Bari, Italy is a little coastal town in the lovely region of Puglia. It has an airport nearby served by several low cost airlines, so arriving to this town can be cheap and convenient. Apart from exploring the town of Bari, Italy, you can also take several day trips to other towns of Puglia and Basilicata.
I have prepared a little itinerary for your 4 days in this region to inspire you to take this journey with me. I have also packed it with some practical details on where to eat, where to stay and what transport to take, in order to save you days of research it took me to prepare for exactly this trip myself.
I hope you will enjoy it, and if you plan to get there, feel free to drop me a line in the comments about how useful (or useless!) this itinerary was.
Table of Contents
- 1 Day 1: Bari, Italy
- 2 Day 2: Polignano a Mare
- 3 Day 3: Matera
- 4 Day 4: Alberobello
Day 1: Bari, Italy
GETTING TO from BARI AIRPORT TO BARI CENTRALE (BARI TRAIN STATION):
Bari Airport is also called Palese Airport or Karol Wojtyla Airport. The airport is located 15 km away from the centre of Bari. You can chose between these transport options:
- Train from Bari Airport to Bari Centrale costs 5 euro and departs ca. every 20 minutes. The journey takes around 20 minutes as well, making it the fastest way to travel from Bari Airport to Bari Train Station.
- Bari Airport Bus #16 is a much cheaper and slower option. The ticket costs 1 euro (or 1.5 euro, if you buy it on the bus), and the journey takes 40 minutes to 1 hour.
- Private transfer from Bari Centre to Bari airport. Check with your hotel, as many hotels offer this option for about 10 euro per person.
What to do in Bari
Walking through the old town of Bari, Italy, seeing the women roll pasta, families have dinners, neighbours talk to each other you may feel as if you have been transported to the past. The main sights, such as the Basilica of Saint Nicholas and the Cathedral of San Sabino (also called Bari Cathedral) date all the way back to 11th century.
Right outside the old town you will also see Castello Normanno Svevo – a Norman castle in a perfect condition. If you are after historical artefacts, visit the exhibition inside. Or just go all the way up the tower for the view over the town and the sea.
For shopping, cross Corso Vittorio Emanuelle and walk around the central Bari. Try the small boutiques instead of bigger brand for true Italian style shopping.
During the sunset take a stroll on the Lungomare promenade and if you like heights, you can enjoy some great city views from the Ferris wheel of Bari.
Read more about Bari here.
Where to stay in Bari
Budget: B&b Bari Old Town – a place where I actually stayed this time. A very good value for money, little place situated right on the edge of Bari old town.
High-end: Palazzo Calo – Very stylish, but still traditional, it also has a terrace with a view.
Where to eat in Bari, Italy
Pazzeria Dregher – A simple pizzeria with a twist: an owner, who on a good evening will sing you songs like an opera star.
Mastro Ciccio – Best sandwiches with fresh local ingredients. Once you try, you will have a different idea of what a “sandwich” is.
Or the best option: Lungomare. During the lunchtime the fishermen bring fresh seafood and set up the tables to sell it right there not far from the Ferris wheel. You will see tables covered with simple plastic plates filled with all possible fresh-out-of-the-sea luxury: oysters, calamari, sea urchins and prawns.
You can get a plate with either just one type of seafood, or mix them up according to your wishes. Each plate costs 5 euro, and you usually get some lemon and bread to go with it. Next to the tables you will also find a little bar selling beer and other drinks to wash down this lunch.
Day 2: Polignano a Mare
To get you into the rhythm of Apulia, let’s start with an easy day trip to the little coastal town of Polignano a Mare. Have you heard this famous Italian song called Volare, Cantare (also known as “Nel blu dipinto di blu”)? The author Domenico Modugno came from Polignano a Mare.
Getting to Polignano a Mare from Bari
The train from Bari to Polignano a Mare leaves from Bari central station. You can buy the ticket at the train station for 2.90 euro. The 35 km ride will take around 45 minutes.
What to do in Polignano a Mare
Lose yourself in the maze of narrow white street of the Old Town of Polignano a Mare. The best you can do is just wander around aimlessly, stop to admire yet another sea view, white courtyard or some poetry on the white stone steps.
No mater what season it is, head to the beach. Polignano a Mare beach is hugged by cliffs, topped by white buildings – an extremely picturesque sight.
Another thing to try could be a boat trip, so you would have a different perspective on the cliffs and the caves inside of them. If you are in the mood for shopping in Polignano a Mare, check out the small shops for the local ceramics and handmade jewellery. You can also find more information about this town in my post here.
Where to eat in Polignano a Mare
Try Pescaria in Piazza Aldo Moro for a lunch, dinner or an aperitivo with fresh raw shrimp, grilled fish and octopus or pretty much any other sea creature from the area.
Day 3: Matera
Oh where do I start? Matera was one of the most impressive cities I have ever seen in my life, and that means something. When I now remember our trip and my casual thinking: Should we go there or stay an extra day by the sea instead? – I get shivers, understanding I could have never seen it.
Matera is a town in the region of Basilicata and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It was originally the city of caves and houses carved right on the hills out of stone. Matera remained pretty much forgotten extremely poor and almost-medieval town with no ambulance, running water or electricity well into the middle of the 20th century. After 1980 that went through a sudden transformation into the tourist attraction and the Capital of Culture.
Getting from Bari to Matera
The regional train from Bari to Matera leaves from Bari Central Station, but from a different location than the rest of the trains (the upstairs platform). Do not worry, as it is rather easy to find, but allow yourself some 10 minutes in order to surely find it.
The train ride takes around 1 hour 50 minutes, but it is a comfortable and picturesque ride, so prepare to enjoy it. You can check the train timetable here.
What to do in Matera
The old town of Matera with its labyrinth of cave houses, narrow streets going down, and carved churches and monasteries is called Sassi di Matera and is protected by UNESCO. Give yourself a full day to explore the town, climb up and down the stairs and admire the view from above towards the town and the hills surrounding it.
During your walks, look out for the Matera Cathedral and the churches of San Pietro Caveoso (in the Sasso Caveoso) and San Pietro Barisano (in the Sasso Barisano). Another famous landmark of Matera are the underground water cisterns. The largest of them is located under Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
Where to eat in Matera
To get the taste of local dishes and products, go straight to the L’Antica Credenza in Via San Francesco.
Day 4: Alberobello
If you have done any research about Puglia, even just put the work into google, one of the first picture you have probably seen was the one of Trulli – the white round houses with conic roofs. Although you can see this type of architecture in many places in Puglia (and have probably already noticed some of them on your train rides the days before), Alberobello is the town of trulli.
Getting from Bari to Alberobello
You will now have a chance to try yet another Italian train company (yes, there are many of them). It is called Ferrovie Sud-Est and you can check the train schedules on their website.
The train from Bari Centro to Alberobello takes about 90 minutes and costs Euro 4,90 one way.
What to do in Alberobello
Alberobello is the only town with an entire district of trulli in it, so your main thing to do in this town is basically to walk around and admire the architecture. It is a small town of just 10,000 people, but during the season can feel rather overcrowded by the tourists.
The main part of the town called Rione Monti is the most touristic trulli centre with almost 1000 trulli and almost just as many souvenir shops. For a more authentic feeling, try visiting Rione Aia Piccola district, which has only half the number of trulli.
To learn a bit more about the town and its unique architecture, visit the trulli museum: Trullo Sovrano.
Where to eat in Alberobello
To continue getting acquainted with the Apulian specialties, try La Cantina, located on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele. I would recommend booking in advance to be sure you will have a table.
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