Palermo

Sicily, Italy

Palermo is the capital of Sicily, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north. On Ferryhopper, you can take a look at available ferry routes from/to the port of Palermo, our travel tips for your vacation, and book your ferry tickets with just a few clicks!

Read our suggestions for your dreamy holidays in Palermo and find useful information about its port:

Colorful balcony in Palermo

A cute little balcony in the center of Palermo

Palermo ferry port

The port of Palermo is the largest in Sicily and one of the most important in the Mediterranean, thanks to its position. Located near the city center, it was fundamental for trade since the Phoenician era.

Today, the port of Palermo is connected to various national airports in Sardinia, Lazio, Campania, Tuscany and Liguria. It's also a starting point for reaching other places in Sicily and Tunisia.

The port area offers various services, such as parking lots, shuttle buses, restaurants, shops, and a left-luggage office. Being close to the city center, you can visit some of the main attractions of Palermo. 

You can easily reach the Duomo, the Norman Palace and the characteristic markets of Vucciria and Ballarò by bus and on foot!

Useful info: about 32km from Palermo is the port of Termini Imerese. This port is mainly commercial but is also used for ferry connections with Naples and Civitavecchia.

Ferries from Palermo port: schedules and tickets

The port of Palermo is connected all year round with some cities in Italy (Civitavecchia, Cagliari, Livorno, Naples, Genoa and Salerno) and Tunis. During the summer, it also connects with the Sicilian port of Milazzo, the beautiful Aeolian Islands and Ustica.

The ferry routes are operated by the shipping companies GNV (Grandi Navi Veloci), Grimaldi Lines, Siremar, Tirrenia and Liberty Lines, both with ferries and hydrofoils.

Here is some more information on the routes from Palermo to the ports of Italy:

  • Palermo - Civitavecchia ferry: the ferry route from Palermo to Civitavecchia includes 1 weekly connection (on Sundays) lasting about 13 hours.
  • Palermo - Cagliari ferry: the crossing from Palermo to Cagliari usually runs once a week (usually on Sundays) with a duration of approximately 12 hours.
  • Palermo - Livorno ferry: the Palermo - Livorno ferry route operates with 3 crossings per week, lasting between 19 and 21 hours, depending on the type of vessel.
  • Palermo - Naples ferry: there are up to 4 daily crossings from Palermo to Naples. There are both day and night crossings. The trip takes between 9 and 11 hours, depending on the ferry operator.
  • Palermo - Genoa ferry: the route from Palermo to the port of Genoa includes 1 daily connection with crossings of about 20 hours.
  • Palermo - Salerno ferry: the route from Palermo to the port of Salerno usually includes 2 weekly connections. The ferry route takes about 9 to 11 hours.
  • Palermo - Milazzo ferry: the Palermo - Milazzo connection is a seasonal route operating during the summer. The route runs once a day from mid-June to the end of August and the crossings last about 5 hours.

During the summer, there are also ferry routes connecting the port of Palermo to the Aeolian Islands and Ustica with Liberty Lines hydrofoils.

The Aeolian archipelago is located in front of the Messina coast and is made up of 7 islands of volcanic origin: Alicudi, Filicudi, Lipari, Panarea, Salina, Stromboli and Vulcano.

Ferry routes operate once a day, with a departure from Palermo scheduled shortly before 14:00. The same hydrofoil goes around the archipelago, stopping in the various ports and the crossings can last from 2 to 5 hours.

As for the connections from Palermo to the island of Ustica, there are usually up to 5 daily crossings. The ferry routes increase during August. The Palermo - Ustica crossing takes about 1 hour.

As for the ferry connections to Tunisia, the Palermo - Tunis connection is operated twice a week by the ferries of GNV and Grimaldi Lines. The crossings take about 11 hours, depending on the ferry operator.

Take a look at our Map of ferries with all the connections available from the port of Palermo and start planning your holidays right away!

Where is the ferry port in Palermo

The port of Palermo is located near the city center (Piazza Pretoria) and is easily accessible by public transport. Also, it is only 25km from Punta Raisi Airport and only a 14-minute ride from the central railway station.

