best things to do in palermo sicily

25 Best Things to do in Palermo, Sicily (Italy)

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If you need help finding the best things to do in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, Italy, I’m here to share some must-see places.

We started our 10-day Sicily itinerary in Palermo and, although you can see the main attractions in Palermo in one day, we spent one night here. The city is a popular stop for Mediterranean cruises, as one day in Palermo gives you plenty of time to see the highlights.

So, our guide will tell you all the fun places to go in Palermo, Sicily, as well as the surrounding areas in case you have more time.

At the end of the article, I’m sharing the best neighborhoods to stay in Palermo, where to eat, and a map of the city’s tourist attractions.

Regardless of how much time you spend in the city, this free tour is perfect for first-time visitors. We enjoyed this two-hour guided tour, as it introduced us to some of the main points of interest in Palermo. If you’re short on time, also consider this hop-on hop-off bus tour to make the most of it.

Now, let’s check out the best things to do in Palermo, Italy, one of the top places to visit in Sicily.

1. See Norman Palace, a great activity to do in Palermo

The Norman Palace, also known as the Royal Palace, is a must-see in Palermo, as it’s one of the most important buildings in the city. It currently serves as the seat of the Sicilian Parliament.

The palace’s façade features a combination of architectural styles, making it one of the best places in Palermo to visit. The right side of the façade has an Arab-Norman-Byzantine style, which reflects the palace’s 12th-century origins. The left side was constructed a few centuries later in the Baroque style, which was popular back then.

Norman Palace, things to do in Palermo sicily

1. See Norman Palace, a great activity to do in Palermo

Be sure to go inside because the interior is even more impressive. You’ll see the Palatine Chapel, which many consider a city gem. What makes this chapel so unique is that Byzantine, Islamic, and Latin architects worked on it, and yet, all the decorative elements come together beautifully. One of the most magnificent parts of the chapel is the mosaics, many of which cover the ceiling.

While you can visit the Norman Palace and the Palatine Chapel on your own, this guided tour will show you the palace and several historical monuments. It’s one of the best Palermo activities for art lovers.

2. Palermo Cathedral, a lovely place to visit in Palermo, Sicily

Palermo Cathedral was built at the end of the 12th century at the request of the Archbishop of Palermo. His goal was to replace the Christian basilica in the city, which previously replaced a Muslim mosque. Ideally, the new cathedral would rival the Cathedral of Monreale, and if you ask me, it definitely does.

Today, the cathedral is one of Palermo’s main attractions, despite its constant architectural makeovers. Over the centuries, the church’s structure and appearance have changed, and you can still see evidence of these renovations if you look closely.

Palermo Cathedral, one of the best places to visit in Palermo sicily

2. Palermo Cathedral, a lovely place to visit in Palermo, Sicily

For example, you can find parts of the original Norman structure, as well as Gothic vestiges, Neoclassical elements, and even Arabic-style ornamentation. Somehow, all these visual motifs come together to create an incredible building, so if you only have one day in Palermo, check it out.

If you go inside, you can also visit the “Treasure of the Cathedral,” a collection of royal and religious objects like sacred ornaments, chalices, vestments, and Constance of Aragon’s gold tiara. It’s one of the most interesting things to do in Palermo, Italy, especially if you’re into history.

3. Catch a show at Massimo Theater, an exciting thing to do in Palermo

The Massimo Theater, or Teatro Massimo, is the largest opera house in Italy and among the largest in Europe. You’ll find it in Piazza Verdi, Palermo’s city center.

This magnificent neoclassical theater was the work of Giovan Battista Filippo Basile, although his son, Ernesto Basile, finished the project after his father’s death. Step inside and enter an elegant atmosphere of lounges, galleries, and the main theater.

Massimo Theater, what to do in Palermo in 24 hours

3. Catch a show at Massimo Theater, an exciting thing to do in Palermo

Visiting this opera house was one of the coolest things to do in Palermo during our trip. We learned that several nearby buildings were demolished to make way for the theater. Among those buildings was the Church of the Stigmata, its convent, and the Church of San Giuliano. Ever since then, there has been an urban legend about one of the nuns from the destroyed convent wandering the halls of the theater.

