Palermo, Sicily, Italy – What Should You Know If You’re Planning a Visit?
Palermo is the capital of the Province of Palermo and of Sicily, an autonomous region in Insular Italy. While there are not many people that are interested in a visit when compared with other more popular cities in the country, we should also consider Palermo because of its very rich culture, gastronomy, architecture and history. We are talking about a very old city that is a lot more attractive than what you might think right now.
Below we are going to talk about the most important things that you should know as a tourist in Palermo. That will help you to plan a perfect vacation and have a lot of fun.
The Most Popular Hotels in Palermo
Planning a vacation is all about how you will feel there. Because of this, it is quite obvious that we want to know some facts about accommodations. Hotels are usually chosen by tourists and the top 3 hotels in Palermo according to tourist popularity are the following:
1. Massimo Plaza Hotel
Located on Via Maqueda 437, Massimo Plaza Hotel is a popular choice among couples, families and businessmen. That is mainly because of the quality of services offered and the location, which is really close to various tratorias, restaurants, major attractions, bars and hostarias. You will even love the shopping experience in the area and availability since many rooms can be booked. According to different tourists that stayed in Massimo Plaza, the staff is really courteous and will offer tips and advice in the event that you do not know much about what you should be visiting.
2. Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
Located on Via dei Cartari, 18, this is a 4 stars hotel that is highly elegant and has a rich history. The building is located right in the middle of Palermo’s ancient area and dates back from the sixteenth century. Rooms are really comfortable and all the amenities you want are included from Wi-Fi to air conditioning. The only problem is that the rooms are a little more expensive. This is a perfect choice for couples and businessmen.
3. Hotel Giardino Inglese
Located on Viale della Liberta, 63, the hotel is quite popular among couples because of the affordable prices. Basically all reviews are close to the maximum and most people speak highly of the staff and the accommodations. Just as the other two hotels mentioned, the location is quite close to the center of the city so you will be able to visit the best sights.
What Should You See In Palermo?
Palermo has a really colorful past and it is reflected in the churches you will see. Most tourists praise them and you will also do the same since various architectural styles are visible from Baroque to converted mosques. The great thing about them is that they are usually free to visit or will ask you to make a small donation. Out of the most popular we can mention:
- Cathedral Of Palermo – known for the many styles present thanks to renovations done every one hundred years since it was initially built in the 1100s.
- Palatine Chapel – linked with Palazzo Reale, built around the same time as the Cathedral Of Palermo but intended for royalty.
- San Cataldo – popular in Europe because of an unique pink dome top with a spectacular courtyard filled with mermaids, satyrs and pagan nymphs.
- Santa Maria dello Spasimo – locally referred to as “Church That Isn’t There”. Although in ruins, it is still popular as it had its interior painted by Raphael and is nowadays used for concerts.
In Italy, Piazza culture is basically all about being seen and seeing. That includes local squares, which are almost always filled with locals and tourists. 2 main squares should be visited in Palermo:
- Verdi Palermo
Located in a highly historical region, it was named after Verdi, the well known Italian classic music composer. The busy zone is the square’s north side, featuring different nightclubs and pizzerias.
Piazza Castelnuovo is connected with Piazza Ruggero Settimo. The locals will refer to this square as Politeama and it is a really common meeting place in the city. The main area is pedestrian and you can walk a lot. Make sure that you also visit Teatro Politeamo if you are in the region.
Mt. Etna is a truly astonishing place that is quite close to Palermo. There are various different natural attractions you will love and even if it is dangerous to visit the volcano, the popularity of the area is still as high as it was in the past. Mt Etna last erupted in the year 1928 but it now routinely leaks lava.
This is a truly majestic tourist attraction and you need to consider it if you plan to travel to Palermo, Sicily. Pellegrino is currently one of the most popular one day trip destinations in the country since it is easily accessible and offers quite a lot to the nature lover. Even locals will go to the resort to relax. Make sure that you arrange a guided tour since there are also many local legends connected to Monte Pellegrino. You will find them to be quite entertaining.
This is the city’s dominant performance hall and opera house. Its construction finished in 1897 and was refurbished in 1997. What is interesting is that this is the building that was used in Godfather: Part 3. It will be really popular among Americans. Tours are just 5 euro and you can even buy opera or ballet tickets in the event that you would like to catch a show. Tickets range from 10 to 100 euro and you will definitely appreciate the fact that Teatro Massimo has the largest stage for theater in the country.
