As well as being packed with things to see and do, Palermo is a great base for exploring Sicily. The Sicilian capital is within easy reach of some of the best sights on the island and there are some incredible Palermo day trip options.
We put together this list of the best day trips from Palermo: from beach days in Mondello to wandering the ancient ruins of Selinunte and the UNESCO temples of Agrigento there is a day trip from Palermo for everyone.
The Best Day trips from Palermo
Palmero is a great base for traveling to many of the top sights in Sicily. Due to its location and connections via the high-speed motorway, a day trip from Palermo allows easy access to the rest of the island.
Day trips from Palermo tip: Although archaeological sites such as Segesta and Selinunte are quite far away from Palermo, they are easy to reach via the motorway network and are possible to include in a day trip.
Palermo Day trips: how to get around
There are a number of options for how to get to the various day-trip destinations.
Renting a Car
We recommend renting a car in Sicily. This is our preferred option as it gives you the flexibility to travel on your terms. A rental car also means you can combine a number of the day trips into a single day, for example, Segesta, Monreal and Selinunte are easily visited by car in a single day.
We booked our rental through Avis via RentalCars.com and found a great price for an excellent car.
We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in over 45 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car. They have the best selection and prices that we’ve found – book your car now with RentalCars.com
An alternative option is to join one of the well-organized full or half-day trips to each location. The tours are a great way to see the various places and, as everything is taken care of, are a stress-free and fun way to travel.
There is also the option to visit some of the places on this list via public transport (rail or bus). Traveling by public transport is definitely possible for places such as Mondello Beach and Cefalu but others, like Agrigento and Segesta, are more difficult and we recommend either taking a tour or driving yourself.
10 Best Day Trips from Palermo
These are our 10 favorite Palermo day trips:
1 | Segesta
The ancient archaeological site of Segesta is a very popular day trip from Palermo. Segesta is the site of an ancient Greek city and is best known for its hilltop theatre which offers stunning panoramic views of the countryside and coast. The city was one of the first that settlers in Sicily established and it remains one of the best-preserved Greek temples in Sicily.
Tours to Segesta from Palermo: This is one of the most popular tours to Segesta and also includes the beautiful hilltown of Erice and the Trapani salt flats – click here for prices!
The site at Segesta has two main buildings, the iconic Doric temple at its base and the Greek theatre located on the hill.
Day trips from Palermo: A shuttle bus runs from the car park to the temple and another from the temple to the theater. It is included in the parking cost and makes it easy to reach the theatre at the top of the site. It is a hard walk up to the theater, especially on a hot Sicilian day but the walk down is pleasant if you want to stretch your legs!
Segesta is around 1 hour outside of Palermo and there is a small restaurant on-site for snacks and drinks.
2 | Mondello Beach
A beautiful 1.5km stretch of beach, Mondello Beach is a 15-minute drive north along the coast of Palermo and is a perfect place to relax after a busy few days exploring the city. The beach is a magnet for tourists and locals in search of relaxation on the white sandy beach and its crystal clear waters.
We recommend visiting Modello Beach in the mid-afternoon to enjoy the beach and then stay for some food as the sun sets across the sea. Mondello Beach has a seaside village feel and is packed with restaurants. It really comes to life after dark, with funfairs, great food, and a holiday atmosphere.
How to get to Mondello Beach: If you drive, there are lots of paid private car parks located in the streets just off the beach so finding parking shouldn’t be a problem. For public transport, the public bus (line 806) runs to Modello from behind the Politeama Theater. It runs quite frequently between May and October although it can get crowded.
3 | Agrigento
Agrigento is home to the Valley of the Temples, an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Sicily. Agrigento is one of our favorite places to visit in Sicily and a great choice for a day trip from Palermo.
Tours to Agrigento from Palermo: This is one of the most popular tours from Palermo. It follows a picturesque drive through the Sicilian countryside to Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples site. It is followed by a stop at the Agrigento Archaeology Museum. The tour is a full day and definitely worth checking out – check prices now!
If you opt to drive, you can squeeze in a stop a La Scala Dei Turchi and the old town of Agrigento.
La Scala dei Turchi, or the Turkish Steps, is a sloping staircase of white rock leading to the ocean near Agrigento. La Scala dei Turchi is a very popular destination for visitors who want to see the terraced white stone steps that have naturally formed on the cliffside and the steps are the second most popular tourist site in Agrigento, after the Valley of the Temples.
The old town of Agrigento, packed with beautiful quiet streets and delicious food offerings, is also worth a stop if you have time before you head back to Palermo.
Day trip from Palermo tip – it’s a 2 hour drive from Palermo to Agrigento so we recommend leaving early in the morning. This will help to avoid both the crowds and the hottest part of the day as well as allowing time to stop at La Scala Dei Turchi.
4 | Monreale
Nestled on the slopes of the hills west of Palermo is the beautiful town of Monreale. It is home to the stunning Monreale Cathedral, or the Duomo di Monreale, and is a popular day trip from the city.
Tours to Monreale from Palermo: This half-day tour is the most popular to Monreale and also includes time in Cefalu – check prices now!
