A panoramic view of the city of Bari with its key landmark being the cathedral.
Bari, a port city in Italy and gateway to Europe with a medieval, maze-like old town

Bari, a port city in Italy and gateway to Europe with a medieval, maze-like old town

It is the capital of the southern Italian region of Puglia, right on the heel of the Adriatic and is served by direct flights from Malaga Airport

Pilar Martínez


Friday, 28 June 2024, 15:09

Opciones para compartir

With the high season for flights well under way, Malaga airport has been providing an increased number of direct, nonstop flights to interesting destinations for some time now - 154 to be exact. So we decided to choose one of those new city destinations. We checked into our flights to Bari, the capital of Puglia in southern Italy. An ideal city break for those who enjoy history, culture, the seaside and unique cuisine. The maze of streets in its old town centre and the longest seafront promenade in Europe will captivate you. In addition, its main attractions include the fact that it is the city of the Italian version of Father Christmas (St Nicholas), San Nicola, because its basilica holds some of the remains of Saint Nicholas. As a key place of pilgrimage it adds a certain charm to the rich history of Bari. Plus, if the weather is fine, don't hesitate to take advantage of its beaches bathing in the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic.

At what cost? Recognising that airline fares fluctuate almost daily, a recent search for a long weekend (4 days, 3 nights) in early July offered a return flight for 90 euros.

Airport-city connections. The airport is known as Palese Macchie because of its proximity to the town bearing that name and is about ten kilometres from Bari city centre. Nevertheless, it has good connections to Bari. The cheapest alternative, also the longest, is by bus. AMTAB bus number 16 leaves right outside the Arrivals exit, taking you to Bari Central Station in Piazza Aldo Moro and the main public transport and train interchange. Journey time is about 40 minutes at a cost of one euro. This service runs daily from 5:40am to 10:20pm. Taxis cost 23 euros and will get you to the city centre in about 20 minutes. You can also go by train on the Ferrovia Regionale (FR2, grey line), which takes about 20 minutes and costs 5.10 euros. There are between two and four trains every hour. If no train when you arrive, there's always the metro, known as Ferrovia Metropolitana (FM2, yellow line).

The labyrinthine streets of the old town unveil scenes like this around every corner. SUR

Local cuisine

  • What to eat: Another of the great attractions of this destination is its rich gastronomy. One might expect to know all there is to know about international Italian cuisine, but Bari has its own particular dishes that have become a real attraction for visitors to sample. The orecchiette are the stars of the show. This is a handmade pasta shaped like little ears and served with fresh tomato sauce. The most famous is orecchiette with cime di rapa, (turnip greens, aka broccoli rabe in the USA). Other classics include tiella, a baked rice dish with mussels and topped with potatoes, or brasciole alla barese, the Puglian version of a red meat Sunday roast that can be made of fillets of horsemeat or veal. Don't miss the calzone alla barese, a kind of folded pizza with onions, olives, parmesan, tomato and anchovies inside. For dessert you must try kharvas or cheek, a sweet milk pudding made from bovine colostrum (the first milk produced after calving). In the streets you'll find food-stalls where you can try scagliozze and popizze, small balls of fried dough in sweet or savoury versions. Fernet, a liqueur made by grinding up various types of herbs, is the typical drink to knock back on a night out in Bari.

  • Where to eat: For the classic, local dishes as above, Terranima restaurant is a good choice, together with Locanda di Federico. As Bari is a seaside city, Da Giampaolo or Polpo's tana are good options for tasting typical fish dishes. And don't forget, although there are usually queues, to go to Mastro Ciccio and order the octopus panini.

Basilica of St Nicholas, Bari's link with Father Christmas. SUR

Main attractions

  • What not to miss? This coastal city, with stunning beaches and one of the largest tourist ports in Italy, will surprise you with its heritage, with a historic centre that is like its very own village of narrow streets in the heart of the capital of Puglia, and with a local cuisine and good nightlife - all these make the destination an experience in itself. The best time to visit Bari is in spring or autumn, avoiding the high temperatures of summer. Wander through the narrow streets of the old town and discover authentic, medieval, architectural jewels in even the smallest of houses and then there are the grand monuments such as the Basilica of San Nicola, dating back to 1197, in Romanesque style and a key place of pilgrimage in Italy. Or drop by the cathedral of San Sabino, also Romanesque, which dates from 1292. In addition, you simply must walk up the hill to visit the Norman castle, walk around the ancient city walls and the fort of Sant'Antonio Abate, located on Emperor Augustus promenade. You should also mark your visit by checking out the grand archway, Arco Basso, taking a fun walk along Bari's seafront (the longest in Europe), visiting the Lungomare and the Murat quarter. Another key attraction is Petruzzelli Theatre, the largest in Italy and a cultural icon since 1903. It boasts spectacular architecture, restored after a major fire in 1991, and exceptional acoustics. But a trip to Bari should also be used to discover the beauty of Bisceglie, Monopolio and Altamura, where you can enjoy seeing historic ships and important archaeological remains. The Alta Murgia National Park is less than an hour's drive away.

  • Shopping: Via Sparano and surrounding alleyways are Bari's version of Calle Larios in Malaga, although Corso Camillo Benso Cavour offers more alternative shopping options. Orecchiette and wines such as Primitivo di Manduria are some of the best foodie souvenirs to bring back with you.

View of the fortified castle, Castello Svevo di Bari. SUR

Travelling with children

  • Bari is an easy and entertaining city to visit, with a centre of narrow streets, a heritage linked to the Italian Father Christmas and a promenade, harbours and beaches where the youngest members of the family will have a great time. For more things to do, you can add in a boat trip to discover the stunning scenery of Polignano and the caves along the coast. Birbalandia Park is another option for family fun and entertainment.

Public transport

  • Bari is a small city where walking is a pleasure. It's easy to get around by bus with more than 30 bus lines, but it's also a viable option to rent a bike or take the underground train with two lines connecting the city centre to the western suburbs and the airport. The bus fare is one euro.

Buon viaggio!

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