Bari is the largest and most important city of Apulia (much larger than Lecce) and stands on the Adriatic coast. It's mainly famous for being one of the exit doors of Italy, where travellers leave on ferries for neighboring countries. The city authorities, however, have been trying to raise its tourism profile and awareness of Bari's old town, which has retained its ancient Medieval plan and contains many historic buildings and sites. The old town was the heart of pre-Roman and Roman Bari and it is now possible to find several hip bars and restaurants open "from dusk til dawn" in this once dark and unsafe zone.
There are approximately 40 various cheap flights into Bari (BRI) from various European airports. Taxi to downtown costs €25-30, but there are buses connecting the airport to central Bari, including the train station.
Check www.trenitalia.com for time tables and prices. Bari has two train train stations located next to each other. The commuter trains station serves points north, the main station long distance trains and local trains going south to Ostuni, Brindisi, and Lecce.
Bari is the destination for ferries incoming from the Greek port of Patra and Igoumenitsa. If you are traveling on a Eurorail during the low season, the cost is €16, during the mid season, €31. A normal ticket to Igoumenitsa is about €29 on the deck and in low - season. There are also ships to Bar and Kotor (Montenegro), Dubrovnik (Croatia) and to Durrës (Albania), Vlora (Albania). Ferry operators are either Superfast Ferries, Blue Star Ferries or Jadrolinija. An up-to-date site with international ferry schedules is here.
There are many public buses. A ticket costs €1 (€1,50 if bought on board).
There a lot of places to see in Bari, especially in the ancient part of the city, called Bari Vecchia by locals. It's a beautiful mediaeval quarter in which there are a lot of important churches.
- Basilica of Saint Nicholas (Basilica di San Nicola). This romanic church with a gold ceiling and a crypt contains many medieval attractions, including the magnificent cathedra of Bishop Elias.
- On the same square, also the Palazzo del Catapano and the Church of Saint Gregory are worth a visit).
- Cathedral of Saint Sabino. A romanic church even older than St. Nicolas', though later refurbished in baroque style, and equally interesting.
- It is highly suggested to take a walk along the waterfront, on the top of the old city walls, which passes by the Fortino of Saint Antony (an old fort recently turned into a modern art gallery) and the former Monastery of Saint Scolastica (currently belonging to the local University). The vast majority of the churches in Bari Vecchia are unfortunately closed to tourists. They are opened up on selected festivities, including Good Friday and the Solemnity of All Saints).
There is a small town - 20 minutes outside of Bari named Adelfia. The patron saint of one of its quarters, Montrone is Saint Trifone. Nov 9 is the start of a three day celebration. On Nov 9 is the early evening a giant beautiful balloon is release which signifies the start of the festival. On the 10th, the statue of San Trifone is brought out of the church and paraded around the town. Bands from all over Italy come and perform on the outdoor stage. Fireworks are displayed throughout the evening into the early morning. The different men's club compete on which club can have the biggest, loudest and spectacular display. Vendors surround the town with goods, food and gifts. Often there are over 200 parked buses from all over southern Italy. It really is a popular celebration.
The Saint of the city is Saint Nicholas. He is celebrated by the Catholic Church on December 6. In Bari, several masses take place early in the morning (as soon as 4AM) of December 6. A huge crowd and lots of fast food stands fill the old town through the night. The city's main celebration of Saint Nicholas, however, takes place in May 6–8 with historical reconstructions, popular music and a two-day fireworks contest. For this event many pilgrims come from all over the world.
Pottery, bags, shoes, interesting (and underpriced) red wines.
- Cartoleria Favia, Piazza Umberto I n2, ☎ +39 0805235941. Fashion stationery (Mont Blanc, Parker, Aurora), bags, train/aero/car models.
- Via Argiro.
Most restaurants are located in the eastern part of central Bari, around the intersection of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and Corso Cavour.
- Vini e Cucina, Via Roberto il Guiscardo, Bari. An old and very informal restaurant in the old town. Traditional, non-posh cuisine. Simple four-course menu for about €15.
- Due Archi. Cheap and simple. Conceptionally very similar to Vini e Cucina.
- Le Travi. Same as Due Archi.
- Steak House, via palo 75 Bitetto, ☎ +39 0809924502. American Steak house 12 kilometres (7 mi)
Bari suffers from not having a good selection of cheap accommodation. Regardless, the budget options available all seem clean and modern if not a little overpriced compared to the rest of Italy.
If you are in Bari and looking for some cheap place to sleep (less than €25/night/person) it can be quite a problem.
- Santa Claus Hostel, 4 Arco San Pietro, Piazza San Pietro, 70122 Bari. €20.
- Bari Belle Camere, and Cosy Rox, 40 Piazza Luigi di Savoia (Turn right out of the train station to travel east, walk two blocks and find the orange and grey building on the other side of the walk bridge), ☎ +39 380 515-1519. Cosy Rox are a couple of residences operated for overnight stays and short term rentals. To stay you will need to visit the main hostel at 40 Piazza Luigi di Savoia, from where you will be directed to the place where you will stay. The residence on Via Matteo Renato Imbrianni has private rooms, good atmosphere, clean, modern and warm with shared kitchen and bathroom, and free Wi-Fi . Francesco, the owner is super helpful and a welcoming host and has a dog. Ask if you can help for 3 or 4 hours a day to have a discount or for 6 hours in change of food and accommodation. €20/25 bed, €40/50 double room.
- Magica, Via Gioacchino Murat (near the Normanno-Svevo castle). €20.
- Bed and breakfast F.G., Via palo 77, ☎ +39 0809924502. Professes to have clean, well-maintained large rooms, friendly staff, delicious breakfast offerings, high-speed wireless internet access, in-room refrigerators, air conditioning, satellite TV and video players that are delivered without additional cost. 30.
Hotel Boston (Via Piccinni, 155). One block from Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, and ten minutes walk to Old Town. Rooms are spacious but fairly basic. Generous breakfast. There is a small supermarket across the street. €90 for a double.
- Hotel Terranobile Meta Resort, Via Bitritto 101. Spa resort few kilometres from Bari, with wellness center and swimming pools.
- Hotel Oriente Bari, Corso Cavour 32, 70122, ☎ +39 080 5255100, fax: +39 080 5255777. Four-star accommodation located behind the famous Petruzzelli Theatre, in the city centre, a few blocks away from the sea line; with 75 bedrooms divided into double classic, deluxe and suites, and with large public areas, internet connection, meeting and ballrooms and a panoramic terrace. Also available for weddings and special occasions.
Bari Vecchia is a beautiful quarter but because of the narrow, crowded streets and the presence of tourists, it is the preferred place for local pickpocketers.
Nice towns to discover around Bari are Matera, Gravina, Martina Franca and Alberobello. Trani (with a truly impressive Cathedral), Molfetta, Giovinazzo and Polignano a Mare are closer to Bari and also worth a visit. There are many direct trains a day. Ticket to Matera or Alberobello is about €4 in one direction.