Although it may be one of Italy’s lesser known cities, Bari is a central hub for shipping around the south East of Italy. With routes across to Greece, as well as north to Croatia, Bari is on the rise for tourism. Luckily for us, this means it is currently sitting in the perfect limbo between still being a cheap, off the grid location, yet it still has incredible tourist attractions. As budget backpackers ourselves, we just had to show you guys how to explore this beautiful little city without bursting your bank. Here is our guide to Bari on a Budget!
Cycle Friendly and Easy to Navigate
One of the most impressive things we found about Bari (and Italy in general), is just how bike friendly drivers tend to be. Italy has a reputation for having wild drivers and manic traffic junctions, and although as an outsider I can’t deny some of the traffic in cities I visited are absolutely mayhem, it seems to be a controlled mayhem. There are rarely ever any bumps and it seems to just work!
As a cyclist, pedalling through this madness can be a terrifying experience at first, however you will soon realise most drivers seem to bend over backwards to accommodate for you. There were even times when cars stopped in the middle of a roundabout to let us on!
In Bari there are plenty of opportunities to rent bikes for short or extended periods of time. There are even cycling guided tours around the old town! We highly recommend getting a bike for your stay, as it makes getting around the city so much easier!
Bari itself is split into two sections, the old town and the new town. The new town is incredibly easy to navigate as a cyclist, with the entire area split into perfect blocks and grids. This makes finding your way around very simple! It’s worth noting that I said as a cyclist as pretty much the entire new town is a one-way system, which would make driving around the city centre a nightmare! Luckily as cyclist we didn’t have to worry about this too much.
The same can’t be said for the old town however, as it is most built in a circular shape, with tiny, winding roads through the middle. The stark contrast between these two towns are reason enough to visit; they are both completely stunning in their own way.
During our stay to Bari, we treated ourselves to a Booking.com stay as we had just completed a 700km cycle down the east coast, (I’ll leave that story for a different day..). The options we found on Booking.com, Airbnb and even Hostelworld were all reasonably priced and not too difficult to get too, made even easier as we had bikes.
Our accommodation was £45 per night for a very nice, self-contained room with kitchen, shower, air-con and even a cute patio area for dining. Check all three of these services and you will be sure to find somewhere suitable!
Cheap Food Choices
Our favourite part of Italy is obviously the fantastic food choices available. This makes the price and availability of such one fo the more important parts of any city experience to us. Luckily, we were very impressed by the range of choices and the prices available around the city. There are plenty of higher class, more expensive restaurants to choose from, around both the old and the new towns, however there are also an incredible number of cheap, delicious restaurants hidden around too!
Some particular favourites of ours were the Castle Bar, Café Italiano and the Turkish Kebab shop, which sits between the old and new towns. The most striking thing about Italy is the high quality of all of the restaurants, including even the fast food places. There is no such as a cheap, rubbish pizza!
Plenty of Free Activities
Spread throughout the city, you will not find it difficult to fascinate yourself in the history, amuse yourself with the locals, marvel at the local sights and even chill at the beach ALL FOR FREE! During our 4 day visit to Bari, we didn’t spend a penny on any sightseeing or activities and we still maximised our time in the city.
The old town is large enough to take a day to walk around, admiring the small streets, beautiful colours and quirky locals as they go about their daily lives. The walk back around the seaside is then so beautiful, you could sit and admire it for an entire day.
Best of all, Bari is one of the only cities I have been to where there is a beach just off the city centre! Spend your afternoon enjoying the water and soaking up the rays before spending the evening in the city, just 15 minutes away!
Fantastic Facilities around the City
The most impressive thing we found in Bari is the incredible facilities it has to offer all over the city, which are completely free! There is a wireless network available at key tourist spots, such as the old town square and the beach, which is free and offers a reliable connection.
Along the beach you will find free toilets and showers, all of which are well kept and clean. Drinking water taps are also readily available at the beach and spread throughout the city, allowing you to top up your reusable water bottles and stay hydrated!
With all of these highlights combined, Bari makes for an incredible city break that is easily done on a budget. Our favourite part of this beautiful city is how undiscovered it continues to be, giving visitors a chance to see a more authentic side of Italy then the main tourist traps further north.
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