Wondering what to do in Palermo in one day? I have prepared the best itinerary and I will help you plan one day in Palermo to maximize your time.
Palermo is located on the edge of Southern Italy and it is known as the capital of Sicily. This historical city offers cultural experiences, beautiful locations, and more fun things to do. And it is a great destination for foodies planning to explore traditional Sicilian cuisine. But how to cover it all and what to do in Palermo in 24 hours?
In this travel guide, you will find a one-day itinerary for Palermo and other useful tips that you should know before visiting this charming Sicilian city.
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Is Palermo worth visiting?
Palermo is the fifth most populated city in Italy and a place where a huge amount of cultures blend. Palermo and all of Sicily have always been a meeting point between the Mediterranean and the Arab world, nevertheless, you will see a huge influence of the Normans and the north of Europe.
It has a unique vibe that you won’t find in other Italian cities and it has a lot to offer to its visitors. The list of must-do things in Palermo is long and you certainly don’t want to miss out.
Palermo has gems of religious and civilian architecture, one of the best cuisines in Italy, and even a lot of splendid beaches around. On top of that, Palermo is one of the sunniest cities in Europe, even in the wintertime. So yes, it is worth visiting Palermo, Italy.
How many days in Palermo?
Many people who arrive in Sicily will mostly land at Palermo airport and head directly to explore the rest of the island. Don’t make this mistake and spend at least one day in Palermo.
24 hours in Palermo will give you the chance to get a little peak of what it means to visit Sicily and see some of the most incredible attractions of the region. During one day in Palermo, you can see impressive cathedrals and churches, majestic theatres, and colorful markets. On top of that, you will be able to try some of the most famous sweets in the world.
If you are a history lover and you wanna discover more of the secrets that this underrated city in Italy offers I recommend you at least 3 days in Palermo.
How to move around Palermo? Is Palermo a walkable city?
Palermo is one of the most trafficked cities in Italy and you should give up immediately the idea of using a car to explore the city. So how to visit Palermo in one day?
I planned an itinerary that will allow you to cover the best things to do in Palermo and you won’t need any means of transport. Walking in Palermo is a nice experience and you will enjoy all of the charms of the Sicilian capital. The following Palermo itinerary is perfectly planned in order to walk to all the main attractions without over-stressing yourself.
Where to stay in Palermo?
As previously mentioned, Palermo is one of the most populated cities in Italy, but the best places to see in Palermo for first-time visitors are all located in the central area. So here is a list of the best places to stay in Palermo.
LUXURY: Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes
This elegant and stunning hotel is inside the Art Nouveau palace. The lavishly decorated interiors are a triumph of beauty, while the rooms are decorated with fine fabrics and furniture. Breakfast is served in a luxurious hall, and you will be able to try some Sicilian specialties. If budget is not a problem, this is a great place where to stay in Palermo.
If you are looking for a unique experience, this is one of the best places to stay in Palermo. This fantastic palace is hosted in a 16th-century building and shows all the character of those times. On the other hand, the rooms are all equipped with modern comforts.
BOUTIQUE: Il Giardino di Ballarò Boutique B&B
There are dozens of boutique hotels in Palermo, but Palazzo Natoli Boutique Hotel is undoubtedly one of the nicest. The hotel is decorated with antiques and pieces of art, but still has a modern style that blends perfectly with the ultimate experience of comfort and pleasure.
MID-RANGE: Hotel Politeama
Despite being one of the best locations in the city, having an exceptional staff, and a modern bright style, the Hotel Politeama is one of the best places to stay in Palermo for the value of the money.
The hotel also has a wonderful suite overlooking the majestic Teatro Massimo.
AFFORDABLE: B&B Hotel Palermo Quattro Canti
If you are looking for an affordable place where to stay in Palermo without giving up the quality, look no further. The rooms are essential but very modern and all of them have an ensuite bathroom. The privileged location in the heart of the old town is another reason to choose this hotel.
Overview of the one-day itinerary for Palermo
Morning: Royal Palace and Palatine Chapel, Cathedral of Palermo, and Chiesa del Gesù.
Afternoon: Chiesa di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, Piazza Pretoria, Quattro Canti, and Vucciria district.
Evening: Piazza Olivella, Via dell’Orologio, Teatro Massimo, and Via Macheda.
Please keep in mind that this itinerary doesn’t have restaurant suggestions, however, you can scroll to the end of the article to find the best restaurants in Palermo for every budget. All of these restaurants are within the city center, so you can easily implement them during one day in Palermo.
