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Dubbed ‘Paris in miniature’, mainly by the locals, Bari is a charming and often overlooked southern Italian city. The city itself has a great deal to offer, especially the old town, which has a particularly medieval flair. However, the city’s surroundings are just as appealing. Only a few hours by road outside of the city walls, travellers will find several world heritage sites, a few stunning natural formations and some lovely untouched Italian villages. Daytrips are often the highlight of a visit to Bari, and there are many car rental companies in the city to help make these adventures happen.
Who to Book With
Most of the international companies have a presence in the city, including big names like Avis, Sixt, Budget and Hertz. The offices of these companies can be found at the main railway station, at Bari Airport and in the central business district. Advanced online booking is recommended for travellers that want a good choice of vehicles at the right price.
Best time to go
Peak season in Bari is during the summer months between July and September. During this time, weather conditions are pleasant but the crowds are also larger. Travellers are advised to make all bookings in advance to avoid disappointment. Winter temperatures get quite low during December and January, but conditions never really become harsh enough to impede driving quality.
Need to Know Essentials
Travellers will not be given a vehicle if they don’t bring the following document upon collection:
- A valid passport
- An international driving licence
- The credit card used when making the rental booking
- An international insurance policy (which can be obtain when hiring the car)
Driving in Bari city centre is not really necessary, as most of the important sites can be covered by foot, and quickly at that. Renting a car is only useful if you are planning on taking daytrips to surrounding areas and to explore the Italian countryside. If you do plan to drive in the centre, make sure you have a reliable map and, preferably, a small car. The streets in the city centre are compact, narrow and often quite confusing.
Street parking is very difficult to find, especially since much of the old town is off limits to cars. There are a few large parking garages around the main city areas where drivers can pay hourly or daily rates, but there are also a few free parking areas a bit outside of the centre. You would then need to use another mode of transport to get into town.
The public transport system in the city is not too varied, with buses forming the bulk of the network. The system is operated by Bari’s local transport company, Amtab, which deals with ticketing and information as well. Navigating the city on foot is entirely possible, but those interested in travelling farther afield should arrange a private vehicle.
The local bus routes in the city are comprehensive, reaching most areas within the city’s boundaries. Tickets can be bought from stations or on the buses themselves. A single-fare ticket usually costs around €1.50 and is valid for 75 minutes from the time of purchase. All tickets need to be validated before boarding the vehicle.
Technically, taxis can be hailed from the side of the road, although they do not come by as frequently as you might hope. A more reliable option is to simply phone ahead and book a taxi service in advance. Reputable companies in the city include Radio Taxi and Apulia Taxi. Passengers should, however, take into account that they will be charged for the distance between the taxi depot and the pickup point.
For many, Bari’s surroundings are in fact more appealing that the city itself. While Bari is home to many great attractions, it also serves as the perfect base from which to explore the interesting heritage sites and the exciting surrounding natural environment.
Grotte di Castellana - Located just outside of Bari, Grotte di Castellana are a group of mesmerising underground caves. Some of the vertical caves measure up to 60 metres and are some of the deepest underground formations to have been discovered on the continent. Tours of the caves are given every day. Prepare yourself for at least two hours of exploration.
Alberobello - There are many fascinating villages around Bari, one of which is Alberobello. Alberobello is best-known for being the home of trulli, an ancient conical structure dating back to prehistoric ages. The village has since been named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and while there are many other attractions here as well, the trulli definitely takes centre stage.
Trani - Those looking for a quintessential seaside town should look no farther than Trani, a tiny fishing village less than an hour away from Bari. A highlight for many is the gorgeous cathedral that overlooks the sea. However, Trani is also packed with quaint restaurants and charming local shops.