Are you looking for your next summer destination? Palermo may be just the ticket.
With Palermo nominated as Italy’s 2018 City of Culture, it is no wonder this diverse and culture-rich city is the new must-visit destination. Despite being devastated during the Second World War, Palermo has been blessed with substantial redevelopment that pays tribute to its fascinating cultural and historical legacies.
Conveniently located in northern Sicily overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, Palermo’s unique blend of old and new makes it the perfect location for travellers to immerse themselves in a curious city that has something for everyone. To help you plan an unforgettable trip, Booking.com has put together a selection of tips, tricks and recommended places to stay to help you plan the perfect getaway – especially when visiting for the first time.
Return flights with Ryanair from London Stansted from approx. £81 in May 2017, with a flight time of 3 hours (please note: prices may vary)
The easiest way to see the key sights in Palermo is by foot; this makes a great alternative to Palermo’s general bus services which are often overcrowded.
What to do
1 Visit Cattedrale di Palermo
The remarkable Palermo Cathedral erected in 1185 by the Archbishop of Palermo, Walter Ophamil, plays testimony to the city’s cultural diversity. Architecturally, the landmark serves as a melting pot for Moorish, Norman, Gothic and Baroque influences – which is reflected in the Cathedral’s long history of alternations.
2 Marvel at the Capuchin Catacombs
For a truly unique experience, take a trip to the Capuchin Catacombs where you can see the largest collection of mummies in the world. Along four, long limestone corridors, around 8,000 mummies are hung unnervingly, with many better preserved than others.
3 Explore open air markets
Palermo is renowned for its noisy street life and this is reflected in the city’s markets – satisfy your taste buds with all the finest fresh Sicilian street food or simply get lost in a maze of sights, smells and aromas. Whilst Vucciria is the most popular market with tourists, don’t miss out on the Ballaro and Capo alternatives and gorge on some traditional Arancine – luscious balls of rice infused with fillings such as rich pesto or simple ragu.
4 Dive in head first at Ustica Island
For the adventurers, take a boat to the volcanic island of Ustica known as the ‘The Black Pearl’ due to its black rock formations. Set up as a marine protected area of Sicily, the uncontaminated sea full of rare species makes it the perfect spot for sea lovers. Here you’ll find a host of diving experts ready to assist you in exploring the multitude of creeks, bays and caves.
5 Feel the heat hiking Monte Pellegrino
When you need a break from the metropolis of Palermo, take a hike on Monte Pellegrino for fresh air and scenery. The 600-metre mountain is located a short bus journey away. At the top you’ll not only be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views of Palermo and the Sicilian coast, but you’ll also get to take a glimpse inside the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalia – the resting place of Palermo’s patron saint.
6 Live the high life at Seven Restaurant
For sophistication and refinement, head up to the luxurious Seven Restaurant with its breath-taking views of Palermo from its rooftop terrace. Enjoy some authentic Italian tipples during the lounge’s happy hour at 7pm, whilst you unwind and watch the sun go down.
Where to stay
1 Porta di Castro
Nestled in the historical centre of Palermo, the Porta di Castro is set in a carefully restored townhouse dating back to the 1500s. For the fun-seekers and young hearted, the Porta di Castro guesthouse is beautifully set in a restored townhouse dating back to the 1500s.
These comfortable apartments offer well-equipped rooms each boasting quirky and unique features. Fresh fruit and warm croissants are served for breakfast on the balcony, perfect for travellers looking for an alfresco bite to eat. See more here.
2 Il Giardino di Ballara B&B
Set in the heart of Palermo’s historical centre, Il Giardino di Ballarò offers a charming stay in the city. The historic Il Giardino di Ballaro boasts a spacious courtyard and garden, and interiors incorporating 18th Century stone arches, combined with modern furnishings and balconies with garden views.
Even better, there’s a traditional Sicilan breakfast served every morning. See more here.
3 Palco Rooms & Suites
This futuristic and exclusive boutique hotel is the heart of the city, rated 9.8/10 for location and some rooms enjoy views over the iconic Teatro Massimo. All rooms offer eye-catching city views and a peaceful oasis to relax in, filled with thoughtful touches such as iPhone/iPod docking stations and Nespresso Coffee systems. See more here.
For the conscious traveller, take a stay in the luxurious eco-friendly Aquarooms in the historic centre of Palermo, a particular favourite part of the city for travellers. Made with natural materials and bio-building techniques, each room is designed to let you fully unwind with a spa bath, sensory shower and Wi-Fi. Ideally located, Aquarooms is a mere 900m from the Palermo Cathedral and other key sights are on its doorstep. See more here.