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    Car hire in Palermo at its cheapest and smoothest

    Sicily is the perfect destination to combine idling on a beach with excellent food and rich culture. Placed right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it has always been a melting pot of cultures. The Phoenicians held it as a base on their commercial routes and today, Palermo is the most important city on the island and the perfect starting point for any tour.

    A lot of precious time on your holiday will be spared if you book a car hire from Auto Europe before your journey. A reservation is strongly recommended during the peak periods since the availability gets very tight. Auto Europe has been known as a car rental industry leader with unbeatable prices for over 60 years. Thanks to its great cooperation with numerous renowned global and local suppliers, you will surely find a suitable car hire in Palermo for your holiday. Picking up a car at the airport right upon arrival is the easiest solution, but Auto Europe also offers pick-up points in the most important cities.

    A very good way of covering the whole island would be to sleep in different places. A car rental from Palermo is the most convenient means of transport allowing a lot of freedom and flexibility. From there, you may drive to Catania and the Mount Etna, then head south to Siracusa and Noto and then drive up to the west to the Greek temples in Agrigento, to then return to Palermo. Auto Europe also offers camper hire that would suit perfectly an on the road vacation. If you like more relaxed holidays you can also cover just the north-western part of the island by doing easier daily trips.

    How is the traffic in Palermo?

    Driving in Sicily, especially in the islands capital, given the high number of scooters on the streets and a widespread negligence of traffic rules, is often considered an adventure when you rent a car in Palermo. It can be chaotic at times due to speeding and passing without adequate signalling. Pedestrians crossing the street on a red light or simply aggressive drivers not respecting the rules could make driving in Palermo sometimes challenging even for skilled drivers. Just be patient and very careful. Another thing to remember is that the heart of the city is almost entirely a restricted traffic zone (Zona Traffico Limitato - ZTL) which has been established to lower traffic and air pollution. Access by car is allowed only to inhabitants and to those with a pass, which needs to be purchased in advance. There are daily, weekly or monthly passes. Cameras will register the number plates accessing the area and those without permission will be fined. The restrictions are in place only on working days from 8 am to 8 pm. If you would like to get more insight into driving in Italy please read our extensive guide.

    Where can I park my car hire in Palermo?

    The very heart of the city is, as previously mentioned, mostly a restricted access zone (Zona Traffico Limitato - ZTL) and you will be able to park here only if you have purchased a pass beforehand. In the rest of the city centre, free parking places marked by white lines are very rare. You will most likely find parking on the street marked with blue lines, which means it is to be paid for. Tickets must be purchased at the closest tobacconists or newsstands. You are supposed to mark or scratch the date and time and leave it in a visible place on your dashboard. There are also several toll parking areas in the centre and surroundings. One of them is conveniently located close to the Notarbartolo rail station, with all the main sights at close reach. If you are looking for a comfortable and safe parking solution, there is a multi-level underground parking at Piazza Orlando. For an exhaustive list of the parking areas you can check this link.

    Palermo Airport

    Palermo international Airport is named after the judges Falcone and Borsellino and lies 35 km (22 miles) from the city, in the town of Punta Raisi. It has been operational since 1960 and has been recently renovated. It is the third biggest airport in Southern Italy after Naples and Catania. Auto Europe works with the best international and local suppliers and to rent a car at Palermo airport right after landing is the easiest way to start your stay. The car hire desks are conveniently located in the arrival hall and the cars are parked right outside. Alternatively, the faster way to reach Palermo is in just half an hour by underground train, line A. The ticket costs approx. 5.90 € for adults. There is also a bus connection offered by the company Prestia and Commandè leading to Palermo central station in approx. 50 minutes. Furthermore, there are direct bus connections to the most important cities nearby, including Trapani, San Vito lo Capo, Agrigento, and Catania.

    Palermo Airport (PMO) "Falcone-Borsellino Airport"
    Address: Località Punta Raisi, 90145 Cinisi PA, Italy
    Telephone: +39 091 702 0698

    What to do in Palermo

    Palermo is an enchanting harbour city with a very diverse cultural heritage. It is certainly a city of contrasts dominated by an eclectic mix of architectural styles, embodying the Arabic, Greek and Roman heritage visible on every step of the way, and revealing the traces of many famous emperors whose home it used to be.

    • Quattro Canti: This is a famous octagonal-shaped square located at the most famous crossroads of Palermo downtown. In the middle, there is a huge fountain and the four corners are marked by lavishly decorated buildings with a fountain at the ground level.

    • The Cathedral: Palermo’s Cathedral is a UNESCO heritage site. Its construction dates back to 1185 and it is devoted to the Holy Mary, even if the dearest chapel to the inhabitants is the one dedicated to Saint Rosalia, the city’s patron. The building is huge and displays many different styles since it underwent continuous changes throughout the centuries: you will recognize Arabic, Norman, Gothic, Neoclassical and Baroque touches. Do not forget to walk around the whole building because also the side and back walls are richly decorated.

