Rich in history, culture, art, music and food, Palermo is Sicilys tourism capital. Its an energetic, even chaotic city, yet many of its real treasures are hidden.
A multicultural past and an eclectic present
Palermos multicultural past has left it with a unique mix of architectural styles to admire, including Byzantine, Arabic, Norman, Renaissance and Baroque. The markets in the back streets have an almost Middle Eastern feel, while the more modern wide avenues lined with 19th-century apartments could be Parisian.
Its fair to say that many people come to Palermo for the golden beaches. The area has a lot of different places to lounge and soak up the sun, whether youre after a family-friendly stretch of sand or a little more privacy.
Top 5 beaches
- Mondello beach - This former swamp has been transformed into an expanse of gorgeous golden sand, while the seafront is lined with mansions and villas. Tuck into fresh seafood in one of the nearby restaurants
- Aspra beach - Aspra is a small fishing village east of the main city look out for its trademark colourful wooden boats on the shore or in the water. You can also get arguably some of the best ice cream in Sicily here
- Cefalu beach - This is about an hour away but is good for families, as some areas have lifeguards and watchtowers
- San Vito Lo Capo - Known as the Caribbean of Italy for its golden sands and clear water, and home to many popular beachfront restaurants
- Arenella beach - A very quiet beach, despite its proximity to restaurants and shops
Top 5 laid-back Palermo activities
- Visit the honey-coloured, Catalan-influenced Palermo Cathedral, a mixture of architectural styles due to its long history of alterations and additions
- Visit the Palazzo dei Normanni. This beautiful palace houses the Palatine Chapel, which was the chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily and features some incredibly elegant mosaics
- See a production at the Teatro Massimo, Italys biggest opera house
- Visit the Palermo Botanical Gardens: theres an aquarium with aquatic flora, a herbarium and a gene bank to protect the genetic material of the regions plants
- Go shopping in the Vucciria Market, held in the streets around the Piazza San Domenico (every day except Sunday until 2pm). All kinds of fresh seafood, herbs and local produce are on offer, as well as souvenirs and craft items