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Sicily car rental-dropping off in Palermo

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Aug 24th, 2012, 05:42 AM
  #1
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Sicily car rental-dropping off in Palermo

Hello all,

I'm know that I've seen this discussed but have had trouble finding this topic. My husband and I are visting Sicily in late Septemebr/October for close to 3 weeks. Upon arrival, we plan to pick up the car at the Catania airport before driving to Taormina. After out travels around the island, we are ending in Palermo before returning to the states. We plan on dropping the car off upon arrival in Paermo. Should we go to the airport and then go into the city by cab or can we drive directly into town and take a taxi to our hotel. I'm aware that reports say that driving in Palermo is difficult, and it seems most people say to drop the car at the airport. However, this seems to be out of the way and expensive, so I'm just wondering if there is an alternative. We will have a GPS, but maybe that is not the issue.

Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks.
justretired is offline  
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Aug 24th, 2012, 07:05 AM
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I didn't drive in Palermo but I never like to drive in cities. If you're dropping the car off on a Sunday when Palermo is quiet then it would be ok. If you're dropping during the week I would choose the airport. A GPS is not always reliable in cities with one way streets, lots of traffic, small roads, and road work.

I'm sure there is a bus from the airport into town and then a cab to your hotel which would be less expensive than a cab from the airport. Or have you checked a shuttle service into town?

I just did a quote on a transfer service from the airport and it was E53. That's about normal for city rates.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 07:51 AM
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We did drop off in Palermo and it was not that bad. The location was just off a big street near the ship docks. Just be sure you print a good map. Click on my name to find my trip report. You may not want a car until you leave Taormina---we got ours there after paying 70E for a transfer from Catania and 3 days in Taormina. You do not need a car there.
bobthenavigator is offline  
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Aug 24th, 2012, 08:01 AM
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There is indeed bus service between the center of town and the airport.
thursdaysd is online now  
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Aug 24th, 2012, 08:21 AM
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Once you have driven from Catania to the west, you will have a good idea about driving in Sicily. Mind you, hub and I never drove, but if you multiply by 10 your driving experiences in the east of Sicily, you'll get an idea about Palermo and whether to drive in it. Others, who have actually driven, can weigh in about that statement.

We flew into Palermo in 2002 (so do check for most current info) and took the Prestia blue bus from the airport. At that time, we were able to buy the ticket from the driver (it varied by bus company). It cost €4,65 and took bout 45 minutes to our area. Again, do re-check this info--I can't believe it's been 10 years!

Do you know your hotel yet? With almost 3 weeks, you are going to have a great visit to Sicily. Our trip there was one of our favorites.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 08:51 AM
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I picked up a car and returned it in Palermo. My agency was not near the docks. I did not have a GPS, which meant that some guess work was involved, and traffic can be very bad 4 times a day (rush hour in the morning, two around lunch time, and in the evening). I do not recommend it if city driving in any Italian city makes the driver nervous. There is an inexpensive bus from the airport to the city, a taxi ride will cost 50€, if memory serves me right.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 09:23 AM
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Maybe if the car hire company has an office on outskirts of the city, not in the very centre of Palermo, I would consider driving to the agency to drop off car and then take taxi to hotel.

Otherwise, the safest and easiest way is to drop off car at airport and take a bus to city centre - or pay a a50 Euro fare for a cab. Be careful, and always ask the driver for a quote for a taxi ride (or for anything else really) if you take a taxi without pre booking, so that you will know beforehand how much they will charge.

In Sicily you can easily lower a price if you barter for a better deal - it used to be so funny in our younger days at the market in Catania where we used to buy clothes, shoes etc. We would lower the price, then if they do not agree to it, we leave the stall, and often you see them calling us again or coming after us and agree to the lowered price of the item!! I guess Sicilians try and get some more money if they see you are not a local - more than in other countries - but really nice friendly accomodating people nonetheless!!!.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 10:28 AM
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I agree that you should consider getting the car after you leave Taormina, b/c you won't need it there and parking is difficult.

