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Where to Stay in Palermo, Sicily – Neighbourhood and Area Guide

where to stay in palermo italy

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Palermo, Sicily’s capital city, offers a blend of history and culture, a delectable food scene, and a seaside escape. Whichever of these you’re more likely to seek out will affect the area that suits you best. Read on for help with deciding where exactly you should be staying while you explore Palermo.

This city is one of the best places to stay in Sicily, but with so many areas within the city borders, you also need to consider where in Palermo you’d like to stay. Are you looking for nightlife or a beach escape? Museums and galleries or more of a shopping trip?

While you think about those questions, use the guide below to direct you to the best neighborhood as well as some of the top hotels in Palermo.

Palermo Neighborhoods

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Palermo is a densely packed city, and many of its districts are close to each other, but these are the six neighborhoods that you should consider for your vacation above the rest. 

READ: Our guide to more fantastic places to stay in Sicily.

Borgo Vecchio

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Borgo Vecchio sits within Palermo’s historic center and boasts many main attractions and monuments. If you’re a first-time visitor to Palermo, Borgo Vecchio will be a convenient area to stay in Palermo.

This area is home to many of the city’s major attractions, most notably Palermo Cathedral and the Pretoria Fountain, and a lively atmosphere second to none. Some of the most significant sites in Palermo are located here, including the Teatro Politeama Garibaldi and Piazza Vigliena (Quattro Canti Square).

The Palazzo Riso Art Museum draws thousands of art lovers, while architecture-buffs usually head for the 12th-century Palermo Cathedral, ideally as part of a guided walking tour. See a glimpse of the Old City in the 9th-century Norman Palace, or treat yourself to vintage retail therapy at any of the unique antique shops, such as Jesus Noir or Madonna Antiquari, to take a piece of Palermo home with you.

Aside from the numerous sightseeing opportunities, Borgo Vecchio is also laid out in a practical way, providing easy access, on foot, to the many attractions from your hotel.

As the second-largest historical center in Europe, this is where you will spend much of your time while visiting Palermo. Daytime can be spent discovering the many heritage-laden buildings, like the ancient monastic church Chiesa Di San Giovanni Degli Eremiti. As nightfall looms, the neighborhood takes on a new life with its own vibe and euphoric nightlife present in hotspots such as Al Covo Storico and La Loggia.

Amid luxury and stylish hotel choices are countless of the best restaurants serving traditional Sicilian food at its best. Spend afternoons in the stunning Quattro Canti or meander around Via Maqueda and Via Vittorio Emanuele. It is easily walkable and, because of the many tourists that create both large and vibrant crowds, attracts a larger police presence, making it very safe.

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Ballaro Market will be a highlight of your Palermo itinerary, thanks to its amazing collection of food and drink vendors, as well as stalls selling everything from trinkets to souvenirs. The market does get quite loud and rowdy, making it a target for petty theft, so it’s advised to be stay alert and keep an eye on your belongings.

Most sought-after Palermo accommodation lies within this area’s streets, from the best luxury hotels to more budget-friendly establishments, all with equally charming rooms and welcoming atmospheres.

Good to know: Borgo Vecchio is conveniently located close to the train station, where airport shuttle buses also arrive and depart

Best for: First-time visitors to Palermo, or even Sicily as a whole. But, it suits nearly every traveler by blending a rich history with a vibrant culture.

Luxury: NUAR suite&spa

The NUAR suite&spa is a grand property with an unbeatable central location featuring elegant rooms, helpful staff, and easy access to the Palermo Cathedral and Fontana Pretoria >> Check Rates and Availability.

Midrange: Addimora Boutique Suites

Addimora Boutique Suites is a charming mid-range bed and breakfast, just under a mile away from central Palermo. The hotel’s standout element is the early morning breakfast served on the terrace >> Check Rates and Availability.

Budget: La Finestra Sul Porto

La Finestra Sul Porto is a sustainability-focused Palermo accommodation in Centro Storico that offers air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms. Room prices are easy on the budget, so don’t be afraid to splurge on a sea-view room >> Check Rates and Availability.

LISTEN: To our podcast Palermo – a great base for excursions.

