Palermo is full of nightlife; it is a city that never sleeps. Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Winter or Summer… it doesn’t matter! You will always find something to do in Palermo. We Sicilians may have many flaws, but we are masters of fun. Palermo’s nightlife is certainly the greatest that the island can offers. Do you know why? I’ll tell you. It suits all tastes! Do you want to dance among the ruins of an old market at 5 am? You can. Would you like to sip a drink in front of the sea even in winter season? You can.
Do you want to go mental and spend a crazy night over the limits? You can. Just want to spend an evening in peace eating Italian food in a good restaurant and then an ice cream somewhere? You can. Do you wish to eat pasta at 5 am? You can. The night entertainment of Palermo offers all you can find in the modern metropolises but in a unique scenario.
No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep.
Popular Nightlife Areas in Palermo
Palermo offers a broad range of bars, restaurants, discos and clubs with all kinds of music and people, and is alive every day of the week. However, over the weekend the city is, without a doubt, the liveliest and most crowded.
A typical night begins with the Aperitivo in the evening and ends early the next morning, after giving yourself up to a sort of pilgrimage from one bar to another. The following are the top four areas in which to have fun during the nights.
The Old Town is the focal point of Palermo’s nightlife as well as having the most historical sights to be visited. Via Dei Chiavettieri and Via Dei Bottai – two side streets intersecting the famous Via Vittorio Emanuele – are crowded with bars and pubs where you can have cocktails, wines, and beers of any kinds. The places you find here are relatively inexpensive. On average, you pay €5 for a cocktail or a glass of wine. You can then sit at one of the many tables on the street, or you can sip your drink standing like the most of the locals. At the end of Via Dei Chiavettieri, turn left, and you will find yourself in the famous old market, Vucciria. Bring the cutest ‘surprised face’ you have, because it will be the one you will wear all night. Dancing people in the middle of a square surrounded by round-down buildings; alcohol peddlers who sell cheap cocktails and beers of dubious origin; men who grill meat and fish at barbecues far from following the sanitary regulations. Vucciria is in a state of chaos! The only rule is that there are no rules.
Another place where you don’t need to wear a tie is Piazza Magione. This is a square with a lot of cheap restaurants and pubs with live music, especially in summer season. The great Piazza is crowded with chavvy young people and gutter punks. Not far from the Cassaro, the Piazza Rivoluzione hosts many other reasonably priced bars. Here is a very varied milieu with people of any kind. The other go-to place is located between Via Vittorio Emanuele street and the Massimo Theatre, the renowned zone called Champagneria, where you can eat, drink and do the Aperitivo on a shoestring.
Ultimately, the Old Town features informal places for those who want to spend a night amid music, drinks and total chaos.
This popular nightlife area revolves on the polished Via libertà axis. The whole upscale district includes trendy wine bars, pubs, and exclusive restaurants. Besides the classic Italian foods, the zone contains plenty of places with different types of cuisine: steakhouses, fast foods, Japanese & Sushi outlets, sandwich bars, Mexican restaurants, and so on. Walk down the parallel streets of Via Libertà – Via La Lumia, Via Gaetano Daita, Via Garzilli and Via XX Settembre – and you will see somewhere to dine or drink every ten meters. In general, the prices here are higher than in the Old Town. The cost of a cocktail is about €6-8 while you pay €5 for a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. Mostly locals hang out in this area as tourists consider the Vecchio Centro to be more folkloric. Compared to the Old Town, more refined natives go clubbing and dining here even though the degraded and disordered Piazza del Borgo is located just 400 meters from the elegant Via Libertà. The square is frequented by people of the lower class since you get alcoholic beverages at a bargain price until 5.00 am.
As the temperatures increase, the Palermitans flee the city center and seek refuge in the sea-coast from the hot summer nights. Then, the former fishing village Mondello becomes the epicenter of Palermo’s nightlife. Along the coast, a great number of elegant bars, clubs, discos and restaurants overlook the Tyrrhenian Sea, from the Addaura Cave to the Capogallo lighthouse. Since Mondello is a seaside district, there is no living soul around in the winter season – nightclubs and bars open at the end of May and close down in September. The prices are higher compared to the city center as the zone is affected by seasonality; on average, you pay no less than €7 for a cocktail and €5-6 for a beer or a glass of wine. The coast of Addaura hosts many bars that look out onto the seas, where you can have one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life: an aperitif at the sunset. It may seem an ordinary thing, but trust me – it’s magical.
The quarter is also crowded with families as there is a big playground open until 1 am, and many ice-cream shops.
