Thinking about how to spend 2 days in Palermo? Palermo has a distinctly unique feel to it, its culture and architecture are shaped by its fascinating history.
It is located on the northern coast of Sicily, an island that was captured and ruled over by various invaders through the years.
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The result is a destination where Roman, Greek, French, and Arabian influences are to be seen everywhere, from its monuments and ancient buildings to its truly excellent cuisine!
The atmosphere here is lively – even chaotic – and the city is full of marvelous attractions, neighborhoods, and markets just waiting to be discovered.
What’s more, Palermo’s compact size makes it the perfect destination for a short break.
If you are visiting for the first time then you may be wondering which are the most important sights to see and places to visit.
This guide to spending 2 days in Palermo is designed to help!
We’ve done the work for you and suggested the best things to do each morning and afternoon of your trip.
We’ve also recommended some of our favorite eateries and the best places in the city to stay.
On the first of your two days in Palermo you’ll be seeing many of its historic buildings, exploring one of its most interesting neighborhoods, and visiting several impressive palaces.
Start your day at Via Maqueda, a 17th-century street in the city’s historic center. Packed with restaurants, cafes, bars, and street vendors, it’s a great place to have breakfast and acclimatize yourself to Palermo’s incredible energy!
Once fortified for the morning it’s just a short walk to your first stop, the Teatro Massimo on Piazza Verdi. This is Italy’s largest opera house, built in 1897 and dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II.
Unless you’d prefer to attend a show, we recommend booking a guided tour to see the interior. The neoclassical architecture is spectacular and the scale of everything is pretty awesome!
You may even recognize the grand staircase – it was used in a scene in The Godfather movie!
Opposite the theater is the Olivella district. Here you can see the beautiful baroque Church of Saint Ignatius as you head to the Regional Archaeological Museum Antonio Salinas just steps away.
Well worth visiting, this museum is packed with ancient Greek art and exhibits through which you can learn more about Sicily’s history.
From there take a stroll along Via Ruggero Setimmo to the Ruggero Settimo square, where you can see the Teatro Politeama Garibaldi. This is a seat of Sicily’s Symphony Orchestra.
It is a beautiful building, with a circular structure, elegant Ionic and Doric-style columns, and an impressive entrance shaped like a triumphal arch.
Another short walk will take you to the Piazza Bellini. There are some lovely churches surrounding it, including the church of Santa Maria dell Ammiraglio, the Chiesa San Cataldo, and the Chiesa di Santa Caterina.
With only 2 days in Palermo you won’t have time to visit them all but we recommend at least seeing the interior of the Chiesa di Santa Caterina and enjoying the splendid view of the city from its rooftop.
Walk a few more minutes to Piazza Pretoria to see the iconic Fontana Pretoria, then head to the intersection of Via Maqueda and the Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
The octagonal square here is known as Quattro Canti. It has 4 baroque buildings with façades featuring fountains and statues representing the four seasons.
The area divides the old city into four neighborhoods: Albergheria, Loggia, Capo, and Kalsa.
It’s time for lunch now so make your way to Ballarò Market in the Albergheria neighborhood.
A riot of noise and color, it is exceptionally picturesque and gives you an unparalleled insight into Sicily’s culture. Strolling through the market’s shops and stalls you’ll notice more than ever the mixture of cultures and traditions that shape the city.
Be sure to try some of Palermo’s street food specialties, including ‘panino con le panelle’ (chickpea pancakes) and the rather daunting ‘u pani câ meusa’ (spleen sandwich!).
Palermo’s palaces are among its most popular attractions as they are simply breathtaking in their beauty!
Whilst some are private homes, others are now museums. These are well worth visiting to see the fabulous interiors and learn more about the noble families that owned them.
The Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) is the most important (and subsequently the busiest!).
Also known as Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans) it dates back to the 9th century, making it the oldest royal residence in Europe. The seat of power for a variety of rulers throughout history, it is now home to the Sicilian Regional Assembly.
You can stroll through the royal apartments and admire the lavish furnishings, but the palace’s most famous attraction is its gorgeous chapel – La Cappella Palatina.
It is impossible to express in words quite how breathtaking it is – indeed, it is one of those sights that you simply must see for yourself!
Filled with mosaics and art, it took 8 years to build and clearly represents the interesting mix of architectural styles used throughout that time.
From there it’s a 15-minute stroll to the Palazzo Valguarnera Gangi on Piazza Croce dei Vespri. It looks stunning from the outside but its interior is remarkable in its opulence.
