Europe · Italy

What to See in Palermo, Sicily

The first stop on our trip was Sicily. Landing at the Palermo airport, we were met with beautiful views of mountains and sea from every angle. The Arab-influenced architecture showcases the rich history of the city. So what should you see when you visit Palermo? I may have only visited for a day and a half, but I broke down my top sights and places.

1. Monreale – The city of Monreale is quick 30-minute bus ride from Palermo’s city center. From the top of the city, you see sweeping views of Palermo and the mountains that make you truly appreciate where you are. It’s a small town that makes you feel welcome. With family run restaurants and shops, this quaint town has a lot to offer the sightseeing traveler.

2. Monreale Duomo – So the city itself gives you amazing views and a cool small-town feel, but the cathedral will have you in awe. The church was completed in 1184 and the architecture incorporates Norman, Byzantine and classical elements*. The colorful mosaics are vibrant. This was the first church we visited on our trip and it set the tone for the rest.

3. Quattro Canti – This landmark is the traditional center of Palermo. It translates to “Four Corners” and is named because of the four corners marked with structures. From the historic city center, you can walk to churches, shops, restaurants and other landmarks. Seeing a modern lifestyle live in the historic city center is a sight you shouldn’t miss.

4. Fontana Pretoria – Also known as the Fountain of Shame, this landmark is a few steps from the Quattro Canti. Built in 1573, the fountain was dubbed the Fountain of Shame because of its flagrant nudity*. This huge structure is located next door to churches and the nudity was just too much for the church-goers. Thankfully, the fountain still stands for locals and tourists to visit.

5. Street Markets – The streets of Palermo are full of food stands. We favored the fruit stands where we were able to grab our breakfast on the go as we started our busy day. The prices are fair and the quality is great. Take advantage of the local food and you won’t be sorry!

6. Palatine Chapel – We sadly missed this and I wanted to be sure to add this to the list. Just for reference, it’s located in the Palazzo dei Normanni, which is now the seat of the Sicilian parliament. Do your best to not miss the golden mosaics that, I’m sure, will take your breath away. And then post pictures for me to see!

I wish we could have seen more of Sicily, but Palermo was definitely a good stop. There is plenty of history for history buffs and gorgeous views for those who appreciate scenery. If you like both, Sicily should be a stop on your list.

*Information taken from Lonely Planet: Discover Italy

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