Palermo travel guide

When visiting Sicily, you can't skip the beautiful Palermo. I fell in love with this beautiful city. The dreamy historic center with many unique sights, the heavenly temperatures, the proximity of beaches that remind of a Caribbean paradise, the delicious food, the cozy atmosphere and the friendly people will undoubtedly contribute to your dream vacaiton.
If you're looking for an idyllic holiday destination without too many tourists, where you want to relax but at the same time also see a lot; then Palermo is the ideal holiday destination for you!

palermo beaches

Say for yourself … Isn’t this beach breathtakingly beautiful?

  Average costs in Palermo

Stay – Of course, the cheapest option for a night in Palermo is a youth hostel. For only €13 to €18 per night you can already book a place to sleep in a dormitory. Those who want a little privacy, but don’t need a lot of luxury, can find single rooms for just over €20. A budget double room costs between €35 and €40 per night.
The price of a 3-star hotel can vary greatly. On average you pay at least €40 to €45 here, but of course you can also find more expensive ones in the range of €100+.
Do you want to spend your holiday in pure luxury (and why not in such a beautiful environment?!), then you can sometimes find a four star hotel for only €55! Usually prices start from €75 per night. Five star hotels are scarce and cost between €100 and €200 per night.
Always compare prices with different websites. Booking and Agoda are my favorites.

Eat – The Sicilian kitchen is amazing! And besides, it doesn’t cost you a lot of money either.
I definitely recommend to go to a restaurant in Palermo at least once. You really get great value for your money! A tasty pasta or risotto will not cost you much more than €10. A dish with meat or fish costs a little more, let’s say about €14 to €17, and a delicious dessert costs €5 or less. A glass of wine costs you between €3 and €5. Don’t forget that restaurants also ask for a coperto. A kind of (mandatory) tip between €2 and €3 per person.
If you want to spend less money, that is of course also possible. At many ‘trattoria’ or snack bars, a pasta will cost you less than €5! Fish or meat will cost you about the same or a little more. Sometimes you can even get a bottle of house wine for €5 only, and believe me… It’s still delicious!
Also: definitely try Arancine (a Sicilian specialty: fried balls with rice and other goodies). Such a ball -which fills your stomach instantly- costs €2.5 to €3.

Transport – I’ll immediately make a remark: Palermo’s public transport is known for being slow and not very efficient. But it can still be useful if you’re scared of driving a car in Sicily.
A ticket for the bus costs €1.40. Don’t forget that you can only buy these tickets at the kiosks on the street and not on the bus itself! A ticket for one day costs €3.50, two days costs €5.70, three days €8 and a week €16.80.
Do you thing you can manage to rent a car in Palermo? Then you actually pay very little money. Sometimes you pay barely €30 for a week! I pretty much always use RentCars to find the cheapest prices.

Excursions – You can visit most of Palermo’s attractions by public transport or on foot. But there is a lot to see around the city too! The exceptionally beautiful Agrigento for example. A trip to the Valley of the Temples can be done for €55 pp. Do you want to climb the phenomenal Etna? Then you pay €95 pp. Be sure to visit Monreale and Cefalù as well. A day trip to these beautiful villages costs you €50.
All tours and prices can be found at GetYourGuide and Viator.

teatro massimo palermo

This beautiful theater is located in the center of Palermo. It’s also the third biggest in Europe.

 Saving money in Palermo

Fly to Trapani – Flying to Palermo airport isn’t always the closest. Trapani is the budget airport from Sicily. This city is located is less than an hour away from Palermo, but sometimes flights can be a lot cheaper!

Drink tap water – In southern countries it’s not always recommended to drink tap water, but in Sicily it’s really not a problem. The tap water is purified and therefore perfectly drinkable!

Drink your coffee standing – Everywhere in Italy you can drink delicious coffees, but did you know that it will be much cheaper if you do that standing up? Sip your coffee standing at the bar, and you’ll barely pay one euro in Palermo!

capuchin monastery palermo travel guide

One of the strangest sights in the world must be the Capuchin Monastery of Palermo …

  Things to do in Palermo

Also read this article with photos and more information about the best things to do in Palermo.

Catacombs of Palermo – The most exceptional landmark of Palermo must be the Capuching Catacombs. In these underground cellars, hundreds of dried-out zombies await you impatiently. Dressed in their original clothes, you’ll find monks, virgins, workmen and even children! One of these kids is so well preserved that it looks like she’s just sleeping…

Cathedral of Palermo – The majestic Cathedral of Palermo is a treat for the eye. The exterior of this building is lavishly decorated, and the inside is also very beautiful. But the best thing about the cathedral is that you can also climb it. On the roof you get a beautiful panorama of the city.

Botanical gardens – Palermo has a lot of parks and gardens. These green lungs of the city are rarely mentioned in a travel guide, and I think that is unjustified. The orto botanico di Palermo I would even dare to describe as the most beautiful botanical garden I ever saw! This green domain is gigantic and is filled with trees and plants from all over the world. Prickly trees from Brazil, trees as wide as ten, a collection of thousands of cacti, … Don’t miss the botanical garden! You’ll be amazed by its beauty.

Martorana – One of the most beautiful churches in Palermo is Martorana or Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio. The sand-colored exterior reminded me a bit of a building by the Moors, but it’s mainly the inside which I loved. The ceiling paintings are sublime! The Byzantine mosaics are rimmed and colored with gold and before you know it, your neck will be stiff from all the staring up that you’ve been doing.

Monreale – This city lies just a short distance from Palermo, but is definitely recommended if you like authentic towns. The city itself is very small, but therefore also very cozy. The main attraction of the city is the gigantic cathedral. This church is even more impressive than the Martorana, because almost everywhere you look you see an abundance of gold. The courtyard garden is also beautiful, with its rotating and decorated columns.

Palazzo dei Normanni – The Palazzo dei Normanni is another remnant from the turbulent past of Palermo. In the past, the kings and queens of Sicily waved their scepters and swords from here. Now it’s the headquarters of the Sicilian parliament. During a visit you can see the chapel, but also the rooms of the Italian royal family.
Especially the chapel is impressive. I found the spacious royal rooms a little less impressive.

The surrounding beaches – Unfortunately, there are no beaches near Palermo, but you don’t have to go too far to relax. Mondello is nearby and is absolutely worth the effort to get there. It looks like a Caribbean paradise!
If you have a car, I also recommend visiting San Vito Lo Capo. This place looks like a paradise on earth!
By public transport you can also commute to Cefalù. A beautiful coastal city with a very nice beach.
An overview of the most beautiful beaches of Sicily can be found here.

view palermo cathedral

You get the best view of Palermo from the roof of the cathedral.

  Things to avoid in Palermo

Not checking the opening hours – Many museums or tourist attractions have rather strange opening hours. Sometimes they close for an hour or two during the afternoon. Make sure you’re not waiting in front of closed doors, and check the opening hours in advance.

Not wearing comfortable shoes – The authenticity of Palermo is tangible and visible everywhere. That also means that the streets are made with irregular cobblestones… So I don’t think it’s a good idea to walk through Palermo on heels!

Being afraid – Some people seem afraid to travel to Palermo. That undoubtedly has to do with the Mafia history of this city. However, I didn’t notice anything at all when I was there. In the evening and at night I walked around without problems -on my own- and I never felt unsafe. The Sicilians are incredibly friendly. So you can definitely go to Palermo with a peace of mind.

palermo palazzo dei normanni

If you already like Palazzo dei Normanni from the outside, wait until you see the interior!

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