I don’t expect you to know where all of the best locations to stay in Palermo are. You wouldn’t come here looking for my opinion if you knew. You did come to the right place as I know where you can stay close to all of the culture of Palermo without getting into some of its unsafe areas that aren’t exactly in the brochure. This article will give you all of the tips and things to consider when it comes time to book your stay.
The place you stay and the people you bring with you can make or break your stay in Palermo. While you might be able to choose the best travel buddy to come along with you, you are likely at a loss regarding the best hotels in Palermo for you to book. However, the tips that I have pulled together for you will even make this process a little less difficult for you.
I, Don Tano, have lived here in Palermo all my life. So I know as much as any tour guide here, and I’m not even going to charge you an outrageous amount for my insider information. While I could easily shoot off some of the commonly listed best hotel spots in Palermo, or even its wide range of B&Bs and apartments, but in the end it is something you will have to decide based on what you want out of your trip.
To add a little bit of clarity to what I’m offering, you should know that Palermo is comprised of 25 different districts. Some of these offer some of the most beautiful sights that you could ever hope to see, while others are really wrought with shady areas and hotels where Satan himself won’t lay his head down.
So you have to think about it like this: you stay in the wrong place and you’ve ruined your vacation completely. Unless part of your vacation fun involves the panic and fear of being alone at a bus stop in the middle of the night or constantly checking your pockets for your billfold, carefully read this article for all the information that you will need.
You might have already read my informative article regarding how to get around Palermo, and if so, you’ve seen how compromised the public transportation service actually is. The trouble is, most of the city is unequipped transportation wise for the tourists that it receives, so finding the ideal place to stay is a little trickier than it might seem.
Let’s get real about it though: Palermo is one of the largest cities in all of Italy, but really people are only coming here for 3 main areas of the city
People are coming to see the sights of Old Town, Politeama/Libertà district and Mondello. Apart from these three areas, the rest of the city is less tourist- friendly and should be avoided for the most part. Even Mondello is only really available to tourists in the summertime, and you should have rented a car to get there to avoid the use of the shoddy transportation center.
Within these three areas that you are going to want to travel to (depending on the time of the year), there are several varieties of accommodations. Depending on your budget, there are a range of lower end hotels to some full service luxury locations. For those looking to spend a little less on their accommodations, there are numerous B&Bs, hostels and apartments available at a lower cost than the luxury hotel accommodations.
It is time to look at the best and worst reasons to choose specific areas of the city to stay in.
So… what are the best locations you can stay in Palermo?
Below we will look at a breakdown of the three tourist friendly locations in Palermo. Each of them have very different feels and characteristics, so it becomes more of a choice about what suits your trip the best.
Let’s look at each of the best areas in Palermo individually.
1. Politeama/Libertà Quarter
This one was selected as the first option to break down in depth because I personally believe it is the best overall holiday place for tourists. This is not an opinion I’ve just followed others in to, I came to this conclusion on my own because it is the most logical and the safest spot in the city for you and your traveling companions.
I could overload you with all of the reasons that I think that this portion of Palermo is the best for what you want to do and what you hope for in where to stay in Palermo, but it isn’t my job to twist your arm until you say “Uncle.” Instead of droning on and on, we will instead look at three direct reasons that solo travelers, groups and families are better suited to stay in the new city center.
✓ A. Your biggest concern when you are visiting any major city is the safety of you and those that you are with. Palermo has its own fair share of shady areas that you are going to want to avoid, and this is one of the safest areas that you can travel to and through. While this might pull away from the allure of getting trapped between rival Sicilian gangsters having a gun fight on either side of a crowded street, things just aren’t really that way anywhere but on the silver screen. You might not see Don Corleone roaming the streets, but Palermo does have a fair share of pickpockets. These are generally found in other areas of the city though, which reinforces the safety of the quadrilateral, or the newer city area of Palermo.
✓ B. The location of this area is also one of the things that makes it such a good area to stay in. While Old Town might have all the history of Palermo, staying in Libertà Quarter keeps you in walking distance from this iconic area of the city without taking a hit to the quality of the transportation system. While you can walk anywhere in Old Town that you might care to go in 20 minutes or less, you can also easily board a bus to where you want to go on reliable and timely routes.
✓ C. Another plus to this region is that it has a very active nightlife. The entire region is chock full of bars, clubs and restaurants offering some of the greatest times that one could have in Palermo at night. The area is elegant and posh, offering a very limited chance of running into some of the lesser evolved Sicilians creeping the streets in underdeveloped areas at night. If you are looking for a safe and relatively quiet spot to spend your nights during your stay, you will certainly appreciate the exciting array of restaurants and bars throughout this area.
Best Places to Stay In Politeama/Libertà Area
While this article could be encyclopedia length by listing each and every place you could stay in this region, this really isn’t going to help you make a decision. Instead, I’ve decided to list three great solutions for you or your group, no matter the size. Every level of financial commitment included, lets look at the best options all the way around.
