What to see in Palermo in a week: discover the ultimate guide to one of the most exciting and rich in history of Sicily and Italy. 

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If Sicily is your stop for some relaxation, you can not miss Palermo, a place of very ancient origins, so much so that it is defined as an Arab-Norman city for the influences experienced over the centuries. In this article we will guide you hand in hand, within its monuments, flavors and markets. An itinerary that you can live in person if you have a week to spend in Palermo, in total relaxation.

From the churches to the stalls of the historic markets of the Arab era. The characteristic streets, the good food to taste, the beaches and the culture, as the third largest theater in Europe. Here is the complete guide to visit Palermo in a week.

A week in Palermo: the first steps in the city

City of Palermo

Palermo Cathedral

As a first step, after you have stopped at your Hotel or B&B ( by the way, have you already read our guide on the best neighborhoods to stay in Palermo?) you can start your tour and decide to visit the main monuments of Palermo.

First of all, after you have stayed in your Hotel or B&B you can start your tour and decide to visit the main monuments of Palermo.

1) The Cathedral certainly stands out among them: the perfect example to communicate the millenary history of Palermo. It is located in the Monte di Pietà district and was first an early Christian basilica and then also a mosque. Visiting it is like browsing a book about the history of this region.

2) Always continuing your tour of religious monuments, which are a fundamental part of Sicilian history and culture, you can not miss the Church of the Martorana (or Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio). It is one of the most fascinating Byzantine churches in Italy. Note the Byzantine mosaics that are located inside.

3) Do not miss the Capuchin Catacombs. A place where, between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries noble people decided to entrust to the Capuchin friars the bodies of their dead to be embalmed. A very impressive site.

To build your week-long itinerary in Palermo, check out our selection of the most interesting things to do.

What to eat and where in a week in Palermo

The market of Palermo

View of one of the markets of Palermo

After these visits you deserve a snack. Palermo, like all Sicily, offers a very rich and tasty cuisine! In the city you can visit the four most famous markets: Ballarò, Borgo Vecchio, Capo and La Vucciria. A mix of colours and flavours awaits you here. You will see fish, fruit, meat and vegetables on the stalls. You will surely be tempted to taste some specialties. In particular, Il Capo market is the best for fresh fish. Do not be afraid to bargain with traders. The atmosphere could bring you back to the Arab cities.

Palermo is also known for its street food. In the streets of the city center you will find typical foods such as sandwich with spleen, sfincione, veal guts and fried pancakes of chickpea flour (vegan dish), arancina (do not say arancino!), and then the radish again (soft brioches, stuffed with meat sauce, peas and mozzarella). Just to give some examples. In particular, you can experience it in the markets of Ballarò and La Vucciria, mentioned above.
And don’t forget the bakery.

Desserts are another great feature of the place. Cannoli, cassata, almond pastries, watermelon frost. These are just some examples that you can eat sitting in one of the squares of the city, or walking through the streets of the historic center. 

Other tourist stops in Palermo and beyond

Mondello Beach

Also, in the following days you should visit the Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele: founded in 1897, it is the third largest opera house in Europe. Other places that we suggest you to include in your itinerary of a week in Palermo, are the Palazzo dei Normanni: the oldest royal residence in Europe, now home of the Sicilian Regional Assembly. Here you will also find the Palatine Chapel: a basilica famous for its Byzantine mosaics. Then, take a trip to the so-called Fountain of Shame, namely Pretoria Fountain. So nicknamed by the locals because of the nudity of the statues around. The Cathedral of Monreale is also worth a visit.

Within your itinerary, you should also visit Villa Niscemi. If you are a fan of cinema or literature, it might remind you of something. In fact, it is the villa in which Tomasi di Lampedusa set the villa of Count Tancredi in 'Il Gattopardo'

Since you will have plenty of time in a week, consider taking a short trip out of town. In fact, near Palermo there are some very beautiful beaches, such as Mondello or, if you have a way to move the island of Ustica, a fundamental destination for those who want to practice diving. To get there you can take the ferry to the port and there are two possibilities: the operator Liberty Lines Fast Ferries that offers connections five times a day, with runs of about an hour and thirty minutes. Or the Siremar service that is offered up to seven times a week, with a duration of about three hours.

Palermo: places to discover

Genius of Palermo

A game that you can do during your stay of a week in the city is to find all, or almost all, the representation of the Genius of Palermo. The Genius is the tutelary god of the place, and emblem of the City of Palermo, and complementary to Santa Rosalia, elected since 1624 its patron. He is depicted as a mature man sitting, his beard divided, crowned and embraced by a snake that feeds on his chest. There are seven statues, two paintings and a mosaic. As if it were a treasure hunt, you can dedicate some time to this quest.

After finding the Genius of Palermo you can try another observation. That of graffiti. In Palermo, in fact, there is a lively activity of street artists who have scattered around several murals. In particular, you can find them in the markets of Il Capo, La Vucciria, Ballrò and Borgo Vecchio. But also throughout the district of La Kalsa, as mentioned, the most important and historic city.

Another curiosity that could enrich your search is Via Lattarini, one of the most historic of the city. It is located a few steps from Via Roma and is another of the city’s markets. The name originates from the spice market that was called in Arabic, Suk-el-Attarin

Some info to get to Palermo

How to reach Palermo

To reach Palermo you can take the ferry from Calabria to Sicily, through the Strait of Messina. From Messina, you can take the A20 motorway, which takes you directly to the city. Otherwise you can take advantage of the two airports: Punta Raisi or Falcone-Borsellino. From there, there are trains or a bus service that in less than an hour will take you to the Sicilian capital. Every thirty minutes there are runs that last about sixty minutes.

In conclusion, some advice on accommodation for the night and the time of year in which it is preferable to visit Palermo. As for sleeping, the best area is definitely the old town. In fact, most of the monuments and places to visit are concentrated in the main points of the city. They are all reachable on foot or by city bus. The Kalsa district, Borgo Vecchio and Monte di Pietà are the best areas.

As for the period there are no wrong moments: Palermo is always beautiful! Remember, however, that in summer it is very hot and so if you decide to visit in July or August you may suffer from high temperatures. If you decide to come in spring or even autumn do not be afraid: we are sure that you will be able to take a swim, since the climate is always very mild! 

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