Have a party streak in you? You will be delighted to learn that when the lights go down in Palermo, the city comes alive in a legendary fashion. While Sicilians might be known for a few key flaws, we do know our beer. While we are nice and friendly to everyone, we party hard every night of the year.
A night out in Sicily isn’t heavy laden with iconic venues and clubs like you might find in other areas of Europe (such as Pacha in Ibiza and Fabric in London, England). While Sicily might not have world renowned clubs, it does have some cheery people that want to have fun. Who needs a club when you can turn an old town alley into a loud dance party instead?
Palermo never sleeps, any day of the week and any time of the year. It doesn’t matter when you go, the party never stops. So, what makes Palermo nightlife the best in all of Sicily? There is something for everyone! Want to sip an authentic Italian beverage by the sea? You can do that in Palermo. Want to dance with someone in the ruins of an old market until the sun comes up? You can do that here too. Anything you desire, any day of the week, any time of the year.
Want to go completely crazy on your vacation, doing things you’ve never done before? You can here. Want to relax in a nice Italian restaurant and enjoy a nice ice cream dessert somewhere after that, we’ve got that too. In fact, there’s nothing a modern city nightlife scene can give you that you can’t find here in Palermo.
The unfortunate side to Sicilians is that they don’t make the most loyal of customers. For this reason, clubs and venues open and close in a regular rotation year round. Instead of naming off specific locations to go, I’ll instead introduce you to the best areas for nightlife in Palermo.
Best Nightlife Areas in Palermo
Offering the best options in pubs, clubs, restaurants, bars and music of all genres, Palermo nightlife is second to none. It is only here that you will find a lively and energetic crowd of fun-seekers night after night all year long.
You might find that other Italian cities have long and drawn out nights, but Palermo isn’t like this at all. While the typical night begins at 8 PM (to roughly 3AM) with an aperitif, it continues on from there with anything you desire. This, of course, doesn’t mean that those seeking thrills beyond 3 AM are out of luck either. There is typically only one area offering post-3AM excitement, and that’s Vucciria in Old Town.
The average Sicilian also begins with that aperitif around 8PM and proceeds to get a small bite to eat in a local restaurant. After this, it is a steady nomadic journey from one bar to another (the exception being the club-goers who dance from one club to the next). Once they’ve eaten and gotten a few drinks, the bar jumpers join the dedicated clubbers for dancing until the music stops around 3AM.
Sicilians are already established as the least loyal of customers, but their truly looking for the perfect place with the perfect people to spend an evening with. This is partially why you aren’t going to find a distinct and diverse theming to each of the nightlife spots, but instead, varying types of people. Each spot has a different group it seems: young, old, snobs, and more. It is almost as though certain types of people can’t allow themselves to mix in Palermo.
But since we’ve also established that every night is a pilgrimage from place to place, you can’t even narrow down locations based on what kinds of people you might expect to find there. Since it is impossible to provide a “best of” location list for the venues, bars and clubs, it is only fitting that I could at least introduce you to the best areas to go.
Before we get into the best areas for you to join the nightlife, here is a tip that is really invaluable (and I’m giving it to you for free!): RENT A CAR. If you are wanting to delve deeply into the nightlife Palermo has to offer, you only have two options if you didn’t rent a car: get ripped off by greedy taxi drivers or be limited to a certain area by booking a room in walking distance of certain areas.
Here are the top 4 areas that you should check out if you are looking for a good time (at night) in Palermo.
Vecchio Centro (Old Town)
Old Town has often been considered a hub of the night life in Palermo, and it also houses some of the most iconic historical sights to be seen in all of the city. This is a historical center (one of the largest in all of Europe).
While you might be tempted to take off down any number of alleys occupied with partiers, the historic roads and squares provide some of the most memorable nights you can have in all of Sicily. Among the most popular spots are: Champagneria, Piazzetta della Canna, Piazza Sant’anna and Piazza Rivoluzione. These are the most popular spots for the locals as well. While there might have been some better years in the past, Via Vittorio Emanuele, Via Bottai and Via dei Chiavettieri offer live music, cold cocktails and cheerful locals.
While you can take advantage of the plentiful amount of tables all around, most of the locals just stand and sip their drinks (and as the adage says “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”). Ready for some good news? You won’t get gouged in your wallet for having a few drinks like you might have come to expect in other European cities. On average, a glass of wine will run you about €4 and a cocktail €6. Even restaurants (non-tourist traps) offer a modest priced meal too.
While you might not see any dress shirts and ties in the attire here, in typical Siciilan fashion, the locals always have good taste. Even in comfortable clothes, they look sharp.
