Places to visit in Palermo
Punta Raisi Airport is situated approximately 32 km (20 miles) from the city of Palermo, which boasts many fascinating sights for tourists and visitors. From palaces to museums, and with plenty of coastal appeal, Palermo will surely not disappoint the enthusiastic tourist. Palermo enjoys mild Mediterranean temperatures throughout the year, perfect for a visit to the beach or for wandering the winding streets of the city. Many say that late Spring is the best time to visit Palermo, as the temperatures are warm, but not too hot, and the most popular tourist destinations are not overcrowded.
The Piazza Pretoria is noted to be the heart of Palermo, around which the city is based, and the Quattro Canti district is named as the historic center of the city. Quattro Canti means the ‘Four Corners’, and one can find here a few of Palermo’s most impressive sights, such as the Royal Palace. Besides the charming, winding streets throughout the city, which are simply fascinating to explore, visitors often enjoy the lively local markets as well. One of Palermo’s most interesting features is the Capuchin Catacombs. These catacombs literally contain thousands of mummified bodies. The Fontana Pretoria is another popular spot, with its well-known nude stone structures.
Undoubtedly, one of the most popular attractions in Palermo is the Cattedrale (Piazza della Cattedrale). It is a magnificent cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and popular for its sheer size and various architectural styles. Among its features is the crypt and treasury, which holds many precious objects and other things of interest. A favorite item among visitors is the golden tiara which belonged to Queen Constanza. Roger II, Constanza de Hauteville, Frederick II and Henry VI of Hohenstaufen are buried in the crypt, among others.
Other attractions include the Palazzo Dei Normanni, the Capella Palatina and the Teatro Massimo. Tourists visiting the Capella Palatina should note that this attraction is mostly very busy throughout the year, and usually a bit of a wait is required before entering, but the wait is definitely worth your while, as the Chapel is stunning. It features unique Sacracen arches and Byzantine mosaics, and is considered to be one of Palermo’s top attractions. The Teatro Massimo was completely restored in 1997, and now visitors and locals enjoy the many performances that are held here.
Palermo is also well-known for its many museums, which never fail to intrigue those interested in historical information. Most impressive is the Museo Archeologico Regionale, famous for its Stone of Palermo, and housed within a former church. The museum covers two floors, and features Greek and Roman Statues, as well as an impressive selection of Tuscan art. The Museo Etnografico Pitrè features a wide collection of Sicilian objects, ranging from saddlebags and shawls to costumes and carpets. It is a fascinating museum which takes Sicily right back to its roots. Other interesting items include musical instruments, pottery and agricultural tools. For something different, one can visit the Museo delle Marionette, which displays all kinds of charming puppets and marionettes.
For a little tranquility, visitors and locals have many beautiful parks and gardens to enjoy in Palermo. Some of them include the Orto Botanico, which boasts a rich variety of exotic plants and flowers, the Piazza Magione, the Villa Garibaldi, which has a public play area for the children and is nearby some of the historical buildings, the Parco della Favorita, and the Giardino Inglese, featuring an Arab temple, sculptures and fountains, and lush greenhouses.
Tourists and locals also thoroughly enjoy the markets, which are an important part of Palermo city life. Somehow they have maintained their vibrant Arab atmosphere, and can be quite an interesting experience. The La Vucciria is the one of the most popular markets in Palermo. It can be found just off Via Roma. For clothing and accessories the best market is the Mercato di Capo. Fruit, vegetables and fish are mostly sold at the Ballarò market.
Besides Palermo city itself, there is still picture-postcard Sicilian countryside to explore. Mount Etna is close by, and this is a good place for a summer hike, or for skiers in winter. It is actually an active volcano. For less strenuous activities, the Riviera-style resort of Mondello is enjoyed for its luxury accommodation and sandy beaches.
Tourists arriving at Punta Raisi Airport can find out more information about the attractions in Palermo from the Tourist Information Office, which is located on the ground floor of the terminal.