Italy, the coast, what comes to mind? The Amalfi Coastline? Naples? These are both highly recommended destinations in Southern Italy. But let me tell you about the east coast of Italy, Bari! A lesser-known region of Southern Italy that demands your attention. Bari is located in the Adriatic sea, the body of water that separates Italy from the Balkans. Also known as the Puglia region of Italy, you are going to love it!
What you can expect from this part of Southern Italy is more authenticity. Don’t get me wrong; there are places on the Almfi coast that offer some traditional Italian stereotypes. Though, from my experience, the Amalfi Coast is more for the tourists than the locals. Puglia is where all the magic is.
The east coast of Italy, specifically Bari, Italy, is less traveled and filled with far fewer tourists. I visited what would be high season, the summer. At the end of August, the beginning of September, you can count on it be hot as hell. My advice is to be SURE to find a place to stay that has air conditioning.
Bari is a great spot to spend a mini-break for several reasons. For the solo traveling lady, I must share, I felt very safe, even at night. I stayed right in the center of the historic old town Bari. The evenings are when the streets would come alive with the locals. A typical Italian tradition is for mature ladies to take their chairs out on the pavement and chat with their neighbors. I would witness this every night and seeing it made me feel as if I was visiting the “real” Italy.
*Secret FREEBIE comes with this Google Map!
East Coast of Italy | Bari
What is the Puglia Region of Italy?
The Puglia region consists of several coastal towns in the heel of the “boot,” and the most popular are Bari, Polignano A Mare, and Monopoli. Each of these coastal destinations is easy to reach via Bari by train.
A fun fact about the Puglia region, is that Italy’s oldest olive trees live there. Specifically in, Melendugno. Olive oil is one of Italy’s largest export, next to wine, and other fine food exports. An Italian olive oil makes a great souvenir from your travels.
East Coast of Bari, Italy | Sites
One of my many draws to Italy is the architecture. Baroque city architecture can be seen all throughout this region of Southern Italy. Appearing in the early 17th century, the baroque city architecture style is decorative and theatrical.
Some of the Basilica’s of Bari represent the baroque style. Here is a list of the most popular and must see Basilicas.
Construction started in 1087 and completed in 1197.
St. Nicholas, a Patron Saint, known for many miracles and was referred to as the wonderworker. This impressive church, dedicated to St. Nicholas has a rich history that you should read about online.
What is a Patron Saint? It is defined as protecting or guiding a person or place.
Cathedral of San Sabino (Bari Cathedral)
This Romanesque style basilica was constructed in the late 12th to late 13th centuries.
Most notably and interesting about this church is the underground crypt. The entrance fee is 1 euro.
Bari Castle (Castello Normanno-Svevo)
If you are a castle lover like I am, you will want to check out this enormous castle which is said to have been built in the 1132 by King Roger II.
Destroyed by King William the I in 1156, and then rebuilt in 1233 by 1233 by the Holy Roman emperor Frederick II.
You can walk the interiors and marvel at the sheer size and age of this castle.
Exploring Italy’s East Coast Old Town of Bari
Lose yourself in the small winding streets of the old town of Bari.
Authentic little Italian markets selling olive oil and soaps can be found all through this area. Enjoy an espresso or my fav, an Aperol Spritz!
Lungomare Nazario Sauro (seaside promenade)
This is the perfect place to enjoy a sunset or a stroll along the Adriatic sea on this coast of Southern Italy.
The seaside promenade is about 1000 meters long, packed with beautiful scenery of whitewashed architecture. Here is another opportunity to enjoy a coffee or cocktail with a view.
Here is the heart of the old town of Bari.
This Piazza is located close to the harbour and is most lively after sunset. Many of the most popular restaurants in the old town can be found here.
Find yourself someplace to sit, enjoy some bread soaked in olive oil, and watch the world go by.
Did you come to Italy to relax? No better place to chill than the beach! Bring your book and some sunscreen and enjoy the crystal blue waters.
There are several museums and other sites to be seen in Bari. For your weekend break in Bari, you can also consider: Art Gallery Provincial Bari
(Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and you may even receive a small discount. See disclosure for more information.)
Best of Where to Stay in Bari, Italy
When choosing your accommodations as a solo female traveler, you want to consider its safety and close proximity to transit.
I chose to stay in the old town of Bari, which offers an abundance of Airbnb. For a truly authentic and magical stay in old town Bari, I recommend this Airbnb.
This spacious 2 level, 1.5 baths Airbnb surpassed my expectations! On the first level, you have the living room (with sleeper sofa), a fully equipped kitchen, and half bath. Level 2 has the master bedroom, full bathroom, and den area with another sleeper sofa.
You can see from the photos this place is unique and one of a kind. This particular Airbnb has air conditioning, wifi, and a wonderful communicative host.
Other hotels that are highly reviewed on public sites are:
Best Restaurants in Bari, Italy
If you are a single woman traveling like myself, looking to stuff your face with a load of Italian food, keep reading.
The food of the Puglia region is rich with seafood! The most famous dish of Italy’s eastern coast is “Riso al Forno Alla Barese”. It consists of rice, potato, mussels, and so many spices.
The reviews online on this place are mixed. There is some truth to the service, and I would say the ambiance is not very cozy. The food was delicious. This is where I had the famous “Riso al Forno alla barese,” consists of rice, potato, mussels.
