22 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Palermo, Italy | 2024 (with Photos)

Lara Mega

Lara Mega - Head of Content

Last Updated: March 27, 2024

Hey there! I’m Lara, a travel enthusiast who had a blast exploring the vibrant city of Palermo. Discover my top recommendations through engaging photos and helpful tips for an unforgettable experience in this stunning Italian gem.

Fun and Unique Things to Do in Palermo, Italy

Palermo is a city that appeals to all types of travelers, from history buffs to foodies to beachgoers. Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean, Palermo has been influenced by various civilizations throughout history, resulting in a unique cultural blend.

The city's rich history is evident in its impressive architecture, including the stunning Palermo Cathedral and the Norman Palace.

Visitors can explore the city's fascinating past at the Palermo Historic Center and the Greek Theater, and sample local cuisine in its food markets, all of which offer a chance to experience the flavors of Sicily.

With stunning beaches like Mondello, and a botanical garden to relax in, Palermo also offers a chance to unwind and soak up the Mediterranean sun.

In this guide, the Travel-Lingual team will show you the best things to do in Palermo, and highlight why visiting this city should be top of your Europe bucket list.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Top Choice Hotel

Grand Hotel Wagner

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Le Stanze

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Palermo, Italy is...

Average Temperature

Mild, Mediterranean climate, with average temperature of 69°F.

Transportation Options

Buses, trams, taxis, walking, biking in Palermo, Italy.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Immerse yourself in the vibrant chaos of the local markets, where the tantalizing scents of fresh produce and the lively chatter of vendors will transport you to a world of sensory delight, allowing you to savor the true essence of Palermo's cultural tapestry.

Indulge in the city's rich history and architectural wonders by taking leisurely strolls through the winding cobblestone streets, where each step unveils hidden gems of Baroque buildings and ancient ruins, creating a magical journey through the layers of time in picturesque Palermo.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.
  2. Camera, portable charger, and reusable water bottle.

What Not to Miss

  1. Teatro Massimo
  2. Capuchin Catacombs
  3. Palermo Cathedral
  4. Norman Palace
  5. Sicilian Wines

What to Avoid

  1. Tourist traps
  2. Booking accommodations too far from the city center
  3. Unregistered public transportation

1. Explore Palermo Cathedral

Palermo Cathedral

When exploring the city's historic center, The Palermo Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece that can't be missed. It is also known as the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

The Palermo Cathedral showcases the rich cultural heritage of southern Italy.

Its impressive architectural styles boast a mix of Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical styles that have been influenced by various civilizations throughout history.

Once inside The Palermo Cathedral, the grand interior features vaulted ceilings, marble columns, stunning frescoes, and beautiful stained-glass windows that are sure to impress any visitor.

2. Admire beautiful San Giovanni Degli Eremiti

San Giovanni Degli Eremiti

A breathtakingly beautiful Christian church, San Giovanni Degli Eremiti should be on every visitor's itinerary.

Built during the Norman period, the church's distinctive red domes and white walls make it one of Palermo's most recognizable landmarks.

Its unique blend of Norman, Arab, and Byzantine architectural styles reflects the diverse cultural influences of the city's history. Admire the beauty of the church's exterior and then step inside to experience its serene and peaceful atmosphere.

The cloister of San Giovanni Degli Eremiti is a highlight, with its tranquil gardens and rows of arches that showcase the beauty of the Norman-Byzantine architectural style.

3. Stroll through Piazza Pretoria

Piazza Pretoria

Piazza Pretoria is a stunning square located in the heart of Palermo's historic center that is steeped in history.

The square is named after the Fontana Pretoria, an impressive fountain that features ornate sculptures and was built in Florence in the 16th century. It was later dismantled and brought to Palermo in the 16th century where it was reassembled.

The square was once home to four Spanish kings, who were installed by the city's Spanish rulers in the 16th century. Today, the square is a hub of activity, and you can take a walk through the square and take in the beauty of the surrounding architecture.

The square is also home to a lively street food scene, where visitors can sample traditional Sicilian dishes such as arancini, panelle, and sfincione. And if you don't know Italian, we got a list of 30 best online Italian courses for you!

