Blending beautiful architecture with breathtaking landscapes, mouthwatering food, and spectacular views of the sea, Palermo is world-renowned a being an unforgettable summer escape. The capital of the Italian island of Sicily, Palermo is home to architectural gems like the 12th-century Palermo Cathedral, which houses royal tombs, the massive neoclassical Teatro Massimo, the 9th century Palazzo dei Normanni, and the Byzantine mosaic-clad Cappella Palatina. The city also boasts bustling street markets, buzzing restaurants and sidewalk cafés, and stunning seaside resorts.
1.Cattedrale di Palermo (Palermo Cathedral)
Cattedrale di Palermo (Palermo Cathedral) is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Palermo and is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Originally constructed in 1185, the cathedral has been shaped by different cultures through the ages, giving it an exciting array of features and styles ranging from Baroque and Moorish to Gothic. Signature features of the building include a tall Renaissance clock tower, a beautiful central basilica, a mosque, and a crypt that houses the tomb of Emperor Frederick II and several artifacts from different periods of the church.
Via Vittorio Emanuele, 90134 Palermo PA, Italy, Phone: +39-0-91-33-43-73
2.Mercati di Palermo
© Antonino Palazzolo/stock.adobe.com
Palermo has several food markets, which are a fantastic way to sample local life, meet the local people, and get a real feel for the city. The main food markets include Ballaro, Cap and Vucciria, which can be found in the center of the town and sell a wealth of fresh fruit, vegetables, farm produce, meats, cheeses, dairy products, and homemade cakes, pastries, cookies, sweets and more. Ensconced by a myriad of enticing aromas and vibrant colors, the food markets draw both tourists and locals tend to do their weekly shopping at them due to the low prices. The food markets are open every day throughout the year, from dawn until dusk.
Adiacenze Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Palermo, Sicily, Italy
© Aleksandar Todorovic/stock.adobe.com
Mondello is a charming coastal suburb just outside the city with a bustling vibe that is named for its beautiful, long white sandy beach. A vintage Art Nouveau pavilion at the end of the pier takes center stage in this vibrant area, and the beach is lined with seasonal street-food stalls, gourmet eateries, sidewalk cafés, and buzzing beach bars. Lapped by the warm Mediterranean waters, the gorgeous beach attracts both locals and tourists alike, wanting to take a break from sight-seeing and relax or swim in the crystal-clear waters of the bay. The nearby Capo Gallo Reserve offers several excellent hiking trails and panoramic sea views.
4.Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele
The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele or simply known as Teatro Massimo is a beautifully preserved opera house and opera company in the heart of Palermo and one of the most important opera houses in Italy. Located on the Piazza Verdi, the opera house was opened in 1897 and is world-renowned renowned for its perfect acoustic qualities and deep cultural significance. Dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II, the opulent building boasts a palatial-like exterior and breathtaking interiors, and visitors can enjoy guided tours daily led by multilingual guides who share the rich history and architectural importance of the structure.
Piazza Verdi, Palermo, Italy, Phone: +39-09-16-05-35-21
MoMa is a popular café and club in the heart of Palermo that draws locals for exceptional aperitivo and karaoke on Sunday nights.
Via Monte Pellegrino, 109-111, Palermo, Italy, Phone: +39-38-09-08-79-88
Castello Utveggio is located on the top of Mount Pellegrino and boasts breathtaking panoramic views over Palermo, the northern Sicilian coastline, and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Standing sentry high on the hill above the city, the castle was built in 1928 and is famous for its unusual architectural design, which was very different to the other palaces of the period, and its characteristic pink hues. The castle fell into disrepair after being occupied during the Second World War and was later restored to its former glory to become the home of the Cerisdi, Research, and Management Studies Center.
90142 Palermo, Province of Palermo, Italy, Phone: +39-09-16-39-11-11
7.Chiesa della Martorana (Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio)
© Davide D'Amico/stock.adobe.com
The Norman church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (Cathedral of St. Mary of the Admiral) was founded in 1141 by George of Antioch and later renamed Chiesa della Martorana for Eloisa Martorana, who founded a nearby Benedictine convent. The beautifully preserved 12th-century Byzantine church is the seat of the parish of San Nicolò dei Greci and is famous for its breathtaking interiors featuring stunning gold mosaics and frescoes on the ceiling. The cathedral also features a variety of architectural elements that highlight the different cultural influences over the centuries and is right next to the tiny Chiesa di San Cataldo with red Moorish domes and a stone interior dating back to the Middle Ages.
