Located on Italy’s southeastern coast, Bari doesn’t get nearly the tourist visitors that more famous Italian cities do. That’s a shame because Bari offers everything you might want on an Italian vacation, including great weather, fascinating history, and excellent food. And Bari Centrale train station is the gateway not just to the city but to the entire region.
Drop off your bags at a Bari Centrale luggage storage, and you’ll be ready to explore this underrated gem. Bari Centrale’s location in the middle of the city means that you won’t have to travel far from the train station itself to enjoy some of the best of what Bari has to offer. To give you some ideas, here are a few of the best things to do in the area.
Bari’s Old Town is a must-see for any visitor to the city. Start at Piazza Mercantile, the heart of old Bari, and explore the maze of narrow streets lined with shops and cafes. Be sure to visit some of the city’s churches, including the 11th-century Basilica di San Nicola.
Many of Bari’s top attractions are located in the Old Town, so you could easily spend a day or more exploring here. Also, you’ll find lots of restaurants and cafés set up to cater to the tourist trade, where you can grab some refreshments and enjoy a great meal. One of the most atmospheric parts of this beautiful city, you’ll find that Bari Vecchia is a great place to wander, take some photographs, and just soak up the vibe of this ancient city.
Just a few steps from Piazza Mercantile is the Archaeological Museum, which houses an impressive collection of artifacts from the nearby site of Egnazia. This was once a prosperous city in the Roman Empire, and you can see evidence of that wealth and power in the exhibits here.
The museum building itself is interesting, as it was constructed in the 1930s using stones taken from the Egnazia site. It’s well worth spending an hour or two exploring the fascinating history of this part of Italy at this excellent museum.
For a taste of medieval Bari, head to Castello Svevo, a Norman castle built in the 12th century. The castle has been mostly restored and now houses a museum devoted to the history of the city.
You can also enjoy some great views of Bari from the castle walls. It’s a short walk from the Old Town, and admission is very reasonable.
If you’re a fan of classical music or opera, then you’ll want to check out the Petruzzelli Theatre. This beautiful Art Nouveau building dates back to 1903 and is one of Italy’s leading opera houses. Even if you’re not an opera fan, it’s worth taking a look inside this stunning building.
There are usually several performances going on each week, so check the schedule in advance and try to catch a show if you can.
Piazza del Ferrarese
One of Bari’s most attractive squares, Piazza del Ferrarese is a great place to people-watch or relax with a coffee or gelato. The square is named for the nearby Church of San Francesco d’Assisi al Ferrarese, which is worth a visit for its beautiful interior.
The church was built in the 18th century, but the façade is much more recent, added in the 19th century.
You can’t come to Bari and not see the city’s cathedral, one of the most important religious sites in Italy. The Cathedral of San Sabino was built in 1034 and has been remodeled and added to over the centuries.
Don’t miss the beautiful Romanesque portal, added in the 12th century. The cathedral is located just a few minutes on foot from Piazza del Ferrarese in Piazza dell’Odegitria.
For a look at some of Bari’s more recent history, head to the Museo Civico, housed in a 16th-century palazzo in the Old Town. The museum covers the history of Bari from medieval times to the present day.
Among the highlights of the museum’s collection are a number of paintings by local artist Nicola Palma, as well as an extensive display of the city’s maritime history.
End your day with a stroll along Bari’s waterfront promenade, the Lungomare. This is a great place to relax and enjoy the sea breeze. There are plenty of bars and restaurants along the way if you need (or want) to stop for a bite.
The promenade stretches for several kilometers, so you can walk as far as you like. If you’re feeling energetic, you can even walk all the way to nearby Monopoli.
Museo Nazionale Archeologico
For another dose of history, head to the Museo Nazionale Archeologico in nearby Conversano. This museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts from the nearby cave site of Grotta Pagliacci. The exhibits here cover a wide range of historical periods, from prehistory to medieval times.
If you’re interested in archaeology, this is a great place to spend an afternoon. It’s especially unique as the site was only discovered in the 1950s.
Torre a Mare
Just a short drive or bus ride from Bari is the seaside town of Torre a Mare. This is a great place to escape the city for a day and enjoy some time by the sea.
There are several beaches to choose from, as well as a number of restaurants serving fresh seafood. You can also visit the 16th-century tower that gives the town its name.
Bari is a city with a long and rich history, and there are plenty of things to see and do to keep you busy. Whether you’re interested in art, or culture, or just want to relax by the sea, you’ll find plenty of activities to suit your taste.
Traveling without bags will certainly make it easier to enjoy everything the city has to offer, so don’t forget to take advantage of convenient luggage storage while you’re in Bari.
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