Walking in Palermo's Centro Storico

The historic centre of Palermo is a lot quieter than most of the areas. Although it is filled with tourists but there is a different vibe from the rest of the city. It is a lot similar to the Rashtrapati Bhavan area in Delhi- quiet, clean and green while the rest stands abuzz with activity. Walking in the historic centre of Palermo is like walking back in the time of the Normans.


Your first stop should be Il Duomo di Palermo a.k.a. The Palermo Cathedral. The Cathedral is a breathtaking work of art and is surrounded by palm trees and old shops. The Norman cathedral is striking and gorgeous! Entrance cost is €5.
It’s entrance includes a famous portico that was made in the 16th century. Inside the church are jewels from the era which are called the “treasures of the cathedral”. There is a crypt with tombs of the royal Normans which I personally found eerie but anyone can go and visit. To get a view of the city, you can climb to the top of a narrow tower for a view of the city. Cost is €5, however if you combine it with the Cathedral and tomb it is €7.

Walking in Palermo’s Centro Storico

Walking in Palermo’s Centro Storico

Walking in Palermo’s Centro Storico

Walking in Palermo’s Centro Storico

Your next stop should be the long street with quaint shops and places to eat. Everything from street food to coffee to books to souvenirs can be found here.
Walking in Palermo’s Centro Storico

The street is quite long so make a few stops here and there. Once you walk for about 15 minutes, you will reach “Il Quattro Canti” – a junction where four (quattro) roads meet from four historic areas of the city. Quattro Canti is an area greatly admired by tourists and locals alike. It is adorned by sculptors and fountains that were commissioned by the Spanish Viceroy in 1611. It surely makes a great stop for photography and remains to my favorite part of the historic centre.
Walking in Palermo’s Centro Storico

Walking in Palermo’s Centro Storico

Walking in Palermo’s Centro Storico

Your last stop before lunch/dinner should be the Kalsa district that has the jaw dropping Pretoria fountain! Keep half an hour here only for gazing here and thank me later. I am pretty sure you will be stupefied by the architecture as I was.
Walking in Palermo’s Centro Storico

Walking in Palermo’s Centro Storico

Palermo’s historic centre also includes several churches. The city is historically rich with an intriguing history. I think Palermo requires more attention but unfortunately it gets sidelined by the popular cities of Italy.
Useful Information:
-for a quick know how of the city take a Hop On Hop Off bus.
-Getting around in Palermo is manageable by foot if you get a good Map of the city.
-Several airlines caters travel to Palermo and from India I took the Swiss Airlines with a layover at Zurich airport. I found it to be the cheapest option (May 2016) as compared to other airlines.

  • Check this handy Lonely Planet Guide for everything Sicilian you need to know. You won’t regret.

Language is a barrier in Italy if you don’t know Italian especially with the older generation. But the Italians try even if they don’t speak English, they will always help you.
-For information and bookings consider booking your trip to Sicily via VisitPalermo & VisitSicily. They are are the best guides for anything Sicilian. Not only are they super helpful, quick to revert and easy on your pocket, but also locals who call Palermo their hometown. I guarantee they will suggest you the best of Palermo and Sicily on the whole for your trip!
Have you read these books based in Sicily??

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54 thoughts on “Walking in Palermo's Centro Storico

  1. Thank you for your beautiful pictures and informative post! Since visiting Prato several years ago, I am missing the city and longing to go back! These pictures are just stunning and reflect all that I loved about my trip back then! I am currently reading The Birth of Venus, a fictional book set in the 1500s in Florence, Italy…I think I am part Italian, even if my gene pool says otherwise….

    1. Mille grazie. That book is on my TBR since ages. I think we are kindred spirits then because I feel Italian in soul too 😉
      I have yet to visit Prato 🙂 Heard its lovely too. What place in Italy isn’t!

      1. It’s a great story…I am only on Chapter 9, but I don’t want it to end…Prato is lovely, lovely, lovely. We stayed at the Hotel Prato, down the street from the church of Donatello’s Pulpit. I want to move back to Italy someday…or at least just visit every few years…

          1. Alaina is the receptionist at the Hotel Prato…she’s wonderful. And Alain was the gentleman in the morning in the dining room…he reminded me of Al Pacino a bit…

  2. Great shots! I have never been in Sicily (yet) 😛
    I find it very interesting that you have the perception that many Italians speak English 😀 So many of my friends are very reluctant and would rather bury themselves if faced with the situation of having to speak English with strangers.

    1. By that I mean that they know small words of English which shows they want to try and help. I have seen a difference in past 3 years of my travels there and I think things are slowly changing and they do want to take it up .. the youngsters.. Thank you for the lovely appreciation.. I hope you visit it soon!

      1. Well one thing we’re great at is body language. The will to try to communicate is really strong even when faced with a language barrier haha But still, I’ve resided outside of Italy for some time now so I believe when you say things are changing.

  3. It’s many years since I’ve visited Sicily and your post and lovely photos has got me thinking it’s time to return.

  4. Really great and informative post! The photos are also incredible. I agree with what you said – Palermo gets sidelined due to the presence of other tourist hotspots in Italy (I confess that I am a person that has done this to poor Palermo). However, thanks to your post, it’s now high up on my list of places to visit.

    1. Thank you 🙂 it does and many people have pre conceived notions about it not being safe. It’s just as the next safest city in Euripe! Hope you visit soon

  5. A beautiful post as always Ishita.. love the photos and travel hints along the way that you provide. Palermo was on my list when I was planning that very first trip last year.. but the logistics were too daunting to me at that time.. so I ‘settled’ for the mainland ha ha. But Sicily and Palermo are definitely on my ‘To Do’ list. I think I should just make my ‘To Do’ list, ALL OF ITALY as any town I look at or read about, I want to experience – LOL

    1. Lol! I’m in the same boat. Only today I saw a beautiful rail line in Tuscany online and was thinking when I could go. Same boat 😂😂 thank you for your lovely words. Make Palermo happen next time!!

  6. Lovey! Sicily is still waiting and I think I’ll have to go there since it will not come to get me. 🙂
    This made me grin, though: “Language is not a barrier in Italy as compared to other European countries. So many Italians know English and if they don’t, they will always find someone to help you when you are stuck.” I’m so happy for you to have this experience with the Italians you’ve met!! I wish I could say the same. Most of the Italians I meet in Roma and Tuscany are absolutely clueless, at least those who do not work in tourism. With a possible exception of France, in every other European country I’ve been people are happier to speak English and better at it.

    1. Yes you must 😉 Sadly it happens to me too but most of the people have been very helpful except for a few who give looks as if I am an alien 😛 I hope things improve.

  7. What a lovely blog Ishita! We thought Palermo was a magnificent city, especially having arrived on the overnight ferry from Naples. Unfortunately I did have my pocket picked!

    1. Sorry to hear that Pete. Was it near the station? Heard and read lot of cases sadly. It is wonderful. But you got to be careful everywhere now. Not just in Palermo

      1. It was at the bus stop to go up to Monreale cathedral. There was an organised gang, an old man and half a dozen teenagers. They stole every passenger’s wallet or purse!

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