Personally, this is one of my favorite places in all of Palermo to recommend for people to stay. While the location alone makes this a great option (as it is walking distance from every tourist attraction apart from Mondello), it is the high quality of the place that has people really impressed. This B&B is on the 3rd floor of a posh building with restaurants and bars all around it. It is located close to a bus stop, which makes the transportation system easily accessible. The rooms themselves are well furnished and offer free Wi-Fi service. Not only this, but there is an acclaimed intercontinental breakfast each morning offering some rather delicious dining to start your day.
If you and your family are looking for a little bit of peace and quiet throughout your stay, and a rather homey feel to the trip as well, then you should check this place out. Offering free Wi-Fi and private parking are just a few of the perks to your stay at Palazzo Gallo. They are positioned in between the new and the old center, which makes the location a delight for the sightseers in your group. In addition to all the other perks, you will have all of the necessary breakfast ingredients in your room to prepare yourself a breakfast each morning, delivered from the local supermarket.
If you wanted something more in the modern city center, there is the eco-friendly hotel option here. Everything in this entire place is organic or somehow beneficial to the environment, even down to its completely organic soaps and body lotions in each of the rooms. While they might not offer free parking for their hotel, they do have their own private lot and offer a discounted rate for its use to those staying at the Bio Hotel.
…looking For the Luxury Options?
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There is nothing about the Grand Hotel Wagner that doesn’t scream “Old World charm”. In fact, the entire theme of the hotel hasn’t changed since its early twentieth century construction. Its location is one of its biggest draws, being so close to the main pedestrian areas and many of the upscale restaurants available in Palermo. From the moment you walk in, your breath is taken away with the rare marble, the old paintings, the elaborate chandeliers and rich carpeting.
Grand Hotel Villa Igiea Palermo – Mgallery by Sofitel
This is a luxurious hotel with a lot of history. From the location and its breathtaking views, vacationers staying at the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea can get a look directly into the past. From the architecture of the building itself to its view of the Gulf of Palermo, each spacious room offers its own unique take on the ancient histories that have shaped Sicily. As it is a very old building, there are some things that might not be as modernized or nice as five star venues being built today, but it can be easy to overlook the shortcomings due to the significant historical charm.
2. Old Town District
This region of Palermo is one that can only be described as an anthropologist’s wet dream. This is deemed one of the most conquered cities in existence, so it has seen multiple significant eras throughout its history. Around every corner is a reminder of yet another ancient civilization that once considered Palermo to be among its conquered territory. There are significant positives to choosing Old Town to stay in when you visit, and only one word of caution.
✓ A. Nearby monuments is one of the major draws, as these tend to be sights that tourists definitely want to see when they are visiting Palermo. Unless you are really drawn to the sights of the sea (Mondello area), you are going to be spending a great deal of time immersed in the culture and history to be found in Old Town. Within this area, you will find huge tourist draws like the Cathedral, Vucciria Old Market, Chiesa della Martorana and the Quattro Canti. Each of these is easy to find, even without a tourist guide.
✓ B. The nightlife is another huge draw to Old Town. Some might even describe the night life scene in Old Town as wild and intense, as there are all kinds of fun and even crazy things that you can get involved in. From the open air Vucciria square offering dancing until the sun comes back up to the numerous old alleys offering all of the same breathtaking scenery as well as authentic Italian mixed drinks.
X C. The word of caution is for those that are less than aware of their surroundings. While the number of incidents in Old Town is significantly less than in other (less desirable) areas, pickpocketing is still deemed to be a common occurrence during the late hours of the night. As alarming as this possibility is, it isn’t likely to happen to someone who is a little more cautious and guarded to it occurring.
Best Place For Families and Groups To Stay in Old Town
The best advice that I can give to groups and families is to find an apartment to rent. This is for a number of reasons. Let me save you some trouble and make you an ‘offer you can’t refuse’. Yeah, just call me the Don of your greatest holiday ever.
You need to make sure that you have the right place in mind, and in case it isn’t your mind, I’ve got the perfect place for you. You have to understand that while Old Town isn’t a warzone, it certainly isn’t Disneyland either. So skip all the shopping around and check out this 2200 sq. ft beauty of a rental in the heart of the history in Old Town. You can walk to the Cathedral in 5 minutes, and have a short distance between you and all of the shopping, dining and drinking you might care to enjoy.
This is a 3 story rental house that has a lot of perks. One of the biggest draws is the terrace offering a stunning view while you dine in the quiet. Want to get an idea of what it might run you for your upcoming trip?
Best Accommodations For A Single Person or Couple
Coming on your trip alone (or with just one other person) changes your approach completely. When you consider the costs of renting out a decent apartment, you and your guest would have plenty to afford a room at a nice hotel in the same area. So you are basically getting more for the same amount of money or maybe even less if you aren’t bringing a large group along with you.
Considering safety, comfort, proximity to the nightlife activities and overall monetary value, I’ve selected a few options for you (or you and your guest) to choose from.
