The town of Conversano is just south of Bari and is a great candidate for a day trip in the region. Join us to discover all the top things to do in Conversano and decide if you should visit this town or not.
The main attraction in Conversano is the old town and the historic castle inside it. It’s a classic Apulian city with many ancient buildings and narrow streets to discover.
As you always expect from these towns the atmosphere is great and you will feel like walking in real Italy. We love Conversano as it’s less touristy than many other places in Puglia. The restaurants in the city are a special treat.
How to get to Conversano?
Getting to Conversano via car is pretty easy. Being south of Bari you can reach it on major roads. It takes only 30 minutes to drive from Bari to Conversano. When you visit Conversano we recommend renting a car.
Similarly, you can come to Conversano from Brindisi as well where you have to follow the coastal road, then turn inland when you are near the town. It’s a one-hour drive from Brindisi.
You may opt for public transport as well. As we’ve highlighted in our guide about getting around in Puglia you might need to jump on some regional service. You can check the official Trenitalia website. Based on our experience the best way between Bari and Conversano is a one-hour bus ride.
The best things to do in Conversano
The city is a truly ancient settlement. There are records proving that people lived in the area that’s Conversano today as early as the iron age.
Conversano, set on an ancient mountaintop about seven kilometers from the Adriatic Sea, offers misty views of the Mediterranean. It has a gentle atmosphere in its small alleyways, which open out into large squares (or piazzas as the locals would call them) with a castle and a number of notable churches.
1. Conversano Castle
The number one attraction in Conversano is the medieval castle. It’s called Castello Conti Acquaviva D’Aragona.
You can walk around the castle and the surrounding square to get the best view of the walls and fortifications. The Counts of Conversano lived in the castle for over seven centuries.
The present entrance is located on Piazza Conciliazione, which was created in 1710 by Countess Dorotea Acquaviva at her desire. Access to the late Renaissance porch may be gained through a courtyard. Until the late 19th century, there was a steady stream of construction on the complex.
As a fun fact, only a portion of the castle is municipal property. The majority of it is still privately owned and unfortunately, you can’t visit these parts. On the other hand, you can visit the public parts of the building which is home to the civic art gallery.
2. Museo civico archeologico di Conversano
Just a few steps from the castle you can visit the local archeological museum. You can see important relics and archeological finds from the area around Conversano.
Ancient artifacts from prehistoric to Roman periods, as well as a spectacular collection of Greek-style vases, remind visitors of the town’s early Greek influences on its development.
3. Conversano Cathedral
The full name of the Cathedral is Cattedrale Basilica Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo e San Flaviano. You will find it in the historic center and it’s a true piece of art to see. You will be able to feast your eyes on the beautiful and highly decorated exterior.
Today the Cathedral is in pretty good condition. It has suffered some damages throughout history, however, it was renovated in recent years. In fact, it only reopened in 2012 after the renovations.
If you find the doors open then do not hesitate to head inside. You will have to opportunity to check out the beautiful interior full of religious artwork.
4. Porta Tarantina
If you want to try some time travel then definitely head over to the building of Porta Tarantina. It’s the old entrance of the town.
Back then the town had walls all around it. Today it’s mostly exchanged into buildings. Regardless, the old town gate has not moved one inch.
Try to imagine how people in medieval towns would have felt as they stepped through the old gates right into the bustling atmosphere of Conversano. It’s a great sight and the gates look very similar to how they originally did.
5. Porta Acquaviva
Another old city gate you can see in Conversano is called Porta Acquaviva. It’s more towards the outskirts of the city center area so you’ll have to do some exploring on foot to find it.
This gare is in a much better state than the Tarantina gate and reflects well on how it looked in medieval times. It’s a beautiful white arch that’s just perfect for your travel pictures.
6. Villa Giuseppe Garibaldi
Get away from the sunshine and relax in the shades at the local city park. This is what Villa Giuseppe Garibaldi has to offer.
The small pathways of the city park are lined with big trees which provide shade. There are small statues and fountains around to park to discover as you are strolling the pathways.
7. Monastero di San Benedetto
The monastery dates all the way back to the sixth century. One of the most important monasteries in Puglia was originally this one.
