Top things to see and do in Palermo Sicily: Your Ultimate Travel Guide

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Palermo, Sicily is nicknamed the “Kingdom of the Sun” and is an extraordinary city to explore.

As a convergence of ancient civilizations and cultures at the intersection of Europe and Africa, Palermo Italy showcases its unique heritage through magnificent architecture and exquisite local delicacies.

From pristine beaches to wild landscapes – this destination will captivate your heart in more ways than one! Visit us now for insight on all that’s worth seeing in Palermo: breathtaking shorelines, delectable food choices and delightful Sicilian wines you simply must taste.

Traveling to Palermo Sicily – Things to know before you go

Nestled at the base of Italy’s “boot”, and situated beneath Sicily, is Palermo – a major Italian city renowned for its beauty. Traveling to Palermo couldn’t be simpler as it is excellently connected to other European and international locations.

How to get to Palermo Sicily

You can reach the city of Palermo through different transportation means:

By plane: you can land at Palermo International Airport (PMO) from any international and European departure. It is also possible to land at Trapani Airport for low-cost flights, located 32km west of Palermo.

By ferry: thanks to Palermo’s port that is well-connected with other major Italian cities, you can come to Palermo by ferry from Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples and Cagliara.

By train: it is possible to reach Palermo by train via the train ferry across the strait of Messina, from Rome and Naples.

Where to stay in Palermo

Find the accommodation of your dreams in Palermo city! From luxurious hotels to quiet lodgings, you will find the perfect fit for your trip to Palermo. Here is a selection of top addresses:

Discover more accommodations!

Whether you are planning to stay in Palermo, Sicily, for a couple of day, or a couple of weeks, here is a list of Top things to do in Palermo, so you can make the most of your Sicilian vacation.

1. Visiting Palermo Sicily: Most beautiful Monuments to explore

A melting pot where Greeks and Phoenicians fought during the 5th and 6th century, and was Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman and now Italian – Palermo city is where several ancient civilizations meet and still live.

Palermo Cathedral

Palermo Sicily Cathedral
Palermo Cathedral

Close to Via Vittorio Emanuele stands one of the most beautiful monuments of Palermo. If there is one building to visit in the Sicilian capital, it is the Palermo Cathedral. This Roman Catholic architecture was dedicated to the Assumption of the virgin Mary. Today, you can visit the interior and discover the treasury of the cathedral, an impressive collection of 12th century royal jewelry.

Quattro Canti

Quattro Canti
Quattro Canti

Known as the “Four Corners”, the Quattro Canti building is at the intersection of two large streets of Palermo that lead to the Massimo Theatre. Inspired by the famous Quattro Fontane of Rome, this splendid edifice is one you should see with your own eyes!

Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio Church

Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio interior
Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio interior

Palermo city hides countless churches and religious buildings, all more impressive one from another. As a true heritage of Italian culture, each of these places of worship are home to masterpieces, either painting of sculptures. To name the most magnificent one, you will be astonished by the golden mosaics of the Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio Church – one of Palermo must-see monuments.

Valley of the Temples

Concordia Temple
Concordia Temple

A detour must be planned to discover one of the most peculiar valleys in the world: the Valley of the Temples. A source of inspiration for many artists, poets and philosophers, this UNSECO World Heritage site if famous for its incredibly well-preserved Greek temples. 2h away from Palermo city, you can either drive to the Valley of the Temples or book a day-trip tour. If you are fascinated by the Ancient Greek Era vestiges ant temples, the extra trip is definitely worth it.

2. Spend a day at one of Palermo beaches

Right on the coast of southern Sicily, clear at the bottom on the Italian Boot, you might wonder is Palermo beaches are nice. They are indeed! Both in the center of the city and in the surroundings, you will find paradise beaches with crystal waters breath-taking views. Here is a selection of top beaches you should consider spending an afternoon (or a full day!) at.

Mondello Beach

Mondello Beach
Mondello Beach – Palermo

The most famous Palermo beach, drive for 11km out of the Sicilian capital and get prepared for some serious clear sand, crystal-blue waters and great resorts & beach restaurants. A bus that leaves from Palermo city center can take you there!

Sferracavallo Beaches

Sferracavallo Beaches
Sferracavallo Beaches – Source:

A famous tourist beach, this is your spot if you are looking for night life and liveliness. Close to Mondello beach, you can reach the seaside village of Sferracavallo by shuttle from Palermo, and enjoy the area’s gorgeous exotic verdure and excellent fish restaurants. There is even a protected sea area with some corals, thus the poplar Bai del Corallo beach.

Isola delle Femmine

Isola delle Femmine
Isola delle Femmine – Source:

Easily one of the most beautiful Palermo beaches, you can find this paradise only 500 meters away from Palermo’s coast. A tiny inhabited island surrounded by transparent waters, it’s actually a protected nature reserve where you can observe wonderful birds. If you long for a quiet and wild beach, head first!

