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An introduction to Palermo
Palermo is the regional capital of Sicily - the largest island in the Mediterranean and of immense strategic importance throughout history.
Positioned centrally on the Mediterranean, Sicily and Palermo served as a stronghold connecting Africa and Europe. The list of past powers that held control of the city includes the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the French, and others.
After hundreds of years of varying influences, Palermo is a vibrant metropolis where one can experience many different cultures and styles.
"Sicilians build things like they will live forever and eat like they will die tomorrow."
The influence is most evident in the vast range of architectural styles, with mesmerising Norman-style buildings like the Palermo Cathedral or the Palazzo dei Normanni dominating the city.
Additionally, the local cuisine has benefited from all these influences, creating an intriguing fusion of ingredients used in many local dishes.
Visiting Palermo, you will find an abundance of things to do:
Be it exploring the unique and diverse architecture, indulging in the local cuisine or simply enjoying the warm Sicilian sun and its beaches, there is something for everyone in Palermo.
Why pick Palermo for your sailing holiday?
Palermo is a large and busy city with a rich history and a unique combination of architecture. Located on the northern shore of Sicily, Palermo is perfectly positioned to explore that section of the coast and the stunning Aeolian Islands.
Selecting Palermo as a home base for your sailing holiday offers several advantages when compared to other nearby destinations:
- A larger selection of boats to charter - Palermo offers all kinds of boats for charter, making it easier to find the one that suits your needs perfectly
- Good traffic connections - Palermo can be easily reached directly by either plane or ferry
- Vibrant nightlife and a cultural hotspot - As the biggest city in Sicily, Palermo offers plenty of cultural happenings and places to visit and unwind
- Culinary delight - Thanks to the influence Africa had on Sicily, the culinary scene in Palermo is somewhat different from the rest of Italy and is a must-try
- An abundance of attractions - Setting sail from Palermo will enable you to visit the most popular destinations on the northern coast of Sicily, including the nearby Aeolian archipelago
What's the weather like in Palermo?
Palermo sits on Sicily's northern shore and enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers and mild winters.
During the summer, temperatures regularly exceed 30 °C with little to no rainfall, making it perfect for enjoying the beach and the sea.
The sea gets quite warm as you reach summer height, with average temperatures sitting around 25°C in August.
Autumn in Palermo sees an increase in rainfall, but the temperatures remain mild with the average high of 20°C and still plenty of sunny weather.
Visiting in autumn or early spring is best for those that wish to avoid high temperatures and concentrate more on sightseeing and hiking.
Winter in Palermo brings much colder and wetter weather. However, the average temperatures rarely drop below 12°C. The sea can get quite rough during this period, making sailing increasingly tricky.
Spring is one of the best seasons to visit Palermo. Average temperatures vary between 15°C and 20 °C, perfect for those wishing to avoid the heat. There is still plenty of sunshine and much less rain than in winter.
Best time to sail in Palermo
The best time for sailing in Palermo is during the height of summer, in July and August. You will be met by high temperatures and clear skies.
During the summer, Sicily is overcrowded with holidaymakers from both abroad and the Italian mainland. Summer is when Sicily and Palermo explode with different events, festivals and concerts.
Fair summer weather enables you to sail the coast around Palermo and take an extended trip to the Aeolian Islands.
If you wish to sail when there are fewer crowds, and it is a bit less hot, then mid-spring or early autumn may be the perfect period to visit.
Parts of Palermo
Even though Palermo suffered heavy bombing during World War II and lacked development in the second half of the 20th century, there are still a ton of stunning sights to explore in this fascinating city.
There have been many powerful and significant rulers of this city in the past, including the Romans, Normans, Arabs, Byzantines, Phoenicians, and others, each leaving a significant mark on Palermo's architecture.
As you explore through the city, you will soon find that each district has its specific look and feel, with unique markets and dialects.
Sometimes, the contrast between different districts is so severe you'll feel like you are in a completely different city!
Castellammare – La Loggia
In the historical centre of the city, you will find one of the oldest Palermo neighbourhoods.
The centre hub of the district and one of its biggest draws is the Vucciria Market.
The name of the neighbourhood - Castellammare, comes from the Italian name "Castello a Mare" (meaning Castle in the Sea), referring to the fortress dating back to Arab rule.
The fort, originally constructed to protect the harbour, was demolished in 1922 to expand the port.
This part of the city is most commonly known as Old Town, where you will find the Quattro Canti (Four Corners) square, housing some of the most significant monuments in all of Palermo.
Two must-see landmarks here are Pretoria Fountain and Palazzo Senatorio, both presenting a distinct Baroque era look.
Another important landmark in this part of town is the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, the oldest street in Palermo.
