The beautiful port city of Palermo is the capital of the picturesque Mediterranean island of Sicily. With an amazing cultural heritage, excellent accommodation and numerous restaurants, bars and cafes to explore, the city is one of the region’s best destinations for holidaymakers from around the world.
Regardless of how long you’re planning to stay in Palermo, there’s so much to see and do that it might make your head spin! While it’s definitely advisable to set aside some time to wander around the historic center of the city, browse the local boutique stores and have a bite to eat in an authentic Sicilian trattoria, you should also take advantage of some of the tours and guided activities that are on offer in the city.
With so much to choose from, there are activities and tours that are perfect for families with children, couples on a romantic vacation, groups of friends, and even the more adventurous solo traveler. Having sifted through the vast array of tours and activities, we’ve parsed it down to the very finest options to help you plan your dream vacation in Palermo, the jewel in the Sicilian crown.
The ideal way to find your feet and get a great overview of the city is to buy a ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour. On board the bus there’s a multilingual commentary so you’ll learn all about the history of the places you see on the route. What’s more, you can get on and off the bus as many times as you want throughout the 24-hour validity of your ticket.
There are two main routes that the tour bus takes. The first route starts from the terminal outside the Politeama Theater in the city center and takes you past many of the top attractions, including the Massimo Theater, the Piazza Quattro Canti and the famous Vucciria Market. The bus then takes you along the beautiful Botanical Gardens, past the Palazzo Steri, the Royal Palace, the Flea Market and Palermo Cathedral itself. Finally, you are returned to the terminal after traveling down the ancient Via Roma.
The second route also starts at the Politeama Theatre and then passes the English Garden, the Villa Malfitano and the Zisa Castle. Next, you’ll drive past the Mercato del Capo, the Massimo Theater, and the city’s port before returning to the terminal in Politeama Square.
Tickets cost around 25 Euros for a 24-hour ticket that allows you to jump on and off the bus an unlimited amount of times as you travel around the city. This makes the tour a wonderful way to explore the city when you first arrive and will help you identify other places that you want to visit during the rest of your stay in Palermo.
This half-day tour of central Palermo is a great way to discover some of the city’s highlights while enjoying a commentary from your English-speaking local guide. Along the way, you’ll visit the traditional Arabic neighborhoods, some of the iconic churches and the Theater Massimo. You’ll also get a chance to do a little shopping in the Vucciria market and see the beautiful Palatine Chapel, a masterpiece of Arabic-Norman architecture. After you sightsee the city, you’ll finish the tour in style by enjoying an authentic Sicilian lunch in a 16th-century Spanish servery.
If you’d like to dive head first into the delicious culinary heritage of Palermo then this 3-hour walking food tour is unmissable! You’ll explore the city’s organic food markets, taste lots of traditional recipes and discover some of the most delightful seasonal desserts and snacks along the way.
You’ll be led by an experienced English-speaking guide, stop off for 7 street food tastings and to keep you nicely refreshed you’ll also try 2 local beers and a glass of Sicilian wine. Lastly, to complete your tour you can choose between an ice cream or a cannoli.
Some of the tour highlights include visiting the market of Capo and Vucciria as well as making a cheerful toast in the city’s oldest tavern. For any food buff visiting Palermo, this casual walking tour should certainly be on your itinerary – just make sure you’re feeling hungry when you arrive!
Considering Palermo is one of the most beautiful port cities in the Mediterranean, it’s not possible to visit without spending a day out on the open water, exploring the magnificent Gulf of Palermo. With turquoise waters, guaranteed sunshine and spectacular photo opportunities, this full-day boat tour of the surrounding coastal region is a fantastic way to spend some quality time with your friends or family.
The tour takes you out to the Bay of Mondello and along the Western coast of Palermo, with stops for swimming and relaxing on deck while taking in the iconic Mediterranean views. You’ll be able to explore the Reserve of Cap Gallo, visit a local nature reserve and enjoy an authentic Sicilian brunch, including gourmet paninis and delicious freshly made aperitifs.
