Use this article to give you all the information you need before you choose to hire a cab in Palermo. By the end of the article, you will have a better understanding about when the best times to use a cab might be, the costs you can expect, and when you should avoid it because you might be scammed.
Ciao, it is your good full-blooded Sicilian friend Nico here again. Today I have another superguide on the infamy that is Sicilian taxi drivers.
As you have come to expect, I’m going to be very direct and honest. The first bit of advice I have is to avoid these people as much as you can.
There are no people more like vampires in Sicily than our taxi drivers. Instead of making a meal of your blood, they are after your money. The main difference between storied vampires and our taxi drivers is they are out at all hours of the day and not just preying on those at night.
Personally, I would guess that the legendary vampire count Dracula was inspired in part by Sicilian taxi drivers when Bram Stoker was penning the novel.
As a foreigner, you are the perfect victim for Sicilian taxi driver scams.
Once they have you inside the taxi, they go all over the city before dumping you at your destination which might have only been a few blocks away when you started.
Then, with the sheer arrogance of having done you some great favor, they present you with their astronomical bill. I will tell you now that taxi services in Sicily are incredibly expensive, and even more so in Palermo. This increases further when you travel at night.
As you might be able to see, locals seldom take cabs. The primary source of revenue for these taxi drivers comes from tourists to Palermo.
As I told you, I would not shy away from my position on Sicilian taxi drivers. If you do need to take one of them, I have put together an informative piece in the following paragraphs to help you.
Getting a Cab
I will begin first by warning you again that foreigners are the targets for Sicilian taxi driver scams. They will overcharge you for a ride without thinking twice about it. If you must take a taxi to get where you need to be, I have determined two of the least worst companies you can choose from.
They are mostly the same, but there are several companies you can choose from when picking your path to where you wish to be. Locals typically will call one of these two companies:
- Radio Taxi Trinacria — +39 091 6878
- Autoradio Taxi — +39 091 8481
You can call the posted numbers to reach these companies or attempt to hail down one of these cabs as they pass by on the roadway. Understand that if you have luggage, you are expected to pay more. One important note is that drivers do not expect tips.
Will these companies try to pull one over on you? Absolutely. Supposedly, they are less vampiric than other companies.
There are no shortages of available taxi companies. All are overly expensive and can scam you if you are not careful and assertive. A few are lesser evils, among these being Radio Taxi Trinacria and another being Autoradio.
How Much is the Taxi?
I have tried multiple times to look into cab fares, and yet cannot seem to figure out how in the hell they get calculated.
Seemingly, this revolves around several different factors. The time of the day is a large contributor to the overall cost, as well as driving in the city or in rural areas. Traffic plays a factor, holy days, and probably some other insignificant variables like when your birthday is and your Zodiac sign.
What I can tell you, is that no matter what factors influence the final cost, it will be expensive.
Let’s do some math. The last time I was unfortunate enough to have to take a taxi, was in September of 2021. I went two kilometers in a roughly 6-minute ride from Old Town to downtown on a Saturday night around 11. This ride would cost me 27€.
On a regular working day in the afternoon, a short 15-minute ride for me that traveled 9 kilometers from the port in Palermo to Mondello cost around 35€.
Had I been a foreigner, there is a high probability they might have attempted more of the asinine excuses to add extra costs and fees for the trip.
The point is, if spending too much to get a short distance does not bother you, then you always have the option to hail taxis or call them directly to get where you want to go.
Are There Apps like Uber, Lyft or Similar Services Operating in Sicily?
Starting April 1st, 2022, surprise surprise, Uber Black is finally available in Palermo. If you didn’t know it, Uber Black features only luxury cars with professional drivers.
Of course, this extra luxury comes with a significant extra cost, usually at least double the price of UberX (which is not available in Palermo). I used Uber Black a couple of times. The service is good but there are not many cars available.
Surprisingly, we have no UberX or Lyft, or alternatives like these to choosing a taxi or Uber Black to get where you need to be. I have no idea why this is, as best as I can explain it, there are some guardian angels at work to protect the financial monopoly that is the taxi service of Palermo.
The only thing that might fall into this category is the FreeNow app.
Ironically, we are still talking about the same taxi drivers on this same app, so it doesn’t really save you any money. The only difference is it is a lot less likely to have extra hidden fees to your trip sprung at the last minute.
Using this app, you can hail taxis and choose your route to the destination through the app. It’s recorded and tracked in real time, so it is less likely you would fall victim to scams and longer trips for no reason.
Options from this app are not as readily available as regular taxi companies, but there are a decent number of units on the roads. You will not have to wait long after you book one.
If you wish to use the service, all you need to do is download the app and register with a payment method.
Shockingly, we don’t have ride services common to other cities here in Palermo except for Uber Black. FreeNow is the only service remotely like it – but that just takes the same local taxis and causes them to be a little more honest with their process.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
How much is a taxi from Palermo Airport to Palermo?
Taking a regular taxi is a flat rate of 35€ for a one-way trip. This does not include any additional charges you might incur for luggage. You are dropped off at the city center. You might be fortunate enough to share taxi through a separate service for only 8€. You could take a look at my page on how to get to and from the airport to learn more about this process.
How much is a taxi from Palermo to Mondello Beach?
This depends on where you are picked up. Other variables that impact this cost include the time of the day you are going, peak seasons, and more. You should expect this to cost you between 25-30€ from the city center during the summer.
Should I be tipping the drivers?
Never. For one, they do not expect them and two, the service is already overpriced. If you pay cash, they might pretend not to have the change and keep the extra, so make sure you can either make the appropriate amount or by using a card.
You might have reached the point where you feel I’ve drug these poor schmucks through the mud and grime enough. I really don’t have anything against them personally, but I hate to see tourist get taken advantage of – which there are countless stories of it now.
As I said, it is more a general statement – and it is very possible there are some decent people in that profession just trying to make a living. The numbers and tales tell a different story in most cases.
The service is expensive even with honest drivers, though. I have traveled a lot over the past decade and have yet to see many places with more outrageous taxi fares than Palermo.
That’s all I have for you today. If you want to learn the best ways to get around Palermo, I wrote a whole guide about it you should check out.
You might also enjoy looking at 4 itineraries I created that could help you navigate Palermo. Best of all, they are free to download and read.
Any questions or concerns that you might have about the taxi service, feel free to use the comment box below so that I can help you through it.
PS – I recommend reading the Tourist Information Page before visiting. You will find 20 facts every traveler should know before coming to Palermo or Sicily. Take a look.