Impressive is the cloister’s garden, which is encircled by carved column capitals. Check out the oldest portion of the construction, the 11th-century crypt.
8. Monastero di San Cosma
Located on the outskirts of the historical center the Monastero di San Cosma is one of the most beautiful church interiors in Conversano.
Step inside the big wooden doors to experience unrivaled beauty as you wander at all the golden lining, frescoes, and jaw-dropping decoration.
9. Browse the local market
Should you manage to arrive in Conversano early in the morning you need to start the day at Piazza Cesare Battisti. In the main season, there is a market here every day selling fresh produce.
It’s one of the best ways to get acquainted with all the things that the Puglia region of Italy can produce. You can meet with the local farmers and taste and try their best vegetables or fruits. A nice and fun way to start your day.
10. Stroll the alleyways of the historic center
The historic center of Conversano is full of life and has a very local Apulian atmosphere. Make sure that you spend time strolling the small winding streets between medieval buildings.
There are many awesome-looking facades and churches to discover. Get your camera ready and take all the pictures you can of this beautiful old town.
Where to eat in Conversano?
No Conversano travel guide can be complete without some great restaurant recommendations. The place is filled with nice places to eat and let us tell you about our favorite ones.
1. Creperia Il Principe
Those who haven’t tried crepes yet must start their adventure in this restaurant. It’s one that is specialized in crepes.
From Nutella to ham and tartuffe you will get every kind here and do they taste absolutely unbelievable. Although crepes are traditionally sweet it’s a bit unusual to serve them with ham and cheese inside, they are surprisingly good.
Still, if you are looking for a classic experience stick to Nutella filling. The only downside of this place is the opening hours. It’s only open from 7 PM to 11 PM.
2. La Focaccina
Are you looking for something quick to eat during a day trip? La Focaccina is your place. It’s a sandwich bar that specializes in focaccia sandwiches.
They are absolutely awesome and filling. For a price of a few euros, you can get filling food and continue your sightseeing tour of the city.
Whenever visiting pay attention to siesta times as the place is closed for a few hours in the afternoon.
3. Pizzeria Terrarossa
A great pizzeria right next to the Conversano castle. The location is a guarantee for awesome surroundings and superb views.
However, that would be nothing without good pizza. Luckily, Pizzeria Terrarossa has excellent pizza. It’s a great place to sit down and relax for a while whenever you are doing a tour of the town.
When to visit Conversano?
Whenever you are in Puglia. Seriously, Covnersano is an awesome town both during the hot months and the off-season of Italy. As the town is not a seaside settlement it doesn’t depend on tourists for everything.
This means that Conversano can maintain its charm even during winter in Puglia. You can include Conversano in any Puglia itinerary as it’s accessible both via car and public transport quite easily.
How many days to spend in Conversano?
The town is absolutely perfect for a day trip. You can see everything and enjoy a nice meal even if you visit for just one day. However, there are some really nice hotels in the city and if you are looking for a longer holiday in Puglia it can be a great choice for sleeping.
The restaurants and bars are usually a bit cheaper than in the main tourist hot spots and you may be able to get a nice deal on one of the better hotels in Conversano.
Where to stay in Conversano?
Are you looking for a longer stay? Maybe you are considering the town as your base for exploring Puglia? Look no further these are some of the best places that you can book in Conversano.
1. Corte Altavilla
Corte Altavilla is right in the city center and it’s our favorite place to stay in Conversano. It’s an old villa that has an upscale interior and great rooms.
It’s luxurious with many amenities and it’s right in the middle of the city. The perfect choice if you are looking for a holiday that’s relaxing and worry-free.
2. D’Aragona 56
D’Aragona 56 is consisting of big rooms and comfortable furniture. It’s a great choice if you are looking for value. It’s in the middle of the price range for Conversano, but still very lavish and close to the center.
More than just a Conversano travel guide
With our list of things to do in Conversano, we have given you a nice overview of what to see in the city. We’ve also let you know all there is you need to know about getting to town and how to visit. We hope that we could help your vacation in Puglia get a little bit more awesome with this guide.