1 day in Palermo Italy

How to Spend One Incredible Day in Palermo

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Overview

  

When

The best time to visit Palermo (and Sicily) is between May and June or September and October. The late spring and early fall months offer balmy temperatures in the mid 70s, ideal for city visits, as well as being the best time to score bargain flights and hotel deals. 

If you plan on visiting Palermo in July or August, you’ll find lots of crowds and queues for the top Palermo attractions, higher prices and the hottest temperatures of the year, which can be unpleasant in the city. 

Winter sees temperatures in the low 60s, but you’ll find greatly reduced hotel rates and a lot fewer people, although flip-flops and shorts are firmly off the packing list.

Travel

Sicily has two main airports – Palermo and Catania. The latter is a great option if you plan on a Sicilian road trip with Palermo as a delightful stop on route, and is the largest airport on the island. 

Falcone Borsellino Airport, or simply Palermo airport, is based 35km from Palermo and has excellent European and international routes.

You have several options to get into Palermo city center from the airport;

  • Transfer – the quickest and most convenient option, you can book in advance with Intui Travel.
  • Taxi – grab a cab, which will cost you around €50 and take around 20 minutes.  Taxi fares in Palermo are expensive – agree the fare before getting in the cab, not on the way, as Sicilian taxi drivers are known to overcharge if they can.
  • Bus – The Prestia e Comande operates a service every 30 minutes between the airport and downtown Palermo, with several stops close to our recommended hotels. Tickets cost €6 for the 50 minute journey.
  • Train – Trenitalia operate the Trinacria Express from Punta Raisi (the name of the station at the airport) and the main railway station twice an hour. Tickets cost €5.90 for the 60 minute journey. 

Stay

Just 500m from Palermo Cathedral in the Monte di Pietà district at the heart of the old town is Casa Nostra Boutique Hotel. Housed in the historic Palazzo Bulè, which was renovated in 2019, the decor is stylish yet local, and evokes a sense of rural Sicily. With a jacuzzi, outdoor pool and charming terrace, this is the perfect spot to lay your head after a day spent exploring Palermo.

Palazzo Natoli Boutique Hotel is in the historically rich Albergaria district of the old town. Intimate and elegant with luxurious rooms and an excellent home-made Sicilian breakfast, this is great place to stay for your Palermo one day trip.

See & Do

 But if you don’t have a month and want to visit Palermo in one day, a mere 24 hours in the city will do to get a good taste.

Morning

Wander Quattro Canti

    
Top Tip
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Literally on the corner of Quatti Canti and Via Vittorio Emanuele is the beautifully frescoed Sicilian Baroque Catholic Church of Saint Joseph of the Theatine Fathers or Chiesa di San Giuseppe dei Padri Teatini. We preferred it to the cathedral (and it’s free to enter).

Quattro Canti - one of the best places to visit in Palermo
Quattro Canti | Photo by WS Furlan for Getty Images

See Fontana Pretoria

   In the 18th century, o

Step Inside Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio

 

the Arab and North African influence  

Top Tip
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La Mortorama - Palermo best places to visit
The painted ceilings of La Martorana | Photo by Francesco Cantone for Getty Images

Church of San Cataldo

Also on the stunning square of Piazza Bellini is the Arabian-Norma church of San Cataldo which was constructed in 1154 but not fully completed. Today, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can walk through its atmospheric halls and chapels.

Join the Locals at a Public Market

Mercato del Capo and Mercato Vucciria are also well known markets in the city, but will take longer to walk to than Mercato Ballaro, which is an easy stop between churches!

San Giovanni degli Eremiti

 

Afternoon

Palace of the Normans and Cappella Palatina

  

  

What to do in Palermo? Visit the Norman Palace
Palazzo dei Normanni | Photo by Leonid Andronov

Cathedral of Palermo

    

Top Tip
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To enter the cathedral, you will need to cover your shoulders and legs above the knee. Make sure you carry a light scarf for your shoulders and don’t wear short shorts or hot pants if you want to enter. You should follow this rule for all the churches in Palermo (and Italy for that matter!) 

Teatro Massimo

   kiosks outside.

Top Tip
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A few minutes walk from the theatre is the Regional Archaeological Museum Antonio Salinas, which houses a large collection of Ancient Greek art and artefacts from Sicilian history and is well worth a visit if you have time to squeeze it in.

Taking photos - one of the best free things to do in Palermo Sicily
A typical Palermo view | Photo by The Gap Decaders

Evening

End the Day a Local Wine Bar

Explore the Street Food Scene

   

  

Eat

Antico Caffe Spinnato

     

Top Tip
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For self-service, order from the cashier and pay, and then give your ticket to the guys behind the counter.

Trattoria Ai Normanni

   

Ke Palle

The lively Via Maqueda is perfect for an evening passagiato and little tacky souvenir shopping (“yes” to postcards shaped like Sicily!). One of the most approachable of Palermo’s street food classics is the arancini. These deep fried balls of rice coated in breadcrumbs and stuffed with a number of fillings so resemble the orange for which they’re named. At Ke Palle, you can try a great variety of flavours, until you’re too full to eat any more!

Arancini at Ke Palle | Photo by Ke Palle

Top Five Palermo Tips

  •  
  • Traffic in Palermo is crazy. If you’re in a hire car, make sure you have parking reserved and a sat nav to get you there. If you’re a pedestrian, be mindful when crossing roads. Sicilian drivers like to stray and seem to appear from any direction, so look both ways!

Do you have just a little longer to spend in Palermo?

If you can stretch to 36 hours in Palermo or have another day to spare, add these must see In Palermo places to your itinerary;

  • The Capuchin Catacombs – a 20 minute walk from the old town will take you to one of the most extraordinary Palermo sights, a burial place where over 8,000 mummified corpses provide a detailed historical record. This has to be one of the most unusual things to do in Palermo.
  •    

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How to visit Palermo in a day
One day in Palermo Italy
What to do and see in Palermo in one day

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