Palermo Markets

Street markets—The best free sightseeing in Palermo

Markets are an integral part of Palermo life and a colorful, unmissable sight where Palermitano dialects fly through the air between the stall awnings and vendors hawk piles of silvery fish, Levi’s jeans, spiny sea urchins, bootleg CDs, olives from barrels, and steaks carved directly from the swordfish.

Bring your camera (but little else) and guard it well. Most markets are closed Sundays. There are nearly a dozen markets in town; here are the best.

Palermo's Vucciria food market

Even if you're in town for just a day, drop down into the Vucciria for photo ops at dozens of fish stalls and vegetable stands, and 50¢ wine in an enoteca.

The market is sunk below the surrounding streets (head down the stairs just up Via Roma from its intersection with Corso V. Emanuele), and there are some good old-fashioned living-room trattorie hidden here that serve the freshest fish in town (Shanghai being the coolest).

This most famous of Palermo's markets has gotten a bit touristy in recent years, but the Vucciria is still a sight to behold. Its name is a corruption of the original French term for the market, boucherie, when it was largely butchers selling from the (now-vanished) neighboring slaughterhouse and livestock market. By the 19th cetnury, it had morphed into a fish market.

My own favorite watering hole in Palermo is in the Vucciria—the Taverna Azzurra, Via Maccheroni 9 (no phone), where Nino will hook you up with a €0.50 shot of wine, or 66cl bottle of hearty, frosty Forst beer for €1.50.

Those are the prices for outsiders. Market workers and stall owners come in clutching string bags full of mussels or swordfish steaks wrapped in paper, which they hand over the bar to Nino, who pops the goodies into a fridge then prepares the regular’s drink of choice in return.

Palermo's Ballarò food and flea market

More ebullient these days is the sprawling Ballarò, in the Albergheria quadrant, spreading roughly from Piazza Carmine to Piazza Casa Professa and Piazza S. Chiara.

It, too, is mainly a food market, but with a better balance of veggies, meat, cheese, and dry goods mixed in among the fish stalls, plus a section selling clothing, fell-off-the-truck housewares, and toys for suspiciously below-market prices.

Palermo's Capo food and clothing market

The Capo market ( has two parts.

A long line of mainly clothing stalls snakes down the middle and sides of Via Bandiera/Via S. Agostino in the city center

Wandering the Via Porta Carini/Via Beati Paoli food section off Via Volturno, you'll find many of the streets have been reduced to dirt roads between the buildings and awnings and sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you're indeed in a major European city or a North African Casbah.

Palermo's Piazza Peranni antiques market

Lastly, a treasure trove of antiques stalls and genreal flea market goodies await in the short, shady Piazza Peranni, behind the bishop's palace off Corso V. Emanuele.


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Tips & links

Watch your wallet and your camera

No matter where you are in the world, pickpockets just love to work markets, since everybody is jostling around in close quarters already and unlikely to notice them working to relieve you of your valuables.

Tourist info

Palermo tourist office
Piazza Castelnuovo 34
tel. +39-091-605-8351

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Tourist Info

Palermo tourist office
Piazza Castelnuovo 34
tel. +39-091-605-8351

Also useful:


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Reid's Recommended hotels in Palermo
★★ Centrale Palace Hotel [€€]
★★ Botique B&B Vintage [€€]
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Hotel Posta [€€]
Hotel Cortese [€€]

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