve booked your hotel, it will be time to continue reading this guide and find out more about the best things to do in Bari!

7. Diocesan Museum

You can also visit the Diocesan Museum of Bari, situated right next to San Sabino Cathedral.

It’s actually located inside the Archbishop’s Palace, allowing you to admire its monumental baroque façade.

The museum is quite small but it is among the most beautiful in the city, with rich and well-presented collections. It includes 5 rooms where you can discover, among other things, Exultet, illuminated parchments from the 10th and 11th century used by priests during certain masses.

Also worth seeing: the treasury room for its reliquary of San Donato and the room of sacred vestments.

The museum’s opening hours can be found right here.

Archbishop's Palace Diocesan Museum Bari
The Archbishop’s Palace, home to the Diocesan Museum, in Bari

8. Corrado Giaquinto Provincial Art Gallery

If you appreciate painting and sculpture, you should visit the Corrado Giaquinto Provincial Art Gallery, the main museum of the city.

You’ll find numerous paintings and sculptures representative of the art of Puglia but also from all over Italy: Venetian paintings by Tintoretto and Vivarini or Neapolitan ones with works by Finoglio or Giordano.

If you want to visit the art gallery, you can find access information, prices, and opening hours on the official website.


9. Bari Underground

“Bari Underground” offers a unique way to discover the city.

This archaeological journey, lasting about 1.5 hours, takes you through Bari’s underground tunnels. Starting at the Swabian Castle, the tour continues through the crypt of San Sabino Cathedral and ends at the Simi Palace.

It’s a great way to visit three of Bari’s tourist sites while enjoying explanations and anecdotes from a guide.

These tours are generally organized for large groups (around 25 people), but smaller group options are available. Don’t hesitate to ask for more information at Bari’s tourist office, located in Piazza Aldo Moro.

Crypt of San Sabino Bari Underground
Crypt of San Sabino Bari Underground

10. Bari’s Lungomare

The lungomare is Bari’s trendy waterfront promenade, reminiscent of the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

This extended seaside walkway, allegedly the longest in Italy, starts from the historic district of Bari Vecchia and stretches all the way to the modern commercial district.

It offers stunning panoramic views of both the city and sea and is perfect for a leisurely stroll or to relax on one of the benches, listening to the waves.

Enjoyable both day and night, as it’s also the perfect spot to admire the illuminated city!

Lungomare de Bari
Lungomare de Bari

Best Things to Do Around Bari

Now that you know all the best things to do in Bari, let’s talk about other amazing places to visit in the surroundings.

It’s time to explore the beautiful region of Puglia!

11. Polignano a Mare

After visitng Bari, you should definitely head to Polignano a Mare, located just thirty kilometers south of Bari. Known for its white houses clinging to the cliffs, Polignano is one of my favorite towns to visit near Bari.

You can wander through its maze of narrow alleys, admire gorgeous views from panoramic terraces, and also enjoy a swim on the small pebble beach surrounded by cliffs – the one you’ll find on all the postcards for sale in the shops!

It’s one of the most beautiful places to see around Bari.


12. Monopoli

If you’re looking for a charming little town in Puglia to visit near Bari, head to Monopoli, located just past Polignano a Mare.

Here, simply enjoy a walk through the historic center and discover all the ancient monuments of the city.

Stop by Charles V Castle, the Cathedral of Santa Maria della Madia or the Piazza XX Settembre. And if you’re a history buff, you might want to visit the Monopoli Archaeological Museum.

It’s definitely a place you shouldn’t miss near Bari.

Cathedral Monopoli
Cathedral Monopoli located around Bari

Visiting Bari in 1 Day

If you only have one day in Bari, I recommend the following itinerary:

  • Stroll through Bari Vecchia to soak up the local atmosphere
  • Visit the Basilica of San Nicola, the patron saint of Bari
  • Walk by the Norman Castle
  • Discover San Sabino Cathedral
  • Lunch break
  • Dedicate your afternoon to museums (you don’t have to visit all of them, choose according to your interests): Simi Palace, the Diocesan Museum, and the Bari Art Gallery
  • Walk along the lungomare before an aperitif and dinner
  • Why not enjoy one of the performances at Petruzzelli Theatre?

And there you have it, a day well spent in Bari!

2 Days in Bari and its Surroundings

For 2 days in Bari, follow the one-day itinerary and for the second day add:

  • Go to Polignano a Mare in the morning
  • Lunch break
  • Spend the afternoon in Monopoli

Where to Stay in Bari

  • Annavi: Located in Bari Palese district. Double room starting from 80€, breakfast included. Strong points: close to the airport, warm welcome, good breakfast.
  • Seven Maze Charming House: Located outside Bari’s city center, about a ten-minute drive away, this hotel is part of a 50-hectare botanical garden. Spacious double room with Indonesian decor starting from 90€ per night, breakfast included. Strong points: original decor, room comfort, opportunity to walk in the garden, outdoor pool and a very varied breakfast served in the greenhouse. My favorite for its excellent value for money.
  • Villa Pina: Located less than 1 km from the beach. Modern and spacious double room starting from 100€, breakfast for an additional 5€. Strong points: rooftop jacuzzi, private parking, beautiful garden.
  • HI Hotel Bari: Located 10 minutes from Bari’s historic center. Spacious and modern double room with large windows starting from 150€, breakfast included. Strong points: the pool, location, and friendly staff.
  • Grande Albergo Delle Nazioni: Located a 10-minute walk from the historic center. Double room with a 70s style modernized decor starting from 200€ per night, breakfast at 20€. Strong points: the location for exploring Bari on foot, rooftop terrace with a pool, views. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Bari!

Where to Eat in Bari

  • Mastro Ciccio: Located on Corso Emanuele. Ideal for a quick bite, Mastro Ciccio offers a wide variety of paninis and sandwiches with original flavors and great presentation. Fresh products, quick service, and affordable prices complete the experience!
  • Il Grottino: Located on via Francesco Rismondi. A small, typical pizzeria very popular with locals, always a good sign! Delicious wood-fired pizzas for barely 6€, at that price you could even have two! One of the best pizzas in Puglia.
  • Braceria Signorile: Located on via Giulio Petroni. A family restaurant specializing in meat. An original concept, you choose your cut of meat directly in the adjacent butchery run by the family. Exceptional quality and great value for money. Plus, the desserts are delicious too!

Renting a boat in Bari

If you want to rent a boat for a nice day at sea during your stay in Bari, you should book it with Samboat.

Motorboats, sailboats, yachts, small boats without a license, with or without a skipper: they simply have the most complete offer for boat rental!

So, what are you waiting for to book your boat trip in Puglia? 😊

Tourist Map of Bari

To help you get a better idea of the city, I’ve made a tourist map of Bari listing the places to visit that I discuss in this top 12 things to do in Bari. You can display the map legend by clicking on the button in the top left corner with a little arrow.

How to Get to Bari?

From Europe, you can reach Bari by plane with a direct flight from most countries.

As flight prices to Bari in Puglia vary a lot, it’s a good idea to compare them as soon as possible. You can use our flight comparison tool, in partnership with Skyscanner. This ensures you get the best price.

Once on the results page, don’t hesitate to compare several sites to make sure no extra fees are added to the final prices.

What have you planned to visit during your stay in Bari?

Book your trip now and save money!

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best places to visit in Bari
best places to visit in Bari

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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