Campervan hire Palermo
From lively quarters filled with the shouts of bustling markets and the smells of street food, to the timeless serenity found in multiculti palaces and chapels, Palermo is a treat for the urban adventurer.
On an island set apart from the rest of Italy by its exotic heritage and the distinct Sicilian way of life, Palermo is the capital not just for its size––but also for having some of Sicily’s highlights. The nearly-three-millennia-old city is a historical petri dish for all kinds of civilizations mingling and, remarkably often, overthrowing each other’s regimes. All this foreign rule makes for an interesting city scape, with architectural influences ranging from Greek to German, and from Byzantine to Bourbon. Palermo is also a much-loved destination for its many street stalls offering simple, yet incredibly tasty street food. And where in Europe’s hipster capitals street vendors are avant-garde chef’s side-projects, Palermo’s savoury street snacks date back centuries––offering simple, yet incredibly tasty to-go meals. Don’t forget to bring a bunch of ‘em when you hire a campervan in Palermo. After all, you’ll want to stay well-nourished as you explore as much of Sicily’s long coastlines and quaint towns as your road trip allows!
Depot + Transfer
Looking for a motorhome or campervan hire in Palermo? Good, we’re right there for you. After you landed on Falcone-Borsellino Airport, or just Palermo Airport, we’ll pick you up with your ready-made rental RV. Dropping off the campervan in Palermo? We’ll be waiting for you at the airport!
Parking in the city
Most of Palermo’s city centre is designated ZTL (restricted vehicle access). In order to drive and park your campervan in these areas, buy a €5 ticket at local tobacco shops or newsstands. To park your van in the ZTL zone, look for street parking with blue lines.
Alternatively, park your campervan in the downtown Politeama area, which lies outside of the restricted area and where parking is free. The neighborhood is safe and at walking distance from Old Town!
Camping grounds nearby
Palermo has a few camping grounds, the most nearby being Idea Vacanze, which is right in the northern outskirts of the city.
Alternatively, there’s a few camping grounds right next to Mondello, where you’ll have easy access to the beach by campervan and are still close to Palermo!
Sicily’s turbulent history shows in Palermo. The Mediterranean largest island being hard to miss, civilizations have landed on its shore since forever. It’s how Phoenician traders founded Palermo around 800 BC. It then was taken by Carthaginians, until that civilization got wiped out by the Romans, who took the city in 254 BC and left it to eventually fall into ruins. The Byzantines then revitalized Palermo in the 5th century, which became even more prosperous when Arabs conquered it in 831, opening the city up to trade with the African continent. Its trade routes made Palermo a coveted city, which is why the Normans took it from the Arabs and founded the Kingdom of Sicily. Eventually, the kingship fell prey to the European dynasties of the Holy Roman Empire, making the city subject to German, French, and Spanish royal inbreds consecutively. Palermo and Sicily now happen to fall under the flag of Italy, but let’s see where history takes the island!
With so many conquerors leaving their mark on the city, look forward to a day of dazzling display in Palermo. It starts after you’ve parked your motorhome or campervan near Old Town and walked to Quattro Canti, an ornate crossing full of marble statues, fountains, and baroque palazzos. Head into the San Giuseppe Dei Teatini Church on the southwest corner, before scoring a coffee and your first bite of local street fritters at the Vucciria Market. A great choice is panelle, made from chickpea flour and called mafalda when served on a sesame bun. However, daredevils will opt for pane con la milza, a veal’s-lung-trachea-and-spleen sandwich. Afterwards, make your way back via the Via Vittorio Emanuele, along which you’ll see more of multiculti Palermo: the Cattedrale di Palermo, a magnificent 12th-century church housing the royal tomb of Frederick II; the Norman Palace, built in the 9th-century and as splendid as the cathedral; and the Cappella Palatina, our personal favourite for its incredibly detailed interior, filled with Byzantine mosaics and paintings.
There’s more than history in this buzzing city, too. After a day of sightseeing and mouth-stuffing, celebrate your holidays in style by going to the opera (or ballet, depending on the night). You might have seen mafioso Al Pacino and his family descend the stairs of Teatro Massimo in the final scenes of Godfather III––and while their night ended with tears of grief and disbelief, yours will very likely end with tears of joy and amazement.
What to discover
In and around the city
Santuario di Santa Rosalia
When in Palermo, it’s hard to miss Monte Pellegrino when gazing east. But while the hill provides a stunning background to the city, the city panoramas from Mount Pellegrino are way better! But that’s not the only reason for heading up the hill.
Carved in the rock face is a church and convent: the Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia, who became Palermo’s patron saint after having made a few flashy apparitions to the locals (despite having been dead for centuries by then).
Open Air Markets
If there’s one thing that gives you a feel for the local way of life it’s markets. It’s here (and in traffic) that Sicilians hone their renowned skills in hand gestures and passionate cries, and it’s in these alley ways that locals meet and display the communal way of life that makes Sicily so special.
Vucciria Market is one of Palermo’s ancient open-air market, full of the colours and fragrances of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and fish. And, of course, welcoming locals huddling around street stalls. Try arancine (fried risotto balls), sfincione (soft bread pizza), or gelato con brioche (we’ll let you guess this one).
This small island off the coast of Palermo is actually the tip of an ancient extinct volcano. Its fertile grounds make for an incredibly lush little isle, with rocky black slopes, green pastures, and a marine reserve. Yes, the waters around Ustica are protected, as is much of the island. Apart from the island’s 4,000 residents’ dwellings, the island remains undeveloped. Talking about an unspoilt paradise!
Getting to Ustica is easy; just take the ferry from the port of Palermo! Alternatively, take the hydrofil for a quicker boat ride.
Agrigento is built on the remnants of the ancient Greek city of Akragas. The nearby Valley of Temples is the archeological site of the site ancient Greek city of Akragas. It’s one of the most stunning examples of Greco architecture and art you’ll find, anywhere!
We admit modern Agrigento isn’t the prettiest of Sicilian cities, but at two hours from Palermo, you don’t need a campervan hire in Agrigento––you just visit the archeological sites after a short drive!
A little over an hour from Palermo, quaint Cefalù seems to exist in a different world than the big city. One where the 21st century never got hold of the island, because the little town that sits patiently in an sheltered azure cove along the northern coast moves at a slower pace than the world around it (and Sicily isn’t particularly fast-paced, either!).
A motorhome or campervan hire near Celafù allows you to enjoy the town’s great culinary scene, offering the best of local products in wonderful alfresco fashion. Dinner at a local trattoria overlooking the gentle mediterranean sea is as romantic as it gets!
Arguably Sicily’s favourite holiday destination for the many idyllic bays and beaches along the Trapani coast (especially the Gulf of Castellammare), this ancient crest-shaped city is only a 1,5 hour van drive from Palermo.
And while either a campervan hire in Trapani or the drive from Palermo are worth the ride, it’s the trip itself that is most exciting. With places like San Vito lo Capo and Scopello along the way, one-and-a-half-hour of driving will most likely turn into a road trip lasting several days, and leading you along some of the most memorable places Sicily has in store for you!