However, don’t let a ghost story stop you from visiting the opera house. Tickets to the Massimo Theater are quite expensive, so a good alternative might be a guided tour. This is one of the top places to visit in Palermo, so check the theater’s official website for more info about these daily tours.

4. La Vucciria & other ancient open-air markets in Palermo

There are several markets in Palermo that are worth visiting. One of the most popular sights to see in Palermo is La Vucciria market, where you can find all kinds of southern Italian products, most notably, anchovies.

This historic market is one of the best places to go in Palermo, as it’s spread out along different streets and plazas. For example, it passes through via Roma, la Cala, il Cassaro, via Cassari, piazza del Garraffello, via Argenteria Nuova, piazza Caracciolo and via Maccheronai. I suggest starting at Via Roma and making your way through the wonders of this market.

La Vucciria, Palermo in Italy activities to do

4. La Vucciria & other ancient open-air markets, a must-see in Palermo, Sicily

Besides La Vucciria, the open-air market of Il Capo is another must-visit in Palermo. Here, you can browse through stalls of clothes, fabrics, kitchen utensils, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and much more. Il Capo market is on Via Cappuccinelle, close to the Teatro Massimo, but I’m sure you’ll hear the shouts of the vendors before you see them!

I also recommend stopping by the Ballarò market, which stretches along Via Ballarò almost to the central station. It’s one of the oldest food markets in Palermo, so you can’t miss it. That said, whichever market you go to, it’ll be a fun, free thing to do in Palermo while immersing yourself in the local culture.

5. Capuchin Catacombs, a unique place to go in Palermo, Sicily

Visiting the Capuchin Catacombs is one of the most unusual things to do in Palermo, but it’s also cool, as long as you aren’t squeamish.

These catacombs sit under the convent of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, which served as a cemetery in the 16th century. The friars were surprised after discovering, by accident, how well the bodies were preserved and many people began requesting they be buried in the catacombs.

Capuchin Catacombs best things to do in Palermo Italy

5. Capuchin Catacombs, a unique place to go in Palermo, Sicily

Now, there are around 8,000 corpses here, and they’re laid out according to age, sex, and profession. Some of them hang from the walls of the underground corridors, while others rest in or on caskets. This is certainly one of the more bizarre attractions in Palermo, but I thought it was more curious than unpleasant.

If you dare to see what’s going on in the Capuchin Catacombs, I suggest this sightseeing tour. It also includes a visit to the 12th-century cathedral of Monreale, another great Palermo site to visit.

6. Piazza Pretoria, one of the top places to go in Palermo

Piazza Pretoria is another beautiful place to see in Palermo, Sicily. The plaza is best known for its Fontana Pretoria, a monumental fountain built in the 16th century by Francesco Camilliano.

Originally, the fountain was going to adorn the private garden of a Florence mansion, but it was eventually brought to Palermo. The large fountain includes 16 marble statues of nude mythological creatures, such as nymphs, mermaids, satyrs, and the twelve Olympians. The fountain later became a symbol of government corruption, giving the plaza the nickname Piazza della Vergogna (Square of Shame). That said, a tour of Palermo wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Pretoria Fountain.

Piazza Pretoria and Fontana Pretoria, free things to do in Palermo

6. Piazza Pretoria, one of the top places to go in Palermo

Other iconic buildings surround the square, including the Palazzo Pretorio, which dates to the 14th century and now houses Town Hall; the Church of Santa Caterina; and two stately palaces, the Palazzo Bonocore and the Palazzo Bordonaro.

Piazza Pretoria’s charming beauty and historical significance make it a great place to spend a day in Palermo, so I suggest checking it out.

7. Cathedral of Monreale, something you must see in Palermo

The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the most famous cathedrals in Italy and a UNESCO Heritage Site, so visiting it is one of the best things to do in Palermo, Sicily. If you’re going to be in the city for more than one day, I highly recommend seeing this amazing church.

