Last updated on October 30, 2023 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Sicily

Where to stay in Palermo with comparative table

When planning your trip to the capital of Sicily, it is crucial to understand where to stay in Palermo, because this choice will impact your overall experience.

In this guide, I explore the five best areas to stay in Palermo, including the Old Town (Centro Storico), Kalsa, Politeama and two other great options I experienced on my last trip just a few months ago.

I will mention the pros and cons of each neighbourhood, as well as provide tips for finding the perfect accommodation for your budget and preferences.

I also organised a table to easily and quickly compare all the areas, an effortless way to book your stay in Palermo

But without further ado, let’s get into it.

The picturesque old centre of Palermo
The picturesque old centre of Palermo

Where to stay in Palermo – In a nutshell with a table

To help you find the best area to stay in Palermo, I’ve put together a table that compares different neighbourhoods based on various factors, including average cost, bars and restaurants, historical significance, proximity to the beach and more.

To learn more about each neighbourhood, simply click on its name in the table. You’ll find detailed information on the area’s pros and cons, as well as tips on hotels, cafes, restaurants, and other attractions.

AreaAverage CostSuggested
Hotel
Bars
Restaurants
CharacterProx. to Beach Transp. Nightlife
Where to stay in Palermo first time, culture and sightseeingOld Town$$$B&B Gallidoro
or Natoli
55244
Where to stay in Palermo for an upscale experiencePoliteama$$$$Mag 179 or
Quattro Stagioni
53355
Where to stay in Palermo for a laid-back atmosphereKalsa$$$Barlaman or
Porta Felice
44244
Where to stay in Palermo on a budgetFicarazzi$$Maison Blanche32432
Where to stay in Palermo for the beachMondello$$$$$Cube 67 or Alemar53525(summer)
2(winter)
Comparison of the best areas to stay in Palermo and nearby (being 1 the lowest rate, 5 the highest)

Here below a map of the central areas of Palermo

Map of the central areas of Palermo
Map of the central areas of Palermo – Check here the High-Resolution Map

If you are still unsure what city is best for you, Palermo or Catania, then you should check out also my guide to the best areas to stay in Catania.

Old Town

  • ๐ŸŒŽ Best area to stay in Palermo for first-time visitors ๐Ÿฉ B&B Gallidoro is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • ๐Ÿ‘ Pros: history, character, plenty of places to see at your doorstep, practical (not too far from the bus and train station), bars, restaurants, and nightlife. Great for couples. Perfect for a short stay (2/3 days).
  • ๐Ÿ‘Ž Cons: a few streets are noisy (the hotels selected in this post are safe), more expensive (although still good value), busy, and it may feel unsafe in a few dark streets (especially in and around Ballaro).
  • ๐Ÿท Best restaurants and bars: for lunch the Ballaro Market is great for street food, Caffรจ del Kassaro, Stuzzicando.

The Old Town, also known as Centro Storico or Historical Centre, is one of the best places to stay in Palermo for a first time visit and/or short stay.

The neighbourhood is located in the heart of the city and is known for its historic architecture and cultural attractions.

The Quattro Canti, or Four Corners, is a well-known landmark in the Old Town that features four Baroque facades representing the four seasons, four Spanish kings, and four patron saints of Palermo.

Another must-see attraction is the Cathedral of Palermo, a beautiful example of Norman architecture that dates back to the 12th century.

As I entered the Cathedral I could not stop myself from admiring the beautiful mosaics, with over 6,400 square meters of shimmering gold and brightly coloured glass tiles that decorate the walls, arches, and domes of the church.

Really something pretty unique.

Inside the Norman Palace
Inside the Royal Palace

Walk less than 500 metres from the Cathedral and you will be at the Royal Palace.

It is not a cheap place to enter (โ‚ฌ16) and honestly, the Norman Palace did not impress me that much (but that’s very subjective). On top of it, I still wonder how they can possibly charge for the toilet after such an expensive ticket.

In saying that, as you enter the Palatine Chapel you can only thank your decision to buy the ticket.

The Palatine Chapel is a breathtaking example of Norman architecture and in true honesty one of the most beautiful and spectacular historical places I have ever visited.

You can’t stop admiring the stunning mosaics, an awe-inspiring display of colour, detail, and artistry, which cover every inch of the chapel’s walls and ceilings.

