It's worth making Palermo your first stop in Sicily. It's the island's main transport centre, and it boasts Sicily's greatest concentration of sights. Quite apart from the Arab influence in its finest churches, there's more than a hint of the city's eastern past in its undisciplined centre, a sprawling, almost anarchic mass with no real focus: great pockets of medieval alleys, nineteenth-century piazzas, twentieth-century bombsites and contemporary office blocks all conspire to confuse what is essentially a straightforward street grid.
Palermo offers a wide choice for those who want to organize a vacation here, and can satisfy all sorts of needs. Here you will find business and tourist hotel with modern facilities and amenities, restaurant serving Sicilian cuisine, multilingual staff. If you want to mix excellent service with the advantage of being in the city centre, you can choose one of the many Palermo hotels, from the most luxurious ones to those with a one-star category (cheap hotels, motels and lodging at the lowest rates) and from family oriented hotels to hotels for young and active people. Some hotels can situate in buildings of 18-19 century with antique furniture & crystal chandeliers; so you will be able to feel the atmosphere of that time.
So if you decide to stay in the centre of the city it, by all means, it has its own advantages as the essential sights are all pretty central, and if you are disciplined enough you could get around them in a couple of days. Paramount are the hybrid Cattedrale and nearby Palazzo dei Normanni (Royal Palace), with its superb, mosaic-decorated chapel, the Cappella Palatina ; the glorious Norman churches of La Martorana and San Giovanni degli Eremeti ; the Baroque opulence of San Giuseppe dei Teatini and Santa Caterina ; and three magnificent museums - inspiring collections of art, archaeology and ethnography.
Still this historical jumble of treasures has its downside. Many people have continued to live in their medieval ghettos; unemployment is endemic, the old port largely idle and petty crime commonplace. Some areas - La Kalsa and area around La Cala in particular - can be positively dangerous if you're not careful, and every honest inhabitant of the city will warn you to watch your money and camera. Don't be paranoid, though: things are not significantly worse in Palermo than any other European cities, and the only rule is to avoid any quiet neighbourhood, especially at night
If you are planning to stay in Palermo a while, we recommend that you rent an apartment in the city so you can truly immerge yourself in the city's spirit.
If you are on a rather tight budget and cannot choose one of the two solutions above, don't worry: there are still two additional possibilities to suggest. You can go for one of the Bed & Breakfast in Palermo if you don't want to miss out on being near the city centre.
Rural farmhouse accommodation in Palermo and nearby is instead the ideal kind of base for those who wish to explore the wonderful places around the city.
In its own wide bay underneath the limestone bulk of Monte Pellegrino, and fronting the broad, fertile Conca d'Oro (Golden Shell) Valley, Palermo is stupendously sited. Originally a Phoenician, then a Carthaginian colony, this remarkable city was long considered a prize worth capturing. In the ninth to twelfth centuries Palermo became the greatest city in Europe - famed for the wealth of its court, and peerless as a centre of learning. There are plenty of relics from this era, but it's the rebuilding of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that shaped the city as you see it today.