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Practical information and tips for your visit to Palermo

A GUIDE TO PALERMO

Villas in Sicily near Palermo >>

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 around €1 an hour. Parking tickets (scheda di parcheggio) can be bought at tobacconists’, bars and 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 many shops are closed) or early afternoon around 2.30pm when many people have gone home for lunch. Saturday afternoons can be very difficult.

Car parks

One central car park is Piazza Ungheria, just off Via Ruggero Settimo, the main street bisecting 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. You will receive a ticket from the machine on entering which you will need to pay using one of the machines before leaving. 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.

There is a large underground car park in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, 49, in front of the Law Court (Tribunale) and just a short walk away from Teatro Massimo. Hourly rates are €1.50 and €2.50 depending on the time of day.

Other means of getting to Palermo

If you're 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. Alternatively, ask your Local Manager to book you a taxi. 

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

If you're staying in the Cefalu' area, you might like to consider catching a train. For complete information about train services consult www.trenitalia.it, which is also in English. Some train services can be a little 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 around 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. Two of the main thoroughfares in the old town centre - Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele - have been pedestrianised. Take a look at our three walking tours:

Itinerary 1: from the Quattro Canti to the Norman Palace
Itinerary 2: the Kalsa district
Itinerary 3: from the Capo market to the Cala marina

Bus tours

There are two open-top double-decker bus tours run by City Sightseeing: one concentrates on the old town centre, the other also takes in the 19th century Liberty area and the Ziza castle. 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 €1.40 for 90 minutes. Full-day tickets are also available. Remember to punch your ticket when you get on the bus.

Safety

Palermo is no more dangerous than any other big city in Europe (indeed it is probably safer than many). We recommend you 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 marina near the port. There are four easily recognizable quarters clearly divided by the mainly pedestrianised streets of 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 palazzi, the old Arabic quarter of La Kalsa, the cathedral and the Norman Palace (with 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 can be difficult to choose a restaurant. To help, we have included a list of recommend restaurants, trattorie, pizzerie, bars and cafés for each of our suggested itineraries.

A few tips

Cover & service charge/tips: a small cover charge (pane e coperto) of around €2 to €3 per person is normally added to restaurant bills. Service will be added in most restaurants, usually around 10%.  If this is not included, you might wish to 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 restaurants, family run trattorie-pizzerie and cafés.  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 cafés and bars, pay first at the till and then take the receipt to the barista to order your food and drink. If you sit at a table, you will pay considerably more than ordering and consuming at the bar.

What can you do in a day?

If you are just coming to Palermo for a day, there will obviously be a limit as to what you will be able to see and do. For this reason we have put together three walking tours, which we hope 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 sights.

Itinerary 1: from the Quattro Canti to the Norman Palace
Itinerary 2: the Kalsa district
Itinerary 3: from the Capo market to the Cala marina

The best day to visit

If shopping is not your priority, arguably 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.

Opening hours

Most shops in the centre are open all day, from about 9.30am to 8.00pm. Some smaller, independent shops, however, may close for lunch from around 1.30pm to 4.00pm.

In terms of museums, galleries, churches, etc. we haven't provided opening times in our walking itineraries, as these often change. As a general rule, most will be open in the morning and the afternoon, sometimes with a break for lunch. When planning your visit to Palermo, we recommend you call your Local Manager, and they will give the most up-to-date information. 



Itinerary 1: from the Quattro Canti to the Norman Palace
Itinerary 2: the Kalsa district
Itinerary 3: from the Capo market to the Cala marina

Museums, art galleries, music, parks and gardens in Palermo

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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