The tour also includes wine and beer as well as unlimited water throughout the day. When you’re getting your day bag ready for the tour, don’t forget to pack your swimwear and a towel.
After being picked up from your hotel, you’ll depart for a full-day, private 10-hour tour of some of the top attractions near Palermo. The first stop of the tour is at the natural wonder of Mount Etna where you’ll explore the lava fields and visit the slopes of Europe’s highest and most active volcano. While you’re exploring Mount Etna you can also jump on the cable car to get up to an altitude of 2,500 meters without even breaking a sweat!
Next on the itinerary, you’ll be driven to Taormina for a walking tour of the traditional Sicilian town before taking some time to relax in a cafe where you can try a granita, a semi-frozen Sicilian dessert. The day’s final stop is Castelmola, which offers incredible panoramic views across the Bay of Taormina and the Bay of Giardini Naxos. You’ll also have a chance to wander through the narrow, old-worldly streets of the town before being driven back to your accommodation in Palermo, just in time for dinner in the city.
Did you know that the legendary Don Corleone and his famous clan of Italian gangsters were from Sicily? Well, if not, this is your chance to learn all about the real-life origins of the Sicilian Mafia. This day-long tour takes you all around the island to visit sites of real Mafia events as well as locations that were used in the hugely successful Francis Ford Coppola Godfather movies.
During the tour, you’ll visit the site of the Portella della Ginestra massacre, taste traditional cannoli and visit the village of Corleone while learning all about the fascinating history of the Sicilian Mafia. The tour includes hotel pickups and drop-offs and there’s a live English language commentary from your guide throughout the day.
One of the funniest ways to explore the ancient city of Palermo is to rent a city bike and just follow your nose. The city is relatively small and super easy to navigate by bike although there are a few hills that you might want to avoid or else you may have to get off and push! There are male and female bikes available as well as smaller child bikes which makes this a great idea for a family day trip.
Bikes are available from 9 am and must be returned by 7 pm on the same time. Rental prices are extremely reasonable and start at about 15 Euros per day. Helmets are provided and the friendly staff can also give you some good tips about the best cycling routes around the city. You can pick up your bike, and drop it off, at the bike rental office in Via Onorato, 8a, near the city’s main harbor.
For visitors to Palermo who would love to learn to make fresh pasta at home, this private, 2-hour class teaches the authentic techniques that Sicilian chefs have used for generations. Led by a certified professional chef, you’ll learn all about the secrets of 3 of Sicily’s most iconic pasta dishes. What’s more, after the pasta is cooked, you’ll be able to sit down and sample the fruits of your labor, together with a delicious glass of locally sourced wine. This is an easy way to learn a new skill while benefiting from the insider know-how of an experienced Sicilian chef.
This 4-hour half-day tour is divided into 2 parts. In the first part, you’ll visit the Capuchin monastery in Palermo to explore the creepy underground Catacombs. Built in the 17th and 18th Centuries, the Catacombs were the burial place for wealthy Sicilians who were entombed by the Friars of the monastery, using natural techniques to mummify the bodies of the deceased. The second part of the tour takes you to the city of Monreale, on the slopes of Monte Caputo. Originally founded by the Arabs, you’ll visit Monreale’s Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and see the enchantingly refined Byzantine architecture of this unique Sicilian city.
Founded in 1824 by Giuseppe Alliata, the Duke of Salaparuta and the Prince of Villafranca, these famous vineyards are part of Sicily’s oldest winery. During your guided tour you’ll learn about the winery’s history and get the chance to taste 4 outstanding Duca di Salaparuta and Florio wines which are paired with traditional Sicilian aperitifs and snacks. An essential trip for any connoisseur of Sicilian wine, you’ll discover the passion and history that has gone into producing some of the finest wines on an island that is renowned the world over for its premier vintages.
Wonderful Tours Of Palermo.
Palermo is a fantastic destination for a vacation in the Mediterranean. And with so much to offer visitors you’re guaranteed to have an absolutely unforgettable experience. From the spectacular coastal scenery to the astounding confluence of architectural styles and the divine local cuisine, Palermo is one of Italy’s finest cities and is a must-visit for any Italophile.