Things to do in
Palermo

Sicily’s ancient capital is peppered with UNESCO-listed sites and an interesting mix of architectural styles.

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Our most recommended things to do in Palermo

Palermo: NO Mafia Walking Tour

1. Palermo: NO Mafia Walking Tour

Explore Teatro Massimo, the open-air market "Il Capo", Piazza Della Memoria (Memorial dedicated to prosecutors and judges killed by the Mafia), Piazza Beati Paoli, the Cathedral, the City Hall, and Piazza Magione. Every stop will be a pause for reflection, a chance to mull over the realities of the Mafia and consider the civic movement against Mafioso power. Along the tour, you will meet shopkeepers who have said NO to paying the Pizzo, who have subscribed to the ethical consumer campaign ‘Pago chi non Paga’ (I pay who does not pay). This campaign is promoted by Addiopizzo to support those that have decided to rebel against the Mafia. End the tour at Antica Focacceria San Francesco, one of the oldest restaurants in Palermo, famous for its ‘Cibo da Strada Palermitano’ (street food of Palermo). Learn about how the owners had the courage to speak out against extortion. Lunch is not included but if you decide to stay you can taste some specialties like, "pane con la Milza" (sandwich stuffed with beef spleen and ricotta cheese), "Arancine" (rice balls), "Panelle" (chickpea fritters), "Anelletti al Forno" (baked ring-shaped pasta), "Involtini di Melanzane" (eggplant rolls), "Sarde a Beccafico" (sardine rolls) and the famous Cannoli.

From Palermo: Monreale and Cefalù Half-Day Trip

2. From Palermo: Monreale and Cefalù Half-Day Trip

Escape the hustle and bustle of Palermo city center on a half-day tour to Monreale and Cefalù. Marvel at a Norman cathedral on the slopes of Monte Caputo, and learn the Greek and Medieval history of one of Sicily’s most beautiful towns. Following a pick-up from your hotel or the port of Palermo, transfer to Monreale where you will have approximately 1-hour to tour the Duomo. An official audio guide is included to learn the history of the 12th-century building, considered one of the greatest landmarks of medieval ecclesiastical architecture in the south of Italy. Then, drive along the north coast of Sicily, on route to the beautiful town of Cefalù. Sit back and relax on the 1.5-hour journey, and on arrival go to the 12th-century Duomo. See traces of the Middle Ages at the Osterio Magno. Get panoramic views from the Porta Terra. Discover Greek and Arabic pottery in the Mandralisca Museum, and walk down some curving stone steps to a picturesque cluster of 16th-century wash basins at the Lavatoio.

Segesta, Erice and Salt Pans Full-Day Excursion from Palermo

3. Segesta, Erice and Salt Pans Full-Day Excursion from Palermo

This popular 8-hour itinerary takes you to see the most interesting sites of western Sicily. With your guide you’ll visit and explore Segesta, a Greek archaeological site. Travel to Nubia and the Salt Pans in Trapani, and admire the Sicilian coast and natural landscapes en route. You’ll also stop at Erice, a medieval hilltop town. Enjoy spectacular views throughout the day. All of the sites are relatively near Palermo, meaning that you’ll have plenty of time to explore each of them. This itinerary is also known as the Elimians's Road, named for the Elimians who were among the first inhabitants of this part of Sicily.

Palermo: Full Day in Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples

4. Palermo: Full Day in Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples

Enjoy a scenic 2-hour drive into the countryside to Agrigento on this full-day excursion from Palmero. Situated on a plateau overlooking the sea, with the Hypsasand the Akragas rivers nearby and a ridge to the north offering a degree of natural fortification, Agrigento was founded in the 6th century BC by Greek colonists from Gela. The 8-hour excursion includes a short stop for a coffee (not included in the tour price) en route to Agrigento, before arriving at the Valley of the Temples. Visit the Hera, Concordia and Apollo temples and Hardcastle villa, with a guidebook that will provide more information about the sites. You’ll have free time to decide on a place for lunch, before your driver takes you to the Agrigento Archaeology Museum. After exploring the museum’s collections, you’ll be transferred back to Palermo.