Morning of your Palermo itinerary
Royal Palace and Palatine Chapel
Your Palermo 1-day itinerary starts with one of the most popular attractions of the city.
The Royal Palace was the seat of the king of Sicily during Norman’s time. It is one of the oldest royal residencies in Europe and one of the best places in Palermo to visit. The Palatine Chapel is undoubtedly the most interesting part of the visit, which is a fantastic example of a unique architectural style called Arab-Norman-Byzantine. The stunning mosaics, the wooden roof, the marble details of the lower part of the walls, and the floor are simply incredible.
The Royal Palace is part of the UNESCO heritage and it opens every day from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. The entrance fee is 12 euros and another 2 euros if you are planning to visit the gardens. You will need at least a couple of hours to visit the whole complex.
RELATED: 30 Most Beautiful Places in Sicily
Cathedral of Palermo
A short distance away from the Royal Palace stands the cathedral of Palermo, which is one of the symbols of the city and one of the most loved places by the locals. Remember the blend of architecture in Palermo? This Cathedral is a perfect example of that.
An itinerary of what to do in Palermo for a day simply must include a visit to this majestic cathedral. The best part is undoubtedly the external part of the church, but you can pay a quick visit inside. Visiting the cathedral and its gardens is also one of the free things to do in Palermo.
Chiesa del Gesù
Walk through the historical streets of the city to discover a hidden gem in Palermo. Despite being loved by the locals, this church sometimes is left behind as it looks like just like another church in Palermo from the outside. But it’s once you step in that you will discover one of the most extraordinary churches of whole Sicily.
This church, also known as Casa Professa, is one of the best examples of the Sicilian Baroque. The stuccos and the marble details inside the church are absolutely incredible. When you are visiting, don’t forget your camera as this is one of the most beautiful places in Palermo.
Click here to check the entrance fee and the opening times.
The afternoon of your one day in Palermo
Chiesa di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria
After the morning itinerary, you can enjoy lunch or spend some time in the bar to rest. But now, it is time to discover one of the most iconic places in the city. Chiesa di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria is not only relevant for its stunning architecture, but it’s also one of the best places in Palermo to try the famous cannoli.
Yes, that’s right, in this church, you will find I Segreti del Chiostro, which is an award-winning bakery mentioned by all the Italian food guides like the famous “Gambero Rosso”. In I Segreti del Chiostro you will be able to taste one of the several bakery products of the Sicilian tradition while sitting in a lush and ancient cloister.
As a cherry on the cake, the Chiesa di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria has a panoramic view of one of the most incredible squares of the city. This is also one of the most Instagrammable places in Palermo, so prepare your camera.
After appreciating the Pretoria fountain from the top, take a closer look at the fountain in the iconic square. This has to be on your list of what to see in Palermo in one day.
It was built in 1544 in Florence but in 1581 was transferred to the actual location of Palermo and it is considered one of the most beautiful fountains in Italy. It is decorated with 37 nude statues of mythological figures. Due to the nudity of the statues, the people of Palermo call the square with the name “Piazza della Vergogna” which means the square of shame.
In the square, you can also admire the famous Palazzo Pretorio which serves as the city hall, and the Chiesa Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio which is famous for its Byzantine domes.
Behind Piazza Pretoria, you will see another historical landmark to add to your Palermo 1 day itinerary. The square of Quattro Canti, known also as Piazza Vigliena, is another wonderful example of baroque art, built in an octagonal shape and surrounded by four magnificent palaces.
It is considered the center of the historical quarters of Palermo and the place where the two Main Streets of the city meet: Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Macheda. Each of the four palaces represents the corner of the old districts of Palermo: Kalsa, Castellamare, Albergaria, and Seralcadi.
The facades with the kings Philip and Charles also host two churches you shouldn’t miss.
Vucciria district is just a few steps away from the Quattro Canti. Here you can find one of the most popular markets in Palermo, where people come to eat fresh fish every day directly from the vendors. Here you can also find some of the best restaurants in Palermo, so if you visit Palermo in one day I strongly recommend you spend some time here.
In Vucciria, you will find Piazza San Domenico, another picturesque square of Palermo. In this square, you will see the famous Colonna dell’Immacolata, which is a monumental sculpture dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It stands in front of the Church of San Domenico, another Baroque church, known as the Pantheon of the Sicilians.
