City of Bari

Visit Bari


Bari is a city on the Adriatic coast; the capital of the Italian region of Puglia. It does have an airport with budget flights from the UK, and as well as having a few sights of interest it is well-placed for exploring this attractive part of Italy.

What to do

The city of Bari in itself offers about a three day’s worth of sightseeing – that is: visit the characteristic castle, the “Santa Claus” church, the art gallery and the multi-coloured open air farmers’ markets; see Vecchia Bari – Old Bari – and the town’s most vibrant nightlife of bar and pubs. Most of the interesting bits of town can all be visited on foot, though if you get bored of trekking through the streets you could catch one of the local buses.

Bari vecchia – Old town

Bari vecchia

Bari’s historic nucleus is on a headland reaching into the Adriatic Sea. This area has been built on for millennia, but most of the archaeology is buried under the cluster of narrow lanes which make up Vecchia Bari. The quarter was historically built to confuse invaders and make them lose the sense of direction while they were attacked by the locals. Today visitors are almost certainly headed for the same fate, with a plethora of distractions including taverns offering delicious local food, pictoresque views, and shops selling arts and crafts typical of the region.

The historical lanes are smart and cleaned up. Local people live their lives almost communally, with doors open, women making pasta in the doorways and lots of comings and goings.

Between the heart of the Old Town and the sea is Bari’s most famous church, the eleventh-century Romanesque Basilica di San Nicola. It is dedicated to St. Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus, and was specially built to house his remains, which still lie in the crypt.

Bari’s other great church is the Cattedrale di San Sabino. This – and not the Basilica di San Nicola – is Bari’s cathedral. It is another massive building in the Romanesque style, dating to the late twelfth century. Close by is Bari’s castle, the Castello Svevo (‘Swabian Castle’), an imposing fortress by the sea which is open to the public. Dotted through the alleys of the Old Town are many other churches, chapels and ruins (generally closed): there are enough sights to merit a short exploration.

On the neck of the headland, are a couple of pleasant interlocking public squares, Piazza del Ferrarese and Piazza Mercantile. This is a good place to stop for lunch or a drink, with a choice of restaurants and cafes with outside tables. The squares are elegant and are historic hubs of the town. The small column protected by a very worn-down lion is called the Colonna della Giustizia: debtors were reputedly tied and flogged here.

Heading inland you cross a busy street to the new town. This ‘new’ town mostly consists of wide nineteenth-century streets busy with traffic. The most pleasant thoroughfare – largely because it has been pedestrianised – is Via Sparano and Via Argiro, two high streets lined with shops including big high-street brands. It is worth heading out to the seafront to the east of town, by the old port, the Porto Vecchio. Here in the mornings you can see fishermen landing in small wooden boats with their catch – and then selling it directly on the waterfront.

Art galleries

Bari’s town art gallery is the Pinacoteca Provinciale ‘Corrado Giaquinto,’ located on the seafront at Lungomare Nazario Sauro, 27. It exhibits paintings and sculptures from the eleventh to the nineteenth century, including works by Luca Giordano and Giovanni Bellini. Bari also has an archaeological museum, but at the time of writing it is closed awaiting completion of new premises in the Old Town, in the Monastero Santa Scolastica. A number of exhibits are also on display in the archaeological HQ at Palazzo Simi on Strada Lamberti (Old Town). This is an interesting building with several layers of history to be seen thanks to excavations.

Beaches and football

If you have the time in Bari you may be interested in attending a football match at Bari’s futuristic stadium, designed by Renzo Piano for the 1990 World Cup. It’s called the Stadio San Nicola and is just outside town in the direction of Bitritto. Another alternative Bari activity is to spend time on the beach (very attractive although you will find better beaches elsewhere in Puglia: see Campomarino). There’s a public beach on Lungomare Perotti.

Bari surroundings – Day trips (recommended)

Outside the centre, most of Bari’s outskirts are not as characteristic. Once you’re beyond the sprawl though, the countryside is green and attractive, covered with olive trees. There are some very interesting day trips which can be made from Bari using public transport; though we’d recommend you to move around with a car to the many attractive locations basing yourself in the city. Especially considering that the places you’ll visit are particularly good to visit during the day but rather dead at night. Infact the locals of these little towns all go down to Bari to spend their nights out.

A selection of places of interest can be found in the "Visit Puglia" page


Bari Airport (Bari Palese) is just outside town, with two different bus services running from the airport to Piazza Aldo Moro, outside the railway station. More details of the airport and transport links can be found on our “Travel” page.