The street, which was renamed Via Toledo in the second part of the 16th century, houses several palaces, churches, hotels and monasteries.
Albergaria – Palazzo Reale
Albergaria (also known as Albergheria) district is most famous as the home to the Royal Palace, the seat for many Sicilian rulers throughout history.
The Ballaro Market is also located here, an old market and a cultural crossroad restored about ten years ago after decades of neglect.
Situated pretty close to the city's heart in the historical centre, Zisa is another beautiful Palermo neighbourhood.
Here you will find the Castello Della Zisa, a stunning palace that combines Norman and Arab architecture. Just in front of the palace, there is a beautiful garden filled with many Arab-inspired fountains.
This is another district founded by Arabic rulers and has several different names like Monte di Pietà or Capo because of its famous market.
The Mercato del Capo is one of the most visited and popular markets within the entire city. This district also houses two major Palermo museums - Museo Regionale Antonio Salinas and Museo Diocesano.
Once a quiet fishing village, Mondello today is the go-to place to enjoy the sea for locals and tourists. Here you will find beautiful stretches of sand, a warm and calm sea as well as plenty of beach bars and restaurants.
To the east of Mondello, you will find a small area called Addaura. This is considered to be the oldest part of Palermo, dating back to the Paleolithic era.
Marinas around Palermo
The majority of marinas in Palermo are located close to the city centre, within Palermo's port.
This tourist port offers safe mooring within its natural basin and is located near the city's centre and the old town of Palermo. Here you will find 25 berths for vessels up to 24 m in length with a maximum draught of 7 m. Amenities include power and water connections at each berth, free WiFi and car rental services.
Situated inside Palermo's port is the marina Galizzi, a modern marina offering extensive amenities and services. The marina regularly hosts regattas and similar events, offering qualified personnel performing various maintenance and service work. There are a total of 70 berths available for boats up to 40 m in length with a max draught of 9,5 m. Mooring here, you will receive free WiFi, power and water connection, 24-hour security and the short distance to the city centre means shops and restaurants are nearby.
Sitimar Marina Palermo
Located in the heart of the Cala, with private access to the Cala promenade, Sitimar Marina is the ideal mooring option when sailing to Palermo. The marina is located in Palermo's historic centre, close to the markets of Vucciria and Ballarò and the Arab quarter of Kalsa. The marina has 84 berths, accommodating vessels up to 24 m in length with a maximum draught of 6 m. Marina amenities include mooring assistance, water and electricity connection, 24/7 CCTV surveillance, free WiFi and toilets with showers.
Best spots to cast an anchor around Palermo
These several anchorages around Palermo offer good holding in mostly sand. They are ideal for a quick stop where you can spend a couple of hours enjoying the beautiful Sicilian weather and the most inviting sea.
Addaura is the closest spot to Palermo to anchor without visiting any marina. You will find good holding in sand and rocks here. The anchorage provides adequate protection from all southern winds.
The anchorage is located just north of Addaura and offers another option for visiting this part of Palermo.
The seabed is mostly sand and offers good holding, while the depths are around 10 m.
Anchoring here, you will be protected from all directions except the east.
Baia di Mondello
Located north of Palermo, close to the Capo Gallo Nature Preserve, Baia di Mondello is a beautiful anchorage in front of a large beach.
You will find sand and seaweed on the bottom, so make sure to avoid seaweed as it not as secure at holding as sand.
This spot is open to winds from the north and east, so keep that in mind when visiting here.
Procida itinerary options
Option 1 - Aeolian adventure
- Total sail distance: 160 NM
- Things to see and do: Set sail from Palermo and explore the magic of the volcanic archipelago that are the Aeolian Islands. Marvel in the unique geographic features and enjoy the beautiful beaches and popular tourist resorts.
- This route is perfect for: Everyone will enjoy themselves on this route, from large groups of friends and family to more experienced sailing enthusiasts.
- Best time of year for sailing: To fully experience the Aeolian Islands' beauty, the best time to visit is during the summer. However, due to the popularity of the islands, be prepared to tackle some larger crowds. Visiting in the spring or early autumn is also a viable option, with temperatures still high enough but without the hassle of crowds.
Day 1: Palermo
Prepare everything for an unforgettable week and set sail from the beautiful Palermo northeast towards the Aeolian Islands.
Take your time as you sail some 50 NM to the westernmost island in the archipelago - Alicudi.
Day 2: Alicudi
Alicudi is the least populated and one of the smallest islands in the Aeolian archipelago.
You will find no flashy tourist attractions here but a rustic and wild island standing out from the deep blue sea.
You can hike the steep hills and explore the beauty of the volcanic landscape and swim in the crystal clear sea.
The main settlement is perched high above the only harbour on the island, Alicudi Porto.
