Everything you need to know before visiting Palermo, Sicily

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Sicily won my heart over in every way and I wish nothing more than to go back and explore the island. On my trip, I was based in Palermo, one of the two biggest cities on the island, located in the northwest part.

Palermo had a completely rustic, old-school, Italian charm about it, which I adored. Its rich history, incredible food scene, stunning architecture and distance to local beaches were a dream. If you're planning a trip to Palermo, here is everything you need to know.

Everything to know before you visit Palermo, Sicily

There are no beaches in Palermo itself

Sicily is renowned for its coastline, however, it's worth noting, that despite Palermo being one of the most popular cities, it doesn't have its own beach. Despite that, it's not too far from surrounding beaches and coastal spots. The most popular beach is Mondello, a half-hour bus ride away or Cefalù, a 45-minute train journey away. It's worth keeping in mind if you want an exclusive Sicilian beach getaway. You should probably then consider one of the other beach cities/towns and do a day trip to Palermo.

You can get the train/bus from the airport (cheaply)

Taxis in Italy are expensive across the board and that is why, wherever you go, I always recommend utilising the public transport system. From the airport, you can easily either get the shuttle bus or the train. The bus takes around 40 minutes and costs 6 euro, whilst the train takes around an hour and is about 11 euro.

It's a hub for food markets

Sicilian cuisine is one of my dreams. As the home of pasta alla norma, arancini, granita and cannolis, you're spoilt for choice in trying plenty of good food, made the Italian way. It's hard to eat badly in Sicily, even in a popular place like Palermo, the food is gorgeous. One thing Palermo is renowned for is the food markets, such as Mercato Ballarò and Mercato del Capo. The markets are full of life, packed with fresh local produce and plenty of street food including the famous arancini.

It's a poorer place (like all of Sicily)

Going to Palermo, was my first time in southern Italy, as I've usually travelled around northern/mid-Italy and I could really see the difference in wealth. Sicily is a lot poorer than many of the other popular Italian cities and that's reflected in some of its buildings, and probably why the food is a lot cheaper too. It had much more of a communal feel about it though, a true Italian love - I adored it.

You can pretty much get around on foot

Palermo is a very walkable city, so if you're fit, I'd recommend making your way on foot. That way too, you can discover the hidden walkways, more residential vibes and tucked-away restaurants. It adds more adventure to your trip overall - and you never know what you might find. I absolutely loved having a mooch around the city, because not only was it free, it made me fall in love with the place even more.

Accommodation is cheap

I was pleasantly surprised when booking Palermo how cheap the accommodation was overall and the variety on offer, even in the main hub of everything. There are definitely accommodation options for each budget, I paid £225 for 4 nights for my boyfriend and me, and our apartment was huge and only minutes away from the main hub.

Flights aren't that often 

Something I noticed when booking flights to Palermo is it's actually not a common place to fly compared to all the other popular Italian locations such as Florence or Bologna. They didn't have flights every day or multiple times throughout the day with different airlines. Also, when our flight got delayed to the next day, it was harder to reschedule as they didn't fly there too often.

Cash is handy to have

Although the card was widely accepted, I would say cash was a lot more beneficial in Palermo because of the street markets and buying smaller items such as water all the time. Plus, it comes in handy because if a place only accepts cash, you won't need to pay a transaction fee on the ATM machine.

It's worth knowing some Italian phrases

This may sound like a weird thing to say but Palermo was very Italian. What I mean by this is the locals wouldn't openly speak English to you or many weren't that strong with English. They would speak to you in Italian and expect you to understand  - and when you didn't, they'll begin speaking English. Due to this, I would highly recommend learning a few phrases of common things to say. Italians are often offended when you don't try to use their own language.

Italians dine later

This is more of a general rule of thumb across Italy but still good to note: that Italians dine later. Most restaurants won't really open until around 7pm in the evening and you'll often still see people dining as late as 10pm at night. Dinner in Italy is a social occasion after all.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What other tips would you add?

Thank you for reading <3

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