Located close to Varco Amari, there is a guarded parking lot at the port of Palermo. The area ensures a stopover of about 150 cars and a free shuttle service connecting to the dock.

How to get to Palermo port

You can reach the port of Palermo by car, train, plane or bus. Palermo central station is only 4km away from the port. In about 10 minutes, you can reach the port thanks to a direct bus that leaves from Piazza Cairoli.

If you travel by car from Messina or Catania, you should take the A19 highway. Reaching Palermo from the Trapani area is easy if you take the exit at the junction via Belgio leading to the entrance to the port.

Palermo's airport is about 25km from the port. However, there are no direct buses. You will then have to take the metro or the shuttle to the central station and then continue by bus or taxi.

Tip: if you intend to arrive at the port by car and leave it in the area, the best solution is the Molo Santa Lucia parking lot. It is located inside the port area and it is guarded 24/7.

The Foro Italico promenade leading to the port of Palermo

View of the port of Palermo from the Foro Italico waterfront

Vacation in Palermo

Palermo represents a meeting place of ancient civilizations and a melting pot of cultures, arts and traditions. It’s undoubtedly one of the most visited cities and the capital of Sicily.

It combines all the elements for the perfect holiday destination: millinery history, art, nature, leisure and entertainment, but what makes Palermo unique is its authenticity and diversity

Palermo is also synonymous with art and a walk through the city's streets will tell you why. Among palaces, churches, and historic buildings, you will be able to see a vast range of architectural styles.

A mesmerizing mix of Byzantine mosaics and Arabesque domes will follow you in every step. If you are looking for deep dives in crystal-clear waters, you will appreciate the beautiful beaches of the coast.

However, if you are more into hiking surrounded by nature, then Monte Pellegrino and its hiking trails will certainly not disappoint you! 

And how can we not talk about the city's gastronomic tradition? Palermo street food is among the most famous in the world! So ready to dip your fingers in the tomato sauce?

Tip: Palermo is a city with many attractions worth at least 4-5 days to enjoy the city atmosphere and explore the surroundings.

How to get to Palermo

Palermo is a well-connected city to the rest of Italy and is easily accessible by car, train, plane and ferry. 

If you are already in Sicily, you can drive to Palermo by taking the various highways connecting the city to the region's most important centers. There are also several regional bus services, but the journey may take longer than expected due to delays.

Palermo is connected by sea all year round with various cities in Northern and Southern Italy. The crossings can take long. However, traveling by ferry allows you to embark your vehicle and go on an adventurous road trip with your car. 

Also, you can bring your pet and enjoy the comfort of cabins specially designed for pets and, at the same time, enjoy the wonderful views from the deck as if you were in a mini-cruise.

In the absence of a direct route, you can always opt for the train, including a ferry crossing in the Strait of Messina.

However, keep in mind that the journey could be long also because several intermediate stops are made during the route from Messina to Palermo.

Alternatively, you can reach Palermo by plane. Direct flights to Palermo depart from many cities in Italy and Europe. The city airport is about 25km from the center and is connected to the central station by the Trinacria-Express underground service and a shuttle bus.

Buildings in the center of Palermo

Magnificent buildings in the center of Palermo

What to do in Palermo

Palermo has been the crossroads of civilizations for millennia. Its strategic position brought wave upon wave of invaders, including the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks and the Romans. 

It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015 and its artistic beauties and rich cuisine will surely win you over! Once in Palermo, the first thing to do is to visit its historic center. Here you can admire Arab-Norman buildings, opulent chapels, palaces and Baroque churches.

Among the must-sees not to be missed are the colorful markets of Ballarò, Capo and Vucciria, open daily with flavors and intense spice scents. Arancine, panelle and sfincioni will conquer your taste buds!

Palermo is also full of beautiful museums and famous for its theaters. However, Sicilian art has no borders with amazing squares, botanical gardens, nature reserves, and landscapes offering tranquility and breathtaking views.

And just 11km from the city center, you will have the opportunity to reach the Mondello beach, one of the most beautiful coasts in Italy. We also recommend you visit Palermo's surroundings and discover the villages of Cefalù, Monreale and Bagheria.

