Bari is one of the best Italian cities to visit if you’re exploring the gems of Southern Italy. With centuries of history, loads of foodie spots and a gorgeous centre to stroll around, Bari is the perfect Italian city to visit. In fact, there are heaps of the best things to do in Bari dotted all across the city.
This all makes it perfect for a long weekend break – or the starting point for your trip around the best spots in Puglia.
For most of us, Bari will be the starting point to explore the wider Puglia region (which is gorgeous, by the way) due to its airport. We ‘tacked on’ our visit to Bari with our road trip around Puglia and the iconic city of Matera. It’s a perfect starting (or ending point) for a trip and so worth spending a few days there.
So, to make your trip that bit easier, I’ve shared some of the top things to do in Bari that we loved.
Take a look at the best things to do in Bari. Have an amazing trip!
1.) Bari Vecchia
Visiting Bari Vecchia (the most historic part of the city) is easily one of the best things to do in Bari when strolling around the city.
You see, its narrow streets, piazzas and stunning cobblestone streets are just picture-perfect and totally beautiful to just walk through.
Now, I usually hate saying things like ‘get lost in the city streets (I mean, no one really likes being lost in reality) but Bari Vecchia is a perfect spot for that.
Truth be told, even without trying, you’ll likely get lost whilst navigating the tiny alleys. That all being said, it’s part of the fun – just like in Venice (where we always get lost).
Now, if you’re driving, there is typically parking all along the promenade (before you walk into the old part of the city. Though, if you’re struggling for space, there’s also this parking area that’s a stone’s throw from the walls of Bari Vecchia.
Once inside, make sure to spot the San Sabino Cathedral and the di Sant’Antonio which was built to protect Bari, all the way back in the 16th Century.
Oh, and don’t forget to pop into one of the delicious trattorias that line the streets here.
We loved Osteria Le Arpie, it’s totally informal and they serve some delicious Orecchiette pasta (which is actually from Bari).
2.) San Sabino Cathedral
As I mentioned above, you have to visit San Sabino Cathedral that’s perched right in the heart of historic Bari.
It’s one of the most impressive churches in this part of Italy and well worth taking a gander inside whilst you’re visiting Bari.
First constructed, all the way back in the 1100s, it is a stunning example of Baroque-style architecture (especially in the crypt) that stands proudly overlooking Bari.
Once inside, take a wander down to the crypts, where you’ll see the spot where Madonna Odegitria is venerated and it’s pretty special to see. It’s one of the best things to do in Bari, especially if you’re interested in Italian history.
Not too far away (about an 8-minute stroll), you have the Antica Gelateria Gentile, which serves up some of the tastiest gelatos in Bari. It’s totally unassuming from the outside, but the flavours speak for themselves.
Actually, on the note of gelato, take a look at our guide to spotting the best gelato in Italy. They’re our essential pointers that’ll help you always choose the best gelato spots when exploring.
3.) Lungomare Nazario Sauro
The coastline road of the ‘newer’ part of Bari, Lungomare Nazario Sauro is a long promenade area that’s perfect for an early morning (or evening) stroll. Great for sunrise walks (but I hate early mornings), so I always opt for the sunset version instead. Yes, it’s facing northeast but you can still see a gorgeous sunset change Bari with its gorgeous orange hues.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a city beach in Bari, then head over to Lido San Francesco. It is one of the most popular beaches in Bari and is perfect if you’re not exploring the wider coastline of Puglia.
One tip to remember, don’t expect it to be quiet on the weekends, this place gets full on a warm weekend.
This all being said, if you are escaping the city, take a trip (in the car) to Parco Nationale Alta Murgia. Here, you’ll get to see Castel del Monte, a historic citadel just outside Bari that has been around for centuries.
4.) Teatro Petruzzelli
If you can, in advance, book tickets to watch the orchestra at Teatro Petruzzelli. It’s one of the best things to do in Bari if you’re looking to experience some world-class theatre or classical music.
This all being said, if you can’t make the show,s take a tour inside Teatro Petruzzelli itself. It’s well worth it.
If that doesn’t sound interesting, take a day trip to visit the ancient ruins of Egnazia.
Dating back to the 8th century BC, learn about the history of the Messapii people and explore how life used to be in this region of Italy.
It’s well worth it, and you can easily tag on a visit to Monopoli (a gorgeous city), too.
5.) Castello Svevo
There are so many iconic castles in Italy to visit, with the one in Bari being no exception.
Once here, make sure to go inside and see the artefacts and exhibits that make this spot so special.
Plus, you can explore through the central courtyard, the guard towers, and the moat.
There is a charge to enter, which is around 10-15 euros but don’t let that put you off, it’s one of the best things to do in Bari if you’re exploring the city.
6.) Basilica of Saint Nicholas
The Basilica of Saint Nicholas is iconic in Bari, and has hundreds of years of history inside and out. Dating back to 1197, the church stands proudly over the city of Bari and the harbour itself.
It might seem a little unassuming from the outside, but it’s steeped in history. In fact, the Basilica of Saint Nicholas houses the most important Romanesque works of art in all of Southern Italy.
It’s the totally stunning Bishop’s Throne that’s almost 1,000 years old.
Also, don’t forget to look up, the ceiling is just beautiful.
7.) Sail the Puglian coast
Hopping on board at the marina, you’ll get to sail the gorgeous waters around Bari and even have a chance to go for a dip in the stunning bays in the summer.
If you’re feeling adventurous, the skipper will help you sail the boat yourself! It’s so much fun and one of the best things to do in Bari on a sunny day.
8.) Bari Museum
Perched in a historic palace in Bari, the museum might seem relatively intimate but it’s one of the best things to do in Bari to explore the history of the region.
Filled with paintings, artefacts and more, it’s a little calling spot that’ll take around 20-30 minutes to fully explore.
Though, don’t visit expecting some grand hall or vast collection. As I said, this place is intimate and small.
9.) Archeological Museum of Bari
Yeah, I know, another museum – but this area of Puglia is filled with history that’s too good to miss. With free entry, you’ll get to wander around the exhibits that have all been restored.
Perfect for a stroll when the midday sun gets too hot!
10.) Try Orecchiette pasta
Remember I mentioned Orecchiette pasta? Well, you can’t miss it in Bari. To learn more about its history (and try the pasta), book this amazing Pasta walking tour of Bari.
Not only will the tour take you through the cobbled streets of Old Bari, but you’ll also get to try making your own Orecchiette and have a little wine from Puglia, too.
It’s so much fun.
Just be sure to book your tour in advance. Places fill up at peak times.