The Jet Setter’s Guide to Palermo

jet settlerIf you are interested in getting away to a beautiful place full of delights and history, we recommend the city of Palermo, located in the heart of Sicily.

Founded in the 8th century BC, Palermo was initially ruled by the Arabs and Normans. The city also has a fascinating history in terms of the Capuchin Catacombs – an open cemetery that highlights Sicily’s history of mummification – which dates back to 1599. 

These catacombs initially only stored the bodies of Friars; however, by the 1700s, they would also come to store the remains of the elites who were given the option of securing their resting place in the catacombs.

From popular culture, we also know that Sicily is renowned for its Mafia presence – however, since 1992, the Mafia has not been as active as it had been in the past. In addition, as of the early 2000s, the development of the Anti-Mafia movement has significantly curbed their activity.

Today, Palermo is a far more peaceful and vibrant city known for its glorious art history and opera, its open food markets, its unique food and architecture, and it’s summer shopping areas. 

If you are interested in adding Palermo to your holiday bucket list, we’ve got some guide tips just for you.

When to Visit Palermo  

If you are wondering when the best time to visit Palermo might be, most tour guides suggest that April to early June and September to October are the best times to do so. 

The central reason for selecting these times is that it is not too hot weather-wise, and the region isn’t overpopulated with tourists as it typically is during the heights of the summer season. 

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However, if you don’t mind the sweltering heat and a large number of tourists, summer is a great time to enjoy Sicily’s beaches!

For those of you who prefer a much more low-key trip, you will want to travel to Palermo between late October to March. 

Not only is the region much quieter and cooler weather-wise, but there are fewer tourists, the city’s attractions tend to close earlier, and the city’s accommodations and tours are far more affordable given that this period is considered low season.

Where to Stay in Palermo  

When visiting Palermo, you will also want details on where to stay. 

Of Palermo’s 25 different districts, tour guides generally suggest that the best districts to stay in are Old Town or Politeama/Libertà. 

Not only are both regarded as safe, but they are much closer than the other districts to tourist attractions, and you can make your way around using either public transportation or cabs.  

If you are looking for a much more laid-back region to stay in, we recommend Mondelo in the north of Palermo. 

This small village used to be a seaside fishing location that now has great access to Palermo’s beaches and nightlife. However, the downside is that it is a bit far from Palermo’s city center, so if you do decide to stay here, consider renting a vehicle to help you get around.

Getting Around in Palermo  

Depending on where you stay, your transportation will change. Thankfully, in many parts of the city, Palermo is very walkable. 

For example, if you decide to stay in the Old Town or Politeama/Libertà, you won’t need a car at all and could likely get away with using the occasional cab (Sicily does not have Uber) or bus when needed. 

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If you do need cabs, rest assured that they are reliable, though some have been known to overcharge tourists. 

To avoid such a thing happening, we recommend settling on the price before agreeing and getting into the cab in the first place. 

If you prefer buses instead, these are a great alternative as they are fast and reliable, and the routes are easily retrievable on Google Maps.

Quattro Canti 

One of the great places to visit in Palermo is Quattro Canti – a Baroque octagonal square built in the early 1600s. 

Made up of four ornate facades, the square includes beautiful statues, small fountains, and great design, which allows a different façade to be lit up throughout the day by the sunlight as it moves across the sky.

Pack up your luggage storage in Palermo at a proper temporary facility and free up your hands to hold your cell phone to take pictures of the beauty that awaits you at Quattro Canti.

Palermo Cathedral 

Another great tourist location is Palermo’s main cathedral, Cattedrale di Palermo. 

This cathedral was first built in 1185 and includes a number of architectural styles, given that it has been altered and restored many times throughout the years. 

Located at the center of the city, this cathedral is known for its overall architecture but especially for its roof design. 

While it is free admission to enter the church, if you are interested in climbing to the roof’s terrace to take in the city’s views, the charge is typically 5,00 euros.

Teatro Massimo

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Another great tourist location is Teatro Massimo, one of the region’s most well-known opera houses. Considered the largest opera house in Italy and most renowned throughout Europe, Teatro Massimo is known for its beautiful architecture. 

To enjoy its beauty, consider taking a guided tour or a ticket to see one of the shows offered inside. 

Sicilian Cuisine 

Along with tourist attractions, Palermo also offers great cuisine. Consider having arancini – which are rice balls filled with mozzarella, ham, or peas, and are then coated with bread crumbs and deep-fried for an added crispy outside. 

Or, you can also pick up cannoli as a decadent treat. These tube-shaped pastry shells are typically filled with creamy ricotta and may also include candied fruits, chocolate chips, or pistachios in the cream as well. 

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