There is a singular road on the island, one small hotel and a bar. Alicudi is the place to go to get away from everything and enjoy the serenity.
Day 3: Filicudi
As you continue west towards the centre of the Aeolian archipelago, your next stop will be the island of Filicudi.
Volcanic in origin, the island is rich with typical Mediterranean vegetation:
You will find capers, mint and oregano growing wild all over the island, exploding into an intense combination of smells.
There are three villages on the island, with Filicudi Porto on the eastern shore acting as the main harbour.
You will find several rustic restaurants on the island, but the main attractions remain the beaches scattered around.
Day 4: Salina
The next stop on this tour of the Aeolian Islands is Salina, the second largest island in the archipelago and another volcanic landscape oasis.
The island owes its name to the salt extracted here long ago, while its three towns, Santa Marina, Malfa and Leni, are perfect places to soak in Salina's beauty.
A sea of olive groves, caper bushes, fig and citrus trees as well as the two dormant volcanoes act as a beautiful backdrop for anyone who visits here.
There are small ports in Rinella and Santa Marina, where you can find secure mooring.
Day 5: Lipari
Just south of Salina, you will find Lipari, the largest island in the Aeolian archipelago.
A rocky coast characterises the island along with pristine stone beaches contrasting the crystal clear blue sea.
The largest town and the main port is Lipari which is dominated by the castle dating back to the 16th century and overlooking the town's two principal harbours: Marina Corta and Marina Longa, as well as the cathedral San Bartolomeo cathedral.
You will find picturesque streets filled with restaurants, bars, cafes, and all kinds of shops.
During the summer, the island bursts into life with tourists pouring in.
Sailing here, you will find the most mooring options on the eastern coast:
Marina Pignataro is located opposite the commercial port in Lipari and offers extensive services and secure mooring.
Day 6: Vulcano
The last stop before returning to Palermo is the southernmost Aeolian island - Vulcano.
The island's name speaks for itself: three volcanic centres on the island have been dormant since the end of the 19th century.
Make sure to take a hiking trip and visit the impressive craters and explore this unique scenery.
The two bays around the Vulcanello peninsula are separated by a narrow stretch of land - making it ideal for anchoring, depending on the weather conditions.
The main berths are on the eastern shore, where you will find the small Baia Levante Marina.
Day 7: Palermo
The journey back from Vulcano towards Palermo will take you most of the day.
Enjoy the beautiful views of the Sicilian coast as you make your way west.
As you arrive in Palermo, take the time to enjoy the nightlife in this vibrant and historic city.
Sampling local cuisine in one of the many exquisite restaurants is the perfect way to conclude your Sicilian adventure.
Option 2 - Aegadian Islands
- Total sail distance: 150 NM
- Things to see and do: Set sail from Palermo and head west to explore the small cluster of islands known as the Aegadian Islands.
- Additionally, visit the fascinating cities of Trapani and Marsala.
- This route is perfect for: The route is ideally suited for large groups of friends and families. The calm and clean sea is best enjoyed on the beautiful beaches you will find along this route. As is the case with most Italian destinations, there will also be plenty of history and culture to explore. Sailing enthusiasts will appreciate visiting the Aegadian Islands and searching for that perfect place to anchor.
- Best time of year for sailing: Sailing the western coast of Sicily is possible for the majority of the year, except for winter. If you wish to enjoy the beaches and the sea, visiting during the summer is the best option. If you wish to avoid the heat and the crowds, sailing in spring and autumn are viable options as the temperatures are still high enough and the weather is mostly sunny.
Day 1: San Vito Lo Capo
It is time to head out from Palermo west towards your first destination: the beautiful and fascinating harbour of San Vito Lo Capo.
Upon your arrival, you will be greeted by the pristine white sand beach, a swimming and snorkelling oasis, displaying some of the Mediterranean Sea's cleanest water.
As you head into town, you will find excellent restaurants, vibrant bars and charming streets.
Visit the local Museum of the Sea, which houses all sorts of exciting artefacts taken from the nearby seabed.
As far as mooring goes, you will find berths at the San Vito Lo Capo Marina while anchoring is possible outside the harbour of San Vito Lo Capo.
Day 2: Trapani
Sail south from San Vito Lo Capo south towards Trapani, a port city and the province's capital with the same name in the northwestern corner of Sicily.
Trapani boasts a rich history and is most famous for its salt production and tuna fishing.
The coastline around the city is dominated by salt fields, with the Nature Reserve of the Salt Pans of Trapani and Pacecothe located just a few minutes from the city centre.
Thanks to the nearby international airport, Trapani has transformed into a popular tourist destination luring visitors with its beautiful coastline and the nearby Aegadian Islands.
Day 3: Favignana
Set sail from Trapani towards the largest island in the Aegadian Islands chain - Favignana.
