Energetic and vibrant, cultural, economic and tourism capital – Palermo is a great starting point for anyone untangling the story of Sicily. The city’s enticing Mediterranean environment, renowned gastronomy and restaurants, Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and Art Nouveau churches, palaces, architecture, as well as its nightlife and music, draw a large number of tourists. Busy port cooped up between mountains, this noisy and energetic metropolis will leave you anything but bored! If you are only spending one day in Palermo, Sicily – here is our list of top things to do in Palermo in 24 hours.
Palermo is a popular tourist destination practically all year, but if you’re searching for the ideal time to visit, April-June is the greatest time to go. This is determined by a variety of circumstances, including weather, airfare and lodging costs, peak travel dates, and so on.
The longest days in Palermo are normally around July, so plan your vacation around this time if you want to make the most of your daytime activities. Avoid visiting Palermo in December if you want to keep dry – it’s the wettest month of the year.
- Palermo is home to the largest opera house in Italy which you can recognize from its appearance in The Godfather!
- Since the 15th century, traditional puppet theatre has been a popular form of entertainment.
- Palermo is the most conquered city in the world!
- Palermo is known as the “Golden Basin” due to its subtropical climate and unusual location.
If you only have one day in Palermo, there are lots of activities to choose from. In this quick itinerary for Palermo, we’ll show you some of the top spots to see in a single day. We understand that seeing this place in such a short amount of time may be difficult, but if you follow this Palermo itinerary advice you can make the most of your one day in this vibrant city!
The best place to go in Palermo for breakfast after checking in at one of the nearby hotels is Caffetteria del Corso. This old-school Sicilian place is still a local and tourist favourite. Even though they have been around for years, they never seem to run out of options on their menu. If you’re in Sicily, do as the Sicilians do and have granita in the morning. This slushy-like ice cream is composed entirely of fruit and ice, and it’s typically served in a glass alongside warm brioche!
Visit Palermo’s churches: each has its art and distinctive spirituality. You can find mosaics, statues, and religious paintings. The Byzantine mosaics of Martorana and the architecture of San Cataldo, full of Islamic influences, are awe-inspiring. The Chiesa del Gesu is a remarkable church that has been given a spot on Unesco’s World Heritage list for its stucco and angels. Visitors are drawn to the cathedral’s exquisite detail and welcoming ambiance.
The most impressive church is of course the Cathedral. The norman archbishop Gualtiero Offamilio began construction on this cathedral in 1185. Visit Frederik II’s royal and imperial mausoleum, an urn containing the relics of Palermo’s patron saint, Santa Rosalia, and a treasury with a valuable medieval crown and a VII-century crypt.
The church is free to visit, but a ticket is required to enter the monumental area, including royal graves, a treasury, a crypt, and to see the spectacular view from the roof. The cathedral’s spiritualism, architecture, and sculptures are the perfect fusion of all Italian art!
The 16th century Catacombe Dei Cappuccini is a house of over 8,000 corpses. The underground passages were created when the monks ran out of space in their cemetery and wanted to preserve the lives of influential and wealthy people. This is the eternal home of 8,000 corpses, all dressed in the appropriate clothing of their time. Some of the bodies are still in excellent condition, like Rosalia Lombardo. This little girl, who died in 1920, still looks like she’s sleeping. This little girl died of pneumonia in 1920 and was only two years old. If you are interested in a private tour, we definitely recommend it.
The Mercato di Ballaro, located near Stazione Centrale, is a must-see in Palermo. It is a bustling, chaotic, and fascinating outdoor public market selling fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, and housewares. Try arancini – a deep-fried rice ball with a savoury filling in the middle, such as cheese or ham.
These delicious balls of bliss are golden and crunchy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. Or go with the sweet stuff – the cannoli, Sicily’s queen of desserts. These crunchy pastry rolls with sweet filling are adorable and will delight your taste senses!
The Palazzo Dei Normanni, or Royal Palace of Palermo, was the seat of the kings of Sicily under the Hauteville dynasty and thereafter served as the headquarters of power for successive rulers of Sicily. Since 1946 it has been the seat of the Sicilian Regional Assembly.
Explore one of the oldest royal palaces in Europe with the unique blend of different architectural styles. Due to the rich but complicated history of the city, this palace has undergone several changes and therefore bears numerous architectural styles!
In the heart of Palermo, you’ll find the massive Massimo Theater, the third-largest opera theatre in Europe and the most spectacular building in the city itself. The theatre’s construction was inspired by Greek temples, as evidenced by the enormous columns guarding the main entrance. You are free to walk outside the theatre, but if you want to see the inside, take a guided tour. Alternatively, you can buy a ticket to see a play, which is likely well worth the money due to the theatre’s excellent acoustics.
