What to see in Palermo in one day

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Palermo "Prima sedes, Corona regis et regni caput". If you think about the history of this city, this statement is not that far from reality. Located on the northern coast of Sicily, in the so-called Conca d'Oro, Palermo is a true artistic masterpiece.
A week may not be enough to visit it all: its historic center full of churches, museums, parks, is in fact the largest in Europe. However, if you are in the area you can still organize a trip out of town to get at least a taste of this city. If the idea intrigues you, take a look at our itinerary that will take you to discover Palermo in one day.


  1. One day itinerary in Palermo: Morning
  2. One day itinerary in Palermo: Afternoon
  3. One day itinerary in Palermo: Evening
  4. User questions and comments

One day itinerary in Palermo: Morning

1- Politeama and Castello della Zisa

Iniziamo gives Piazza Ruggero Settimo. It is one of the most important squares in Palermo, together with the square Castelnuovo it forms the so-called Politeama Square. Nerve center of the city, here stands one of the symbolic theaters of the city: the Politeama. Here breakfast in pure Palermo style: at Spinnato, a historic pastry bar, you can dive into Palermo's gastronomy with sweets such as cannoli, iris and ricotta-filled cartocci or savory such as arancine, calzoni and pizzette. Average price? About € 2,00.
From Piazza Ruggero Settimo taking the bus n. 124 to the Lascaris stop, you will soon arrive at Zisa Castle. The building dates back to the th century, and is one of the many testimonies of the Norman dominion in Sicily. It was originally designed as a summer residence by William I, but upon the arrival of the Arabs on the island, the Zisa was transformed into a true Arab court. Even today you can admire the ceilings with the classic Arabic workmanship, specifically designed to combat the heat of the city by creating air currents that kept the whole building cool.

2- Royal Palace, Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Porta Nuova and Cathedral

Going back on Via Colonna Rotta you reach the Norman Palace. Also known as the Royal Palace of Palermo, this magnificent and colossal building dates back to the th century. Inside you can admire works of art, sumptuous rooms and above all the Palatine Chapel, one of the most spectacular places in all of Palermo. Part of the building houses the Sicilian Regional Assembly.
To the left of the building, in via dei Benedettini 3 is the Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti: a small architectural jewel hidden by the dense vegetation that rises within its courtyard. Do not expect to find frescoes or the like: this small church is literally empty: its beauty lies in the outside, in its cloister with a splendid view of the Palazzo dei Normanni.
From here, taking Via del Bastione and cutting onto Piazza della Vittoria you reach Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the main artery of the city known as "il Cassaro". After passing New door, on the left is the Cathedral of Palermo. The glance is something indescribable. Those who have already visited other places in sicily will recognize the Catalan Gothic style of its facade, while the dome is late Baroque. The interior is in neoclassical style, with a Latin cross and three naves. Here are kept the remains of the kings of Sicily, among which there are Frederick II e Roger II, in addition to the relics of Santa Rosalia, the patroness of Palermo. In the rooms of the Cathedral Treasury, you can admire the golden tiara of the Queen Constance of Aragon, as well as other objects found in the royal tombs. For the more adventurous it is also possible to climb to the top of the roof of the Cathedral, where a special walkway has been set up that will give you a breathtaking view over the whole of Palermo.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 5 km / 1 h 5 min
  • Places visited: Politeama, Castello della Zisa (approximately € 6,00), Porta Nuova (free), Royal Palace and Palatine Chapel (approximately € 8,50), church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti (approximately € 6,00), Cathedral of Palermo (free)
  • Half day guided walking tour
  • Where to have breakfast: from Spinnato, Piazza Ruggero Settimo

One day itinerary in Palermo: Afternoon

1- The Quattro Canti, Piazza Pretoria and the Churches of Piazza Bellini

Continue on Corso Vittorio Emanuele until you cross via Maqueda. The intersection of the two streets is a gigantic Baroque monument, called "The four Canti". The area is a real melting pot of attractions all within a radius of 20 meters: Piazza Pretoria, going down via Maqueda towards the south, with its "Fountain of Shame"because of the nudity of the statues surrounding the fountain, all representing mythological characters; in the adjacent square, a wonderful triptych of churches: Santa Caterina church of San Cataldo e Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio, known as "La Martorana", because it seems to have been born here martorana fruit, one of the symbolic sweets of Sicily.

