Holidays to Palermo
More than 2,700 years’ old, the city of Palermo has been ruled by numerous empires over the centuries, from the Ancient Greeks and Romans to the Byzantine and the Kingdom of Naples. Consequently, this city has a particularly diverse cultural and architectural legacy, and has earned a reputation as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean region.
Palermo holidays are not complete without witnessing the architectural splendour of the city's ancient cathedral, the Cattedrale di Palermo. This building was converted from a Christian chapel to a basilica in the Roman era and was redesigned around the turn of the 13th century following a devastating earthquake. The building, which was partly redesigned again between the 14th and 19th centuries, is renowned for its beautifully decorated portico. It also includes a number of distinctive Baroque and Neoclassical features, as well as its original Moorish, Norman and Gothic architecture.
Probably the most impressive local beach is Mondello Beach, near the outskirts of Palermo. These pristine golden sands are popular with locals and tourists, and are overlooked by some magnificent houses. Don't forget to visit at least one restaurant here to enjoy some of the best fresh seafood in the Mediterranean. Further afield is the splendid beach of San Vito Lo Capo, about an hour's drive from Palermo, which has a distinctly tropical feel and is one of the best places for a refreshing swim.
Shops and museums
If you have the time, visit the Regional Archaeological Museum to explore Sicily's prehistoric history, or head to the International Marionettes Museum and observe Italy's unique puppet families and the story of the Festival di Morgana annual puppet celebration.
Palermo is blessed with many chic independent boutiques selling exquisite ceramics and embroidery, as well as some of the better known Italian brands. To get the best value for money on Palermo holidays, explore the streets between the Piazza Castelnuovo and the Teatro Massimo, or head to the La Vucciria market for some fantastic fresh local produce between Monday and Saturday, ideally in the morning.
Day trip suggestions
Cefalù, one of Sicily's most handsome coastal cities, was founded during the era of Ancient Greece and is known for its splendid Norman cathedral and charming medieval alleys. The resort, which has an active nightlife scene, is just an hour's drive from Palermo and also features a sheltered sandy beach.
Agrigento, A UNESCO World Heritage Site, features the remains of the ancient Greek settlement of Akragas, once a bustling city of hundreds of thousands of people. Meanwhile, in the west lies the historic settlement of Erice, which was also a Greek settlement and provides outstanding panoramic views of Sicily's western coastline.