Palermo is a lovely city and one that you can easily make the most of when you visit it for just a few days. If you only have three days in Palermo, you can still see all the most amazing things that this city has to offer. When you visit Sicily, you need to make sure that you head to Palermo for at least part of your stay because of lovely areas like the city centre, Mondello Beach, and the historical centre of the city that is full of culture and lovely old buildings.
The first thing that you need to do when you head to Palermo, is to make sure that your bags are safe and secure. Having your luggage locked away safely in secure storage in Palermo will make your overall trip experience much more enjoyable. Old cities like this are not easy to navigate with large bags dragging you down, so having your luggage put away someplace safe is always a really good idea.
Once you have your bags securely stored, you are ready to head out and enjoy your quick 3-day trip in Palermo to the maximum!
Palermo itinerary - Day 1
The first day of your Palermo itinerary is probably going to be partially taken up with navigating the Palermo Airport and getting your rental car if you are going to have one. You will not need a rental car if you are just going to enjoy Palermo itself, but there can be other things that you want to see when you visit Sicily that are in the local area. Make sure that you consider the difficulties of parking in the city center if you are going to get a rental car. Sometimes just using a rideshare or a taxi is a better idea for a day trip.
You will want to see the historical centre of the city during your 3 days in Palermo, so you need to start your first day in this city with a visit to the Norman Palace. This location is a political office today but it is open for tours and for wandering around to see the lovely Byzantine frescoes and the gold leaf and incredible architecture. This is a building that dates back to the 9th century and it is so well-preserved that you will be amazed at your surroundings. It feels like a King of Sicily could round the corner and welcome you to the Sicilian capital at a moment's notice.
This building is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm most weekdays but holidays and special events can change the opening times. Get there early to avoid crowded conditions and noise from other tourists. Consider heading over to Caffè del Kassaro for a casual lunch before moving on to your afternoon plans.
The afternoon of this day should be devoted to seeing the Palermo Cathedral. This huge and impressive cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is still a Roman Catholic church. The Palermo Cathedral is a fine example of various architectural styles that were used during the formative years of the city and it should be at the top of your Palermo itinerary for local historical sites that must be seen when you visit Palermo. Everything about the Palermo Cathedral is tall, beautiful, and feels positively biblical in nature. You will be moved by the art and design inside the building and the lovely park outside the Palermo Cathedral is just as beautiful and inspiring as the interior spaces.
Most days this site is open from 7 am to 7 pm so you will have plenty of time at the Palermo Cathedral on the first day of your trip. You will want to explore Palermo near the Palermo Cathedral as well because this is the heart of the oldest part of the city centre and well worth a look.
You will have some time later in the afternoon of this day to visit The Church of St. Mary of the Admiral which is a lovely local worship site. Near the Piazza Bellini, this beautiful little church is absolutely lovely and clearly well-loved by the people who live in this part of the city. You will love everything from the art on the walls to the sense of passing time that is conveyed by the softly worn stone.
Consider having dinner at a place like Seven Restaurant & Rooftop Cocktail Bar for scenic views of the city, amazing cocktails, and delicious food. There are also lots of street-level shops and eateries that you can pick from as you leave the very heart of the city centre, arguably the best place to go for Palermo's unmissable nightlife.
You can choose to kill some time before the dinner hour by heading to the Arab-Norman Sites and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalu or you might want to grant this stop more time after dinner. These structures are from the Norman period in the city and they are also heavily influenced by Byzantine art and cultural influences. These are lovely monuments to the history of the city and should be included in your Palermo itinerary for sure.
Palermo itinerary - Day 2
This is the day to head to the beach! You will make a little bit of a trek out of the city centre if you are staying there to head to Mondello Beach, but it is well worth the trip. This is a lovely sandy beach that offers you the chance to sunbathe, enjoy the shops and little eateries and breathe in the sea air. Beach time is one of the best things to do with kids in Palermo. Consider getting a quick grab-and-go coffee and pastry here and just wander if you are not one to sit in the sand and get some sun on Mondello Beach. You also have the choice of other beach areas that are farther outside the city if you want to go on a bigger adventure.