The island is ideally suited for sailing enthusiasts, with plenty of secure anchorages scattered across numerous bays.
This popular tourist destination boasts plenty of beautiful beaches, fine restaurants, and resort hotels, providing plenty of activities and attractions.
Porto Favignana is the island's principal port, but most of the most popular spots are on the southern coast. The stretch between Punta Longa and Cala Rotonda houses beautiful beaches ideal for swimming and snorkelling. Facilities: Fuel and water are available at Porto Favignana.
Day 4: Marsala
Located not far south of Trapani, Marsala is a coastal city in western Sicily that is most famous for its wine.
This is yet another historical city with beautiful architecture, impressive museums and rich cultural heritage.
This vibrant city is ideal for sampling Sicilian cuisine with a notable Arab influence, given the fact that the African continent is located less than 100 NM away.
Day 5: Marettimo
Sail away from Marsala west towards the Marettimo island, known for its rugged beauty and rocky coastline riddled with impressive cliffs and mysterious caves.
The majority of the island is a designated marine park where snorkelling and scuba diving is excellent.
There is plenty of fresh water on the island, fostering rich and varied flora, making it ideal for a hiking trip.
You will find plenty of secure anchorages on the island, with the most scenic one on the southern coast between Punta Lebeccio and Secca del Cretazzo.
Day 6: Levanzo
Continue your journey back towards Palermo and stop at the smallest main island of the Aegadian group - Levanzo.
The island is sparsely populated, with a singular village on the southern tip of the island.
The beaches here are beautiful and untouched, while the pristine underwater world is perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling, particularly between Punta dei Sorci and Capo Grosso.
Be sure to visit Grotta del Genovese (Cave of the Genoese), a large and impressive cave covered in Neolithic paintings dating back to the Stone Age, about 10,000 BC.
Day 7: Palermo
Spend the last day sailing back from Levanzo towards Palermo.
Depending on your time, make sure to soak in as much of Palermo as you can.
Palermo offers enough attractions that will last you a week between the impressive and diverse architecture, mouthwatering cuisine, and vibrant nightlife.
How much will a charter in Palermo cost you?
Before deciding on a weekly charter in Palermo, there are several key factors to consider:
Things like time of year, boat type and additional crew members and services can significantly affect your charter's cost.
Firstly, chartering during the summer is significantly more expensive than during the off-season.
Similarly, the type of boat you charter matters as sailboats are, on average, cheaper than catamarans and motorboats or yachts.
Finally, If you wish to relax and entirely focus on your holiday, you can hire a skipper and additional crewman who come with a price.
The starting price for chartering a sailboat for up to six people in Palermo at the start of June is about 2,000 € per week. As you approach July and August, that price for the same boat usually doubles.
Starting prices for catamarans and motorboats are higher, starting from around 5,000 € per week, outside the high season.
You can also hire a local skipper for around 150 € per day. Hiring a skipper might be the best option for the less experienced or those that wish to visit the best beaches and dine at the finest local restaurants.
How to reach Palermo
Reaching Palermo can be done in multiple ways, depending on how fast you want to get there.
Located on the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily, Palermo has a good connection with mainland Italy and Europe.
Here are your best options to reach Palermo:
The city's main airport is the Palermo International Airport (also known as Punta Raisi Airport), located 32 km west of the city centre.
There are daily domestic flights as well as several international flights. You can find daily flights to and from Rome, Naples, Milan, Bologna, and other European destinations like London, Paris and Brussels.
Once you touch down at the airport, you can take the shuttle bus or a taxi to Palermo.
The Port of Palermo is a busy harbour connecting major Italian, European and some African cities.
The harbour is located near the city's central part and offers direct connections to Genoa, Naples, Salerno, Aeolian Islands, Sardinia, and even Tunis.
The harbour is very close to the city centre, making it one of the most convenient ways to get to Palermo.
Coming down from northern Italy, take the A1 motorway to Naples and then continue on the A3 highway that will take you to Reggio Calabria and Villa San Giovanni.
Once you are there, take the ferry to Messina in Sicily, where you get on the E90 motorway that will take you to Palermo.
There are also several ferry connections directly to Palermo, making it pretty straightforward to reach.
If you are in no rush to reach Palermo, one of the most intriguing options is to take the train:
It takes about 13 hours on a train from Rome and about 10 hours from Naples to Sicily.
The train will take you to Villa San Giovanni Port, where it is loaded onto a ferry and transported across the Strait of Messina until it reaches Sicily.
Palermo's main railway station is located in Giulio Cesare Square, only 1.5 km from the city centre.
Let us help you plan the perfect sailing trip
Provide your travel details, receive free offer and enjoy your holiday!