Located in the southern part of Italy, on the island of Sicily, is a town by the name Palermo. This city is the capital of the autonomous region of Sicily and the second largest historical center in Italy. Palermo is the most conquered city in the world, famous for its rich culture and tradition. In 2018, Palermo became the Italian Capital of Culture and is still today the proud owner of twelve UNESCO sites.
Today, Palermo has around 720,000 inhabitants living in a 160 square kilometers area. You’ll find that they are very welcoming and friendly, doing everything they can to make you feel at home in their city.
You can visit Palermo all through the year, but keep in mind that if you want to enjoy the beach, you should probably avoid the colder months of the year. Palermo has a fairly warm climate, so the most enjoyable weather for a visit would be during spring and autumn. During the summer, it gets really hot in Palermo with the temperatures sometimes rising up to 40°C!
In the guide below you will find everything you need to make the most out of your trip!
Table of Contents
Getting to Palermo
Even though it might look like Palermo is difficult to reach, that is, in fact, not true. Here are several options on how to get to Palermo.
Falcone Borsellino Airport (PMO), also called Punta Raisa, is the airport that serves the city and region of Palermo. It is the second busiest airport in Sicily and it handles over 6,5 million passengers every year. The airport is located just 35 km outside of Palermo and it is accessible by car, train or bus. Palermo Airport hosts both domestic and international flights housing companies like Lufthansa, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, and even low-cost carriers like easyJet and Ryanair.
Although Palermo is located on the island of Sicily, it’s still well-connected with the rest of Italy and Europe. From Palermo main bus station you can get to Milan, Rome, Bologna, Taranto and Krakow.
- The bus station is located less than 2 km from the city centre, next to the Palermo Centrale train station.
Palermo is well connected with other Sicilian cities and most major Italian towns by train. The main train station is Stazione Centrale and it’s one of the most important train stations in the region. From here you can find direct connections to Naples, Rome, Salerno Cefalu, Catania, Milazzo, Syracuse and other Italian cities. There are also indirect train connections to some major European cities like Paris, Munich, Madrid and more.
- Palermo Centrale is the main railway station in Palermo, located less than 2km south from the city centre.
- The second train station of greater importance is Palermo Notarbartolo, located in the northern parts of Palermo.
Because of the specific location of Palermo, it is important to pass the mainland of Italy. The A1/E45 road goes straight through the inland, directly to Villa San Giovanni where you get to the Strait of Messina. There are ferries that cross the Strait of Messina a couple of times a day and bring you to Messina. From there, you can take the A20/E90 which goes straight to Palermo.
- These roads are motorways or toll roads thus they require paying a toll. If you want to know how much, you can use this link to calculate the tolls and gas costs.
Palermo’s port is located right on the eastern side of the town and is reachable on foot. This port is one of the most significant passenger ports in Europe because of its location and long history. Palermo’s importance in the Mediterranean has also reflected on the port which has become a favorite destination for cruise ships, yachts and a marina for private ships. There are several ferry companies that operate in the port of Palermo including GNV, Grimaldi Lines and Tirrenia. They provide transfers to destinations like Napoli, Genoa, Salerno, Cagliari, Aeolian islands, Civitavecchia and even Tunis.
Italy Visa Requirements
Italy is a member of the Schengen Area, meaning that all EU visitors can enter the country without applying for a visa. If you’re a citizen of a country which is not a member of the Schengen Area, you will need to apply for a visa regarding the purpose of your travel. If travelling as a tourist you can apply for a short-term visa (Schengen visa) up to 90 days. For all other travelling purposes for non-Schengen Area citizens read the visa requirements.
Getting around Palermo
One of the easiest ways of getting around are local buses. A local company called AMAT operates the public buses. An important thing to note is that the buses in Palermo often run late because of the massive traffic during peak season.
You can buy the tickets for the local buses in almost every tobacco or newspaper store. They are valid for 90’ from the moment that you validate them.
NOTE: Tickets bought in shops cost a little less (around €1,40) because when you buy tickets on the bus they charge you a “collection on board fee” which is €0,40.
The price for a daily ticket is around €3,50 and is valid on the day of validation. If you plan on using the bus as your main choice of transport, the best thing to do is buy multi-day tickets. A two-day ticket will cost you around €6 and a three-day ticket around €8.
Listed below are a couple of routes to some interesting points in the city.
