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For years the Italians have kept Bari and the region of Puglia a secret from the rest of the world. Clap eyes on this stunning part of Italy’s rural south and you’ll instantly see why. 

Bari might not spring to mind as a top holiday destination, but the surrounding area of Puglia with its rural charm certainly should. And while Bari is the gateway to this sunny strip that makes up Italy’s heel, don’t fall into the trap of just passing through.

This seaside city with its Swabian Castle looking on has its own surprises in store. Quaint and surprisingly chic, Bari boasts increasingly upmarket bars and restaurants and is home to the bones of St Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus. Summer or winter, it’s an old town certainly worthy of a city break. 



Do some high-end shopping in Via Sparano and the surrounding area, where you'll find everything from Gucci to Superga. One can quite easily spend a whole day and a ton of cash here so remember to book an extra bag for the flight home!

Go for a wander through the Old Town on a Friday morning and you'll see lots of local signoras outside their front doors making and selling different types of orecchiette on long wooden tables. This tradition has been going on for centuries and you won't find better pasta in any of the shops.


If you're feeling old, a trip to The Grotte di Castellana could be just the thing. These caves date back 90 million years and the rock formations are so odd you'll swear you're underwater at some points. The tour covers 3km and reaches a depth of 60m, but lit paths remove the need for spelunking gear. For more information visit grottedicastellana.it.

Bari Vecchia is Bari's old town, a maze of alleys, churches, homes and shrines, where women still make pasta in their kitchens with the windows flung open, and old men gather on tiny stools to talk the world to death. Join a Free Walking Tour to get the best out of it. freewalkingtourbari.it

You cant visit Bari without entering the Basilica San Nicola. Said to hold the remains of Santa Claus himself it is actually a stunning Cathedral made only more impressive by the crypt beneath it. Whether you are religious or not this place is awe inspiring.

See the ancient ruins at Egnazia. This tourist attraction is not particulary well known but what it has to offer is remarkable. Once a bustling port town, they have found some beautiful remains and artefacts here and still continue to do so. egnaziaonline.it

The Basilica di San Nicola is the most famous church in Bari if not in all of Puglia. Said to hold the bones of St Nicolas in its breathtaking crypt, it is one of the few large churches in the region that retains it's Norman design and hasn't been over-decorated in the Baroque style, although the beautifully painted wood-panelled ceiling rightly remains. Worth a visit (13 Largo Abate Elia).

Key Areas

Bari's history is piled on top of itself, which is why the excavations at Il Succorpo della Cattedrale di Bari are so brilliant. The modern church sits atop a medieval church, built upon Byzantine ruins, spread across an old Roman road. It's ace, time travelling by standing still. arcidiocesibaribitonto.it/luoghi-di-culto/cattedrale/view

Visit Piazza Mercantile, a good place to go for food, drinks and even late night revelry. See if you can find the ancient punishment post where they used to publicly flog the naughty back in the day.

If you're feeling adventurous and fancy your hand at cooking, then some fresh fish could hit the spot. The Bari fish market can be a noisy, slimy place but whatever you buy will have been swimming about only hours earlier. Suede shoes and ball gowns are a no-no! It's open most mornings at Bari port, very early.

Day Trips

Here's our advice for visiting Alberobello: just go! Don't look at any pictures first, don't do any research on the internet. Don't talk to anybody about it, or even imagine it beforehand. Just take that feeling of blind expectation, and exchange it for lovely lovely joy when you get there. Actually, you should probably take a book, too. Alberobello is 60km from Bari, and expectation can only entertain you so much.

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*Prices shown are per person based on two people flying on the same booking. Fees & charges may apply. Min 4 seats available per flight, one way inc. taxes.