For a fantastic view of the church, I recommend you visit the rooftop bar called “Il Bar in Piazza San Domenico”, inside the Rinascente shopping center. Here you can take a good espresso or maybe have an aperitivo while looking at the roofs of the city. It has a quite romantic setting so it is one of the best things to do in Palermo for couples.
The evening of 24 hours in Palermo
Piazza Olivella, Via dell’Orologio and Teatro Massimo
After recharging your batteries, walk Via Monteleone to the last cultural sight for your Palermo itinerary. This famous street offers picturesque corners of the city and relevant landmarks like the Church of St. Ignatius at Olivella.
Then take the Via dell’Orologio where you will see the locals getting ready for the aperitivo in one of the hundred bars all around. Via dell’Orologio also offers one of the most characteristic glimpses of Palermo’s old city. If you haven’t had an aperitivo in the previous location this is the perfect place to find your place. My favorite bar was Il Siciliano, but the choice is yours, however, you can’t miss an aperitivo in your Palermo 1 day itinerary.
Finally, get to Teatro Massimo, which is the biggest opera house in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. If you are passionate about opera you should check out the program and attend a spectacle in order to appreciate the magnificent architecture from the inside.
If you liked Palermo during the day, you will love it after the sun goes down! From the Teatro Massimo, walk Via Macheda as this long street is packed with fancy wine bars, traditional street food stalls, and lively restaurants. This is the perfect place to spend your evening and see the nightlife of Palermo.
Things to do in Palermo at night
If you think that your list of things of what to do in Palermo in 24 hours is not complete, I suggest you visit Borgo Vecchio. This is where the young people in Palermo gather and you can find a great number of bars like the Berlin Cafe. If you like live music, I Candelai is the right place to be. Cocktail lovers can’t miss Bocum Fuoco – this concept lounge is located inside a historical building and boasts some of the best bartenders in the city.
Best beaches in Palermo
What to do in Palermo in one day if you are a beach lover? Head to Mondello! It can get crowded as locals love this place but it is super easy to reach via train, so can be a great solution to recharge your batteries. Mondello also hosts a lot of events and parties, especially during the summer nights, like the Country Disco club.
Where to eat in Palermo?
- Best cheap restaurant in Palermo: Trattoria Al Vecchio Club Rosanero, Al Tentacolo.
- Fine dining in Palermo: Ristorante Gagini.
- Best restaurant in Palermo with a view: Seven Restaurant & Rooftop Cocktail Bar.
- Best traditional food in Palermo: Buatta Cucina Popolana.
- Local markets in Palermo: Ballaro, Vucciria, Mercato del Capo.
- Best street food in Palermo: Ke Palle, Antica Focacceria San Francesco.
- Famous bakeries in Palermo: Pasticceria Costa, I Segreti del Chiostro.
- Top-rated vegan restaurant in Palermo: Flower Burger.
Other things to know before visiting Palermo
Euro is the currency in Italy, and cards are widely accepted but it’s always good to keep some cash, especially for small expenses like coffee.
Palermo is a safe destination for tourists, the Sicilians are lovely people and will welcome you with open arms. Just don’t forget to use common sense rules in order to avoid unpleasant situations and don’t leave your belongings unattended.
The weather in Sicily is fantastic, people still can go to the beach until November, and even during the coldest months the temperature almost never goes under 10 degrees.
English is not widely spoken in Palermo, but this is quite a common problem in Italy so be patient, the Italians will always find a way to be understood.
Considering to rent a car in Sicily?
I always use Rentalcars which is an international online car booking service. They match you with the best prices and have a flexible cancellation policy – you can cancel or change most bookings for free up to 48 hours before the pick-up. I only had the best experience with them, so I can recommend this company, but there are endless opportunities online or at the airport arrivals.
Further reading for one day in Palermo
Other popular regions of Italy
Other useful tips for visiting Italy
🏠 Need a place to stay? Browse Booking or Agoda
💃 How about fun experiences? GetYourGuide and Viator have it all
🚗 Considering renting a car in Italy? Use Rentalcars
✈️ Looking for the best flight deals? Check WayAway
🔒 Don’t forget about travel insurance from HeyMondo
This is the end of your one day in Palermo! I believe this itinerary will help you make to most of your time and visit the best places in Palermo. Even if you have a packed itinerary for the rest of Sicily, make sure you add one day trip to Palermo as well.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.