Ciao from Palermo! This lively capital city of Sicily is a fascinating destination filled with rich history, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine. Palermo has a storied history, having been ruled by a variety of civilizations including the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Spanish. This mix of influences has left its mark on the city’s unique architecture, cuisine, and customs. Discover what we love about Palermo and you’ll see why we begin our Sicily Walking Tour in this sunny, historic city.

Top 5 Things To See in Palermo:

Image of the Norman Cathedral taken from outside the front gates. Featuring ornate statues and spires, along with a tall, lush palm tree

1. Visit the Norman Cathedral:

The magnificent Normal Cathedral (or Palazzo dei Normanni) is located in Monreale; a beautiful little hill town that overlooks the Conca d’Oro. Built by William II in 1174, the interior glows with 130 murals and mosaics depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The building is the oldest royal residence in Europe and was the private residence of all the rulers of the of Kingdom of Sicily. (💡 Insider tip: You’ll explore more of Monreale and the Norman Cathedral on our Sicily Walking Tour in the company of an expert local guide)

2. Browse the Ballarò Market:

The Ballarò Market is a bustling street market in Palermo’s historic center, where you can find fresh produce, local meats & street food, an abundance of household goods, and other Sicilian specialties. It’s the oldest of all Palermo’s markets and is a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture and pick up some souvenirs.

3. Soak In The Sun by The Sea:

While the history, culture, and food are nothing short of spectacular, this region on the north coast is known for having some of Italy’s best beaches. Visit the beaches of Mondello, Spiaggia Vergine, or Mariaor Lido Valdesi which are within a 20-minute drive from the Historic Center. Bask in the warm sun and take a stroll down Palermo’s white sandy beaches, or dip your toes in the crystal-clear water for a few hours of total relaxation. You deserve it!

4. Descend into The Capuchin Catacombs:

The Capuchin Catacombs (or Catacombe dei Cappuccini) is an underground burial site established by the Capuchin friars in the 16th century. The catacombs contain thousands of mummified bodies, which have been preserved through a natural process that involves dehydration and exposure to air. This valuable historical and cultural landmark is considered to be one of the most fascinating sights in Sicily, attracting thousands of visitors each year.

5. Indulge in an Evening Aperitivo in the Historic Center:

Evening aperitivo is a beloved Italian tradition enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It’s like Italian happy hour which takes place in the early evening and involves enjoying a drink and light snacks before dinner. Aperitivo is not just about the drinks and food, as it is a social occasion that allows friends and colleagues to catch up and unwind after a busy day. Relax with a Negroni and soak in the aperitivo atmosphere….cheers!

Top 5 Things To Eat In Palermo:

Photo depicts customers outside Palermo cafe with cobblestone streets and red checkered tablecloths

1. Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma is a celebration of Sicilian cuisine and the island’s rich cultural heritage. This hearty pasta dish features an assortment of locally grown vegetables and herbs, including tomatoes, eggplant and basil. Salted ricotta rounds out the flavors and gives the pasta a creamy texture. Many restaurants in Palermo offer their own version of Pasta alla Norma, and it is considered a must-try dish while in this city.

2. Arancini:

Arancini are deep-fried balls of rice with a filling of meat, cheese, or vegetables. They are a popular street food in Palermo, and you can find them in most markets and snack bars. Take a snack break while meandering the markets and try one of these…yum!

3. Cannoli:

If you’re going to Sicily, you have to stop for a cannoli because it’s here where the legendary pastry was born. Cannoli are a classic Sicilian dessert made of crispy pastry shells filled with sweet ricotta cream and often decorated with candied fruit or chocolate chips. Stick with the traditional sweetened ricotta or opt for a more adventurous flavor like pistachio or blood orange.

4. Sfincione:

Sfincione is a type of Sicilian pizza that is topped with tomato sauce, onions, anchovies, and a generous amount of breadcrumbs. It is often served as street food or as a snack in Palermo’s markets and bakeries.

5. Cassata:

This Sicilian cake has roots in Palermo, where legend has it that a pastry chef needed to use up an excessive number of candied fruits. It is a sweet and rich cake that is made with sponge cake layers, ricotta cheese, candied fruit, and marzipan.

💡 (Insider tip: Taste the culinary traditions of the island during a cooking instruction in a private kitchen on our Sicily Walking Tour)

Top 5 Things To Drink In Palermo:

Two orange-colored cocktails on a ledge looking over a city.

1. Aperol Spritz:

Aperol Spritz is a popular Italian cocktail that is made with Aperol, prosecco, and soda water. Add pomegranate or orange for a fresh twist. It is a refreshing and slightly bitter drink that is perfect for sipping on a hot afternoon or during aperitivo.

2. Grillo Wine:

Grillo is a white wine native to Sicily and is particularly popular in Palermo. It has a bright, citrusy flavor and pairs well with seafood dishes…salute (that’s how you say cheers)!

3. Sicilian Lemonade:

Sicilian lemonade is a refreshing drink made with fresh lemons, water, and sugar. It has a tart and sweet flavor that is perfect for a warm day along the coast or in the city.

4. Limoncello:

Limoncello is a sweet, tangy liqueur made from lemon peels, sugar, and alcohol. It is the second-most popular liqueur in Italy and is traditionally served chilled as an after-dinner digestive.

5. Chinotto

Chinotto is a type of carbonated soft drink produced from the fruit juice of the myrtle-leaved orange tree. The beverage is dark in color, so its appearance is similar to that of cola, but instead has a bittersweet taste.

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