The 11 Best Hikes In Bari
Bari is a beautiful and famous historic port city on Italy's southeastern coast that is fantastic for walking and hiking. There are gentle strolls through the older parts of the city that will take you past some of Bari's most prominent landmarks and more testing ones along clifftops with incredible views of the Adriatic Sea.
Apart from the interesting routes you can walk in and around the city itself, Bari is just a 30-minute drive from some of the best forests and national parks in the Puglia region of the country. While you won't particularly need to don your hiking boots for the inner-city walks you will need some comfortable shoes as even the pavements in Bari can be pretty uneven on occasion.
You'll definitely need proper hiking footwear if you're planning on going hiking further afield as some of the trails will lead you over rocky ground. If you don't already have some, that will put additional costs on your vacation spending, but you won't want to be attempting many of these routes without some or while carrying a rucksack or suitcase either. The best solution to that problem is to leave your bags at a Bounce luggage storage facility in Bari where they'll be safe in a security tagged and insured locker. Do that and you'll have both hands free when you have to scrabble your way over uneven ground.
Top Hiking and Walking Trails In and Around Bari
Easy Walking and Hiking Trails In Bari
San Nicola Urban Loop
Exploring Bari on foot is one of the best ways to get a proper feel for this Italian city. The San Nicola Loop route is a good place to start if you want to take in some of the architecture and enjoy the ambiance of the old town, but still have a sea view while doing it.
The San Nicola Loop is a seven-kilometer-long walking route that's classed as easy. It's mostly level ground all the way with only a couple of very minor slopes to deal with.
The easiest place to set off on the route is the Piazza Mercantile, but if you're into photography, before you stride off at full speed along the Lungomare Imperatore Augusto, stop for a moment at the Fortino di Sant'Antonio and you'll get some great photos.
Continue along the Emperor Augusto seafront promenade which is a lot easier to say than its proper Italian name, and you'll come across several more very photo-worthy viewpoints before you get as far as the Basilica di San Nicola. There'll be more great photo opportunities as you make your way past Bari Castle and the Fizzarotti Palace. By then you'll also be in exactly the right zone of the city to be able to indulge in the best brunch in Bari and after that walk, you'll deserve it.
Fitness level required: Average. If you're not used to doing outdoor activities, you'll still manage this with relative ease.
Lungomare Imperatore Augusto
The Lungomare Imperatore Augusto is one of the highlights of the city and possibly one of the best easy walks to do in Bari. The stunning seafront promenade stretches for around five kilometers along the front of the city's old town district.
The promenade begins near the yacht club building on the Piazza IV Novembre and continues around the coastline almost to the port area. Apart from incredible views of the Adriatic, there are just under 200 cast-iron lampposts to keep count of on the way, and a quaint fishing harbor to have a wander around before you get to the beach.
The beach along the Lungomare Imperatore Augusto is called Pane e Pomodoro which literally translates to bread and tomatoes.
If you don't feel inclined to walk back the way you came, you'll find bus stops for services into the city on the Corso Cavour next to the tourist information center. The bus service here is good and is one of the cheapest ways of getting around Bari.
Fun Fact – The beach Pane e Pomodoro is named for the basic picnic food the locals used to take there to eat before it was developed as a tourist area.
Fitness level required: Average. Make this one of your everyday outdoor activities and you'll go home fitter than when you arrived.
Waterfront San Girolamo-Fesca
If you enjoy seafront strolls, after pacing out the Lungomare Imperatore Augusto, for your next adventure you'll want to head for the Waterfront San Girolamo-Fesca. It's a relatively new promenade to the north of the city that is still partially in development and will eventually connect to Pane e Pomodoro beach.
The broad walkway has a beach on one side and urban blocks on the other. Once completed there will be four beaches, gardens, a two-level plaza with an amphitheater, and a commercial center along the promenade. There will also be a long cycleway, which is great to keep in mind if you'd rather pedal than walk. Although it’s not yet complete, it’s a super spot for a city walk.
Fitness level required: Average. You'll cruise this one even if you haven't done any outdoor activities in a while.
Best Intermediate Hikes Around Bari
Trani Cliff Walk
If you haven't already come to the conclusion that hiking is one of the best free things to do in Bari, you will after you complete this hike.
This clifftop trail begins in the coastal town of Trani which is about 50 kilometers further north from Bari. After starting out on the Trani seafront promenade, the Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo trail morphs into a clifftop dirt track that takes you through sparsely wooded areas until it reaches the Torre Olivieri.
This is one of the best trails for spectacular views of the Adriatic and you could even spot some of the rarer species of Italian birdlife on the way if you keep your eyes peeled.
Fitness level required: Average. Take it slow and enjoy the scenery and it won't seem too strenuous.
Alta Murgia National Park
If you're hoping to do some hiking trails that are a little more arduous, but still not classed as difficult or too testing, then making the hour's drive out to the Alta Murgia National Park is a good idea.
The Alta Murgia National Park covers over 600 square kilometers of the countryside west of Bari. The best place to head to access the trails easily is the town of Gravina. Some of the trails will lead you to places of archeological or historical interest while others will show you the natural beauty and wildlife of the area.