A. Hotel del Centro
While this hotel might be built into an existing historical building, the rooms are quite modern. Every morning you can treat yourself to a hearty breakfast, complete with local pastries. The hotel itself is close to a number of popular nightlife spots, a close walk to iconic monuments and very close to the terminal you need to return to the airport.
B. Porta di Castro B&B
You really can’t beat the value and location of this B&B. Placed right behind the Cathedral and the Palatine Chapel, you have a short walk to the major monument attractions throughout Old Town. In addition to this, the rooms themselves have a distinct charm and elegance by fusing old and modern art together. The food is also unbeatable, with both sweet and savory options, the breakfast feels more like a hearty lunch and can get your day started off right.
C. Hotel Columbia
This is another great location choice. This hotel recently saw a lot of new renovations (especially to the first floor), so there’s never been a better time to check it out. This is perfectly placed to shortly walk to any of the major monument attractions throughout Old Town, and is also conveniently close to the buses and train station. Their breakfast is also quite impressive, even offering numerous options for vegans.
Best Luxury Hotel Within The Historic City Center
Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa
If you are looking for luxury in the heart of Old Town, there is no place better than Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa. From the moment you enter this building, you are swept away with the impressive architecture, intricate marble work, and more. Every room is lavish and plush, offering multiple rooms inside of the suite as well as your own personal Jacuzzi.
3. Mondello District
If you were to travel to the northern most part of the city, you would be heading into the Mondello area of Palermo. This is all about the seaside and the landscape sights to be seen, rather than an overwhelming history lesson. This former fishing village has become a must see and highly coveted place to live over the past few decades. If you have the chance on your trip, you should stop down and see the sea, Mount Gallo and Mount Pellegrino.
While it might be a good ways from the heart of the city and Old Town, Mondello has little else that wouldn’t make you want to stay for your entire vacation. According to many a Sicilian, Mondello might very well be the Garden of Eden, it’s that beautiful. Here are some of the major draws to this area:
✓ A. The sea is probably one of the primary draws to Mondello, and (in the summertime especially) it really is worth the trip. If the hot sun and sandy beaches are what make a vacation truly special for you, than there is no better place in all of this wonderful city to do that than Mondello. Typically the season runs from spring until mid-fall, which still gives you 6 months or better to plan a time to get up and see the crystal clear waters and the gorgeous sights throughout the region.
✓ B. The summer nightlife is another huge draw to Mondello. Nothing says summer vacation quite like a party by the sea. Here you have your choice among countless restaurants, bars and nightclubs line the shore and surrounding areas. While these are closed during the off season (cold months), they are very much alive through the peak season. Dine on authentic Italian pizza at Antico Stabilimento Balneare which is housed in an old bathhouse or have an aperitif while you watch the sun set over the sea.
X C. It is far from the city center, which can be a draw to some people and a deterrent to others. While the heart of Mondello is positioned roughly 20km from Old Town and the City Center, so if you have rented a car for the trip it will be an easy excursion. If you are relying on the shoddy public transportation, this could prove to be more of a difficult undertaking. During the summer there is a dedicated bus line (806), but when it isn’t runnin getting back to the city center could prove irritating and time consuming.
Best Place To Stay In Mondello
Regardless of the size of your party looking for accommodations in Mondello, there are a great number of quality places for you to stay. There are garden houses, B&Bs, villas and hotel rooms available in abundance. The choice is best based on what works best for your party.
Instead of listing all of the options and the locations down below here (although I might name a couple of the high end options for the curious), you can find most of these choices yourself as quickly as I could give them. Go in the box below, type: Mondello, Sicily, Italy and select your date.
Luxury Accommodations in Mondello
I feel like you and I are friends now so I can be pretty blunt about saying that you’d be a fool to look for luxury hotels in Mondello. Why? For one they are pricy, and the only real thing that they can offer you is a seaside view, which many of the available villas to rent also offer. You can get the villas for half the cost usually. So unless you just hate having more money than you planned to have, you can save a little bit of it and forgo the luxury options.
If you are someone that is very much against the thought of keeping up with a house you are staying in or making beds, then villas might annoy you. I’d argue even with that being the case it is still a better option than luxury, but some people like hired hands to do all of the work for them and they just enjoy the view. If I can’t talk you out of it, there is one luxury hotel that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Spendid Hotel La Torre
There are a couple of draws to this particular place. Each of its accommodations offer a guest room, which is nice if you aren’t traveling with your spouse or partner. You have direct access to an open air sea water pool and turquoise and clear water seas of Capo Gallo. Apart from this, even reputable sites like TripAdvisor.com aren’t all that impressed with it. They claim that the hotel doesn’t have that many exceptional services for the nightly rate.
If you are planning a stay here, I can only hope that my information was able to help you choose a place to sleep in Palermo. I tried to be an unbiased and direct as I could be, but you needed to know the ups and downs of each place. If you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to reach out to me through the box below and I’ll get back to you.
Cheers and enjoy your visit to wonderful Palermo!