If you plan to visit Palermo in the summer, you should also take advantage of the ferry connections to the Aeolian Islands and Ustica. Do not overthink it! While in Palermo, just jump on a ferry and take one of the daily crossings to the Aeolian Islands! 

Beaches in Palermo

In addition to admiring the architectural beauties of Palermo, you can also relax on the paradisiacal beaches near the city of Palermo.

The Palermo coast is about 150km long, offering many options for all tastes: sandy shores, cliffs, pristine bays, and equipped beaches.

Here are the 10 best beaches in Palermo and its province:

  • Mondello: located 11km from the city center and nestled between Monte Gallo and Monte Pellegrino, this long white sand beach is the most popular in Palermo. Here you can swim in emerald waters, relax while enjoying the bathing facilities, and do water sports!
  • Cefalù: overlooking the seafront of the village of Cefalù, this urban beach is one of the most beautiful and famous. In addition to the golden sand and its transparent waters, you will be able to enjoy the view of the houses in the town. We recommend that you arrive early in the morning as it tends to get busy in summer.
  • Capo Gallo: located to the north of the Gulf of Mondello, it is mostly a series of smooth rocks, perfect for sunbathing. It is part of a nature reserve and is immersed in an unspoiled landscape. Its green waters are ideal for diving enthusiasts.
  • Capaci: about 20km from Palermo, this beach is characterized by a long coastline of golden sand. Its waters are always calm, transparent and shallow are ideal for children.
  • Aciddara: located about 30 minutes from Palermo, it's a scenic place dominated by Mount Catalfano. It is accessible via a path and it is a perfect beach for those in search of tranquility and relaxation (also given the absence of services). It has fine sand and wonderful backdrops making it ideal for snorkeling.
  • Sferracavallo: located at the foot of Monte Gallo, this beach is near the seaside village. The coast alternates equipped parts and free beach areas. Don't miss its famous fish restaurants by the sea!
  • Addaura: more than a beach, it is a succession of coves that extend into the area of ​​the seaside village of Addaura. Ideal for those who love cliffs and nature, this place is perfect for relaxing and diving. Here are also the famous Addaura Caves, with important evidence of the Paleolithic era.
  • Arenella: located 5km from the center of Palermo, in the Maria Vergine area, it is one of the most popular urban beaches. The beach is characterized by golden sand and turquoise waters. Here you can also admire an old tonnara and visit 2 tourist marinas in the area, equipped with services, bars and restaurants.
  • Piletto: this beach is located on the coast of the Municipality of Lascari and is mainly frequented by the locals. It consists of fine gravel and deep blue waters and it's a perfect place for those seeking tranquility. You can reach the beach on foot by following a pebbly path.
  • Cala Rossa: among the most suggestive of the Palermo coast, this cove is located in the municipality of Terrasini, not far from Palermo airport. Its peculiarity is the red rocks that emerge from the crystalline sea and create a unique spectacle in the world. The beach is accessible on foot, but you will find parking lots and various hotel facilities in the area.

Useful info: Liguria is one of the most dog-friendly regions in Italy! For those who love to travel with their dog, many free or equipped beaches accept animals. In addition, you can consult the region's website to find where to go on holiday with your 4-legged friend.

The crystal-clear waters of Mondello beach in Palermo

The turquoise waters of Mondello beach in Palermo

Sightseeing in Palermo

Palermo has a thousand-year history and the various dominations over the centuries have created a unique architectural heritage. It is a fascinating city with picturesque alleys and stone-paved streets intertwining, ancient churches and imposing palaces overlooking its beautiful squares.