Palermo Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour: 24-Hour Ticket

5. Palermo Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour: 24-Hour Ticket

Discover Palermo, the chief town of Sicily, on an open-top, hop-on hop-off bus tour! Start from the terminal outside the Politeama Theater, cruise past the Massimo Theatre, and continue towards Piazza Quattro Canti and the nearby Vucciria Market. The tour continues towards the botanical gardens, passing near Palazzo Steri. After a quick glance of the central station, you'll find yourself in the vicinity of the Royal Palace, the Flea Market, and the Cathedral. Then return to the terminal along the ancient via Roma. The second route takes you to the beautiful villas of Palermo. Starting from the terminal outside the Politeama Theatre, admire the gorgeous English Garden and then continue towards Villa Malfitano and the wonderful Zisa Castle. The tour passes near the Mercato del Capo and the Massimo Theatre, towards the port, and then returns to the terminal in Politeama Square.

Palermo 3-Hour Street Food and History Walking Tour

6. Palermo 3-Hour Street Food and History Walking Tour

A walk through the center of Palermo is like visiting an open-air museum, where you’ll experience a range of different architectural styles. During the 3-hour walk you’ll see the Capo street markets that is a true mix of culture, customs, and food traditions, the Cathedral, the Quattro Canti and Piazza della Vergogna. The walk will also provide an opportunity to taste some specialties of Palermo. Some of the particular tastes of street food you might enjoy include sfincione (dough topped with onion, bread crumbs, tomato, and oregano), panelle (fried chickpea flour), crocché (potato croquettes), arancine (rice croquettes stuffed with meat or butter), and cannolo (crunchy shell with sweet-cheese). If you want you can ask to taste the bread with “meusa” (bread with spleen). You can ask also availability of tour in Italian language.

Welcome to Palermo: Private Tour with a Local

7. Welcome to Palermo: Private Tour with a Local

Transform the way you travel and make it as much about the people you meet as the places you see. Get a welcome to Palermo from a local guide eager to share all the tips to help you make the most of your stay. Meet at your hotel or accommodation and get familiar with the neighborhood. Learn insider tips, such as the best places to eat, buy groceries and the easiest ways to get around. Alternatively, arrange to meet at a central landmark or intersection to start your walking tour. Hear about the top things to do, customized to your interests. By the end, you will feel more comfortable navigating the city with all the information you need.

Sicily: Etna Volcano & Taormina Tour

8. Sicily: Etna Volcano & Taormina Tour

Discover Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe (3.345 mt), and the town of Taormina that sits on the slopes of Mount Tauro on this guided tour. Enjoy plenty of free time to see the Silvestri Craters, Taormina’s Greek-Roman Theater, and more. Meet with staff and the rest of the group at the meeting point in Palermo, then depart to Etna. Upon arrival, enjoy free time to visit the Silvestri Craters and other sites. Optionally, you can also climb Mount Etna in two different ways: • Ascend to 2,500 meters: From Funivia dell’Etna, ride a cable car up to 2,500 meters (at Montagnola). Upon arrival at 2,500 meters, you can walk around, hike, or enjoy a drink at the bar overlooking the area. • Ascend to the top from 2,500 meters up to 2,920 meters: From Montagnola at around 2,500 meters, jump on board the UNI-MOG (mini-coach WD4X4) to reach 2,800 meters with a licensed Etna guide. Then, hike to reach 2,920 meters. Afterward, depart for Taormina, a scenic town on the slopes of Mount Tauro (204 m). This stop is not guided, so you are free to explore independently at your own pace. Visit the Greek-Roman Theater and admire the views of Etna and Taormina Bay. Later, head back to Palermo to be dropped off.

