The port city of Bari is the capital of the southern Italian region of Puglia and was the third stop on our cruise through the Adriatic Sea with MSC Cruises, after Ancona and Kotor. We had quite a few things planned for our day ashore: first, exploring the old town of Bari, as well as a day trip to the town of Alberobello, about 55 kilometers away. Alberobello is best known for its many trullis – small, mostly white round houses – and was named in 1996 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Things to know about the city of Bari in Italy
Bari is located directly on the sea and forms the heel of the Italian boot on the Adriatic Sea. The city has a very long trading tradition and is still an important port and university city. Bari has about 320,000 inhabitants and the province of the same name has about 1.3 million.
Bari has two sides: the new town with its town houses and shopping streets and the historic old town Bari Vecchia with its winding streets. A stroll through Bari is a great way to explore both neighborhoods and take in the sights.
The pier of the MSC Fantasia
The dock for cruise ships is located north of the old town in the large port of Bari. MSC offers paid shuttle buses to the city. However, from our point of view, it is not necessary to take them, since the way to the (old) city is not that far. You have to walk a bit through the harbor area, leave it at the first exit and you are practically already at the gates of the old town. We didn’t need more than a 10 to 15 minute walk. By the way, not far from the pier there is also a bus stop, from where the bus line 50 departs at regular intervals with the final destination Hauptbahnhof. For 1.50 euros per person, you can also use this somewhat more convenient option to get to the city center.
For a very long time the famous white trulli houses of Alberobello were already on our bucket list. And since this place is only about 55 km away from Bari, we didn’t miss the chance to organize a trip there ourselves.
A walk through the city center
The city center of Bari can be wonderfully explored on foot. We started our sightseeing tour at the train station and walked from there once across the city back to the harbor. The streets of the city center are laid out dead straight in a regular grid – there are buildings, stores and restaurants everywhere. During our stroll through the city, we were able to see some beautiful buildings, such as the red-colored Teatro Petruzzelli opera house, built in 1903. A few hundred meters away, directly on the seafront of Bari, is the Teatro Margherita, which just hosted a Banksy exhibition.
Sights & photo spots in the old town
The old town of Bari is a complete contrast to the new town built from the early 19th century. Situated on a kind of promontory, the so-called Bari Vecchia is characterized by small winding streets, many beautiful squares, quaint restaurants, numerous clotheslines (stretched from house to house) and historic buildings. Since the old town is car-free (except for residents), it is wonderful to explore on foot.
During our stroll through the old town, we discovered the so-called “pasta street” (Strada Arco Basso), where Italian women make fresh orecchiette, typical of the area, at their tables and then let them air dry. Of course, you can also buy them – you probably can not buy pasta fresher 😉
Particularly noteworthy are the 12th century white Cathedral of San Sabino and the Basilica of San Nicola, one of the most opulent and worth seeing places of worship in Bari. The basilica was built between the late 11th century and the early Built in the 12th century and serves as the final resting place of the relics of the saint. Therefore, even today it is an important pilgrimage site for Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians.
The Castello Normanno-Svevo di Bari
The last stop on our sightseeing stroll through Bari was the Castello Normanno-Svevo di Bari fortress, which is considered the city’s landmark and is located at the northwest end of the old town.
The medieval fortress dates back to 1132 and was built by the Norman King Roger II of Sicily. In the following centuries it was destroyed, rebuilt, extended several times and converted into a prison and barracks. Today there is an old moat on three sides of the castle, there is still a historical part of a defensive wall and large corner defense towers. For an entrance fee of 6 EUR you can also enter the walls and look at various art exhibits.
Our approximately 2-hour city tour of Bari was very entertaining and we were able to discover some beautiful corners of the city. We recommend visitors to combine Old Town & New Town to better experience the contrast. However, we liked the old town much better because of its flair and the winding cobblestone streets.
A map with all the places of interest in Bari
All travelogues of our cruise through the Adriatic SeaWe deliberately chose the 8-day cruise with MSC Cruises from Trieste, as it included some places that had been on our bucket list for a long time. In total, our trip took us through four countries: Italy, Montenegro, Greece and Croatia. We were able to experience six eventful and varied days on land: We started in Trieste, then continued to the port city of Ancona, through the breathtaking Bay of Kotor to Bari. The journey continued to the green island of Corfu and to medieval Dubrovnik with its impressive city walls, from where we returned to Trieste. Since our plane left from Venice, we were even able to make a small detour to the gondola city, which was another highlight of the trip.
Cruise Day 1 » MSC Cruises – Cruise with MSC Fantasia in the Adriatic Sea
Cruise Day 1 » Trieste – Sights & the best Photo Spots in one day (Italy)
Cruise Day 2 » Ancona – The most famous sights in the old town (Italy)
Cruise Day 3 » Kotor – Bay, old town and fortification (Montenegro)
Cruise Day 4 » Bari – Top sights & photo spots in the old town (Italy)
Cruise Day 4 » Alberobello – A day trip from Bari to the Trulli houses (Italy)
Cruise Day 5 » Corfu – Discover the island in one day (Greece)
Cruise Day 6 » Dubrovnik – Top sights & photo spots in one day (Croatia)
Cruise Day 7 » Day at Sea
Cruise Day 8 » Venice - The most famous sights in just one day (Italy)