Holidays in Palermo: what do I need to know before I go?
The capital of Sicily, Palermo, is the fifth largest city in Italy and one of the most visited. It is also considered one of the largest historical centres in Europe. It will take you some time to discover all the treasures the city has to offer!
So if you are planning a travel to Palermo on your next holiday, VeryChic will show you the must-see sites of the city to enjoy an exclusive and complete experience but also its hosts.
How many days will it take to fully enjoy your stay in Palermo?
How long does it take to visit Palermo? This is a question that many travellers ask themselves when considering a travel to Palermo. At VeryChic, we recommend spending at least two full days there. If you have a little more time to visit the area, we recommend three days. But even in one day, you will be able to fully enjoy the best the city has to offer.
A travel to Palermo
For trip to Palermo, we recommend that you focus on the following points of interest:
- Visit the Norman Palace. Go and take some photos of St John of the Hermits, near the Norman Palace
- See the interior (and roof) of the Cattedrale di Palermo
- Wander the streets of the historic centre to admire the churches and palaces
- Browse at the Foro Italico
- Enjoy a moment of relaxation in the botanical garden or in the gardens of Villa Giulia
- Sleep at the Hotel Garibaldi Palermo or at the Opera Palermo
Two days in Palermo
If you plan to stay for two days in Palermo, the equivalent of a whole weekend, here's what you can add to the day listed above:
- Start your second day at the Palermo Market to discover local produce and flavours. Venture to Ballaro, one of the oldest markets, for example, for a guaranteed sensory treat!
- Visit the Massimo Theatre or the Regional Archaeological Museum of Palermo
- Reach the village of Monreale, located 13 kilometres to the west, to visit the Cathedral of Monreale or to simply walk through the village
Three days in Palermo
In the first two days you have had the opportunity to see much of what Palermo has to offer. If you add another day, you will also have time to:
- Enjoy an unusual experience in the catacombs of Palermo
- Visit the Mirto Palace to immerse yourself in the lifestyle of an 18th century noble family
- Enjoy an afternoon of relaxation at Mondello, the famous beach of Palermo
You can also visit the area around the capital of Sicily on the third and final day of your trip to Palermo, namely:
- The ruins of the ancient city of Segesta
- The medieval town of Erice and the ancient salt marshes of Trapani
- The Etna volcano and the town of Taormira
Why opt for street food on a day trip Palermo ?
A one, two or three day trip to Palermo will not be enough to cover the richness of the local gastronomy, you will certainly want to come back!
Palermo is known for its fried food, but you shouldn't discount the local gastronomy. The Sicilian cuisine is a reflection of this multicoloured and multicultural île. The people, the architecture and the art reflect the rich past of the island as well as its gastronomy.
The gastronomic specialities of Palermo are characterised by Arab, Roman, Norman, Greek and even Spanish influences. Street food, and gastronomy in general, is a serious matter! No matter where you are, and no matter what time of day or night, you will always find a place to enjoy something.
It is impossible to make a complete and detailed list of all the culinary specialities in the Sicilian capital. Nevertheless, so that you can enjoy an exclusive and immersive culinary experience, here is an overview of the best dishes in Palermo.
The Pani Ca Meusa
The Pani Ca Meusa is a typical sandwich from Palermo that you’ll find everywhere in the streets of the city. It is of Jewish origin and was invented in the 13th century. Even if at first glance this sandwich is obviously not very glamorous, you absolutely must try it during your holiday in Palermo. To learn an authentic Pani Ca Meusa, head to Rocky's in 211 Via Vittorio or to Nino U’Ballerino's stall to try a variation seasoned with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkled with cheese.
This is most certainly the most famous Italian street food! It is a small ball of rice stuffed with rago, cheese, pineapple and even chips! It's soft and warm on the inside, crispy and golden on the outside. The most traditional version of the Arancine is the al burro, accompanied by bacon, ham and mozzarella.