If you have a rental car, you can make the hour and a half trek to the small beach town of Cefalu. This lovely little town is just like a postcard and you will enjoy calm waters, lovely beaches, and all of the same benefits as Mondello Beach with a more private and local feeling. Both of these beaches are friendly to all ages and offer different ways of enjoying the beach.
Consider spending the afternoon wine tasting if you have already headed out into the countryside to enjoy the beach. There are so many excellent wineries in this area and these amazing places are both picturesque and welcoming. There are guided tour options for this kind of adventure as well, and if you choose this option you will usually get included transportation to the various sites that you want to give a try.
You really should consider part of the activities of your 3 days in Palermo as the perfect chance to see what the beach and countryside are all about. There are so many lovely outdoor adventures to go on during your 3 days in Palermo, and if you have come to visit Palermo during the peak of the summer season, this can be a very ideal way to spend your second day.
For an evening near the water that is quiet and peaceful, you can close out this second of your 3 days in Palermo with a visit to Ristorante Castello a Mare. There are many other local restaurants in this part of the city that also offer outdoor dining and you can sip wine and have a lovely authentic meal under a blanket of stars if you wish. You might also choose to wander a bit and look for some bars to pop into for a nightcap or a dance club if that is more your style. The locals are very friendly and will help you to flesh out your Palermo itinerary for the evening hours if you need some guidance.
Palermo itinerary - Day 3
This final day of your stay in Palermo can be spent close to your hotel if you wish, or you can continue to adventure throughout the city. If you love a museum, you need to grab a quick breakfast and then head to the Palermo Regional Archaeological Museum, one of the best museums in town. Most of the collection here is devoted to Greek arts of various kinds and you will be amazed at the lovely statuary and other art that is housed here. This can be a great choice for your third morning when you visit Palermo if you have gotten a bit too much sun and need a little break to recover.
The Massimo Theatre might also be on your Palermo itinerary and you can choose to visit this spot for an Opera during your stay, or drop in to see the building when it is open to the public. You will be amazed at the beauty of this lovely location and this historical and large theater is well worth checking out. It is one of the finest examples of this kind of theater location in Southern Italy.
Ballaro Market is a great way to spend an afternoon and you can choose to head to this spot during the final afternoon of your Palermo itinerary. This is an active and colorful street market that will give you access to freshly-made food, raw ingredients for cooking, and all kinds of different wares and souvenirs. This is a very fun and immersive way to spend at least part of your afternoon.
There are also many street vendors and some local shops that are worth a visit in this area and you can easily get lunch, have a yummy coffee, or enjoy some shopping while you are in the area of the Market.
Close out your final evening with a visit to Monreale Cathedral and Monreale Village. This is a very peaceful and quiet part of the city and the view from this location is also really good. You will love that you have finished out your Palermo itinerary with another quiet and lovely church and historical site that is notable around the world. There are so many other historic buildings in the old town that you could choose to add to your evening's activities as well. When you allow some time to just wander during the last day of your Palermo itinerary, you will probably stumble across all kinds of things that you did not know existed in this beautiful city.
Consider an authentic and cozy dinner at Trattoria Piccolo Napoli for your last night. You will love this part of the old town and being able to sip wine and chat with locals can be very fun. you might also want to a location like Vanity Nightclub if you want to have a bit of a party near old town before you leave.
If you have been worried that you will be missing out on everything you want to see and do in this world-famous city on a quick trip, you don't need to stress. You can easily enjoy the historic center o the city, the beautiful Monreale Cathedral, and the Opera House, as well as museums and other historic buildings during a single day of your trip. Head to a beautiful town on the beach for part of a day, or make sure that you have a nice beach day planned at Mondello. Even if you only spend a few hours at each of the places on this list, you will get to enjoy stunning architecture, incredible history, and delicious food and drink.
Make sure that you take the time to drop your bags off in secure storage when you arrive in the city. This is an important factor for your enjoyment of your trip and you will have a much easier time when you visit this beautiful town if your hands are free and you are not worried about your possessions. This is a beautiful city that is fun to visit no matter how many days you have to devote to the trip.