Every room retains its original furnishings and decorations and you can see the clothing worn by the ancestors of the family that owns it.
There are two other palaces nearby that are also nice to see if you have the time.
The Gothic-style Palazzo Chiaramonte Steri houses the Museum of the Inquisition where you can visit the cells of former prisoners and see the graffiti they left behind.
The Museo Palazzo Mirto, meanwhile, was the home of one of Sicily’s oldest aristocratic families and is a great place to learn about how they lived.
For your first evening in Palermo, head back to the Olivella district. It comes alive when the sun goes down and has some great restaurants.
Les Piques is one of the most popular, serving rustic Spanish cuisine made with local ingredients. You can also try some excellent local wines.
On the second of your two days in Palermo you’ll see more of the city’s magnificent religious buildings, then enjoy a relaxing afternoon at its scenic beach.
When seeing Palermo in 2 days, a visit to its main attraction is a must! So you will start your day at Cattedrale di Palermo, the city’s spectacular 12th-century cathedral.
Throughout its history, the building has undergone various alterations, so the architecture you see today is quite mixed in style and very impressive. There are plenty of palm trees on the grounds under which you can rest and spend time admiring the facade.
Many Sicilian kings were crowned in this cathedral and you can now visit their tombs, along with a crypt in the cathedral’s interior. There is also some interesting ornamentation and artwork to admire.
One of the most popular things to do is pay a small fee to go up to the roof, where you can enjoy some good views of the city.
Just remember to keep your shoulders covered when visiting the cathedral – you won’t be allowed to enter otherwise. You can buy an inexpensive cover-up at the door if you don’t have anything suitable.
Next, head to the Chiesa del Santissimo Salvatore, another beautiful church located less than 10 minutes away.
It has a very plain exterior but looks amazing on the inside, with chairs instead of pews and lots of heavy curtains that make it look more like a theater than a church!
For a small fee, you can climb the metal spiral staircase to the top of the dome – something to consider if you didn’t visit the rooftop of the cathedral.
After the peace and beauty of these religious buildings, it’s time for a change of pace. Just a 7-minute walk away is the bustling Vucciria Market.
Smaller than Ballarò Market, it specializes in food stalls and eateries. Stop here for lunch and to rest your feet, whilst you watch the world go by.
For your final afternoon in Palermo, pay a visit to Mondello Beach. You can reach it by bus from the city center in under an hour and it is more than worth the journey!
Extending for a full mile, the pristine sandy shore is perfect for families and the clear waters are great for swimming.
The atmosphere is lively and you’ll find plenty of locals here enjoying the sun. There are also heaps of activities to indulge in, with floats, paddle boards, and boats all available to rent.
Part of the beach is public but many areas are private, so expect to pay a fee. But for this, you’ll be able to enjoy amenities such as sunbeds and parasols, with access to clean toilets and showers.
You’ll also find lots of food stalls here and vendors selling everything from beer and granita to jewelry.
When the sun goes down head back to the heart of Palermo for dinner at the family-run Trattoria Ai Cascinari on Via D’Ossuna.
This traditional Sicilian restaurant makes everything on the premises and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.
Are 2 Days In Palermo Enough?
Thanks to its compact size, it is easy to see the best of Palermo in 2 days and you’ll have plenty of time to soak up its atmosphere.
However, consider adding an extra night if you arrive late on your first day or have an early departure time. You will need 2 full days for this itinerary!
Where To Stay In Palermo
Here are some of our favorite places to stay in Palermo, with a suggestion to suit every budget!
Best Budget Accommodation
The Casa di Amici Boutique Hostel offers a mixture of dormitory and private rooms.
It has a great location in the center of the city and a bar, terrace, and shared lounge where you can meet other guests.
Best Mid-Range Accommodation
The Alma Hotel is just 500 yards from Teatro Massimo and serves a sweet and savory breakfast daily, with goodies such as homemade cakes, cheeses, and cold meats.
The rooms are beautifully clean, and the staff is friendly and welcoming.
Best Luxury Accommodation
For old-world charm, look no further than the Grand Hotel Wagner. Located in a pedestrianized area in the heart of the city, it has antique furnishings, marble features, and old paintings.
The hotel also has a fitness suite and offers a range of excellent breakfast options.
Final Thoughts On This Itinerary For Two Days In Palermo
If you have been wondering what to do in Palermo in 2 days, we hope you’ve found this itinerary useful and that it has helped you plan your visit.
With its captivating history, awesome architecture, and mouthwatering cuisine, this is an amazing city to visit and one you’ll never forget.
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