If you want to go for the complete Palermo beach adventure, check the complete list:

  • Arenella-Marial Vercine beach
  • Isola delle Femmine
  • Capo Gallo Beach
  • Santa Flavia Beaches
  • Capo Zafferano
  • Altavilla Beaches
  • Cefalu Beaches

3. Palermo Food: Take the time enjoy typical Sicilian specialties

Palermo sicily

A mix of several cuisine influences, Palermo is probably one of Italy’s most diverse cities when it comes to local specialties. There is a variety of choice in all kinds of dishes, from meat, fish, to desserts and delicacies – in Palermo restaurants and Palermo street food. Here is your checklist to taste true Palermo food!

Typical Palermo street food

The Sicilian pizza: Sfincione. A very different concept from the adored Italian pizza, Palermo’s pizza is a fluffy dough garnished with cheese, herbs and sardines. Typical Palermo street food, it’s a perfect snack for a full day of sight-seeing!

Pani Ca Meusa: another Palermo street food must to try. This is a sandwich made out of lamb spleen & lungs, and lots of mozzarella. It’s very different from any kind of Italian panino you have ever tried, but so worth the risk.

Arancini: you didn’t know a rice-based snack could be so cheesy and tasty! That’s the miracle of Arancini. You’ll find this risotto wonder at any bakery and street-food joint in Palermo.

Palermo fish specialties

Pasta con le Sarde: from African influences, this pasta dish combines anchovies, fresh sardines, fennel and twists of pine nuts, raisins and saffron.

Sarde e Beccafico: you probably noticed that sardines are trendy in Palermo. This dish consists in sardines stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, pine nuts and raisins.

Typical Sicilian desserts & delicacies

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Cannoli: who has not tried cannoli before? If you haven’t this is your cue! A world-famous Sicilian dessert, Palermo is the best place to taste one, or several! You’ll be spoiled for choice: pistachio, blood orange,… you don’t have to choose, try the complete cannoli experience and taste one of each!

Cassata: literally born in Palermo, this richly flavored cake is made out of liquor sponge cake and ricotta cheese topping, topped with famous candied fruits.

Frutta Martorana: probably the cutest edible creations you’ll come by during your trip to Palermo, these treats are marzipan-based, beautifully crafted into fruits and vegetable shapes.

Where to eat in Palermo – Top 3 restaurants

  1. Lo Scrigno dei Sapori: typical Sicilian cuisine with fresh produces and a beautiful interior. You’ll find it in Piazza Principe di Camporeale.
  2. Torquemada: a wide range of excellent Italian dishes are on the menu (pizza, pasta, fish…) – you’ll notice its quite crowded! It’s located in Via Pignatelli Aragona.
  3. Al Fondaco del Conte: right in the heart of Palermo, in Piazza Conte Federico, this a smaller and quiter restaurant. A higher quality with original desserts, you’ll spend a great evening there.

4. Taste Sicilian wine

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Sicely vineyards

Have you already tasted Sicilian wine?

If not, your trip to Palermo will offer you this great opportunity! Wineries in Sicily are not the most well-know from Italian wine region of course, especially considering the world fame of Tuscany and Piedmont. In the shade of these delightful Italian wine regions, Sicily still finds its place to shine amongst Italian vineyards to express the complexity of its terroir.

Detour to Alessandro Di Camporeale Winery

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To dig deeper into Sicilian wine and Sicily terroir, pay a visit to the Alessandro family in the village of Camporeale, 40 minutes away from Palermo. Involved in viticulture since early 1900s, they give rise to wines made out of native grape varieties: Nero d’Avola, Catarratto and Grillo.

They are more than happy to welcomes you for a Wine Tastings, a Food & wine Pairing tasting or their Vertical tasting workshop, to tell you more on Sicily vineyards, terroir and wine.

Enjoy your amazing vacation in Palermo Sicily!

Just in case you’re visiting other cities or wineries in Italy during your vacation to Italy, Winalist has you covered.

Palermo, Sicily FAQ’s

Is Palermo Sicily worth visiting?

The capital city of Sicily is much more than just a city! A great beach destination, Palermo dazzles with activities: sight-seeing, museums, incredible local cuisine, surrounding vineyards… Palermo is well-worth visiting, and probably your best destination for a trip to Sicily.

Are there beaches in Palermo?

Palermo is great destination if you are looking for amazing beaches. Just to name a few, you will delight to be in Mondello Beach, Addaura Beach and Sferracavallo Beaches.

What food is Palermo known for?

Palermo is home to many Sicilian specialties:
_ Pasta alla Norma
_ Arancine
_ Busiate al pesto Trapanese
_ Cannoli
_ Orange salad
_ Cassata
_ Granita
_ Frutta Martorona
_ Carne di Cavallo
_ Pani Ca Meusa

How many days do you need in Palermo?

If you want to make the most of your stay in Sicily and not rush it, spend at least 2 nights in Palermo. You have plenty to see and do in the city, and its surroundings are beautiful, including gorgeous beaches. Even one week is not too much!