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Some practical information and tips for your visit to Palermo

A GUIDE TO PALERMO

Practical Information

Villas in Sicily near Palermo >>

Palermo 2018 - Italian Capital of Culture and host city of Manifesta 12 >>

Parking

If you are coming in to Palermo by car you will, of course, need to park. Parking can be quite difficult but by no means impossible in the centre.  Most areas have blue-lined parking spaces which cost €1 an hour. Parking tickets (scheda di parcheggio) can be bought at tobacconists’, bars or shops (or from an unofficial parking “helper”). Scratch out the date and time and leave the tickets on your dashboard.

A good place to try and park is Piazza Marina in the heart of Palermo’s old town centre near the seafront. The easiest times to find a parking space are probably on Monday morning or Sunday (when the shops are closed) or early afternoon around 2.30pm when many people have gone home for lunch. Saturday afternoon can be very difficult.

Car parks

One very central car park is Piazza Ungheria, just off Via Ruggero Settimo, the main street dissecting Palermo between Piazza Castelnuovo and Piazza Verdi. Here you will have to pay €1.50 per hour but most major monuments and the old town centre are within easy walking distance. Here you will receive a ticket from the machine on entering which you will need to pay in Bar Mazzara just before you leave. N.B. There are often queues in the morning from about 8.30am to 9.30am and in the afternoon from about 4.00pm to 4.30pm. Lunchtime is generally fairly easy.

Other means of getting to Palermo

If you are staying in Mondello, it may be a good idea to leave the car and take a bus, number 806, which will drop you at the end of Via Liberta’ near Piazza Politeama, the most exclusive shopping thoroughfare in Palermo. From here most places of interest are within relatively easy walking distance.

If you are staying to the west of Palermo airport, a good idea is to park at the airport and take the frequent bus shuttle into town - stopping either at Piazza Politeama or the central station, both within easy walking distance of the old town centre.

If staying further out, for example near Cefalu' to the east, think about taking a train. For complete information about train services consult www.trenitalia.it which is also in English. Some train services can be very slow so it is advisable to check how long the trip is going to take.

Click on map to enlarge

Map of Palermo | Think Sicily

GETTING AROUND PALERMO

Walking

As in most cities, the best way to see Palermo is on foot. This allows you to wander round the web of back streets and discover hidden palaces and churches that you may otherwise miss. The old town centre of Palermo, where most sites of interest are situated, is extensive but quite easily walkable. However, there are several other options if tiredness sets in or if the midday sun takes its toll.

Bus tours


There are two open-top double-decker bus tours which leave from Piazza Politeama every hour. Tickets cost €20 for adults and €10 for children aged between 5 and 15 years old. A family ticket (for 2 adults and 3 children up to 18 years old) is also available at €50 (all prices as of 2010). You can stay on the bus for the full tour, do two different tours (each lasting about 55 minutes) or hop on and off during the day (tickets are valid for the whole day).See the City Sightseeing website for more info.

Horse and carriage


Another popular way to get a general idea of Palermo is to take a horse and carriage which can generally be found in front of Teatro Massimo or near the Cathedral. You MUST agree a price with the driver first, however, so as not to have any unpleasant surprises at the end.

General bus services


Palermo also has a regular bus service and this is particularly useful for a trip up to Monreale and its splendid Duomo (bus 389 from Piazza Indipendenza next to the Palatine Chapel). Bus tickets can be bought from most tobacconists’ or from little kiosks near the main bus termini and cost €1.30 for 90 minutes' use. Remember to punch your ticket when you get on the bus.

SAFETY


Palermo is no more dangerous than any other big city in Europe. You should take simple, routine precautions such as paying attention to your bags, cameras and wallets in crowded areas or when on buses.

GENERAL ORIENTATION

If you look at the map of Palermo above, it is very easy to see how the old town centre was laid out. La Cala is a small harbour near the port. There are four easily recognizable quarters clearly divided by Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda. It is in these four quarters that you will find most places of interest, including the Arabic markets, a plethora of magnificent churches and aristocratic palaces, the old Arabic quarter “La Kalsa”, the Cathedral and the Palatine Chapel. There are also a great many restaurants and bars in this area as well as shops (Via Roma, Via Maqueda).

EATING OUT

Like in any large city, it is often difficult to choose a restaurant that you think is suitable for you. To help a little, for each itinerary, we have included a list of several restaurants that we have tried and which, in our experience, are generally good, if not excellent.

A few tips:

Cover & service charge / tips: A small cover charge (“pane e coperto”) is normally included on restaurant bills at around 2-3 Euros per person. Service will be added in most restaurants, usually around 10% but up to 15% and above.  If this is not included, leave a tip of around 10%.

On Friday and Saturday nights restaurants and pizzerie get particularly crowded from 20:30 onwards.

Children are usually very welcome in all local restaurants, family run trattorie-pizzerie and cafes.  You might feel less at ease in the most upmarket restaurants in the evening though Italians do take their children out at night, especially in the summer!

In cafes & bars, pay first at the till and take the receipt to the “barista” to order your food/drink

Ordering a drink/coffee or a quick snack at a table costs much more than ordering and consuming at the bar.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IN A DAY?

If you are just coming to Palermo on a day trip, obviously there will be a limit as to what you will be able to see and do. For this reason, we have put together some itineraries which will help you concentrate on a specific area and on the places that are generally accepted as being the most “important”. Alternatively simply select from the itineraries and create your own list of “priorities”.

THE BEST DAY TO VISIT


If shopping is not your priority, probably the best day to discover Palermo is Sunday when, at least in the summer, most people are at the beach, traffic is virtually non-existent and parking is free.

Itinerary 1

Itinerary 2

Itinerary 3

Back to the introduction

Villas in Sicily near Palermo >>

Palermo 2018 - Italian Capital of Culture and host city of Manifesta 12 >>

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