The horseshoe-shaped La Cala gathers many of the most patronized bars of the summer’s Sicilian Movida. It is located thereabout the park of Foro Italico, in the Castellammare district.
The spot was the ancient port of Palermo until the 16th century when it lost most of its size due to receding waters. Today it’s a marina whose quay encompasses bars and restaurants. Given its proximity to the sea, the area is active only in the summertime on spring-like weekends. Like every place affected by seasonality, the prices are a bit higher than normal; the cost of a cocktail is about €7. Beside La Cala, there are a couple of outdoor discotheques where you can dance wildly during the nighttime and a vast open space where you can attend live concerts in the warmer seasons.
The Italian Aperitivo
The Italian aperitif has its roots in Turin, around the end of 1700, when Antonio Benedetto Carpano invented the aromatized wine, Vermouth. In the nineteenth century, the ritual spread across the country, reaching the cafes throughout the Italian Boot as far as Palermo.
Although it’s now tied to relaxing after work, the Aperitivo was once also an appointment before lunch, sometimes as early as mid-morning. A glass of fine wine was paired with traditional and delicious snacks, which were intended to increase the appetite and facilitate the exchange of pleasant conversations at the counter.
The Aperitivo in Italy is not as chic as it was at the beginning of the 1800s. In Palermo, as well as in the rest of the country, it means only one thing: eat like a pig, and drink like a fish! Rich buffets of dubious quality are set up from 18 onwards to feed the less demanding palates. Usually, you pay only for what you drink, but in some places you may be charged about 3 to 5 Euros for the food. Everywhere in the city, you can have an aperitif. To help you avoid indigestion or, worse yet, a hospital night tour for food poisoning,
I’ve selected the best places for the Italian Aperitivo for you.
The city is overwhelmed by Italian and international restaurants, pizzerias, steak houses, trattorias, fast foods and so forth. There is a greater concentration of eating-places in Vecchio Centroand Politeama-Libertà, but in all other districts, you will certainly not die of hunger. Touristy restaurants apart, they start to serve dinner from 19.30 to around midnight – some go on even later. To learn more about what and where to eat, check out the page about the Sicilian Cuisine.
Drinking on the street
Drinking outside the bar is arguably the favorite nocturnal activity of Sicilian people, even during the winter. Mostly, theislanders stand on the street while sipping a drink and chatting with friends. The good climate and the local government law let you have a cocktail outdoor. Locals pour into squares and venues starting at ten in the evening, which is one of the best moments to socialize and meet new people.
Besides drinking and dancing, Palermo’s nightlifeoffers an enviable theatrical landscape. The Massimo Theatre– the biggest in Italy and the third in Europe – put on the stage the best international operas and balletsrunning from November to July. Other gooseflesh shows are performed in the other well-known theaters like Teatro Politeama and Teatro Biondo. Take a look at our Facebook page to discover the upcoming theatrical events.
In the Italian commune, you never sleep, and you always eat! Anytime and anywhere, you will find a place where you can have a pizza, pasta, street foods or whatsoever. For late-night munchies, many coffee bars, street vendors, restaurants, pizzerias, bistros and fast foods stay open until 6 am. Famous night snacks are the Pezzi di Rosticceria(see the “What to eat” page; the Sicilian nocturnal animals come out from the clubs and head up to the cafeterias all over the town to eat the Rosticceria. Following are the best places for a night snack.
The city of Palermo doesn’t provide a great number of discos like the other big Italian towns. That’s because the islanders are not attracted by the disco clubs in themselves, but by the person who handle the PR for the parties, namely the “Organizzatore” (/organiddzaˈtore/). People don’t attend a party in a disco because the place has three or four dancing floors; instead, the crowd swarms into a discotheque due to some big-shot Organizzatore or DJ that holds the PR. It’s not rare to see a small pub full of crazy dancing people and the next disco falling into depression because of the Organizzatore. Palermitans hear about the best parties through word-of-mouth or social networks. If you are thinking about having a night in a disco club, follow us on Facebook to find out where to go.
Gay and lesbians
Every year, the city hosts the Gay Pride Parade showing great openness and sensibility towards the gay & lesbian community. Unlike what the majority think, Palermitans are extremely respectful of all sexual orientations. Sicilians don’t hold negative attitudes towards gays, lesbians, or bisexuals. Apart from the old pub “Exit” in Politeama district, there are no particular LGBT-friendly areas or places. As explained above for the disco clubs, everything depends on the Organizzatore that holds the PR for the place. You can see a pub full of homosexuals today, and tomorrow it is crammed with aroused heterosexual males. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about gay nights.