It dates to the 12th century and was founded just a few years before the Cathedral of Palermo. During its construction, Norman and Arabic art were prevalent in this area, resulting in a beautiful cathedral with historical significance. However, what really makes this church famous is the display of Biblical mosaics inside.

Visit Monreale cathedral palermo day trip

7. Cathedral of Monreale, something you must see in Palermo

As I mentioned before, there has always been a rivalry between the Cathedral of Palermo and the Cathedral of Monreale. You can do a tour of Palermo and decide for yourself, but as for me, I can’t say which is more beautiful, as they’re both so impressive!

That said, be aware that the Cathedral of Monreale is on the outskirts of the city. If you don’t have a car, you can find a tour that visits this area of Palermo. I recommend this tour, which includes a visit to the Capuchin Catacombs. However, if you prefer less-scary Palermo activitiesthis tour combines the Cathedral of Monreale with the Cefalù Cathedral.

8. Quattro Canti, the best thing to visit around Palermo

Quattro Canti is one of the most iconic places to visit in Palermo. This square, also known as Piazza Vigliena, sits at the intersection of two main streets, Via Maqueda, and Il Cassaro.

This is a symbolic plaza, as well as a lovely attraction in Palermo. Despite its octagonal layout, the square has four corners, each adorned with a fountain and three statues. The statues at each fountain represent a season of the year, one of the four kings of Spain in Palermo, and one of the four patron saints of the city.

Quattro Canti, must see in palermo sicily italy

8. Quattro Canti (Piazza Vigliena), the best thing to visit around Palermo

For example, the northern corner’s statues represent autumn, King Philip IV, and Saint Oliva di Palermo. The eastern corner’s statues represent winter, King Philip III, and Saint Agatha of Sicily.

As for the fountains, they also hold special significance, as they preserve the memory of the ancient rivers that once flowed through the city. The two most important ones were the Kemonia and Papireto rivers. Today, the fountains and the entire square is an area of bustling activity and is a must-see in Palermo.

9. Martorana & Church of San Cataldo, the best churches in Palermo

La Martorana, also known as the Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Palermo, Italy. It’s in Piazza Bellini and its mix of architectural styles makes it one of the most popular buildings in the city.

The left side of the building is the original Arab-Norman structure, but the Baroque-style architecture was added later to the right side. The combination creates a lovely artistic and historical display, which is why visiting it is one of the best things to do in Palermo. If you go inside, you’ll find some spectacular Byzantine and Arab mosaics.

La Martorana andChiesa di San Cataldo, Palermo at night

9. Martorana & Church of San Cataldo, the best churches in Palermo

Right next to La Martorana is the Chiesa di San Cataldo, which stands out for its three pink domes over the central nave. Although it was built as a place of worship back in the 12th century, the church has had various uses throughout history and wasn’t re-consecrated until the 20th century.

Both La Martorana and the Church of San Cataldo are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so they’re both essential sites to visit in Palermo.

10. Enjoy the street food of Palermo

Palermo is the European capital of street food, so if you aren’t sure what to do in Palermo, you can find plenty of places to grab a bite to eat.

Near the markets I mentioned earlier, Vucciria, il Capo, and Ballarò, you’ll find various street food carts. The city of Palermo has a strong street food culture, so it’s almost required that you try some of the typical dishes here.

My favorite is the arancini, which is a ball of rice coated with bread crumbs and then deep-fried, and filled with cheese or meat. And of course, I love cannoli, the pastry dough stuffed with ricotta! I also recommend panelle (chickpea fritters) and crocché (potato croquettes). Not only are these foods delicious, but they’re also very inexpensive, so you can try them all.

palermo itinerary where to eat

10. Enjoy the street food of Palermo, an amazing thing to do in Palermo in one day

Beyond Palermo’s downtown food stalls, I recommend trying some proper local dishes, such as pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines). However, if sardines aren’t your thing, you can try pasta alla Norma, which has tomato, fried eggplant, grated ricotta, and basil.

