Car rental in Palermo
Rent a car in Palermo

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To fully appreciate and experience the stunning island of Sicily at its best, rent a car in Palermo upon arrival. Not only can you quickly reach your hotel or apartment, but you'll have your own four wheels to discover hidden villages, volcanic landscapes, and local tavernas at your own pace. Get off the beaten path and delve deep into the culture of Palermo with a rental car.

It's your choice: Where to go in Palermo

Palermo is the majestic capital of Sicily, set off the southeast coast of Italy. The coastal city lies in the north of the island and is easily accessible from the international airport some 32km west of Palermo. There are regular flights from Italy and the rest of Europe. Rent a car in Palermo to reach your final destination easily and explore further. From Palermo, you can venture to other wonderful destinations such as the breathtaking Madonie Regional Natural Park and nearby beaches. The currency used in Sicily is the euro, and there are plenty of cash machines at the airport and throughout Palermo.

Things to do in Palermo

Palermo is a magnificent city of resplendent architecture, enchanting museums, and stunning streets. Start exploring at the city's cathedral before moving onto attractions such as Quattro Canti (the city’s ancient crossroads) and Palazzo dei Normanni, an unmissable palace in the centre of town. Architecture lovers will adore the design the Church of the Gesù, and you can’t miss the street markets close to Piazza del Carmine, where you can sit and sip an espresso and watch the locals go about their daily life. Football fans should check if there are any games on at the local Renzo Barbera Stadium. Nothing beats catching a game on a balmy Italian evening surrounded by the chants and camaraderie of fans. For sweeping views of the city, drive to Monreale, a small enclave roughly 8km from the centre of Palermo. From atop the hill, you can take in the city in all its glowing glory – make sure to take your camera.

Important info about Palermo

Palermo is the capital and main entry point for the island of Sicily. While there are limited nature offerings within the city, your rental car makes it easy to discover the wonders surrounding Palermo. No trip to the island would be complete without visiting majestic Mount Etna. Despite being a 4-hour drive from the island's capital, this spectacular sight is worth every minute of the trip. Standing tall above the landscape, Etna is an active volcano you can scale on foot or by cable car for a more leisurely experience. The sweeping vistas from the top are simply magnificent. The island is peppered with small towns that are well worth visiting for a day when you rent a car in Palermo. Highlights include Catania, which is set close to Mount Etna; Marsala, known for its eponymous wine, and Syracuse, famed for its Greek ruins.

Weather in Palermo
Country Italy
Language Italian
Currency Euro
Time-Zones Central European Time
Country Code +39

Good to know

Like in mainland Europe, vehicles drive on the right in Sicily. All passengers must wear seatbelts at all times, and speed limits are 50-130km/hour. While no additional permit is required if you have an EU driving licence, you may need extra documentation if you're visiting from outside the EU. To rent a car in Palermo, you must be over 21, and you can only use your mobile phone while driving if it's equipped with a hands-free device. The blood-alcohol limit for drivers is 0.05%, though it's recommended you don't drink at all if you're driving, particularly if you're unfamiliar with the roads. The road conditions in Palermo and wider Sicily are generally good. However, take care when driving outside of the main towns and cities, as roads can be winding with lots of sharp corners.

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What to taste in Palermo

Sicilians largely eschew the butter and cream that's abundant on the mainland, opting instead for olive oil and tomato for flavouring food. Sicily also incorporates more spices – a carry-over from the island's rich African and Middle Eastern history. As well as serving up classic Italian fare such as pizza and pasta, Palermo has a distinct street food culture that you'll want to explore on your visit. Sicilian rice balls, arancini, make for an excellent snack or light lunch on the go. Pick them up cheaply on any street corner morning, noon, or night – they're also the perfect accompaniment to beer! For a slice of Sicily, tuck into the sfincione, a thicker version of classic pizza topped with anchovies, tomatoes, cheese, and onions. Don't be put off by pani ca meusa (spleen burgers) – they're likely among the best you'll ever eat. These Sicilian favourites are served with a drizzle of lemon to cut through the fat, and are a must-try.

What to bring to your friends from Palermo

Palermo's shops offer up plenty of gifts to take back home to friends or family. Food and drink items are perennial favourites, with the local cheeses, wine, and preserves sure to delight. Palermo's markets and supermarkets are both excellent places to pick up reasonably priced gifts such as chocolate and wine. Given the area's two active volcanos, it should come as no surprise that lava stone is ubiquitous in Sicily. Buy some of this beautiful slate-like stone fashioned into jewellery, vases, or other decorative items. The island also boasts Caltagirone pottery, which makes for excellent souvenirs – you can find bold and ornate pieces in shops around the city. If you want to support local establishments that don't bow down to the mafia, look for an 'Addiopizzo' ('Goodbye Pizzo') sticker in their window.