When planning our February break vacation we knew we wanted something cheap and warm. Those were our only two requirements. So, my search began for a cheap flight and a destination with affordable accommodations. My search on Ryan Air and Wizz Air led to a few options, but the best for our travel dates and awesome for affordability was Bari, Italy. Located in southern Italy in the heel of the boot, Bari was definitely warmer and way sunnier than Vilnius. Perfect.
Are you looking for a sunny European destination in the wintertime? Consider Bari for its delicious food, warm weather, friendly people, and perfect location. We loved it!
What To Do In Bari, Italy
The first thing to do once you arrive in Bari is to walk around the old town. The stunning white architecture makes it appear as though the stone buildings have been whitewashed by the sun. Each little winding street opens into a beautiful square, religious icons on homes, or cathedrals. It is beautiful. Smells from little shops selling delicious food provide navigation hints for those in search of snacks -- look out for the Portuguese bakery and the nearby tiny shop selling hot out of the oven focaccia.
Cathedrals and Churches
Staying true to its Catholic roots, old town Bari alone had four impressive churches. Practically every winding street you take in the old town opens to a beautiful, white stone church. The Archdiocese of Bari and the Basilica San Nicola are particularly stunning.
Running along the harbor is a beautiful promenade taking you from the beach all the way to the castle (though that would be a longer walk than cutting through the city). Along the promenade you could watch fishermen preparing their squid and octopus for meals. Fishing boats were coming and going and numerous runners were making their way along the path. The waters were also surprisingly clear, although trash was common in the shallows.
Bari even has a beautiful castle -- Castello Normanno-Svevo. Castello Normanno-Svevo was built in the 1100s by King Roger II. It was destroyed shortly after it was originally built, and then rebuilt several times throughout history. The interior of the castle is now a museum and can be visited for a small fee. We opted to spend the fee on gelato rather than visit, but reviews on TripAdvisor are decent.
If the weather is really warm during your visit, Bari even has a small sandy beach that would be nice for a swim or great for toddlers to play in the sand. It is always good to have a beach option!
With Italy's great train connections, Bari is a wonderful base for day trips around Apulia. Day trip options include Monopoli, Lecce, and Alerobello. The trains were really affordable and made for easy connections, making it unnecessary to rent a car. Alerobello (pictured below) is a beautiful town that has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its trulli homes. We didn't make it to Lecce, but I did read that it is a scenic destination!
Shopping and Eating
There were delicious restaurants, cafes, gelaterias, and street food stops everywhere in Bari. It is truly a tasty heaven for foodies -- and better yet, the prices were really great! The local specialties are focaccia, orecchiette, and fried corn bread. All so good! I'll share an entire post soon about the restaurants and food stalls we loved.
After our first day exploring Bari, J and I both shared our surprise at the size of Bari. We both had anticipated it would be a small, sleepy town, but boy we were wrong. As the capital of the Apulia region, Bari is a center for food, shopping, and tourism (it also has the airport). There are several pedestrian shopping streets located in Bari, making it a perfect relaxing escape for a family or girls' trip.
Have you been to Bari, Italy? Have you ever chosen a destination because of the cheap flights and warmer weather?