You can also try involtini alla palermitana, Palermo-style rolls with spicy salami, raisins, and pine nuts. Or falsomagro, stuffed pork chops with ham and cheese.

It’s not a visit to Italy unless you enjoy all the food, so I recommend this food tour all about Palermo’s gastronomy.

11. Regional Archaeological Museum Antonio Salinas, another place to visit in Palermo

The Regional Archaeological Museum Antonio Salinas has one of the most important collections of ancient art in Italy, so it’s one of the main attractions in Palermo.

The museum has three collections, the Collection of the University Museum, which is the oldest; the Antonio Salinas Collection, which is the largest with more than 6,600 pieces; and the Pietro Bonci Casuccini Collection, which is considered the most important collection of Etruscan art outside of Tuscany.

regional archeological museum santonio salinas places to visit in palermo sicily

11. Regional Archaeological Museum Antonio Salinas, another place to visit in Palermo

The most valuable objects in the museum come from Pompeii and Torre del Greco, although the collection of Sicilian historical and cultural objects is also interesting. The museum also has ancient sarcophagi, Phoenician and Roman objects that were retrieved from the sea, a reproduction of the Temple of Selinunte, and the famous Palermo Stone.

As you can see, this museum is an awesome place to visit, and I recommend adding it to your Palermo itinerary. Or you can keep it in mind if you find yourself in the city on a rainy day.

12. Church of St. John of the Hermits, a stunning place to go in Palermo

Along with the Capuchin Catacombs, the Church of St. John of the Hermits is one of the most internationally known tourist places in Palermo, Sicily.

The church is in the Albergheria neighborhood and is famous for its five red domes, which stand out against the simple facade. The cloister of the church is quite impressive, with a well and a courtyard of trees and shrubs. It was built after the church was established, although the two areas work nicely together.

church of st john of the hermits palermo main attractions

12. Church of St. John of the Hermits, a stunning place to go in Palermo

If you visit this attraction in Palermo, be sure to check out the cloister. From there, you can get a beautiful view of the red domes, as well as the bell tower next to it. There are also some columns in the courtyard that have vegetable motifs on them.

Parts of the church may be in ruins now, but the building still holds great historical value, and it’s even a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it’s an interesting place to visit in Palermo.

13. Mondello Beach, one of the best beaches in Palermo, Sicily

Mondello Beach is just 8 miles from the city center, right at the foot of Mount Pellegrino. It’s a gorgeous beach with white sands and crystal-clear waters, not to mention beautiful views. If you’re visiting during the warmer months, seeing Mondello is one of the top things to do in Palermo, Italy.

Locals and tourists alike go to this beach for its pristine waters and relaxing atmosphere. During the day, you’ll find sunbathers and families enjoying the sunny shores. By night, the terraces on Mondello Pier host patrons for seaside dinner and drinks.

Mondello beach, one of the best beaches in palermo

13. Mondello Beach, one of the best beaches in Palermo, Sicily

Mondello was once a small fishing town, but it has grown into a more sophisticated vacation destination. One of the best things to do here is to hang out in a villa or terrace along the waterfront promenade. It’s a great way to end a fun beach day.

This village isn’t too far from Palermo, but you’ll have to take public transportation if you don’t have a car. The 806 bus leaves from the city center and stops at Mondello. It might be better to take the bus, as parking spots are hard to find at this beach, especially in the summer.

If you only have one day in the city, you can skip this beach, but if you have time and you’re wondering what to do near Palermo, Mondello is a stunning Sicilian beach you won’t regret visiting!

14. Zisa Castle, the best attraction in Palermo, Sicily

Zisa Castle is tucked away in the western part of the city, but it’s a must-see in Palermo. It’s another UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates to the 12th century. The castle was built by Arabian craftsmen for King William I and later became a summer palace for the Norman kings.

