What to do in Palermo?
Updated: May 31, 2022
You probably all know Palermo! You know in Casa de Papel! Seriously, this postcard Italian city doesn't need Casa de Papel to make it more popular! Palermo and its whole region (Sicily) were long coveted by his entourage! And in particular by the Aghlabids, then ruled by the emirate dynasty of the Kalbids, and also by the Normans who thus left an important trace giving its unique character to the beautiful region.
The name Palermo comes from the Greek Πάνορμος means "good for any anchorage", even the name says that you have to come there! So, pack your bags and get your plane tickets to Sicily!
Discover with us:
What not to miss?
This royal palace has had many owners over the years! (Punic, Roman, Arab emirs, Norman...) Visiting the palace you will find traces of all the different cultures that have added their personal touch. In the museum within the palace, you will find temporary exhibitions, you can visit the royal flats, the palatine chapel...
Cathedral of Palermo
Still, in an Arab-Norman style like the palace, the cathedral was built on the site of an old Roman Empire Basilica, which had been transformed into a mosque, before becoming the cathedral you can visit. Many rulers have been crowned in this cathedral, which makes it all the more important.
If you go to Palermo, you can't miss the Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele! It is simply the second largest opera house in Italy and one of the largest in Europe! And yes, that's right! You will be impressed by its architecture and decoration, discover the secrets of this building with a guided tour. Or make a killing by taking a concert ticket and see the interior in passing.
Visit their website to discover the current shows https://www.teatromassimo.it/eng/.
What else to visit?
Pretoria Square and Fountain
Also known as Piazza Vergogna, this square is considered the most beautiful in Palermo. As you walk through the historic center of the city, you must pass through this magnificent square with its fountain standing majestically in the middle.
Zingaro Nature Reserve
Walk through 1,700 hectares of breathtaking flora and fauna. You have a wonderful hike to go on with a breathtaking view of the sea!
Our little tip is not to forget your cap and plenty of water!
Stretching for 2km, it is the main seaside resort of Palermo. Enjoy the warm water and fine sand for a relaxing afternoon on the beach.
Beware, in high season it is very difficult to park there, so avoid going too late!
Mercato of Ballaro
What better way to do your holiday shopping than to go to a lively local market! Taste fresh, local produce in a family atmosphere.
How to travel there?
To get to Palermo you have several choices:
You can fly to Palermo Falcone-Borsellino International Airport, with flights from the rest of Italy, but also from abroad.
You can go by boat from other ports in Italy, but also from the port of Tunis.
If you are already in Sicily, you can also take the train or the bus.
As for the cost of living there as a tourist:
For accommodation, you can find youth hostels for less than 20€ a night, but if you are looking for a decent hotel for not too much money, you can easily find some around 30€.
Walking down the street, you can find a lot of snacks for less than 2€, but if you want a real meal at a reasonable price, you can find restaurants between 10 and 20€.
As for transport, if you want the price of an individual ticket at a kiosk is 1.3€ and 1.7€ on the bus.
A little advice: if you are several people and you intend to use the transport several times, take the 20-ticket pack for 19€, which makes the ticket 0.95€.
When to travel there?
To go to Palermo, we advise you to go from May as the warm and sunny days finally arrive without being as random as in April, until the end of September, as the rainy season starts afterward. But of course, July and August are the busiest months as these are school holidays, so if you have a flexible schedule or can take your holiday whenever you want, try May/June/September instead.
What to be aware of?
Although the city of Palermo is not more dangerous than Paris, or Rome, the major risks are like in any other big city so pickpockets, cell phone theft, scams... So as a tourist you should avoid those areas that have the reputation of being dangerous due to poverty, or being run by the mafia:
Zona Espansione Nord (in the north of the city)
The Brancaccio neighborhood (not far from the historic center)
Villagrazia Falsomiele (in the south of the city)
Ballaro (in the city center, but during the day you can walk around, it's more in the evening that it becomes less frequented)
Where to eat?
During your stay in Palermo, we advise you to try the typical food of the region!
So, we advise you to go to the restaurant Trattoria Pirandello, which is specialized in Sicilian cuisine, and being exiled from the tourist spots, it is reasonably priced.
If you have a budget for a good restaurant, we recommend Ottava Nota, which also specializes in Sicilian cuisine, but is also on the list of Michelin-starred restaurants!
Finally, we recommend that during your stroll through the city you stop at Ke Palle to taste the arancini, a specialty of the region, which this street food makes to perfection!
Discover more about the typical food that you can eat there by reading our article about the typical food in Sicily!
Targa Florio (April)
This is one of the most famous car races in Europe, but also one of the oldest! Both the start and finish of the race take place in Palermo to the cheers of an enthusiastic and supportive crowd!
Festino di Santa Rosalia (July)
From 10 to 15 July, attend the historic procession dedicated to the patron saint of the city of Palermo. During the festivities, you will eat typical local dishes. So, if you are really looking for a local and authentic experience you know which event to attend!
Le Vie Dei Tesori (September & October)
If you are a fan of history and museums, this event is for you! You can visit the treasures of the city, such as noble palaces, monasteries... through a digital system.
We hope this guide to Palermo has inspired you to book your holiday on the beautiful Italian island! Don't hesitate to read our other articles, such as what to visit in Catania, another city in Sicily, visiting Cagliari on another Italian island, or visiting Cinque Terre. For more content, follow us on Instagram @thewalkingparrot to be alerted when our next articles are released!