The 10 Best Hikes In Palermo1 March, 2022by Bounce
The capital of Sicily, Palermo is a gorgeous city that simply begs to be explored. Combining ancient history with stunning volcanic surroundings, it's an excellent place to see a side of Italy many visitors never get to. As you'd expect from an Italian city, you'll find fantastic food, vibrant culture, exceptional art, and lots to do.
But thanks to its mountainous surroundings, Palermo, Sicily also offers some incredible hiking trails. Whether you just want a gentle walk along the waterfront or prefer a challenging hiking adventure in the Sicilian mountains the city is surrounded by, you'll be able to find it during your visit to Palermo.
Of course, a hiking trail is no place for heavy bags. That's why Bounce provides luggage storage in Palermo and in hundreds of cities around the world. Drop off your bags but remember to bring your hiking boots, maps, and sunscreen while you explore some of the best hikes in Sicily.
Our Top Hiking Trail Picks in Palermo
Teatro Massimo - Park Villa Bonnano
Palermo is such a beautiful city that you probably won't be in a hurry to leave the capital of Sicily. And you don't have to in order to stretch your legs and get some miles behind you. Like many ancient cities, Palermo, Sicily, is best explored on foot, and it's not hard to find an interesting walking path even in the heart of the city.
For instance, you could try a walk through the heart of the city beginning at Giachery train station. Take a wander by the Teatro Massimo, a lively location where you'll find the population of Palermo enjoying the warm evenings even in November. You'll pass by the stunning Palermo Cathedral with its unique mix of architectural styles and get incredible views of the ancient city. On the way back to the train station, you'll get to see the Quattro Canti, one of Palermo's most famous landmarks and a great place to people watch. All in all, this city walk covers nearly 14 kilometers or 8.5 miles, but you'll see some of the most famous places in Palermo and get a deeper understanding of the culture of the region. Plus, city walks mean you're never far from delicious food, including the best brunch in Palermo. Spread this moderate walk out over the entire day so you can really enjoy what the city has to offer.
Castello Rocca di Cefalu Loop
This impressive hike is located outside of Palermo in the nearby town of Cefalu, but it's most definitely worth the journey. Cefalu is easily reached by public transit, so once you've learned how to get around Palermo, you shouldn't have too much trouble reaching the seaside town.
This roughly 3-mile hike has an elevation gain of 820 feet, so you'll need to be ready for a fairly steep climb. Starting from Cefalu train station, the trail takes you high above the city and lets you hike to a gorgeous ocean view from Castello Rocca. From there, you'll wind your way back down the mountain into Cefalu, which is an excellent place to stop for lunch or dinner and enjoy the atmosphere of this lively town. This is a great hike that's accessible by public transit, so although it's not in Palermo itself, it's definitely worth the journey.
Addaura - Salita Santa Rosalia Loop
It's not always easy to find a truly challenging hiking trail in a major city. But one look at Palermo's mountainous terrain, and you'll understand how you can find some incredible hiking so close to town. The Salita Santa Rosalita Loop starts from Lolli train station close to the heart of Palermo, but it takes in some incredible natural scenery along the way. At an impressive 12 miles in length with a staggering 2000 feet of elevation gain, this trail is not for the lighthearted. But fans of more advanced hiking will enjoy the adventure and will get to explore parts of the city and the region most people never get to see.
As the trail winds its way through the mountains on the edge of the city, you'll see a Roman aqueduct, the charming village of Santa Rosalia, and breathtaking ocean views from Punto Panoramica Addaura. After such a steep climb to the summit, you'll want to take your time and make sure you get lots of photos. There's even a labyrinth where you can take some time to contemplate and enjoy the serenity before heading back to the city. This is definitely one for people with a good level of fitness, but the reward is incredible views not far from Palermo itself.
Monte Cape Gallo
Just outside Palermo itself, you'll find the Cape Gallo Nature Reserve. This coastal headland contains beaches, forests, and plenty of hiking trails to satisfy avid walkers. One of the most popular takes you up Monte Capo Gallo itself, and you can find the trailhead within the city limits. The trail covers 3.7 miles, but there is a fairly steep elevation gain of more than 1300 feet, so this is a trail best suited to intermediate hikers or better. Along the way, you'll pass the tower residence of a hermit artist on your way to the stunning views from the summit. Be warned that the trail is rocky in places, so you'll need to wear appropriate footwear and be at least a little sure-footed. But for those ready for the challenge, this is a great trail that doesn't take you too far from Palermo.
This mountain hike is popular with Palermo residents, and like many of the mountain paths around the town, is not for the faint of heart. The journey up Monte Pellegrino begins in Parco della Favorita, and from there, it's a demanding ten-and-a-half-mile loop with 2500 feet of elevation gain. Therefore, this is a path best left to experienced hikers in good physical condition.
