Palermo, Sicily

Palermo, Sicily

Palermo is the capital city of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean.

Once regarded as Europe’s grandest, most beautiful city, Palermo is still quite impressive. The Four Corners of Palermo, where each 17th-century Spanish Baroque facade is adorned with a statue, is one of the city’s most memorable sights. The Fontana Pretoria, often called the Fountain of Shame because of its nude Florentine figures, is also worth noting. Tour the famous Norman Cathedral and Capuchin catacombs.

The old part of the city is a jumbled warren of streets so take care. Shops, cafes and museums are all easy to find in this walkable city. Ceramics, embroidery and coral jewelry are all popular gifts.

Places of interest include the Cattedrale della Santa Vergine Maria Assunta/Cattedrale di Palermo, the main Cathedral of Palermo, dating back to the 12th century, Fontana Pretoria, a 16th Century fountain, the Archaeological museum and the Orto Botanico di Palermo, a botanical garden with 12,000 different plant species.

Other options away from Palermo itself include the small town of Monreale with it’s 12th century Cathedral and great view over the bay, Selinunte, which is around 100km from Palermo, Agrigento where you can visit the Valley of Temples, and Céfalu, the Norman fishing village.

Beaches can be found at Mondello, Aspra, Cefalu, San Vito Lo Capo, Isola delle Femmine and Arenella. All of these beaches are located either directly in the city of Palermo or within an hour’s drive from the city itself.

The disabled cruiser visiting Palermo will find that it is a large and chaotic city and best seen by walking or via public transport. Typically local buses would be handicap accessible. Consider taking the Palermo Sightseeing bus to get around. The Palermo Sightseeing would get you from attraction to attraction, but there’s still a lot of walking. Unfortunately Sicily is not the most disability-friendly destination.

Sicily is not an optimal destinations for those with disabilities, but Palermo is flat, and relatively an optimal destination in Sicily. It is found that most corners did not have curb cuts, and you are required to climb stairs to get to many sites, for example the Chiesa San Giuseppe dei Teatini, the Fontana Pretoria, and La Martorana. Due to space limitations in in some restaurants, wheelchairs cannot be accommodated.

With a wheelchair or mobility scooter you need to be aware that whilst traffic can be quite considerate of pedestrians some pavements are quite narrow or non existent and some streets need some surface TLC. Always cross the street at pedestrian crossings as it is a tad hazardous otherwise.

Where You’re Docked

Cruise ships dock at the “Stazione Marittima” on the Via Del Mare, not far from the city center and can easily be reached on foot. Inside the cruise terminal there are telephones, a bar/cafe, toilets, bank, and tourist information.

There are taxis, shuttle buses and horse and carts available at the port. Note: traffic is loud and chaotic in Sicily.

Good to Know

The traffic is truly crazy. Use caution when crossing major thoroughfares. Leave your valuable belongings on the ship or guard them carefully. If you wander just a little off the beaten path you will find streets that just don’t seem safe even in broad daylight (visitors are advised not to wear flashy jewelry and to keep close watch on their cameras, pocketbooks and wallets).Disability Cruising-Palermo-7

Getting Around

Cabs and horse-drawn carts offering tours can be found just outside the terminal gates. In either case it is wise to negotiate a price up front. Cabs can be hired by the trip or hour. Double-decker tour buses operate around the city. Public buses run around the city and to the suburbs as well. While this is a good walking city, and you can easily walk to dining, museums and shopping, be aware the old part of the city is a jumbled warren of streets and it’s easy to get lost. Also be aware, pickpockets are particularly skilled in Palermo.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The local currency is the euro. Most banks have ATM’s. There are also individual ATM’s throughout the city.


The official language in Palermo is Italian.


Colorful hand-painted ceramics, embroidered fabrics and coral jewelry (coral is considered a fertility symbol). 

Arancini, fritters, cazzilli, sfincione, spleen, frittola, stigghiole…are just some of the delicacies of the so-called street food that has meant Palermo. Local dishes to sample include ‘risotto con gamberi e zucchini’ (risotto with shrimp and courgette), ‘penne con salsiccia’ (spicy sausage pasta), ‘funghi e piselli’ (mushroom and peas) and stuffed calamari Sicilian style.

Points of Interest

  • Erice – This centuries-old town looks out over the Aegadian Islands and features labyrinthine streets, a Norman castle, the 14th-century Mother Church, and a museum full of ancient artifacts.
  • Ruins of Segesta – Reminiscent of the Acropolis, the Greek ruins at Segesta include a well-preserved Doric temple with 36 columns and a great amphitheater that opens to the pastoral Sicilian landscape.
  • Cathedral of Palermo – An amalgamation of different architectural styles, this incredible cathedral complex features intricate design on its facade, and includes royal tombs, a crypt, a treasury and a chapel.
  • Duomo di Monreale – This 12th-century cathedral was designed to the very finest detail, with intricate mosaics covering the walls, ceiling and floor, Romanesque bronze doors, and a well-preserved Byzantine cloister.
  • Capuchin Catacombs – Not for the faint of heart, this macabre tourist attraction was once a sought-after destination for the deceased, and today contains the mummified remains of some 8,000 men, women and children.
  • Palazzo dei Normanni – Home of the Sicilian parliament, this structure once served the Kings of Sicily and contains a richly-mosaicked chapel, a large collection of Islamic paintings and centuries-old Royal Apartments.
  • Teatro Massimo – Completed in 1897, this famed neoclassical opera house is the largest in all of Italy, seating audiences of up to 1,350. It also served as the setting for the final scenes of Godfather Part III.
  • L’Antica Masseria – Nestled in the pastoral Sicilian countryside, surrounded by rolling green hills, this elegant hotel features a family chapel, cobblestone paths and a fine restaurant. It often plays host to weddings.

