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Palermo - is 4 days too much? 3 days not enough?

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Sep 10th, 2018, 07:46 PM
  #1
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Palermo - is 4 days too much? 3 days not enough?

My wife and I, and another couple that we travel with yearly, will be spending 16 nights in Sicily at the beginning of October, and our current itinerary calls for us to end with 4 full days in Palermo. While doing research on the city and immediate area, Iím wondering if that is too much time. For example, weíll take one full day to explore the city itself Ö definitely visiting a food market, possibly the cathedral, and just wandering. Then a visit to Monreale Ö maybe another Ĺ day? Both guide books, and others we know who have been there have indicated thereís not that much else of great interest within the immediate area, emphasizing that there are some parts of the city that are, letís say, not so tourist-friendly.We are not beach people, so not interested in spending time there. So maybe we find an out of town excursion for the 3rd day, and cut a day off our original route? Then we could spend an additional day in one of our other stops, which are Trapani, Ragusa, and nearby (but not right in) Taormina.What are we missing? Any thoughts from Sicily enthusiasts appreciated.
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Sep 10th, 2018, 08:19 PM
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kja
 
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I'm not a beach person, but found 2 full days in the city itself (not counting magnificent Monreale) insufficient for my interests. And if you are there, and find you have an extra day, you could spend it in Cefalu. But of course, it depends on what you want to see and do and whether you will want a relaxed, recover-from-jet-lag day upon your arrival.

If you haven't already seen them, I thought the Rough Guide and Michelin Green Guide provided much more thorough coverage of the city than other guidebooks.

Enjoy!
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Sep 11th, 2018, 04:38 AM
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kja - Thanks. Our Palermo stay will be at the end of the trip, so won't be dealing with jet lag … hopefully. And I do have the Rough Guide. What activities did you enjoy in the city?
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Sep 11th, 2018, 05:50 AM
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There are some stunning churches in Palermo, if you like that sort of thing, most of which are not mentioned in most guidebooks. And don't look like much from the outside. I had 2 full days there a few years ago, and wished I'd had 3 just for the walking around and going inside every church that was open.
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Sep 11th, 2018, 11:09 AM
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Segesta and its collection of stellar Greek temples is a great day trip but you may be hitting that en route to Trapani. Cefalu a delightful seaside town.
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Sep 11th, 2018, 04:50 PM
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kja
 
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Originally Posted by phillyboy View Post
kja ... What activities did you enjoy in the city?
Monreale is, IMO, extraordinary, well deserving of a half day (by bus from Palermo). In Palermo proper, lots of glorious churches (as Holly_uncasdewar mentioned) -- including small and very old ones with Byzantine features, the grand cathedral in a Norman/Romanesque/+ style, and several very small exquisite Baroque oratorios (and I say that as someone not overly fond of the Baroque), even a few scattered relatively "pure" Romanesque churches. It has the magnificent Palazzo dei Norman and its exquisite Cappella Palatina. There is puppet theater, and a very good archeological museum, and a small art museum with a few exceptional pieces, and an impressive opera house that you can tour, and a museum or two showing how people lived at various times. The main market is amazing. There are lots of fascinating neighborhoods well with strolling, whether joining the passagiate near the new town or roaming the Kalsa or exploring the Quattro Canti or visiting the harbor. I missed, but would probably have enjoyed, seeing the catacombs. Oh, and pistachio gelato. Take your pick!
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Sep 11th, 2018, 08:50 PM
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Thanks for the ideas. We are probably good for just one church/cathedral per day - but my wife will have pistachio gelato hourly! It seems like 3 full days would probably be sufficient, though we'd already booked our rooms for 4 nights, and need to check and see if we can easily scale back to 3..
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Sep 11th, 2018, 08:57 PM
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kja
 
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As a rule, 4 nights = 3 days.
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Sep 12th, 2018, 11:55 AM
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3 nights for Palermo itself - 2.5 days would be fine as you have lots of other neat places to spend an extra day in perhaps. 2 days was enough for me but that is of course very subjective - was not the nicest town I've been in - not bad but I really like Catania better.
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Sep 12th, 2018, 07:08 PM
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Just another opinion, but we liked Palermo very much. We spent three nights. My trip report has my impressions of Palermo, with not a lot about the sites we visited, but more about the atmosphere, the city, and the people.
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Sep 13th, 2018, 10:11 AM
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Tuscan is right.