The use of gold leaf applied to the mosaic tiles, besides being astonishing, adds so much luminosity to the entire chapel.

From the Royal Palace, you can walk to the Ballaro Market, with its amazing street food, or you can keep exploring the Centro Storico visiting one or more of the historical churches in the area, or the Modern Art Gallery and I could keep going.

The beauty of staying in the Old Town is that you can visit all at your doorstep. No public transportation and you are within walking distance from the train station, perfect if you are planning to visit for example Cefalu’ or any other destination in Sicily (there are plenty of places to stay in Sicily).

The Old Town has a lively atmosphere and a bustling nightlife scene too.

You can enjoy a variety of bars and restaurants that serve traditional Sicilian cuisine, as well as modern international dishes.

The streets are filled with locals and tourists alike, creating a vibrant and energetic atmosphere.

Street food in the Ballaro Market
Street food in the Ballaro Market

When it comes to finding accommodation in the Old Town, there are plenty of options available. You can choose from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to luxury hotels and apartments.

However, be aware that the Old Town can be noisy and crowded, especially during peak tourist season. The hotels I suggested below are quiet, and close to the day and night action

In saying that, if you are travelling with a family or seeking a more relaxed atmosphere, the nearby neighbourhood of Politeama may be a better option.

If you are driving around Sicily with a car and planning to stay in Palermo, then be aware that the Old Town can be difficult (impossible) to navigate by car, with narrow streets and limited parking options. Consider staying in the nearby neighbourhood of Politeama, which offers more convenient parking options (although not cheap) and easy access to the Old Town. Or even better stay in Ficarazzi, well connected by train to the Old Town and with plenty of parking around.

The Natoli Apartments is a cozy and modern accommodation located in the heart of Palermo’s historical centre, just a few steps from the Quattro Canti and the Cathedral.

They offer the ultimate in comfort and convenience, with all the amenities you need to feel right at home. Once again, location is unbeatable

The B&B Gallidoro is a charming bed and breakfast, the perfect retreat for travellers seeking comfort, style, and convenience in the heart of the city.

One of the highlights of this B&B is the delicious breakfast buffet featuring fresh and local ingredients, the perfect way to start the day in Palermo.

Speeding through the market
Speeding through the market

Politeama

  • ๐ŸŒŽ Best area to stay in Palermo for families ๐Ÿฉ Le Quattro Stagioni is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • ๐Ÿ‘ Pros: very safe area, well connected to the airport and Mondello, wider streets and more space, easier to park (if travelling by car), bar/restaurants and nightlife.
  • ๐Ÿ‘Ž Cons: modern and lacking the Old Centre character, it can be expensive, it can be very busy
  • ๐Ÿท Best restaurants and bars: Ristorante Quattroventi, Trattoria Carpaccio, Tutto

Politeama is an upscale neighbourhood in Palermo that boasts an elegant atmosphere with modern vibes. The area is known for its wide, tree-lined streets, upscale shops, and sleek restaurants.

One of the most famous landmarks in the area is the Teatro Politeama, which has hosted numerous world-renowned artists throughout the years.

Teatro Massimo is also nearby. I truly enjoyed my tour inside the theatre on my last trip to Palermo.

I was there with my 8 years old boy and he loved so much discovering the hidden corners of the theatre (tours are available in Italian, English and French and bookable at the theatre itself)

Inside the Massimo Theatre
Inside the Massimo Theatre

A walk to the Palermo Cathedral would take 20-25 minutes (around 2km).

Politeama is also well connected with direct buses to the Airport and Mondello Beach.

This is more of an upscale area of Palermo which suits so well for travellers looking for a very safe place to stay with plenty of things to do around, although the Historical Centre is not really next door.

It’s not like the Old City is unsafe, but certainly, the narrow streets of the Centro Storico can be intimidating, especially at night.

The larger streets and squares of Politeama work better also for families. Kids will have more space to walk around, with wider pavements and pedestrian areas.

The Politeama neighbourhood is also renowned with the Palermitani planning some shopping in designer boutiques and high-end stores.

Not to mention the trendy bars, cafes, and restaurants, making the area a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

Staying in Politeama, unfortunately, can come with a higher price tag, as the area is known for its luxurious accommodations and high-end restaurants. It’s also not the best neighbourhood for those on a budget or looking for a more authentic Sicilian experience.