There is a place in Old Town where you likely will never see a tie. Go to the end of Via Dei Chiavettieri and turn left. Practice your best looking shocked face, because once you come into the old Vucciria Market here, you’ll have it on your face for the rest of the evening.
Step inside to the circus. Here you will see run down buildings which surround all the dancers, peddlers of cheap alcoholic cocktails (where you aren’t sure where they are from) and even some sanitarily unregulated barbecued foods. Amidst the chaos, you will see one unforgettable show.
Yet another place that doesn’t have much of a formal dress code is the Piazza Magione. Especially during the summer, there are loads of cheap pubs and restaurants, many of which offer live music options. Often this area is loaded up with chavvy young folks and punks.
Old Town is a great place for those not seeking any sort of dress codes, but want to have a great night with drinks and music amid a little bit of chaos. Young travelers with a heart for long nights of partying are encouraged to find accommodations around here. Of course, in the daylight you can take full advantage of all the historical sights and places in this district.
If you aren’t necessarily all about a little bit of organized chaos, you might opt for an area like the popular (and elegant) Libertà or Politeama. You will find a lot of bars and restaurants here, which has a very upscale feel that doesn’t skimp out on the fun (even though it is much more relaxed than Old Town). Year round there is only around a month and a half (mid-July through August) where people opt to stay in the cool inside of the establishments here instead of being out in the nice sea air.
You should never leave this area hungry, as there is a restaurant that can cater to any food preferences. While there are several authentic Italian restaurants, there are also steakhouses, Japanese sushi spots, Mexican restaurants and sandwich shops. Be advised, the price is higher here per meal than in Old Town, but typically, you aren’t going to spend more than $50 a person for a full meal.
The Sicilian movida are heavy on Via La Lumia, Via Gaetano Daita, Via XX Settembre and Via Garzilli. Every ten meters or so you will see somewhere offering food and drinks. Apart from the more upscale feel here, the quality of the food and drinks significantly increases due to this being less dense with tourists and more used by the locals. Unfortunately, the main tourist areas are riddled with low quality options.
As with any rule it seems, there are always the exceptions. The exception to the posh and upscale feel of this area is Borgo Vecchio Square. Only 400 meters from Via Libertà, you can find the teens and working class crowd in a rather unruly setting. Cheap drinks can be found here until 5 AM nearly every night.
While you might not want to miss this circus, you also aren’t going to want to make this your first and final stop of the night either. You should carve out some time to see it and have a cheap drink or two.
Want to experience Dolce Vita nightlife? Get your accommodations in this area. This is arguably the cleanest and safest of all the named areas within this guide, but still offers an impressive nightlife all year. Additionally, it is only a short 15 minute walk to get to Old Town’s historical sites and chaotic nightlife.
Instead of the heat driving everyone indoors, it more often encourages everyone to head off for the coast instead. While you might be cooler by the sea, the nightlife is still pretty hot. During particular seasons, Mondello Beach and the Addaura Coast are where the best nightlife action can be found.
While there are plenty of times of the year where there is a lot less chaos to be found here, it is still a rather tempting offer to sip a true Italian wine while you watch the sea whip against the beach. This is sure to get your heart racing.
You will find a lot of high-end restaurants, clubs and bars overlooking the sea. You can enjoy an unforgettable aperitif as the sun sets. Doesn’t sound all that exciting? Try it one time, you’ll thank me I promise.
Another positive for those that aren’t looking to burn the midnight oil and get crazy will be happy to learn about the big playgrounds (open until 1 AM in some places), ice cream shops and family restaurants.
While you might find that prices are a little higher here than in other places, this is mainly due to the seasonal popularity. Even with the higher prices, you aren’t going to get gouged. For a cocktail, you are only typically looking at €8 and €6 will usually afford a glass of wine or a beer. As for eating, there are many cheap sandwich spots along the seafront, but even the restaurants here aren’t typically charging more than $35 a person for their meal.
If you happen to be visiting Palermo during the summer, this is a great place to try and find accommodations. This will keep you right in the center of some good action, and you won’t be missing a single ray of sunshine on that beach.
This marina area has some of the coolest bars that you will find in the entire city, not to mention some of the greatest locals within the nightlife scene. It is not as diverse and crowded as some of the other areas mentioned, but you can find this horseshoe marina by the park of Foro Italico in the Castellammare district.
This used to be the port of Palermo, but after the 16th century it lost a great deal of its size to the receding waters. Much like Mondello, winter sees a lot less action from tourist and locals seeking nighttime fun, but there is still a great deal to do.