4. Get in touch with history at Palermo's Historic Center

Palermo's Historic Center

Palermo's Historic Center is a treasure trove of history, culture, and architectural wonders that have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The area is filled with ancient buildings and landmarks that have witnessed centuries of history, from the Norman and Arab rule to the present day.

Once there, you can stroll along the charming streets and alleyways and admire the mix of architectural styles, from the Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical to the Byzantine and Arabic. The center is also home to some of the city's most important cultural sites, including the Palermo Cathedral, Palatine Chapel, and the Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti.

A visit to the center is an opportunity to get in touch with the city's rich history, experience its vibrant culture, and marvel at the impressive architecture that tells the story of Sicily's past.

5. Discover Capuchin Catacombs

Capuchin Catacombs

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are a unique and macabre attraction that should not be missed. Located beneath the Capuchin Monastery, the catacombs are home to over 8,000 mummies, some of which are displayed in open coffins while others hang from the walls.

Explore the dimly lit catacombs and marvel at the preservation of the bodies, and the oldest bodies date back to the 16th century. The Capuchin Catacombs are a fascinating and eerie glimpse into the city's past and the practice of mummification.

While not for the faint of heart, a visit to the Capuchin Catacombs is an unforgettable experience that offers a unique perspective on Palermo's cultural and historical heritage.

6. Make a wish at Fontana Pretoria

Fontana Pretoria

Visiting Palermo is not complete without a visit to the beautiful Fontana Pretoria in the heart of Pretoria Square.

Fontana Pretoria, also known as the Fountain of Shame due to its many nude statues, is a masterpiece of Renaissance art that features intricate sculptures of mythological figures, animals, and deities. Apart from those, it features figures of Four Spanish Kings who founded Palermo when it was a new city.

Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the Fontana Pretoria and make a wish, it will come true. Whether you believe in the legend or not, making a wish at Fontana Pretoria is a fun and interactive experience that adds to the magic and charm of Palermo.

After making your wish, take a moment to appreciate the stunning beauty of Fontana Pretoria and the surrounding architecture.

7. Be amazed at Norman Palace

Norman Palace

The Norman Palace, also known as the Palazzo dei Normanni, is a magnificent structure and a royal palace that embodies the rich cultural heritage of Palermo and is an unavoidable activity when visiting Italy.

Combining Arab, Norman, and Byzantine architectural styles, the palace is a testament to the region's complex and layered history, as well as one of the oldest royal residences in Italy. Built in the 9th century, it has served as the seat of power for rulers of the region for centuries.

Inside the Palazzo dei Normanni, explore the stunning mosaics, frescoes, and decorative elements that adorn the walls and ceilings. One of the highlights is the Palatine Chapel, a masterpiece of Norman art that boasts breathtaking Byzantine mosaics and Arabic inscriptions.

8. Learn about Santa Maria Dell'Ammiraglio

Santa Maria Dell'Ammiraglio

Also known as the Martorana, Santa Maria Dell'Ammiraglio, is a historic church located in the heart of Palermo. Built in the 12th century, it is a stunning example of the fusion of Norman, Byzantine, and Islamic architectural styles.

The church is named after Admiral George of Antioch, who commissioned its construction. Inside, visitors can admire the intricate mosaics that cover the walls, floors, and ceilings of the church.

The mosaics depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as portraits of saints and historical figures. The Martorana is a remarkable example of the rich cultural and artistic heritage of Palermo.

9. Catch a show at Teatro Massimo

Teatro Massimo

Teatro Massimo is the largest opera house in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. Located in the heart of Palermo, the theater is an architectural masterpiece that boasts a rich cultural history.

Built in the late 19th century, Teatro Massimo was designed by the renowned Italian architect Giovanni Battista Filippo Basile. The theater can seat up to 1,400 people and is known for its impeccable acoustics, making it an ideal venue for opera, ballet, and other performances.

A trip to the Teatro Massimo is an opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich cultural heritage of Palermo and to experience some of the finest performances in Italy.

