Once poor and touristy Puglia was one of the cheapest regions where Italians themselves vacationed, but every year more and more tourists come here. Bari airport is «loved» by low-cost carriers, with planes flying here from all over Europe: from Greece and Norway. And only Russians a few years ago had to get to Bari with connections. However, in 2019, S7 and Pobeda started flying here. The tourist isolation of the city is ending before our eyes. Prices in Bari have almost equalized with the Italian average, but a vacation here is still 1.5—2 times cheaper than a vacation in the north of Italy.
Accommodation options and costs
Bari has plenty of cheap accommodation in all neighborhoods. There are hotels and highly rated apartments, gesthouses or B&Bs in every part of the city. The cost depends on the neighborhood and the accommodation option.
Near the port or in the Old Town (Bari Vecchia) the price is higher, but this accommodation has many advantages. It has the authenticity that people come to the south of Italy for, proximity to attractions and a vibrant nightlife.
On average, a double room in a hotel or apartment is 78 € per night. A bed in a hostel with a rating of 8.5 or higher or a guesthouse is cheaper. I paid 35 € per night: gesthouse without city tax and breakfast.
The neighborhoods of Bari where you can stay overnight are varied, but all are comfortable accommodations. Everywhere is clean and, unlike some other Italian cities, safe. The mayor’s office has managed to restore order in the city and make tourists' vacations peaceful.
Bari Veccia (Bari Vecchia, or Old Town)
Bari Vecchia is the name of the historic center, which is a maze of narrow streets and medieval buildings. This neighborhood is the most authentic. Some houses were built back in the XII century. In the 90s they were restored. The buildings are now in excellent condition (as much as possible).
The old town is the perfect place to discover the traditional way of life of the people of southern Italy. There are old monuments and museums everywhere, and a market with fresh seafood and cheeses nearby. All the key attractions are here.
Bari Vecchia has cafes with traditional cuisine at affordable prices, pizzerias, bars and nightclubs. The neighborhood is small, everything interesting is within walking distance. Nearby bus stops with public transportation, which can quickly and conveniently get to any area, train station or airport.
Murat (Murat, or New Town)
The Murat district extends from the train station (Bari Centrale) to the city’s waterfront (Lungomare). It was built in the nineteenth century. According to the design, the orthogonal grid of streets with flat and wide avenues is similar to Madrid and Barcelona.
Murat is the most lively and trendy neighborhood of Bari. The University of Bari Aldo Moro, a major university in Italy, is located in this part. Nearby is the Teatro Petruzzelli, where opera singers and contemporary bands regularly perform.
Everywhere are the pompous houses that once housed the local nobility. Now the first floors are filled with trendy boutiques, hotels, hostels and guesthouses. At Via Abbrescia, 97, I stayed overnight in one of the houses. A quiet place close to the coast and Bari Vecchia.
The Murat neighborhood is a great place to stay in Bari. It is close to the train station, it has a luxurious atmosphere and a lively nightlife, with stores and supermarkets everywhere. An entire street via Corso Camillo Benso Cavour is dedicated to boutiques.
The cruise port is located almost in the center of Bari — the Old Town is no more than 1 km away, the public beach «Pane e Pomodoro» is 3 km away. This is the best area to stay if you plan to travel by ferry. Any part of the city can be reached on foot or by public transportation.
The residential quarter near the cruise port is one of the most beautiful in Bari. The architecture is varied and includes ancient and modern buildings. This creates a peculiar atmosphere.
Among the advantages of the accommodation are the proximity to the beaches of Bari and access to public transportation. Along the coast, fishermen sell their catch: fresh seafood or fish cooked on site.
San Nicola Stadium (San Nicola)
In the southwestern part of Bari, near the center, the St. Nicholas Stadium is the second largest in Italy. The training ground for the national team is sometimes used for city events, celebrations and festivals.
Around the stadium are modern houses with all amenities. Prices for accommodation are lower than in the center. This area is suitable for those who prefer silence to the noisy center of Bari.
Bari Palese (Bari Palese)
The airport (Karol Wojtyla International Airport) is located 8 km from the city. Hotels are concentrated in Bari Palese (Palese) — about 2.5 km from the air harbor. A bus stop in the center provides quick access to the airport and Bari.
Bari Palese is located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It has stores, a park, pizzerias, cafes and its own little attractions.
- Bari itself is not very suitable for beach vacations: there is only the city beach «Bread and Tomato» (Pane e Pomodoro). It is sandy, but not the most luxurious beach in Puglia. If you go for a beach vacation, I recommend choosing a resort on the Adriatic or Ionian coast a little further from Bari.
- But Bari is ideal for visiting the unique Unesco heritage towns of Matera and Alberobello. Matera belongs to the Basilicata region, but it is most convenient to visit it from Bari. From here you can also easily reach Polignano a Mare and Monopoli, which are among the most picturesque beaches in Puglia.
- Most economy accommodations are small bed and breakfasts and guesthouses, sometimes they are organized right in former apartments. In such mini-hotels there is no regular reception desk, the host comes by arrangement with you, so the check-in time should be specified as accurately as possible.
- When booking accommodation on Booking.com, pay attention to the full description of the hotel conditions and to the letter that will come to your mail: there may be «hidden surcharges». In my case they added 10 € for cleaning and 10 € for late check-in. This can be notified by e-mail, or only at check-in. In total, instead of the 35 € announced on the website, I got 55 €.
- Possible surcharges: for late arrival, for cleaning, for bed linen and towels. If you are booking an inexpensive accommodation and the description does not explicitly state «towels free of charge» or «towels for a fee», I recommend writing to the host directly.
- Bari does not charge a tourist tax. They are planning to, but they don’t have one yet. Therefore, attempts to charge you a «city tax» are illegal.