A great option for you is sipping wine as the sunsets and the fishermen return from the sea. You will soon feel as though you have hopped into a painting. It’s no wonder so many young artists have rendered paintings of this particular sight.
While you will find several bars and restaurants, the marina is also home to great nightclubs to bring out the dancer in anyone. It is also home to a vast space that houses concerts throughout warmer times of the year.
You might find that this is an excellent area to seek accommodation, especially if you are looking for some place that is one of a kind. Here is a list of some of the best places to stay:
The Italian Aperitif
You might liken an aperitif in Italy to something of a religious rite performed nightly. Around 7:30 or 8pm, everyone gathers around tables holding drinks in celebration, in love, or just to have some fun with friends.
The aperitif actually has origins that date back to the end of the 1700s in Turin. An Italian distiller (Antonio Benedetto Carpano) invented Vermouth at this time and the ritual began to spread all throughout the 19th century.
While it might be more of a way now for people to unwind after taxing days at work, it used to be a mid-day event (or even morning event) years ago. At this time, a glass of wine was paired with delicious snacks in an effort to bring about some pleasant conversations among people and boost the appetite.
While it might not have the same kind of chic feel that it might have in the 1800s, it is still a common occurrence. At one time it was a simple glass of vermouth and some light snacks. Today, the aperitif seems more like an all you can eat buffet and all you can drink trough of booze. But hey, who needs modesty?
While typically you are only asked to pay for what you drink in these circumstances, there are some times when you might have to shell out a few euros for the food that accompanies the drinks. You can have an aperitif nearly anywhere in the city, but I would suggest avoiding the touristy places (unless you want indigestion or food poisoning). If you want some advice from me, drop a comment in the box down below this guide and I will get back to you, that’s much easier than trying to name the best places (as they are constantly subject to change).
You might find that you are still hungry after this aperitif, and if that’s the case, you aren’t out of food options throughout the city. While the heaviest groupings of restaurants are in Old Town and Liberta-Politeama, every district has plenty of options to choose from. You will find that most restaurants (again, don’t go touristy) serve dinner from 7:30 pm until around midnight. Check out the page on Sicilian Cuisine for some more concentrated information about where you should eat.
Having drinks on the street
In Sicily, we absolutely love to stand outside of bars and drink (yes, even in the winter). This is a great social event, especially in the squares after 8 pm, and you won’t be getting any strange looks from local law enforcement either. This is a customary nightly activity for tourists and locals alike.
Dancing Your Way Around Palermo
There aren’t an overwhelming amount of clubs throughout Palermo like you might find in the other major Italian cities. This is partly because most islanders are less interested in the actual club and more interested in the people who get the party going. As earlier stated, groups tend to be together in different areas all over the city, and the same premise rings true for club goers.
Instead of being drawn to a club because it has 4 floors with different themes, Palermo people go to clubs to chase an organizer of the party or to hear a DJ holding the PR. To put this in perspective, one week a club can be jam packed with people wall to wall, and the next week there will be no one at all because the organizer moved to a new spot.
Social networks and word-of-mouth play a role in figuring out where the party is every night. Follow us on Facebook to stay up to date yourself and save yourself some trouble hunting bad leads on a non-existent party. No Facebook? Drop a comment below for the latest information.
Snacking Late At Night
While we determined that Palermo never sleeps, it never goes hungry either. All night restaurants are all over the city, and offering everything from a heavy meal to an appetizing snack at all hours of the day and night. If you look at the “What To Eat” page, you will read about Pezzi di Rosticceria, which are famous late night snacks.
A Night At The Theater
You will find a rich theatrical scene in Palermo as well as drinking and dancing. The Massimo Theatre is the 3rd largest theater in Europe (biggest in all of Italy too). Over half of the year, this iconic place features ballet and international operas. Other great spots are the Teatro Politeama and Teatro Biondo. Check our Facebook page for the upcoming theater events in Palermo.
Gays And Lesbians
Every year, the city of Palermo puts on the Gay Pride Parade. This is an expression of the openness and welcoming nature of the city towards its gay and lesbian community. While it might be commonly thought that Sicilians are a stubborn and unaccepting group of people, this is actually quite the opposite. There are no negative attitudes towards the LGBT community here, or that visit here.
With that being said, there are not a lot of places that are especially meant for LGBT people to get together and mingle. The only spot is an old pub called Exit in the Politeama district. Much like the revolving door of popular night spots mentioned earlier, the same can be said about LGBT-friendly locations.
This is the complete list of the best areas to experience the Palermo nightlife. With every night comes another day, and you should definitely look at the What To Do page to get an idea of what the daytime Palermo has for you as well. Any questions, comments or concerns (or just to chit chat a little) drop a comment below.