If that's you, you have a treat in store. The views of Palermo from Monte Pellegrino are unforgettable, and on a clear day, you'll be able to see for miles across the sea to the distant islands that lie beyond. Along the way, you'll explore farms, olive groves, stands of prickly pear, ancient ruins, and other classic Sicilian landscapes. Plus, the difficulties of the trail mean that it's generally not too heavily touristed. Even in the height of summer, you'll be able to get some tranquility here, making this possibly the best hike in the Palermo area for those who want to challenge themselves.
Parco della Favorita
You don't have to be a hard-core hiker to enjoy a bit of nature in Palermo. Parco della Favorita sits at the foot of Monte Pellegrino and is the starting point for the trail up the mountain, but there's no rule saying you have to go climbing. The park itself covers nearly a thousand acres of relatively flat terrain, and you'll find paved walking paths that wind their way through the grassy park and connect it to interesting nearby neighborhoods. If you want to enjoy some walking but don't have the stamina or equipment to tackle Monte Pellegrino, you can still enjoy Palermo's largest green space in Parco della Favorita and enjoy your trip to Italy without pushing yourself too hard. It's also one of the best free things to do in Palermo,
This destination isn't in Palermo itself but instead sits out in the ocean on the Aeolian islands. However, Stromboli is one of the world's most active volcanoes, in continuous eruption for at least the last 2000 years. One of only three active volcanoes in Italy, this is an unforgettable place to visit if you want to see lava flows and volcanic eruptions.
Note that because of those lava flows, the hiking options on Stromboli Island are always changing. Following an eruption in 2019, the grueling trail to the summit was closed, but you can hike to an observation point 400 meters/1300 feet up the mountain. This trail begins in Stromboli village and covers around two and a half miles. Along the way, you're very likely to see and hear small-scale volcanic eruptions, making this one of the most exciting trails in the country. For your own safety, you need to hire a local guide to take you on this once-in-a-lifetime trip, but it's well worth it to say you've hiked an active volcano.
Monte Fossa della Felci
While you're on the Aeolian islands exploring Stromboli, make time for this mountain trail too. The island of Salina is the greenest of the Aeolian islands, and this two-and-a-half-mile round-trip takes you through some of the best scenery in Italy. The trail switchbacks up the mountain, taking you past vineyards and orchards that give you a glimpse into the life of rural Sicily, and as you'd expect from a trail with this kind of elevation gain, you'll also get incredible views of the sea and the surrounding islands. Pine forests and wildflower meadows make great places to stop along the way, but you'll need impressive stamina to climb to the summit of the mountain at 3156 feet. Good hiking boots are required.
Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro
Located a little over an hour west of Palermo Airport, Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro is one of the highlights of the area. Founded in 1981 as Sicily's first nature reserve, the park incorporates beautiful beaches, expansive wildlife habitats not found elsewhere on the island, a stunning variety of natural landscapes, and even one of Sicily's most important prehistoric sites, the Grotta dell'Uzzo. You can access the park from the north or the south, but be aware that there are no roads inside the park itself, and anywhere you want to get to, you'll have to go on foot.
As a result, this park offers peace and quiet that can be hard to find in this heavily touristed region. There are virtually limitless hiking trails in this part of Sicily, and you'll be able to enjoy a slower pace of travel as you walk through the ever-changing landscape. Pick up a map before you go and plot your own adventure through this stunning natural reserve.
Parco della Madonie
Although it's quite a journey from Palermo, the Parco della Madonie rewards those who make the trip with one of the biggest natural preserves in all of Sicily. Covering 40,000 acres, this park has more hiking trails than you could hope to explore on your vacation, meaning you'll have to be selective. You'll find trails to suit every fitness level and interest, from easy strolls near historic sites to challenging backcountry tracks that will test you to your limit and reward you with incredible views of the mountains of inland Sicily. Caves, ancient churches, farmlands, and forests all wait to be explored in the sprawling park, and as it's only two hours away from Palermo, it's a prime destination for those who want to enjoy great hiking on their Sicily vacation.
Easy Hikes in Palermo
Palermo's mountainous terrain means it can actually be quite challenging to find easy walks in and around the city. Luckily, Palermo is such a walkable city that you can easily stretch your legs without leaving town. The walk through the city beginning at Teatro Massimo will show you some of the city's most impressive sites and may provide some inspiration for further exploration. And if you'd like a little green space, Parco della Favorita is easy to reach and offers incredible mountain views without a grueling walk.
Intermediate Hikes in Palermo
For more advanced hikers, Palermo has plenty to offer. Monte Cape Gallo provides enough of a challenge to get your heart pumping and offers incredible coastal views, but you don't need to be an expert to enjoy this trail. If you want more of a challenge, the Salita Santa Loop is a good option.
Difficult Hikes in Palermo
Monte Pellegrino will test even the most accomplished hikers, and it's located just outside Palermo itself. For more of an adventure, you could climb up the active volcano of Stromboli. If you're willing to travel a little, Parco della Madonie has some gorgeous mountain trails that will test you to your limits.