Palermo isn’t about the tick off sites, throw away your guide books and just wander the streets.

We visited 3 weeks and and were utterly shocked on many levels. We stayed on the West coast and expected Palermo to be a chaotic, crime ridden pit where we would have to hang onto our bags and race round the sites before escaping.

It actually joined the elite company of Singapore, Seville, Charleston and Bordeaux as our top 5 favourite cities.

It was August and I recognise that most of the chaos had migrated to the beaches but we felt very safe. I haven’t met a more generally vibrant, friendly and helpful population of a city. It appears to be at the naive acceptance of a new tourist trade. “Oh my, they are foreign, let’s talk to them” attitude. A long way from the “leave my city alone” which is creeping into other tourist trodden cities.

The shops on the main streets have artisan food not tourist crap.

It it just feels like it is being discovered by tourism and is fresh for it.

Give it ten years, a couple of hundred McDonalds, KFCs, Subways and Hagen Dazs outlets and I’m sure we can destroy it.
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Sep 13th, 2018, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by BritishCaicos View Post

Give it ten years, a couple of hundred McDonalds, KFCs, Subways and Hagen Dazs outlets and Iím sure we can destroy it.
This is the thing I have always loved about Palermo - no chains.

They flip chains off. There is a coffee place here that is practically using the Starbucks logo but Starbucks is apparently not going to fight them. I love it.

I think a lot of the street food places in the center are kind of for the tourists, but for sure the staff are always so nice.

Palermo has a lot of layers. If you have the time to peel, it can be a revelation.
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Sep 13th, 2018, 11:35 AM
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Yeah one could spend several days in Palermo but with limited time that would for OP come with not seeing other places. Palermo is neat but there are other places OP is going to too and can't spend days in each - well could but if they want to see Sicily they have to pick and chose. Too bad they don't have more time.
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Sep 13th, 2018, 12:33 PM
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Do a day trip to Segesta and Erice. Beautiful.
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Sep 13th, 2018, 12:36 PM
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I assume that they would drive by those places en route to Trapani?
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Sep 14th, 2018, 12:38 PM
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Thanks to all for your help and input. We have decided to stick with our original plan, and will spend 4 nights (3 1/2 days) in Palermo.

To address some of your points, we are definitely not "tick off the boxes" travelers - we generally want to visit, maybe, one major site per day … a museum, cathedral, garden, park, natural site, etc. The rest of the day is dedicated to relaxing, nice drives, eating/drinking, aimless wandering, and just hanging out with our friends. Wish we could have more time, but 16 nights is a fairly generous number of days for people who still work full-time jobs. If it comes down to a decision between some "blockbuster" site, and doing little or nothing, the blockbuster site is likely to lose out. Four bases for four days each is about the best we can do in an effort to see a reasonable chunk of the island, and still maintain our preferred "no rush" style, though we often stay for a full week in one place. We don't plan out each individual day ahead of the trip, but we do compile a list of the places of interest that we want to see. I already have more listed items than we will have time for, so we will have to seriously edit. As was suggested, we plan to visit both Erice and Segesta from our first base in Trapani.

Open to any other suggestions for Palermo, or anywhere else on the island - we would probably be able to hit most areas of the island within a couple of hours of where we will be.
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Sep 14th, 2018, 05:36 PM
  #17
kja
 
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I don't think you'll regret the extra night in Palermo, and as already noted, if you do find that you want to move on, Cefalu would be an easy day trip by public transportation.
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