- Bus route 100 takes you from Central Station to Stadio delle Palme and Stadio Renzo Barbera (Stadio La Favorita). The stadium hosted a couple of matches for the 1990 FIFA World Cup and concerts by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Black Sabbath, Frank Zappa, Duran Duran, Frank Sinatra and Zucchero.
- Route 102 takes you from Central Station to Notarbartolo Station, the second biggest train station in Palermo
- Route 104 goes from Piazza Indipendenza (Norman Palace) to the English Gardens (Giardino Inglese) created in the late 19th century.
- Route 806 departs from Piazza Francesco Crispi (located next to Giardino Inglese) and takes you to Piazza Mondello located right on the banks of Mondello Beach.
For more information about the bus lines and time schedules, visit the official AMAT site.
Besides the local buses, there are two shuttle buses that run for free. The first one, called “Free Express”, connects the parking on via Basile with Piazza Indipendenza. The second is called “Free Centro Storico” and offers a ride through the historic centre of Palermo, passing locations like the Massimo Theater and Cathedral of Palermo.
The tram system in Palermo opened in 2015 and it connects the city centre with the outskirts of the city. It consists of four lines; one departs from Stazione centrale while the other three depart from Notarbartolo. AMAT operates the trains at the moment.
Currently, there are three metro lines in Palermo. Lines A and C both depart from Stazione Centrale and run along the railway. Line A goes all the way to the Falcone Borsellino Airport while line C runs to Termini Imerese. Metro line B is an underground railway line which connects Notarbartolo with Piazza Giachery and is only 4 km long. The price for a single ticket is around €1,50 and is valid for 90 minutes.
If you prefer travelling on your own terms and avoiding the public transport system altogether we recommend that you rent a car in Palermo. A car is the best and easiest way to get around the city. Hire your car online in advance so that it is ready by the time you arrive at the airport. This is definitely a good option if you are staying outside the town centre and away from any public transport stops.
Parking in Palermo, like in any other major European city, can be a real struggle but it is not impossible. First of all, the town centre is a ZTL or Zona a traffico limitato which means that traffic is limited within the borders of this zone. Multiple cameras monitor the ZTL during the day but it is still possible to enter the zone with your car as long as it meets the emissions standards. To enter ZTL you have to buy an admission ticket which will cost you around €5 for a day.
When it comes to parking in the city, there are public parking spots along the roads marked with blue lines. Parking in these parking spots costs around €1 per hour and you can pay this at a parking meter or buy parking scratch-tickets in tobacconists’ and shops. White lines indicate that the parking spot is usually free.
NOTE: Be aware of unofficial valets who will offer to “watch your car”. If you refuse to pay them they will vandalize your car.
Another option is to park your car in a car park. They usually charge around €1 – €1,50 for an hour or around €10 – €15 for a day. You can find car parks throughout the city and usually within walking distance of most bigger monuments.
Sights in Palermo
Palermo is a city with a complex and intriguing history, having been occupied most of the time since its establishment. Today, Palermo shows the long tradition of harmony between various religions and tells the story of the town through the ages. Here is a list of what to do and what to see during your stay in this amazing city.
Palermo Cathedral (Duomo di Palermo)
Built in the 12th century by the Normans, this church is one of Sicily’s most important architectural monuments. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary Cathedral is an indication of the peaceful coexistence of people of various religions and origins. The church, which was built on the grounds of a basilica later turned into a mosque, still houses pillars engraved with words from the Koran and Byzantine mosaics. The cathedral also contains a Treasury, Crypt and Royal Tombs filled with various treasures and memorandum closely imbedded in Palermo’s history. With all this said, the cathedral is definitely worth visiting. If you only want to visit the church, it is free of charge. For all the other sights, like the Crypt, Tombs and Treasury, they charge an admission fee of approximately €7.
The Norman Palace (Palazzo dei Normanni) used to be the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman reign. Afterwards, the palace kept its importance, regaining in the sixteenth century its administrative title and role of the main seat for the rulers of Sicily. The Norman Palace is one of the oldest royal residences in Europe. It is still in use today as the Sicilian Regional Assembly and the Astronomical Observatory of Palermo are located here. The Arabs built the original building during the ninth century, remains of which can still be found in the basement. It took incredible skills to blend byzantine decorations with Arabic designs into the preexisting art and design of the palace.
