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Palermo is located on the North West coast of Sicily, overlooking the sea

Palermo is the capital city of Sicily and embodies all the island has to offer. On the north coast, boarded by the vibrant sea, this is a popular destination for tourists wishing to experience the ultimate taste of Sicily. Our guide to Palermo will showcase all the best the city has to offer, from the unmissable things to do whilst you’re here, to the best hotel to stay in for your budget, and even the restaurants you must eat in whilst you’re here.

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Where is Palermo?

Palermo is located in the stunning region of Sicily in Italy. Located on the north-west coast, the capital of Sicily sits by the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. With stunning scenery and coastal views, those visiting the Italian island should not miss Palermo on their trip.

When is the Best Time to Visit Palermo?

There’s never not a good time to visit Palermo, but depending on what you want from your holiday, you may wish to plan your trip for different times of year. Here are our top recommendations for each season:

  • April – June – Outside of school holiday season, you’ll find the Sicily weather at this time of year is warm but comfortable. It is also less busy than the peak summer period.
  • July – August – For those visiting Palermo for its beaches and to catch a tan – the summer months are the ideal time to go. You’ll find these to be the hottest months – perfect for swimming if you’re on a family vacation! This time of year tends to be the busiest.
  • September – October – As with pre-summer holidays, early autumn offers warm weather with fewer crowds.
  • November – March – Want to take in the beauty of this historic city without feeling like you’re climbing through a sea of people? Although the weather is colder in the winter months, you’ll find there are fewer crowds and prices for hotels and activities tend to be cheaper as it is the low season.
visit the wonderful scenic city of Palermo

How to Get to Palermo

Getting to Palermo is super easy – with an international airport that has many flights from the UK and the USA coming into it each week. Palermo’s international airport code is PMO. Once you’ve landed at the airport it is a short 36 minute taxi ride to the centre of Palermo. You can also take public transport, which will take you just over an hour.

Are There Direct Flights from London to Palermo?

Those after a holiday that involves a short flight will be happy to know that you can fly directly from London to Palermo airport (PMO). Airlines that offer this journey include:

If you’re planning a Sicilian road trip and will head home from a different destination, there are plenty of other airports that offer direct flights from Sicily to London.

4 Best Things to Do in Palermo

One of the most important steps in planning your trip to Palermo is deciding what to do whilst you’re there. Here are the top 4 things to do:

  • Palermo Cathedral – The cathedral in Palermo is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features a fusion of different architectural styles, serving as a Phoenician temple to a Roman basilica; the cathedral as it stands today has Normal, Arab, and gothic influences.
  • Teatro Massimo – This opera house is an architectural masterpiece that you cannot miss. From grand staircases, to imposing columns, the horseshoe shaped auditorium is known for its incredible acoustics. Take a guided tour or book tickets to watch a performance.
  • Markets – For a casual daytime activity in Palermo, head for the city’s two markets. At Ballarò market you’ll find fresh produce and handmade trinkets. Whilst Vucciria market is known for its seafood and local specialties.
  • The Capuchin Catacombs – Those interested in dark tourism will be drawn to the Capuchin Catacombs which were used as a cemetery in the 16th century for friars.
Palermo is full of historic building as well as markets and local shops to explore

3 Best Hotels in Palermo for Every Budget

As the capital of Sicily, Palermo has many hotels and B&Bs on offer. We’ve researched the best hotel in the city for every budget, so you can choose the perfect fit for you:

  • Grand Hotel et des Palmes – A five star hotel situated in a grand 1874 building. You’ll have your pick from sophisticated suites to stay in, whilst you can enjoy the hotel’s refined dining offerings, and explore the 3 bars in the evening.
  • La Terrazza Sul Centro – A three star hotel offering modern rooms, complete with a rooftop terrace that will allow you to get the best views of the city.
  • Hotel Villa D’Amato – For a budget option, head to this three star hotel that overlooks the sea – just 4km from the city centre. Set in an art-nouveau building with a lush garden and Sicilian restaurant.
Palermo has hotels for every budget, some even have beautiful views over the city and sea

8 Unmissable Restaurants in Palermo

One of the best parts of any holiday is participating in gastronomy tourism, and with its Sicilian heritage Palermo does not disappoint on the foodie front. Palermo is home to two Michelin star restaurants and one restaurant with a Bid Gourmand award:

  • Buatta Cucina Popolana (Bid Gourmand) – We hear the Bucatini alle sarde is a dish not to be missed!
  • Mec Restaurant (1 Michelin Star) – For those with a sweet tooth, the traditional cannoli on offer for dessert here are meant to be some of the best in Palermo. For a true experience, why not book in for their tasting menu?
  • Gagini Restaurant (1 Michelin Star) – Whilst the menu changes seasonally, some highlights of previous menus include Ziti with sweetbreads in Marsala sauce and the classic Sicilian Cassata Siciliana dessert.

For more everyday dining here are the restaurants on our list for Palermo:

  • Biga Genio e Farino – specialising in Sicilian pizza, you can enjoy your slices alongside local beers and expertly mixed cocktails.
  • Madonieat – Serving up a changing daily menu that features pasta, veggie lasagnas, and meatballs. You can’t go wrong with this Mediterranean trattoria.

For a romantic dinner:

Limu Restaurant – fine dining set in an elegantly decorated and sophisticated building. You’ll be treated to modern Sicilian dishes, using seasonal ingredients.

Best restaurant for seafood:

La Scuderia – Located in the heart of Palermo, this seafood restaurant offers up fish sourced directly from local fishermen, with a diverse menu that also offers vegetarian and vegan options.

Where to Eat for Vegetarians & Vegans:

Haiku Cucina Naturale – A fully plant-based menu offers dishes crafted from fresh, seasonal ingredients, that the chefs use to experiment with flavours and techniques.

Is Palermo Featured in Any Movies or TV Shows?

With its outstanding beauty, it’s no surprise Sicily has featured in many movies and TV shows. If you’re a film buff and planning to visit Palermo, you be pleased to know that it too has been a set for a range of movies:

  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) – The 5th instalment in the franchise was filmed in many Sicily spots, including Palermo.
  • The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) – Those who are fans of this classic film can walk in the footsteps of Smith-Kingsley by visiting Chiesa della Martorana in Palermo – this acted as the Venetian church in the movie.
  • The Godfather Part III (1990) – The climax to this movie was filmed at Teatro Massimo in Palermo, with the final scenes filmed on the opera house steps.

Take a watch of these popular movies to get an idea of what to expect from Palermo’s scenery before you board your flight.

Experience All That Italy Has to Offer

Before jetting off on your trip to this gorgeous region of Sicily, make sure you follow Virtual Wanderlust on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest to inspire your next trip. From the Italian islands you may have missed, to what to know about Mount Etna before you go – we’ve got the inspiration for you.


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