    • Street markets: When lunch time approaches, a visit to a traditional grocery market is a must. Palermo even boasts three: “La Vucciria”, “Ballarò” and “Il Capo”. The first two are the most famous. “La Vucciria”, located close to the harbour, started off as a meat market but nowadays you can find all kind of food there, especially fresh fish. Ballarò is the most ancient market with focus on vegetables and fruit sold by the local farmers. It stretches from the Casa Professa square to the bastions on Tukory Street. The prices are very agreeable and you can buy some fresh fruit or a tasty snack like the famous rice balls “arancini”. Rest assured you won’t understand a word of the dialect spoken there. But if you really want to see the authentic nature of this magic city you should really come to this colourful, chaotic and very lively places. These markets resemble the North African “suks” and are a legacy of the Arabic domination.

    • The Norman Palace: This palace is one of the most important sights in the city and is a UNESCO site as of 2015. It was built by the Arabic emirs in the 9th century and then taken over by the Normans, who used it as a fortress and royal seat. Under Frederick II, it became an imperial palace and after that, the seat of the Sicilian Parliament under the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Nowadays it still hosts the Sicilian regional parliament. The interior is richly furnished and the jewel is the “Cappella Palatina”, that is the Earl’s Chapel. This chapel, devoted to the Saints Peter and Paul, is world-famous because of its well preserved golden Byzantine mosaics and its precious decorations that resorted to the very refined Arabic techniques.

    • La Zisa and La Cuba: Strolling around Palermo discloses loads of architectural treasures. But the most fascinating are those of the Arabic-Norman age. The Zisa palace was built around 1165 as a summer residence for the Norman kings. It lies in the Western part of the city within the Genoardo royal park. Today it is the seat of the Museum of Islamic Arts and is since 2015 UNESCO World Heritage site. Facing the garden you will also find the Moorish palace known as “La Cuba” (Cuba sottana).

    Best day trips with my car rental in Palermo

    Once you have explored the bustling city, you should take advantage of your car rental in Palermo to soak in some more Sicilian beauty. Following you will find some half-day or daily trip suggestions.


    The small town of Monreale is just 5 km away from Palermo, and could almost be considered one of its suburbs. It was founded by the Normans that left an architectural masterpiece, which is the cathedral known as “Duomo”. This big church is now a UNESCO site and displays almost 7.500 sqm of Byzantine mosaics in its interior.


    The Palermo city beaches are very conveniently placed, but if you are looking for a truly spectacular one, then you should head east to Mondello with your rental car. Here you will be surprised by the enchanting landscape, noticed also by the filmmaker Visconti, who chose Mondello to shoot his famous “Gattopardo”. Nestled between the Mount Pellegrino and Mount Gallo, Mondello displays a 1,5 km long beach with white sand. But this is not all. If you fancy a stroll, you will discover a lot of Liberty villas dating back to the beginning of the 20th century when the noble families used to spend their holidays here. The most ancient beach resort is in Liberty style and has been renovated in 1995. This is a very elegant place where you can soak in the sun.


    This little township with its 14000 inhabitants lies 70 km (43 mi) east of Palermo. It counts to the most beautiful Italian townships and hosts the third Sicilian cathedral enlisted in 2015 under the UNESCO sites. This is another example of Norman-Arabic style building dating back to the XII century. Visitors do not only come here because of this church but mostly for the fairy tale atmosphere and the enchanting landscape. Cefalù has wonderful beaches, beautiful panoramas and is part of the natural park of the Madonie mountains.

    Geographic Information & History

    Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean and lies right in front of the tip of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula. It is well recognisable by its triangle shape and has a hilly and rugged landscape. The highest mountain is the still active volcano Etna. Sicily has a Mediterranean climate with very hot and dry summers and mild and wet winters. You can visit at any time of the year but the best periods to tour around without suffering the heat too much are the mid-seasons.

    The Phoenician merchants were the first to settle the island, so conveniently placed on their business routes. After they came the Greeks, the Romans, the Vandals, the Byzantines, the Arabs in the 8th and two centuries later the Normans who restored Catholicism. Later on, Sicily became part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

    How to get around Palermo

    The public transport in Palermo is run by AMAT, which offers several bus lines and four tram lines. A bus ticket costs approx. 1.40 €, lasts 90 minutes after punching and can be bought at newsstands, tobacconists and some other shops. You can also buy tickets on board against a little surcharge of approx. 40 cents. There are also daily or multi-day tickets and several types of passes. As for trams, tickets cost approx. 1.40 € and are valid for 90 minutes. They can be found in the same selling points as bus tickets.

    There are also three underground lines, line A, B and C, run by the rail company Trenitalia. Line A connects the city to the airport. A ticket has a 90 minutes duration, costs approx. 1.50 € and is not valid on buses. There are also weekly and monthly passes.

    Can I hire a campervan in Palermo?

    Auto Europe not only offer great deals on car hire in Palermo, but also very convenient campervan rental. To experience the big island of Sicily to the full, a road trip with the comfort of a motorhome seems to be the perfect solution. If you are visiting Sicily during summer, you should plan your itinerary and book your spot at camping places in advance. You can find more information about renting a campervan in Italy here.

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