The Palatine Chapel
One of the main reasons why people visit the Norman Palace and Palermo, in general, is the Palatine Chapel. As the significance of most of the buildings from the twelfth century in Palermo is the mixture of multiple cultures, the Palatine Chapel is a symbol of that time. They managed to blend the Byzantine, Norman and Arabic influence into one church. It is still today a testimony to the political state of twelfth-century Palermo.
When visiting Palermo, visiting the Norman Palace and Palatine Chapel is a must. Depending on the day that you visit the ticket prices range between €7 and €8,50. Also, keep in mind that the chapel closes on Sundays and holidays due to religious services.
Botanical Garden of Palermo
Located not so far from the train station is a place for all lovers of nature and relaxation. Orto Botanico is the oldest and most beautiful garden in Palermo, covering an area of 25 acres and housing over 12,000 different species of plants. Established at the end of the eighteenth century, this garden was and still is an amazing source for botanical studies. Besides the many plant species that you can find here, spread across the park are many marble statues and even an aquarium and gene bank. Green parrots who made the park their home protect the grounds. A ticket for the park will cost you somewhere around €6. So, if you want to take a break from all the cultural sightseeing we recommend that you visit this botanical garden.
Teatro Massimo is the largest theater in Italy and the third-largest in Europe, after the ones in Paris and Vienna. Giovan Battista Basile designed and built this theater in the second half of the nineteenth century. The theater is a great example of Neoclassicism of the nineteenth century, inspired by Greek architecture and classic art. The 1990 movie “The Godfather III” used the Massimo Theater as one of its filming locations.
The horseshoe-shaped hall is world-renowned for its perfect acoustic and can house up to 1,400 spectators. Visiting the theater is only possible by partaking in a guided tour. The guide usually shows you the auditorium, Pompeian Hall, choir room and foyer. The tours are available in Italian, English, French, Spanish and German. They take around 30 minutes and the price for a regular ticket is around €8. The tours take place every day from 9.30 am, with the last one starting at 5.30 pm.
The official name for this Baroque square is Piazza Vigliena. A perfect circle of curved, near-identical Baroque facades frames the junction of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda, making it the epicentre of the old town. Throughout the day each of the buildings takes turns lighting up, nicknaming the square “Il Teatro del Sole”. Decorations on the buildings are different but they all maintain the same style. Fountains in the center decorate the base of the building, each of them representing a different season. Two pillars decorate the part above the fountain and in between them are the statues of four Spanish kings. On the third floor, we find the patroness Saints of Palermo. Italian sculptors created all of these statues and marble decorations.
The Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum
Opera dei Puppi is a longstanding tradition in Sicily, protected by UNESCO as Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The stories that the puppet masters usually told were based on medieval literature, Italian Renaissance poems and tales about saints and bandits. Antonio Pasqualino founded the museum. He was a surgeon, anthropologist and researcher of a disappearing Sicilian tradition: puppet theatre. The museum houses around 4,000 marionettes, hand puppets, shadow puppets and more from various parts of Europe and the Far East, as well as the greatest collection of marionettes and puppets from Sicily and their long-standing Opera dei Puppi tradition. Museo Internazionale delle Marionette is open through the morning until 1pm, except on Sunday. The entry ticket will cost you somewhere around €5, but is well worth the money.
Cathedral of St. Mary of the Admiral (La Martorana)
La Martorana, also known as the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Admiral, was built in the twelfth century overlooking the Piazza Bellini. The great admiral George of Antioch built the original church in the shape of a Greek cross. By the end of the century, somewhere around 1193, the convent of Benedictine nuns led by Eloisa Martonara took over the church and merged it with their adjacent property. The nuns were also known for the fruitlike moulded marzipan called “frutta di Martorana” which is still today a beloved Palermitan treat. The cathedral is richly decorated with a cycle of gold Byzantine mosaics, which is one of the most significant in the world. The entry price for the church is around €2.
Church of San Cataldo
Attached to La Martorana since 1154 is the elegant and simplistic Church of San Cataldo. Inside you can still find the original mosaic flooring made out of serpentine and porphyry stones. The exterior is distinctive thanks to three pink domes which were actually an error made during the nineteenth-century restorations. For a brief period during the eighteenth century, the church was deconsecrated and turned into a post office. If you want to visit the church, the admission price is €2,50.