The best pizza I had in Bar was here at L’Osteria Del Borgo Antico. Usually, I avoid any restaurant sitting in the “tourist area,” but I am glad I made the exceptions. It was the best pizza I’ve had…ever.
This is a lovely bistro-style restaurant serving delicious food as well as wine, beer, and spirits. I really enjoyed a lovely salad to start the night and a glass of Prosecco. The menu is not your typical Italian fare, so when looking for something different, give this place a try!
I am a sucker for a spicy arrabbiata sauce, and this place doesn’t disappoint. The pasta was so good; I ate here three times!! I also had their version of Riso al Forno alla barese, and I can highly recommend it.
Must-Visit Cafes of Bari, Italy
Does the idea of eating a chocolate croissant make your mouth water? Yes? Visit this modern and swanky style cafe serving the world’s best croissants! The delicious croissants are available in 2 sizes, large and small. It is also worth mentioning that they serve soy milk, which can be very hard to find at other cafes.
If you are looking for more than just a great espresso, this is the place. Perfect for breakfast or lunch, but it does get busy, so be advised.
If you are looking for a healthy option for when you can no longer zip up the jeans, check out this place. Cafe Frulez has a variety of juices, teas, and coffee. Satisfy your craving for fresh vegetables, salads, and sandwiches here. If you are looking for the place with the most options for vegans, you have found it.
Transit Info From Airport to Old Town Bari
When arriving at Bari international airport you have the following choices of transit to the old town of Bari:
Taxi – If you want to take a taxi from the airport to Old Town Bari, it should cost approx. 20 euros. However, websites warn that all taxis cannot be trusted to give you an honest price. My advice is to confirm with the driver the cost before getting in.
Train– Taking the train from the airport is what I did, and I can recommend it. From the airport, you will follow the signs for the train that lead you underground. There was an attendant at the desk at the entrance to the train selling tickets. Also, you could use the machines to get a ticket.
The train was clean and efficient and felt safe for a single woman traveling. Taking the train to Bari is a journey of about 25 mins, and ticket costs were approx. 7 euros.
After arriving at the central train station, the walk to the old town is 20 mins. If the weather is beautiful and you don’t have a lot of luggage, I would highly recommend it.
Day Trips From Bari, Italy
Bari to Polignano a Mare & Monopoli
What I loved most about staying in Bari was it that was so close to the most beautiful coastal towns, without the costal price. A very simple day trip will take you to an Italian paradise along the sea. If you are looking to see more of Puglia on your east coast Italy trip from Bari, I have some suggestions!
Take the train from the Bari central station to both Polignano a Mare and Monopoli. The first stop is Polignano a Mare, the next stop is Monolopi.
The journey from Bari takes only about 30 mins and costs less than 4 euro. A Solo Woman Traveling tip. Download the app from Trenitalia. Get your tickets ahead of time.
If you buy them at the station, give yourself an extra 20 mins to wait in line. I have never seen a machine take longer to produce a ticket than these. Even someone who knows exactly what they are doing could grow old waiting for the machine to spit it out. Save yourself the time and frustration by having it ready to go before you get there.
Once you have arrived at either station, it is a quick walk to the old towns. Most amazing views from both these seaside towns!
Day Trips From Bari, Italy | Quick Tips
- Be conscious of your arrival time. Many shops and restaurants close up between 2 pm-6 pm. As a result, you should plan your time accordingly.
- If you plan to visit both places on the same day, plan to get to Polignano a mare early.
- Make reservations for lunch & and dinner in for wherever you will be at the time.
- Bring cash, just to be safe.
The Highlight of Polignano a Mare
If you can only choose one place to visit, I would choose Polignano a Mare over Monopoli. The cliffside views and beaches are magical. I got lost in the streets of this idyllic village just 20 miles south of Bari.
Polignano a Mare is not super touristy, in fact, most of the tourists appeared to be Italians. So you can count on a more authentic experience. A local did tell that with each passing year, tourism is increasing. Get there now before it’s totally found out!
If you decide to make is more than just a day trip from Bari, here are hotel recommendations.
The Highlight of Monopoli
Another hot spot in the Salento Peninsula is Monopoli. The most iconic site in Monopoli is the Porta Vecchia. Here you find the traditional blue and red fishing boats. These boats are used today by fishermen in shallow waters looking for octopus and other fish.
Spend the rest of your time in Monopoli, strolling around the streets of the old town. There are a few local churches of baroque city architecture. My favorite was the Basilica Cattedrale Maria Santissima della Madia.
A noteworthy stop when you are hungry for a snack is Sottocoperto Pub. I enjoyed a quick bite and cocktail when my feet got too tired from walking. They have a lovely outdoor patio that I hope to someday return.
Some of the best accommodations in Monopolio are:
East Coast of Italy Alternatives
In Italy, there are just countless places to visit! Each region has different traditions and ways of life. If you are looking for more than just day trips from Bari, go north to Verona!
Verona is a romantic city full of culture and charm! I visited Verona while staying in Bologna. For the best day trip to Verona, check out my guide!
If you plan to stay south and see more of the Salento Peninsula, you might want to check out Santa Maria Di Leuca. Located at the very bottom of Southern Italy. Santa Maria Di Leuca offers an authentic experience with some of Italy’s most magical seaside promenades.
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