Castellammare O Loggia (Vucciria)

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This coastal area of Castellammare O Loggia (Vucciria), right next to the city’s historic heart along the Bay of Palermo, is also vibrant and metropolitan.

It’s not hard to picture a stay in Palermo surrounded by an incredible aura of history. If you’re really in the mood to live it up where much of that history was made, choose Castellamare O Loggia, or Vucciria, as the locals call it. The neighborhood’s name translates to Castle by the Sea, which stems from the Arab fortress that once stood here, guarding the port of Palermo.

Although the fortress is mainly gone, you’ll quickly know where you are when you see the sights of the imposing gate and some remaining walls that signify the castle grounds. Castellamare also survived numerous WWII bombings, with many captivating palaces and churches still standing.

Lying to the south of New City and just east of the Old Town, along a small offshoot of Via Roma, Castellamare is easy to reach and explore. It’s also effortless to use this neighborhood as your base to see the rest of Palermo via public transport or on foot. Plus, with central Palermo just a short walk away, you’ll have the airport shuttle bus at your service.

Castellamare’s unbeatable location makes it a hit with locals and tourists alike, and the presence of some big-name main attractions adds a cherry on top. The Teatro Massimo and the famed Museo Archeologico Regionale Antonio Salinas sit in the area’s northeast corner. Along its southern rim lies Quattro Canti and the Piazza Pretoria, which simply add to the historic charm of Castellammare.

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It would be unjust and almost impossible to recommend this neighborhood without mentioning the Vucciria Market, which offers a delightful experience anytime you visit. By day, browse a nearly limitless variety of fresh produce, seafood, and traditional Sicilian treats as you sample some amazing street food. And at night, revel in the party atmosphere that makes it the city’s liveliest late-night spot.

This main square was once the former showgrounds for the city’s artisans and tailors. It is now famous for its active nightlife, especially on Wednesdays. If you’re not in the mood to party, take an evening stroll along the Waterfront near Cala and gaze across the sea, sailing ships, and docked yachts that create quite the scene.

Alternatively, within Castellamare’s heart, you can partake in some gratifying people-watching from a seat at any of the quaint cafes that line Piazza Garraffello.

But what about Palermo accommodation options in Castellammare? In the streets of this treasure of a neighborhood, you’ll find luxury hotels and exceptional boutiques. There are also many charming, affordable properties at a fraction of the cost of a high-end hotel with all the amenities.

Good to know: There are numerous pedestrianized streets in this neighborhood, so you won’t need to rent a car when staying here.

Best for: Castellamare is the best area to stay in Palermo for foodies who are looking to indulge in the combination of amazing nightlife, a thriving food scene, and a serene coastal feel.

Luxury: Palazzo Sovrana

Palazzo Sovrana boasts a premier spot in front of the Teatro Massimo. This ultra-luxe hotel, styled as a vacation home, is housed within a historical building in the city center. On offer are various tastefully decorated, spacious rooms, each with a private balcony >> Check Rates and Availability.

Midrange: Palco Rooms&Suites

The Palco Rooms&Suites radiates an old-world charm. Air-conditioned rooms, expertly attentive staff, and a daily organic breakfast with fresh fruit and local Sicilian delicacies at no extra cost make this a standout >> Check Rates and Availability.

Budget: Hotel Posta

The 3-star Hotel Posta, a former noble mansion, is nestled in the city’s historic center in downtown Palermo. Exploring sites such as the royal palace is easy, while the delicious breakfast served on the rooftop terrace is the perfect way to start the day >> Check Rates and Availability.

DISCOVER: The best Things to do in Palermo.

Mondello

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About an hour (by public transportation) from the city center is the idyllic beach resort of Mondello, where some of the best nature-centric excursions are.

Going back a few years, this was once a quaint seaside town. Nowadays, it is the premier beach resort that Palermo has to offer, after quite a bit of transformation. While the rest of the city exudes a constant bustling atmosphere, Mondello is a trendy coastal destination that shows a more laid-back side of the Sicilian capital.

Along the Tyrrhenian Sea, at the top west point of the city, this ocean-hugging upscale neighborhood sits between Monte Pellegrino and Monte Gallo. It’s a nature-lover’s dream. And thanks to its location, accommodation in Mondello is remarkably affordable.

