Palermo, “capital” of Sicily, stands on the plain of the Conca d'Oro (Golden Basin) and is capital of the province and the seat of the Regional Autonomous Government.
It is the largest city on the island so much in economic terms, as in population (about 700,000 inhabitants). The influence of city is partly linked to its port, place of considerable importance so much as to give the origin of the name Palermo (the Greek word panormos means "all port").
City of a thousand faces, Palermo represents the soul of Sicily with all its contradictions, but also with the myriad of enchanting beauty, ancient traditions, unique landscapes, unforgettable flavours, scents and colours.
Useful information for your stay in Palermo
How to reach Palermo
Aeroporto Internazionale Falcone Borsellino (Falcone Borsellino International Airport) – Punta Raisi – about 20 km from Palermo.
Connected by bus and by train with the Trinacria Express: consult the timetables through This Link
Trapani: the A29 motorway connects Palermo to Trapani and Mazzara del Vallo
Catania and Messina: A19 motorway connects Palermo to Catania and Messina
Agrigento: take the A29 motorway and exit at Villabate.
The port of Palermo, connects the city with the main Italian regions through the routes to the ports of Civitavecchia, Genoa, Naples, Salerno, Cagliari and Livorno.
Routes available from the port of Palermo to the Aeolian Islands, Ustica, Milazzo and Cefalù.
As for foreign countries, there is a connection with the port of Tunis.
How to get around in Palermo
Due to the heavy traffic and the presence of a ZTL (restricted traffic area) in the historical centre, it is recommended to move around walking in this area of the city, otherwise, there are several transport solutions for getting around Palermo.
Buses and tramcars
Urban transport is operated by the city’s AMAT urban transport company.
A shuttle service is available for exploring the historical centre. The shuttles run from 7:00 in the morning to 3:00 at night.
The ticket price is €.0.52 and is valid for the whole day.
Historic town shuttles circulate on three lines:
Yellow Line: Stazione Centrale (Central Station) - Maqueda
Red Line – Piazza Crispi - Central Station
Green Line: Porta Felice – Independenza (Independence Square).
The cost of the other city buses is €.1.30 and the ticket is valid for 90 minutes after validation. Day ticket: €.3.50 - valid all day from validation.
Line 1: Forum shopping mall – Central Station
Lines 2 and 3: San Giovanni Apostolo (St. John Apostle district) – Norbartolo Station
Open-bus City Sightseeing service: bus terminal near the Politeama Theatre in via Emerico Amari 142.
Tel. +39 091 61.25.795 - Visit the website
Lines A + B: Adults €.20.00 – Reduced €.10.00
A Line that continues to Monreale: Adults €.10.00 - Reduced price €.5.00
A Line that continues to Monreale + B Line: Adults €.25.00 - Reduced price €.10.00
(Reduced price for children aged 5 to 15 years of age)
Palermo: what to see
Palermo's Churches and Monuments
Immense, ancient, bustling, cosmopolitan, multi-coloured ... Palermo has a lot to offer. It takes time to fully grasp its true essence, but if you have a few days to visit Palermo, below is an overview of the major tourist attractions of the city.
A visit to the Cathedral of Palermo is inevitable. It is a majestic synthesis of the different artistic cultures that have influenced the territory. Along the main road of the old town, via Vittorio Emanuele, also called the Cassaro, you can reach other symbolic monuments of Palermo: from the Cathedral, walking up the street in the direction of Porta Nuova (1583, pre-Baroque style), you can reach the Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans or Royal Palace of Palermo), with its beautiful Cappella Palatina (Palatine Chapel) and San Giovanni degli Eremiti (St. John of the Hermits), with its marvellous red domes, symbol of Palermo.
Also from the Cathedral, walking down via Vittorio Emanuele in the direction of the sea, at the intersection with via Maqueda, you will encounter piazza Vigliena (Vigliena Square), also known as the Octagon of the Sun, with its Quattro Canti (Four Corners) which are four decorative features that surround the square giving life to an amazing Baroque scene. Piazza Pretoria is in Baroque style as well with its monumental fountain, appearing to your eyes surprisingly just a few meters from Vigliena Square.
Among the most important museums of Palermo, you can see:
Regional Archaeological Museum A. Salinas (in via Bara all'Olivella), which contains one of the most comprehensive collections of Punic and Greek art of Italy.
The Archaeological Museum is open from Tuesday to Friday, from 9:30 to 13:30 and from 14:30 to 17:30. On Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, it is open from 9:30 to 13:30. Monday closed.
The Modern Art Gallery (via Sant'Anna) and the displaying over two hundred works, which fall in the path of Italian Visual Arts ranging between the 19th and 20th century Italian illustrating the modernist side of Palermo.
The Modern Art Gallery is open from Tuesday through Sunday, from 9:30 to 18:30 (ticket office closes at 17:30).