10. Visit Palatine Chapel

Palatine Chapel

The Palatine Chapel is a breathtakingly beautiful chapel located within the Palazzo dei Normanni in the Sicilian capital. Built in the 12th century during the reign of King Roger II, the chapel is a stunning example of the fusion of Byzantine, Islamic, and Norman architectural styles.

The interior of the chapel is adorned with intricate mosaics that cover the walls, ceilings, and arches, depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as portraits of saints and historical figures such as King Roger II.

The chapel is also home to an exquisite wooden roof, which is decorated with gold leaf and intricate carvings.

11. Learn history at the Archeological Museum

Archeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum in Palermo hosts a huge collection of artifacts and artworks from ancient Sicily, dating back to prehistoric times up until the medieval period.

The museum is housed in the Convent of the Holy Spirit, which itself has a fascinating history dating back to the 16th century.

The collection of the museum houses pottery, sculptures, and jewelry from ancient Greek, Roman, and Phoenician civilizations, as well as medieval Islamic and Norman artifacts.

12. Soak up the Mediterranean sun at Mondello Beach

Mondello Beach

Mondello Beach is a picturesque sandy beach located just outside of Palermo, in a small fishing village. This beach is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, who come to swim in the clear blue waters and sunbathe on the soft sand.

The village itself offers a glimpse into everyday life in the region, with its small cafes, restaurants selling Sicilian cuisine, and shops selling local handicrafts and souvenirs.

Take a stroll along the promenade, which is lined with palm trees and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. A visit to Mondello Beach is always a pleasant surprise.

13. Explore Greek Theatre

Greek Theatre

The Greek Theatre in Palermo is an impressive and well-preserved ancient amphitheater that dates back to the 5th century BC.

The theatre was originally built by the Greeks, but later expanded by the Romans, and it was used for a variety of performances and events over the centuries.

Today, visitors can explore the theatre and admire its stunning architecture and scenic location, with views overlooking the city and the surrounding hills.

The theatre is surrounded by several ancient Greek temples and other ruins, which offer a glimpse into the rich history of the area.

14. Shop at Palermo City Center

Palermo City Center

Palermo City Center is a wonderful place to explore and shop for the finest clothes and accessories in the region.

This beautiful city center is known for its mix of many architectural styles, from Baroque architecture to Arab-Norman. The city center is home to many luxury shops and designer boutiques, as well as local markets selling handmade crafts and souvenirs.

If you wish you can stroll through the historic streets and admire the ornate facades of the buildings, or stop at one of the many cafes and restaurants.

15. Get fresh produce from Vucciria Market

Vucciria Market

Palermo's markets are famous for their vibrant atmosphere and abundance of fresh produce, and the Vucciria Market is one of the city's most popular destinations for food lovers.

The market is located in the heart of the center of the city and features a colorful array of stalls selling everything from fruits and vegetables to meats, street food, and fresh seafood.

Browse the stalls and sample some of the local specialties, such as the delicious arancini, or fried rice balls, which are a portion of popular street food in the region, and take a chance to experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of one of the most beloved Palermo's markets.

16. Take a food tour

Palermo Street Food

One of the best ways to experience the culinary delights of Palermo is by taking a food tour.

These tours are designed to take visitors on a journey through the city's vibrant food scene, offering a chance to sample some of the region's most iconic dishes and learn about the local culinary traditions.

A typical food tour might include stops at markets and specialty food shops, as well as visits to restaurants and cafes where visitors can try everything from fresh seafood and pasta dishes to pastries, gelato, and famous street food.

Some tours even take place on a rooftop terrace, offering stunning views of the city while enjoying the local cuisine. This tour is a fun and informative way to discover the many flavors and one of the most fun things to do in Palermo, and this part of Italy in general, when you visit Sicily.

17. Taste famous Sicilian Wines

Bottiglieria del Massimo

We're not saying that drinking wine is one of the best things to do in Palermo, per se, but no trip to Sicily is complete without tasting some of the region's famous wines. And Palermo is an excellent place to start with your wine-tasting tour of Sicilian local wines.

