If you are looking to immerse yourself in the local culture of Palermo, the Ballarò Market (Mercato Ballarò) is the place to go. As the city’s oldest street market and one of the most vibrant markets in Europe, Ballarò also provides a glimpse into Palermo’s past as a major commercial center and port.
Said to be more than 1,000 years old, the market winds through the narrow medieval streets surrounding Piazza Carmine in the Albergheria, one of the five Norman quarters in the center of Palermo. While it is primarily a food market specializing in fresh produce, fish and meat, and local specialties, it is also a great place to buy inexpensive clothing and other goods.
Listen for street vendors speaking a local dialect similar to Arabic—the name Ballarò comes from Bahlara, a town outside Palermo where Arab merchants historically made their home. And, sample some of Sicily's famous street food while you stroll through this colorful market as part of a Palermo walking tour or bike tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- As with any busy outdoor market in Italy, pickpockets can be a problem in the Ballarò, so be vigilant.
- Be sure to bring your camera, as the colorful stalls (and charismatic vendors) in the Ballarò make for fantastic photos.
- Market tours through the Ballarò Market are on foot, so wear comfortable shoes and a sun hat.
- There is limited space filled with crowds of shoppers between the market stalls, so Ballarò is not recommended for wheelchairs or strollers.
How to Get There
The Ballarò Market occupies the streets from Piazza Casa Professa past the Church of San Nicolò toward Corso Tukory, about a 10-minute walk from the main train station in Palermo.
When to Get There
The Ballarò Market is open daily from 7am to 7pm, but it is especially lively on Saturdays and Sundays when the weekly flea market is also open and food stands prepare traditional street food from Palermo.
Palermo's Many Markets
Palermo has a number of landmark outdoor markets in the city center famous for their lively and authentic atmosphere. Aside from the Ballarò, the most famous are the Vucciria Market and the Capo Market.