Do you have a few days to spend in Palermo and want to know the best tips from a local point of view? Look no further. We’ve got you covered!
Challenge your palate. Markets, Food and alley exploration.
This is the must number 1. You must visit and devour the markets of Palermo. You can do it on your own, just let your senses guide you. But if you want to have the Matrix effect, if you want to read Sicilian reality, then walk the market with a local food expert. Choose the food tour in Palermo that suits you best!
Palermo has three main markets: Vucciria, Capo and Ballarò. Vucciria is nowadays the relic of a market, however, it has now turned into a must-go destination for foodies. You can challenge your palate by tasting some boiled octopus (don’t forget that the head is the best part of it!), or warm up beside the barbecue! Less adventurous travelers can remain in their comfort zone by ordering some fritters, pasta, fish, and sausages. Just make a wish, and wait for the dish!
The street food of Palermo is very tasty and varied. The Queen of local street food is the Arancina (a super tasty fried rice ball). The King is the famous pani ca’ meusa or Spleen Sandwich, don’t think twice, just go for it!
Explore the intricate alleys of Kalsa district
After trying the best street food and learning interesting stories about this beautiful city with other foodies, take the rest of the day to relax and have a night walk around the bar area of Kalsa. The Kalsa is one of Palermo’s oldest quarters, dating back to the period of Islamic domination (X-XI). There are photo opportunities on every corner, and the street art on Via dello Spasimo is a vortex of color and historic figures.
👉 DRINKING TIP: In recent years, the neighborhood has been transformed into a hub of bars, eateries, and artisan boutiques. Ballarak brewery serves excellent beers and tasty aperitives. Thea area is also highly recommended to cocktail lovers: try bitter Sicilian orange liqueur and signature house spirits at Dal Barone. Do not miss sipping a good prosecco at Nautoscopio, which has a sweet seating area on a small beach.
Get Romantic! Hike in Barcarello reserve and enjoy the best sunset!
Want to admire the best of the natural beauty around Palermo? You can explore the Barcarello Natural Reserve and visit Femmine beach at sunset, or the other way around depending on your preference. Take the train direction to Punta Raisi (airport). Stop at Sferracavallo station and walk to the Natural reserve of Barcarello (about 15 minutes). Tourists don’t know this place and locals are too lazy to walk to it. The Natural reserve is magic, you’ll have a majestic cliff on your right side and the blu water on your left side.
The Natural reserve faces west allowing you to enjoy the best sunset you can get from the Palermo area. A hiking path takes you higher for a more spectacular view. But I’m not sure you want to walk further on, especially in the summertime. Just sit on the rocks and wait for the sun to show!
You must be aware of two things:
1) The shore is rocky, so there is no comfortable sand to lie down on. Do not walk to this place on your flip-flop.Wear sneakers or hiking sandals.
2) Inside the Natural reserve there is nothing. So bring your beers, snacks, and water. There are a couple of food trucks at the entrance though, but only God knows their opening times!
Isola delle Femmine beach
If you want to continue the day to a sandy beach, catch the train again for one more stop and take off at the train station of Isola delle Femmine and walk to the beach (15 min walk).
In Isola delle Femmine, you’ll find all the comforts you need (eg. restaurants, sunbeds). Take a swim, relax and wait for the sunset. When we say sunset we mean the sun sinking in the water!!!! The colors of the sky will be your Instagram story!
👉 SUNSET TIP: If you want to make it even cooler than that, rent a SUP board at Isola Surf (about 15 euros), and paddle out from the coast to enjoy the sunset while sitting in the water! Mind-blowing! Sit at Il Miramare Restaurant for dinner (or lunch). When booking, ask to get a table facing the sea.
Get Inspired! Admire art & history!
This activity certainly takes two full days and more. It depends on how much you love art, you can either spend one day or one month exploring the historical gems of Palermo. Golden mosaics, fine stuccos, frescos, morish architecture, gardens, and noble palaces…art for all tastes!
Being the most central and the biggest island in the Mediterranean sea, Sicily’s history was marked by tens of different cultures: Greek, Islamic, Spaniard, Norman, and more.
We drew for you a short list of the top five historical attractions that will give you a complete idea of Sicilian history:
– Chiesa della Martorana. XII century. Admire the golden mosaics, frescos, and marble. All in one cake!
– Chiesa del Gesù Casa Professa. XVI century. Your reaction will be WOW! Imagine a huge Italian cathedral entirely covered with colored marble.
– Duomo di Monreale. Monreale is a small town just outside Palermo, it is part of the city. The Norman cathedral of Monreale has delighted the eyes of travelers and wanderers from all over the world.
– Oratorio di San Lorenzo. Less famous but equally stunning are the Oratories decorated by the 1700s sculptor Giacomo Serpotta. There are a few in town, just start with the central San Lorenzo.
– Catacombs of Cappuccini. Have you ever walked around mummies?… This is your chance! You will walk underground surrounded by embalmed monks and nobles. Very spooky the children’s room was dressed up from head to toe.
Get up! Walk up to the Shrine of Santa Rosalia
The ‘Acchianata’ (the climb, in dialect) is just under 4km long, about 400m in height difference, which believers of all ages walk on the night of 4 September, the anniversary of the death of Saint Rosalie, the patron saint of the city of Palermo, to reach the shrine dedicated to her at the top of Monte Pellegrino, the mountain that W. Goethe called “the most beautiful promontory in the world.”
At this place of devotion dear to the people of Palermo, you will enjoy a panoramic view of the entire gulf. You can choose to reach the top of the mountains walking at any time of the year, or you can arrive there driving or by bus (50 minutes long).
Later, the charming visit to Mondello a tourist stop par excellence with its white beach, liberty-style house, and numerous commercial activities.
Get off! Take an excursion to Cefalù
Cefalù is a very nice and easy destination for a day excursion, it is your escape from the chaos of Palermo city. Why is it a nice excursion to do? For the following reasons:
– It is at only 45 minutes by train from Palermo city center
– It has a beautiful sandy beach
– It has good restaurants facing the sea
– It has a beautiful Cathedral
– It offers perfect frames for your Instagram posts and stories
👉 IMPORTANT TIP: avoid Cefalù in August. It’s too crowded. If you wanna do something cool, the guys at Piranha Surf School organize easy excursions on SUP boards. You don’t need to be skilled, it’s enjoyable for everybody!