Piazza Bellini, 3, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy, Phone: +3934-58-28-82-31
Villa Trabia, also known as Casena di Trabia alla Terre Rosse, is a beautifully appointed historic villa in the center of Palermo surrounded by exquisitely manicured gardens and grounds. Dating back to the 18th century, the villa is a superb example of the luxurious life in Palermo at the turn of the century, and features striking architectural details such as a grand staircase and an ornate a library with spacious reading rooms. The park surrounding the villa is laid out like a botanical garden filled with Mediterranean plants, Ficus trees, fountains, and sculptures and makes for a picturesque backdrop for festivals and cultural events. The villa is open daily to the public and offers guided tours.
3 Via Antonino Salinas, Palermo, Sicilia, 90141, Italy, Phone: +39-09-17-40-59-05
© Osteria Ballarò
Osteria Ballarò is an elegant restaurant-wine bar that celebrates the richness of Sicilian culture and its culinary traditions in a stylish and sophisticated setting in the heart of Palermo. Located within the former stables of Palazzo Cattolica and featuring exposed brick walls, bare stone columns, and vaulted ceilings, the beautifully appointed restaurant-wine bar exudes an evocative and intimate atmosphere that is perfect for romantic celebrations. Inspired by the Slow Food movement, the creative menu celebrates fresh island produce and traditional cooking with dishes like antipasti of salumi (charcuterie) and artisan cheeses, along with typical Sicilian dishes like canazzo and caponata, crudite di pesce (local sashimi), and seafood primi and mouthwatering Sicilian dolci (sweets). The food is accompanied by a good selection of quality local wines, and reservations are recommended. Osteria Ballarò is open for lunch and dinner, daily.
25 Via Calascibetta, Palermo, Sicilia, 90133, Italy, Phone: +39-0-91-32-64-88
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10.Al Fondaco del Conte
Housed in an ancient building next to the bustling Ballarò market on the Piazza Conte Federico, Al Fondaco del Conte is a contemporary restaurant with a warm and welcoming vibe that once served as a fondaco or a rest stop for carters in past times. Furnished in chic and minimalist style with a homely and laid-back atmosphere, the restaurant serves a menu of unique and innovative dishes such as sea urchin tagliatelle, swordfish, and mint caponata, chicory and gorgonzola risotto, and bowls of delicious mussel soup. Friendly, professional staff serve with a smile, and guests have the opportunity to meet the chef when he arrives at each table to describe the dishes. Al Fondaco del Conte is open for dinner only Thursday through Tuesday.
24 Piazza Conte Federico, Palermo, Sicilia, 90134, Italy, Phone: +39-09-16-52-23-12
11.Osteria dei Vespri
© Osteria dei Vespri
Located on the square of the Cross Vespers, Osteria dei Vespri is a cozy Sicilian eatery that serves cosmopolitan fare prepared from scratch using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Owned by brothers Andrea and Alberto Rizzo, the charming little spot is ideal for a quiet dinner for two or a jovial gathering with friends and offers unique culinary delights like the ‘Earth’ and ‘Classic’ tasting menus, which feature small samples of traditional Sicilian fare, and specialties like boneless leg of duck with white wine and vegetable caponata and ricotta cheese ravioli with Nocellara tuna and fried zucchini. The cuisine is paired with an attentively selected wine list showcasing wines from Sicilian and Italian producers and further afield. Osteria dei Vespri is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
6 Piazza Croce dei Vespri, Palermo, Sicilia, 90133, Italy, Phone: +39-09-16-17-16-31
12.Gagini Social Restaurant
© Gagini Social Restaurant
Nestled between the vibrant old market of La Vucciria and Piazza Marina, Gagini Social Restaurant offers a unique dining experience whereby guests can feast on delectable local cuisine while ensconced in historical ambiance. Boasting 16th century stone walls, low arches, wooden doors, and soft candlelight, the restaurant focuses on the ‘social table’ concept whereby guests dine around a round table to create a pleasant and friendly atmosphere of eating, drinking and being merry. Modern European influences blend with classic Sicilian flavors in dishes on the menu such as Cinisara roast beef with Sicilian ricotta and lemon risotto with fish roe, toasted almonds, and courgette pesto, and the fine wines from around Italy accompany the cuisine. Social Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily.