Full ticket price: €.7.00 - reduced price: €.5.00 (for groups of at least 15 people, young people between 19 and 25 years of age, over 65, students)
Regional Gallery of Sicily in Palazzo Abatellis (via Alloro) located in the Kalsa district. It preserves numerous collections illustrating the history and decorative arts in Sicily, from prehistory to the 19th century.
The Regional Gallery is open from Tuesday to Friday, from 9:00 to 19:00 (ticket office closes at 18:30) and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 to 13:30 (ticket office closes at 13:00).
The Catacombs of the Capuchins, located in the Cuba district, is also a fascinating attraction, where over than 8000 mummified bodies from the 16th to the 20th century are displayed, including the famous corpse of Rosalia Lombardo. This underground cemetery and its convent was an obligatory stop on the Grand Tour.
The Catacombs are open every day, including holidays, from 9:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00.
Ticket price is €.3.00.
To fully enjoy the city, you cannot miss stopping by the two beating hearts of the cultural and artistic life of Palermo: Teatro Massimo and Teatro Politeama (theatres). Prestigious art venues but also extremely valuable architectural monuments, the Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele is the largest Opera Theatre in Italy and one of the greatest examples of eclectic European architecture, and the Politeama Theatre is one of the emblems of the nineteenth-century polychrome architecture.
Other significant points of Palermo’s soul are the ancient markets of Palermo historic centre that offer a riot of colours, sounds and tastes. Among the most characteristic is the Vucciria market, to see preferably in the evening, the famous Ballarò and Mercato del Capo (Capo market).
Palermo is also rich in green spaces. While visiting the city, it is surely well worth stopping at Villa Giulia, where you can admire the Fontana del Genio (Fountain of the Genius) with its several sculptures, or stroll through the Giardino Inglese (English Garden) or to the Giardino Garibaldi (Garibaldi Garden), where you can admire the oldest tree in Europe, a ficus of 10,000 cubic meters. The enchanting Botanical Garden of the University of Palermo is a must as well because it represents an internationally renown natural open-air museum.
Beaches and surrounding locations
For a day at the seaside near to the city centre of Palermo, you can go to the little Arenella beach.
Just a half-hour drive from Palermo, we find Mondello; this seaside town of historical and cultural interest is popular for its fine white beaches and for the old bathhouse dating from the early twentieth century. The Riserva Naturale orientata di Capo Gallo (natural reserve), just minutes from Mondello, is another place to visit for both its beaches and the sea as well as for the beauty of the landscapes.
Another fascinating seaside resort near the Capo Gallo Natural Reserve is Sferracavallo where you can eat good fish and relax on the beach of Barcarello.
The province of Palermo is rich in interesting and beautiful places to visit in terms of both nature and landscape as well as culture. A part the sites mentioned above, we have Monte Pellegrino with the Grotte dell’Addaura (Addaura Caves), Monreale, Solunto, Piana degli Albanesi, where the tasty Sicilian cannolo is said to be born and the Valle dello Jato (Jato Valley), Carini, with its charming Castle, Cefalù and the Parco delle Madonie (Madonie Regional Park).
Are you looking for a tourist route through the province of Palermo? Click Here!
Food and Wine
Palermo’s cuisine, largely of folk origin, appears like a flavourful fusion of variegated ancient tastes and culinary traditions. Among the many temptations that are offered to the palate, you absolutely can’t miss out on the most typical dishes and desserts such as the famous Sicilian cassata, born in the old Arab quarter of the Kalsa, combining the traditional Saracen flavours including cinnamon and vanilla with the Sicilian ricotta and Spanish sponge cake. Another typically Palermo-style sweet is Martorana fruits made from marzipan paste.
Another popular tradition is also the sarde alla beccafico (garden warbler sardines), the sfincione (Sicilian pizza), cotoletta alla palermitana (cutlet), pasta chî sardi (pasta with sardines), pasta alla Norma, pasta con l'anciova (pasta with anchovies) and timballo di anelletti (timbale of ring pasta).
You can't talk about food in Palermo without naming the myriad delights of Palermo street food. Among them: the "frittula", leftover meat fried in lard, the stigghiole, the «pani câ mèusa» (sandwich with "spleen"), the panelle and crocchè, i.e. chickpea flour and potato bread cakes, the pastelle (fried batters) also based on chickpea flour and the famous arancine (stuffed rice balls).
Drinks, wines and cellars
L’Acqua e Zammù (anise) of Arab origin, is definitely the most typical drink of Palermo.
Among the best wines there is Chara, produced by the Disisa Manor wine factory, white wine ranking among the Five Stars Wine of 2015. Other excellent wines are the Alcamo DOP (PDO), the Monreale DOP (PDO), Fontanarossa di Cerda IGP (PGI) and the Contessa Entellina DOP (PDO).