Sunset at the Sicilian beach is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While watching the sunset, you can sip a bottle of local wine. Try one of the seaside bars in Mondello, Addaura, and Sferracavallo. Along with France, Italy is the top wine exporter in Europe. Sicily has the most award-winning wines of any area in the world. You must have a glass – or two! For a great dinner try Sobremesa, a restaurant located in the heart of the centre of Palermo, in Piazza Borsa. And if you’re up to a cocktail or two try Wanderlust! If you’re in the mood to continue the party and want to go to a club – try Isound Discoteca or Vicoletto!
Where to Stay In Palermo
Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes
Via Roma 398, 90139 Palermo
The Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes is a beautiful Art Nouveau structure located just beyond the restricted traffic zone. The hotel offers traditionally decorated rooms as well as a full continental breakfast. Palermo’s Massimo and Politeama Theatres are a 5-minute walk away. They serve dinner at the on-site restaurant, which serves a mix of Mediterranean and European cuisine. In the summer, you can have granita crushed ice and almond pastries for breakfast in a beautiful hall!
134 Via Sant’Agostino, 90134 Palermo
The quaint Casa Nostra Boutique Hotel has a restaurant, an outdoor pool, a bar, and a communal lounge. A communal kitchen, room service, and free WiFi throughout the resort are among the amenities available at this property. Each room at the hotel has air conditioning, a seating area, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a safety deposit box, and a private bathroom with a bidet, hairdryer, and complimentary toiletries. There is a coffee machine in each room; some rooms have a balcony, and others have city views!
Afea Art & Rooms
Via Principe Di Belmonte 33, 90139 Palermo
Artists have decorated all of the rooms and communal areas so this is definitely a place worth staying in! This stylish B&B is 350 meters from Palermo Port and offers air-conditioned rooms with flat-screen TVs, private bathrooms, and complimentary Wi-Fi. A 5-minute stroll will take you to the Politeama and Massimo Theatre. There are a variety of eateries and cafés in this busy neighborhood.
Catania knows everything there is to know about living life to the fullest. This city is one of the most charming Italian pearls because of its food, rich tradition, and magnetic vitality. . Even if you’re pressed for time. One day in Catania is enough time to immerse yourself in the local culture, sample some Sicilian specialties, and partake in the city’s vibrant nightlife. Make sure to check out our one-day Catania itinerary here!
This 2,700-year-old city was once one of the most significant ancient cities, built by ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneans. Syracuse is now one of Italy’s most well-known summer attractions, with its old town Ortigia designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When the Malena movie, starring Monica Bellucci, was filmed there at the turn of the century, the city rose to prominence. This enchanting and sensual Sicilian city astonishes with its ageless beauty so make sure to check out our one-day itinerary of Syracuse!
Only a ten-minute drive from Palermo along the coast is one of the easiest and most picturesque ways to escape the city. Mondello has preserved its gorgeous beaches and white sands and is a popular day trip for locals and tourists alike. On weekends, during the summer as well as during the warm winter days, you can anticipate this to be a packed and entertaining area. Mondello is not the place to go if you’re looking for peace, but it is the place to go if you’re looking for sun, sand, and a taste of local life!
- Palermitani or, more poetically, panormiti are the locals’ names and they speak the Palermitano dialect of the Sicilian language
- In Palermo the best gelato isGelateria La Vela and La Delizi
- Many shops and businesses take a siesta or “pausa pomeridiana” and close between 1:00 pm and 4:30 pm
- Sicilians have a reputation for being some of the worst drivers in Italy so if you decide to rent a car – be warned
- In Sicily, cash wins every time. You’ll need Euros in cash to pay for a variety of items, including toll roads, market shopping, parking fees, some entry permits, and, of course, espressos and ice creams!
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Romi is a llama coach from Split, Croatia. This sounds made up but it’s true. She lived in Toronto, Canada for about ten years, give or take, but she wasn’t working with llamas. She was working in PR, restaurants, daycares, one yoga clothing store. She doesn't know how she got that job as she has never done yoga at that point. She taught English in Colombia and Vietnam. Traveled the world for two years. Then she got into writing. Actually, she was always writing, but then someone paid her to write. Then more people paid because they saw she was making them money. Then it became a thing she does for a living. And here we are now. Specializing in travel, real estate, and digital nomad guides, familiar with SEO, and always ready to learn something new so she can branch out and take over the world.