The Panelle crocè
This speciality is owed to the ancient Arab conquerors of the city. It is a sandwich made of bread made from fried chickpea flour called "panelle" and pure potato or "crocch" in Italian. A pure delight! The warm bread and mashed potatoes, covered with a very thin fried crust, will make you want to extend your trip to Palermo and cover other specialities.
In Palermo, you can enjoy octopus cut into small pieces on a plate covered with a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice and parsley. You can easily find this dish in one of the three historical markets of the city: Vucciria, Il Mercato del Capo and Ballarò. For a guarantee of freshness, always ask the vendor to prepare the plate in front of you.
This typical Palermo dish is only for the intrepid culinary adventurer who is not afraid of anything. This popular local dish has its origins in the Greek invasion. It is a dish of beef tripe seasoned with lemon, parsley, salt and pepper and cooked on a makeshift grill. On the day you feel you are ready for an extra high, let the smoke and aroma of the barbecue draw you in. Enjoy it in street food joints or in a restaurant in Palermo. There is no shortage of that!
What to do in Palermo ?
Palermo has the particularity of offering a perfect combination of magnificent historical architecture, breathtaking landscapes and panoramic views of the sea. Moreover, the local gastronomy, known for its freshness and cosmopolitan roots, is famous all over the world. To make your travel to Palermo unforgettable, here are the places you absolutely must visit.
The Cathedral of Palermo
The magnificent and unique Cathedral of Palermo must be included in the list of monuments you must visit. This imposing cathedral was built in the 7th century as a place of Christian worship. It is one of the most important religious buildings in the city, and even in Sicily. The Saracens turned it into a mosque during their reign in the 9th century. The Normans converted it into a Christian church when they ruled from the 12th century onwards.
Like many ancient structures, its architecture has changed many times over the centuries. Today, you will be able to admire a beautiful cathedral blending many architectural styles.
The Quattro Canti
The Quattro Canti is located at the intersection of the two main streets of Palermo. Although it is only a fully functional intersection, and you will no doubt have passed through it several times in your day, it deserves special attention. With a guide, you will learn that each of the four sections represents one of the four seasons, one of the four Spanish kings of Sicily, and one of the patron saints of Palermo, the most famous of whom is St. Rosalia.
The Palatine Chapel in Palermo
Nine centuries after its inauguration, the Chapel Palatine (Cappella Palatina in Italian) has not lost its charm. Located in the Palais of the Normans, it is a true work of art with a Byzantine architectural style.
The chapel, which was built in 1140, is covered with brightly coloured mosaics and gold leaves inlaid with precious stones. In addition to the mosaics depicting Jesus and Old Testament texts, the walls and floor are made of marble with patterns that have a clear Islamic influence. From floor to ceiling, there is something remarkable in every square meter of the main room. It is certainly one of the most beautiful moments you will have the opportunity to contemplate during your day in Palermo.
The catacombs of Palermo
It’s a must-do during your travel to Palermo: a visit to the catacombs of the Capuchin monastery. It was in these catacombs that monks, British monks or even the rich laity of the city were buried in the past.
In contrast to the catacombs of the Capuchin monastery, the catacombs of the Palazzo dei Monti are not the only ones to be visited.
If you plan to visit the mummies of Palermo, remember that the catacombs are closed for two hours in the afternoon and that visits are very limited on Sundays.
When you think of Sicily, apart from the gastronomy, you immediately think of the sun, the sea and the beaches. For your holidays in Palermo, the best beaches are waiting for you for a privileged moment of relaxation and pure happiness.
- Mondello Beach, is a chic beach in Palermo: This former fishermen's village is now a resort that can be described as chic. You will find palm-lined avenues and luxury villas with sea views. This small gulf of golden sand is one of the most beautiful beaches in the island. On weekends and during the high season, expect to see a lot of people there!
- Addaura beach, a paradise for diving: If you are a diving enthusiast, this beach with its coral seabed will be perfect for you. The beach is characterised by very deep waters and a hard rocky coastline. It is located in the same bay as Mondello Beach, at the foot of Monte Pellegrino and its rich natural reserve.