Atmospheric, vibrant, exciting, Palermo is the capital of Sicily, and its location is just as thrilling as the atmosphere you'll enjoy there. It may be a surprise to learn this but, because of its strategic position at the heart of the Mediterranean, between the 9th and 12th centuries, it was the most important city in Europe and was a major crossroads for trade. Much of what you will find there was rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries and the city is still based around the five main quarters of Quattro Canti, Albergheria, Capo, Vucciria and La Kalsa which are divided by a central crossroads.
The fantastic climate means that much of life is lived outdoors in Palermo – so look forward to eating al fresco at any of the hundreds of restaurants that line the city's many piazzas. One of the biggest and most impressive is the Piazza Verdi which is named after the famous composer and is also where many open-air musical and performance events are held. For art lovers, head for the Castelnuovo where you'll find a concentration of galleries and exhibitions or simply explore the city's winding medieval alleys and streets. Hiring a car in Palermo will allow you to truly explore the whole island of Sicily, discovering not just stunning, unspoilt beaches but also other famous towns like Catania, Syracuse and Messina. It's also the best way to reach Mount Etna, the island's famous volcano that is visible from almost everywhere in Palermo. Drive to its lower slopes and you can catch a cable car up to its four main craters where tour guides will be able to tell you all about its explosive history. But be warned – as one of Europe's most active volcanoes, there are some days when a visit will not be possible.
Opening hours: Mo-Su 0730-2400
Address: Falcone Borsellino Airport,
Opening hours: Mo-Fr 0830-1300 1530-1930, Sa 0830-1300 1530-1800, Su closed
Address: Via Messina 7E,