Among the most beautiful attractions to discover in Palermo, we recommend:

  • The Norman Palace, the oldest royal residence in Europe
  • The Cathedral of Palermo, a mix of shapes and architectural styles
  • The Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, with deep red domes and beautiful gardens
  • The Martorana church, famous for its magnificent mosaics
  • The impressive Pretoria Fountain, also known as the "Fountain of Shame"
  • The markets of Ballarò, Capo and Vucciria, with fresh products and street food stalls
  • I Quattro Canti, an intersection of Vittorio Emanuele and Maqueda, the 2 main streets of Palermo
  • The Massimo Theater, the largest opera house in Italy and the third in Europe
  • The Regional Archaeological Museum, home to one of the richest collections in Italy
  • The Regional Art Museum of Sicily, with an important collection of paintings and statues
  • The Kalsa district, one of the oldest in the city
  • Palazzo Gangi, known for being the set of Luchino Visconti's film Il Gattopardo
  • The Foro Italico, the public garden of Palermo and its promenade
  • The Botanical Garden of Palermo, with its giant ficus
  • The Catacombs of the Capuchins, with 8000 well-preserved mummies and many of which are on display

The Cathedral of Palermo

The imposing Cathedral of Palermo

Nightlife in Palermo

Palermo is a city that offers evening entertainment all year round. The historic center is full of clubs, wine bars and pubs for all tastes. For a quiet and more cultural evening, you could also opt for the shows and concerts in the city's beautiful theaters.

If you are looking for lively nightlife and wild evenings, via Paternostro is the perfect place, being also the meeting point for many students. Also, among the most characteristic areas to spend a pleasant evening is Piazza Caracciolo, in front of the Vucciria market.

The kiosks filled with delights will win you over for a perfect midnight snack! Especially during the summer, the most popular area of ​​Palermo is Mondello. Its beach clubs are very popular with music, drinks and aperitifs.

Tip: the brewing of beer is a real tradition throughout Liguria! Among the craft beers to try in Palermo are Artana and the Maltus Faber.

Food in Palermo

Sicilian cuisine is among the most loved in Italy and the capital of Sicily boasts an excellent gastronomic tradition. Simplicity and centuries-old traditions are truly found in all dishes of Palermo, influenced by many different cultures.

Between rotisserie, fresh fish delicacies and desserts in Palermo, it isn't easy to stay on a diet!

Here are some of the most delicious local delicacies to try during your stay in Palermo:

  • arancina (deep-fried rice balls stuffed with ragù and mozzarella)
  • pane e panelle (small fritter made with chickpea flour, pepper and lemon)
  • sfincione (thick Sicilian spongy pizza topped with mozzarella cheese, meat, onions and peppers)
  • bread with spleen and cheese
  • rascatura (croquette made with chickpea flour, potato and onion)
  • stigghiola (grilled salted guts with parsley and onion)
  • cazzilli (potato croquettes with parsley)
  • pasta c'anciova (salted anchovies, tomato, raisins, pine nuts and breadcrumbs)
  • anelletti al forno (baked pasta)
  • cannoli (tube-shaped pastries filled with sweet, creamy ricotta filling)
  • cassata (traditional round sponge cake moistened with fruit juices and ricotta cheese)
  • frutta Martorana (traditional marzipan sweets in the form of fruits and vegetables)

Good to Know: Arancina day is celebrated every year on the 13th of December with locals consuming more than 2 million arancini!

Palermo's arancina with meat sauce

A delicious arancina with meat sauce 

Villages and cities to visit near Palermo

The area around the city of Palermo holds beautiful villages that are worth visiting after having discovered the city far and wide.

Among the beauties of the province of Palermo that we advise you not to miss are:

  • The town of Bagheria, with its historic villas, citrus groves and its dream coves.
  • The fishing village of Cefalù, with its postcard promenade.
  • The Arab-Norman village of Monreale, famous for its magnificent Cathedral.
  • The perched village of Vicari, also called "the town of the sun" due to the fact that here the sunset occurs later than in the surrounding municipalities due to its position in the hills.
  • The village of San Mauro Castelverde, with 10 vertical sundials.
  • The hamlet of Borgo Parrini, with very particular houses whose artistic style recalls the buildings of Gaudì.