There is direct bus service from Catania airport right to Taormina.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 11:38 AM
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I have this same question! We aren't considering dropping off in the city of Palermo though, since they will charge extra. We're thinking of skipping Palermo and spending our last night in Castellammare del Golfo and then heading to the airport from there the next morning. Is that an option for the OP? But, I'd also like to see Palermo so we may just drive there and park at a hotel and then drive to the airport. We are experienced drivers in crazy cities, so I'm not nervous about that, but more worried that it could take forever to get out of the city on our way to our airport due to traffic. Is that an issue? What about on a Sunday morning? Thanks!
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Aug 24th, 2012, 12:09 PM
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<< What about on a Sunday morning >>

As I said above, Sunday morning in Palermo is very quiet. Very little traffic.

I didn't see anyone driving crazily in Palermo, there is just a lot of traffic and the roads are only 2 lanes.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 12:26 PM
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Just retired, it depends on from which direction you are approaching the city. If you are coming from Agrigento, or the west side of the island, if it was me, I would be tempted to drop the car at the airport, since it's not out of the way.
Then take the bus from the airport

When we arrived at Palermo airport, we took a taxi into town. Insane driver and €50 charge.

All the other sane people that got off the plane got on the bus, much cheaper, and probably safer, too!

If you have a lot of experience driving in crazy city traffic, go for it. Just watch for one ways, special lanes for taxis etc that go the opposite way, and 2 lanes made into 3 lanes by local drivers.

Where else can you see a car with a large sheet of plywood on the roof being held on only by the hands of the people in the car?

Where else can you stop at a light and see the driver next to you with a tiny baby on his lap?

Welcome to Sicily! Have fun, Palermo is a fantastic city, IMO.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 12:31 PM
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Europesept2012, how early Sunday a.m.?
I would guess early enough, no problem Just like any city, once the Sunday drivers are out, it slows up a fair bit.

Be aware the parking is very difficult in Palermo.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 02:14 PM
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I would do as sundriedpachino says and leave the car at the Airport, then catch bus/ taxi. We left our car at the Airport and that was straightforward. We drove for 11 days and I have never seen so many crazy drivers! One of the nuns said to us " don't worry about the traffic lights, they are just a guide"! That really summed it up!
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Aug 24th, 2012, 02:31 PM
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Some beautiful churches in Palermo. A good vibe too.

Is the car drop off open on Sundays?
TDudette is offline  
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Aug 24th, 2012, 03:36 PM
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Thanks all. We booked the car on Kemwel, using the airports in catania and Palermo. In the end, we decided that, after an overnight cross Atlantic flight to Rome, followed by the flight to Catania, that it was just easier to rent the car at the airport and drive oursleves to Taormina. We understand that we probably won't use it until we leave for Syracusa a couple of days later. In Palermo, it seemed easier to just leave it at the airport and either take the bus or a taxi into the city, where we'll be for our last 4 nights in Sicily.

Thanks again.
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Aug 25th, 2012, 06:12 AM
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In my opinion you made the right choices.

Good luck and enjoy your vacation!!
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Aug 25th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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Another question, please- our Alitalia/Delta flight from Palermo to Rome (before our flight home to Boston Logan) is scheduled for 8 AM. Although not as early as some flights ( the ones from Venice always seem to leave at 6 AM), it is still early. It's a Saturday morning, BTW. At what time do we need to leave the city and how many hours before the flight is it wise to get to the airport? Thanks.
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Aug 25th, 2012, 10:16 AM
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Justretired, I can't really answer that, but you will be surprised that Palermo is not a very big airport. I would ask your question at the hotel where you will be staying, perhaps.
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Aug 27th, 2012, 07:26 AM
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Visited Sicily last fall. I dropped the car off at the train station. It was fairly easy and then took a bus to the closest stop near our hotel. The bus lines up out front of the train station and we bought a ticket inside the station. Very easy, very nice bus and inexpensive. Palermo was the least favorite area in Sicily. Loved entire eastern side; travel across center to Piazza Amerina. Valley of Temples and Archeological park wonderful. Do not miss gondola ride up to Erice. Wished we had skipped Palermo and spent more time in other areas. Also, La Planeta does a great wine tasting at their vineyard.
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