The rich tapestry of civilizations that have called Palermo home has left its mark on this truly romantic city, which today includes awe-inspiring coastal attractions and an exciting food scene. With so much to see and do in and around Palermo, hotels offer in the heart of town offer the perfect location from which to discover the island. From colorful markets to the macabre secrets that lie beneath the city, Palermo should be your first stop on a tour of Italy’s biggest island.
If you arrive in Sicily by ferry from mainland Europe, you will be greeted by Palermo’s turquoise coast and magnificent port. It’s been the life blood of the island for centuries, welcoming a host of civilizations to the shores of Sicily, all of which have left their mark on Palermo. Overflowing with gorgeous architecture spanning from the Ancient Greek Empire to the 19th century, a hotel in Palermo’s heart places you within walking distance of the city’s unique and charming attractions. One of the most interesting stops on any tour of Palermo is the Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can see hundreds of hand-painted Marionettes and even enjoy traditional performances. For dramatic Sicilian architecture, be wowed by the Church of Casa Professa. The fairly modest façade hides an extravagant Baroque interior with stained-glass windows and ornate painted ceilings. Visitors with a hotel in Palermo should not miss the change to explore the city’s dark side. Venture down into the Capuchin Catacombs, the place where 8000 corpses and 1252 mummies were preserved between 1599 and 1920. The site today is an exciting yet macabre attraction for visitors. Palermo’s outdoor markets are famous, and the perfect location to sample some exciting dishes. Palermo’s Ballarò is especially popular; an open air market selling fresh seafood, fruit, vegetables and meats, and the atmosphere is striking similar to the Arab souks found in nearby Marrakech and Tunisia. Pick up some traditional Sicilian street food such as sfincione (a pizza-like snack) or arancine (savory rice balls) and enjoy while strolling around the leafy Piazza Marina – home to the somewhat out of place Ficus magnolioide tree, which is usually found in rainforests around the world.
When it comes to a beach vacation, Sicily excels. Beach hotels in Sicily will exceed all expectations with access to private stretches of sand, gin-clear water, family-friendly facilities and 5-star accommodation. You will not be missing out with a hotel in Palermo, however. The island’s capital is located close to several exceptional beaches, so you can combine a city break in Palermo with a little R & R on the coast. Located just 20 km west of Palermo is Capaci, a small coastal town with a gorgeous stretch of sand and fresh, clear water. It’s a trendy hangout for a younger crowd, who flock the town for its cool nightlife and beach parties. Continue west along the coast and the Marine Natural Reserve of Isola delle Femmine stretches out before you. This is a protected area that’s ideal for diving, glass-bottom boats and snorkeling as the water is crystal clear and full of life. Back towards Palermo is Mondello, another exceptional town to enjoy when taking advantage of well-located hotels in Palermo. The beach here is perfect for families, although it does get a little crowded in the height of summer. Enjoy a light lunch with silver service and gorgeous sea views at Alle Terrazze which juts out into the bay.
If you want to extend your trip beyond hotels in Palermo, then the rest of Sicily is equally attractive and packed with sites to keep you entertained for weeks. The island’s most famous attraction is undoubtedly Mount Etna, the active volcano that is a must-visit for active visitors to Sicily. Opportunities to ski, bike, hike or simply stand on awe of this mighty volcano abound throughout the year – just make sure it’s safe to venture to the summit. The island is littered with relics of its ancient history, and the Valle dei Templi (Valley of Temples) is just one of many. The many Greek temples found here are some of the world’s best preserved. Further historic points of interest can be found in Ortygia; an island fortress which forms the historic center of the Sicilian city of Syracuse. Founded by the Greeks around 3,000 years ago, Syracuse was at one point the most powerful city on the Mediterranean. Sites here include the ruins of the 6th century Temple of Apollo and the beautiful Doric columns housed inside the beautiful Cathedral of Syracuse. A vacation with a hotel in Palermo is the perfect way to discover all the wonders of Sicily.