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Things to See and Do in Palermo

Palermo

Sicily has been on my bucket list for a while now, and although friends of mine had visited other parts of the island, my boyfriend and I thought that Palermo was the place for us. With a gorgeous beach and a fun city vibe in the evening, the Sicilian capital certainly didn’t disappoint!

Palermo town

Palermo town

Mondello Beach

We were lucky enough to be staying a mere 200 ft from Mondello beach, which was a dream. The beach itself spans 1.5 kilometres and takes a good 30 – 40 minutes to walk from one side to the other. But with its transparent waters and beautiful, glittering sands, it really wasn’t a chore!

In the middle of the beach there’s a beautiful Art Nouveau building called the Charleston. This has been turned into a restaurant with delightful views of the sea and the rest of the bay. A table reservation is a must over the weekend and at its busiest times during the summer.

The beach itself is scattered with small (and beautifully colour coordinated) changing cabins. These are owned by local families who spend a lot of the summer weekends and evenings down at the beach. There’s a lovely family orientated vibe down there, especially in the evenings when you’ll see groups sat out together, eating and drinking and playing games.

There are many private beach clubs spanning the coastline which is a great option for the weekend when the beach is crowded with families and children. We set up camp on one of the private beaches on the Saturday and Sunday.

For two sun loungers, an umbrella and a table it will generally set you back 18 Euros, but the shade from the umbrella is a welcome break from the strong sun rays in the afternoon. There are also lovely snacks, ice creams, beer and gelato right on your doorstep, as well as toilets and showers and you are free to stay there until 7pm when it closes.

As Mondello is a fishing village, there is a quaint little marina with small fishing boats at the edge of the beach. A great observation spot and perfect for taking sunset photos!

Mondello Beach

Mondello Beach

Carbs, Carbs and More Carbs

Of course, when we think about Italy, we automatically think of pasta and pizza dishes but what really impressed me and took my hunger by surprise was the delicious pastries on offer!

Carb heavy, tick. Meat heavy, tick. Cheese heavy, tick - these pastries were not for the faint hearted, but at 2-3 euros each, they were a welcome treat as a brunch alternative. If you have more of a sweet tooth then the Cannoli with ricotta, chocolate and pistachios is a must alongside an espresso – Italian coffee really is the best!

Seafood is in abundance here, and although we ate very well throughout the week and sampled lobster, octopus and squid, the dish that outshone them all was the fresh mussels and clams we ate on our last night at L'angolo di Mondello.

Seafood in Palermo - Image: Laura Welch

Seafood in Palermo

Image: Laura Welch

Aperitif Hour

Although a relatively new concept to us, we wasted no time in getting to grips with the local lifestyle, and that meant Aperitif hour! After a long day on the beach we headed to one of the cool beach bars and ordered from the Aperitif menu – Aperol Spritz all round whilst snacking on olives, cured meats and yummy Italian cheeses.

Aperol Spritz in Sicily

Aperol Spritz in Sicily

Nightlife

We took a local bus from Mondello into Palermo a few evenings over the course of the week. The buses do get pretty busy, but are super cheap and easy to use.  It’s also worth noting that there’s a night bus! As you might imagine, Palermo city centre was buzzing with locals and other likeminded tourists.

As we explored the city on a Friday night, we stumbled upon Vucciria Market, bustling with a young crowd mainly comprising students and travellers, but the atmosphere was great! Expect plenty of live music, dancing in the streets and Italian beer flowing! If you’re looking for a fun evening, then that’s the place to head! (Top tip – it’s just as busy in the day - head there for authentic Italian street food and fresh fruit!)

If you fancy a more formal evening, there are plenty of beautiful restaurants to head to off  the main strip as you walk down to Quattro Canti. Scenic cobbled side streets offer aperitif or big bowls of fresh spaghetti and goblets of red wine.

Piazza Vigliena, Palermo

Piazza Vigliena, Palermo

Quattro Canti  

You simply cannot go to Palermo without seeing the beautiful Quattro Canti, or Piazza Vigliena as it is officially known as. The square stands at the intersection of two of the most prominent streets in Palermo; Via Maqueda and Via Vittorio Emanuele.

Photos do not do this justice! The architecture and the sheer, intricate detail of the buildings are breathtaking and a video must be taken to see its true worth. Personally, I think it’s better to go here at night when the buildings are all lit up, it’s pretty magical.

Teatro Massimo is also a must-see in Palermo. It’s the biggest Opera House in Italy and one of the largest in Europe which still shows live operas and orchestral performances to this day. Renowned for its incredible acoustics, the theatre holds over 1300 seats, if you have time to catch a show whilst you are there, you definitely should!

Written by Laura Welch

I am an Executive Assistant by day and freelance writer by night, weekends and lunch breaks - just kidding! I typically write about fashion and lifestyle trends, although I am also a sucker for pop culture (90's in particular!) as well as all things travel. My boyfriend is half Portuguese, so I am a regular on the Duolingo App! You can follow my adventures and watch me fail trying to perfect the Portuguese accent @Lauradanielle86

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