The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo
Everyone who thinks that scaring themselves to death is an entertaining way to spend their day should definitely visit the Catacombs of Palermo. Mummification is an ancient tradition in Sicily greatly represented by the Capuchin Catacombs. Originally built as a simple cemetery for the burial of their respective monks, these catacombs became some sort of death museum housing almost 8000 corpses and over 1200 mummies. In 1920, Rosalia Lombardo died at the tender age of two from pneumonia and was preserved with a special artificial embalming procedure as one of the last mummies added to the catacombs. Even today she is one of the most beautiful mummies in existence, gaining her the nickname “Sleeping Beauty”. If you want to visit the catacombs the admission price is around €3 and keep in mind that they prohibit taking photos, filming or touching of the exhibits.
Originally built in Florence, Fontana Pretoria now graces the Piazza Pretoria since 1574. It is one of Palermo’s most important landmarks, located in the heart of the city centre. Also called Fontana della Vergogna (Fountain of Shame), the locals compare the naked statues with the corrupt officials of the city. The statues actually depict the twelve Olympians and other mythological creatures, as well as various animals.
Palermo Food Markets
Even if you aren’t planning on buying anything, the street markets of Palermo are a must. Italian markets, especially Sicilian ones, are a real cultural experience. Filled with colorful and fresh products, and a lot of loud vendors, this is the place where you can feel what it is like to be a local. Even though you can find them everywhere, here is a list of the biggest and most popular ones:
- Ballarò Market is the oldest and the largest of all street markets. Filled with fresh products, amazing street food and even some hidden gems, this market is a place where you never know what you’ll find.
- La Vucciria Market isn’t what it used to be, looking more like a flea market nowadays than the historic food market that it used to be. But when the sun goes down life pours into the streets of Mercato della Vucciria. Filling the streets are young people looking for entertainment, drinks and amazing street food until the early hours of the morning.
- Capo Market is a lively street market with a souk-like feeling, paying homage to its Arabic roots. Most people like to visit it for a good bargain and to experience the longstanding traditions of Palermo.
The markets are open from 7am, usually the busiest part of the day to visit, until later in the evening. It is advised to not take bigger amounts of money with you as the markets are usually filled with pickpockets.
Even though not situated in Palermo, we recommend that you visit Mount Etna. Etna is currently the largest active volcano in Europe, over 3,200 meters high and covering an area of 60,000 acres. It takes a three-hour drive to get from Palermo to Park Etna. There are various walking trails that offer a beautiful overview of the mountain in all its glory. The combination of the volcanic landscapes with Mediterranean vegetation will leave anyone speechless, especially under the winter snow. It is possible to take the funicular up to a certain height where you can walk around and enjoy the view, but it will cost you somewhere around €30 per person. It is a bit on the expensive side, but definitely worth doing.
Beaches in Palermo
Because Palermo, in general, is one of the warmest Italian cities, the swimming season is rather long with a high average sea temperature that goes over 21°C during the summer period. The temperatures in Palermo during the summer period range between 28°C and 31°C, making it an amazing beach vacation destination. Palermo’s district offers beaches for everyone’s liking, from white sandy beaches to wild rocky ones. Some are more popular and rather crowded, while others are a bit more remote and undiscovered. Here you’ll find a list of beaches for everyone’s taste:
Mondello Beach is the most popular beach along Palermo’s shore. During the summer months the beach tends to get a bit crowded but you can easily see why. White sand covers the beaches and the sea is a beautiful turquoise blue. With the absence of rocks it is the perfect destination for families with children. The beach is a short drive from the city’s centre and it’s filled with reasonably priced restaurants and café’s.
Isola delle Femmine Beach is located on a small islet, some 300 meters from the coast of Capaci and is only reachable by boat. The name of the islet comes from the legend about 13 Turkish maidens who were banished from their families and ended up stranding on the islet. Isola delle Femmine means “The Island of Women”. If you have an extra couple of million dollars lying around, you can even buy it as it is currently on sale.
Cefalù Beach lies approximately 70 km from Palermo and is considered one of Sicily’s most famous beach towns. Bars and restaurants fill the 1,5 km long coastline. The clear water and fine sand beaches remind most people of the Caribbean or the Maldives. It is located close to the town centre so you can even explore the town when you’re already there which will make it completely worth the trip.