The main draw here is the beach; you’ll see droves of locals and tourists flocking to the sands during the summer., taking breaks only to indulge in an epic selection of seafood from the many beachfront restaurants. For fine dining, head to Badalamenti Cucina e Bottega, or if you’re after local dishes at their best, opt for Alias Ristorante. The best budget-friendly option is La Cantinetta Ristorante.

At the base of Monte Pellegrino, you can spend an hour or two learning about the area’s historic past at the Mondello Historic Center. Or admire the 20th-century villas that dot the neighborhood, offering glimpses of Mondello’s elite past. If you’re in the mood to get blissfully lost, wander through the green oasis of Parco della Favorita or explore the majestic Capo Gallo Nature Reserve.

Feeling adventurous? Plan an afternoon diving into the Cape Gallo Waters, where an unbelievable variety of marine life awaits. Before you leave, venture to the Grotta dell’Olio – a cave of legends, mythical pirate adventures, and hidden treasure.

Good to know: If you’re not staying in Mondello but want to visit, it’s best to rent a car or hire a private taxi. Parking in town is scarce.

Best for: Mondello is ideal for families yearning for a beach breakaway.

Luxury: B&B Mondello Design

B&B Mondello Design boasts a 2-minute walking distance to the beach; this luxurious property with picture-perfect styling offers elegant and well-appointed rooms. Choose one with a mountain view as Monte Pellegrino sits right behind the bed and breakfast >> Check Rates and Availability.

Midrange: Unico Boutique Hotel d’Arte

Unìco Boutique Hotel d’Arte is a 4-star boutique hotel that ranks as one of Palermo’s best hotels on Mondello Beach. It delivers elements from various world-famous art exhibitions in each room. Highlight features include its infinity outdoor pool surrounded by lush gardens and a hydromassage pool on the terrace >> Check Rates and Availability.

Budget: Villa Mallandrino

Villa Mallandrino is a fabulous retreat, set a short walk from the beach. Rooms showcase tasteful design touches and color palettes. On-site is a sprawling garden and terrace with fantastic ocean views and free parking >> Check Rates and Availability.

Politeama Libertà

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Politeama Libertà offers a glimpse into the more affluent and well-developed side of the city with the best retail options and numerous family-orientated attractions.

Venturing just outside Centro Storico, the area of Politeama Libertà is an excellent spot for your stay in Palermo. This is especially true if you want to experience historical charm and fresh modern elegance without sacrificing being close to the city center. Politeama Libertà’s convenient airport access and close distance to major monuments, such as Piazza Verdi and the Massimo Theatre, add to its allure.

Although this is considered downtown Palermo, it’s the newest addition to the city’s core. Throughout the wide, tree-lined streets here, there’s an aura of elegance that you’ll quickly notice in the many upscale shops, such as Louis Vuitton, and fine-dining restaurants, including Enoteca Picone.

The further away you move from the historic center, the more modern and refined things become, starkly contrasting some of the other best neighborhoods to stay in Palermo. That’s not to say that culture is replaced with modernity, as evident in landmarks such as the iconic Teatro Politeama, where many world-famous artists have performed.

Marking the split between the old and new Palermo is Piazza Verdi and its centerpiece, the Teatro Massimo, another emblem of the cultural lineage of the city. A paradise playground for architectural enthusiasts, Politeama Libertà is distinguished by various Art Nouveau gems around areas such as Piazza Castelnuovo.

Another of the most renowned elements of this neighborhood is its out-of-this-world retail offerings. Alongside the lavish Giardino Inglese (English Garden) is Via Della Libertà – the crown jewel of modern Palermitan glamor, brimming on both sides with designer stores like Gucci and Prada.

Considering that this is a distinctly upscale area, it’s the ideal place to stay in Palermo if you want to ensure safety and an abundance of things to do in Palermo worthy of your itinerary. Courtesy of the more prominent streets and public squares, it’s also a standout spot for families with children and solo female travelers.

If you’ve rented a car in Sicily, then you’re going to enjoy staying here as most streets in the area are far wider and better maintained than other parts of the city.

