Going shopping in Bari isn't the first thing on most people's agendas when they're thinking of visiting this city on Italy's southeast coast. At the top of most visitors’ list of things to do are exploring the historic district, taking in the Adriatic sea air on the promenade, lazing around on one of the beaches in Bari, and sampling the delights of Puglian cuisine.
While they all sound like fantastic activities, and they are, avoiding shopping while you're in Bari means you'll miss out on a cultural experience like no other in the city. After a day spent sightseeing the famous landmarks, like Bari cathedral, or browsing around the museums, you might not have been in the right area to appreciate just what a great place for shopping Bari is.
It's well worth dedicating at least a morning, if not more, to discover the commercial offerings Bari has. You'll be surprised by its pedestrianized shopping areas, its vibrantly colorful and bustling markets, and be totally wowed by its modern commercial centers. Before you get laden down with too many shopping backs, head to a Bounce luggage storage in Bari and drop off your luggage. There's nothing worse than fussing with your suitcases when there's great shopping to focus on. There are convenient bag storage facilities in central Bari and near the Bari Airport.
Where To Go Shopping In Bari
The Murat Quarter is an area of Bari located along the coast. If there is such a thing, it's the newer historic district in the city that was constructed in the 19th century and is crammed with ornate Baroque buildings.
The Murat Quarter is somewhere to go shopping in Bari when you have time to spare as it requires a leisurely exploration. Rush around and you'll miss most of the good parts. It's also the ideal spot to find some of the best street food in the city.
Stroll into the Murat Quarter from the promenade and you'll enter a maze of streets lined with stores and restaurants. If you're worried about getting lost, use the Giardini di Piazza Umberto 1 as a focus point. You'll find it easily recognizable as the city's singular Ferris wheel is in the park.
The two main shopping streets in the Murat Quarter are the Corso Camillo Benso Cavour and the Via Alessandro Manzoni, but there are many more besides.
The Corso Cavour is one of the most famous shopping streets in Bari. It's a beautiful tree-lined avenue and the main artery of the district. Along Corso Cavour, there are several big-name fashion designer stores such as Louis Vuitton as well as a Hermes boutique plus more economic stores like Calzedonia. It's a case of keep strolling until you find what you're looking for as the shops are quite spread out. There are plenty of pavement cafes so there's no shortage of places to take a rest break if you get tired.
The Via Alessandro Manzoni runs through the Murat Quarter from north to south or vice versa. On the Via Manzoni, there are outlets as well as regular retailers so it's worth the leg stretch to scour this street from top to bottom for bargains. Another two streets that are great for shopping, both of which intersect the Via Manzoni, are the Via Principe Amedeo and the Via Dante Alighieri.
Going shopping in Bari's Murat Quarter may seem as though you're setting out on a major expedition and in some ways it is. If it all gets too much, all you have to do is head back to the seafront and treat yourself to a ginormous gelato. Italian ice cream really helps aid recovery from retail fatigue.
If designer fashion wear is what you're hoping to find in Bari, you need to go to the Via Sparano in the Murat Quarter. The Via Sparano is just a couple of blocks from the Teatro Petruzzelli and around a ten-minute stroll from Bari Centrale station and is where all the high-end boutiques are.
Get ready to trash your credit card unless you can resist the offerings of Gucci, Prada, Red Valentino, Trussardi, and Armani because whatever catches your eye is going to cost you a small fortune.
Bari Vecchia is the city's older historic district and another veritable labyrinth of winding streets, but one's that is inarguably a more characterful shopping area than the streets of the Murat Quarter.
If you're not staying close to Bari Vecchia, it's in the northernmost part of the city, you can get there easily enough by using the local bus service which really is the best way to get around Bari other than on foot.
Shopping in Bari Vecchia is like going back in time to shop in bygone times. Many of the stores you'll come across will be little more than the front of someone's home where the majority of goods and produce are stacked on shelves by the door.
Set out to explore Bari Vecchia and don't be surprised if you come across ladies sitting outside while they make a batch of pasta or a pavement cafe full of chattering locals. Most of the streets here are too narrow for cars but keep an eye out for mopeds and bicycles.
The best place to start shopping in Bari Vecchia is the Piazza Mercantile where there are plenty of stores and touristy gift shops. Work your way inland towards the cathedral just following your nose and you'll be surprised and delighted by what you encounter. One of the best things in this shopping area isn't the shops, but a Bari street food called sgagliozze. Don't miss getting a bag full of these flavorful polenta chips to munch on as you wander around. They're delicious.