In Arabic, the palace is referred to as the “Earthly Paradise,” and once you see it, you’ll understand the splendor of this place. Built in the middle of a manmade lake, the castle is surrounded by a lush garden. The facade reflects its Moorish origins, and Zisa literally translates to “splendid” in Arabic.

la Zisa palace, fun activities to do in Italy palermo

14. Zisa Castle, the best attraction in Palermo, Sicily

Along with the lovely exterior, Zisa Castle also has an Islamic art exhibit in several of its rooms and is open to the public. You should also stop by the ‘Fountain Room’ the main foyer area with wall and ceiling frescos.

If you only have one day in Palermo, I suggest hopping on the Palermo sightseeing bus, which has 14 stops, including Zisa.

15. Church of Saint Mary of Gesu, something you must visit in Palermo

The Church of Saint Mary of Gesu, also known as Casa Professa, is one of the most important Baroque sights to see in Palermo. In fact, it’s a prominent church in all of Sicily.

The Jesuits built this church in the late 1500s after arriving in the Jewish quarter of the city. While the original plan was to construct a rather simple church, the building became more ornate in the early 1600s and was consecrated in 1636.

Chiesa del Gesù, attractions in palermo in 1 day

15. Church of Saint Mary of Gesu, something you must visit in Palermo

This church is one of the most impressive places to visit in Palermo. The layout reflects the shape of a Latin cross, and the interior is filled with frescoes, marble bas-reliefs, and decorative Biblical motifs. The central nave is nearly 230 feet tall, giving the structure a grandiose feeling. Be sure to take your time while you’re here to look all around, as well as to the ceiling, as there is artwork everywhere.

Interestingly, the church’s exterior looks austere and unassuming, so it contrasts quite a bit with the elaborate interior. That said, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most stunning attractions in Palermo, so don’t miss it!

16. Mount Pellegrino, the best place to see the sunset in Palermo, Italy

Visiting Mount Pellegrino is one of the best things to do near Palermo, especially if you’re with a special someone. The German writer Goethe said this mountain was the most beautiful promontory in the world, and I must agree.

Mount Pellegrino has an altitude of about 2,000 feet, and it overlooks the Bay of Palermo and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Watching the sunlight glimmer on the crystalline waters is so relaxing and can be a romantic thing to do in Palermo.

Mount Pellegrino, tour of palermo in 2 days

16. Mount Pellegrino, the best place to see the sunset in Palermo, Italy

Near the mountain’s summit, you’ll find the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalia, who is the patron saint of Palermo and a popular place where Sicilians go to pray for healing.

You’ll also find the Mount Pellegrino Nature Reserve here, although it’s split between Mount Pellegrino and Favorita Park. This is one of the best places to go in Palermo to see the sunset, as well as to get some exercise. You can go up the hill on foot or opt for a bus or car ride.

If you decide to walk, there are two paths. The Rosalie Itinerarium route is paved, while the Gola del Porco route is older and goes into Favorita Park. You could also drive along the scenic mountain road or take the 812 bus to the Sanctuary.

Regardless of how you get there, Mount Pellegrino makes for a fun half-day trip in Palermo, so consider visiting if you have the time.

17. Villa Giulia & the Palermo Botanical Garden

Villa Giulia is the oldest public park in the city and a wonderful place to visit in Palermo. Also known as Villa Flor, it’s home to some of the most beautiful botanical gardens in all of Sicily.

If you’re looking for fun outdoor activity in Sicily while escaping the heat, check out the Palermo Botanical Garden. The area doubles as a research and education institute and houses hundreds of tropical and semi-tropical plants from all over the world. The garden spans 30 acres, including an aquatic plant display, several greenhouses, and an herbarium.

Villa Giulia, a cool thing to do in Palermo sicily

17. Villa Giulia & the Palermo Botanical Garden, a breathtaking place to go in Palermo

Also in Villa Giulia is the Foro Italico, a large oceanfront lawn where you can walk, jog, relax, or have a picnic. It’s a great place to rest before making your way to the nearby Church of Santa Maria Dello Spasimo. The cathedral remains unfinished after the Turkish invasions in 1535 but now serves as a venue for musical and cultural performances.