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A trademark of downtown Palermo is, without a doubt, its culinary scene, as there’s an endless sea of trendy, vibrant bars, cafes, and restaurants throughout. Eat at Pizzeria Palino, drink at Enoteca Picone, and party at Vanity Night Club. This translates into a unique nightlife scene that’s lively yet not as cluttered as you’d find in the Old Town.

Naturally, the choices for Palermo hotels in this area share the same affluent vibe of the entire city and boast some of the most sought-after overnight spots in the city. Prepare for a higher price tag when scouting for your accommodation in Palermo, and be aware that during peak travel season (June to September), you’ll have to book far in advance.

Good to know: As a very popular and high-end residential area ,it is one of the safest after-dark spots in the city, while children can roam around freely during the day.

Best for: Politeama Libertà is perfectly suited for families and the solo female traveler.

Luxury: Rocco Forte Villa Igiea

The Rocco Forte Villa Igiea is an ultra-luxurious 5-star hotel located close to the Palermo Harbor with panoramic views of the Bay of Palermo. Each room and suite features a unique design, while on-site amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, and solarium >> Check Rates and Availability.

Midrange: Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes

Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes presents a spectacular entry into the landscape of luxury hotels in Palermo. This midrange yet 5-star property features impeccable design. The in-house bar serves up a collection of tantalizing aperitifs best enjoyed after indulging in the daily delicious breakfast >> Check Rates and Availability.

Budget: Grand Hotel Wagner

The Grand Hotel Wagner, often counted as one of Palermo’s finest hotels, is a 5-star option that delivers modern convenience and old-world charm. Interiors feature antique furniture with unbeatable staff service at an affordable price point for the neighborhood >> Check Rates and Availability.

LISTEN: To our podcast Palermo (not what you expect).

La Kalsa

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La Kalsa, the largest neighborhood in Palermo, showcases the city’s Arabic history and boasts the best nightlife scene for partygoers. The neighborhood is near the port of Palermo, south of Borgo Vecchio. As part of the Quattro Canti, or the four sub-areas of the Old Center, it makes up most of Centro Storico and is arguably the true historic heart of Palermo.

Additionally, La Kalsa is one of the most affordable neighborhoods in the city. Locals refer to it as “I Tribunali” due to its historic fusion with the former Tribunales area; keeping in mind its large size, La Kalsa features one of the most accurate reflections of Palermo’s diversity.

If you’re eager to stay in Palermo, fully immersed in elements of its lineage (specifically its Arab-influenced heritage), La Kalsa is a dream destination. Sitting on the waterfront of the city, the area’s streets are a magnificent display of 12th-century Arabic architectural methods and styles.

Here, you’ll also find the main square of the entire Palermo and many of the city’s famous churches. A notable landmark that is synonymous with the area is the Piazza Pretoria, dominated by nude statues.

Furthering the attractive value for historians, sightseers, and monument lovers, you’ll find the Norman-Byzantine Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio in La Kalsa. Just around the corner, is the Church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria.

Amongst the icons of La Kalsa, you must visit the Palazzo Abatellis, a former palace that is now an art gallery hosting regular exhibitions. Even if you’re not artsy, the detail in its construction is definitely worthy of your Instagram feed. If you have an afternoon to spare, the Palermo Botanical Gardens are also in the area housing 12,000 plant species.

Some of the city’s most beloved bars can be found along its alleyways and corridors, such as Extra Hop, Gudà Bar, and Goccio. If these weren’t reason enough to love La Kalsa, the cheap prices that dominate everything from food to retail and accommodation should seal the deal. Now add to all of that the overarching and always-present views of the Mediterranean Sea, and you have an almost-too-easy answer for where to stay in Palermo.

Good to know: It’s both extensive in size and incredibly dense at the same time, so plan your days in advance, as it’s easy to get lost in the maze of streets.

Best for: La Kalsa is the ideal choice for young adults after a variety of culturally rich monuments and vibrant nightlife with many bars. Hipsters looking for diversity and a local feel will love it.