Tips for Palermo

Here are 5 useful tips that we hope will be useful to you during your stay in Palermo:

  1. If you choose to visit Palermo in the high season, bear in mind that you may find very high temperatures. Especially concerning cultural visits, it is advisable to do them in the coolest hours.
  2. Sicily is very big, so if you don't have at least 10-15 days, it could be challenging to visit it all. If you are in Palermo for a few days, it is better to see the city's beauty and its surroundings!
  3. By purchasing the Palermo Card, you can access various services during your stay and even have special discounts in some shops and restaurants!
  4. If you decide to arrive in Palermo by car, you should consider that finding parking in the city could be a challenge. We, therefore, advise you to choose accommodation offering private parking.
  5. For a real gastronomic experience among the city markets, you could think of participating in one of the many street food tours organized in Palermo's historic center.

Some stalls of the Ballarò market in Palermo

A part of the Ballarò market in Palermo

Useful information for Palermo

Palermo is a modern, cosmopolitan city that offers visitors various things to do and see. Most restaurants and shops are located in the city's historic center and the old port.

In regards to accommodation, the prices are not that high. However, it’s advisable to book well in advance, especially if you travel during the high season. There is a wide range of options, from hotels, B&Bs, and apartments to hostels.

To have everything at your fingertips and be close to the various attractions, you should focus on the historic center. In particular, the areas of Piazza Politeama and the Massimo Theater are very convenient for reaching monuments, pubs, restaurants, shops and the markets of Vucciria and Ballarò on foot. 

Another recommended area is the Kalsa district, near the seafront and with a vibrant atmosphere. If you want to spend a holiday by the sea instead, you should search for accommodation near the famous resorts of Mondello and Cefalù.

As for health care, both in the city and throughout the province, there are various hospitals and emergency medical services. In summer, there is also a tourist medical service in Mondello from June to September.

For a bit of city shopping, you should know that the historic center of Palermo is full of stalls and shops of all sorts. Between via Roma and via Maqueda you will find a lot of choices, while via Libertà, the most fashionable boutiques. 

If you are looking for souvenirs and typical products, Corso Vittorio Emanuele and the city markets will satisfy you to the fullest. Do not forget to visit the Flea Market, a point of reference since the postwar period for those looking for rarities and unique pieces.

Palermo is also famous for its numerous events throughout the year: art exhibitions, concerts, plays, and local festivals fill the city calendar. Among the events to report there is the Spring Festival, which is usually celebrated in April. Among markets, tastings, colors and sports, it offers all the ingredients to inaugurate the summer!

Important phone numbers for your stay in Palermo

Here are some useful contacts to keep within reach during your trip to Palermo:

  • Municipality of Palermo: +390917401111
  • Palermo Police Station: +390916954111
  • Tourist Information Center: +39091583847
  • Palermo Port Authority: +390916277111
  • Taxi service: +39091513311
  • Civic Hospital of Palermo: +390916661111
  • Mondello tourist medical service: +390916841264
  • European emergency number: 112

Transportation in Palermo

Palermo offers a great variety of public transport that allows you to visit it at its best and reach its surroundings. If you are staying in the historical center area. However, you can walk around Palermo without problems, thus avoiding the capital traffic.

In Palermo, however, there are 4 tram lines and 3 underground lines (Lines A, B and C). Thanks to the latter, you can also reach the Falcone Borsellino airport with a service active from 04:00 in the morning until 22:00.

As for buses, the AMAT lines cover all city areas and beyond. However, they may not always be on time due to heavy traffic. For extra-urban travel, you can instead rely on the AST and reach Monreale, the neighboring villages or other places in Sicily.

If you travel by car, however, you should consider that parking in Palermo could be complicated, especially in the downtown areas. In addition to the active ZTL and the presence of numerous blue stripes, Palermo is also a bustling city. 

The most convenient way to park your car in Palermo is to leave it in private parking lots (the rates are quite affordable) or stay in accommodation offering parking.

Useful info: for people with disabilities, the Sicilian Medullolesi Spinali Association offers a transport service for sightseeing tours in Palermo and its province. There are also transfers to reach the beaches, the port and the airport!

Traditional Sicilian cart

Traditional Sicilian cart through the streets of Palermo

Where to book Palermo ferry tickets online

On Ferryhopper, you can find all connections from Palermo to beautiful destinations and important ports in Italy and Tunisia. Compare prices, companies, departure times and book your ferry tickets online at no extra cost!

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Palermo has direct ferry connections with 19 ports :

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