What to see in Palermo in 1, 2, 3 days for an independent traveler? Routes, tickets, excursions and hotels prices 2023. Where to visit in the surroundings of Palermo, best places to stay – in a review by good Time for Trip.
Sicily, despite being the largest island in Italy, cannot yet boast of stunning popularity among travelers. The reputation of the province and, in addition, the one covered with dubious criminal fame does not contribute to a surge of optimism among the seekers of safe adventures.
If beach tourists somehow find their way to the resort of Taormina and Cefalu, other Sicily attractions are still in relative oblivion. And visited only in conjunction with a seaside vacation.
To see Palermo rarely come on purpose, unless you come to Sicily in April or another, not too hot month. This is usually done by “occasion”: the capital of Sicily pleasantly diversifies the program of cruises in the Mediterranean Sea and disperses the melancholy of vacationers tired of idleness. Although, if it were somewhere in Lombardy, it would be incredibly popular among ordinary travelers.
Main Attractions of Palermo
Let’s take Palermo Centrale, the main railway station of the city, as a starting point. It is connected by direct communication both with the main Sicilian airport Falcone Borsellino (Punta Raisi station) and with other settlements of the island.
First, we recommend you to point your feet towards La Martorana. That is, the church of Santa Maria del Ammirallo, famous for its literally luxurious Byzantine mosaics of the 12th century. The richness of the interior decoration will be envied by the Venetian Basilica of San Marco.
Next, you should see the Cathedral of Palermo, which largely retained the original features of the XII-XIII centuries. On the way, pay attention to the spacious Piazza Pretoria with the grandiose “Fountain of Shame” in the middle. This is the 16th century, the work of the Florentine Camigliano!
- Optionally, visit the Church of St. Catherine. Whose front facade forms the entire side of the square!
Next in the program is the interesting baroque square Quattro Canti, that means “Four Corners”. The facades, “hugging” a regular octagon, are designed in the same style.
Their lower tiers are decorated with fountains. The Church of San Giuseppe dei Teatini settled in one of the houses.
It is literally impossible not to visit the main temple of Palermo. Inside you will get through the pretty three-arched portico of Gambar, dating back to the 15th century.
The chapel to the left of the entrance houses the porphyry sarcophagi of the Norman kings of Sicily from the Hohenstaufen dynasty.
From an architectural point of view, the main, western, facade of the cathedral is very interesting. It is connected to the bell tower by two arrow-shaped arches thrown across Bonello Street.
The next item in the daily repertoire is the Palazzo Normani, which you can reach from the cathedral in just a few minutes. Both the royal palace itself with the personal apartments of the monarchs, and the pearl of the complex, the Palatine Chapel, require special attention.
That is, you will have to spend more than 30 minutes inside … in fact, the price of entrance tickets (12 €) insists on it!
On this, the first day of visiting Palermo can be considered over. Unless, of course, you want to consolidate your impressions on an individual city tour or excursion. It costs from 130-150 € for 2-3 hours.
After that, you will only have to return to the station. Or walk to the hotel chosen ahead of time.
Where to Stay
We tend to recommend an inexpensive and geographically close to the station hotel Ballarattik. Its rooms are quite spacious, each has a balcony and air conditioning, breakfast is served to guests.
Even more advantageous, next to the square of the same name, is the B&B Hotel Palermo Quattro Canti. It is noticeably more expensive, but has a rooftop terrace with wonderful panoramas.
Hotel Joli is located in an old mansion near the port. Guests praise the beautiful interiors, cleanliness and hospitality of the staff. A hearty breakfast is included in the price of the accommodation.
Since you didn’t see one of the top attractions of Sicily and Palermo itself the day before, you should start with it. We are talking about the famous Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in the town of Monreale.
XII century, Arab-Norman architecture, magnificent Byzantine mosaics, a forest of 228 carved columns surrounding the courtyard. Fountains, greenery, powerful views of Palermo…
Despite the ridiculousness of the distance – just 8 kilometers from the main railway station – getting here by public transport is not easy. But, of course, it’s worth a trying.
A rented car will greatly facilitate the task of delivering yourself there and back. But driving in Sicily can hardly be called a pleasure.
The rest of the day can be devoted to city museums. For example, archaeological – Antonio Salinas. In its way, one of the best not only in Italy, but in general in Europe.
It is closed on Mondays, an adult ticket costs only 3 €!
You can spend an hour or more in the Regional Gallery of Sicily, lodging in the Gothic Palazzo Abatelis built in the 15th century. If you don’t believe the reviews on Tripadvisor, reporting that 8 € is “too much” for so few paintings on display.
We recommend spending it on sightseeing around Palermo. Both on independently developed routes, and together with an organized excursion.
Again, you can easily spend the day relaxing on the beach – the same Mondello beach is widely known outside of Sicily.
No doubt, in the summer months there is very little free space on it. But having visited Sicily in September on weekdays, you may well enjoy the sea and the sun in a not too numerous company.
Firstly, you should take a tour to Erice and Segesta. On your own or with a guide – in the latter case, you will have to pay a little more than 160 euros.
However, the investment will definitely pay off. For these two non-neighboring Sicilian sights in the province of Trapani are a must-see when in Palermo.
Erice is a wonderful old town on a rock. The Temple of Segesta is what remains of an ancient city built by the Trojans. A well-preserved temple with Doric columns but no roof – certainly worth seeing!
San Vito lo Capo and Trapani
The first is a famous and downright incredibly picturesque resort, located 110 km (along the highway) from Palermo. Every year becoming more and more popular holiday destination on the sea.
So much so that the local beach is not empty even in autumn! However, as you probably know, even in October you can swim in Sicily!
Near the resort and, by the way, on the road to Palermo, there is a stunning park Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro. If you have a couple of hours to spare, be sure to check it out!
As for Trapani, it is best to walk along it with a guided tour. Listen to stories about the good old days, salt mines and windmills.
Lovers of antiquities will undoubtedly add to their list of places to visit near Palermo and Selinunte. For the local archaeological park is considered the largest in Europe! And the Sicilians themselves tend to call it even the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.
Travelers do not believe when they find out that they can see as many as EIGHT ancient temples. Varying, however, the degree of ruination.
By car from Palermo to Selinunte it takes 1.5 hours (105 km), an adult ticket to the park costs 6 €. Every first Sunday of the month you can visit the excavation for free.
If you do not come from Cefalu, you can also visit this town, 70 kilometers to the east. Fortunately, a well-known resort has not lost its true Sicilian charm.
The imposing Romanesque cathedral of the 12th century is Cefalu’s main attraction. Absolutely magnificent and the view that opens from the top of the fortress rock. To tell the truth, from such beauty, many simply lose the power of speech for a while.