35 Via dei Cassari, Palermo, Sicilia, 90133, Italy, Phone: +39-0-91-58-99-18
© Villa Costanza
Boasting breathtaking views of the city and the Tyrrhenian Sea from a hilltop high above central Palermo, Villa Costanza is an excellent spot for a romantic dinner under the stars. The refined restaurant has an elegant dining room and a beautiful terrace surrounded by lush greenery, where guests can sip cocktails and watch the sunset before dinner. The creative menu offers favorites like hand-tossed, wood-fired pizza with various toppings, and an array of typical Italian and Mediterranean cuisine with a contemporary twist. The cuisine is paired with casual wines from around Italy, craft beers, and handcrafted cocktails made with high-end spirits, and aperitif events are hosted on the terrace in the summer. Villa Costanza is open for dinner only, Wednesday through Monday.
42 Via Pietro Bonanno, Palermo, Sicilia, 90142, Italy, Phone: +39-0-91-54-70-27
© Nicolas Faramaz/stock.adobe.com
A’Cuncuma is a refined, yet unpretentious restaurant with a cozy dining room and an intimate ambiance that serves a creative menu of authentic and innovative Sicilian cuisine and local wines. Chef Vincenzo Pinto creates a menu that juxtapositions the traditional with the modern, featuring typical Sicilian dishes with a contemporary and creative twist. Two tasting menus are offered – a six-course ‘Walking through the streets of Palermo’ menu and a seven-course ‘Low tide Between the Sea and the Earth’ offering guests the chance to savor the traditional cuisine of Palermo. Fine wines from around Italy and further afield accompany the cuisine, and the restaurant is open for dinner, Monday through Saturday.
21 Via Judica, Palermo, Sicilia, 90134, Italy, Phone: +39-32-01-64-60-36
15.Lo Scrigno dei Sapori
© Lo Scrigno dei Sapori
Located just a few steps away from the historic Zisa Castle and its beautifully manicured gardens, Lo Scrigno dei Sapori is an elegant restaurant that serves a fusion of international and local Sicilian dishes. Furnished in a classic style with plush upholstered chairs, soft candlelight, and exuding an intimate ambiance, the restaurant offers a comprehensive menu of fresh seafood and fish, prime meats, and chicken, wood-fired pizza from a pizzeria in the restaurant and a range of Sicilian specialties. A full-service wine bar serves casual wines from around Italy, craft beers, and handcrafted cocktails made with high-end spirits, and the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, daily.
83 Piazza Principe di Camporeale, Palermo, Sicilia, 90138, Italy, Phone: +39-09-12-53-13-51
15 Best Things to Do in Palermo, Italy
- Cattedrale di Palermo (Palermo Cathedral), Photo: davidionut/stock.adobe.com
- Mercati di Palermo, Photo: Antonino Palazzolo/stock.adobe.com
- Mondello, Photo: Aleksandar Todorovic/stock.adobe.com
- Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele, Photo: vvoe/stock.adobe.com
- MoMa, Photo: MoMa
- Castello Utveggio, Photo: Paolo_Bartolone/stock.adobe.com
- Chiesa della Martorana (Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio), Photo: Davide D'Amico/stock.adobe.com
- Villa Trabia, Photo: Mirko/stock.adobe.com
- Osteria Ballaro, Photo: Osteria Ballarò
- Al Fondaco del Conte, Photo: fotosr52/stock.adobe.com
- Osteria dei Vespri, Photo: Osteria dei Vespri
- Gagini Social Restaurant, Photo: Gagini Social Restaurant
- Villa Costanza, Photo: Villa Costanza
- A'Cuncuma, Photo: Nicolas Faramaz/stock.adobe.com
- Lo Scrigno dei Sapori, Photo: Lo Scrigno dei Sapori
- Cover Photo: Roman Sigaev/stock.adobe.com