Corso Vittorio Emanuele
If you find the narrow streets of the Bari Vecchia a little claustrophobic, then head for the Corso Vittorio Emanuele. It's a much wider, partially pedestrianized street that begins near the seafront and ends at the Piazza G. Garibaldi. There are stores on both sides and along streets running off from it so you'll need a comfortable pair of shoes, or even a pair of rollerblades, to get to see all there is here. The trek is worth it as this area offers some of the best shopping in Bari.
Shopping Malls In Bari
Barimax Shopping Village
The Barimax Shopping Village is a moderately sized mall on the Viale le Francesco de Blasio, which is on the outskirts of the city. Is it worth making a special trip out to? Probably not, but okay to visit if you find yourself in that area for any reason.
The single-story mall contains a few good stores but they're mostly unfamiliar Italian companies from the Puglia region who stock clothes, footwear, electronics, and pet products. There are no international chain brands or designer stores here.
The Centro Commerciale Mongolfiera Santa Caterina is another mall that's out in the suburbs of Bari. Located on the Strada Santa Catarina, this one is big enough to tempt any shopper out of the city centre.
The CC Mongolfiera is a two-floored indoor mall with a glass roof that's bright, modern, and full of top-name stores. Here you'll come across well-known brands like Okaidi, Original Marines, Pandora, Intissimmo, and Blue Spirit as well as many quality Italian retailers.
The center also hosts multiple events, has a selection of good eateries, and even a hot air balloon to take a ride in when you need a break from shopping. The views from the balloon are not too great though as the center is close to an industrial estate. The center stays open until nine in the evening so it's probably better to take the balloon ride after dark.
If you don't like paying through the nose for designer gear, put the Puglia Village at the top of your list of malls in Bari to visit. The Puglia Village on the Via dei Portuali is also known as the Land of Fashion and there's plenty of that at outlet prices too.
This purpose-built shopping center has been designed to look like a white-washed Mediterranean village and it does, until you get inside. Take a stroll around the interior courtyard and you'll be wowed by stores such as Addidas-Reebox, Calvin Klein, and Guess plus much more all off-loading their unsold merchandise at accessible prices.
Puglia Village opens every day from 10 am to 8 pm, with an extra hour tacked onto closing time on Saturday and Sunday so weekend shoppers can get an extra retail fix. The mall also hosts events including art presentations and live music performances.
Markets in Bari
Via Napoli Market
The Via Napoli Market is an unusual market for the simple fact it's held on Monday mornings. The Via Napoli Market takes place on the Via Napoli which is on the outskirts of Bari Vecchia.
There are numerous stalls at the Via Napoli Market which is more or less a rastro or second-hand market. Here you'll find antiques, vintage clothing, and craft items being sold alongside fresh produce like fish and fruit and vegetables. It's a busy market that attracts the crowds who have nothing better to do on a Monday morning, so be prepared to elbow your way through.
Mercato del Sabato
The Mercato del Sabato is a huge street market held every Saturday morning on the Viale Madre Teresa di Calcutta in the city's Poggiofranco neighborhood.
At the Mercato del Sabato there are traders offering just about everything under the sun from clothes to kitchen utensils to carpets, Italian olive oil, freshly caught fish, and other local produce like fresh vegetables and cured meats and cheeses.
The Mercato del Sabato operates between 8 am and 1:30 pm, so it's an early start and an early finish for these Italian market traders. Don't be late getting here or you'll miss it.
Bari Fish Market
Fresh fish is probably not one of the items you'll be in a hurry to purchase on your vacation in Bari unless you're staying in self-catering accommodation. Even if you don't want to buy fish, the famous Bari Fish Market is definitely something to check out if only for the fantastic photo opportunities.
The Bari Fish Market takes place every morning on the seafront promenade near the Piazza Ferrarese on the outskirts of Bari Vecchia. This isn't a market as such but more of a celebration of a way of life that's been part of Bari's culture for centuries.
Get here early and you'll see the local fishermen sail into harbor, moor up, then unload the morning's catch. It's usually a variety of fish loaded into crates packed with ice. You'll have to have a speedy shutter finger to catch the scene in all its glory as the ice mostly doesn't have time to melt before the fish and seafood gets sold.
The malls and outlet villages are great for when you want to spoil yourself with a designer label treat. Mall shopping just doesn't beat wandering around Bari's old town and entering a traditional delicatessen where they let you sample even the olive oil before you buy it.
You'll get to sample all sorts of meats and cheeses too if you point nicely and there's really no better way of putting together a picnic for the beach than that. Everything you purchase will be super fresh, incredibly tasty, and is guaranteed not to turn into unwanted leftovers.