Palermo is an idyllic coastal spot on the southern edge of Europe, blessed with ancient architectural masterpieces, exotic eateries and mosaic-filled cathedrals. Narrow laneways lead to boutique stores and centuries-old palaces, while the Tyrrhenian Sea complements enticing waterfront districts.
Things to do in Palermo
Having gone through numerous rulers, Palermo is home to an impressive collection of palaces, or “palazzos”. The 9th-century Palazzo dei Normanni is the oldest royal residence in Europe and boasts a museum with historic artefacts and mosaics. Visit the adjacent Cappella Palatina, the royal chapel of Norman kings that has luxurious gilded walls.
Fancy a night out at the opera? Make time for a show at Italy’s largest opera house, the Teatro Massimo, which hosts brilliant performances such as “Midsummer Night’s Dream” in its grand venue. For a truly somber experience, venture to the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, where you can see mummified remains lining the walls.
Enjoy the outdoors with a walk around Capo Gallo Reserve, located in the neighbouring city of Mondello. It’s positioned on the edge of Sicily and provides panoramic Tyrrhenian Sea vistas and access to an old lighthouse and native flora. Nearby, you’ll find Mondello Beach, which has clear blue water, soft sand and rugged cliffs on either side.
If you love to shop, be sure to visit Mercato di Ballarò, Palermo’s most popular street market. Here you’ll find a mix of cultural goods, from locally-sourced meat and fish to souvenirs and Mediterranean cuisine. Don’t miss the Fontana Pretoria, a major landmark with intricate sculptures around a central tiered fountain.
Getting around Palermo
You can easily walk around central Palermo and to the nearby port area. Local city buses are great for reaching destinations further afield, while taxis are a good option late at night when the traffic is lighter.