All these Palermo attractions are quite close to each other, so I recommend checking them out if you’re looking for something to do for a few hours.

18. See the Church of Saint Catherine, one of the best free things to do in Palermo

The Church of Saint Catherine and its monastery are two must-see places in Palermo, conveniently located in the historic city center. The church sits between Pretoria Square and Bellini Square, and you’ll recognize it by its blue dome.

The cathedral’s two facades face either plaza, although the entrance is in Bellini Square. One of the first things you’ll notice about this building is its magnificent artwork and craftsmanship. It’s a combination of Sicilian Baroque, Rococo, and Renaissance styles.

church of saint Catherine, 2 days in palermo tourist attractions

18. See the Church of Saint Catherine, one of the best free things to do in Palermo

Several prominent architects and artists worked on the church back in the mid-1500s, including Antonello Gagini, Giacomo Amato, and Giovanni Battista Ragusa. Oil paintings and frescoes adorn the building, and it’s a beautiful place to visit in Palermo.

Walking through this church is like stepping into a massive treasure chest. You’ll see altars of amethyst and lapis lazuli, precious stucco statues, and floor-to-ceiling adornments. Some of the most famous works here include the frescoes Triumph of Saint Catherine in the vault and The Soul in Glory Rises to Heaven in the chancel.

19. Climb atop the dome at Church of Santissimo Salvatore

Climbing to the dome of the Church of Santissimo Salvatore is one of the best things to do in Palermo at night. From there, you can look over the city and see all the twinkling lights.

The Church of San Salvador is in Bellini Square, so it has the perfect central location. It was built in the 12th century when Norman architecture was at its prime. However, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that it received UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

san salvador church in palermo day trip

19. Climb atop the dome at Church of Santissimo Salvatore, the best thing to do in Palermo at night

The three red domes atop the church make it a familiar landmark for anyone visiting Palermo, Italy. It’s a smaller church, and while it seems quite simple, the interior boasts some impressive stonework. You’ll also find Byzantine-style mosaics and frescoes inside, along with more modern altars.

Seeing this monumental structure at night is a lovely sight, especially with the Fontana Pretoria in the background. Plus, this church is close to Quattro Canti and La Martorana, and on the way to the Norman Palace.

20. Visit the Old Harbor of La Cala, a great thing to do in Palermo with kids

Visiting La Cala, the oldest port in the city, is a good way to end your tour of Palermo. This arch-shaped harbor was once an inlet for the Kemonia and Papireto rivers, but now it’s a popular tourist spot along the water.

Today, anyone can take a stroll along the waterfront pier, but back in the day, the port was protected by an Arab fortress. Castello a Mare had various uses throughout history, including as a prison and a private residence.

la cala best things to do in palermo italy

20. Visit the Old Harbor of La Cala, a great thing to do in Palermo with kids

Recent urban development projects have contributed to La Cala’s expansion, so now it offers more stuff to do in Palermo. For example, next to the pier is the Piazza Marina, where you’ll find the Garibaldi Garden. The garden is famous for having the largest Australian banyan tree in Europe, and it’s a pleasant area to walk through.

While you’re there, check out the historic Kalsa neighborhood and some of the nearby Palermo attractions like Galletti Palace of San Cataldo, Notarbartolo Palace, and Chiaramonte-Steri Palace.

21 Walk through Palazzo Abatellis, something exciting to do in Palermo

The Abatellis Palace is an intriguing building in Palermo’s Kalsa neighborhood. Constructed in the 1400s, it’s a prime example of Gothic-Catalan architecture and served as the home of Francesco Abatellis, port master of the Kingdom of Sicily. He had no heirs, so after his death, the palace became a convent.

The building was destroyed during World War II but was later restored and used to store medieval art. Today, this Palermo attraction houses the Sicilian Gallery of Art.

