Is Palermo safe to visit? A comprehensive safety guide

Published by: BouncePosted Updated

Who wouldn't love a visit to Southern Italy, or more specifically, Palermo? Filled with historic places such as the Norman Palace, Italian National Institute, and Palermo Cathedral, it is a fantastic place for tourists to visit, especially during the spring or fall when tourism hits its peak.

Is Palermo safe for tourists to explore? Yes, with a bustling population of over 850,000 people, Palermo is safe. When you visit Sicily, including Palermo, it will be a memorable time filled with exciting places to see, delicious food to consume, and friendly locals to meet. With a recent stat of about 750,000 visitors to Palermo annually, seeing this old city can easily be done without worry. Using common sense and being aware of your surroundings is the best way to stay safe when you're out and about.

When you're out for a walk or sampling arancini or caponata at one of the city's best restaurants, leave your valuables and fantastic shopping finds with a luggage storage service in Palermo. You can also keep electronic devices, jewelry, and other pricey items locked away in the hotel safe when you're not in your hotel room.

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Is Palermo safe to visit right now?

Italy is listed as 32nd out of 163 countries on the 2021 Global Peace Index and is very welcoming of visitors from around the globe. You don't have to be fluent in Italian to have a wonderful time exploring the old-world charm that surrounds Palermo. Just remember, when you're visiting historic landmarks in Italian cities, you want to be respectful and not eat or drink near the monuments or landmarks.

There are a few things to watch out for when you're visiting Palermo including pickpockets and scammers. Before you finalize your travel plans to Palermo, check your government’s official travel guidelines for Italy and do adequate research on Palermo safety tips. Even if you're an experienced traveler, it is good to stay up-to-date on travel guidelines and safety measures.

Top petty crimes and scams in Palermo affecting tourists

While you'll find it is relatively safe to visit Palermo, there are a few petty crimes that you need to be aware of. Know how to handle yourself to avoid getting into a situation that could become uncomfortable.

Taxi scams

When you're planning to explore the city, taking the bus or train really is the best way to move about and avoid the unpleasantness that can go hand in hand with some taxi drivers. If you do go that route, before you get into a taxi, make sure you and the taxi driver have an agreement on the price of the trip.

Taxi drivers are known to raise the rates for tourists and may price gouge if you have not already agreed upon a price. Taxis can be expensive to use but are generally quicker. If you're able to agree on a good deal with the driver, hop in and enjoy the ride.

Pickpockets and purse snatching

With so many tourists flooding the beautiful streets of Palermo, petty thieves such as pickpockets may be present. You'll find the biggest concentration of pickpockets near tourist attractions and on public transport. When you're out sightseeing, keep flashy jewelry to a minimum, and don't keep all your cash in your wallet or purse.

There are things you can do to keep yourself safe from pickpockets and purse snatchers. If you're carrying a purse, the smaller the better, and a cross-body bag is ideal. Keep your purse more in front of you and don't let it slide behind you. Wallets should not be kept in your rear pocket, but rather in a front pocket.

Put your camera away as soon as you're finished using it, and don't hang it from your wrist or neck. When walking, keep an eye out for motor scooters zooming by. However rare, purse snatchers have been known to go by on scooters and grab bags. Leave valuables and extra items with Bounce in Palermo, and see the city with ease.

Is Palermo safe to travel alone

No matter if you're male or female, sometimes there is a desire to travel alone to see the world. Thankfully, Palermo is safe for solo travelers.

Ask the hotel staff for recommendations of where to visit and where to avoid if you're exploring alone. Most will give you great advice and help ensure you have a wonderful experience while in Palermo.

Italy has a rating of 23 on the Bounce Women Travel Safety Index, and staying alert and following simple safety tips should be enough to keep you safe when you travel to Palermo alone. Joining a tour to see some of the attractions such as the Palatine Chapel and Royal Palace is ideal and you can get more tips from the tour guides on a safe place for your next adventure.

Safest neighborhoods in Palermo

Finding Palermo neighborhoods that are safe, even if traveling alone, is not that difficult. We've highlighted several in and near the city center.

La Kalsa

Dubbed one of the coolest places to stay in the city, La Kalsa is one of the districts or neighborhoods that make up the historical center of Old Town in Palermo. With its location near the port, it is a picturesque and refreshing place to stay. It is also easy to reach more of Palermo from La Kalsa by using public transportation.

Monte di Pietà

Another district or neighborhood that makes up Old Town, Monte di Pietà is located right in the very historic center of Old Town. The old-world charm that you feel here will wrap you in warmth. There are historical monuments and buildings that date back to medieval times and are simply breathtaking.


One of the more budget-friendly places to stay in Palermo, Mondello is also on the beach which makes it pretty much perfect. Mondello is typically a quieter spot and is much more relaxing after spending time in the more touristy parts of Palermo.

Politeama Libertà

Located in the newest area of Palermo’s city center, Politeama Libertà is a fabulous place to stay when you have your kids in tow. It is one of the safest parts of the city and there are not many pickpockets operating here. You'll find several kid-friendly activities in this neighborhood. This fun locale has the lowest overall crime rate in Palermo.

Borgo Vecchio

Filled with restaurants, bars, and cafes, Borgo Vecchio is located outside the city center between high-end neighborhoods and the port area. Visitors looking for marvelous nightlife outside the touristy city center will want to check out this neighborhood.

Is Palermo public transportation safe?

While in Palermo, it is probably not efficient for you to drive yourself around the city and taxis can be expensive. Remember, when using the taxi service, know the price to expect before accepting the ride. The simplest form of public transport is by bus and buses depart from the station every 30 minutes.

The train does service most of Palermo and it is reasonable to ride the train, but it can be confusing trying to figure out where you need to be and where you're going. Travel time on the train can actually take longer than riding the bus.

If you want to see other parts of Southern Italy, you can take an intercity bus and enjoy a day trip to Trapani, Catania, or Siracusa. One of the best day trips is to San Vito Lo Capo, a well-known seaside resort.

All of these modes of travel are recommended, but like in many busy European cities, you'll be wise to stay alert as you navigate from place to place.

Important emergency numbers in Palermo

European countries have an emergency number similar to that of the United States' 911 emergency system. If you find yourself in immediate danger when in Palermo, dial 112. Be sure to save this number on your phone in case of an emergency.

When you're planning a trip to Palermo, be sure you have these important emergency numbers with your passport and other papers. The phone number and address of your country’s embassy should also be on your phone or with your passport.

  • Italy’s country code: +39
  • Palermo’s area code: 091
  • European emergency number (police): 112
  • State police (general emergencies): 113
  • Fire brigade: 115
  • Emergency medical service: 118

Staying safe in Palermo

Travelers ask, is Sicily safe? Yes, it is safe for tourists, and Palermo is also safe.  Use the Palerma safety tips we've highlighted and you'll be safe and happy while here.

The risk of encountering a petty thief really is low compared to other large cities and Palermo is worth visiting. Being a part of Sicily, this is a popular tourist destination because of its beach and island status. This large city is great fun whether you're visiting alone or with a group.

Researching Palermo is a great way to ensure you stay safe and have a wonderful time. Where to Stay in Palermo: The Ultimate Guide and How to Get Around Palermo are two must-read resources before heading to this fabulous destination.

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