Palermo: Markets and Monuments City Center Walking Tour

9. Palermo: Markets and Monuments City Center Walking Tour

Get a feel for the rich history, culture, and architecture of central Palermo on a 3-hour guided walking tour. Your guide will take you to Norman Sicily churches and beautiful palaces, through bustling city squares and famous old street markets. Head first to the Teatro Massimo and learn about Italy’s largest opera house, known for its perfect acoustics. Then visit the beautiful Palermo Cathedral, dating from the 12th century and part of UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. See the Church of the Gesù, one of the most important Baroque churches in Palermo, as well as the Praetorian Palace, an outstanding palace of the 15th century.   Continue to Pretoria Square, referred to by locals as the “square of shame” for the nudity of its fountain statues. You’ll also visit the nearby Bellini Square where you’ll see the Church of San Cataldo and Martorana Church, two more Norman Sicily–era churches and UNESCO World Heritage sites.   Along the way, your guide will lead you through the famous Capo street markets. Observe the lively scenes and multitude of smells, textiles, and colorful foods as you weave among the stalls. You can also buy and taste some of the city’s popular street food, including: panelle (chickpea fritters), crocchè (fried potato and egg), and arancine (rice balls).   The tour ends in the exact center of historic Palermo, the Baroque Villena Square, also known as Quattro Canti (Four Corners). It was built in the early 1600s at the crossing of the two most prominent streets in Palermo: Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda.

From Palermo: Villa Romana and Valley of the Temples Trip

10. From Palermo: Villa Romana and Valley of the Temples Trip

Follow in the footsteps of the Greeks and Romans on a day trip where your transport is taken care of for you. Discover some of the finest Roman mosaics in the world at the Villa Romana del Casale. Learn all about the Valley of the Temples archaeological site with a licensed local guide. Meet your driver in central Palermo and be taken straight to Piazza Armerina, where you will explore the Villa Romana del Casale independently. Marvel at the luxurious 4th-century villa, home to an influential Roman family. Take your time to examine its exquisite mosaic flooring. Continue to Agrigento for a guided tour of the magnificent Valley of Temples, built by the Greeks in the 5th century BC. See the ruins of temples, necropolises, houses, streets, and everything else you'd expect to find in an ancient city. Finally, return to the meeting point in Palermo.

Frequently asked questions about Palermo

What top attractions are a must-see in Palermo?

Planning Your Visit

  • Palermo Day Trips: Take a Bus to The Beach

    Palermo beaches are a must! Mondello is the nearest and easiest to reach by Palermo bus #806.

  • Walk Everywhere

    It’s true for most European cities, but especially Sicily’s regional capital. Start in the Old City; admire the architecture and take spontaneous breaks in the many squares.

Good to know

  • Language
    Italian
  • Currency
    Euro (€)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+01:00)
  • Country Code
    +39
  • Best time to visit
    If you can wait, try to plan your visit for September, when the temperatures are more bearable, the summer crowds are dying down, but the water is still warm and pleasant.

Other Sightseeing Options in Palermo

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What people are saying about Palermo

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,185 reviews

A thoroughly enjoyable experience. Our charming and knowledgeable guide, Salvo created a connection between us and Palermo, we met his friends as we moved around and felt welcomed and at home. We were greeted with smiles everywhere. The drinks were good, the food varied, interesting and it added up to almost too much. We had a wonderful evening and recommend it unreservedly.

I always do a food tour when I arrive to a new city. It’s so helpful to have locals give the ins and outs/do’s and don’ts while eating local fare. Angelo was wonderful! Super knowledgeable, personable and fun. I had the best arancina of my life and could not recommend Palermo or the food tour more highly.

Visited the streets of Palermo, and ate a delicious variety of food in and around the market. We explored the historical sites of the old city centre learning about the culture and traversing the beautiful scenery. Our guide was charismatic, endearing, knowledgeable and approachable.

A great food tour of Palermo - markets, tastings, and also some local history and stories. Our guide Raffa had so much passion and enthusiasm so that even with some bad weather halfway through the tour, it was still a great day.

We had a great experience and a lovely day! Is was really nice.