2 - Market of the Ballarò

A little more than 300 meters, climbing via Maqueda towards Politeama, you reach a small descent, the Descent of the Giovenchi. Here, immediately on the left, lunch is served by one of the most renowned trattorias in Palermo: the Vecchio Club Rosanero. A great lunch with appetizer, first course, wine and dessert costs around € 15,00 per person.
Go down towards the station along via Maqueda, until you pass door of Vicars to turn right along Corso Tukory. From here, after about 100 meters, you cross the Ballarò Market, the liveliest of the historical ones in Palermo. Of Arab origin, here along the alleys inside, you can admire the stalls with very fresh products, from fruit and vegetables to meat and fish, typical specialties and all kinds of street food, in a riot of colors, flavors, smells and voices.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,3 km / 29 min
  • Places visited: Quattro Canti (free), Piazza Pretoria (free), Church of Santa Caterina (€ 3,00 approximately), Church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (€ 2,00), Vucciria (free)
  • Baroque walking tour with guide
  • Where to have lunch: Trattoria al Vecchio Club Rosanero, Vicolo Caldomai, 18

One day itinerary in Palermo: Evening

1 - Teatro Massimo and aperitif

You remain in the main axis that crosses the center of Palermo, going up the Via Maqueda or its parallels until you reach Piazza Verdi, with the Teatro Massimo, a neoclassical masterpiece as well as the largest opera house in Italy. At the end of dinner, walk along via dell'Orologio and you will find yourself in front of the Massimo Opera House, the largest opera house in Italy. Here in the evening the "nightlife" of Palermo is concentrated, made up of young people and tourists who crowd the clubs in the "Champagneria" area, right in front of the theater. Take a seat in one of the many bars in the pedestrian area for a super reinforced aperitif, with rich buffers of Sicilian delights.

2 - Street Food and Movida

If you still have the space, after the aperitif you go to the area of Vucciria: just cross the whole via Spinuzza (the Champagneria area) to exit in via Roma and go down to piazza San Domenico. Here a sign will show you the entrance to the Vucciria, an ancient market in Palermo today the area of ​​Palermo nightlife as well as epicenter of street food of the capital. Here among boiled octopus, stigghiole, oysters, bread with panelle and cazzilli and the legendary Bread with the spleen (for this reason, at Rocky Basile, also at Vucciria), you will find everything and more, for an expense that, to fill your stomach , will require a maximum of € 5,00. Drinks included!

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,6 km / 32 min
  • Places visited: Teatro Massimo (full € 8,00, reduced € 5,00), Champagneria (free), Vucciria (Free)
  • Palermo: 3-hour street food and history walking tour
  • Where to dine: Vucciria Market (from Rocky)

Before leaving: useful tips

Before leaving for Palermo it is necessary to take into account some useful tips that could be useful for you. Visit Palermo in one day it is really difficult, so you must be sure that you have studied everything in detail so as not to be the victim of some "road accident".

  • Clothing: the historic center is very large, and unless you visit the city in the middle of winter, the temperatures are always very enjoyable. Wear comfortable shoes and onion-shaped clothing.
  • Public transport: the city is well equipped with public transport that connect all the historical center of the city, but do not rely on their punctuality.
  • Traffic: if you turn on foot or by bicycle in non-pedestrian or cycle areas, pay close attention to traffic: driving in Palermo is rather "wild"
  • if you decide to extend your stay in Palermo, compare hotels and accommodations selected on Booking.com

What not to see: the attractions that are better to give up

Palermo is far too big to see in one day. Are you curious to know what we have left aside in our one day itinerary? Here you are satisfied.

  1. Monreale Cathedral: reaching Monreale would make you waste too much time for a one day itinerary
  2. Porto and Foro Italico: the port area is wonderful. If you linger in the evening, and you still have energy, take a walk, it's really worth it.
  3. Cape Market: very nice too, but you have already seen the Ballarò ... the next trip!
  4. Salinas Museum: this museum boasts one of the largest collections of Etruscan art in the world. Visiting it if you have only one day available means not seeing anything else
  5. Botanical Garden: this garden, which is the largest in Europe, is to be visited at certain times of the year
  6. Piazza Marina and historic buildings: one of the most beautiful squares, with a garden dominated by centenary Ficus the size of a football field.
  7. Mondello: the seaside village of Palermo ... if you go in summer, exclude something from the itinerary and go diving!
  8. The churches: in Palermo there are more than 300 churches. Some are truly stunning, but there are too many. Take note for the next trip!
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