Addaura Beach lies between Modello and Palermo and is a piece of heaven on Earth. Expensive villas, private beaches, fancy beach clubs and all the other finer things this life has to offer line the shore. You can enjoy the clear sea in a paid beach club or on one of the free docks, the choice is yours.
San Vito Lo Capo Beach is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike. The beach is almost three kilometers long made out of white sand and crystal clear water. San Vito Lo Capo has also been awarded several times with the Blue Flag award – an award for resorts that meet the high standards of waters and offered services. It is located at the foot of Monte Monaco, well worth the hour or so ride from Palermo.
Capo Gallo Beach and Natural Reserve is a promontory situated between the marine villages of Mondello and Sferracavallo. It is the perfect destination if you want to peacefully enjoy the beauties of the Sicilian coast without all the touristic turmoil. The access to the beach is a bit more difficult as the ground is uneven and the rocks are sharp and large, so be cautious. Take food and water with you if you plan on spending the day here as there are no shops or restaurants nearby.
There is an unexpected surprise lying within the borders of the natural reserve, the so-called Semaforo Borbonico. This lighthouse was built in the nineteenth century and is inhabited for the past thirty years by a hermit-artist. Through minuscule fragments that are frequently changed, he transformed the lighthouse into a true work of art. The colorful mosaics that he created represent the three monotheistic religions with just a splash of pagan influence.
Festivals & Events In Palermo
By now we have established that Palermo has a very rich culture. It is not only shown through the architecture and people of the town, but often showcased on various occasions. Palermo offers different events and festivals to promote culture, tradition, art and music. Here is a list of some of the best-known festivals across Palermo.
Every year Palermo hosts the international Sole Luna Festival. The goal of this event is to unite and encourage the connection between people, sharing of ideas, perspectives and outlooks through the authors view of reality represented in their documentaries. The documentaries primary focuse on themes like human rights and travelling. The festival usually takes place during the month of July.
Festino di Santa Rosalia is a festival dedicated to the patron saint of Palermo – Santa Rosalia. The locals praise her because they believe she ridded the city of plague in the seventeenth century. The official date of this celebration is on July 14 when they parade her remains through the city. This celebration is one of the most important, the city is filled with food, drinks, Sicilian music and fireworks. We definitely recommend visiting Palermo during this period.
Cultural Heritage Festival, also known as La Vie dei Tresori, is one of the biggest festivals in Italy dedicated to the discovery of the city’s heritage. The festivities usually take place for about eight weekends between the months of September and November in fifteen different cities across Sicily. The festival allows you to visit over one hundred sites, including churches, palaces, chapels, gardens and even some usually inaccessible locations. La Vie dei Tresori is family-friendly so it is a great way to enjoy a cultural outing with the family.
Tango Festival Palermo is a festival honoring the tango. It takes place for four days during the month of July. The festival consists of Milongas programs and lessons by various dance teachers in a couple of different venues across Palermo. The tickets range, depending on what you want to do, between €15 and €120.
Forbes named the one-of-a-kind International Firedancing Festival as one of the best in the world. Besides music and dancing, this festival offers various workshops, art exhibits and much more. The ticket prices for this festival start at €16,50.
The World Festival on the Beach is a spectacular combination of sporting events and various live music concerts located in the enchanting Gulf of Mondello. The sporting events are held during the day, including various sports like windsurfing, sailing, diving, beach volleyball and much more. During the evening visitors of the festival are entertained with multiple music performances on open-air stages.
Unlocked Music Festival is an electronic music festival held in the outskirts of Palermo. This energetic festival usually takes place for two days during the month of June. Various famous names like Eiffel 65, Gigi D’Agostino and Dubfire have performed in previous editions.
The Couscous Festival in San Vito Lo Capo is a food festival completely dedicated to couscous. There are various cooking shows, tasting options, master classes, concerts and other events. It usually takes place in September. More information about the festival and tickets is available on their website.
Activities in Palermo
There are plenty of things to do in Palermo when you have a bit of free time and want to experience some fun outdoor activities.
Crystal clear waters surround Sicily, so diving enthusiasts will probably want to enjoy that when visiting Palermo. Palermo offers a couple of diving schools that can help you get started with that and show you the most interesting spots to visit while doing so. It is usually recommended to go a bit further from the town center as the harbour is located there so the situation is not really optimal. Some options that you have are Mondello or Sferracavallo located a short drive from the center. The best time to go there is between May and October when the sea temperatures are a bit higher, reaching 25°C during the summer months.