Luxury: L’ Hôtellerie Easy Suites

L’ Hôtellerie Easy Suites is a definite standout amongst the luxury hotels of La Kalsa. The property is beautifully designed and elegantly furnished, with an ideal location in the heart of La Kalsa. Each of the air-conditioned rooms is large in size and has access to the rooftop sea-view terrace >> Check Rates and Availability.

Midrange: Zefiro Suites

Zefiro Suites presents an inviting bed and breakfast with a sleek, minimalist aesthetic. It’s ideally located close to Palermo’s center attractions, like the Fontana Pretoria and Palermo Cathedral, all within a short walking distance >> Check Rates and Availability.

Budget: Residenza del Castillo

Residenza del Castillo delivers a budget-friendly, convenient, and comfortable stay with a range of amenities. This atmospheric bed and breakfast is a stone’s throw from Palermo’s center and closely situated to popular attractions, including tours of the Church of the Gesu, making it easy to discover Palermo >> Check Rates and Availability.

Albergheria

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Nestled at the bottom left corner, just off the Quattro Canti, lies the oldest district in the entire city, Albergheria, and if you’re eager to live life as a local, this is where to stay in Palermo. Should you hear murmurs of the Old Town, just know that this is the neighborhood being discussed, although, at first glance, the area’s rich history speaks for itself.

Characterized by labyrinthine streets, a host of dilapidated (yet oddly beautiful) buildings, and dozens of eclectic, decades-old cafes, there’s something special about Albergheria. It’s the air that looms throughout, making you aware that you are in a real living city, and although old, it still feels energized and refined.

Albergheria is home to the Royal Palace, with its roots dating back to 800 BCE, and plenty of other historic buildings and narrow streets primed for exploration. If your stay in Palermo is based here, prepare for urban roaming, as the neighborhood also features the Palazzo dei Normanni and, within its walls, the Palatine Chapel.

Immerse yourself in the area’s ancient heritage and visit the majestic 16th-century city gate of Porta Nuova, or unwind in the calming green space of the Parco d’Orleans. Spend one morning at the Palazzo Conte Federico to envision life as a Sicilian noble before treading into the most raucous markets in the city, Ballarò. End the day with a break from the madness in Villa Bonanno, a delightful park to go people-watching.

Staying in Albergheria brings with it an undeniable quest to see, do, and experience as much of Paleritan life as possible, and one spot where this is achievable is Via Vittorio Emanuele. Lining this popular street you’ll find a massive mix of local shops, restaurants, and bars. For even more in-depth tastes of the cultural melting pot that is Albergheria, head over to the Gothic-influenced Church of San Nicolò di Bari or the baroque-infused Casa Professa.

Befitting the whirlwind experience of staying in this area, accommodation comes in every shape and size and fits every budget.

Good to know: Keep an eye on your belongings when staying here, during daytime pickpockets roam around squares and public spaces. 

Best for: Couples

Luxury: Casa Nostra Boutique Hotel & Spa

Choose Casa Nostra Boutique Hotel & Spa if you want a vibrant and stylish boutique property. This is one of the best hotels in Palermo, located close to various attractions. The hotel brings a classic approach to style and design and convenience-focused services, such as an airport shuttle >> Check Rates and Availability.

Midrange: La Terrazza sul Centro

La Terrazza sul Centro is a mid-range, stylish, and modern property, just a 10-minute stroll from Palermo Centrale Train Station. Interiors radiate a welcoming atmosphere with views of the city from the terrace >> Check Rates and Availability.

Budget: Ballarooms B&B Palermo Centro

Ballarooms B&B Palermo Centro is a cozy and inviting bed and breakfast in Palermo’s heart that offers charming rooms, a peaceful courtyard, and attentive room service at a low price tag. Its convenient location means you can make use of the shuttle buses to different areas of the city, including the Old Town >> Check Rates and Availability.

Wrapping Up – Where to Stay in Palermo

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Palermo is ancient and nearly indescribable, but within its borders, there’s something unique for every type of traveler. Each neighborhood can easily spellbind you and have you planning your return trip before your current one is over, but researching beforehand is crucial.

Hopefully, this guide on where to stay in Palermo gives you the direction you need to find somewhere unique to stay.

READ: Our guide to the Best Things to Do in Sicily.

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