This is a popular area to stay in Palermo, so be sure to book your accommodations in advance to ensure availability, especially during the peak travel season, from June to September.

Le Quattro Stagioni is a charming and comfortable bed and breakfast with spacious and tastefully decorated rooms that will make you feel right at home.

Its central location makes it easy to explore Politeama and the Old City, while its peaceful and quiet atmosphere allows you to relax and unwind after a day of sightseeing.

Mag 179 Bed & Spa is a hidden gem located on the Politeama border, closer to the Historical Centre, which makes it easy to explore all that Palermo has to offer

The rooms are elegantly designed with a modern twist, while still maintaining the historic charm of the building. The spa is all you want after a day of visiting the city.

Exploring Politeama
Exploring Politeama

Kalsa

  • ๐ŸŒŽ Best area to stay in Palermo for a unique experience ๐Ÿฉ Barlaman is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • ๐Ÿ‘ Pros: close to the many attractions of Palermo, cooler with a bit of sea breeze, unique architecture, plenty of character
  • ๐Ÿ‘Ž Cons: it can feel unsafe, especially at night, with narrow streets, to avoid if driving to Palermo
  • ๐Ÿท Best restaurants and bars: Ristorante Quattro Mani, Pani cรข Meusa

Kalsa is actually one of the Quattro Canti (four areas/sub-neighbourhood) of the Old Centre, however, I wanted to dedicate a full section just for its unique amazing Moorish architecture.

As you step into the charming Kalsa, located on the waterfront of Palermo, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time to the 12th century.

The Arab-influenced architecture of the area tells the tale of a rich and complex past, where various cultures merged to create a unique and captivating ambience.

Kalsa’s laid-back atmosphere and hipster vibe make it a favourite among locals and visitors alike. The neighbourhood is full of trendy cafes, art galleries, and vintage shops.

Exploring the Kalsa area
Exploring the Kalsa area

One of the must-see landmarks in Kalsa is the Palazzo Abatellis, a former noble palace that now houses an art gallery.

The intricate detailing and ornate design of the building are a testament to the artistry of its creators.

Meanwhile, the Botanical Gardens provide a lush and tranquil escape from the bustling streets of Palermo with its 12,000 species of plants, including rare and exotic species from all over the world

Overall, Kalsa is a unique and charming neighbourhood that is worth at least exploring during your visit to Palermo.

Its Arab-influenced architecture, laid-back atmosphere, and hipster vibe make it a popular destination for travellers looking for something different, whether you’re interested in history, art, or just soaking up the local culture.

Of course, staying in Kalsa has its advantages and disadvantages.

On the one hand, you’ll be in the heart of a lively and charming neighbourhood, with easy access to some of Palermo’s most beloved attractions.

On the other hand, a few streets can be noisy at night, and some of the streets can be a bit sketchy after dark. I have selected below a couple of accommodations that you will love, quiet and so well positioned too.

The Hotel Porta Felice & Spa is a trendy, stylish and comfortable place to stay in Palermo.

Another great plus is the SPA, really all you need after so many hours walking in the city, not to mention the delicious breakfast for an energetic start to the day.

Barlaman Luxury Rooms is an absolute gem in the heart of Kalsa. From the moment you step inside, you’ll be captivated by the chic and modern interior design as well as the spacious rooms.

Barlaman also offers a delicious breakfast served in the cozy dining area, a great way to start the day.

Venturing in the Kalsa area
Venturing in the Kalsa area

Mondello

  • ๐ŸŒŽ Best area to stay in Palermo for the beach ๐Ÿฉ Alemar Bed & Breakfast is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • ๐Ÿ‘ Pros: lovely beach (one of the best in Sicily), awesome vibe in summer, bars/restaurants in summer
  • ๐Ÿ‘Ž Cons: far from the Old City and Palermo Centre, avoid in winter

Mondello is a small borough around 10-12 km north of the Old City of Palermo. A trip there takes around 1 hour by public transportation or around 20-30 minutes by taxi.

It is a convenient base to explore Palermo only if you are visiting in summer and your main focus is the beach, which is spectacular.

Interestingly enough, the beach at Mondello was originally used as a landing spot for seaplanes in the early 1900s.

Besides the beach, the borough has a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere that makes it the perfect place to unwind

Mondello’s streets are lined with palm trees and colourful houses, and the main square is filled with outdoor cafes and gelato stands. Locals and tourists are everywhere during the warm months.