Palazzo Abatellis, what to do in Palermo in Italy

21 Walk through Palazzo Abatellis, something exciting to do in Palermo

Over the years, the museum has amassed a noteworthy collection of art, religious works in particular. Here, you can find Virgin Annunciate, the famous Renaissance painting by Antonello da Messina, as well as The Triumph of Death fresco that was formerly in the Palazzo Sclafani.

If you’re interested in learning more about medieval art, or you’re wondering what to do in Palermo when it rains, this art gallery and palace is a good option.

22. Cefalú, one of the top places to go near Palermo, Sicily

If you are not going to rent a car in Sicily, there are still plenty of cool tours from Palermo you can take. I recommend this excursion to Cefalù, a beautiful fishing village overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and one of the best places to visit in Sicily.

In addition to Cefalù, this tour includes a visit to the impressive Cathedral of Monreale, one of the nicest places to visit near Palermo. Once in Cefalù, you’ll see the Mandralisca Museum, which contains archaeological artifacts, ancient coins, antiques, and the works of Antonello da Messina.

Cefalú, must see in palermo italy

22. Cefalú, one of the top places to go near Palermo, Sicily

The tour continues with a visit to the Osterio Magno, a fortified palace built in the 13th century, as well as the 16th-century Lavatorio Medievale, an old washing room that was restored in the 1990s. Finally, you’ll see the Norman-style Cefalù Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in 1131. It’s known for its Byzantine mosaics, most notably the bust of Christ Pantokrator.

Not only does Cefalù make for a great Palermo day trip, but you’ll get incredible panoramic views of the sea.

23. Visit Segesta, Erice, & Trapani, one of the best day trips from Palermo

Combining a visit to Segesta, Erice, and Trapani is another awesome day trip from Palermo that you can take if you don’t want to drive around the island.

I recommend this full-day excursion that hits all three villages. You’ll start with Segesta, where you can explore some prominent Greek archaeological sites, including a well-preserved Doric temple that’s believed to date to around 420 BC.

Segesta, Erice and Trapani, a day in palermo activities

23. Visit Segesta, Erice, & Trapani, one of the best day trips from Palermo

The tour continues to the Trapani salt flats, which line the coast. Trapani is home to several Baroque monuments, such as the Church of Saint Augustine, Ligny Tower, and the Triton Fountain.

Finally, you’ll stop by the town of Erice, which has medieval origins and boasts impressive hillside views. There are also historical sites like two ancient castles and the remains of Elymian and Phoenician walls.

If you’re looking for things to do in Palermo and its surroundings, this is a great tour. Plus, transportation is included, so you can relax and enjoy the sights.

24. Taormina & Mount Etna, one of the best tours in Palermo, Sicily

Fortunately, you don’t have to rent a car or drive to see the main tourist sites in Palermo. There are lots of daily tours that depart from this city and go to all the popular tourist attractions in Sicily.

Of the top things to see in Palermo, I would say that Taormina and Mount Etna are two of the most important. You can see them both in one day with this excursion.

Taormina and Etna volcano, cool things to do in palermo

24. Taormina & Mount Etna, one of the best tours in Palermo, Sicily

First, you’ll visit Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe. At over 10,800 feet high, it’s a prized place among hikers who come to Sicily. That said, this tour only ascends about 8,200 feet, but you’ll still get to see the Silvestri Craters and get amazing views.

The second half of the tour takes you to the city of Taormina, which sits on a cliff overlooking the Isola Bella Nature Reserve and the Ionian Sea. While you’re here, you’ll visit the ancient Greek theater, several Baroque churches, and enjoy the seaside view of the bay’s aquamarine waters.

25. Agrigento & the Valley of the Temples, another great tour from Palermo

My last recommended place to visit near Palermo is Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples. If you arrive in Palermo and you don’t want to drive, don’t worry because this full-day tour will take you to all the best sites.

The Sicilian city of Agrigento is famous for the Valley of the Temples, an extensive archaeological site. Here, you’ll find several Greek temples, most of which are in decent preserved condition.

