10 things to do in Palermo, Sicily
Mercato Il Capo
Il Capo (the head) is the best of Palermo's four main street markets. It has the feel of a traditional Arab souk. You can buy everything from oriental spices to flowers, fresh fish and exotic vegetables. Savor the local street food sandwich Pane con panelle – a bun stuffed with chickpea fritters and fried mashed potato balls, flavored with fresh mint and lemon.
When to go: mornings until 1pm.
Via Cappuccinelle/Via Sant'Agostino
Stop for a moment and feel the heartbeat of Palermo in this 17th century Baroque square – one of the earlier examples of real urban planning. The curved facades with their fountains and statues reflect the opulence of the city's golden era.
Via Corso Vittorio Emanuele & Via Maqueda
Enoteca Ferdinando II
This intimate wine shop sells only high-quality Sicilian products carefully selected from small producers. Here you can find delights such as bottarga, a delicacy made from cured fish roe, as well as fine olive oils, Modica chocolate and Amara Rossa, a bitter liqueur made from red oranges. And, of course, an excellent selection of wines.
Via Emerico Amari 84
Via Isidoro la Lumia
This calm, chic street close to Teatro Politeama turns into a busy bar and restaurant area in the evening. Socialize while satisfying your appetite at laid-back cocktail bars, steakhouses and snack bars. One of the best and busiest places to eat is seafood restaurant La Pesceria, Via Isidoro la Lumia 21.
Quintocanto Hotel & Spa
Even though you're in the heart of a chaotic city, you'll find tranquility in this modernized 16th-century palace. The hotel restaurant Locanda del Gusto is considered one of the best in town. Classic double rooms from €123 per night.
Corso Vittorio Emanuele 310
Excelsior Palace Hotel
This four-star hotel with Art Nouveau décor has kept its elegance and charm. Located in on luxury shopping street Viale della Libertà, close to the English Garden, it's within walking distance of the city center. The hotel offers a refined atmosphere in a peaceful location, and a breakfast buffet packed with sweet delights. Classic double rooms from €88 per night.
Via Marchese Ugo 3
Antica Focacceria San Francesco
A popular place for breakfast or a gastronomic lunch or dinner. Antica Focacceria has been around since 1834 but achieved wider fame in 2008 when its owners stood up to the Mafia. For a quick snack, try the arancini (fried rice balls with a variety of fillings) or the sfinciuni (traditional Sicilian thick-crust pizza).
Via Alessandro Paternostro 58
This stylish bed and breakfast offers an artistic ambience with a touch of romance. Located in the quarters of Palazzo Pantelleria, just behind Piazza San Domenico, you'll wake up in the historic center of Palermo.
Double standard rooms from €110.
Largo Cavalieri di Malta 22
Antico Caffè Spinnato
One of the best places for a relaxing cappuccino, this charming pasticceria dates back to 1860. Here you can sample excellent cakes, pastries and Sicilian ice-cream, which the locals enjoy served in a sweet bread bun. It's located in the classy pedestrian street Via Principe di Belmonte, just a few meters from the busy shopping street Via Ruggiero Settimo.
Via Principe di Belmonte 107-115
With its turquoise water, white sand and Art Nouveau buildings, Mondello is rated as one of the best beaches in Sicily. It's just a 30-minute bus ride west of Palermo city center. During summer, the beach is highly congested though some hotels have private sections. Mondello Palace Hotel is one of these, located just behind the beachfront. Doubles from €130, mondellopalacehotel.it
Another option is the beachside bed and breakfast Simpaty, which has a terrace overlooking the bay. Doubles for €60. Via Piano Gallo 14-16, simpatymondello.com.
Text: Fredrik Ölmqvist
Published: June 5, 2015