Palermo Accessible Excursions

Whether you’re arriving in Catania, Messina, Palermo, Taormina, or Giardini Naxos, these accessible shore excursions meet your needs. These wheelchair accessible shore excursions of Sicily include an officially-certified, English speaking guide as well as round-trip transportation in a wheelchair accessible van.

Palermo Sicily Accessible Driving Tour

If you enjoy ancient ruins, medieval architecture, and scenic views, then this accessible driving tour of Sicily is for you. This 8-hour accessible driving tour of Sicily visits the ancient colony of Segesta and the medieval, mountain village of Erice in a wheelchair accessible van.

The tour will begin when your guide and driver pick you up from the cruise terminal in Palermo in an accessible van with a wheelchair ramp. From there you will drive across Western Sicily to your first stop Segesta, an ancient city once inhabited by Elymians and Greeks. Here you will see some wonderfully preserved ruins, a Doric temple and a Greek theater. 

You will then drive to Mount Erice, to the town of Erice, which is located at the top of the mountain, approximately 750 meters above sea level. The air is much cooler atop the mountain, and a shroud of misty clouds protects the city from the heat that the rest of Sicily has to endure. Erice is a very medieval town, and looks much younger than it actually is. The majority of the architecture and style of the city is from 12th century Venus castle to the 14th century Erice Cathedral and its cobblestone streets, 

At the end of your Sicily accessible driving tour, your guide and driver will take you back to your ship at the cruise terminal in Palermo.

The Palermo Sicily Accessible Driving Tour uses a wheelchair accessible van and has a step-free tour route. However, the guide is unable to push a wheelchair.

Monreale & Palermo Accessible Cruise Excursion

During this 8-hour Palermo accessible cruise excursion you will explore 3 cities, visit 2 cathedrals, and capture the gorgeous landscape of the Concad’Oro (Golden Shell) valley. If you love exploring the history and culture of a city, then the Monreale & Palermo Accessible Cruise Excursion is for you.

Your tour guide and driver will pick you up from your cruise port in a wheelchair accessible van. From here, you will visit the capital of Sicily and see the medieval part of the city where you will find magnificent baroque architecture and an ancient cathedral.

The accessible Palermo cruise excursion will then take you to the vibrant, outdoor market “Vucciria,” a wonderful place to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Palermo. A short scenic drive will lead you to Monreale where you will see a magnificent baroque cathedral. Afterwards, if time allows, you will visit the Villa of the Mysteries in Bagheria to discover the cryptic contents of an early Roman villa.

You will enjoy a lively commentary by an officially-certified, English-speaking tour guide
familiar with the needs of disabled travelers and convenient pick-up and drop-off at the cruise port with this cruise excursion.

The Monreale & Palermo Accessible Cruise Excursion uses a wheelchair accessible van and has a step-free tour route. However, the guide is unable to push a wheelchair.

Highlights of Messina Accessible Shore Excursion

Your guide and driver will pick you up in a wheelchair accessible van from the Sicily port where your ship arrives to begin your 8-hour wheelchair accessible shore excursion of Messina to Tyndaris (Tindari), Cefalú, and time permitting, Santo Stefano di Camastra.

The first stop on Highlights of Messina Accessible Shore Excursion is Tyndaris (Tindari), an ancient Bronze Age (around 1500 B.C.) settlement, where you will visit a 4th century B.C. amphitheater. Tyndaris is also known for its Sanctuary of the Madonna di Tindari or the “Sanctuary of the Black Madonna.” Your officially-certified, English-speaking guide will tell you about the ancient legend surrounding this mysterious “Black Madonna” and the appearance of the shape of the Madonna in the coastline of Tindari.

Next, you will drive to Cefalú, a fabulous coastal village whose quaint, eclectic houses and crystal clear water are the picture of what makes Sicily such an inviting place to visit. Walk/roll through the winding pathways of the village and enjoy the views of the rocky coastline as you take in the sights and sounds of Sicily. Your guide will take you to the Duomo of Cefalú, the Cefalú Cathedral, which dates back to 1131. Its imposing Norman-style façade towers over the city and can be seen from a distance.

Afterwards you will visit the Museo Mandralisca. The museum houses the private collection of the Baron Enrico Piraino di Mandralisca. Its main attraction is a painting by Antonello da Messina, called Portrait of an Unknown Man, but it also includes a diverse collection of ancient artifacts from around the world.

If time permits, you will drive a little farther down the coast to the village of Santo Stefano di Camastra, where you can do some shopping for local ceramics and colorful pottery. Afterwards, your driver will return you to the cruise terminal where you will board your ship.

The HIghlights of Messina Accessible Shore Excursion uses a wheelchair accessible van and has a step-free tour route. However, the guide is unable to push a wheelchair.