Sicily’s unique culture and cuisine shine in the port city of Palermo, where Arab influence remains strong in the architecture, markets, and food. Spend a day experiencing the city’s long history, then travel further back in time with an excursion to the Italian island’s ancient temples. Here’s how to spend two days in Palermo.
Day 1: Palermo
Morning: Explore Palermo’s old town, rich in 12th-century Arab-Norman churches and palaces decorated with Byzantine mosaics. Delve deep into the city’s history and architecture with a guided walking, bike, or Segway tour to take in highlights like the Norman Palace, Palatine Chapel, Palermo Cathedral, and La Martorana.
Afternoon: No visit to Palermo is complete without a turn through its souk-like markets, so join a food tour that includes market tastings of popular street food. Alternatively, opt for a cooking class that begins with a market visit to shop for ingredients before preparing—and feasting upon—Palermo’s most unique dishes, often paired with Sicilian wines.
Night: After your culinary break, take in the architectural treasures in the towns of Monreale or Cefalù, home to two Norman cathedrals covered in glittering Byzantine mosaics. These churches are among the most significant monuments in Sicily and a must for architecture enthusiasts.
Day 2: The Greek Temples of Agrigento and Segesta
Morning: Sicily once was part of the sprawling Greek empire. Modern visitors can see a number of Greek temples still standing on the island, including one of the most striking in the Valley of the Temples outside Agrigento on the southern coast, a popular day trip from Palermo.
Afternoon: Stay closer to the city with a trip to Segesta, home to temples no less impressive than those of Agrigento. Some tours also include a stop at the nearby Greek ruins of Selinunte or the hilltop town of Erice, where you can enjoy local food and wine.
Night: Relax for your final hours in Palermo with a leisurely sail along the coast. Take in views of towering Mt. Pellegrino, La Cala harbor, and Mondello Beach and, as the sun sets over the sea, toast the city with wine and Sicilian appetizers on board.