The bustling and beautiful city of Palermo is a great base for a Sicilian vacation. There are so many sights within easy reach that you can stay in one place and not have to move around too much. These are our picks for the best day trips to take from Palermo.
Just because you have picked a city for your base, doesn’t mean you can’t spend a day or two at the beach. Mondello Beach is less than 10 miles away, a short bus or taxi ride from the city center. This popular beach has clear blue water and a long, wide crescent of soft sand. Rent a sun lounger and an umbrella at one of the private clubs, or find a patch of sand in a free section. There are cafes and restaurants along the long boardwalk area where you can have lunch, or grab a sandwich.
Escape the hustle and bustle of chaotic Palermo and head for one of the tranquil, natural places that are within an easy drive. The Madonie Mountains are Sicily’s highest mountain range and have trails that are good for hikers and mountain bikers. TheParco delle Madonie is a regional park that incorporate the 15 mountain villages. Bring the kids to the Parco Avventura and they can spend the day zip lining, orienteering or even working on tenor archery skills. The lesser known Nebrodi National Parkalso stretches over miles and has its own mountain peaks and lakes. It is home to the the Nebrodian black pig, which is used to make prized salami and prosciutto in the area. Stop in one of the mountain villages and have a taste. Mountain biking and hiking are the main activities in the park.
While it is unlikely you will exhaust the historic sites that there are to visit in Palermo, there are so many treasures nearby that it would be a shame to not explore just slightly further afield. The hill town town of Monreale, which sits on the slopes of Mount Capto, is within view of Palermo on a clear day. You can take a public bus or private taxi to reach this historic town. Visit the astonishing Arab-Norman era cathedral with its dazzling mosaics and multicolored cloisters, and have a drink or gelato in one of the town’s piazzas. In just over an hour’s drive, you can be at the extraordinary site of Segesta,which is home to one of the world’s most intact Greek temples. Once a powerful city descended from Trojans, you can still visit the two main sites, a theater and the Doric temple. Located high on the Mount Barbaro, this once very strategic spot now affords incredible views of the surrounding countryside.
Keep everyone happy with a day in pretty Cefalu. This coastal city has a fortress like cathedral filled with intricate mosaics for the history buff, and one of Sicily’s most scenic beaches for the beach bunny. The soft ocher buildings and narrow cobblestone streets are made for wandering, with plenty of stops for a postcard perfect picture. The lungomare, which runs along the seafront, is popular for a stroll and a stop for coffee and gelato.