The Palermo Marathon and Half Marathon are held annually in Palermo, usually in November. The marathon offers the participants to see some of the most beautiful sites during their run. The starting and finish points are located in Giardino Inglese, and the route includes some of the historic streets of Palermo leading all the way to Mondello Beach.
A range of mountains separates Palermo from the rest of Sicily. In history, this was often considered a blessing in disguise as the mountains were difficult to cross. So even though it was hard for the people of Palermo to access other parts of Sicily, it made it harder for intruders to access the city from the mainland. Today it is perfectly situated for all hiking lovers who visit Palermo. One of the most famous mounts in Palermo is Monte Pellegrino, which lies in front of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is also the home of Saint Rosalia’s sanctuary.
At the foot of Mount Pellegrino is Park Favorita where the Villa Airoldi Golf Club is located. This amazing resort offers all the needed equipment and facilities for a game of golf. The club offers its members nine holes on an area that spans over 140,000 square meters.
Food in Palermo
Palermo has a very intriguing food scene because of all the foreign influences it had over the centuries. The cuisine here shows traces from Italian, Arab, Greek, Spanish and French food culture. When in Palermo, don’t be afraid to try some of their local dishes which are available on the lively street markets of Palermo.
Arancini is one of the most popular street foods, not only in Palermo but all through Sicily. It is a very liked dish among both locals and tourists. Typically, arancini are fried rice balls flavoured with saffron, which gives them their famous color, and filled with a chopped meat filling. The name comes from the Italian word for orange – arancia, because of how much they resemble in color and texture. Many places offer toppings like carne (bolognese sauce) or burro (bechamel sauce with ham and cheese)
A favourite among locals is Panino con le Panelle and it is a suitable option for vegetarians. It is a flat fried cake made out of ceci (chickpeas) flour and served in a soft bun, frequently topped with a splash of fresh lemon juice. Panelle is an ideal finger food if you need a quick bite or after a night out on the town.
Sfincione is a thick breadlike dish, often considered as one of the first versions of the original Sicilian pizza. Traditionally toppings for sfincione are tomatoes and onions prepped in olive oil, but in many places you will find additional toppings like anchovies or grated caciocavallo cheese.
Besides these, there are some foods that are not for everyone’s taste but are specialties in Palermo. Palermitans consider Pane con la Milz a real treat and they call it pani ca meusa. It is a fried beef spleen sandwich with lemon and, if prefered, some grated caciocavallo cheese.
An even more controversial food would be stigghiola. At first when described it doesn’t sound that appetizing but it is actually much tastier than expected. The main ingredients for this snack are sheep or goat intestines, often braided with scallion, and grilled on an open fire.
Palermo also offers something for all the sweet tooths out there, like some traditional Sicilian gelato. Gelato has a longstanding tradition In Palermo, arriving on the island of Sicily in the sixteenth century. Sicilian gelato is usually very creamy and comes in various flavors. Even though it might sound a bit unusual, an interesting way to eat gelato in Palermo is served on sweet bread, also called brioche con gelato.
Cannoli is probably one of the best known Sicilian pastries. It is made out of a thin tubular-shaped crust filled with a sweetened cream cheese filling, traditionally made from fresh sheep ricotta. Most venues offer numerous toppings to add an extra kick to an already delicious treat.
Last but not least, we have the previously mentioned frutta di martorana. They are traditional Palermitan sweets made out of marzipan and shaped in the form of various vegetables and fruits. Only the most skilled artists can make the best and most realistic looking frutta di martorana.
Where to eat
The first place to go searching for amazing food are the street markets of Palermo. The markets offer a wide range of fast food stands filled with traditional snacks as well as the more typical fast food dishes. Pasticceria Massaro and Bar Touring offer the best arrancine, as well as frutta martorana and cannoli, while Francu & Vastiddaru and Ninu U Ballerinu are the best places for some panino con le panelle or pane con la milza. For the best pizza you have ever tasted, you should definitely visit Pizzeria Frida and Biga Genio e Farina. They are some of the best restaurants in Palermo along with Sikulo – Umori & Sapori and Taverna dei Canti.
