Last Updated on December 13, 2023 by Ingrid & Alex
Are you heading to Southern Italy and after spending a couple of days in Puglia you are planning to take a day trip from Bari to Matera? If yes, this is the guide you have been looking for.
I will break down all the transportation options, including my favorite way to travel between the two important towns on Italy’s heel.
Seeing the Sassi of Matera is a must and an attraction on any Italy lover’s bucket list.
From over 10 years of visiting Italy, here is my comprehensive guide!
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How to get from Bari to Matera – a complete guide!
Can you do a day trip from Bari to Matera?
Of course, that is absolutely possible, and you will have countless options to get there and back.
While I absolutely loved Matera and wish I could have spent at least one night in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, one day could be enough to explore the city’s most important attractions: the Sassi di Matera and the Park of Rupestrian Churches.
How to Travel from Bari to Matera?
Travel by car
Traveling by car would be the fastest and easiest option.
Driving around Southern Italy might be intimidating for some people, but if I could do it, so can you. Just pay extra attention to the other drivers, and respect the rules.
Take Strada Statale 96 (SS96) from Bari to Matera through Altamura, and you will drive the 66 kilometers in roughly 1 hour.
You can stop in the ancient town of Altamura for a few hours if you are planning to spend the night in Matera.
Here are a few tips and things to have in mind when driving in Italy:
- you can drive with any EU-issued license, and if you are coming from the US you will need to obtain an International Driving Permit before you leave home.
- expect a manual car – especially when you will want to rent a car on a budget, you should expect a manual car.
- have your parking skills challenged – parking in Italy is an experience in itself, especially in places like Rome, Naples, or even Milan. Italians park their cars very close to each other, and sometimes cars even touch each other!
- choose a small car – the smaller the better, especially when you will want to explore hidden countryside villages. Roads are narrow and paved with cobblestone.
- don’t leave your valuables inside the car, and make sure to always book insurance.
Read also: Renting a car in Puglia – a comprehensive guide
If you have decided that renting a car is the way forward for part of your itinerary, my go-to destination for the best prices is DiscoverCars.
It is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for renting a car during your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. They have a pretty good cancellation policy that would give you options in case your flight or travel plans change.
Travel by bus
There are a few bus options that link Bari to Matera.
The bus ride will be around 1 hour and 15 min, and costs between 8 and 16 EUR depending on the company, departure time, and location you choose.
As you can see below, there is a bus leaving from Bari’s Train Station, and another one leaving from Bari International Airport.
Use Bookaway.com to check for the bus timetable and prices, and also book your return ticket online if you want to have all your trip planned. Pay extra attention to the returning bus schedule, and make sure there is a bus returning in the afternoon of the same day.
Travel by Train
I always love to travel by train when in Italy. However, especially in Southern Italy, this might prove to be a little bit more challenging.
While trains are running through Puglia and Basilicata, timetables and connections might not be the best. Also, there are smaller towns harder to reach by train.
When it comes to traveling from Bari Centrale to Matera by train, that is not impossible, but it is a longer ride, and you will have to change the train once in Altamura.
Here are only 2 options as an example, from Trenitalia‘s website. As you can see, these are all regional trains and the tickets cannot be purchased online.
That means that you will have to be earlier at the train station in order to buy the ticket. Additionally, don’t forget to validate the ticket before getting on the train.
Alternatively, check the Ferrovie Appulo Lucane website for the exact train timetable and for the option to book online. The price starts at 5.1 EUR and the website is in Italian.
From what I’ve seen, the last train leaving from Matera to Bari is at 20:40 with a change in Altamura.
How to reach to Sassi district from Matera Centrale
From the Central Train Station in Matera to the Sassi you will have to walk for around 18 minutes. There is no bus or other option to get around.
Pass through Via Lucana and admire the 16th-century Castello Tramontano.
Travel by organized tour
Should you go on an organized tour from Bari to Matera?
We always choose to go on organized tours whenever we don’t feel comfortable or simply don’t want to rent a car, or whenever we don’t have too much time on location and want to see as much as possible in a short time.
Therefore, if you don’t want to rent a car only to go to Matera, and honestly, getting there by bus or train isn’t too easy either, I would advise you to book a guided tour.
By doing that, you won’t have to worry about getting there and back, and you will also have a local guide to explain everything there is to know about this stunning stone town.
The Best Tours to Visit Matera from Bari
The Matera Day Trip from Bari – you will take a minivan with a driver from Bari to Matera where you will meet your licensed tour guide who will show you around the 2019 European Capital of Culture. See more here!
Matera half-day excursion from Bari with a visit of a cave house – a 5-hour tour for a small group (maximum 7 persons) that will take you to see a cave house and ancient cave churches. A tour perfect for those who don’t want to spend one whole day in Matera. See more here!
UNESCO’s Alberobello and Matera from Bari – link together 2 important UNESCO World Heritage sites in Puglia and Basilicata: Alberobello with its famous trulli, and the Sassi di Matera. This one is a private group tour, and it includes hotel pick-up and drop-off. See more here!
Travel by private transfer
Choosing a private transfer from Bari to Matera can offer several advantages depending on your preferences, travel needs, and the overall experience you’re seeking.
Some of the advantages include, but are not limited to:
Time Efficiency – You won’t have to wait for scheduled buses or trains, and the transfer can take you directly to your destination without intermediate stops.
Convenience and Comfort – they provide a door-to-door service, picking you up at your specified location in Bari and dropping you off at your destination in Matera.
Personalized Service – The driver can assist you with luggage, provide information about the area, and cater to specific requests you may have during the journey.
Direct Route – the driver will take you directly from Bari to Matera without the need for transfers or changing modes of transportation. This can be particularly advantageous if you have specific time constraints or want a more straightforward journey.
The cost of a private transfer between Bari and Matera starts at around 55 USD/person and can go up to 90 USD/person in a minivan.
You can check options and prices on Bookaway.com
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Bari to Matera?
The fastest and easiest way is to travel by car. And when you book in advance, that shouldn’t be expensive either.
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Bari to Matera?
Flixbus has a few cheap bus rides linking the two towns, but you won’t have much flexibility when it comes to the schedule.
Alternatively, take the train and book it on Ferrovie Appulo Lucane.
What Is my recommended option to get from Bari to Matera?
I would strongly recommend renting a car and exploring Puglia and Basilicata, apart from Matera and Bari. There are so many beautiful destinations you will fall in love with.
Use DiscoverCars and book ahead of time to get the best price.
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