Agrigento and Valley of the Temple fun activities to do in Italy

25. Agrigento & the Valley of the Temples, another great tour from Palermo

The Temple of Concordia is the best-preserved temple there and was built in the 5th century. The Temple of Castor and Pollux is a modern-day symbol of Agrigento, while the Temple of Asclepius was an ancient pilgrimage site for those seeking cures from illnesses.

The tour includes another must-see place near Palermo, the Archaeological Museum of Agrigento. Here, you can look through over 5,600 artifacts, including restored archaeological remains, coins, and inscriptions. Look for the interesting Atlantean statue out front that serves as a decorative column.

Without a doubt, visiting Agrigento is one of the top things to do around Palermo if you want to see some historical monuments and don’t feel like driving.

Where to stay in Palermo, Italy

During our visit to Palermo, we stayed in this apartment in the Capo neighborhood. The apartment was beautiful and well-priced, but I think next time, we’ll stay somewhere closer to the city center.

If you’re looking for a hotel in the downtown district of Palermo, I suggest staying in the Vucciria neighborhood. These are the best options:

The Kalsa neighborhood is also a good option if you are looking for places to stay in Palermo near the port or bus station. These are the best options:

However, if you want a room with a view in Palermo, this accommodation in the Albergheria neighborhood is the best option.

Any of these four Palermo neighborhoods will be an excellent option, as they’re close to the city’s main points of interest.

If any of the accommodations I mentioned are no longer available, you can look for other options here. Also, you can often find good deals on Airbnb. If you don’t have an account yet, you can get a $50 Airbnb coupon code here.

Where to eat in Palermo, Sicily

When we were in Palermo, we took advantage of some of the best local dishes and authentic Italian cuisine.

One of the best places to eat in Palermo is the Vucciria market, where you can enjoy all kinds of street food. Besides, you can sight-see while you eat, so it’s a must-do in Palermo.

best places to eat in palermo pizza

Where to eat in Palermo

However, if you’re wondering where to go in Palermo to enjoy a pizza, I highly recommend Pizza Ferrari. From the outside, it looks like a typical neighborhood pizzeria, but it has some of the best pizza in Sicily. To complete your meal, grab a Peroni, the most popular Italian beer. You can check Pizza Ferrari’s hours, location, and menu on their Facebook page.

How to get to Palermo from the airport

Parking in downtown Palermo is quite an adventure, so I recommend taking public transportation to get to the city center, even if you plan to rent a car in Sicily.

If you’re not sure how to get to the center of Palermo from the airport, the best way is with the 29 bus. It departs from the airport and stops at Piazza Giulio, where you’ll find the central bus station.

Alternatively, you could take the Trenitalia train from the airport, which is just as fast as the bus. You could also take a taxi, but it’ll be much more expensive.

In short, I think it’s better to go downtown by bus or train and then return to the airport later to pick up your rental car. Believe it or not, you’ll save lots of time because you won’t spend hours trying to find a parking spot in Palermo’s city center.

Map of Palermo, Sicily (Italy)

Now that you know the top things to do in Palermo, Italy, here is a tourist map of Palermo. Download it and keep it handy as you plan your itinerary and your route around Palermo.

That’s everything I have for your visit to Palermo, Sicily! Now you know what to visit in Palermo and the nearby areas. As you can see, you can visit Palermo’s main attractions in one or two days, and it’s an ideal starting point for your route through Sicily. If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment, and I’ll help as much as I can. I wish you safe travels and lots of fun!

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COFOUNDER & TRAVEL JUNKIE

Hi, I'm Ascen, a globetrotter based in Philadelphia, USA. I enjoy exploring new landscapes and creating in-depth travel guides for Capture the Atlas.

I have felt a special connection with nature and all the inhabitants of the planet since I was a kid. I am passionate about discovering new countries and especially their wildlife, but no matter how many places I visit, I will always belong to the remote beaches of Almería, in Southern Spain.

You can know a little more about me here.

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