A good go-it-alone hike can be had on the Jazzo Rosso – Magno -Castel del Monte cycleway. The cycleway is about 65 kilometers long and consists of both asphalt roads and dirt tracks.
Most of the trails are unmarked so, depending on your group size, it's best to join one of the guided hikes organized by the park authorities rather than go backpacking through the hills on your own.
Fitness level required: Average to better than average. Can be testing in places so if you're not usually into outdoor activities, warm up properly before you start.
Forest de Mercadante
If you prefer shady woodlands to rocky landscapes, the best place to go hiking around Bari for you would be the Forest de Mercadante. The forest covers an area of 13 square kilometers with pine trees, cypresses, and holm oak.
The easiest starting point to aim for is either the town of Cassano delle Murge or Altamura. In both, you'll find signs to convenient parking lots where you can join any one of a network of trails running through the forest. Most of the trails in the Forest de Mercadante are either broad compact dirt tracks or asphalted pathways so not overly hard going.
Not all of the trails are made for solitary hiking in natural surroundings. Some will take you past popular picnic spots and children's playgrounds and others to woodland restaurants. To avoid human contact all you have to do is keep walking.
During warmer, more humid weather, the local insects like to make their presence known so don't forget to apply repellent before going hiking. Don't forget to respect the forest environment too, and take all rubbish home with you.
Fitness level required: Average.
Parco Regionale della Murgia Materana
The Parco Regionale della Murgia Materana is around 70 kilometers inland from Bari. It may seem like a bit of a trek to get here, but parts of this unique Puglian countryside have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It's an amazing landscape to hike through that's dotted with mini hillside churches and cave houses. The trails in the area are old sheepherding tracks, some of which are still in use, so it's a good idea to drop by the visitor center in Matera for maps and a few words of advice from the park rangers before setting out.
One of the best hikes for spectacular scenery here is the trail that takes you over the Gravina footbridge which crosses a deep gorge. The trail is an eight kilometer long loop which begins and ends at the Jazzo gattini parking lot.
Fitness level required: Above average.
Parco Terre delle Gravine
The Parco Terre delle Gravine is a national park around an hour's drive south of Bari. Within the 280 square kilometers, it covers are some of the most impressive landscapes and forests in the Puglia region.
There are endless trails running through this area. Some will take you through acres and acres of olive and almond groves others to villages or cave dwellings.
The best trail in this area though is one that's over 130 kilometers long. The Via Ellenica del Cammino Materano is fantastic, but do it all and you could end up in Brindisi. Head for Caravigno and you'll be able to join a 12-kilometer section of the trail that terminates in Ostuni. It's not a loop trail so whatever distance you walk you'll have to do the same to get back.
Fitness level required: Above average, mostly due to length.
Bosco delle Pianelle
The Bosco delle Pianelle is a forested nature reserve on the edge of the Parco Terre delle Gravine near the town of Martina Franca. Park in the lot next to the visitor center then pop inside and they'll provide you with a map of the trails running through the forest.
All the trails in the Bosco delle Pianelle are numbered and vary in length and difficulty although none are classed as more testing than moderate so they're all reasonably manageable. It's wise not to stray from the marked routes as it's easy to get lost among the trees. There's an abundance of wildlife here so if you hear rustling in the undergrowth you could end up being surprised by the appearance of a deer or not quite so pretty, a wild boar.
Fitness level required: Average.
Difficult Hikes Around Bari
Cave di Murga
The Cave di Murga is a short but testing 4.5 kilometer loop trail in the Parco Regionale della Murgia Materana. The trail winds over rocky escarpments until it reaches a set of caves high up on a hillside.
Fitness level required: Above average. Although the trail is short, the incline is steep.
Sassi di Matera
There are plenty more trails crisscrossing the Parco Regionale della Murgia Materana, so if this trail isn't enough to expend your energy, you'll be able to continue exploring this wild landscape and make your way up to the hilltop town of Sassi di Matera. Once practically uninhabited, Sassi di Matera is now a thriving community and a UNESCO Heritage Site.
The hikes around Sassi di Matera are some of the best trails to do if you're into geology or history.
Go prepared with plenty of water as it can get very warm if you're hiking there in the summertime and there are no amenities until you get actually into the urbanization of Sassi di Matera itself.
Fitness level required: Expert.
No matter what type of hike you choose to do while you're visiting Bari, it will reward you with exceptional scenery. Whether that's along the coast where there are amazing vistas of the Adriatic, inland where you'll see impressive rock formations and caves, or deep in the wooded areas of Puglia, you won't want to be without your camera for one minute. It's easy to leave the hustle and bustle of the train station and Bari Airport behind you as you explore the wilderness.
You don't have to complete the trails classed as difficult to reap the benefits either. Many of the shorter, easier trails are equally as satisfying. The more you do, the more you'll see and Bari is in an area of Italy that definitely merits being explored to the max so don’t worry about the Italian climate, get your hiking boots on as soon as you get here.