Monreale Cathedral is one of the best remaining examples of Norman architecture and is one of 9 Sicilian sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It is listed as part of Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale UNESCO Heritage sites.
The interior of the cathedral is really impressive and the mosaics on the walls and apse are breathtaking. We recommend climbing the stairs that lead to the roof (for a small additional charge) for the lovely views. You can also see the mosaics on the upper walls of the interior of the church in more detail.
Day trips from Palermo tip: LIike all churches and cathedrals in Sicily, visitors are required to follow a modest dress code to enter Monreale Cathedral. This means wearing shorts that go below the knee and making sure to have no exposed shoulders. Hats should not be worn inside the church.
5 | Mount Etna
Most visitors to Sicily will know of its most famous volcano, Mount Etna, which is Europe’s most active volcano and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re not planning to visit eastern Sicily separately then Mount Etna is a relatively easy day trip from Palermo.
Tour to Mount Etna from Palermo: This is the most popular trip from Palermo to Mount Etna and allows time to ascend Mount Etna in the cable car. It also includes a stop at the picturesque seaside town of Taormina with its amazing amphitheatre – click here for prices!
The towering volcano dominates the Sicilian landscape and it regularly rocks and lava – in fact, there have been more than 50 eruptions in 2021 so far. The largest Mount Etna eruption occurred in 1669 and resulted in the deaths of over 20,000 people.
Mount Etna is a 3.5 hours drive from Palermo. The route follows a motorway for most of the journey with the last few kilometers of the route being very windy up through the old lava flows.
6 | Selinunte
The archaeological park of Selinunte is one of the most impressive sites in Sicily and the largest in Europe. Located on the south coast of Sicily, Selinunte is easily reached from Palermo via the motorway in around 90 minutes making it a perfect day trip from Palermo.
Selinunte was an ancient Greek city and one of the most important settlements in Sicily. The huge archeological park covers over 270 hectares and the main sights are relatively spread out. Luckily there’s is a golf-cart shuttle bus that operates inside the site and takes visitors between the major sights in the park if you want to take a break from walking!
Selinunte is also home to some beautiful beaches that are great to chill at after a few hours of exploring the ruins. Our favorite was the Acropolis Beach which is located just below the ruins of the Acropolis. There are lido’s for rent at Lido Porta del Sole and the Acropolis is visible from the water.
7 | Cefalù
The seaside town of Cefalù is one of the loveliest towns in Sicily and is only an hour’s drive east of Palermo. The town was originally established by the Greeks but its modern-day appearance results from the Norman influence. The old town center is beautiful and simply wandering the streets is an adventure.
The highlight of Cefalu is the Norman cathedral which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage inscription which includes Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale.
Cefalù is also home to one of the best beaches in Sicily. Located just outside the old town, the beach is long and narrow, with golden white sands and crystal clear water.
Day trips from Palermo tip: For the more adventurous the hike up to La Rocca from the old town rewards visitors with some of the best views in Sicily. La Rocca is a large rocky outcrop that overlooks the old town.
If time permits, you can continue your adventure with a winding drive into the mountains south of Cefalu to the town of Castelbuono, an ancient medieval Sicilian town.
8 | Villa Romana del Casale
Villa Romana del Casale is an immaculately preserved 4th century AD roman villa located around 2 hours drive southeast of Palermo and a very popular day trip from Palermo. It is one of the 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sicily.
Tours to Villa Romana del Casale: this tour takes in two amazing archaeological sites, Villa Roman del Casale and the aforementioned Temples of Agrigento – check prices now!
After a landslide in the 12th Century, the decadent villa was buried under mud for over 700 years and the remarkable mosaics were unearthed when excavation work took place in the 1950s. Villa Romana del Casale is thought to have been the country retreat of Marcus Aurelius Maximianus, a Roman co-emperor of Diocletian.
Although it’s a little out of the way, we cannot recommend Villa Romana del Casale highly enough. The incredible mosaics, and the opportunity to visit another UNESCO World Heritage Site, make it more than worth the journey!
9 | Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve
Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve is one of Sicily’s natural gems. This beautiful stretch of coastline was designated as a nature reserve in 1981 and covers 7km along the coastline of the Gulf of Castellammare.
The best way to enjoy the reserve is to hike the 7km trail that runs parallel to the coast. The trail is relatively flat unless you take a detour to the small coves and beaches that dot the coast along the way.
Day trips from Palermo tip: If you’re planning to hike at Lo Zingaro make sure to pack sunscreen and lots of water. We also recommend to avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day (11am-3pm), especially during the summer months.
The easiest way to reach Lo Zingaro is by car and it is around a 90-minute drive from Palermo.
10 | Erice
The medieval hilltop town of Erice sits perched upon Monte San Giuliano. The 12th Century walled village is a maze of cobblestone streets and boasts 60 churches, 2 castles, and magnificent views.
Tours to Erice from Palermo: This is the same tour which includes Segesta. It is one of the most popular tours to Erice and also includes Segesta and the Trapani salt flats – click here for prices!