Have you ever gone somewhere on vacation only to come home and realize that you missed out on a lot of fun or exciting things? I, Don Tano, do not want any traveler to Palermo to have this horrible feeling when they return home. I have given you a list of the 10 things you must do while you are here.
Beware: For all of the fun and excitement that Palermo can offer, it really isn’t as organized as it could be. When you are on vacation in Sicily, two things will keep it from being completely ruined: the right accommodations and a rented car.
So let’s get to what you should definitely do once you are in Palermo.
Top 10 Must-Dos In Palermo
1. TAKE IN THE SIGHTS
The first thing that you should be thinking when you arrive in Palermo is sightseeing. There is something for everyone here, whether you are a history buff or not. Monuments, baroque churches, neoclassical theaters, Art Nouveau buildings, Arabic domes, and bustling outdoor markets blend into perfect harmony.
While the city itself might show great signs of aging and general decay, there is a beauty here unlike anywhere else in the world. When you put together the year round favorable climate, the amazing food and the overall vitality of the Sicilian people, you can easily overlook some architectural neglect. Check here for the Top 15 Things To See In Palermo.
2. TREAT YOURSELF TO AUTHENTIC SICILIAN FOOD
You will find that the cuisine here is tasty, healthy and comes from many different cultural inspirations. In fact, nearly every former power in Sicily has left their own personal mark on the food here. You will find dishes that have a flavor you will not soon forget, and simply cannot find anywhere else.
Common ingredients to various dishes in Palermo are: saffron, pistachios, prickly pear, dairy products and an intoxicating aroma. While it might be tempting to gorge yourself on Cassata and Cannolo, branch out and try some of the street vendor foods as well, such as: Panelle, Crocché and Arancine. Check here for what you should eat in Palermo.
3. SWIM OFF THE BEAUTIFUL SICILIAN BEACHES
You will find a small slice of Heaven standing on the beaches of the Palermo province. Every beach along the north coast greet travelers with open arms, ensuring that a day spent on these beaches will be entertaining and relaxing. You will find different looks across this coastline as well, spanning from pebble beaches and cliffs to the warm sand between your toes. During the April-October months, you can find the mild climate welcoming to those who wish to take a dip in the seas.
4. LIVE IT UP AT NIGHT
The nightlife in Palermo is intense and mimics the popular events and clubs common to other major Italian cities. You will find that there are no shortages of drinks, as with the cocktails and wines available, there is something for everyone. You have plenty of choices, too. You might opt for a drink in Mondello, watching the sun set over the glistening sea. You might choose to drink a beer in a local pub offering live musical entertainment. You could also stay up till the sun comes around again, dancing your entire night away in the Vucciria Market.
Finally, you can get in on various events hosted through cultural associations pairing culture and art with fun and music. Palermo at night is like an entirely different city, awakened to bright lights, sounds and colors. Check here for the best nightlife spots.
5. CATCH A SICILIAN PUPPET THEATER SHOW
Stop by the Opera Dei Pupi Siciliani (Sicilian Puppet Theater) for a show featuring Charlemagne and his paladins in puppet form. Puppets are often referred to as “pupi” (derived from the Latin “pupus” which means child). This is a unique Sicilian tradition, and UNESCO has stated that marionette theater is a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of all humanity.
6. MAKE SURE TO DO SOME SHOPPING
If you are in Palermo, you are not going to run out of places to do some shopping. You will find that the city center is loaded up with specific brand stores and boutiques like Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Prada. Outside of this area, Old Town’s alleys will give you the option of shopping for authentic Italian wears at cheap costs. No matter your budget for spending on the trip, there is a storefront to accommodate you in Palermo. Check out the best places for shopping in Palermo here.
7. TRY NEW WAYS OF GETTING AROUND (VESPA, APE OR CARRIAGE)
You might find that traveling around on a Vespa is a unique and remarkable way to see the city. Explore every corner of Palermo, breathing in the refreshing air from the sea as you zip around from place to place.
Maybe the thought of being on 2 wheels doesn’t seem safe. How do three wheels sound instead? Piaggio Ape (also known as an Ape Car) allows you to see the sights of Palermo along with a local driver. They know the best places and the best vantages, so be sure to do this if you can.
Three wheels still not enough stability for you? Try 4 legs instead! Horse drawn carriages are a great way to see the Sicilian capital city. This has been a tradition here in Palermo for around 200 years now. The drawback is that these carriages (Carrozza) only service old town and a handful of tourist spots.
8. VENTURE OUTSIDE OF PALERMO
No matter the season that you visit, the area around Palermo has a lot to offer the tourist as well. You should definitely make it a point to try a couple (or all) of these options: Etna Mount, Isole Egadi (Egadi Islands), Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands), Nebrodi Mountains, and Monreale. You can even take a part of your day and get a look at a genuine Mafia tour, citing the locations where it first originated and its rise in power. Get a tour guide if you are able to, as they know how to save you time if you are pressed for it. Click here for more information about places to visit outside of Palermo.
9. GET TO KNOW THE LOCALS
Due to the various cultures that have had a hand in the slow evolution of Palermo over the last several centuries, the Sicilian people as a whole have begun to fit into specific stereotypes. While these components might be as much weakness and strength, it helps to make Sicily one-of-a-kind. The contradictions of the Sicilian people are very apparent.
They might be generous and easy going, but these are the same people that created the Mafia (Cosa Nostra). They might have a cunning charm a, but they rarely speak any English. Sicilians have a deep pride for the Island and Palermo, but they also want to see the world and live abroad. You will never forget your interactions with the locals here, that’s for sure.
10. VISIT THE MOST IMPORTANT DISTRICTS
While there are 25 total districts within Palermo, no two are alike. Not only are there so many districts, but there are also must-see quarters found on nearly all of the tourist information maps. The best thing that you can do is to put on a pair of comfortable walking shoes and set out to see the entire city, top to bottom. Every single neighborhood has something exciting and new to show you, so don’t be surprised if you cannot help but stop every ten paces to admire something. Click here for more information about Palermo walking tours.
If you managed to do all of the things listed above while you were out here on vacation, you will certainly go home satisfied that you didn’t miss anything. You should start by educating yourself on all there is to see and do before you ever arrive. This will give you the means to set an itinerary to ensure effective time management. Start at the tourist information page. If you have any questions or concerns, drop them in the comment box down below here and let me help you find an answer.