Catacombs of the Capuchins
Locally referred to as Catacombe dei Cappuccini, this location is one that you do want to visit as it features literally thousands of mummies. Out of the various tourist attractions, this one is one that is always labeled as a must see.
On the surface, these catacombs do not look special but their history is truly unique. Between 1533 and 1920, thousands of people were mummified with a technique that keeps them virtually unaltered. Locals of absolutely all types are currently displayed. Make sure that you allow yourself enough time to visit since it will take a while to enjoy everything that is offered.
What Can You Do In Palermo?
This will surely interest you, especially if you are young and you bore easily. The good news is that Palermo offers quite a lot of diversity. Here is something that you can enjoy:
The city’s nightlife is definitely a rich one. Tourists can enjoy culture during the Ballet and Opera seasons, dancing during really warm summer months in Candelai or Tonnara Florio, drinking in one of the many different restaurants like Au Domino or The American Bar and even socializing with the locals in one of the numerous bars present in Palermo. The city is safe so you should not worry. Just ask hotel accommodation staff for advice.
While the city is vibrant and offers a lot of attractions, the beaches cannot be neglected. It would be a shame not to visit at least one since Palermo’s coastline is lined with different small beaches featuring green and blue water. You can even enjoy snorkeling or other water sports. Make sure that you consider the following beaches:
- Mondello Beach
- Cefalu Beach
- Aspra Beach
- Isola Delle Femmine Beach
- Arenella Beach
- San Vito Lo Capo Beach
The truth is that we cannot pick restaurants for you because there are so many that you might want to consider. Italian food culture stands out as being famous around the world. Palermo definitely showcases why and perfectly complements the strong dining and café culture of the area.
What is interesting is that Palermo dishes are highly influenced by Arab rule, which lasted for hundreds of years. In addition, the sailing culture is strong and also brought in influences. You can easily expect to enjoy many rich aromas and spices that you never actually heard of before.
Make sure to experience all that you can from local pizza to the really complex dishes that are available in high end restaurants. There is a reason why Palermo’s cuisine is a high point of interest for tourists and it would be a total shame not to experience what thousands of people loved so far.
You will be pleased by Palermo’s outdoor markets. They are perfect for a bargain hunter since you can put your hands on some wonderful items. You can easily connect to the local’s real lifestyle. The markets run the whole week and you should visit:
- La Vucciria
- Mercato di Capo
- Borgo Vecchio
How To Get To Palermo
Most tourists will visit Palermo through a travel agency. In this case, make sure that you get all the indications that you need. The agency will take care of transportation for you but you need to always be there at the right times.
In the event that you do not want to get to Palermo through a travel agency, you can do so:
- By Plane
Palermo has an airport with a really long history and there is nothing to worry about flying directly to the city since most routes are perfectly covered. You will most likely arrive at Palermo International Airport, which is located 22 miles away from the city.
- By Train
This is a lot more popular than in other countries since travelling by train is really easy in Italy. The two popular long distance routes that you might want to consider and that link you to the mainland come from Naples and Rome. The only problem is that during the high season, tickets are sold pretty fast. In this case, you want to book in advance.
- By Boat
This is not usually considered but you might want to since you can also explore the offshore attractions that Palermo has to offer. If you consider this, make sure that you see as much as you can of Sicily. You can rent boats or go on cruises. Your call.
- By Car
Not many choose car rentals but if you want to, there is definitely no problem in getting a very good vehicle with which to explore the area. Just make sure that you reserve your car in advance since not many vehicles are available.
Plan Your Palermo Vacation In Advance
If there is just one thing that you would remember from this article, this is it. Try to plan your entire vacation in advance. Read all that you can from blogs like The Trip Blogger and similar to gain advice about what you can do. Also, consider travel agencies but only talk to those that have many different offers available for Palermo. We say this because the city has a lot to offer, as you surely noticed. It is hard to cover everything so you want to be sure that you can choose according to your personal wishes.
It is also a good idea to include Palermo on a larger trip around the country. There are various one week travel packages that cover some of Italy’s best attractions. This includes Rome and as you read above, getting to Palermo afterwards is easy by train.
Let Us Know About Your Palermo Experience!
Did you visit Palermo? Did you love something there? Maybe there is something that you did not like. No matter the case, share your thoughts in the comments so that you can give some informed advice to others. For instance, you might tell us of an attraction that you enjoyed a lot or write about a restaurant that served great dishes. We would love to hear from you and we are sure that the entire community would too.