Wine and Vineyards
The Sicilian region produces over eight million hectoliters of wine every year and has more vineyards than any other part of Italy. You can find their local wines in almost every restaurant and bar in Palermo, but true wine lovers won’t mind a short trip to the outskirts of Palermo (or even further) for a real wine experience. Some of the wine regions around Palermo, like Camporeale, Santa Cristina Gela, Corleone, Enna and Trapani, offer you the opportunity to experience first-hand the process of wine-making and an exclusive taste of their best wines. Baglio di Pianetto, Alessandro di Camporeale, Tenuta Rapitala Winery, Principe di Corleone and Duca di Salaparuta are few of the wineries known to provide an amazing wine tasting tour and some even give you the option to have lunch there.
Palermo is a town that offers something for everyone’s taste when it comes to nightlife. The nightlife scene peaks in the summer because of the higher touristic demand. During the summer months, the night scene spreads to the nearby beaches where various bars, restaurants and clubs offer drinks and food in the cool evening breeze coming from the sea.
In Palermo the evening starts with an aperitivo, usually accompanied with some appetizers. There are various places that offer this included in the price of the drinks while others charge you a small extra fee for it. The nightlife scene varies in different parts of the town. In the Old Town the night can get really rowdy, especially if you plan on going out to the previously mentioned Vucciria Mercato where no rules apply and no laws exist. Visit the pubs and clubs around Piazza Sant’anna and Piazza Rivoluzione for some reasonably priced drinks and loud crowds, while Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via dei Chiavettieri offer some amazing cocktails and live music. On the other side, you also have Politeama which is much posher and polished, and where the prices are a bit higher and the crowd is more mature.
Either way, you will quickly notice that most people enjoy taking their drinks outside and mingle into the crowds.
Here are some of the recommended places to visit on a night out when in Palermo:
- Vucciria Market with Taverna Azzurra famous for its Sangue wine as well as the crumbling Piazza Garraffello filled with cheap drinks, sketchy food joints, music until 6 am and the complete absence of any rules.
- Bars like Cantavespri and Vinoverso offer live music during aperitif time and turn into clubs around 11 pm.
- Country Disco Club is located on the outskirts of Palermo and is one of the more popular clubs, with entertainment provided on two floors.
- I Candelai is a historic institution located in the heart of the Old Town, for decades it is a space to discover new artists and have a fun time
- Qvivi Bar is perfect for enjoying some rock, jazz or blues with drinks and appetizers
- Alchimia is an Arabic bar offering some delicious cocktails and shisha pipes
Shopping in Palermo
Besides the previously mentioned markets, shopping streets fill the city of Palermo. So hit up Via Maqueda if you are looking for some souvenirs to remember your trip by. From there continue onto Via Ruggero Settimo and Via Della Liberta where you will find almost every store imaginable from high-end luxury brands like Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci and Prada, to street-style fashion stores.
If the weather isn’t on your side or if you just prefer to do your shopping all in one place, you can visit one of the two shopping malls Palermo has to offer. The first one is located right in the center of the town on Via Roma and is called La Rinascente. Rinascente is a high-end fashion department store, found all over Italy. The second one is located a bit further, on the southern outskirts of the town. Forum Palermo has 126 shops, various food and drinks amenities, a hypermarket and a cinema.
Palermo offers a variety of accommodations to choose from. We recommend that you stay closer to the town centre if you aren’t renting a car.
Good to know when travelling to Palermo:
- The currency used in Palermo is euro. When there, it is always best to keep some cash on you as not all places accept credit cards, especially when visiting markets, smaller shops and cafe bars.
- Even though Sicily is considered the birthplace of the mafia, tourists don’t have to worry about that. In fact, of the twelve largest cities in Italy, Palermo has the lowest overall crime rate. The only thing you have to worry about are the occasional skilled pickpockets in busy crowds.
- It is recommended, if possible, that you rent a car during your stay in Palermo. The taxi’s are usually pretty pricey and Italy has baned Uber from Palermo, as well as other parts of the country.
- When going out for a night on the town it is always good to dress well as the Sicilians, in general, are big fashion lovers and will quickly judge you on account of what you wear.
- Country dialing code: +39
- Emergency: 112
- Ambulance: 118
- Fire Brigade: 115
- Police: 113
- 24/7 pharmacy: Farmacia Ausonia di Massimo Mantione – 091 527 858