Map of Palermo with Mondello and Ficarazzi
Map of Palermo with Mondello and Ficarazzi

Mondello is known for its delicious seafood that you can enjoy in one of the many beachfront restaurants.

The most popular dishes include spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) and pesce spada (swordfish).

There are also plenty of options for those who prefer something other than seafood, such as pizza and arancini, a much cheaper option if you are on a budget.

For a refreshing drink, try a granita, a slushy-like drink made with fresh fruit and scraped ice.

Besides the long commuting time to explore the Old Centre, keep in mind that Mondello in the summer months can be quite crowded and noisy too, so select your accommodation very carefully.

On my last trip to Mondello, I was there in mid-September and things were very easygoing, a completely different scene from July and August.

I don’t suggest being based in Mondello in winter because many businesses will be closed and you will be far away from the action of Palermo. On the positive side, accommodations go for a bargain price during this time of the year

One thing to keep in mind when staying in Mondello with a car is that it can be quite difficult to find parking, especially during the summer months. If you’re planning on renting a car in Sicily, be sure to choose the accommodation that offers parking facilities.

Moreover, parking by the hour can be quite expensive, something I found out on my last trip.

Alemar Bed & Breakfast is the hidden gem of Mondello. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and the staff is friendly and attentive

The breakfast variety is impressive, with a wide choice of local food and drinks. The location is convenient, with easy access to public transportation and within walking distance of the beach.

Cube 67 is the perfect place for a family stay in Palermo. This cozy and modern apartment offers a 2 bedroom suite that is spacious and comfortable, making it ideal for families with kids.

The private terrace has stunning views and the location is once again great.

Mondello Beach
Mondello Beach

Ficarazzi

  • ๐ŸŒŽ Best area to stay in Palermo with a car ๐Ÿฉ Maison Blanche is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • ๐Ÿ‘ Pros: budget stay, very practical (10-15 minutes from the Old City by train), easy for parking the car
  • ๐Ÿ‘Ž Cons: not characteristic, a few streets are run down, you are not in Palermo
  • ๐Ÿท Best restaurants and bars: Sicilia Bedda, Alla Fontanella, Muzzika for take-away

Ficarazzi is a quaint peaceful village located in the southwest part of the city of Palermo.

It is well-connected to the city of Palermo by either train or highway, making it an excellent base for exploring the city.

I stayed in Ficarazzi for about 3 nights on my last trip to Sicily and I enjoyed the laid-back feeling of the place, although the streets are a bit run down.

We selected this area because it is one of the best places to stay in Palermo with a car. Parking in the city is always an issue (expensive in a few cases). Parking in Ficarazzi is instead very easy and mostly free.

We had our train every morning down to the Old Centre of Palermo and we were in the middle of the action in 10-15 minutes. Indeed a very short train trip.

There is no ticket service at the Ficarazzi train station so you have either to buy the ticket on the train itself (with a tiny service fee) or buy it in advance on the Trenitalia website. The cost is around โ‚ฌ2-3.

The last train back from Palermo is at 9:30pm which is the biggest drawback to staying in this village

From Ficarazzi you can make it to Mondello, on the opposite side of the city, through the direct highway saving lots of time on the city traffic. Very handy.

Ficarazzi is relatively affordable, with a few budget-friendly accommodation options. However, it is worth noting that this is a small village, so there are not as many accommodations around.

For the beach and a bunch of restaurants drive to Aspra (5-10 minutes), a nice fishing village along the coast. The beach in Ficarazzi is unfortunately dirty.

In conclusion, Ficarazzi is a practical and peaceful area that offers a unique experience of the authentic Sicilian way of life. It is a great destination for those driving to Palermo. It’s certainly not a characteristic spot, however, you will save some money on your trip.

The Maison Blanche is a 1-bedroom house with really all you need for your stay. The sofa can turn into a bed that can be very handy if you are travelling with a kid.

The location is just perfect, close to the train station and next to a few supermarkets.

Would you visit Catania on a trip to Sicily

Most definitely. Catania and Palermo are very different and unique in their own way.

Is it a good idea to have a day trip to Taormina from Palermo

I don’t think it is. The journey itself would take most of the day. I personally suggest booking your accommodation in one of the best places to stay in Taormina and enjoying your time there in a more relaxed way

Do you have any suggested hotel in Catania

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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