The island is home to several renowned wineries, and the Sicilian Regional Assembly has designated several wines as DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), indicating they meet specific quality standards

Whether you prefer a bold red or a crisp white, there's a Sicilian wine to suit every palate and is one of the fun things to do in Palermo.

18. Relax at Palermo Botanical Garden

Palermo Botanical Garden

Just a short distance from Palermo Harbour, the city's botanical paradise is a peaceful oasis amid the bustling streets.

Established in 1789, the garden covers over 30 acres and features a wide variety of plant species from around the world, including many that are rare and unusual plants.

In addition to its natural beauty, the garden is also home to several scientific institutions and research centers in the surrounding buildings.

19. Visit St. John of the Hermits Church

St. John of the Hermits Church

Located in the heart of Palermo's historic district, a visit to St. John of the Hermits Church is one of the best things to do in Palermo for anyone interested in religious architecture.

Built in the 12th century, this beautiful Catholic church features a unique blend of architectural styles, with influences from Byzantine, Islamic, and Norman cultures.

Its most notable feature is its stunning cloister, which boasts a peaceful garden surrounded by intricate marble columns that offer a walking tour.

20. Find your perfect lunch at Capo Market

Capo Market

If you're a foodie visiting Palermo, the Capo Market should be on your itinerary. In fact, the team at the Travel-Lingual place this as one of the most recommended things to do in Palermo.

Located in the heart of the city, this vibrant market is a food lover's paradise, with rows of colorful stalls selling fresh seafood, meats, vegetables, fruits, and a variety of local delicacies.

Wander through the market and enjoy the sights and smells of Palermo's vibrant food scene, or stop at one of the many famous street foods for a quick bite. It offers a taste of authentic Sicilian cuisine that's sure to satisfy any craving.

So why not take a break from sightseeing and immerse yourself in the flavors of Palermo at this bustling market?

21. Grab an espresso at Piazza Bellini

Casa Stagnitta

Located in the heart of Palermo's center, Piazza Bellini is a bustling square known for its lively atmosphere and charming cafes.

One of the best ways to experience Italian coffee culture is to grab an espresso at one of the local cafes in the square.

Savor the rich aroma and taste of freshly brewed espresso while taking in the sights and sounds of the vibrant city.

22. Experience Palermo's Nightlife

Monkey pub

Palermo is an ancient city that has the thriving nightlife of this busy city, offering an array of fun things to do for visitors looking to experience the local atmosphere after the sun sets.

From jazz clubs to lively bars and trendy nightclubs, Palermo has it all. Whether you're looking for a relaxing evening sipping a cocktail at a rooftop bar or you're in the mood to dance the night away, Palermo's nightlife scene has something for everyone.

With plenty of options to choose from, explore the city's nightlife and uniquely experience the local culture.

FAQs: Fun and Unique Things to Do in Palermo

In this section, we provide answers to common questions relating to the best things to do in Palermo.

What is Palermo most known for?

The city of Palermo is most known for its Palermo Cathedral, a stunning and monumental building in the historical center of the city. Apart from the Palermo Cathedral, the Sicilian capital is also known for its delicious food, nice weather, and beautiful churches.

Is it worth visiting Palermo?

It is worth it to visit Palermo. Palermo City has a lot to offer to visitors, including always interesting Capuchin catacombs, delicious food options as well as diverse and fun nightlife along the Mediterranean Coast. Moreover, some of the best beaches are just a short bus ride away.

Final Thoughts: Fun and Unique Things to Do in Palermo

As you can see from this guide, there is no shortage of things to do in Palermo, a beautiful city located in southern Italy with a rich history and culture.

It is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, architectural styles, and ancient Greek temples, making it an ideal destination for tourists.

If you are visiting Palermo, there are many fun and unique things to do that will make your trip a memorable one.

From exploring Palermo Cathedral, San Giovanni Degli Eremiti, and Piazza Pretoria, to discovering Capuchin Catacombs and visiting Palatine Chapel, there is a wide range of historical and cultural attractions to explore.

With so many fun and unique things to do, Palermo, Italy, should be part of your itinerary on any Italy-related European trip. Book your trip today!