The Top 10 Things To Do and See in Palermo

Photo of Luca Pinelli
9 February 2017

Palermo is a city that combines beautiful architecture with breathtaking landscapes and enchanting views of the sea. What’s more, the local food, known for its freshness and ancient roots, is famed throughout the world. The following 10 Palermo attractions will make your trip memorable.

Palermo | © kismihok/Flickr

The Cathedral

Through the ages Palermo has been shaped by different cultures and creeds, each leaving their mark on the architecture, art and monuments here. The Cathedral is possibly the epitome of this tendency. Originally created around 600 AD, it was modified through the ages by different rulers, giving it a whole host of different styles and features: Gothic; Moorish; Baroque and more. It is also possible to enjoy an enchanting view of the city from the rooftop.

Cathedral | © Dzhingarova/Flickr

Mercati di Palermo (Ballarò, Vucciria, Capo)

These three markets are very popular amongst locals, who generally do their weekly shops between the stalls. The prices are typically low and the quality of the food is testified by the bright colors and enticing aromas. Sellers can get very vocal in the selling of their wares here, so these spots also offer an insight into the colourful Palermitan way of living. They are open every day throughout the day, from dusk till dawn and beyond.

Pizza at Pollicino

If you ask any local about the must-taste dishes of Palermo, they will invariably point in the direction of Panificio Pollicino. This bakery is a household name in the city, having survived and thrived for decades. The pizzas offered here are al taglio (paid for by the square slice) and patrons can choose from a wide and diverse range of toppings. These are usually locally sourced, so that you can taste real Sicilian flavors.

via Ugo Bassi 43, Palermo, Italy, +39 091 331154


Mondello is a small borough just outside the city centre of Palermo. It boasts one of the best beaches in the whole city and is known by tourists and locals alike – a fact that gives rise to the area’s bustling vibe and welcoming character. Various eateries are scattered along the streets leading to the beach here, so there are plenty of excellent, Sicilian spots to have great food on your way to the sun-splashed sands.

Arancina at Bar Touring

Arancina or arancino is a typical Sicilian street food consisting of a rice ball with various fillings. The standard one is with peas and ragù (Bolognese sauce), but Bar Touring has a vast selection of different styles. The fillings are varied, usually coming with spinach, or with meat and ham, all for just 1.70 euros a pop! Visitors will discover several locations of this bar peppered throughout the city.

Teatro Massimo | © Pedro Hernandez/Flickr

Teatro Massimo

This is one of the most important opera houses in Italy. Besides its cultural significance, it also retains a certain architectural weight, which alone merits a visit. Guided tours of Teatro Massimo are organized on a daily basis with polyglot guides who point out some fundamental aspects of its form and significance. Alternatively, visitors might be lucky enough to get tickets for an opera – a real introduction to the passionate side of the Italian character.

Piazza Verdi, Palermo, Italy, +39 091 605 3521

Aperitivo at MoMa

MoMa is a café-club outside central Palermo. It is famous amongst locals not just for the good vibes, but for the wicked combination of aperitivo and karaoke on Sunday nights. Imagine good finger food, rivers of booze and loud music sung by a jovial crowd, usually in a thick southern Italian accent. For more theatrical types there is also the possibility of joining in, of course!

Via Monte Pellegrino, 109-111, Palermo, Italy, +39 380 908 7988

Castello Utveggio

This castle is located on the top of Mount Pellegrino and offers a spectacular view over Palermo. After a somewhat arduous walk up to the summit, visitors here enjoy sweeping panoramas of theTyrrhenian Sea and the northern Sicilian coastline; a sight once described by Goethe as one of the most beautiful seaside spots on the planet! What’s more, the characteristic pink hues of the castle itself, and its indebtedness to the liberty style, mean it looks a whole load different to most other medieval fortifications in the region.

Chiesa della Martorana | © askii/Flickr

Chiesa della Martorana

This wonderful Byzantine church dates back to the 12th century and boasts incredible decorations which never fail to impress tourists and locals alike. Just like Palermo itself, it was subject to different influences through the ages so that its shape still retains elements of different architectural and artistic currents. Amongst others, the beautiful gold mosaics in truly Byzantine fashion merit a mention, but the frescoes on the ceiling are not to be neglected either. Admission comes at a bargain 2 euros, too!

Villa Trabia

Map View
Open daily from 8am to 7pm, this villa dating back to the 18th century will astonish every tourist with its beautiful façade and the wonderful gardens which surround it. Inside, the building has a library and a reading room, but outside, in the summer, various events and parties are organized. The garden also boasts groves of trees and beautiful fountains which do well to combine culture and nature in the heart of Palermo town.

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